A question from Sharon
My question to you is this, would you bring Civics back into the High School requirements? I ask this because today there are too many people in this country, who know nothing about the Constitution, or even the Bill of Rights. I have seen videos of People on the street being asked to sign "Petitions" that were not real, to abolish the Bill of Rights, or the First Amendment, and people sign them, having no idea what these articles are. These are people that will vote, and will lead this country into the future. My husband and I have discussed both of these items with our grandchildren who live with us, and when they hear something and ask about it, we answer them, because there is no class to find the answers from. Why was it ever removed to begin with? Thank you.
Thank you for such a great question. I am certified to teach all the Humanities from 5th Grade through College as well as all maths. This lack of understanding of civic responsibility is very disturbing. The North Dakota requirement that students take and pass the Federal immigration test is a weak answer.
I am in favor of making several adjustments in course offerings. One is the old Civics class (POD Principles of Democracy- is a weak very limited replacement). Another is to adjust the US history class into 3 classes, from American Pre-History to the Civil War, from the Civil War to the end of WWII, and then from WWII to the present.. I believe World history needs a similar sequencing. The US history and World history from WWII to present may be combined. One other point, some schools seem to be eliminating reading and writing cursive. However, learning to research first level historical material is REQUIRED for all secondary history. HOW can students research original materials, which are all written in cursive, if they are not taught HOW to read cursive? Students should not be handicapped by having to rely on translations of first level materials into printed text. Printed text is no longer qualified original historical materials, but secondary interpreted material.
I also believe in banning all technology from the classroom until the High School junior year except for keyboarding and historical research. Currently, all schools are training students on obsolete equipment and software (true, the industry moves so fast that software is obsolete the day it is released, but I think cavemen used to use some of the technology I have seen in classes recently.). In order to be business computer literate, the most current versions of software must be taught to students. Technology teachers need to attend summer classes learning the most current common business software, so they can in turn teach their students. An arrangement needs to be worked out with various businesses and industries to provide cutting edge hardware and software, as there is no way a school could finance staying current. It is to their, businesses and industry’s, advantage to have students familiar with the latest technology.
What are your thoughts and plans for Home Schooling when you are elected?
I have been questioned on what my views are on homeschooling. I am very much in favor of homeschooling.
As a public school teacher, I do have a concern. That is that there are parents who remove their child from public school for a variety of reasons but the biggest one is usually behavioral issues. Typically, these students return to public schools in one or two years and have stated themselves that they have had NO instruction in academics since leaving school. Because of the lack of instruction these students have fallen way behind and the teacher is expected to bring them up the grade level. So there needs to be some way of keeping these students from falling through the instructional cracks. I don’t have an answer to this dilemma yet but my plan is to involve homeschool parents in finding a solution.
I understand that there are some homeschool parents who have heard my comments on the aforementioned students and have thought that to mean I am against homeschooling but that could not be further from fact.
It’s been proven time and again that homeschooled students perform better on college entrance exams and are better equipped for the workplace. For the most part these students usually excel at living skills and have better critical thinking skills than the public school students of today.
Homeschooling is a tradition not just in our country but the predominant successful method of education over the last four thousand years. I don’t see any reason to interfere with that.
Homeschool parents fought for and won the right to NOT participate in testing In North Dakota and I would not infringe upon that.
Candidate Joe Chiang
Q & A
For Superintendent of ND Department of Public Instruction
Got a question for Joe? Go to Contact Us page and ask away. .
I have some serious concerns I feel need to be addressed about Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
First, we need to define Common Core as there are many misconceptions. Common Core is not one item, but three. There are the Common Core (CC) - standards, the testing, and the curriculum (or textbooks). These may be more easily understood with examples.
The Common Core standards are just standards; for example, 1 + 1 = 2 is a standard as correct in Ancient Egypt as in classrooms today. Just because this example is acceptable does not mean the CC - Standards are perfect, they certainly are not. There are problems, but they get deep into educational and student readiness issues. The CC - Standards can, however, be fixed.
