Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Sane Reply To Bill McCallum: Why I Cannot Support the Common Core “State” Standards

SEPTEMBER 7, 2013 

William McCallum is, by his own description, a man who was “born in Australia and came to the United States to pursue a Ph. D. in mathematics at Harvard University, a professor at the University of Arizona, working in number theory and mathematics education.” He is also the chair of the Common Core mathematics standards writing committee.
I know that he has been blogging about CCSSI for quite some time and is very, very protective of its reputation and the efforts he and his committee put into creating something that, clearly, he believes in. Yesterday, I saw something on his blog from early August with the intriguing title, “Join with me in support of the Common Core“. Here is what he wrote there:
I have tried to stay out of the politics swirling around the standards and focus this blog on helping people who are trying to implement them. And, after this post, I will keep it that way here at Tools for the Common Core.
But I’ve decided it’s time take a stand against the swirling tide of insanity that threatens our work, so I’m starting a new blog called I Support the Common Core. It will provide resources, links to articles, rebuttals, and discussion to help those who are fighting the good fight. If you sign up you will be getting emails and calls for action from me and others. Tools for the Common Core will remain available for those of you who prefer a quieter life and just want to get on with your jobs.
The success of this effort depends on you. If only 10 brave souls sign up I will thank them and close down the effort. If 1,000 of you join then we can get something done (and I promise there will be jokes).
I attempted to reply, but comments had been closed, with only one person actually leaving any response at all (brief and positive). I’ve not yet gone to the site Bill links to, because I was busy crafting the following reply, which I discovered couldn’t be posted there:

Be fair, Bill. To say or imply that all critics of CCSSI are insane or immersed in “insanity” is to refuse to recognize reality. I understand you’re protective of your work, but the objections are not all a product of either right-wing paranoia, infused with Tea Party tin-hat wearing conspiracy theories about Obama, the UN, and the black helicopters. Some of us are quite progressive, quite in favor of improving the overall quality of mathematics education, and not worried about the New World Order according to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

But a national initiative driven by billionaires, privatizers, and corporations is not the way to go, Bill. Your math standards have flaws, they seem to have often or entirely ignored the work of developmental psychologist and the input of early elementary teachers. Topics seem to have been moved (mostly to lower and lower grades) without clear-cut evidence that students will be ready to handle them. I see nothing that accounts for students who will lose key content because it was pushed to the grade(s) they have already completed:http://bit.ly/17n2e0u
These are not trivial issues. And that’s not a complete list. But my deepest concerns have little to do with any given content standard. They have to do with those who have funded this project from its inception, paid for the tests, the rollout, the propaganda machine that is now in full-throated, panic-fueled mode (your post here seems like a tiny but definite part of the attempt to deny that there’s any reason to worry), and their motives. On my view, from Day One, this has been a billionaire/corporate attempt to take over public education, pure and simple. Of course, there are all sorts of “reasons” given that don’t have to do with the real motive ($$): we have heard for 30+ years about how our nation is “at risk,” oddly all due to our allegedly failing schools, lazy teachers, poor standards, lazy students (that one’s been around since at least the days of Horace Mann), and eventually the “real” straw villains: those greedy teachers’ unions! Since Ronald Reagan busted the air traffic controllers union (who supported him in the 1980 election, by the way), it’s been clear that there is a powerful movement in this country on the part of the rich and powerful to turn back the clock to the days before the labor movement had helped workers gain decent wages and working conditions, something that eventually spilled over into public service jobs like teaching.
What you have chosen to participate in, knowingly or not, is a major piece of that retrogressive effort to put maximum power and profit back in the hands of the plutocrats or 1% as they have come to be known in the last couple of years. They own the book publishing, the testing companies, the professional development groups, the charter schools, and they will not stop until this machine they’ve built has destroyed all our public schools by labeling them as “failures” and shutting them down, to be replaced by for-profit charters and/or vouchers students can use to pay for whatever private education is open to them (and it will NOT be any more fair or equitable under that system for poor kids than it is now, and often it will be far worse). Having worked with a number of for-profit managed charter schools, I see all too clearly what the future holds for poor kids and kids of color. I’ve written about the phoniness of “choice” that is being dangled like it means something:http://bit.ly/17n2e0u and I claim that it is a demonstrable scam of the worst sort.
So no, I won’t join you, Bill, because to do so would be unethical and, flatly, wrong. I hope you come to realize some day how you’ve been played by those in power and decide to join those of us who are not lunatics, not insane, but intelligent people fighting for one of America’s most vital democratic institutions. We are trying to make positive changes that respect teachers as professionals, parents as stakeholders, and children as deserving more opportunities, more freedom, more respect, and more love, wisdom, and kindness than this twisted juggernaut of high-stakes testing, arbitrary, rigid “standards,” and obscene worship of “rigor” (and money) will ever understand or grant.

