Common Core Math in Texas: Why Texas Schools Should Not Use Centralized Government Control
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. Part 1 of the Series: Common Core Math War Rages in Texas
November 2, 2016 Texas Insider
In 2012 the Texas State Board of Education approved new math curriculum standards. Since then chaos has erupted because Common Core process standards have managed to creep into math materials and STAAR tests.
Since Common Core is illegal in Texas, how could this happen?
Besides, why shouldn’t Texas schools use Common Core math if they prefer? This series seeks an answer to these questions.
One of the national experts for the Texas math curriculum standards review was Dr. James Milgram who has been highly critical of Common Core math. Milgram, professor of mathematics emeritus, Stanford University who was a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee and the only content expert in mathematics for the standards, refused to approve the standards.
Core Math Standards, according to Milgram, have very low expectations.
Milgram compares U.S. requirements with those in high achieving countries where students study Algebra I and the first semester of Geometry in grades 6, 7, or 8 and by grade nine will have completed much of our Algebra II content and Geometry at a more sophisticated level than U.S. students. He estimates that fully 50% of the populations of those countries live in countries or areas where Calculus is a graduation requirement. In his research of high achieving countries, he has found the high school graduation rate to be over 90%.
By the end of seventh grade, Core Standards are roughly two years behind. Common Core math includes “most -- but not all -- of Algebra I and about 50% of regular Algebra II as well a ‘strange’ Geometry course,” says Milgram
Milgram notes that Calculus is required for most critical areas such as engineering, medicine, computer science, economics and the sciences. (Milgram and Stotsky, “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM”)
Professor Jason Zimba, lead writer of Common Core’s mathematics standards, has admitted that Common Core prepares students only for a two-year college. When asked whether Common Core prepares students for a STEM career, Zimba replied, “Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges.” (Emphasis added)
Why did the writers of Common Core Math decide that only Algebra I is essential?
The answer to this question lies buried in the quiet birthing of Common Core...highly significant in that Marc Tucker and Hillary Clinton were key players in that segment of U.S. history.
On November 11, 1992, an 18-page letter famously known as Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter, a master plan is laid out for the Clinton administration to seize the entire U.S. educational system to serve national economic planning of the workforce. (Placed in the U.S. Congressional Record, Sept. 25,1998, by Rep. Bob Schaffer.)
In the “Dear Hillary” letter, Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), lays out a plan "to remold the entire American system" into "a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone," coordinated by "a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels" where curriculum and "job matching" will be handled by counselors "accessing the integrated computer-based program."
This ambitious plan does not address teaching school children how to read, write, or calculate. Instead, public schools will change from teaching academic basics and knowledge to training for the global economy in jobs selected by workforce boards – training for a life under collectivism in the U.S.
Such a radical change in America requires changing attitudes and beliefs and that is easiest to accomplish with young children -- hence, the real reason behind the takeover of education by the federal government.
Tucker's comprehensive plan was implemented in three laws signed by President Clinton in 1994: 1) the Goals 2000 Act, 2) the School-to-Work Act, and 3) the Reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act. These three laws create the following mechanisms to restructure public schools:
• All elected officials on school boards and in state legislatures would be bypassed by making federal funds flow to the Governor and his appointees on workforce development boards.
• A computer database, a.k.a. "a labor market information system," would be established so school personnel could compile and track personal information for each student and his family from birth or preschool onward, identified by the child's social security number: academic, medical, mental, psychological, behavioral, and interrogations by counselors. The school, the government, and future employers would have access to the computerized data.
• Use "national standards" and "national testing" to take national control of tests, assessments, school honors and rewards, financial aid, and the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM), designed to replace the high school diploma.
Tucker’s plan uses the German system which trains children for specific jobs to serve the workforce and the global economy instead of educating them to make their own life choices. Marc Tucker’s plan prepares public school students for the workforce only – our “worker bees.”
In 2013 Marc Tucker discussed the key findings of the NCEE study about college and career readiness. Of the students in U.S. colleges, 45 percent attend community colleges which provide not only most of the nation’s vocational education, but are also a main pathway to four-year colleges. Algebra II is not a prerequisite of community colleges so NCEE recommended that schools abandon the requirement that all high school students be required to take Algebra II. Further, Algebra I should be delayed until grade 10. Of critical importance is that this delay precludes high school students being able to take Calculus.
Also of critical importance, says Dr. Milgram, is that, “This [NCEE] report does not consider the question of which four-year colleges will accept just one year (Algebra I) of high school math. Virtually all the higher rated ones…require at least four years. The study ignores what will happen if the community college student transfers to a four-year college.”
In my next posting, I’ll explore what happened during the math TEKS review. Dr. Milgram, Niki Hayes, Randy Houchins and many others have candidly spoken with me about the events surrounding this curriculum review and how things went awry.