Today 11am – Radio 94.9 – A discussion about the Common Core and Common Core testing

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If you have a time, listen in as Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh and I discuss the Common Core, Common Core Testing, the privatization of our public schools and the rise of the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

Show begins at 11am on 94.9 FM News Now

Or you can listen on-line at:

Ralph’s Nader’s latest book, “Unstoppable,” is subtitled – “The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.”

While significant and critically important differences of opinion exist between those on the so-called Left and Right do exist, Ralph Nadar is absolutely correct that while true liberals and true conservatives have been fighting against each other, the corporatization of our government, economy and society are threatening the most basic American values and principles.

If the destruction of the middle class is to be stopped, and public education returned to public control, then conservatives and liberals must team up to fight the true and immediate enemy – the corporatization of our government.

Today’s radio show is intended to be a small step in that direction.

Listen in if you have time.

How much will the absurd Common Core SBAC Test cost Connecticut taxpayers?


The following is a “MUST READ” column for Connecticut’s parents and taxpayer.

In fact, it should be mandatory reading for Connecticut’s local school board members, superintendents, principals and all of the state’s local school officials.

So how much will the unfair and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test cost Connecticut taxpayers?

It turns out that no one knows for sure, or if they do, they definitely aren’t telling!

Governor Malloy won’t give a number, nor will his political appointees on the State Board of Education.

State Legislators haven’t been told, nor have local cities and towns.

But starting in just over a month, every public school in Connecticut will be forced to stop teaching and start giving the Common Core Smarter Balanced Consortium SBAC Test.

And not only will school districts have to put aside instructional time and give the Common Core SBAC test this year, but they will have to do it next year, and the year after, and the year after that, and every single year until this nonsense stops and the state’s elected officials finally have the courage to stand up and put an end to the Common Core Test Scam that is designed to intentionally judge the vast majority of Connecticut’s public school children as failures.

While most of Connecticut’s local school boards and officials are remaining quiet about this disaster, in California it is a whole different story.

In California (and in many parts of New York),  local school boards and school leaders have had enough and are pushing back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s agenda of turning public schools into little more than testing factories.

In California, local districts have even gone so far as to bring a class-action lawsuit to force the State of California to pay for the unfunded mandate called the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Test.

Today, the nation’s leading public education advocate, Diane Ravitch, writes about the lawsuit in a post entitled, “California: Districts Object to $1 Billion for Common Core Testing.”

According to media reports, the Santa Ana Unified School District of Orange County calculates that shifting from the previous paper tests to the new Common Core SBAC test “will cost the district about $12million, including 8.1 million for new computers, $3.3 million for additional internet bandwidth and other costs associated with “accessories and training.”

The total cost of implementing the Common Core SBAC Test — After the State of California has already allocated more than $1.25 billion for the Common Core testing system – is estimated to be at least $1 billion annually for the state’s school districts.

Of course, when confronted with the news, in a statement similar to what we’d likely hear from the Malloy administration, “a spokesman for the [California] Department of Finance declined to comment because officials are reviewing the claim.”

Note that the projected $1 billion additional burden on local school districts in California CAMES AFTER California State Government allocated  $1.25 billion to districts in one-time funds to help pay for classroom changes needed to implement the Common Core standards and Common Core SBAC Testing program.

The Orange County Register newspaper adds that the state provided another $26.7 million in state funds last year for high-speed internet access at schools with the highest needs and, “The governor’s latest budget proposal for next year adds $100 million for internet needs.”

However, here in Connecticut, relatively small amounts of state money have been allocated to help the state’s local school districts pay for the tremendous costs associated with ramping up and implementing the Common Core SBAC Testing Scheme.

Rather than spending their time and lobbying funds cheering on Governor Malloy and his corporate education reform industry agenda, perhaps the publicly funded Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and the publicly funded Connecticut Association of School Superintendents (CAPSS) should stop taking positions that directly undermine their own members – Connecticut’s local school boards and superintendents – and start talking about legal and legislative action to force the State of Connecticut to fund this unfunded mandate or postpone the testing debacle until proper funding is provided.

While it is true that Connecticut may not want to follow California’s lead on all things, it sure would be helpful if more of Connecticut’s local school districts and local school officials were following their colleagues in California, (and other states like New York,) and standing up and fighting on behalf of their districts’ students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

But NO – you want to know what the local taxpayer money that goes to CABE and CAPSS is being used for?

They are spending their time – and our money – joining the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s campaign to promote Malloy’s ant-public education agenda!


CT’s Big Six to state legislators: “Continue investing in last year’s education reforms”

“A coalition of six of the state’s leading education and business groups – CAPSS, CAS, CABE, CBIA, CCER, CONNCAN – urge legislators not to back down from key pillars of last year’s education reform law

“This prompted the Big Six – a group composed of six education and business organizations – to urge lawmakers to protect progress made last year for Connecticut children by continuing to invest education reforms…”



“With the release of the Big 6’s Statement of Principles and Policy Recommendations, the coalition expects elected officials to keep education improvement efforts a priority during Legislative Session.

The Big 6 coalition represents key stakeholders and perspectives from the state’s leading education and business groups and continues to be united in a shared commitment to pursue systemic improvement in the state’s public schools so that every child gets an excellent public education.

Our partnership includes the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).”

Interestingly none of the priorities pushed by the BIG SIX includes being honest with Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers about the real cost of these “initiatives” or the fact that much of those unnecessary costs will be dumped on the backs of Connecticut’s local property taxpayers.

You can read more about the Big Six in any number of commentary piece written by fellow education advocates, but a good place to start is with Sarah Darer Littman piece that was published in CT Newsjunkie and entitled, “Legislate Based On Research, Not Hyperbole.”

Question – Can my child graduate without taking the absurd Common Core SBAC Test?

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Incredibly, whether it is out of ignorance or deceitfulness, some Connecticut school officials are apparently telling parents that opting out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing System could jeopardize their child’s chance of graduating.

