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Education

Passing Tests, Failing Life

By | Blog, Education, News and Events | No Comments

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Recently, a bold teacher in North Carolina publicly expressed her frustration with the Common Core system and published her Common Core manifesto. After 23 years of teaching, she had had enough of the bureaucracy, so she left her job. My mom, a teacher in public schools for 35 years, shares many of the same feelings. My best friend’s mother, also a long-time public school teacher, echoes the same frustrations. A September 2014 Gallup poll shows that these teachers are not alone. According to the poll, 65 percent of teachers surveyed were worried about the new common core initiatives and 62 percent felt frustrated. Resignation letters are not uncommon lately, and each one reflects similar frustrations.

Like many teachers, my mother is passionate about her students; she prays for them and is a light for Christ to them and to her coworkers. From the time she was a little girl, she knew she wanted to be a teacher, but what she signed up for years ago is not the school system of today. In the past, teachers were expected to use their professional discretion to evaluate their students and decide how and what to teach to reach learning goals. Teachers could work together on cross-curricular projects that encouraged excitement and creativity among students. Although this kind of cross-subject learning is crucial for application, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills required in upper-level education and in the job market, test-centered mandates leave little time for it.

In the past, students were required to make progress in order to advance through the grades. Now, if a student fails, the teacher is reprimanded. In addition to preparing lessons, teaching, and grading, many teachers must also prepare their own portfolios showing what they have taught and including examples of student work for their evaluations. Teachers must show that they have taught every standard, and they are expected to justify low scores or a child’s failure to reach a pre-set goal. Teachers whose students do not achieve desired test scores may be moved at the whim of an administrator, overloaded with needy or difficult students, moved to another school, or have extracurricular activities taken away, which could equate to loss of income.

Teachers are crying out for support, but in a sea of micromanagement, another administrative requirement is no life vest. No one would deny that families and children in our society are struggling with problems we could never have imagined just a few years ago. Single parents, absent fathers, drugs, learning disabilities, misuse of social media, and poverty often lead to serious behavior issues that conflict with learning. Theoretically, teachers have more help than ever, and teachers do what they can during the school day, but they cannot provide everything a child needs. Lack of parental involvement, a chaotic home life, or too much unsupervised time may result in a child unprepared or unable to give learning the attention it demands.

Currently, eight states have opted out of Common Core: Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Although my mom teaches in one of these eight states, the state standards of learning are still aligned with Common Core standards. The curriculum remains focused on testing. Schools are held to the same standards, whether their community is a wealthy suburb or a poor urban area, whether their population includes the exceptionally gifted or the newcomers who may not be able to speak or read English on their grade level, if they can even understand English at all. The school is held accountable for these children, and that equates to loss of funding when mandated standards are not met. Administrators are not left out of the bureaucratic cycle; they have their own meetings and standards and are often unavailable for school management, interaction with children, and working with teachers because they are tied up with testing, testing preparations, and meetings. If the students do not meet standards, schools can lose funding which comes down on the shoulders of the administrators as well.

School is about so much more than learning how to multiply or read. It is about becoming a complete person. It is about a place to learn the value of hard work, conflict resolution, compromise, and diversity not how to pass a standardized test. We have created a one-size-fits-all educational system, but we are not a one-size-fits-all society. Parents deserve choice; students deserve quality education, and teachers deserve a voice. Every student passes, and every student gets a trophy, but not every adult succeeds. The job market is unforgiving, and students who were given a perceived advantage are shocked when their bosses don’t hand them a gold star for completing a simple task. We must raise independent, free-thinking people, not government-dependent robots who are trained only to take tests. Teachers are dedicated, educated people, and they know what their students need more than an administrator and more than a testing company.

CWA of GA responds to recent news articles on the Common Core

By | Education, Georgia | No Comments

On August 21, 2013, Gov. Nathan Deal asked the Georgia State Board of Education to do a review of the Common Core standards. In addition, the Governor asked the school board members to begin developing Georgia’s own curriculum standards for Social Studies which are not currently a part of the Common Core standards. Click here for more information.

While Concerned Women for America of Georgia continues to be encouraged that Gov. Deal is listening to Georgia citizens on this critical education issue, there is still work to be done. In 2010, former Gov. Sonny Perdue and former State School Superintendent Kathy Cox shackled Georgia students with the untested and unpiloted Common Core standards and their aligned national tests through the Race to the Top grant. This egregious sidestepping of the General Assembly must not happen again.

