News

Residents voice displeasure with Common Core

SRVUSD board hears public comment, expects to vote on proposed spending plan in December

A new set of learning standards is coming to California this school year, but a group of local residents told the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday that they aren't happy about the changes coming to their hometowns.

"We don't need Obamacare, and we don't need Obama-curriculum," said Danville resident Anne Blake, one of about a dozen opponents of Common Core State Standards to speak to the board during the evening meeting.

Common Core -- adopted in 45 U.S. states -- aims to create similar standards for K-12 education nationwide, with emphases on critical thinking and depth of knowledge, in order to better prepare American students for college and global careers.

California adopted the new standards in August 2010, and they are set to be fully implemented across the state during the current school year.

The SRVUSD board was set to hear public comment on a proposed spending plan for about $6.2 million in new funding from the state to implement the standards locally, but the nearly two-hour discussion focused mainly on the merits of Common Core and its potential impact on the district.

"Common Core is a train wreck on its way, and our children are sitting in a school bus on the track," Alamo resident Terry Thompson said.

The discussion was lively, with crowd applause coming after Common Core critics spoke and some audience members interrupting or talking over district officials and board members about a handful of times.

Opponents raised specific concerns such as long-term costs and the possibility of learning levels actually being lowered in the district under the new standards.

Other overarching issues included whether the district could delay Common Core implementation, whether the board could adjust the standards and whether the district could opt out of Common Core altogether -- all questions for which board members and district officials had no clear answers.

The board, which was not scheduled to take any action regarding Common Core on Tuesday, asked district staff to provide answers to some of the key inquiries, including a legal analysis of the district's options regarding implementation, by its Dec. 10 meeting.

At that time, board members are tentatively set to revisit the Common Core issues and may vote on how to distribute the almost $6.2 million provided by the state to implement the new standards.

The proposed spending plan -- developed by a committee of administrators, teachers, board members and parents -- suggests using $3.2 million for professional development, $2.2 million for technology and $800,000 for instructional materials. The new funding must be applied to those three categories.

The district has already spent more than $850,000 preparing for the start of Common Core, officials said, with the expenses going to areas such as training, materials and hiring instructional coaches.

In other business during Tuesday's 3.5-hour meeting, the board appointed Daniel Hillman principal of Dougherty Valley High School, removing his interim tag.

Kim Thompson was named interim principal of Hidden Hills Elementary School in San Ramon.

The board approved initial bargaining topics for the district and the San Ramon Valley Education Association this school year. Issues proposed for discussion included salaries, health and welfare benefits, reassignment and transfer, class size and evaluation procedures.

Board members appointed Debbie M. Choy, Shelley J. Clark, Sandra Lee Lepley and Katan Patel to two-year terms on the Measure C Parcel Tax Oversight Committee.

The oversight committee's annual report on Measure C tax expenditures is now due by March 1, as opposed to Jan. 31, after the board supported changing a pair of committee rules. The revision gives committee members more time to review district financial statements, which are released in September.

Committee terms now expire by March 1 to coincide with the new reporting schedule.

Earlier in the meeting, the board received presentations about Del Amigo High School and the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program.

Comments

Posted by mom of 3, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 6:20 am

Common Core is being shoved down parents' throats and that is a good indicator that we should fight it. I suggest you research this on your own and see for yourself why there are opponents, like the 5 states who didn't adopt it! And there are videos of students who are very well spoken and bright, and they can tell you what is wrong with this better than I can in this comment section. Common Core is a nightmare, and who wants to be common anyway?


Posted by Louie, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 6:38 am

Anyone remember the enthusiasm for " Whole Language" and "invented spelling"? Teachers were required to implement that latest and greatest method. Common Core wii run its course and then the next great idea will be sold to schools.


Posted by Louise, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 6:58 am

Just an another way to "standardize" our children and the way they learn. This was actually implemented by a UN committee. This is part of the world order the left wants and that will make our children like little robots before they can think for themselves. They want to get rid of cursive writing cause it takes too long and computers print anyway. Everyone will be taught only one way. Their way. Testing will be increased which will cost the taxpayers more. These kids are already tested enough. It is wrong and should not be adopted. Look into it before you say that it is so great. All the more reason to home school and send them to private schools.


Posted by mom against common core, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 7:28 am

I couldn't agree more. Down with Common Core!

My children will learn about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, cursive handwriting, math, and reading. Where Kindergartners should learn their last name, count by 5s and 2s, and get exposure to science- and not be "pushed to a later grade."