To be blunt, that is bullsh*t!

Connecticut State Statute 10-14n(e) reads… “No public school may require achievement of a satisfactory score on a mastery examination, or any subsequent retest on a component of such examination as the sole criterion of promotion or graduation.”

This Connecticut state law is particularly important now that the Malloy administration has set the “pass” level on the new Common Core SBAC 11th grade test in such a way that only about 4 in 10 students will reach the “satisfactory” score in English/Language Arts and only 3 in 10 are projected to get a “satisfactory” score in Math.

Since the Common Core SBAC test is designed to ensure the vast majority of students are deemed failures, the state statute prohibiting towns from using the “mastery test” as the sole criterion for graduation is obviously necessary!

And if a town can’t require a “satisfactory score” on the Common Core SBAC Test as the sole criterion for graduation, then it certainly can’t require an “unsatisfactory score” on the Common Core SBAC Test in order to graduate.

And if a town can’t require a “satisfactory score” nor can it require an “unsatisfactory score,” then it becomes obvious that it can’t possibly prohibit a student from graduating if they have no Common Core SBAC Test score due to the fact that they didn’t take the Common Core SBAC test.

So parents – don’t let anyone mislead you.

Under state law, schools must administer the Common Core SBAC test, but to reiterate the point, there is absolutely no state law or regulation that allows the state or school districts to punish the parent or student if a parent opts their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

And there is equally no mechanism for a school district to prohibit a child from graduating simply because they did not take the Common Core SBAC test.

If parents are told by a school administrator that opting out their children out of the Common Core SBAC test will jeopardize their ability to graduate, simply tell them to stop talking and start reading Section 10-14n(e) of the Connecticut State Statute.

And then— please send that administrator’s name and where they work to Wait, What? so that we can post that information and warn other parents about just how wrong that administrator is.

Connecticut parents and guardians can and should opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Testing Scam.

For more background on the Common Core SBAC Testing Scheme start with the Wait, What? blog entitled, “Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests.”

Legislative Champions starting to step forward in Connecticut


In response to the growing public concern about the Common Core, the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme, and the inappropriate and unfair use of standardized test scores when evaluating Connecticut’s public school teachers, a growing number of state representatives and state senators are stepping forward and introducing legislation that would stop, or at least slow down, the damaging Corporate Education Reform Industry’s agenda that is undermining public education in Connecticut.

Congratulations are in order for every one of these elected officials since, in virtually every situation, their legislative proposals are challenging the policies that have been promoted by Governor Dannel Malloy and his pro-education reform administration.

It is interesting to note that most of these important bills have been proposed by Republican members of the Connecticut General Assembly, but an increasing number of Democratic legislators are standing up and speaking out in favor of Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.

Special credit goes out to State Representative Melissa Ziobron, who represents the 34th House District which includes East Hampton, East Haddam, and a part of Colchester.

Representative Ziobron, who is in her second term, has become one of the most outspoken proponents of public education.

As a former member of a Board of Education she witnessed the growing negative consequences of the “No Child Left Behind Act” and the “Race to the Top Initiative,” especially in the standardized testing nightmare that is now driving public education in the country.

As a parent and legislator, she used her first term to study the real issues associated with the Common Core, its testing system and the impact of unfunded mandates on public education.

While recognizing that public education continues to face major challenges and problems that must be addressed, Representative Ziobron has become an advocate for parents who wish to opt their children out of the Common Core tests and for policies that support, not undermine, the role of parents, teachers, and local citizens in how their local schools should be run.

As for legislation now before the General Assembly, the following is an initial list of pro-public education bills that have been introduced so far this session.

A review of the list of sponsors highlights the fact that more and more legislators are responding to the demand that legislative action is needed to protect and support our public schools.

This list of bills will be updated as additional pieces of legislation are identified.  Readers can learn more about these bills and identify when action on them is taking place by going to the Connecticut General Assembly’s bill-tracking website:


Proposed legislation on the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) System;

HB 5398 – AN ACT CONCERNING PARENTAL OPT OUT OF STATE-WIDE EXAMINATIONS FOR STUDENTS; Purpose: To allow the parent or guardian of a student to opt their child out of taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron,

HB 6422 – AN ACT REPEALING THE REQUIREMENT THAT STUDENTS IN GRADE ELEVEN TAKE THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENTS; Purpose: To repeal the requirement that students in grade eleven take the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Sponsors: Rep. Ziobron, Rep. Kokoruda,


Proposed legislation to slow down or push back against the Common Core;

HB 5137 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE CREATION OF A DATABASE TO COLLECT INFORMATION RELATING TO COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IMPLEMENTATION; Purpose: To create a database to track funds being used to implement the common core state standards. Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron

HB 5680 – AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY EVALUATING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS.  Purpose: To conduct a study of the effectiveness of the Common Core State Standards to help policymakers evaluate whether and to what extent the Common Core State Standards are working or should be modified.   Sponsors: Rep. MacLachlan, Rep. Carney

SB 785 – AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS CURRICULUM. Purpose: To allow for necessary changes to the Common Core State Standards.  Sponsors: Sen. Markley

SB 344 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PHASE IN OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS AND SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT; Purpose: To phase in the common core state standards and Smarter Balanced assessments in the public schools.  Sponsors: Sen. Boucher

HB 5544 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROVISION OF CURRICULUM MATERIALS RELATING TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND TEACHERS. HB 5544 Purpose: To support school districts and teachers by supplying them with materials necessary to teach the Common Core State Standards. Sponsors: Rep. Yaccarino


Proposed legislation to protect student data from the Common Core Testing Companies

SB 786 – AN ACT PROHIBITING THE DISCLOSURE OF PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE STUDENT INFORMATION. Purpose: To prevent the disclosure of student information. Sponsor: Sen. Markley

Proposed legislation requiring an appropriate teacher evaluation program THAT DOES NOT INAPPROPRIATELY utilize standardized test scores.

