In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 13, 2014 / 15 Sivan, 5774

Common Critics for Common Core

By Suzanne Fields

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | America was swamped a generation ago by "the rising tide of mediocrity," in the apt phrase of Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education. We're still trying to keep our heads above water. A high-school diploma still doesn't mean what it should mean.

Following the Reagan push for reform, for one brief moment we thought the Common Core curriculum was the answer, that it might impose the tough standards to cure what ails American education and make the nation competitive against the nations whose youngsters were leading the way, as verified in the abundance of international tests.

Common Core soon had momentum. Most of the states adopted it, and it won strong support from academics and reformers ranging from Michelle Rhee, who was briefly superintendent of the woeful public schools in Washington, to the teachers unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That bed of strange bedfellows was suddenly crowded, indeed.

But now, not so much. Over the past year, Common Core has been caught in the crossfire of politics, its flaws overlooked in the public eagerness to do something. Oklahoma and Indiana have dumped it; and in South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley has signed legislation to write new standards for her state. More than a hundred bills are pending in the legislatures of 26 states to rewrite the Common Core standards.

The turnaround has been initiated by a coalition of critics on both the left and the right who argue that standards imposed by Washington, written from a narrow perspective, force teachers once again to "teach to the test," to get high test results — whether or not the kids are actually learning what they should. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has invested over $200 million in Common Core standards, worries that there hasn't been enough time to prepare for the test and wants a two-year moratorium against making any "high-stakes" teacher and student evaluations.

Its defenders, and it has some, insist the standards give sufficient flexibility to the states and to teachers, who can shape the curriculum with the exercise of a little creativity. It's clear to me, though, that the stipulated emphasis on "soft skills," the inevitable cross-cultural relativism and general mushiness teaches the kids sloppy conceptual thinking.

Some conservatives call it "Obamacore." It's unfair to compare Common Core to the disastrous government takeover of health care, but it's true that many states adopted Common Core standards because they were tied to more than $4 billion in "Race-to-the-Top" grant money. (We're pretty good at catchy slogans.) Common Core doesn't promote "godlessness," as some Christian critics charge, but it does narrow the perspective as literary and historical texts are shorn from the larger context.

The sharp criticism and re-examination of Common Core reveals dangerous fault lines. There's an overreaching by the political and philanthropic power in an alignment of the Obama administration with money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. There's the risk of liberal-bias creep.

Common Core "sowed suspicion and distrust" when those who were pushing it ran roughshod over public questions and concerns, says Diane Ravitch, an assistant secretary of education in the George H.W. Bush administration. The process of adoption lacked transparency, field testing and a way to appeal its decisions. Teachers were mostly absent from the development of standards, and the public was a bystander.

"Education without representation," as bloggers put it.

The Common Core was instituted in many states without a single vote taken by an elected lawmaker, observes Lyndsey Layton in The Washington Post. "Kentucky even adopted the standards before the final draft had been made public." But Kentucky officials knew that eight of every 10 students in their community colleges were taking remedial courses, a clear indictment of their public school system. Kentucky was not alone with failing educational systems.

There were exceptions. Massachusetts reformed its schools without Common Core, writing high standards with rigor and discipline, teacher testing and high scores on student tests. Scores rose to the best in the nation, competitive in math and science with Japan, South Korea and Singapore, which led on the international index. Massachusetts then, not so inexplicably, bought into Common Core. There was all that federal money that came with Common Core

Conservative politicians are reading their future in criticism of Common Core. Although a long shot for the Republican nomination for the presidency, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana sees an opening with such criticism, joining popular Tea Party favorites Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, are so far sticking with it.

As states peel away, a new debate can be joined, and Common Core will get the close examination it was denied earlier. But time is running out for the next generation of graduates. Something has to make their diplomas worth something.

Suzanne Fields Archives

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields