Friday, October 3, 2014

Andy Harris on Common Core


Thank you for contacting me in opposition to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Maryland. As an educator and father of five, I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. I recently joined many of my colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan expressing concerns with the implementation of CCSS. 

In 2009, forty-six governors, including Governor O'Malley, signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Governor's Association committing their states to the development and adoption of CCSS within three years. States then had the option of adopting CCSS or creating their own equivalent standards.  At the time, CCSS were simply an idea where states would collaborate to create uniformed education standards.  Details about CCSS were not only unknown to the states, they did not exist.  From there, the Department offered Race To The Top (RTTT) grants and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers to states under the condition that each state would implement "college and career ready" standards.  At the time, the only "college and career ready" standards with the Department's approval were CCSS. 
  
Not only am I concerned with the implementation of CCSS, but the standards themselves have become increasingly worrisome. Though initially promoted as state-based education standards, CCSS, as they have been developed over the last few years, are nothing of the sort.  In just one very troubling instance, CCSS will replace state-based standardized testing with nationally-based standardized testing, the creation and initial implementation of which will be funded in full by the federal government.  The long-term, annual administering of the exams, the cost of which has not been specified by the Department, is to be funded by the states.

Because states opted-in to CCSS, there is little Congress can do to provide any relief from these burdensome and misguided standards.  Instead, the ability to opt-out of these standards lies with the state.  With that in mind, I would also suggest that you contact your state senator and delegate as well to make them aware of your thoughts on CCSS.  

I strongly feel that the best way to accomplish the goal of improving our education system is to empower parents, educators and local governments with the authority to make decisions involving education.  As a state senator in Maryland for 12 years, I fought to keep educational issues handled largely on the local and state level, where government closest to the people resides.  Parents, teacher, school boards, and local governments are the best people to determine what works in their individual communities.  That is why education policy and funding should be largely handled at the state level, where decisions can be made that address each states specific needs.  

As the 113th Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your suggestions and comments with me. Please, contact me via email for a faster response.  To keep up with my work in Congress, please visit my website at harris.house.gov and sign up to receive updates at harris.house.gov/contact-me/newsletter.  

Sincerely, 

Andy Harris M.D. 
Member of Congress 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

September 2010, the United States Department of Education (USDE) awarded the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) $170 million grant to develop tests aligned to Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Worcester County School Board Members continue to promote that curriculum is still controlled at the local level. That’s not true. If you don’t own the test you don’t own the curriculum because no one builds a test unless they’re planning to teach the answers. As Bill Gates said in July 2009, “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well.” USDE even went further last year when they established a technical review panel whose sole purpose is to evaluate the aligned PARCC tests. In otherwords, the Feds will get what they want tested.

When PARCC was awarded their $170M grant they signed a cooperative agreement between them and USDE that offered some troubling terms:
1) "...including, but not limited to working with the USDE to develop a strategy to make student level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research."
2) "The Grantee must provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the state level to USDE or its designated program monitors, technical assistance providers or researcher partners.“ So anyone that the government chooses will have access to that information. In short, the government wants to collect a dossier on every child containing highly intrusive personal information without asking permission or even notifying parents.

According to a December report prepared by Maryland State Department of Education for the Legislative Budget Committee, the PARCC tests will be administered in two testing windows, March & May. The number of students being tested will increase from 300,000 to over 1.1 million. Testing time per student will increase a minimum of 70%. The report further shows that the vast majority of schools in MD are not technologically prepared to give the new online PARCC tests and at least $100 million will have to be spent by 2015 to get ready. That doesn't include the costs of the PARCC test which could be another $30 to $60 million per year.

