Category Archives: Academic Freedom

Gun Control and Common Core

As we predicted, Common Core Standards would be used to turn students into political activists. Gone are the days of educating students in the core academic subjects and allowing them to think for themselves. Common Core is more about pushing kids to become political activist at the expense of literacy.

We know that many high school grads are NOT reading the U.S. Constitution or other important founding documents.

In states like New Hampshire, our Social Studies “Standards” were rated at an “F” level. In other words, our kids are not learning the core academics in important subjects like Civics and U.S. History.

Now, the Common Core Standards will ignore the problems of illiteracy in these subjects and exacerbate the problem. How? By requiring students who may not have a solid academic foundation, to lobby their elected officials AND debate political issues.

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Look at what kids in 1954 on an 8th grade civics test had to know and ask yourself, are our children learning this important information first? Are the schools equipping students with knowledge so at some point, they can debate important political issues? Or are they denying them core academic content and allowing students to be used as political activists, not based on facts and information but on emotions and feelings?

Whatever your position is on gun control, let’s make sure our schools are first educating our kids and giving them a foundation of knowledge. Then they can form their own opinions. Or is that what they are trying to stop?

New Hampshire Teacher Speaks Up: Is Anyone Listening?

We recently came across this post from a New Hampshire teacher who was courageous enough to speak up. The question now; is anyone listening?

April 6, 2015


A recent article in the Londonderry Times regarding concerns about the new, Common Core aligned SBAC test contained statements made by Heather Gage, Director of Educational Improvement for the New Hampshire Department of Education. Ms. Gage asserted, “Somehow there’s misinformation about us asking questions regarding social issues, such as gun control and sexual orientation. There’s nothing in the assessment like that”. I agree, these exact questions are probably not part of the test. However, what Heather neglected to mention is the fact that, in The US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology Draft, “ Promoting Grit Tenacity and Perseverance” it is clearly stated that, “ noncognitive factors—and particularly grit, tenacity, and perseverance—should play an essential role in evolving educational priorities.” It also states, “we found common operating principles for designing supportive contexts and evidence that contributing psychological resources can, to a large extent, be taught and cultivated.” I’m not clear on exactly what the intent is here or how it will be implemented. However, if you couple this with the fact that FERPA laws have been weakened and the fact that there has been a shocking lack of transparency regarding Common Core and its associated data collection through SBAC and other means from both the state and federal government, this becomes greatly concerning.

In early February of this year, upon approaching the NH Department of Education myself about my concerns regarding Common Core and SBAC, I was given a link that led me to the works of Linda Darling-Hammond, proponent of using psychometric tests and close friend and colleague of the communist and Weather Underground founder, Bill Ayers. When I approached the NH State BOE regarding these same concerns, I was urged by the board’s chair, Tom Raffio, to acquaint myself with the works of Dave Coleman, head of the College Board and responsible for aligning the new SAT to Common Core. Instead of solid academic research, I was instead given biased information supporting Common Core.

Indeed, we need to be concerned about Common Core’s experimental, one-size-fits-all copyrighted curriculum standards, scripted lessons, untested methods of teaching math, corporations making billions by helping to design and implement this, “ transformation”, high-stakes tests, data mining, and emphasizing test scores which will encourage teaching to the test and inevitably narrow the curriculum. However, what we really need to worry about is the underhanded and undemocratic way that all of this has come about, who is in charge of education in this country and exactly what it is that they are doing.

I have yet to hear of a society that collects personal data on its citizens and uses one-size-fits-all instruction to effectively force “equality” on its masses remain democratic or avoid violating the civil liberties of its citizens.

Diane Rose Sekula
Experienced Educator
RPCV, Moldova, Former USSR, ’99-01

Teachers, Has This Happened to You?

This was reported to us as having happened to a teacher from NH as far back as the late 1990s.

The situation is not getting better. It’s very Orwellian and as if we live in a country where we must conform to government political bias or not have a job. If you speak out against bad education policies you will be punished and even fired, and someone who drinks the Koolaid hired in your place.

Our NH teacher reports that she was even followed and ‘spied’ upon day in and day out, with every little move marked in a folder, INCLUDING the fact that one day when she was very busy, she DARED to eat lunch at her desk for 20 minutes instead of eating in the teachers room with the rest of the teachers.