HB 5400 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROHIBITION OF THE USE OF STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS IN TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS. Purpose: To prohibit the use of students’ mastery test results in an individual teacher’s performance evaluation.     Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron

HB 5138 – AN ACT PROHIBITING THE USE OF STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS IN TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS. Purpose: To prohibit the use of students’ mastery test results in an individual teacher’s performance evaluation.      Sponsors: Rep. Srinivasan, Sen. Witkos

HB 5681 -AN ACT REPEALING THE REQUIREMENT THAT TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS INCLUDE STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS; Purpose: To uncouple students’ test results on the Smarter Balanced Assessment from a teacher’s performance evaluation. Sponsors: Rep. Candelora, Rep. Fritz

HB 5987 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE EXCLUSION OF CERTAIN ELL STUDENT TEST SCORES AS PART OF TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS AND SCHOOL DISTRICT PERFORMANCE MEASURES. Purpose: To limit the use of certain ELL student performance data in teacher performance evaluations and school district performance measures.    Sponsors: Rep. Candelaria, Sen. Boucher, Rep. Johnson, S. 049

Proposed legislation holding Charter Schools accountable:

HB 6003 – AN ACT CONCERNING A MORATORIUM ON NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS AND A REVIEW OF EXISTING CHARTER SCHOOLS.  Purpose: To place a moratorium on the approval of new charter schools by the Commissioner of Education require the Department of Education to conduct a review of existing charter schools. Sponsors Rep. Vargas, Rep. Gonzalez, Rep. Johnson, et. al.

HB 6532 – AN ACT CONCERNING CHARTER SCHOOL TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND PERFORMANCE. Purpose:  To improve charter school transparency, accountability and performance. Sponsor: Rep Rojas

Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests


FACT #1:

Connecticut parents and guardians have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Standardized Testing Program

FACT #2:

In addition to all myriad of problems associated with the Common Core Standards, including the concerns that some of those expectations are not developmentally appropriate, the Common Core SBAC Standardized Test is literally designed [rigged] to ensure that the vast majority of students are deemed “failures.”

Late last year, the Malloy administration joined with the other members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and voted to define the “proficient levels” on the SBAC tests.  The “Cut Scores” were set at a level where about 38 to 44 percent of  elementary and middle school children will meet the so-called “proficiency mark” in English/Language Arts and only 32 -39 percent will reach that mark in Math.

At the same time, SBAC set the cut score for the 11th grade SBAC Common Core Test so that approximately 41 percent will show “proficiency” in English/Language Arts and 33 percent will do so in Math.

This means that the Common Core SBAC Test is designed in such a way as to deem as many as 6 in 10 – and potentially as many as 7 in 10 – children as failures.

The scoring system is nothing short of child abuse.  (For details read: Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!)

FACT #3:   

While the overall waste of taxpayer money and student instructional time associated with the Common Core SBAC Testing disaster undermines the educational opportunities of every public school student, the testing scheme is particularly discriminatory against children who face English Language barriers, children who have special education needs and children who aren’t “excelling” at one to two grade levels ahead of their classmates.


The only thing that will stop the Common Core and Common Core Testing scam from completely destroying our system of public education will be if our elected officials stand up and fight back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

For that to happen, parents need to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test and send a loud and powerful message to our elected officials that the time has come to put the word “PUBLIC” back in Public Education.

[More on the legislative effort and legislative heroes in an upcoming post]

Here are the other FACTS Connecticut’s school parents and guardians need to know;

According to Connecticut State law, all public schools must administer the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  This year the Common Core SBAC test will be given to all students in Grades 3 through 8, and those in Grade 11.

However, there is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests.

To repeat:  There is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests AND there is no law that allows the government or local school districts to punish parents or their children if the parent refuses to allow their child or children to participate in the Common Core SBAC testing program.

Last year, a directive issued by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, instructed local school superintendents and principals that Connecticut parents COULD NOT opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC tests and his memo even provided districts with step by step instructions on how to pressure parents into not utilizing their rights to opt their children out of the tests.

According to the CT Mirror, in an interview with John Dankosky, last spring, on WNPR’s public radio show, “Where We Live” Governor Malloy said that, “federal law restricts students from opting out of taking standardized tests, and if the state were to give students that option, it would put the state at risk of losing millions of federal dollars.”

Malloy’s statement was simply untrue.

When the Chairman of the State Board of Education and Commissioner Pryor were finally brought before the General Assembly’s Education Committee on March 12, 1014 to address concerns surrounding the Common Core and Common Core testing system, Commissioner Pryor admitted that,

On an individual level, I don’t believe that there’s any specific provision in law regarding consequences… To my knowledge there are no state provisions that are specific, or no federal provisions that are specific to an individual student.”

The Chairman of the State Board of Education agreed that there was no legal action that the state or school district could take to punish a parent or child who opted out of the Common Core SBAC test.

While a law clarifying that parents can opt their children out would be helpful, and has been introduced into this year’s General Assembly (more on that soon), a parent’s right to opt their children out cannot be denied.

However, in response to Commissioner Pryor’s directive to local school superintendents, the majority of local schools inappropriately informed parents (and teachers) that students could not opt out of the Common Core SBAC tests.

But regardless of the false information and rhetoric coming from the Malloy administration, parents not only have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair testing program, they should strongly consider doing just that as a way to protect their children, Connecticut’s teachers and our state’s historic commitment to local control of public education.

Finally, after speaking with many local school superintendents and reviewing the correspondence that they sent out to teachers and parents last spring, it is clear that Malloy’s Department of Education also tried to scare local officials into believing that any widespread opt-out or  boycott of the Common Core SBAC test would jeopardize funding for the local school district.

Again, the state government used misinformation in their misplaced and ongoing attempt to mislead local superintendents.

