By A.P. Dillon

In North Carolina, I’m known by many as the ‘Stop Common Core lady’ and with good reason.

I’ve been fighting Common Core every single day and have written over 1,300 articles on Common Core in various places (including my personal blog and here at Da Tech Guy) over the course of the last three and a half years.

I have participated in the national Common Core event put on by Glenn Beck and the Blaze, We Will Not Conform. I’ve testified in front of the NC Legislature and will be giving public comment at the upcoming Common Core Commission meeting on June 15th.

I even recently had the opportunity to express my frustrations on Common Core to Presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz. I had him at “hello“.

As you can see, I’ve been busy.

This past week, Common Core turns five. So, how did I celebrate?

I yawned and continued doing exactly what I’ve done for years: Fight Common Core.

I did manage to say ‘Happy Birthday’, though:


I also managed to garner a shout out and a few links in a smartly written Common Core birthday post by Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation:

Judging from approved meeting minutes from 2009 and 2010, the discussions referenced above appear to have involved key members of the board, N.C. Department of Public Instruction staff, and then-Gov. Bev Perdue. State education officials spent little time engaging a diverse group of stakeholders or soliciting input from the public.

That is not to say that there was no feedback from parents, teachers, and concerned citizens. Before publication of the final version of the standards, the website served as a portal for public comment nationally.

Blogger extraordinaire Lady Liberty obtained, published, and analyzed feedback from the site. She found that, of the 8,731 comments collected on, only 195 came from North Carolina.

“Blogger extraordinaire”. HEH!  I suppose that goes hand in hand with being one of Da Tech Guy’s “Magnificent Seven” bloggers.

Glad to see the research and hard work I put in on exposing the ‘public feedback’ seeing some attention.

What I also hope receives more attention is that the Academic Standards Review Commission that is reviewing the Common Core in North Carolina will be hearing from the public at their upcoming meeting.  Spaces are limited, so parents should get moving if they want to express their concerns.

Whether Common Core turns 5 or 25, it makes no difference to those of us who have exposed what the standards really are: A fundamentally flawed experiment, created by unqualified individuals and trotted out to the public by unelected non-governmental organizations all with the financial backing of big business.

AP DillonA.P. Dillon resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder of
Her current and past writing can also be found at IJ Review, and Watchdog Wire NC.
Catch her on Twitter: @LadyLiberty1885

By A.P. Dillon

Well, it would appear that an education outfit threw over $225k to Hillary Clinton for a speaking engagement back in March, 2014.

The article is short, go read it.

The outfit is called Academic Partnerships.  Their mission is the ‘globalization’ of everything Higher Education related.

Check out their advisory board.  As a Tarheel state resident, I noted former Governor and Common Core peddler, Jim Hunt, being on the list.

Bush and Hunt were also involved in a 2011 conference called, ‘Future of State Universities‘. Do not miss the video from Dr. Dick Ferguson (Former CEO of ACT) on ‘College Readiness’, with an introduction by Hunt touting the amazing Common Core.

Going back to the Hillary/Jeb Ed fest in 2014, Hunt helped put together this conference where Hillary raked in the cash. Note the creepy ‘one-world-order‘ type title of the conference:

The Globalization of Higher Education conference was put together by Bush and former North Carolina Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt, who’s worked with Clinton in the past
Politico, 3/24/2014

Not only was Clinton a speaker, Jeb Bush was too — and he invited her.

Former Republican Gov. of Florida Jeb Bush invited the former Democratic senator to the two-day event, marking their third appearance together this year. More than 250 leaders of both U.S. and international universities will continue to meet through Tuesday to discuss the potential American higher education has to serve millions of students around the world. Clinton was among the 15 speakers, who also include former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
MSNBC, 3/24/14

We know what Hillary was paid. Was Jeb paid too?  Also, where does the money for all of these high priced speakers come from? How does Academic Partnerships make their money? Academic Partnerships appears to be a for-profit company.

Jeb and Hillary are more alike than not. They are certainly arm in arm on Education, ‘globalization’ and Common Core.

DM7 small LL1885A.P. Dillon resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder of
Her current and past writing can also be found at IJ Review, and Watchdog Wire NC.
Catch her on Twitter: @LadyLiberty1885

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Louisiana may be making progress toward getting out of Common Core, but it won’t be in time to further Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations.