Can you imagine being called into the principal’s office and questioned for that? They didn’t even want her to deviate from the group on her own free time. Sounds like the gulag to us.

It’s as if we now live in Cuba, North Korea, or Communist China…

Deborah Vailes has been teaching junior high in Louisiana’s Rapides Parish School District for the past twelve years. She is passionate about helping special needs children become better readers. Little did she know that an early morning post critical of the Common Core Curriculum on her personal Facebook page would lead to disciplinary action, suppression of her right to free speech, retaliation from school officials, and possible loss of her job.

Read more…

Bullying OF Teachers Who Oppose Common Core Should Be UNACCEPTABLE

We hope Governor Hassan and Commissioner Barry will issue a STRONG stance against the bullying of any teachers in New Hampshire who publicly speak out on the problems they are seeing with Common Core.

We’ve had some courageous teachers in New Hampshire speak out against Common Core and it is necessary to support these teachers. Parents need to hold their school administrators accountable if there is any kind of bullying against these courageous teachers.  You can do that by going directly to your local school board if you are aware of any bullying against teachers.  Writing letters to the editor of you local papers and contacting you local elected officials can also be helpful.

We need to stand together to support the teachers who are willing to share the information that puts our children in a harmful situation.


Arizona teacher says Common Core views led to retaliation

Published December 03, 2014

PHOENIX –  A Tucson teacher who says he suffered retaliation from state Department of Education staffers because his opposed Arizona’s new Common Core standards is suing the state.

The lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute in Maricopa County Superior Court Tuesday seeks to have teacher Brad McQueen reinstated to state testing committees and notes placed in his state file removed.

The suit says McQueen was removed from his committee roles earlier this year after he spoke out against Common Core and its accompanying tests in a newspaper story. Goldwater attorney Kurt Altman says the removal and notes placed in his file violate McQueen’s free speech rights.

HEY, Clueless Kuster: Even Teachers Want to Shut Down The U.S. Dept. of Education

Teachers around the country have been subjected to failed education reforms for decades.  Unelected bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Education are now pushing another reform: Common Core.

Common Core has been described as “an attack on teachers”.   Why?  Because the U.S. Dept. of Ed is pushing test scores be tied to a teacher’s evaluation.

We’ve seen this in NH with Governor Hassan’s Commissioner of Education, Virginia Barry walking lockstep and pushing this through the Model Teacher Evaluations.  

This kind of approach pushes the “teach to the test” mentality in the classroom and now we have NH teachers speaking out and describing this harmful effect on students and public education. 

If you recall, Rep. Annie Kuster is running an ad criticizing her opponent, Marilinda Garcia for wanting to abolish the U.S. Dept. of Education.  An agency that has a budget of $69 BILLION dollars.  Money that COULD be used in local schools instead of on a Secretary who acts like a tyrant.

Teachers across the country are beginning to realize the real damage that comes from having a Federal Department of Education and are joining others in calling for eliminating it.

Clueless Kuster is so far removed from the reality that OUR teachers face in the classroom everyday, that she doesn’t realize the damage that is being done to OUR children and OUR teachers.

If you don’t believe me, look at a recent TWEET by @badassteachersA (Bad Ass Teachers Assoc.)  With over 13,000 followers across the country, teachers know the damage they see coming from the U.S. Dept of Ed.  Clueless Kuster still remains…CLUELESS.

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Manchester NH Teacher WARNS Parents / Will They Listen?

Editors note: this was publicly posted on Manchester Parents Against Common Core on Face book.
We’d also like to make parents aware that with Outcome Based Education (Competency Based Ed in NH) Students take NUMEROUS tests.  Tests before they’ve been taught the material, during instruction and AFTER instruction.  This is a way of ensuring students come out with the RIGHT attitudes, dispositions and yes, sometimes academic knowledge.  KEEP IN MIND, if they do NOT have the right attitudes (example, not having the right attitudes on man made global warming) they will be remediated and remediated until they hold that view. 
That’s an “EXAMPLE” of how OBE works and states/districts who’ve gone that route in the past, have reported the similar problems……

Kelley Tambouris
Does Anybody Hear Me, Will Anybody Listen?
A Second Grade Teacher’s Story from a Manchester Elementary School
By: Kelley Tambouris

Twenty-two years ago I began my teaching career. I have been a Special Educator, a Second Grade Teacher, a Third Grade Teacher, a Writing Teacher, a Literacy Coach, and now I am back in the classroom, again, as a Second Grade Teacher. Why did I become a teacher? I have a deep love of children and just knew my calling was to make a difference in their lives.