The issue in question is called the “95% Rule”

According to President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), school districts are required to show, every year, that their tests scores are improving and that 95% of all students have taken the standardized tests.

But according the nationally-respected nonprofit, non-partisan, Fair Test organization,

 “No school or district anywhere in the country has ever been penalized for failing to test enough (95%) of its students.

Even more importantly, at least 41 states, including Connecticut, have been given federal waivers that supersede and preempt those provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Instead, Connecticut has chosen to go with a system of categorizing schools based on test scores and a number of other criteria.  According to Connecticut law and regulations, Connecticut categorizes its schools as being (1) Turnaround Schools, (2) Review Schools, (3) Transition Schools, (4) Progressing Schools and (5) Excelling Schools.

Turnaround Schools are defined as the 5% of the lowest performing schools and are subject to state intervention, state takeover, and even a state determination to close them and hand them over to a private charter school company. (The disgraced policy of giving Jumoke Academy control of the Milner School in Hartford and the Dunbar School in Bridgeport)

The next category, according to the State Department of Education, are “Review Schools” and this is where the so-called “95% Rule” might come into play….but not the way the Malloy administration has explained.

Review Schools are, “All schools with [Standardized Test] participation rates less than 95 percent, four-year cohort graduation rates below 60 percent, three-year baseline School Performance Indexes (SPIs) below 64…”

There is no financial punishment for being a “Review School.” In fact, there might even be some financial benefit if the state was actually allocated its funds appropriately.  But even more importantly, a school with a graduation rate of 60% or more has successful proven that it is making progress and no state official would have the audacity to define a school as failing simply because its participate rate fell below 95%, but it was successfully meeting all the other criteria for being a “transitioning school” or “progressing school.”

If parents take the time to examine graduate rates for their schools they will quickly see that the so-called “95% Rule,” is nothing more than a red herring.

As parents look around the nation they will discover that Common Core Testing opt-out and boycott efforts are taking place from sea to shining sea.

In New York States, entire school districts are refusing to even offer the test, a number of courageous teachers in various states are actually refusing to give the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Tests and tens of thousands of parents are stepping up to protect their children by opting them out of the tests.

Connecticut parents should certainly consider doing the same.

In the coming weeks, Wait, What? will be posting more information about how to opt your child out of the Common Core test and the issues surrounding the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco.

For now, here are the primary steps are protecting your children:

Submit a letter to your school principal and your child’s teachers indicating that your child will not be taking the test.

Let them know that you are aware that you are not required to keep your child at home during the testing windows and that your child should be provided with appropriate instructional activities while the Common Core Testing is taking place.

Ask them what arrangements they will make for your child during that time.

Also, here is a sample Opt Out letter follows:

Dear Principal _____________,

Thank you for all you do for my child, ___________ (child’s full name), and for our school.

I am writing to respectfully and formally inform you that ________ is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

Please note that this is not a “request” to be excused from the tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

I am aware of Connecticut State Statute 10-14n which mandates that students take a statewide mastery examination. However, as you know, I have the legal right to refuse to allow my child to participate in these tests and neither the state nor the school district has any legal right to punish me or my child for taking this action.

Furthermore, please note that a “refusal” is not the same as “absent” as they are defined differently. As such,   _______ will not be required to participate in any makeup tests.

I will be informing ________ that he/she is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC), and that if he/she is given one he/she is not to work on it in any way.

I would ask that the school please provide him/her with an alternative, instructionally appropriate activity during any and call SBAC related testing.

Please confirm your receipt and understanding of this letter.



Parent’s name and contact information

Finally, you can also get more information about these issues from a variety of websites including the following:

United Opt Out: Connecticut Page

Truth in America Opt Out Form

Connecticut Against Common Core (and its Facebook counterpart Stop Common Core in CT )

You and Your Children Cannot Be Punished For Opting Out in Connecticut (Common Core in CT Blog)


And here are some of the previous Wait, What? Blogs on the Common Core SBAC Testing Scam

Common Core (SBAC) Results May Provoke Shock, Officials Urge Families to Stay Objective

Another reader speaks truth to power about the Common Core SBAC Test

Beware the Coming Common Core Testing Disaster

Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!

A system that labels children as failures (another MUST READ by Wendy Lecker

Greenwich superintendent joins Commissioner Pryor in misleading parents

An Open Letter to Parents from a Connecticut Parent

How much time and money can Malloy and Pryor Waste on the Common Core Test of a Test

The Malloy Administration’s Big Lie: Parents Can’t Opt Out.

Parents can opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them

Commissioner Pryor’s agency tells superintendents to mislead and lie to parents – and they are

Parents can opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them

Readers – I Need Your Help to Keep Wait, What? Going…

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With no operating funds from big corporations, foundations, unions or advocacy groups, Wait, What? has been a four year journey funded by personal saving and contributions from some generous readers.

But truth be told, I need your help to keep Wait, What? active and continuing its mission of educating, persuading and mobilizing people on a series of vital issues that impact our nation, state and communities.

Maybe you could dedicate your donation in honor of our surviving #Blizzard2015 or #StormJuno

Or maybe you could donate as part of your on-going commitment to supporting citizen journalism and the role we play in providing The People with the truth about what is happening in their government.

Or maybe you could donate based on your belief that we must continue to push back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry and ensure that the word “public” is truly part of “Public Education.”

Whatever reason you choose, the fact is your financial support is needed.

The time and money to keep Wait What? doing what it does best —– is extensive.

I recognize that that most people don’t have a lot of disposable income these days to donate to vital causes, but your help and support is critically important and truly appreciated.

Please consider making a donation to support the Wait, What? Blog

You can donate on–line by going to:

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Contributions are not tax-deductible, but they go a very long way toward helping with the maintenance of Wait, What?

