Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
The gloves are off in New York, a state where Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo is on his bully pulpit, saying test results will count for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
Two “needs improvement” or failing evaluations and the teacher can be denied tenure and lose their job. Too harsh?
Cuomo is no friend of teachers unions, among the most powerful in the state, and he is all-in on the Common Core, threatening less money for school districts that opt out. Even the federal government has come out recently, saying they may have to “step in” if states ignore opting out on Common Core exams.
But the natives are restless.
On Long Island alone, arguably the place where most of New York’s best public schools are, nearly 72,000 students opting out of 3rd through 8th grade English Language Arts tests. That’s 42 percent of those eligible. Comsewogue in Port Jefferson Station’s opt out percentage reached nearly 82 percent.
Teachers in anti-Common Core communities are juxtaposed: If they encourage accountability through test taking they risk rocking the political boat of their union.
Best to just shut up and teach, right?
But teach what, and how?
Common Core, for all its haranguing opponents, actually raises the achievement bar. To master the teaching tasks educators need hours of professional development. Once the teachers “get it” they need to educate parents on how to help their youngsters “get it,” especially regarding math, which has more English in it than ever before.
One rationale behind Common Core is that the United States doesn’t measure up to other nations regarding math, science and language arts. Common Core goes deeper into subjects, and should help student’s master concepts and skills before moving on.
It has been said that many union workers from all other trades have joined with the teachers in opposing the standardized tests in a show of solidarity.
A friend, who teaches on Long Island, had students ask her if they were allowed to opt out of the test, why did they have to do the work.
And there you have it. The long term results of anti-Common Core zeal. You get anti-learning zeal from students.
The trick is turning them on to learning.
How does avoiding the tests designed to gauge achievement in Common Core turn students on to learning? One would think parents would want their children to have more experience taking high-stakes tests, not less. Think of all the future tutoring session fees preparing opt-out students for college entrance exams.
Some of the rationale given by education experts against Common Core includes alleging the test amounts to “child abuse.” In reality the test is a fair reflection of what students are expected to know, developed by teachers and other education professionals in order to make sure all states have high standards. One problem is how it was implemented.
But benchmarking is done in nearly every industry. We do it in finance, energy, medicine, and education. Benchmarking is a part of life and should be explained to parents, not hidden from them to further a suspected union agenda.
Some have gone so far as to say high stakes testing causes students to cry, hyperventilate, pee their pants and even think about committing suicide. Those reactions are not normal, and are most likely the by-product of adult reactions to the tests, not the child’s natural responses to them.
Common Core curriculum is more challenging. My third grader, as many of his classmates, is struggling with the math. He is challenged by the English Language Arts. The science is elevated.
Is it too much? Perhaps. Does it take more time for him to finish his homework? Yes. Do his mother and father have to spend more time checking his work and then helping him with it? Yes.
So, how do we help our children considering Common Core is “here to stay,” as former New York State Education Chancellor John King has said?
Put down the smart phone. Turn off the video games, TV and computer.
Do the math flash cards, handwriting, and science fair project with your child. Open a book and have them read to you, and then read to them. Showing an interest in your child’s learning is a positive step toward showing them that it’s important.
Common Core has brought us out of our uber-technological comfort zones and is causing some people to freak out.
Is it a good thing? Time will tell, but only if students take the tests designed to provide data on how well they are doing. Without the tests, there can be no reliable way to gauge progress or lack thereof. The scores for these exams were never meant for children anyway. They are a way for educators and parents to assess the progress or lack thereof of school children. How else can educators be expected to decide what and how a student should be taught?
Post script: My children took all of their New York state assessments. When asked how they were, they said, “fine,” and “I thought the math test was easy.” One never knows until the scores come out. But when they do, as usual, we won’t show our children the scores, good or otherwise. We will use the scores as information for conversations with their teachers and administrators in order to help find the best way for them to continue to learn and grow.