Common Core is about collecting data on our children and pushing the government's social agenda (social engineering). The government doesn't give you your rights - God does. We were born with individual rights.

I could go on and on, but the parallels between our school system and prison system are scary. My kid is no more than a number and a paycheck to these people. Common Core dumbs down the curriculum even further, teaches them to conform and get in line, and that we're all the same. *News Flash: No we're not. We're equal, but not the same.* Children learn at an individual level and their curriculum should be taught at an individual level. I'm not drinking the Kool Aid. Do your research. The Common Core is bad for our kids and bad for America.


Posted by Ricky, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 8:21 am

Oh geez, here comes the UN fear mongering group that jumped up & down at the General Plan meetings.


Posted by IM2Curious, a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

Whole Language Experiment: NIGHTMARE

ObamaCare: NIGHTMARE in progress

New Core Curriculum: NIGHTMARE about to happen

I see a pattern...do you?


Posted by Eva MacMillian, a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

Thank God (not allowed under common core) more people Re seeing through this UN progressive joke. Your children are pWns in the one world order game and this is another way to do their kind control. Interesting Obama and MOST politicians CHOOSE private schools for ThEIR kids. To exempt them from common core!! KIND of like OBAMAKiLL exemptions for themselves too.


Posted by Louise, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 11:22 am

You can label it what you want, but there are still plenty of free thinking people left in this country that value individual liberty and don't want the government telling them what to do all the time. From healthcare, to education, to transportation, to the environment, we are being coralled and controlled. There will be a formula and guidelines for everything and everyone. Don't you see the pattern? Government keeps getting bigger and bigger and the wealth keeps getting spread around. Let's all join hands and sing in unison, it takes a village, we are the world, and Kumbaya.


Posted by disgusted parent, a resident of Diablo
on Nov 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm

You can be sure that Obama's kids will not be taught Common Core at the exclusive, expensive, private school (Sidwell Friends in D.C) where they matriculate. Likewise, they won't be subject to Obamacare either, just like his 1500+ "friends" (i.e. major contributors to his campaign) that he has exempted so far from Obamacare.


Posted by Yikes, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm

And this new curriculum will teach our future doctors, lawyers, researchers... This is very, very scary. This will be yet another failed experiment.


Posted by momof3, a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2013 at 2:05 pm

IM2curious couldn't have said it better! I would only add to that ...the advanced math teachings in elementary school that only frustrated, discouraged and left a life long hatred for math upon so many average students that would have absorbed math at a more normal pace based upon continuing mental maturity.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Based on the 10 opinions provided, one should strongly consider getting their offspring over to the Athenian School as that is the only place in town to find a 'traditional' education. The tenets of 'Common Core' are set around ensuring some level of basic proficiency of english and math education regardless of which state you live in. If you have lived across the country and not just in the microcosm we call SRV, then you understand what I'm describing.

Some undeniable facts of a global economy are that our children and grandchildren will have to compete on a daily basis with very well educated peers from around the world, particularly those in engineering and science (STEM). It is further undeniable that since the days of academic deferment in order to avoid service in Southeast Asia, the numbers of traditional (i.e. caucasian males) Freshman applicants and subsequent degreed individuals has fallen considerably. So much so, that female applicants and degree recipients outnumber males, in today's generation, by 1.3 females to every male (Source: Web Link). In 1960, that number was completely reversed at 1.6 males to every female (Source: Web Link).

If we do nothing to improve and enhance the overall education system in this country, relative to very competitive first and third world countries that are doing everything they can to beat us at our own capitalistic game, then don't be surprised when your son or grandson applies for a work visa to join a construction crew in some distant land.


Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 2:49 pm

As ever Conservator, I hate to agree with the Glenn Beck Tin Foil Hat Brigade, and it is sad they have taken up this cause. It's sort of like those rare occasions when Dick Cheney actually says something that is true. The entire content gets thrown out by lefties (like me) because The Dick is so reviled - even if he makes a point that is valid.
And so it is with this latest fiasco. It's not about the UN and it's not about right wing politics. It is about the very origin of the idea that our schools are failing, a message put forth by the Michelle Rhees and Bill Gates of the world. A message I call complete bull$#!+ on. If a few houses in the neighborhood are found to be infested with termites, should we burn every house in the country down?
You really do have to follow the money on this one, and it has everything to do with education profiteering and nothing to do with foil hats. Read some of what Diane Ravitch has put out with an open mind, and try to understand that she is a political moderate who used to go along with the very thinking that she now opposes. I guarantee that if you read either of her recent books your opinions will change.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Educate yourselves!