Thank you so much,


Please take a moment today and click on the following link to make a donation:

Time to stop the Common Core and Common Core Testing Madness


Take note Connecticut;

Governor Dannel Malloy has pledged to “stay the course” on the Common Core and said he didn’t mind having teachers teach to the test as long as the test scores went up.  We can continue to follow the lead of Governor Malloy and the Corporate Education Reform Industry or we can actually do what is right for our children, parents, teachers, public schools and our society.

The movement to put the PUBLIC back in Public Education is building.

Will Connecticut’s elected officials step up or will they continue to follow Malloy’s “education reform” agenda?

From Washington State –

The Central Committee of the Washington State Democratic Party has passed a resolution that roundly condemns the Common Core standards. This is the first time a statewide Democratic Party committee has taken a public position against the Common Core, and it happened in the back yard of the Gates Foundation, which has provided the funding that made the national standards project possible. This could signal a sea-change for the beleaguered standards, because up until now, political opposition has been strongest in the Republican party.

More than 200 delegates representing 49 legislative districts, from 29 counties, gathered at the Red Lion Inn in the state capital, Olympia on Saturday, Jan. 24, where there was a showdown between “new Democrats” and a scrappy coalition of education and labor activists. Activists mixed in with the delegates, and carried homemade signs expressing their opposition to the Common Core. They also arrived early and made sure there were flyers on each chair carrying their message.”  (For more go to:


And from New York State -

The stopcommoncorenys website in New York State is dedicated to “HELPING PARENTS AND TEACHERS END COMMON CORE.” See

Stop Common Core NYS posted the following picture over the weekend – it was a stark reminder of damage we are doing to our children and another call to action about why we must all join together and beat back the Corporate Education Reform Industry and their inappropriate, unfair and absurd Common Core and Common Core Standardized Testing Scheme.

This photo was posted. Watch what happened next.


This photo was submitted by a parent. Her child is suffering with the age inappropriate, error and trick laden, too much, too soon, too fast, common core homework. This photo was shared on social media. Without asking for any response, it still received hundreds of commiserating comments within a half hour.

Below are some of the responses to this raw photo. They have been listed anonymously to protect the teachers involved. They need no names; they could be any parent. This is every child. Common core has failed all the children.

Legislators need to see these faces and hear these parents and teachers. This must stop.
Heartbreaking! School should not make any child feel this way. We need to bring the fun back to learning.

Is this grounds for a class action lawsuit against New York State, NYSED and the Board of Regents?This picture is so upsetting.

I live this horrible reality everyday with my kids when I come home from teaching.

We have all seen our kids in this child

The is child abuse; we are mandatory reporters. If only CFS would prosecute

I’ve had this scene at my house more than once as well. I hate it.

This is exactly how my 6yr old gets with math homework. Poor kids..

Mine too.

My 10 yr old on a nightly basis.

This is so heartbreaking…kids shouldn’t dread going to school….if we thought there were a lot of kids that dropped out of school before just wait a couple years and they’ll all be leaving! Luckily my child is only 2 so I have a couple years to decide if I want to attempt homeschooling, if we can afford it, or if we are actually going to move out of NYS. Who ever thought we would become a nation whose leaders are so blind to see that they’re destroying the very people they supposedly “represent”. It’s sickening that citizens have to seriously consider uprooting their entire family to avoid the devastating effects of common core and to get a quality education!

This is what my 6 yr old looks like every day.

My 12 yr old has a nervous breakdown every night!!! Terrible

I HATE this! This poor baby.

My 9 year old every night with his math …. Breaks my heart

Educational malpractice…no love for learning here.

This could be my 6-year old twin daughters. We go through the same thing every night with math. One of them hates it so much that she’ll scream about all her homework just because of the math. This past week, I did an experiment. We didn’t do math homework. Both girls were much more able to do the rest of their homework without a meltdown.
The math homework is very often a repeat of what was already done in school. It’s just drill and kill.

Heart breaking for sure and VERY REAL; I have that child at home too. Just older. 7th grade! Cries like that over math too!,

I see it all the time w/ my kids for a couple of years now.

This happens in my house as well, sadly.

Poor buddy! This is child abuse that is being legalized. We must speak up for our children!!!

I too have seen this with up close and personal with my granddaughter for over a year now its child abuse plain and simple

What about us poor parents that didn’t learn this way! I have to learn all over again because not even I get this common core crap! I just teach them how I was taught it’s so much frigging easier!!!!

Poor baby. Breaks my heart. School work should NOT cause this!

That’s a Pearson worksheet for sure. I teach K and refuse to have my classroom resemble a factory with workers sitting quietly, behind shields!! I DON’T CARE! I will continue to do it my way, develop the whole child. They are not numbers, scores or HEDI ratings. They are children and this is a criminal and egregious act against the children of America! They don’t want to educate; they want a future of complacent workers for their corporations to grow as well as their bank accounts. Parents please this IS NOT education. Maria Montessori knew how to educate and enrich a child. She’d be revolting and so should we.

I see this all the time. Sadly.

My son is in 5th grade and he calls himself stupid! Teachers and parents MUST UNITE AGAINST THIS!!!!!

My 7th grader hates school. Guess what ? She didn’t before the tests. Every night and weekends Math homework even weekends – takes over one hr+ just on math – much of what is learned in class is not reviewed – you are screwed if you don’t understand. Tests every week. Never have I seen her this stressed and miserable about school. Now I pay a tutor on top of my huge school tax bill. I hear kids are doing worse than having meltdowns and losing sleep…what’s it gonna take for them to realize this. Tutor cannot believe what they are doing to them either. I loved school – I hoped my kid who loves to learn would have the same chance as me. It’s crazy.

My son was like that last year…I e-mailed the teacher I would never allow my son to get like that again and that if we can not get it done in 20 minutes (math then I will send it back to be re-taught….)

No child should be put through this. The government has no business being involved with education.

