Sunday, February 15, 2015

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