Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why the Common Cores move from novels is wrong!

One of the biggest concerns that people have with the Common Core is the obsession with non-fiction and teaching students to learn to read instruction manuals.  

Because the actual Common Core exams have not yet been formulated, there is no list of what literature students may or may not be tested on. But critics say the stated policy of emphasizing "informational," or non-fiction reading, in English will inevitably come at the expense of literature classics. Those time-tested books are not simply fun to read, according to Brigham Young University English Prof. Alan Manning, they teach students how to write. 
"An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics," Manning wrote in an e-mail to Utah activists opposed to Common Core. "This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches."
It turns out that if you want to expand children and adults' minds, you should read more novels and more fiction!  A recent study was completed examining the impact that reading a fictional novel can have the brain of the readers.  

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” Berns said. 
“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”
I guess we will read this non-fictional study about why we should be reading more fiction in the classroom. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

How Joe Lowe's running has already had a positive impact on South Dakota.

Joe Lowe is running as a Democrat and Daugaard has taken notice.  If Joe Lowe doesn't win, at least just running will be a positive impact for South Dakota, because Daugaard changed his tune on education funding in a matter of a few days.

On December 1, the Argus Leader reported Daugaard saying that he would only offer a 1.6% increase to education.  
The governor said state revenue is just too uncertain to help schools and Medicaid providers as much as he might like. 
“We have some additional ongoing revenue, but not enough, really, to give people a lot more than the (rate of inflation),” Daugaard said. 
Note in the article that Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave talks about the unexpected $70 million windfall of money coming into the state.

Then enter Joe Lowe:
"If the tactics aren't working day one through seven, do you stick with the same tactics? No you don't, you move on. And you move on and change your tactics or get a new team. We've had the old team for a long time and I haven't seen much change in tactics," Lowe said. 
And that includes more transparency in our state government and higher wages for teachers. 
"Teacher pay, teacher pay we're last. What's our future, our future is children, change the world of a child and you change the world," Lowe said.
There was no big announcement in front of TV cameras for Lowe to declare his candidacy, just simply this press release, for now. 
Then a few days later, the Governor's budget increase for education jumped up to 3%.  It makes a person go "Hmmmm."

I am not the only one that noticed the sudden switch.  Representative Tyler comments about the sudden about face:
The Governor is proposing to pay off some bonds and pay cash for the state’s share of the veterans’ home in the Black Hills. He also upped his percentage of increase to education and Medicaid providers from 1.6% to 3.0%. Interesting how that increase happened right after another gubernatorial candidate threw his hat into the ring. And, no, the funding is still not where it would have been if those programs hadn’t been unnecessarily cut in 2011. 
I hope that South Dakota voters won't be fooled again.  Remember that Daugaard was the one running on the idea that education was just fine in South Dakota in 2010, and then offered a 10% cut one year to be followed by education proposals that were soundly defeated by the general populace the next year.  Governor Daugaard is not a friend of education.  He is not supportive of education in this state.  Don't forget our history, because if we do, Daugaard may cut funding for history classes in the next budget.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pat Powers Proves That He Is No Journalist

Pat Powers was so proud of holding the moniker "journalist," but today he proves that he is no journalist.  He posted that Representative Kathy Tyler mailed out information to representatives regarding the investigations into GOED.  He implies that she probably wasted tax payer money.  She promptly replied that she used personal funds to mail out information for one of the biggest scandals to hit Pierre in a long time.  Bigger than Rounds misuse of the state plane.  Bigger than Pat Powers problems involving the SOS office and a current blogger.  

While he is able to share Christmas cards from Noem (WHICH WAS PAID FOR WITH CAMPAIGN FUNDS!!!!!), helping Mike Rounds raise money while avoiding the average citizens of the state, commercials that have no context our research behind them, I don't think I could call that journalism.  Nice job Mr. Powers!  Nice job.  I do hear that Sixty Minutes has an opening for a "journalist."

Monday, December 2, 2013

The reason that the Common Core will be replaced in about five years

I came across this article that reflects what is my biggest concern with education today:  Text book and testing companies need new movements in education to come up with new materials to sell.  

A new survey by an education marketing organization finds that school districts are making a top priority of shifting materials, instruction and assessments to reflect the Common Core State Standards. 
That's not too surprising, of course, given that all but four states have adopted the standards. But it offers yet another thermometer of sorts to measure the level of attention and activity around the new standards. My colleague Michele Molnar has the details for you over at the Marketplace K-12 blog. She's reporting on a sneak preview of the MDR survey, based on the feedback of about 500 curriculum and technology directors, which will be out in its full form later this month. 
Among the findings? Modifying curriculum and instruction to meet the common core topped the list of district priorities, with 84 percent saying that was a "high" priority. Close behind was modifying assessments to reflect the core, which 79 percent rated a high priority. 
Sixty-eight percent of the districts reported that they plan to buy new curriculum materials for the common core, and 76 percent said they are planning to obtain free materials from the two assessment consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced. Two-thirds, though, said they were planning to create their own instructional materials.
Cory Heidelberger reported several months ago about the costs of going to the Common Core for a state that doesn't seemed concerned about paying competitive wages for teachers.  This does a lot for companies like Prentice Hall and Glencoe/Mc-Graw Hill but little for the classroom.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I am shocked, just shocked I tell you!

The Governor has released that he is planning a huge 1.6% increase for education and Medicaid.  This, despite the fact that sales taxes have been up on average more than 3% for the last three years.  This despite the fact that South Dakota will have an extra $70 million that was not expected.  This despite tourism taxes and contractor excise tax have grown slightly and stayed steady over the last three years.  

Bob Mercer calls the Governor "frugal."  Leo Kallis compares the upcoming bout over education funding and common core to living in a frat movie.  Cory Heidelberger compares the Governor to the Soup Nazi.  I offer my comparison to that of Dickens's Scrooge.  Here are a few quotations that remind me of our fair Governor:
There is nothing on which [the world] is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth. 
What’s Christmas time... but a time for paying bills without money. 
If [the poor] would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. 

Now that the Democrats have a candidate to run against Daugaard, I would encourage that candidate to remind our current Governor of what he wrote when he first ran for the office.
South Dakota’s system of funding K-12 education is a sound system at its core. To the degree that there is dissatisfaction with the funding formula, I believe it is largely due to the amount of funds distributed through the formula. When our budget picture improves, I hope to increase the funding that is available. 
The funding is available, but Mr. Scrooge in Pierre doesn't want to buy any more coal or give to those in need because it is to important that he hoards is away.