Last week a series of bills dubbed the Common Core Compromise began working through the Louisiana legislature.  State Representative Brett Geymann is the author of HB373 which lays the groundwork for new standards by requiring the state education board to draft new standards that would replace Common Core.  There is no guarantee that these new standards would be adopted, however, which is why Governor Jindal’s office hasn’t endorsed the compromise:

The bill (HB 373), authored by state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, lays out a process for reviewing and possibly adopting new academic standards. Under the legislation, Louisiana could replace Common Core, but may also opt to keep the controversial educational benchmarks. While the review takes place, Common Core will continue to be used.  Under the current law, the BESE board is not bound by any review process and can thus circumvent the public input process; Geymann’s bill would change that.

Under Rep. Geymann’s proposed legislation, the state education board would begin reviewing and drafting new standards this summer; the public would have a say on the standards through a series of meetings and comment periods throughout the state and by February 2016 the standards would be posted on the BESE website and adopted in March 2016.  There is no guarantee that the new standards won’t strongly resemble Common Core, however, which seems to be Jindal’s objection.  But, at the very least, the public would get to weigh in on the new standards, a process not afforded to them under Common Core.  Supporters of the bill say that it is, at least, a path to scrapping Common Core.

The new standards, whatever they may look like, would be adopted by a brand new BESE board which would be sworn in January 2016; a clean slate all the way around as there will be a new Louisiana governor by then as well. The new governor could veto the new standards which means Louisiana would still be under Common Core.

Governor Jindal’s decision to withhold support of the bill is seen by some as political posturing:

Also, if the Common Core compromise was adopted, Jindal would essentially have no role in potentially getting rid of the standards. Under the proposed plan, the opportunity to drop Common Core wouldn’t actually come up until 2016 at the earliest, after Jindal leaves office. Under the agreement reached, Common Core would absolutely remain in place for the rest of Jindal’s tenure.

“This governor is not in the process [under the compromise plan],” said state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, a Common Core supporter who helped put together the agreement with Geymann and others.

Jindal’s office hasn’t cited this timeline as a part of their objection to the plan, but it could make the Louisiana’s Common Core fight a trickier talking point for the governor in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, where he will be campaigning if he runs for president. Jindal wouldn’t be able to say Louisiana had gotten rid of Common Core under his watch.

“Bobby would like to be able to say ‘Yes. We ditched Common Core,'” said Pearson Cross, a political scientist based at the University of Louisiana -Lafayette, “This format doesn’t provide him with the kind of victory lap he would prefer.”

Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin explains Jindal’s reluctance to endorse the deal:

“First, we are concerned that the veto mechanism in the proposed legislation could set up a process where the state reverts to Common Core,” Plotkin said. “Secondly, there is concern about the commission set up by BESE to come up with new Louisiana standards because some believe it is filled with Common Core supporters.”

In the end, the best plan to get Louisiana out of Common Core seems to be this Common Core Compromise; Jindal’s own proposed Common Core legislation has been dropped.

Jindal’s concerns that Louisiana may still be stuck with Common Core, or Common Core-like standards, may be entirely justified, but at least for the time being, this seems to be the only way out.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By A.P. Dillon

If you’ve followed the Common Core debate over the last two to three years, one thing has been clear: Supporters of the standards can be relied on to mock opponents.
The display of ‘new tone‘, or shutuppery as I call it, has been very visible.

ArneDuncan war on moms memeExamples range from the Secretary of Education and his ‘white suburban moms‘ slam to a legislator hinting that opponents need tin foil hats and wanting to budget for “two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology.”

One of my favorites is Governor John Kasich claiming that opposition is ‘just a runaway internet campaign’.

This brings me to the war of the Unicorns and Crawfish playing out in Louisiana.

The Advocate reported; emphasis added:

Using stuffed pink unicorns to dispel what they call myths about Common Core, officials of a group that backs the standards said Wednesday that they are launching a marketing campaign to defeat legislative efforts to repeal the overhaul.

The push is led by the Alliance for Better Classrooms political action committee, or ABC PAC.

The same group, with Baton Rouge contractor Lane Grigsby as one of its leaders, played a key role in the 2011 races for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Organizers of the effort have distributed stuffed pink or white unicorns to state lawmakers that include tags that say “Unicorns are not real. And neither are most of the things you’ve heard about Common Core State Standards.”

Why pink unicorns?

Shane Vander Hart of Truth In American Education gave advocates the idea — as a joke.