I am a three times mobilized U.S. Army major (Ret.); former teacher, coach and public school administrator; husband and father of five. I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior.” Blog, Facebook, Twitter @mjgranger1
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015
Putin Vs Obama, Putin Win Other Round,l: Russia's sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran is a game-changer
It’s been widely reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to sell the Russian-made S-300 missile system to Iran. This sale has been planned for years, but it was put on hold in 2010 when the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1929.
Although this resolution did not specifically prohibit the sale of missile systems like the S-300, it did call for all states to “exercise vigilance and restraint” in supplying weapons to Iran. Since then, Russia has refrained from selling these weapons.
Now Russia has changed its mind.
The S-300 is a mobile surface-to-air missile defense system that couples powerful radars with high-speed, long-range missiles. It is capable of shooting down aircraft over a large area (depending on the variant, the lethal engagement zone could be larger than the state of New Jersey, with the detection/tracking zone much larger than that).
In NATO, we refer to this missile system as the SA-10. We have studied it and trained to counter it for years. While we are not scared of it, we respect the S-300 for what it is: a very mobile, accurate, and lethal missile system.
Russia’s decision to sell the S-300 to Iran is a big deal for three reasons:
1. It represents a fundamental shift in military power for the region.
For over a decade, the United States and its allies have been able to take freedom of action in the Middle Eastern skies for granted. Friendly forces could count on air support and freedom of maneuver. Adversaries could assume they were vulnerable to observation and attack from the air, limiting their options and convincing some of them that they could not achieve their objectives through military force (often called deterrence by denial). This was especially true of Iran, whose air defenses have suffered greatly due to sanctions. The arrival of the S-300 changes this.
The S-300 is not a wall in the sky. If we have to, we can attack and defeat it. Doing so, however, requires an effort that is much larger, much riskier, and much more costly.
Recently, we have seen a debate on the scale of a potential attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, with some arguing that it would be relatively limited and others taking an opposing view. With the S-300 in place, there is no debate.
Overcoming this type of system will require a large deployment of air, sea, and land assets, including our most capable — and expensive — airplanes and missiles. Our people and equipment will be at greater risk, and accomplishing the mission will be more difficult and time consuming.
2. It represents a major acceleration in the proliferation of A2/AD systems.
In 2003, Andrew Krepinevich, Barry Watts, and Robert Work warned against the proliferation of threats like the S-300 in a study published by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis that coined the phrase “Anti-Access/Area-Denial,” or A2/AD.
They argued that states such as Iran and North Korea would acquire capable systems like the S-300, forcing the United States to alter its approach to projecting military power. That day appears to be here.
This is why many officials, including Work — who is now the Deputy Secretary of Defense — have called for the development of new technological approaches to “offset” advanced weapons systems like the S-300. Some have argued that this effort is aimed directly at China, but the proliferation of the S-300 demonstrates how A2/AD environments are spreading.
3. It represents the return to an age of geopolitical competition.
We may not want to go back to the days when every world development had to be viewed in light of a political competition with another great power. It is increasingly clear, however, that Russia sees the world through this lens.
Western sanctions — implemented in response to Russian intervention in Ukraine — have imposed significant costs on the Russian economy and ratcheted up the tension between Russia and the West. It now appears that tension has spilled over into the Iranian situation.
With the upcoming sale of the S-300 to Iran, Russia has found a way to increase our costs dramatically should we deem it necessary to intervene there.
One final observation: The training required to prepare against an S-300 threat is exactly the type that has been so damaged by the sequester cuts of 2013 and the budget caps of 2014/2015.
Recently, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James stated that half of Air Force combat units are not trained to the level necessary for the “high-end fight.” In light of proliferation developments such as this Russian deal with Iran, that is not a reassuring statistic.
Colonel Clint Hinote, US Air Force, is a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds a PhD in military strategy, and he recently returned from Korea, where he commanded the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base. The conclusions and opinions expressed are his own and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. government.
Read more: http://blogs.cfr.org/davidson/2015/04/20/russias-sale-of-the-s-300-to-iran-will-shift-military-balance-across-the-middle-east/#ixzz3XtWYKE8T
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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