The math is developmentally inappropriate for his age. He can’t read it let alone cognitively translate what the worksheet wants. I read yesterday about a 6th grade test that had 11th grade reading material. This is cruel and a setup for failure.

They must first learn it in school, not by us! Teachers have too much to fit in now and if a child isn’t getting it, sorry, need to move on. Terrible!

I predict that the future will see an increase in student drop out rates, teen suicide rates and a lack of motivation for life long learning if Common Core continues.

my kids feel the same way with all this HW

I am teaching algebra in Kindergarten. The kids are so confused! Some of them just learned their numbers and how to count! Its ridiculous!

Every parent needs to call our “wonderful” Governor and tell their stories.

It pains and angers me to see my kids cry over HW!

I know this all too well and i think boys in general are having a harder time . This is my son some nights and it kills me .

It’s not just boys. My 2nd grade daughter cries weekly because “I’m not smart enough to do the math”.

How can we make a statement strong enough to get it through the thick self-centered skulls of our government. ..they sit on their pedestals and think they know more than the teachers and parents that work with these children every single day…

Been there and living it for 3 years now!! Kids are desensitized to it now and like those victims of abuse, are not only dumbed down but are numbed down as well.

We have the same problem, HW time is sad. At the end of the day they do not retain this crap. Our children do not want to do this they fell out of love with learning. We need to get back to the basics!

I teach several strategies in 2nd grade and modify homework to make it shorter. The repetitiveness of the CC is torturous. I have always taught that we all think differently thus problems may be solved in such a way that the work is valid!

It’s horrible, my son’s math test grades just keep going down and down..the sad part is I don’t even understand most of it so I can’t even help him. Now I’m looking into a tutor.

We went thru this for weeks.. until I decided enough was enough!!! I will not let my child feel this way over math! It’s awful. If she don’t understand it…we don’t do it anymore !!

I think reporters at press conferences should ask politicians to solve problems from Common Core Math exams, just so we can enjoy how stupid they look when they can’t solve them either!

(This is) the raw image that TRULY represents the reality of CCSS

My 9 y/o is like this all the time, it breaks my heart.

It is sickening. The only way to stop it is to refuse the tests. If nobody takes them, a clear, expensive message will be sent.

That’s my son EVERY night!

Powerful picture. I need to take one of my son and share it too.

My 6 year old was like this the other night while I tried to explain this math sheet(which made no sense to me or my husband).

We went thru this for weeks.. until I decided enough was enough!!! I will not let my child feel this way over math! It’s awful. If she don’t understand it…we don’t do it anymore !!

I hope the parent who took this picture sends it to the governor, Regents, every member of government, and to the media. This is not acceptable.

My son fights with us every night to do the homework. says it’s too hard. he can’t read the sentences and we have to read the sentences to even figure out what they hell they are trying to say. so if a 36 yr old and a 40 yr old can’t undertsand the questions how the hell can a 6 yr old who can bARELY READ UNDERSTAND THEM? this has gone too far. its time to take a stand, maybe have a statewide walk out on testing day or something but we have to let the government know this cannot go on that its torture and not important. we will never use it in college or the real world so why put so much pressure on our children to benefit yourselves. u dont care about us or our kids u just care about yourselves.

My teenage children get like this especially my 15yr old who has always loved math and been good at it…she gets the answers rt but bc she doesn’t use the common core method she doesn’t get full credit or any credit at all…

So sad ! I HATE that this is happening to our kids!!! I’d like to shove this common core down their throats!

We complain and sign petitions but it’s not enough we need to make a statement that will wake up the government and show them they are bullying our kids and teachers

My 9 year old spent 20 min crying because of the division homework. We tried to help but she kept saying that’s not the way my teacher teaches it. Nothing against her teacher, but this common core is pure cruelty to our children! 1+1=2. Simple and less complicated!

The instructions said “Make a 10. Then add”. It was difficult to explain to my son why 5 has to break down to 4+1 to be correct and not 3+2. This is beyond him right now. His brain does not work this way. He says he hates school. At 6 years old he should love school.

My 9 year old girls are having the same problems. One is actually regressing. In addition to all the work they have to do. Her teacher is a horrible for her. She is picking her fingers raw from stress. Something has t give for these kids. It’s so sad

I can remember, over the course of my elementary years, getting frustrated over homework maybe once or twice. The difference now is that this is an everyday occurrence for many children.

This just broke my heart. I see my fourth grader struggle with it also.

That’s me attempting to help my son during homework

My son is autistic I was told early on as long as he was in a restricted program he would not have to learn cc and yet in first grade he is but kindergarten he didn’t which is confusing to a child with special needs. Just getting the child to do the work is hard enough without cc confusing them. Thank god math is one of his best subjects but he still struggles regardless

Too many homes go through the same thing. It’s very sad. Cuomo doesn’t know about child development. If a child is NOT DEVELOPMENTALLY READY for certain skills, we’re doing more MORE HARM THAT GOOD. Why frustrate them? We will need more psychologists in schools.

Wait until they see the drop out rate in 8 or 9 years!!! Disgusting setting children up to fail.

It’s so sad. We go thru it every night and my son is only in the 1st grade.

Breaks my heart. We have been there many days and that’s when I close and move on. When they calm down I try “my” way the old-fashioned way

Since I pulled my kids and put them in Lutheran school I can’t tell u how wonderful . They are happy healthy love school never cry or ask to stay home. This kills me knowing this was my boy last year in second grade

We deal with this in 1st, 3rd and 5th. It is real and I have similar photos. My kids do not take the state exams.

Very true, that was my son, and I am now home schooling, we have no more of that

Breaks my heart. Just teaching to hate school.

I feel bad for any child struggling in school. My son is having a hard time also .

Say NO to these stupid tests! Why put your child through it for what. So these Big Shots can make more money, that is what this is all about. They don’t care about your child.