Vander Hart wrote, “I’d like to point out I actually made this suggestion as some friendly PR advice for Common Core advocates when they were really struggling at the time not knowing exactly where to burn all of that Gates money.”

It is worth noting who is getting behind Alliance for Better Classrooms’s Unicorn campaign. High profile ‘Republicans’ like Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA).  Breitbart reported:

A group of Common Core supporters resorting to mocking parents and other opponents of the boondoggle education initiative is studded with likely GOP presidential candidates, establishment Republican governors, top corporations, and the primary private funder of Common Core himself–Bill Gates.

As parents by the thousands are opting their children out of the Common Core-aligned tests throughout the country, and many states are besieged by massive technological glitches that are preventing the tests from being administered at all, pro-Common Core headliners like Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) have joined together as a group called “Unicorns Are Not Real.”

Funded by PAC Alliance for Better Classrooms, the group purports to ridicule opponents of the unproven Common Core standards with the theme that “most of the things you’ve heard about Common Core” are not real, either.

By the way Bloomberg dumped $100k into Alliance for Better Classrooms in 2011 in an attempt to influence three runoff races for the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

While mocking and ridicule by supporters has been consistent, so it the reaction of opponents. They refuse to lay down and take it.

In response to the Unicorns, opponents to the Common Core punching back twice as hard.  The Advocate reported:

Not to be outdone by pink unicorns, Common Core opponents Wednesday distributed stuffed red crawfish to state lawmakers in arguing that the academic standards are riddled with problems.

“Our campaign is that crawfish are real and so are the problems with Common Core,” said Amy Lemoine, who lives in Lafayette.

“Parents across the state as well as educators have done their homework, done our research,” Lemoine said. “We have come across some real problems with Common Core based on facts, research, expert opinions. We just want our legislators to have those facts presented to them.”


Backers of the crawfish campaign said that, unlike the unicorn movement, theirs does not rely on the support of big companies.

“This is not professional,” Lemoine said. “This is moms. We have pulled our talents together.”

“This is moms.” BOOM!
Yes, this is moms.
And dads, grandparents, students and teachers. And the majority of us vote.

By A.P. Dillon

Common Core and the high-stakes tests associated with it continue to see enormous backlash nationwide.

In former Senator Hillary Clinton’s New York, two bills have been filed to allow for parents to opt out of the tests, however parents aren’t waiting for state approvals and are opting their children out at an incredible rate.

In multiple districts in the lower Hudson Valley, opt out rates soared with Mahopac’s middle school seeing an opt out rate of 55%.

Jumping over to the other side of the country, New Mexico students who had been protesting the PARCC test also showed an overall opt out rate of 5%. Looking at the individual schools, the rates in some schools were much higher – ranging from 9 to 36%.

The overall message being sent here is that of parental rights and local control over federal dictates and the big money behind it from public-private partnerships, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the publishing and testing behemoth, Pearson.

At an Education Roundtable this week in Iowa, Hillary Clinton’s support for the Common Core was crystal clear. So was Clinton’s position on those opposing Common Core:

“But your question is really a larger one. How did we end up at a point where we are so negative about the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation which is how our kids are educated?” – Caffeinated Thoughts

Got that? The education of our children is a “non-family enterprise”.
Clinton knows exactly how we ended up here; she was a part of it.

In response to a question about how Clinton would ‘bring the heart back into education’ in the United States, Clinton’s answer has ignited new fires.

You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument going on around Common Core it’s very painful because the Common Core started off as a bipartisan effort, it was actually non-partisan, it wasn’t politicized, it was trying to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was, there wouldn’t be two tiers of education.  Everybody would be looking at what was to be learned and doing their best to try to achieve that,” Clinton responded. – Caffeinated Thoughts

Mercedes Schneider’s take down of these comments is not to be missed and this part of her response to Clinton’s remarks is almost exactly what I would have said:

“Implicit in Clinton’s message is that Common Core would have been just fine except that it became entangled in politics.

Get a clue, Hillary: Common Core was birthed in politics.

But I think you know that.”

Yes, she knows that all too well.  As I said earlier, she was a part of it.

Michelle Malkin reminds us of just how well Clinton knows this and where this data-driven, top-down approach to education has it roots — with NCEE, Hillary Clinton and her pal, Marc Tucker.