1. The previous CA State Standards are far superior to the CC Standards

2. Parents, Schools, and School Boards will lose local control. CC is privately owned and copyrighted, no material can be deleted from the standards and only 15% may be added.

3. Intrusive data mining and loss of student privacy.

4. Costs our district cannot afford. Most school districts have 15% of their budget as a reserve in case of cuts, SRVUSD only has 9%. Measure C, a $144 parcel tax, expires in 2016 with the loss of $7 million. CC is expected to cost $6.1 million just for our district next year. Expensive SBAC testing would be every quarter.

5. CC Standards has mistakes, missing curriculum, and, as stated above, lowers the standards a whole grade level, some students would be lowered by 2 years.

Why did so many states jump on CC? Because Federal Government money will be withheld if you don't implement CC. 45 states that have adopted CC did so hastily to receive grants not knowing the total picture. 20 states are now pending rejection to CC. 5 states have rejected CC completely.


Posted by Sally, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm

IM2Curious wrote:
"I see a pattern...do you?"

I do indeed. Rampant paranoia.


Posted by Susie, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I cannot believe how people KNOW exactly what something is all about and how it works without knowing ANYTHING about it!!!!!!!! People, relax. If you had grown up with the Common Core standards you would not be making these accusations against it. Instead you would be actually inquiring about it in a very intellectual manner. Common Core is fabulous and you need to learn about it. Don't listen to others and form an opinion. Actually learn about it. Get it. Learn about it.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville
on Nov 14, 2013 at 10:21 pm

@Derek,

You make some excellent points. Many I can't disagree with. I found some of Professor Ravitch's work online. Notably, a recent article in the HuffPost (Web Link). In that article, she states "We are not Singapore; we are not Korea; we are not China. We are America. We should cultivate the wit and wisdom of Ben Franklin, the ingenuity of Thomas Alva Edison, the spirit of the Wright brothers. Were they good test-takers? Who knows? Who cares? I bet the guys at Enron and Madoff had great test scores."

All true, surely. However, in the era of each of these great Americans, the aspect of secondary education as the gateway to some degree of financial independence was of little to no concern. Only the truly affluent of those eras sought out a university education. In most cases, that was just to ensure that their social class distinction was maintained.

Today, sadly, even the most remedial entry level role requires a degree to even be considered for employment. I'm sure that you're keenly aware that our children and grandchildren are not competing for desirable positions with the 'kid' they grew-up next-door to or competed against in high school debate. Today, they are competing against international peers that have honed their intellectual competitive skills from middle school on to the point that they virtually have no other defining personality traits then that which can be ascertained from a standardized test. Is it right? Absolutely not. However, until the most sought after university degrees and disciplines as well as the corresponding well-paying jobs for college graduates stop going to the best 'tested' employees (i.e. highest test scores, etc.) and start going to the best 'fits', I think we should try to have an open mind to alternative teaching methods.

All in, you made some excellent points. I will look for more of the good professor's work to review.


Posted by mom of 3, a resident of Danville
on Nov 15, 2013 at 6:38 am

Susie, can you tell me one benefit of Common Core? You have fallen for the party line offered by the school administrators which are following the money (as if they have a choice) from the government. BAD NEWS.


Posted by Rick Pshaw, a resident of Danville
on Nov 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

Here's a thought. If something is failing, like our school system, why try something new and unproven? Why not try something old that has a track record of success?



Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on Nov 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Susie-
I have been following the genesis of Common Core from the very beginning - though an important detail is that that wasn't very long ago. Any time you want to have a debate about it, I'm all in. While I hate to sound like a pompous know-it-all, I am as certain as I can possibly be at this point that I know vastly more about No Child and Common Core than you ever will.

You can start but picking up a copy of "Reign of Error" at the library and getting educated about the murky origins of the totally untested (and good point Rick - you must have turned off Hannity!) Common Core, and the false narratives that utterly corrupt people like Rhee and David Coleman have been pushing. And if you don't know who David Coleman even is, it proves the point I made in the first paragraph.

The talking points of Common core are something most of us can agree on. It is the shifting of public funding and tax dollars to private education profiteers and charter schools that I will be fighting as long as I have a child in school. And maybe longer.


Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville
on Nov 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm

The world is constantly changing and we adapt in all sorts of ways. Education is no different. We are living and working in an increasingly international, technological world. Collaboration among individuals and teams is part of the formula for economic success. Our education should foster this type of learning.

Yet, there will always be those who resist change and constantly bemoan the fact that we no longer live in "the good old days." Luddites, confederates, segregationists -- it's a venerable tradition to resist change.