There you have it:
Federal Government Intervention
Loss of Local Control of Curriculum
Data Mining
Increase Testing Times
Out of Control Costs
All Brought to you by PARCC and the Federal Government.
F. Gebhart

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Carol Frazier ObamaCare Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:
“Where, oh, where has Obamacare gone? Where, oh where, can it be? An exemption here, and a delay there, oh where oh where can it be?”
Does anyone know the status of the “Affordable” Care Act? Who, exactly, is required to obey the law? Big business? No. Medium sized business? No. Small? Don't know yet. Health insurers? Apparently not. Unions? Of course not. Congressional staff members? Nope.
I ask you, is this any way to run one-sixth of the American economy, the sector that is arguably the most important to the citizens because it effects, you know, their lives?
One has to laugh to keep from crying.
In addition, the MD Obamacare exchange is a disaster, although you wouldn't know that if you rely on our local daily paper and television news.
The contractor that was paid hundreds of millions of dollars to create the website has been fired (are we going to get any of that money back?). The Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post and WBAL have reported that the O'Malley administration, including Lt. Gov. Brown, whose job was to oversee the MD exchange, were warned a year in advance that the website was a glitchy mess and that tens of thousands of Marylanders would lose their private insurance, but they chose to ignore the warnings and continued to boast that the Maryland system would be the best in the nation.  Apparently, Lt. Gov. Brown, who wants to be our next governor, has more loyalty to the Obama Administration than to the citizens of his own state.
The original goal for sign-ups was 260,000. Recently, that goal was reduced to 160,000 so the state could say it met the goal. Of the signups, the vast majority are for Medicaid; as of February 22nd, less than 36,000 had signed up for private insurance. The Marylanders who lost their private insurance because of Obamacare and were unable to sign up for insurance on the state exchange are now being reimbursed for medical expenses by, you guessed it, the taxpayers.
Anyone who thinks this is a success is not dealing from a full deck.
Sincerely,
Carol Frazier

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stephen Decatur Middle School stop health lesson after parents complaints about genital modeling


Administrators at Stephen Decatur Middle School say they’ve put an end to a Family Life and Human Development lesson that involved modeling the anatomy of the reproductive system.
School officialas said Friday they will no longer use the modeling lesson that raised concerns with parents of students in the program, which is taught to students in grades 5-11.“This lesson activity has been reviewed and will be excluded from all future lessons,” said Lynne Barton, principal of Stephen Decatur Middle, in a statement. “Although modeling is an effective scientific strategy, we understand that learning about the reproductive system is a sensitive subject for our families and students.” Open here for complete article.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Worcester County School Board - Questions & Comment

1) How can common core be state led when not one parent, commissioner, delegate or senator voted for it’s adoption?
2) Why did the #1 school system in the country adopt the untried, untested common core standards? Where is the evidence that common core will improve education?
3) School Board continually states that standards are not curriculum. That may be so. But if you did not create the standards and you did not create the tests, as Bill Gates said, “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well.”
4) School board received $1.1 million from “Race to the Top” funds over 4 years but the cost to implement common core was stated at $5 million. What will be the cost to county residents going forward?
5) Why are school board meetings scheduled for 12:30 pm? Wouldn’t evening meetings be more convenient for the public?
6) Why aren’t school board meeting recorded and made available on the internet?
7) Why is the county spending over $45 million for “renovating” Snow Hill High School with only 350 students.That’s a cost of $128,000 per student.
8) Why are county bus driver randomly drug tested and teachers are not?
9) To the best of my knowledge, for at least the last year or more, the school board has voted unanimously on every issue that came up for a vote. That seems unusual for a 7 member board.
Last week, after a 4 year study, the Maryland State Board of Education adopted new regulations guiding student discipline. This regulation removes local discipline decision making and turns it over to the state. I assume that our school board was aware of this potential grab of local autonomy and if so how was it communicated to the public or is this another transparency issue like common core?
This November there are four school board positions up for election. If you believe in local control and oppose common core, please run.
F. Gebhart


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Editor:

 Politics sure does make strange bedfellows. I believe any policy that is
opposed by both the New York State Teachers Union and the TEA Party (not
necessarily for the same reasons) needs to be looked at very carefully.