One of the People Behind Common Core Admits There Are Issues With the Program

Many Americans are familiar with the controversy surrounding the Common Core educational standards, which some say are convolutedpolitical and prevent parents from being involved in their children’s education.

But fewer know that at least one of the three men who wrote the mathematics portion of Common Core, William McCallum, William McCallum, admits there are problems with the standards ( William McCallum is, by his own description, a man who was “born in Australia and came to the United States to pursue a Ph. D. in mathematics at Harvard University, a professor at the University of Arizona, working in number theory and mathematics education.” He is also the chair of the Common Core mathematics standards writing committee?) 
. Phil Daro (Phil Daro served on the writing team of the mathematics Common Core State Standards. He continues to work on implementation and policy issues related to the Common Core. He is the lead designer, mathematics, for the pad based Common Core System of Courses developed by Pearson Education. He also works in a partnership of the University of California, Stanford and others with the Oakland and San Francisco Unified School Districts for the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP), with a focus on mathematics and science learning.
Previously, Daro was a Senior Fellow for Mathematics for America's Choice, the executive director of the Public Forum on School Accountability, directed the New Standards Project, and managed research and development for the National Center on Education and the Economy. Daro has directed large-scale teacher professional development programs for the University of California, including the California Mathematics Project and the American Mathematics Project.)

and Jason Zimba — McCallum’s co-writers — see ways they could be improved, too.
Jason Zimba Professor of Physics and Mathematics, Bennington College 1 College Drive, Bennington, VT 05201
Jason Zimba was a lead writer of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and is a Founding Partner of Student Achievement Partners. He holds a B.A. from Williams College with a double major in mathematics and astrophysics; an M.Sc. by research in mathematics from the University of Oxford; and a Ph.D. in mathematical physics from the University of California at Berkeley. As a researcher, Dr. Zimba’s work spanned a range of fields, including astronomy, astrophysics theoretical physics, philosophy of science, and pure mathematics. His academic awards include a Rhodes scholarship and a Majorana Prize for theoretical physics. Jason is also the author of Force and Motion: An Illustrated Guide to Newton’s Laws. As an educator, he has taught physics, mathematics, and other subjects to college students, university physics and engineering majors, adult prison inmates, children of non-English speaking immigrants, and disadvantaged high school students.

“When I see some of those problems posted on Facebook, I think I would have been mad, too,” McCallum says. Daro tells a story about his grandson, who brought home a math worksheet labeled “Common Core,” with a copyright date of 1999.
They argue there’s actually very little fuzziness to the math in the Common Core. Students have to memorize their times tables by third grade and be able to do the kind of meat-and-potatoes problems Zimba asks of his daughter during their Saturday tutoring sessions, requirements he believes the so-called Common Core curriculum at her school essentially ignored.
Hung-Hsi Wu, a mathematics professor at Berkeley and one of the expert advisers in the Common Core process, blames the Common Core’s problems on bad — and ubiquitous — textbooks that the publishing industry is reluctant to change. “Publishers don’t want to bother with writing anything because they’ve gone through too many sets of standards,” he says.
But unlike many parents, educators and students, the Common Core authors seemingly believe the issue is that they don’t have enough control over what America’s children learn.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Illinois abortions fall to lowest number since 1974?