Posted by Grandparent, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm

It's interesting to see that the Tea Party folks are consistent. They no almost nothing about Common Core or how it differs from current instruction methods. Their mode of operation is to oppose almost everything without studying its content


Posted by Dorothy, a resident of Alamo Elementary School
on Nov 17, 2013 at 12:43 am

My basic worry about Common Core is the math in elementary school. I've seen samples of the questions: "Explain why 2 + 2 = 4." I believe that is a developmentally inappropriate question for the younger grades. I think math curriculums like Singapore math and Saxon math, where students are taught adding and subtracting and multiplying and dividing painlessly through spiraling, is best.

I also dislike the CC emphasis on "group work" and kids being asked to critique other kids' reasoning in the classroom. A waste of time, and kind of hurtful to the kid being critiqued (I think it is the teacher's job to criticize, not the peer's). And shared grades, rather than individual grades, is a bad idea all around. UC Berkeley at admission decision time will not want to know about the student's experience with group work in high school; UC Berkeley wants to know about the individual.


Posted by Sally, a resident of Danville
on Nov 17, 2013 at 8:39 am

Dorothy,
The point is to be able to explain your reasoning to classmates and to the teacher. You don't fully understand something if you can't explain it. In the early grades they're not expected to write a thesis about what they're doing, they're just getting practice at communicating about what they're doing and reaching for deeper understanding. They're still getting practice...they're just getting more application alongside that practice.

The goal has changed from having graduates who are really good at following algorithms and copying what's modeled for them, to having graduates who truly understand what they're doing and why it's meaningful. Which group do you want building your bridges?

The "well-researched" critiques are utterly meaningless until these people have spent time in the classroom. I'll tell you what's happening in the classroom: students are MORE engaged. You try to tell me that's a bad thing.

Go get some classroom experience. See first hand how these kids are learning over the course of a school year. Then your opinion will mean something.






Posted by Sally, a resident of Danville
on Nov 17, 2013 at 8:59 am

Dorothy,
One more thing, since you brought up concerns about UC Berkeley. Here is a piece written by a UCB professor about the new math standards. Take a look, with an open mind:
Web Link

The key to implementation is training. Teachers must be trained properly if these standards are to be effective. That takes investment of time and money, but take a read, since you value the point of view of UCB faculty, and see if you think it may be worth it.


Posted by Tom, a resident of Danville
on Nov 18, 2013 at 9:26 am

I bet if we changed the name of Common Core to God's Curriculum and didn't change anything else about it, all the people who are against it would be for it.


Posted by Douglas, a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and fight Common Core. I have seen it in action with my freshman daughter and am horrified at what education is becoming with these standards. We have already seen the disaster of Obamacare - this is just Obamaeducation and a disaster in the making!


Posted by Common Sense Parent, a resident of Danville
on Nov 18, 2013 at 3:46 pm

The Common Core standards, which are lower than the previous California state standards, have not been field-tested anywhere in the nation. Yet, our local school district is forcing them on our schools. Common Core math is a retread of the tried-and-failed "reform math." Don't think you're safe sending your child to a private school, paying for what you believe is an excellent education. In Danville, St. Isidore's Catholic School has implemented Common Core math and English. The San Ramon Valley Christian Academy has implemented Common Core math in K-5. Go to www.truthinamericaneducation.com for fair information on Common Core.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville
on Nov 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

@Douglas,

Isn't this school year (2013-2014) a 'test' phase for the future roll-out of the Common Core standard across all of SRVSD with some students still being assessed against the traditional STAR tests throughout the current year? If so, with nearly 2.5 months to not quite 3 months of the school year completed so far, you've already seen a measurable decrement and corrosive deterioration of the entire educational system due to Common Core? My goodness, you are quite clairvoyant.


Posted by Carol, a resident of Charlotte Wood Middle School
on Nov 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm

This has been the superintendent's whole focus since her first day on the job. Most of her staff has left, but those remaining are those that drink the cool aide. It is no wonder that the school board feels they must go forward with this " one size fits all" mentality.


Posted by Rick Pshaw, a resident of Danville
on Nov 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Uh... Carol, that would be "Kool-Aid" unless you really mean a sophisticated assistant: "Cool Aide"


Posted by Douglas, a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm

@ Conservator

First, last year was the "testing" year for Common Core as my daughter was a guinea pig in a couple of her classes. Second, yes I have seen a substantial difference as I have a senior and can easily see a measurably decrease in my freshman's classes. And finally, with your argument with regard to women over men and keeping up with the world, you should do some more reading on the topic. There are numerous factors why there are more women graduating from college than men. The CDC's research would be a great place to start.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm

@Douglas,

We've done this dance before. It's really no more engaging then a root-canal. I'll reply and you can retort to your heart's content.