Of course, I am referring to the Common Core State Standards. And, of
course education is not supposed to be political. (Ahem.)

Just about everything you have been told about Common Core by the Federal,
State and Local education establishment is, at best, incorrect, and, at
worst, downright false. Starting with the way the standards were developed
(and the real motivation of those behind it), parents and teachers have
been misled, and those who question the standards and the implementation,
the effect on our children and grandchildren, the harm that is being and
will be done to the teaching profession and the enormous budget busting
costs, are basically being told to sit down and shut up - we know better
than you. Teachers who are opposed to, and frankly frightened by, Common
Core fear to speak out.

It is also ironic that the Douglas County, Colorado, Board of Education has
passed a resolution opposing the Common Core national standards due to the
quality of the standards and on principle. Ironic because our own Worcester
County Superintendent of Education hails from Colorado.

It is not my purpose here to reiterate all of the dangers and problems with
Common Core. There have been many letters to the editor about this subject,
and there are many news articles in national papers and online (most
recently "The Coming Common Core Meltdown" Jan 23rd, *Washington Post*).
There are numerous websites devoted to the dangers of Common Core.
Inquiring minds who want to know can read all about it.

Del. Michael Smigiel has introduced legislation in the House of Delegates
to repeal Common Core. The hearing on this bill is scheduled for February 5
th. Parents, grandparents and educators who believe they know better than
unelected bureaucrats what is best for their children and students should
contact their legislators and encourage them to vote to repeal the funding
for this mess.

 Sincerely,
 Carol Frazier

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lt. Gov Brown knew Marylanders would not keep medical insurance

Dear Editor:
For years, Republicans, conservatives and TEA Party members have been warning about the dangers of Obamacare. In return, we've been called racist, homophobic, bigoted, too stupid to know what's good for us, unAmerican, etc. We've been accused of wanting people to just die, of hating women, shoving Granny off a cliff, and wanting autistic children to be out on the street on their own. We're terrorists, hostage takers and suicide bombers. The list goes on.
In 2009, I wrote a letter to the editor stating that the true purpose of Obamacare is to demonize and bankrupt the health insurance industry so we're left with nothing but the government, i.e., Medicaid for all. I can't tell you how much I hate to say “I told you so”, because millions and millions of Americans are hurting badly as a result of this law – laid off or hours cut, and now having their insurance policies canceled and unable to get on the website to sign up for insurance under the exchanges (despite the promise of the President and every other Democrat that 'If you like your plan, you can keep your plan, period”). Not that people can afford the offerings on the exchanges – in most cases the premiums are much higher and the deductibles are in the stratosphere. And we're just getting started – wait until next year when employers start receiving notices about group health plans. We're talking tens of millions of cancellations.
Never forget that EVERY SINGLE DEMOCRAT voted for this mess. It is pitiful to see the Democrat politicians up for re-election next year scrambling to fix this mess – a mess they created because, guess what – they didn't read the bill.
And now we find out that our very own Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has admitted that he knew that many Marylanders would not be able to keep their insurance, but chose to keep silent. One has to wonder why? Was he more interested in promoting Obamacare than in protecting the citizens of his own state? Mr. Brown is responsible for implementing Maryland's version of the law, and apparently our exchange isn't working much better than Healthcare.gov. Funny, I haven't read about that in any of the local newspapers. Again, why? So far, according to Federal numbers, only 1,254 people were able to enroll in Maryland during the month of October, while 73,000 Marylanders were sent cancellation notices. A whopping 90,000 olus signed up for Medicaid.
I don't think it is unreasonable of me, as a taxpaying citizen of the State of Maryland, to expect the Lt. Gov. of my state to be honest with the citizens and to care more about us than he does about partisan politics and making the Obama Administration happy.
Should I expect a call from the IRS now?
Sincerely,

Carol Frazier