 Illinois abortion rate has fallen to its lowest number in 40 years, a new report reveals. The 2013 Illinois Abortion Statistics, issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health, reported that the abortion rate has dropped by 5.7 percent. This decline represents nearly 2,500 babies who saw life instead of abortion last year. The abortion rate decreased in every age group except for those 45 years of age and above.
There was a very dramatic abortion decline among minors – 20 percent fewer young mothers choose abortion from September to December. Illinois Right to Life credits the decline to the implementation of a new parental involvement law:
Most notably, in August of 2013, the Illinois Parental Notification Law went into effect, requiring children under the age of 18 to notify one parent or guardian before obtaining an abortion. With that law in effect for only the last four months of 2013, we see a dramatic 20 percent decrease in the number of minors obtaining abortions, pointing to increased parental involvement and a positive effectiveness of the law. In 2013, 1,762 abortions were performed on minors 17 years old and younger, in contrast to the 2,213 in 2012. The number of abortions performed on girls 14 years old and younger dropped 31.6 percent in 2013 to 149 – the lowest number in at least 18 years.
We have seen the dire need for parental notification laws in states like Texas, where consent can be easily bypassed by a judge without parents knowing that their daughter sought or underwent an abortion procedure. Notification ensures that parents are informed, and as Illinois has proven, this knowledge plays a crucial role in the decisions that children make. Illinois is demonstrating the effectiveness of the measure.
In 1973 (the only year that had a lower abortion rate than 2013), Illinois saw 32,760 abortions, with dramatically more – 46,800 – in 1974. Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand in the U.S., did not pass until late January of 1973. That year’s abortion rate would likely have not encompassed a full year of legal abortions.

Painfully stupid “10 reasons to have an abortion”

A tip of the hat to a recent post at LiveActionNews for reminding me that I never responded to an awful abortion advocacy piece that ran last year on a website called Mommyish. The author, Eve Vawter, listed “10 Reasons to Have an Abortion”
Oh, I forgot to add the full title: “10 Reasons to Have an Abortion—illustrated by adorable cats.” I am not kidding.
Each of the “reasons’ (“reasons” is to give Vawter’s words more intellectual heft than they deserve but…) accompanied by a different cat or cats with differing expressions. I could obviously spend time on this bizarre juxtaposition but won’t.
Clinton Wilcox, writing at secularprolife.org, did a very nice job in debunking the inanities in the list, which actually was pretty much exhausts the entire list.
Most of the reasons beg the question—the question being if the unborn child is a human being (what else would she be?), then it matters not if you believe the child is an inconvenience or that you are too old or too young or that the baby would put a crimp in your career plans. These justifications are simply not commensurate with the gravity of the tradeoff—ending a defenseless human being’s life.
Or the reason/justification is simply preposterous. In today’s world, are women really peering at a world population clock and deciding they will off their child because children are being born elsewhere at a rate they disagree with? Fear of “overpopulation” is, at best, hollow, at worse, embarrassingly, painfully silly.
Or that the woman has no relationship with the baby’s father. Next to question-begging, this is the most curious reason. One acts immaturely, with no view or concern with the consequences, and when a baby is conceived you double back and say, “I hardly knew the guy.” How is that the child’s fault?
And aren’t mature, adults what feminists says every woman should aspire to become and be recognized for? Or is what they really are advising/rationalizing is a kind of perpetual adolescence?
Reading the back and forth at the Mommyish website is fascinating. My favorite (so to speak) is
I would have been perfectly happy to have had my mom abort me if that is what she had wanted. It was her human right, regardless of men’s laws. I never would have known the difference.
I assume the writer is semi-serious. Would she have “known the difference” at birth + one day? Of course not. If someone’s grandfather has advanced Alzheimer’s, would he “know the difference” if you poisoned him?
Last thought. A line of affirming responses begins (and ends) with the declaration that while the unborn child has no intrinsic rights, at the magical moment (birth), he/she MAY acquire rights but who knows. Why the hesitation?
Because the foundation on which so many of the pro-abortion responses rests is nothing more than “I know what’s best for me: what’s inside me is mine to do with as I please.” Is it really much of a stretch to follow that logic a step (or a few inches) further? That “I know what’s best for me: what was inside me and is now outside of me but totally dependent on me is mine to do with as I please”?
Actually, that extension has been made every few years for decades–see neonatal euthanasia or “after-birth abortion.” It comes and goes with varying levels of furious rebuttal and then vanishes, but not without further softening resistance in academic circles and in popular journals.
The best conclusion is to quote Mr. Wilcox:
There are only nine reasons, but no bother. Ms. Vawter claims she could have come up with a hundred more, but it would have been nice if she could have come up with a second good one [beyond danger to the life of the mother]. Abortion cannot be justified by situations because not only does it beg the question, but situations must be looked at on a situation by situation basis.
And ironically, as J. Warner Wallace points out, these reasons wouldn’t justify killing the cats in these pictures, so why should we justify abortion for these reasons? Have pets become more important to us than unborn children?