As a teacher of 22 beautifully special and unique children, it is my responsibility to do what is best for them each and every day. I can stay quiet no longer. Here is our story:
Today was the 28th day of school and I have already had to give them 8 math assessments and three half-hour to one and a half hour computerized assessments. I have been also told that I will have to continue giving them 3-4 additional math assessments each month. These are not the traditional tests teachers give; our district mandates them.

I have also been recently instructed to give each student a 150-word site word test and individual reading assessments, both have to be done 1 on 1, and both have to be done by the end of November (please keep in mind there is only 1 of me and 22 of them). With each test I have to give to 1 student at a time, that leaves the other 21 on his or her own.

In January, the computerized tests will come back, along with our 3-4 monthly math assessments, and reading tests will have to be administered again to students below grade level. It doesn’t end there either. Again the computerized tests, reading tests, and site word tests will come back around in May, keeping in mind the 3-4 monthly math tests.

Now, not only do the mandated assessments have to be given, they need to be scored, analyzed, and put into the computer. What I really need you to understand is many of these tests are above what the students know because these skills are expected to be mastered by the end of the year. Countless minutes and hours are spent with tummy aches and tears (no, not mine, the children).

I have been given a new set of standards to teach my children, they are called the Manchester Academic Standards. There is, however, a catch. In math, I have been told what standards to teach, but there was no money to buy any teachers in my school a program to use to teach. So, I have to search the Internet and work with my team to come up with papers to do with my children. Although it is a challenge, I have accepted that challenge and have been creating my own work to help the children reach these standards. A wrench has recently been thrown into my plan though. Approximately a week ago, we were sent an email stating we need to minimize run-offs because our paper supply is nearly gone and there is no money in the budget to buy any anytime soon. Our pencil supply is also minimal. Again, it is the 28th day of school.

Let me also mention part of our reading standards is to teach our second graders Fables, Folktales, and Fairytales. Again, when my team asked for books to use to teach Fables, Folktales, and Fairytales we were told these books should be supplied by the district, BUT THEY WEREN’T. How can I teach if I don’t have the materials? I know, they expect me to pay with my money.

In my classroom, most of the bookshelves, some tables, all the decorations, many of my classroom library books, many student supplies etc. were already paid for by me. I spend anywhere between $500 to $1500 a year on my classroom. When does it end?
Now, you may be thinking why don’t you just quit? Well, I go back to the beginning of my story. My calling is to make a difference in my students’ lives.

I have kept quiet and endured the public disrespect with the Union Leader and the many people that think teaching is a piece of cake. We have mandated assessments, daily planning for science, social studies, writing, Fundations, math, and reading, duties, progress reports, report cards, parent communication, sitting on various committees, hours of meetings that pull us out of the classroom, papers to correct, behaviors to deal with, minimal materials supplied to us, and professional development to maintain connected to tons of paperwork. Our workday begins at 8:05 and that is the same moment our students come in. We are given 45-minute prep periods 4 days a week and a 20-minute lunch. Students leave at 2:35 but for late kiddos we stay with them until 2:40 and walk them to the office. Our day is supposed to end at 2:50. Reality is that I am at school by 7:40ish and do not leave until approximately 4:15ish, usually with a bag of work over my shoulder to do at home, with no overtime pay.

I am angry, frustrated, but most of all sad! Sad that the system is so broken and that we are doing more harm than good!

Governor Hassan: BAD for TEACHERS and Governor Jindal Proves It

We all know that teachers who oppose Common Core are SILENCED.  We also know that Governor Hassan has ignored the serious problems with the Common Core Standards.