It’s insane my daughter asked me to help with division Ok I can do that easily but NO..They don’t just do simple long division she had to do some sort of estimating with it!!! WHY GOD WHY

I started homeschooling. My husband and I both work. I hope refusing the tests helps…

I predict that there will come a time that these years will be labeled the Common Core Years and our students at this time, the Common Core Kids. In the history of education, neither will have a positive connotation. Heartbreaking for our children.

And the grande finale:

Looks like my son when it’s HW time….these poor children. Shame on Albany.
Shame indeed. Thank you to the parents and teachers for your heartfelt replies. These thoughts have not been edited.

*** *** ***

It is time time to push back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry and Governor Malloy’s unwavering commitment to the Common Core and Common Core Testing Scheme.

Feel free to add your thoughts or list information about how others can join the battle to protect our children and save our public schools.


It is time to restore the innocence of childhood by Thomas Scarice


Thomas Scarice is the town of Madison’s superintendent of schools.  This commentary piece first appeared in the CT Mirror.  You can read the original at: It is time to restore the innocence of childhood.

Just over two years ago, like most parents, my wife Kerry and I did the unthinkable.  We entered the bedroom of our then third grader, Ella, on a cold Sunday night, and tried to communicate, in age-appropriate language, the unspeakable tragedy of Sandy Hook.

We did this against our better judgment.  We did this to protect her from inadvertent comments from other children on the bus or playground.  That night, we left her room with a piece of her innocence that will never be restored.

Sometimes life crashes down on us, forcing our hand.  In our hearts, we knew that she was not ready for this information, nor could she truly comprehend it. At the time she was merely 8 years old.  However, we felt powerless, similar to the feeling while standing at the shore watching a violent surf crash just in front of you.  We felt tiny and helpless.

Moments like this happen.  But, moments like this ought to be the exception and not the rule.  As adults, we can, and should, pause to consider the moments when adults seize the innocence of childhood.  We should pause because they are counting on us to do so.

Some say the measure of a civilization is how it treats its oldest, youngest, and most vulnerable citizens. In an era of overexposed, overscheduled, overstimulated, overanxious, and overstressed children, I’d say our civilization needs to take a long look in the mirror.

As a father and an educator, I believe it is time to categorically restore childhood.  Childhood is not some mythical, romantic concept memorialized in literature and film.  Childhood is real.  The innocence of childhood is not only real, but it is fundamentally necessary.  It is the foundation of human development upon which all adult stages of development rely.

The fragile thread that runs through childhood is fraying as a result of a culture that has lost its moorings.  Wrongheaded education policies, reckless media, and pathological pressure cooker achievement environments (academic and athletic) indulge adults while leaving kids hollow and empty.

The result is an emptiness that cannot be filled by reactive therapeutic or pharmacological care.  Alas, this “race to nowhere” is littered with vain academic pursuits, anxious students, and child athletes pressed to unnaturally accelerate their development in unhealthy, harmful competitive environments.

Over the past decade, schools have deteriorated into data factories, reducing children to mere numbers, with a perverted ranking and sorting of winners and losers in high stakes testing schemes.  And now, a new test promising to revolutionize education will produce yet more meaningless data for adults starving to exploit children for self-gain, selfish career aspirations, blind ideological ploys, or for the purposes of establishing high property values on the backs of children, all the while sorting out which 8 year olds are on track to be “college and career ready”.

Even at the classroom level, children suffer from the unintended consequences of well-meaning adults unaware of the ways that children naturally develop and grow.  Frivolous homework policies invade private family time and rob children of necessary unstructured time to develop executive functioning.

Play, the natural way children learn, is reduced to filler, barely acknowledged for the critical role it fulfills in child development.  No one questions why the caged bird flies as soon as the cage door opens, nor should they question why children naturally play at a moment’s notice.

Even perhaps the most fundamental function of schools, the teaching of reading, has succumbed to the ignorance of this era.  New standards and tests with a myopic focus on text without regard for the reader (i.e. the child actually doing the reading), without regard for their interests, knowledge, and passions, will serve to further disengage children from the splendor of reading and give students more reasons to see school, and reading, as irrelevant.

With unprecedented childhood poverty rates, an explosion in the identification of attention deficit disorder, recent reports of soaring teenage suicide rates, one thing is clear: the violation of childhood knows no boundaries.

Children from all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds are victimized by adult ignorance of child development.  Sadly, those who have successfully shown the way, such as the revered Dr. James Comer of the Yale Child Study Center, no longer have the prominent seat at the table they deserve and our kids need.

We are left with a flagrant disregard for how kids naturally develop and grow, the consequences to which will have a creeping catastrophic effect.

Sometimes life does indeed force our hand.  One careless wrong turn, one fractured family, one tragic medical report, can strip a child of his or her naturally endowed childhood.  However, as adults, we are responsible for this sacred stage of development.

It is time to pause.  They are counting on us to do so.

Previous posts about Madison Superintendent Thomas Scarice can be found here:

Madison Public School Superintendent Thomas Scarice makes national waves – again.

A CT superintendent speaks: Madison’s Thomas Scarice and the Power of truth

Thomas Scarice: Superintendent of Schools and leading voice for public education (updated)

Diane Ravitch features Madison Superintendent Tom Scarice’s powerful letter on “education reform”

An ‘anything goes’ approach to charter schools by Wendy Lecker


Editors Note:  Less than twelve hours after Governor Dannel Malloy took the podium to declare victory in November, Malloy’s political appointees on the Connecticut State Board of Education – including the appointee representing the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut Chapter – voted to request funding to open eight more charter schools in Connecticut.  The vote was unanimous, with absolutely no discussion of how to make existing charter schools accountable for their activities or the fact that Connecticut’s public schools are underfunded and additional funding will not be forthcoming anytime soon since Malloy’s fiscal strategies have left the state facing a large budget deficit this year and a massive $1.4 billion budget shortfall next year.