In terms of your argument, if your intent is to win 'hearts and minds' regarding the repeal and replacement of Common Core or anything else that you so soundly disregard, I strongly encourage you to follow the lead put forth by Derek in this forum. While I don't agree with his position, this thoughts are well thought-out and objectively defended. The argument is so much more convincing when one's position in not clearly triangulated by vile references to Obamacare, Kool-Aid and the initiation of the Rapture. I don't know, perhaps it is just me.

I could only envision the manifesto you would have to provide this audience with a substantiated argument around the educational decrement within SRVUSD relative to a roll-out of the new/proposed math & english standards based on two students who are still in school. I won't read it but some might. Please consider publishing it.

To address your last point, if you're linking the contemporary 60/40 and growing graduation rates of females over males in converse to the very same metric when assessed during the Nixon administration to the fine work of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, PLEASE publish that as a manifesto as well. I might actually read that one.


Posted by Douglas, a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

@ Conservator

I keep trying to give you a chance, but you have once again proven you are beyond "learning new tricks". Yes, with your ancients references, you come across as an elderly person, and one who just doesn't get it. You and Derek are talking theory and not practical application. Does Derek have students in the system and how old are they, and do you? When you have actual examples, get back to me then...


Posted by Carolyn, a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm

1984, anyone?


Posted by Catherine, a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I agree with Carolyn

First it's the "Inner Party elite" dictating bad educational standards to the "Outer Party", next they will be dictating lunches...

Web Link

Time to revolt!!!!


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville
on Nov 19, 2013 at 9:42 pm

@Douglas,

Please, please no chances are warranted on my behalf. You are generally right about one point. There are far too many scars on this old hide to consider it still pliable and somewhat trainable.

You (and those of your ilk) will likely disregard the following example as just rhetoric. However, you asked and so I'm offering. It's an opinion piece from some 'rag' back East that only the 'old' and/or the really well educated still readů(Web Link). No worries, if you've not seen it already.


Posted by Xin Han, a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 20, 2013 at 8:36 am

As the education sec said (poor choice of words but on point never the less) "... some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn't as brilliant as they thought ... ".


Posted by John, a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Xin Han

That comment alone shows your arrogance, never mind your name doing that without saying anything!


Posted by Sally, a resident of Danville
on Nov 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Ah.....racism. That's what was missing from our "discussion." Now it feels like a proper comments section.



Posted by Danville Parent, a resident of Danville
on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:48 am

I think that anyone who is against common core needs to travel outside the East Bay e.g. even over to Silicon Valley - our kids don't know how to think, theorize or strategize.

I'd say those of who don't know what I'm taking about are a perfect case in point.

Something needs to change - just as Obamacare (which was referenced above), our old school standards are underserving our kids. It may not be perfect but thank God at least we're trying something new.


Posted by Get educated, a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

Conservator- just love reading your posts, especially the one recommending people send their kids to Athenian school- hilarious- Athenian is very well known for their instructional methods- the same as those that the CCSS are shifting to. There is a difference between what is taught and how it is taught- pedagogy is the delivery of the content and that is the major shift with the new standards.

After years of students only filling in bubbles with one right answer, they are now required to explain their thinking, develop number sense, and read and write with much great depth of knowledge. It's no wonder you would be upset and reach out to blame everyone from your child's teacher to the President of the United States. It is not easy for students to shift from what the the old standards asked of them. Now they cant just sit back in class pretending to listen to lectures, complete their worksheets and multiple choice tests. They have to show their thinking, actively learn and participate, WRITE, explain, go deeper with their thinking....And guess what, they will complain, earn lower grades, and yes, even fail....because that is what learning is.

In school- Web Link
In business- Web Link

To focus only on your child's GPA and not what is actually being learned, to what depth, and retained, is to bury your head in the sand. So many parents do this because of the college track, the status of the acceptance letters, while avoiding the real point to education- to actually learn. When something interferes or changes this- fear is the first thing to arise. Your posts are so clearly echoing this fear.

The irony in these posts is that what you seem to be complaining about is exactly what the CCSS is working to achieve, making it really sound like you are simply blindly following the talking points your political party wants you to believe. The actual standards are not changing that much- the way they are delivered is... the days of lecture (the sit and get method) need to change and active learning needs to be implemented for improved learning. To do this well, teachers need good professional development.


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