CWA of Georgia believes that state legislators must step up to the plate and pass legislation to withdraw Georgia from the Common Core standards, any national tests, and the intrusive student data-tracking system. Only then will Georgia be totally liberated from the Common Core scheme.

2013 Legislative Session Wrap Up: Common Core, Freedom and Gambling

By | Education, Georgia | No Comments

The fast-paced 2013 Georgia legislative session came to a close on March 28. The 40-day session opened on January 14, and State Director Tanya Ditty represented your interests as a volunteer lobbyist with a physical presence at the State Capitol 35 of the 40 days.

Concerned Women for America’s targeted issues are: Sanctity of Life, Religious Liberty, Family, Anti-Pornography, Education, and National Sovereignty. Legislation this session encompassed several of these core issues. On-the-ground lobbying efforts combined with grassroots prayer and action gets results! Without calls and e-mails from CWA members and friends, successes would have been more difficult to achieve.

Click here to read the legislative update.

Update: Common Core Update on S.B. 167

By | Education, Georgia | No Comments

A somewhat revised version of S.B. 167 was heard today in the Senate Education and Youth Committee. After becoming apparent that the bill would not have the votes to pass out of committee, bill sponsor Sen. Ligon requested that no vote be taken on the bill. This procedure allows the bill to remain alive for the 2014 Legislative Session.

To some this might appear to be a defeat in stopping the Common Core. I do not see it this way. When we started on this journey to untangle Georgia from the snares of nationalized standards, testing and student data-tracking, very few Georgians even knew about the Common Core standards. CWA of Georgia has been able to educate legislators and citizens to the dangers of the federal power grab of our education system.

To each of you who have made phone calls, sent e-mails, travelled to the Capitol to support S.B. 167, I want to say a very special thank you. There is no way we can have an impact on our culture without grassroots activism. Thank you for getting involved and helping us expose those in our state who recklessly shackled Georgia children to nationalized standards.

Looking ahead:
Over the next several weeks, we will be fine tuning our plans for educating Georgians on the Common Core. Our goal is to cross this state and speak with community leaders, parents, teachers, and citizens about the dangers of the Common Core. We must also continue to educate our state legislators on the importance of withdrawing Georgia from the Common Core.

CWA of Georgia would like to thank several state legislators who battled hard for S.B. 167. Would you please take a moment and contact the offices of the following senators and thank them for their support of this bill?

  • Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) – bill sponsor 404-656-0045
  • Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) – bill co-sponsor 404-656-0034
  • Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) – Senate Education and Youth Committee Chairman 404-657-0406

Also thank Lt. Governor Casey Cagle for his support of S.B. 167. 404-656-5030

The fight to withdraw Georgia from the Common Core standards has just begun. I hope we can count on you as we continue to move forward with this issue. A donation today to help offset the costs of our education campaign would be greatly appreciated. Click here if you would like to donate to the work of CWA of Georgia on this issue.

Tanya Ditty

State Director

Standing room only at Common Core events

By | Education, Georgia | No Comments

It was standing room only at a press conference today as supporters gathered to hear State Senator William Ligon discuss his piece of legislation, S.B. 167, a bill that would withdraw Georgia from the Common Core State Standards. Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Georgia was on hand, along with several other grassroots organizations and citizen activists, as Sen. Ligon explained why Georgia must maintain control over its curriculum standards. Also speaking at the press conference were several key Common Core experts who explained how Georgia has lowered its educational standards by adopting the national standards in math and English language arts.

Click here watch Sen. Ligon’s press conference on S.B. 167.

Click here to read more about the press conference.

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Sen. Ligon addresses standing room only crowd of supporters.

Immediately following the press conference, the Senate Education and Youth Committee held its hearing on S.B. 167 to a packed room of both supporters and opponents of the bill. The committee heard over three hours of testimony, including testimony from Jane Robbins of the American Principals Project; Dr. Sandra Stotsky, English language arts expert; Ze’ev Wurman, math and cost expert; Dr. Jim Arnold, superintendent, and Tish Strange, concerned parent. CWA of Georgia State Director, Tanya Ditty, spoke on behalf of the CWA of Georgia members and as an educator, asking the senate committee to support S.B. 167 and return control of education to the parents and citizens of Georgia.

No vote or action was taken on the bill.

CWA of Georgia is helping lead the fight to stop the Common Core in Georgia, and we are committed to educating parents, school board members, hard-working taxpayers, and our state legislators on the threats imposed by the Common Core. We will keep you posted on the status of S.B. 167.

Click here to learn more about the Common Core.

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CWA of Georgia state director, Tanya Ditty testifies
before Senate Education and Youth Committee