In the early 1990s, NCEE (established with $5 million in New York taxpayer-funded seed grants) paid Hillary Clinton more than $100,000 to direct the group’s “Workforce Skills Program” while she worked at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas. After the Clintons moved into the White House, Tucker sent a now-infamous letter to Mrs. Clinton outlining a radical progressive plan “to remold the entire American system” through a centralized national-standards Trojan Horse.  – Michelle Malkin

In addition to NCEE, another group tied to Hillary Clinton should be on the radar: The New America Foundation (NAF).

NAF is a 501(c)3 that was started in 1999 by Ted Halstead and Steve McColl and whose board includes Jonathan Soros. After weeding through their site, the main purpose of NAF is to influence national Education policy at Congressional level; they’ve already spent millions on lobbying.

NAF, while mostly politically focused and is indisputably a Left leaning organization, NAF also has formulated ‘education policy‘ goals.

Some of the more visible backers include Bill Gates, George Soros and the Tides Foundation, Microsoft, Home Depot, Rockefeller, DISH Network, Google, Facebook, Arianna Huffington and the U.S. Dept. of State.

Watch the “Welcome To New America” video. You won’t have to go far into it to see Mrs. Clinton. The clip of ‘former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’ promoting NAF comes right after Senator John McCain’s glowing testimonial. Stick around, you’ll see Van Jones too.

Laugh.. cry.. or both?

AP DillonA.P. Dillon resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder of
Her current and past writing can also be found at IJ Review,, Watchdog Wire NC

By A.P. Dillon

In New York, the energy from the movement by parents to opt their children out of standardized testing and push back against one-size-fits-all reforms like Common Core is fueling the same fights in the rest of the states.

What is going on in New York and elsewhere is not just a fight about high-stakes tests or Common Core. These two things are only a part of a bigger question: What is the purpose of education?

Our children are answering that question.

Ryan Lotocki of Frontier High School has some answers to that question and shares some of them in the video, “This is Genius“.

Lotocki also asks a question to which Common Core is not the solution:

“What’s the point to learn?
For the thrill.
And Common Core won’t solve anything, so take a chill pill”. 

While Lotocki is in high school in New York, a fourth grade girl named Sydney Smoot (from Jeb Bush’s Faux Education Utopia of Florida) gave a speech to a school board. This young lady’s speech about why the current FSA testing must stop was passionate, direct and the audience erupted in cheers at the end.

Also in Florida, an 8th grader tearfully spoke out about high-stakes testing (the FCAT)  in the state and Common Core. Her testimony was positively heartbreaking. Parents shouted out from the audience, “this is ridiculous!” and “you can’t do this to our children!

The video of that 8th grader closes with a few written statements, one of which reads, “And children, the future generation of our nation, are unable to live up to their full learning potential, based on a snapshot test day.

Are you listening, Ed Reformers? Corporations? Education ‘Non-profits’?

AP DillonA.P. Dillon resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder
Her current and past writing can also be found at IJ Review,, Watchdog

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As the national opt-out movement gains momentum, school districts are getting nervous about kids not showing up for the intensive PARCC tests.

NOLA reported this week that in Alexandria, Louisiana, kids are being offered incentives to take the test such as being excused from the school dress code for the rest of the year.  Morris Hills New Jersey school district planned, then abandoned, an incentive plan that would reward students with bonus points and a chance to win American Express gift cards for participating in the test.  A Newton, New Jersey high school offered students the chance to skip some final exams just for taking the PARCC test. Twitchy has examples of incentives of all kinds for kids to take the test – from iPad minis to recess.

Incentivizing and rewarding kids to do well on tests has been around as long as tests have been around, but this time it’s taking on a different meaning.  In Louisiana, at least, there are very real penalties for not taking the test.  For every child that doesn’t take the test, the school receives a zero in the formula that calculates the school performance score.  When the annual school letter grades come out, a school could be labeled with a low letter grade just because a number parents opted their kids out of the test, even though otherwise it may be an excellent school.

In Calcasieu Parish nearly 800 students are opting out; that’s an usually high number – a survey of opt-outs throughout the state are in double digits by parish.  But 800 students is about 6% of the student body in Calcasieu Parish and will definitely affect school scores and teacher evaluations.

While the issue of assigning a zero for these kids has been brought to the state BESE Board, they have deferred action on the matter:

State schools Superintendent John White said the opt-outs would clearly have an impact on Moss Bluff schools. But he defended his recommendation to wait on setting any policy changes for score and teacher scores, saying, “We don’t govern two schools — we govern 1,400.” Moreover, he said any decision to opt-out was “hypothetical” until testing day.