Record low number of abortions in Utah illustrates impact of pro-life legislation

The best news is the straightforward fact that in 2013 the fewest number of women in Utah had abortions than at any time since 1977. These encouraging results came about even though the number of women in their childbearing years has doubled in the intervening 36 years.
Utah Department of Health’s Maternal and Infant Health Program reported that 2,893 women had abortions last year–only 4.6 abortions in every 1,000 women. While generally a confirmation of longstanding trends, the results also raise some intriguing questions.
Among other pro-life provisions on the books, in 2012 Utah was the first state in the nation to enact a 72-hour period of reflection. That three-day period does not begin until the mother has a face to face meeting with an “abortion provider.”
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias explained that the impact of pro-life legislation in Utah is making the difference it was designed to make. She told the Salt Lake Tribune
The legislative efforts of the right-to-life movement, and significantly, the resulting national debate and educational campaigns surrounding pro-life legislation should not be minimized when discussing the decline in abortion numbers.
The Tribune’s Matt Canham went into considerable detail in his story. Under the heading “numbers,” he wrote that Laurie Baksh, with the Utah Department of Health’s Maternal and Infant Health Program,
has watched the statistics closely. She’s seen that from 1997 to 2008 Utah’s abortion rate was relatively flat, hovering around six abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, which is 15 to 44 years old.
That rate dropped to five in 2011. And it fell to 4.6 in 2013, the most recent data published by the state health department.
The rate was 7.2 when first calculated by the state in 1975 and it reached a high of 11.1 in 1980. Through the years, Utah has always been far below the national level.
Canham also addressed an explanation that pops up frequently: that abortions go down during economic downturns, the latest which began in 2008 and which has been slow to recover. Baksh told Canham
They are probably working a little bit harder not to become pregnant because now is not the time.
But Canham looked deeper. He wrote
It is just a theory driven by the calendar: When the economy took a nosedive, so did abortions. Statistics, though, don’t show similar drops during previous economic downturns in the early 2000s or the 1980s.
In Utah, the decline in the number of abortions came not from unmarried women having fewer abortions. The numbers were virtually identical in 2011 (1,821) and 2013 (l,838).
The explanation is the behavior of married women, according to Canham.
Abortions among married women actually spiked in the last few years, jumping from 762 in 2008 to 987 in 2011, then fell back to 705 in 2013. This recent reduction in married women having abortions is the reason that Utah saw its abortion rate drop to a record low in 2013.
The 72-hour informed consent law, passed in 2012, was sponsored in Utah’s House of Representatives by Rep. Steve Eliason. According to Canham
He said the point was to offer “a cooling-off period,” during which he hoped women who felt pressured to get an abortion by a husband or boyfriend would be able to reconsider.
“I will make no excuse for policy that helps reduce the number of abortions,” he said. “In this case though, it wasn’t the situation where, like other states, you are trying to restrict access to clinics. It simply makes sure there’s informed consent.”

That Great News

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Stop The Killing

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Obama Drain Dead Supporter

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Fire Obama

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Obama Mind Games

Obama Lies

Economic Expert: Obama’s ‘Economic Recovery’ is Built on Lies

Over and over again, the compliant lapdog media repeats that the economy has been fixed and that we can thank Barack Obama and his leadership for this terrific feat.