Governor Jindal just showed all of us how BAD Governor Hassan is for teachers in NH:
Thank you, Governor Jindal, for protecting teachers and allowing them to use their voices to speak out on behalf of our children.
WHEREAS, the United States Constitution and the Louisiana Constitution guarantee to every individual the freedom of speech and protection from government abridgment of that right;
WHEREAS, this same freedom and protection under the law extends to every teacher in every classroom across the state of Louisiana;
WHEREAS, teachers are the backbone of Louisiana’s educational system and offer a necessary voice in the ongoing discussions regarding classroom curriculum and testing procedures and must be afforded the opportunity to offer this crucial perspective; ….

The Final Straw: Cancel Our Labor Contracts, We Cancel Your Tests

OPT OUT OF THE STATE TEST: The National Movement posts:

When the State Recovery Board cancelled Philadelphia’s teachers contract, it may have removed the last hurdle to a national opt out movement of standardized testing.

Up to now, teachers have only sporadically refused to administer these fill-in-the-bubble falsely objective, poorly written and cheaply graded tests. The reason: fear of losing employment.

However, now that is not an impediment. When teachers in the 8th largest public school district in the country are forced to accept take-it-or-leave-it terms, there is no longer safety in following the rules.

The Philadelphia decision shows that poor districts can be taken over just because they’re poor and somehow that justifies sweatshop conditions for the teachers and their students.

The main justification the data crunchers use to make this determination is students’ standardized test scores. Not being educators, themselves, they have no other tool to judge success or failure. They blithely ignore the fact that rich kids score higher and poor kids score lower.

Therefore, teachers would best serve their interests and the interests of their students by refusing to provide this data. Moreover, the country’s two largest teachers unions - NEA and AFT – have promised to defend teachers opting out of testing.

A wholesale movement of this kind beginning in poorer schools and spreading to the more affluent ones would force the corporate education reform machine to a halt. It would offer an opportunity for real reform – an attack on the roots of the problem: inequitable funding and abject student poverty.

The last straw has fallen. The revolution is about to begin.

Read more here.


How Governor Hassan and Common Core Sets Teachers Up For Failure

Teachers across the nation and in New Hampshire are being set up for failure.  How? The new Common Core initiative targets teachers as the cause for why schools are failing.
Assuming that the problems lie with teachers (and we’d argue against that belief) one would think that any new reform effort would focus on setting teachers up for success.

Unfortunately that is NOT the case and we’ll explain why.

Teacher evaluations are being done via the Danielson Rubric which is sweeping the nation. According to the website, the Danielson rubric for teacher evals is “grounded in a constructivist view of learning and teaching”

Page 5 from New Hampshire Task Force On Effective Teaching:

“Each subcommittee reviewed and discussed related literature and research and developed recommendations which were sent to Charlotte Danielson for technical review.

At the final task force meeting in May 2011, Charlotte provided feedback to each subcommittee on its recommendations in light of current research and best practice. The subcommittees incorporated her feedback in their final recommendations, which will be used in the Phase II design effort.”

So how does the Charlotte Danielson Rubric set teachers up for failure?  The information below  shows how “Constructivism” lowers academic achievement in mathematics and science.  We encourage you to read through the information provided in the links below.  You will see how this pedagogy pushed on teachers, actually puts students at a disadvantage.

Failed Pedagogy is a recipe for failure in the classroom.  Forcing teachers to comply to this kind of failed Pedagogy sets not only the students up for failure, but teachers too.

While we do not wish to dictate exactly how a teacher should teach in a classroom, we believe all information should be given to teachers so they understand the real problems with this approach to learning.  Only then can they adjust their classrooms accordingly and make the best decisions for their students.  In other words, let teachers teach the best way they know how.  If they want to facilitate in the learning process vs lecture, let the teachers decide.  If that approach is not working well, give them the flexibility to adjust their teaching style accordingly.

Common Core micromanaging teacher evaluations limits a teacher’s creativity in the classroom and can have a negative impact on academic achievement.

New Hampshire parents need to be aware of what is going on inside the classroom.  Governor Hassan continues to push forward with this initiative that further damages academic achievement and the ability for teachers to simply…TEACH.

AFT puts Sect. Arne Duncan on an “Improvement Plan”

The AFT put Duncan on a “Secretary of Education Improvement Plan.” If he doesn’t improve, having been treated fairly, asking him to resign.

Don’t miss the comments from the rank and file teachers at the bottom.