And so, the issue of opt-out looms like a threat over the heads of districts and schools where a large number of parents don’t want to subject their kids to extensive, grueling testing over Common Core standards that have been poorly implemented from Day One.  (At the very least, CCSS should have been phased in from elementary grades over a number of years – dumping CCSS math on a high-school sophomore and then subjecting them to PARCC is ridiculous).

As to the issue of incentives, I say it’s nothing new.  Does it cross the line to bribery?  Maybe.  But to hold the threat of heavy penalty over a school for parental opt-out decision (something a school really has no control over), is just wrong.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  over the next several weeks, kids across the nation are going to be subjected to long, grueling, standardized tests to prove that they are learning and that teachers are doing their job.

In Louisiana, this is the schedule I indicated about a month ago:

PARCC Phase 1: (Grades 3-8) March 16-20  (English and Math)

iLeap/Leap: (Grades 3-8) April 14-15 (Science and Social Studies)

PARCC Phase 2: (Grades 3-8) May 4-8 (English and Math)

EOC for ELA and Math (Grades 6-12) begins in April and covers English, Science, Math, Social Studies.  Most of these are two day tests.  In some cases, three days.

Then, if you’re going to take the ACT, there are dates for that too, depending on which series you take:  EXPLORE for Grades 8 and 9, PLAN for Grade 10, and ACT for grade 11.  In most school districts, these tests are mandatory.

This schedule changes daily. In my particular school, they’ve also adding a WorkKeys test for grade 11 and the CLEP test, and students in AP classes will be taking various AP tests.

It’s a seriously insane amount of testing.

The Opt-out movement is growing across the nation; this could be in part due to growing frustration with Common Core but also frustration with the growing number of tests kids have to take.  It is accountability run amok.

The New York Times took a look at the opt-out movement primarily as related to the New Jersey area, but parents are frustrated across the country.

In Louisiana the whole issue is a hot mess:

A new wrinkle for this year is that no one outside of Louisiana State Superintendent John White and his close circle know what test kids will be taking.  White has claimed at different times our children will be taking a PARCC or PARCC-like test.  (PARCC is one of two major testing Consortiums tapped and funded by US DOE to develop Common Core tests for the States.)  However Governor Bobby Jindal and his DOA intervened in a contract dispute and declared the way it was approved invalid and have asserted they will not pay for PARCC with State funds.  This has led to several lawsuits brought by education Reform proponents and parents groups as well as the Governor’s office and BESE.

Part of the objection to these tests is that Common Core was implemented across the board.  Kids in Algebra I, for example, are going to be tested on Common Core style questions when that’s not the way they were taught.  Even the EOC (End of Course test) which Louisiana uses has been redesigned to reflect PARCC – type questions and Common Core skills.  So, given this, it’s easy for me to see why a parent might not want to subject a child to this.

I’ve been an educator for 18 years and I love teaching kids, but when I look at our testing schedule and I look at how many classroom hours are given over to testing, test prep, and holding time while other student groups test, it’s clear that something is out of sync.

At any rate, it’s-a-comin’, so as parents you must decide if your child is going to be subjected to that or if you’re going to opt-out.

Spring testing season is here.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By A.P. Dillon

With the ESEA Reauthorization looming, Sen. Lamar Alexander has been a central figure. A colleague of mine recently sent me this video of Alexander from 1989. Watch the video, it’s only about 3 minutes long and is an eye-opener.

The video’s description reads:

Lamar Alexander lays out the plan to restructure education at the 11-2-1989 Governors Conference on Education in Wichita, Kansas. The Conference title was “Schools, Goals and the 1990s”. As George Bush, Sr’s Secretary of Education, he implemented education restructuring as America 2000 that specified creation of the New American Schools Development Corporation. He is currently senior Senator from Tennessee and Conference Chair of the Republican Party.

What caught my eye was “New American Schools Development Corporation” and it sent me down a rabbit hole. We’ll use NASDC  to identify New American Schools Development Corporation going forward for the sake of brevity.

NASDC is defunct. Well, sort of. I’ll explain.