With that as background, fellow education blogger and public education advocate, Wendy Lecker, has written another “MUST READ” piece about the Malloy administration’s utter failure to oversee Connecticut’s charter schools.  Wendy Lecker’s piece appears in this weekend’s Stamford Advocate.  The entire commentary piece can be found here: An ‘anything goes’ approach to charter schools

One aspect of the Common Core regime imposed on Connecticut schools by our political leaders is an emphasis, some say over-emphasis, on informational texts, based on the claim that reading more non-fiction will somehow make students “college and career ready.” While our leaders force children to read more non-fiction, it appears that they are the ones with trouble facing facts.

Earlier this month, the Connecticut Department of Education quietly distributed a scathing investigative report on the Jumoke/FUSE charter chain, conducted by a law firm the department retained. The report reads like a manual on how to break every rule of running a non-profit organization.

The investigators found that although FUSE and Jumoke were supposed to be two separate, tax-exempt organizations, both were run by Michael Sharpe alone. FUSE, formed in 2012, never held board of directors’ meetings until after the public revelations in the spring of 2014 of Michael Sharpe’s felony record for embezzlement and falsification of his academic credentials. FUSE entered into contracts with the state to run two public schools without approval by its board. In fact, it is unclear that FUSE even had a board of directors then. Jumoke, too, played fast and loose with board meetings. Jumoke’s board gave Sharpe “unfettered control” over every aspect of the organization. Even after he left Jumoke for FUSE, Sharpe still ran Jumoke, leaving day-to-day operations to his nephew, an intern there.

Hiring and background checks were in Sharpe’s sole discretion. He placed ex-convicts in the two public schools run by Jumoke, Hartford’s Milner and Bridgeport’s Dunbar. Dunbar’s principal, brought in by Sharpe, was recently arraigned on charges of stealing more than $10,000 from the school.

Nepotism was “rampant.” Sharpe’s mother founded Jumoke. Sharpe moved from paraprofessional to CEO in 2003, with no additional training. His unqualified daughter and nephew were hired, as well as his sister.

The investigation found extreme comingling of funds and of financial and accounting activities, noting that it “would be difficult to construct a less appropriate financial arrangement between two supposedly separate organizations.”

Jumoke/FUSE used state money to engage in aggressive real estate acquisition, some not even for educational purposes, and some inexplicably purchased above its appraised value. Properties were collateral and/or were mortgaged for one another. Loan rates were excessive. To date, loans are guaranteed by FUSE, which is not operational.

Jumoke leased Sharpe part of a building who, violating the lease, sublet it and collected rent. Sharpe hired Jumoke’s facilities director’s husband to perform costly renovations on the parts of the building, his bedroom and bathroom, paid by Jumoke.

These are just some of the misdeeds that occurred without oversight by the State Board of Education or the State Department of Education. The board approved contracts to run two public schools without verifying that FUSE had no board of directors. It approved millions to be paid to FUSE/Jumoke to buy non-educational buildings, charge excessive consulting fees to public schools and engage in possibly fraudulent activities. Worse still, the board allowed Jumoke/FUSE to run Milner school into the ground, jeopardizing the education of Milner’s vulnerable students.

After this inexcusable negligence by the board, one would hope that the board become more responsible stewards, calling for a moratorium on charters and turning their focus to devising sorely needed accountability for charter schools before any more public money is wasted and any more children’s lives are affected.

Yet, after the revelations about Sharpe’s crimes and lies, the board rushed through the charter application for Booker T. Washington school, originally intended for FUSE, without any investigation into the dubious record of the new leader or the questionable ties between the school and its contractor. In November, the State Board unanimously voted to open eight new charter schools, without any regard to whether there are state funds to support these schools.

And now Gov. Dannel Malloy approved $5 million dollars in taxpayer funds to be paid to “assist charter schools with capital expenses,” including helping privately run charters pay down debt on buildings they own. In the aftermath of the misuse of public funds by a charter for real estate shenanigans, the first thing Malloy does is give charters more money for real estate?

This administration and State Board of Education have an unacceptable “anything goes” approach to charter schools. This willful blindness must stop. Anything short of a moratorium on charters and specific, new clear and strict rules on charter approval and oversight is a continuation of the board’s dereliction of its duty to Connecticut’s children and taxpayers.

Governor Dan “Transparency” Malloy announces negative news late on Friday – again


Dannel Malloy ran on a promise that he would make Connecticut State Government “open and transparent.”

But that claim has become a joke over the past four years.

Time and time again, Malloy and his administration have released information they deem negative on Friday afternoons or leading up to holidays.

In the night before the night before Christmas, the Malloy administration announced up to 12 percent pay raises for his top aides, and even then, failed to reveal that Malloy has signed an order guaranteeing his political appointees automatic raises in the future.

Now comes the news of a second round of budget cuts that begins to address the large state budget deficit that Malloy claimed did not exist until ten days after Election Day.

In this case, as the CT Mirror reports, “Connecticut’s public colleges and universities – a frequent target of governors’ emergency cuts in the past because of the large operating grants they receive in the state budget – sustained a $6.2 million cut on Friday. And that’s after losing $6.5 million during the first round of emergency cuts Malloy ordered in mid-November.”

CT Newsjunkie highlights the latest round of cuts noting, “Second Round Budget Cuts Hits Disabled Hardest.”

The largest cut of all, “was aimed at the Department of Developmental Services, which lost $8.4 million.  And more than half those funds came from employment and other support programs for people with disabilities, or from volunteer services.”

Yup, when in doubt go after the most vulnerable people in our society.

Oh, and why drop the news late Friday afternoon?

As CT Newsjunkie noted,

“In his statement, Barnes said the administration held off on releasing the list of cuts to reporters until Friday afternoon in order to meet with a Republican legislative leader during a public, mid-day lunch.

“We waited to release this until after meeting with the Republican leadership, in anticipation of their suggestions,” Barnes said.”

You can read more at:  and

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