However, even modest scrutiny of our economic state will reveal that we are a nation resting atop a house of cards as we remain insurmountably in debt to the tune of $18 trillion and are saddled with a bitterly divided political system that squabbles over a meager proposed cut of 2.4% to expected government spending.
When we add in the fact that this administration’s only go-to answer to economic issues is to punish the job creators in a misguided attempt to meld economics with a warped understanding of social justice, it’s easy to see that even if Obama and his minions can tout inflated and manipulated stats, such illusions are not reflective of actual economic reality.
ShadowStats.com econometrician John Williams agrees and notes that Obama’s economic “accomplishment” is based on doctored data.
WND.com’s Jerome Corsi summarizes Williams’ analysis: 
He argues that the full economic recovery indicated by the real GDP numbers reported last week by BEA is “a statistical illusion created by using too-low a rate of inflation in deflating (removing inflation effects) from the GDP series.”
Williams further argues “no other major economic series has shown a parallel pattern of official full economic recovery and meaningful expansion beyond, consistent with GDP reporting.”
Williams’ analysis of retail sales, again adjusted to remove an artificially low rate of inflation, shows “a pattern of plunge and stagnation and renewed downturn, consistent with patterns seen in series such as consumer indicators like real median household income, the consumer confidence measures and in the unemployment and most housing statistics.”
WND previously has reported that real unemployment in the U.S., measured by traditional definitions that include an estimate of those forced to drop out of the labor force because jobs are lacking and those seeking full-time employment who are forced to take part-time employment is closer to 23 percent, rather than the 5.8 percent the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in November, confirming Donald Trump’s accusation that Obama’s jobless numbers are “phony.”
Williams estimates that adjusted for inflation, orders for durable goods declined by 0.62 percent in November, versus a revised decline of 0.12 percent in October, and a revised September monthly decline of 0.68 percent.
He calculates that sales of existing homes showed a seasonally adjusted decline of 6.1 percent in November, with 9 percent of November sales of existing homes in distress (6 percent foreclosures, plus 3 percent short sales).
Contrast this with the narrative the White House suggested in a press release on Dec. 18, when the administration stated: “President Obama took office in the depths of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Six years later, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, and the decisive actions he took early on – to bring the economy back from the brink, to save the auto industry, and to build a new foundation for middle-class growth – we’ve made real progress.”
In a press briefing two days earlier, White House press counsel Josh Earnest delivered a similar tone, stating: “Now, 2014 was a milestone for economic progress in the United States, but there’s much more work to do.”
He continued: “This year, America’s businesses added jobs at the fastest rate since the 1990s. The most interesting statistic I’ve seen on this is that we’ve now had 10 consecutive months of more than 200,000 job created in the private sector in each of those months.”
The statements portray Obama as having engineered an economic miracle that is historic in nature.
“That is the longest streak in nearly 20 years,” Earnest continued. “And while many of these good, full-time, middle-class jobs and wages have begun to rise, it’s still too hard for many middle-class families to get ahead.”
Also, despite the Obama administration’s war on coal and refusal to support the Keystone pipeline, the White House claims credit for declining gas prices.
“And while gas prices have fallen as we’ve produced more oil, and the growth of health care costs has slowed as the Affordable Care Act has been implemented, it’s still too hard for many middle-class families to make ends meet,” Earnest emphasized.
Williams is of another opinion.
“U.S. economic activity is turning down anew, despite overstated growth in recent GDP reporting. The headline contraction in first-quarter 2014 GDP was the reality; the headline second-quarter GDP boom and continued strong headline GDP growth in third-quarter 2014 were not,” Williams concludes. “The more recent data appear to have been spiked, at best, by overly optimistic assumptions on the part of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). At worst, the bloated growth estimates reflect heavy political massaging.”
Williams anticipated current BEA revised estimates of third quarter growth will “suffer heavy downside revisions” in the July 30, 2015, benchmark revision with early indications predicting an outright contraction in fourth quarter 2014 GDP.
“Future, constructive Federal Reserve behavior – purportedly moving towards normal monetary conditions in the currently unfolding, perfect economic environment – is pre-conditioned by a continued flow of ‘happy’ economic news,” Williams writes.
“Suggestions that all is right again with the world are nonsense,” he continues. “The 2008 Panic never has been resolved, and the Fed soon will find that it has no easy escape from its quantitative easing.” 
The miraculous “Obama recovery” appears to be simply another example of the Obama Administration’s mantra of “repeat the lie until it becomes the truth.”