I did some Googling and came up with a 1991 C-SPAN video. In the video, it describes NASDC as what now is commonly referred to as a public-private partnership:

“The New American Schools Corporation was created as a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to solicit donations from American businesses for the creation of 535 new experimental schools.”

What happened to those schools, one has to wonder?

I hit the Wayback Machine after coming up empty on finding a website for NASDC. At the Wayback Machine, I located the original site which was started in 1997. The working title for the group was “The New American Schools Network”.

The WayBack Machine’s archive of NASDC included a link to a partner business who did multiple research pieces for NASDC called Rand Corporation. On one lengthy research piece, it should be noted one of the funders was the Ford Corporation.

Of interest are the long list of business ‘contributors‘ for NASDC; many are the same as the ones promoting Common Core.

The list includes IBM’s Lou Gerstner. Gerstner is now Chairman Emeritus of Achieve, Inc. — the outfit who helped write the Common Core. There is a whole other rabbit hole to go down with Gerstner for those who are interested.

I dug a bit further and found that in May of 2004, NASDC merged with another company. That company should be familiar to those fighting Common Core. The company NASDC merged with was The American Institutes for Research or AIR for short.

AIR is now in the high stakes testing world, competing against Pearson in multiple states, including Jeb Bush’s Florida.  In New Mexico, AIR accused officials in the state of bid rigging.

Now, coming full circle, Lamar Alexander’s NASDC merging with AIR is important for another reason. Remember? The Vice President of AIR was selected to oversee the application of ESEA waivers.

AP DillonA.P. Dillon resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder Her current and past writing can also be found at IJ Review,, WatchdogWireNC and WizBang. Her current writing project is a children’s book series.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Common Core has claimed another casualty, driving yet another fine teacher into a different profession.  Stacie Starr (be careful if you Google that name) is a sixteen year veteran and is an “Intervention Specialist” in Elyria, Ohio.  She deals primarily with special education students but also with any student struggling in a subject.  Starr won the Live With Kelly and Michael Top Teacher Contest for 2014, earning a new scoreboard for her school, an 8-day trip to the Bahamas, and a 2014 Ford Escape for her efforts.  In her profile video for the contest, her love of teaching and her students is evident.

But when Starr accepted her grand prize last week, she announced her intention to leave teaching at the end of this year because of excessive standardized testing related to Common Core:

Starr became dismayed when she reviewed practice tests for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, with her ninth grade students.

“Try them yourself,” Starr said.

The reading portion of the test is a speech by Robert Oppenheimer on atomic bombs. Starr says the difficulty of reading is ranked at the college level.

“I’m a special ed teacher,” Starr said. “A lot of my students read at the fifth grade level. They’re expected to read at the ninth grade level, when it’s clearly college level. I don’t know how they can be expected to pass this.

Part of her concern is that the rules are still changing even as testing is set to begin.  It comes down to what many of us have been saying all along: the standards might be acceptable but the implementation has been a total failure.

Yet with a stellar 16-year career under her belt, Starr said the new testing culture is killing education.

“I can’t do it anymore, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmosphere,” she said. “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”

The standing-room-only audience at the Elyria Public Library’s West River Road North branch was shocked. Starr fought back tears as she explained her life as a teacher.

The tests are developmentally inappropriate for typical students and torture for those with special needs, she said. And, even an individual education plan is not enough to shield students from the rigors of state expectations.

“I have faith in my students, but my students are reading at sometimes a fourth- and fifth-grade reading level,” she said. “Each and every day, I have to look in my students’ eyes and tell them I can’t help them because the state has decided they have to prove what they know.”

Starr isn’t the first teacher to leave the classroom because of Common Core; here are five more and certainly there are more.

In many states parents are opting their kids out of testing but in Louisiana at least, that move comes with punitive damage for the school.  For every child that opts out of testing, the school receives a grade of zero which in turn lowers the school performance score.  This has prompted at least fourteen school districts in our state to request a waiver from the punitive measure.  The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will discuss whether these waivers will be granted or not in March (four members of this panel requested a special meeting to settle this, but the president declined, saying there is “no need.”) The BESE board will take this matter up just one week before PARCC testing begins.

Clearly we are still making up the rules as we go, which is one reason teachers like Stacie Starr are frustrated.  All across the country teachers, parents, and politicians are clamoring for local school boards to regain control of testing.  Everyone recognizes the need for standards and accountability but not at the expense of our children who are increasingly frustrated and demoralized over the Common Core gobbled-gook.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.