More Common Core Double-talk by Diane Douglas

When does “repeal and replace” not mean “repeal and replace”?  When Supt. Of Public Instruction Diane Douglas says it. 

Incumbent Douglas has been cranking out media releases, including taking a recent victory lap on the anniversary of the State Board of Education’s adoption of “Common Core Rebrand #2.”  Her false “Common Core has been repealed and replaced” narrative has recently appeared in Frosty Taylor’s 12/20/2017 Briefs.  It also appeared in the 12/19/2017 issue of the Yellow Sheet.   

For the record, the Common Core Standards haven’t been repealed or replaced.  At most, they’ve been “tweaked.” 

Don’t be fooled by Douglas’s red herring argument when she states:

“More than 200 teachers who donated thousands of hours in working groups, as well as countless dedicated parents, 10,000 public comments, several nationally recognized technical experts, prominent anti-Common Core authorities and the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) K-12 Standards team all helped shape the new Arizona standards in practice. There is currently a feature on ADE’s website that outlines the Top 5 ways Arizona’s new standards differ from Common Core.” 

The truth is, she ignored virtually every teacher, member of the public, nationally recognized technical expert, and prominent anti-Common Core authority that offered specific recommendations that would repeal and replace the Common Core Standards.   

Instead, hundreds of recommendations from Achieve, Inc., appear throughout the “redline” versions of the ELA (English and Language Arts) and Math standards, and were incorporated in the “final, approved 2nd draft.”  For those not acquainted with Achieve, back in 2009, Achieve partnered with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers on the Common Core Initiative, and a number of Achieve staff and consultants served on the writing and review teams.”   (See ELA Redline StandardsMath K-5 Redline StandardsMath 6-8 and High School Redline Standards, ELA 2nd Draft Standards, and Math 2nd Draft StandardsSee below for 2 examples of “changes” to the Common Core Standards.

Incumbent Douglas’s deceptive narrative isn’t anything new.  She’s been doing this for over a year.   

12/13/2016.  Diane Douglas assures AZ Legislators that Common Core Standards have been Repealed and Replaced

12/21/2016.  Diane Douglas reassures the public that the Common Core Standards have been Repealed and Replaced.  

January 24, 2017.  Douglas Refuses To Protect Teachers’ Salaries, Misleads House Committee.  

So, what’s the Truth? Consider the evidence:

1.  The Mommy Lobby produced an easy to read, side-by-side comparison of both K-3 Math and K-3 ELA which indicate only 7% additions/deletions to ELA and 5% additions/deletions to Math.  K-3 were the most controversial standards, and also had the most changes, which shows that even fewer changes occurred in grades 4-12.  See A Picture is Worth a Thousand Common Core Standards and How Much has CCS Really Changed? 

2.  The Mommy Lobby  also produced an easy to read, side by side comparison of both K-12 Math and K-12 ELA standards, which indicates minimal changes.    

3.      Kevin Carney, the CEO of Beyond Textbooks, asserted in the March 2017 newsletter that, “Many of you are aware that Arizona has new Mathand ELA standards that are expected to be fully implemented and assessed during the 2018-2019 school year. The good news is that there are minimal changes as a whole to the existing standards.”   Beyond Textbooks is used by “114 partners in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Wyoming, and Kentucky.”   

4.  Members of the Arizona Standards Development Committee, including Scott Leska, Grant Peterson, Dr. Richard Rutkowski, Olga Tarro,  Maureen Tozzi, and Shawnna L.M. Bolick, wrote: “Ironically, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, who promised in 2014 to “stop Common Core,” voted in favor of these ‘revised’ standards, which are in large part the same Common Core standards SBE adopted in 2010.“  See State Board of Education Ignores Governor, Parents And Own Policy  Arizona State Board of Education member Jared Taylor stated: “The bottom line is that I am very disappointed that we kicked the parents to the curb and ignored the will of the voters when they elected Diane Douglas. Yet she led the way today; we just renewed Common Core.”  Arizona State Board Of Education Approves Rebrand Of Common Core Standards

5.  Perhaps the most devastating to Incumbent Douglas’s false narrative comes from Dr. Sandra Stotsky.  When Ms. Douglas was campaigning for her current elected position, she relied heavily on Dr. Stotsky’s criticism of Common Core in her stock campaign presentation on Common Core in 2014.  Dr. Stotsky is a nationally-recognized expert on ELA standards and primarily responsible for the Massachusetts standards, widely regarded as the best in the nation.  Dr. Stotsky refused to sign off on the original Common Core Standards.  

In a recent article titled How Do You Sell Common Core Standards and Tests To Unwilling Parents? Hide ThemDr. Stotsky singled out Arizona for criticism: 

"Its eleven-member State Board of Education recently approved a “revision” of its original Common Core standards using fake expert reviews to assist the board in its decision-making. So far as is known, the Board invited most of the expert reviewers, including several 250-page reviews by Achieve Inc. in mathematics and English language arts (as well as a combined report), all on Arizona’s official stationery. Who paid for these lengthy reports is still not public knowledge, although Achieve Inc. has long been known as a Gates Foundation recipient and a Common Core promoter. Two faculty members in educational psychology at Arizona universities, Sara Abercrombie and Elizabeth Pope, were apparently invited to submit expert reviews in both mathematics and English language arts and did so.  Neither of these reviewers is known as an expert in mathematics or English language arts, both have academic appointments in a school of education, and neither has ever published in a discipline-based journal in either field. Achieve Inc.’s reviewers are unknown. 

"Arizona ended up with both mathematics and English language arts standards that are worse than the original Common Core standards it had.  That was my judgment for English language arts:  I was officially invited by the commissioner of education elected in November 2016 to critique the revised English language arts standards. And as noted by an authentic mathematics reviewer, examples in parentheses in the original mathematics standards, intended to clarify their meaning, had been removed in the “revision” process. But no reporter seems to have glanced at the “technical” reviews or commented on whether there were any questions about what the reviewing committees appointed by the Department of Education had done to make both sets of standards vaguer and more difficult to understand than its original standards were. Several board members were or are college presidents."


Here’s an example of a recommended “change” that was incorporated into Common Core’s Kindergarten ELA standards:


K.RF.1. d. Recognize the difference between a letter and a printed word. Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.


K.RF.1. d.  Recognize the difference between a letter and a printed word. e. Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

Here’s an example of a recommended “change” that was incorporated into Common Core’s Kindergarten Math Standards:

K.0A.A.5.  Fluently add and subtract through 5.


K.OA.A.5.  Fluently add and subtract within 5. 

Arizona State Board of Education ‘Rebrands’ Common Core 

Back in 2015, the Arizona State Board voted to repeal Common Core.  See  Common Core out: Arizona education board votes to repeal controversial standards.  Dept. of Education spokesman Charles Tack said, “though the vote severs ties to Common Core, the standards will remain in place for the time being.  “But it (the vote) will give Arizona the freedom to modify, add to, delete from those standards as Arizona sees fit,” he continued.  

Sadly, in spite of "the repeal," the Common Core Standards were replaced with the Common Core Standards.  

Input on the Arizona Language Arts and Math Standards 

Dr. Megan Koschnick presents on Common Core at APP Conference

Common Core’s Final Legacy: Educational Malpractice and Child Abuse

Recommended Changes to 2016 AZ Draft English/Language Arts Standards K-5: Lisa Fink

Recommended Modifications to 2016 AZ Draft English/Language Arts Standards: Richard W Hawkins

Developmentally Inappropriate Standards for K-3 Should be Removed