Of the original ___ states which adopted CCSS, ___ have dropped it, or are in the process of scrapping it. Schools have always had standards. Children learned. Now the focus has become "rigor," and becoming "college and career ready," or "choice ready."
Then there are the CC - Tests. To take the same example, a question may read "Mary had a father named Bill and a father named John, how many fathers does Mary have?" There is an agenda built into the testing.
Most objections are to the agendas with which students are being indoctrinated.
Textbooks and teaching materials may go even farther. For example, this type of information is presented to elementary students: "Mary has sex with Billy and has sex with Jimmy, How many..." Textbooks and teaching materials have no problem going into even more detail with third to fifth-grade students.
Below is a link to a report of inappropriate indoctrination in text and teaching materials in California. It should be noted that it still takes the teacher and administration to USE these indoctrinating materials and not just ignore them. Teachers never teach an entire textbook, but must pick and chose what they cover within that textbook. Teachers are CHOOSING to teach this material, or are forced to teach this particular material. Here is the link to the aforementioned news report: https://www.facebook.com/rondwyersettingtherecordstraight/videos/vb.107078819420141/861525303975485/?type=2&theater.
So, to answer what my thoughts are about Common Core, the standards need to be fixed and can be, but the tests and textbooks are only good for throwing into a bonfire.
This brings me to a second point. The answer to the question of why we have CCSS in North Dakota.
FACT: Not all states accepted CCSS. FACT: States were given the opportunity to opt their state out of CCSS. FACT: The U.S. Constitution does NOT permit the U.S. Government to force anything educational on schools.
The North Dakota State Superintendent said in one of our first Assessment Committee meetings that she single-handedly stopped North Dakota from opting out of Common Core. The Superintendent rammed Common Core down the throats of Parents, Teachers, and Students while they kicked and screamed all the way. However, she now claims that she was forced to bring Common Core to North Dakota. THIS OFFENDS ME!
Multi-millions of tax dollars were spent on: buying standards written outside North Dakota, testing written outside of North Dakota, and textbooks with agendas and indoctrination. Plus big dollars for in-services to instruct teachers how to teach CCSS.
CCSS is on the way out but it can't go away quickly. School districts cannot afford to buy new textbooks for another 5 years or so, which means they MUST stay with Common Core teaching and materials until they can afford to replace them.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015 claims to remove the requirement of CCSS. CCSS was NEVER a requirement but the State Superintendent's CHOICE. I believe this set of problems should appropriately be called "Baesler's Folly".
There was no funding provided to help schools "throw out the garbage" of CCSS textbooks and teaching materials and replace them with quality materials that will actually help 90% of students learn to be proficient in all subjects.
When elected Superintendent, I promise to make funding for textbook replacement a primary goal.
Explanation of symbols. Book with ABC stands for basics of reading. Abacus for basics of math. Carpenters plane for smoothing out and fixing education. 90% pass rates not 10%.
The divider is symbolic of the cross and Jesus being the beginning of knowledge. Without knowledge the people perish. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The circle represents completeness.
701 381 8295
Q & A
Do you have a plan to replace the state standards?
I do. Teachers in ND are very intelligent despite what DPI currently seems to think. I believe, for example, that the 3rd grade teachers are very capable of writing the 3rd Grade standards. Who would know what needs to be taught in 3rd Grade better, certainly not I. There is no purpose in re-inventing the wheel. We could start with the old ND standards, CCSS, and maybe two other states’ standards (Mass and VA come to mind) as a base to compare what might be needed. Then the teachers could bring together the best of those standards with their experience and write the best standards in the nation. These would be rigorous in reality and not stupidity that confounds everyone and then call that confusion rigor.
The next step will be to have the teachers write questions based on those standards that will form the test bank. Students will take the test made up of 60 questions. These tests will then be vetted by the teachers who will determine the questions that may be problematic and the 10 worst questions will be eliminated from scoring. Therefore, the test will be made up of the best 50 of 60 questions worth 2 points each. A score of 55 or more would be considered proficient and 90 or more as advanced. The reasons for 55 as proficient is because basic grading on a 10 point scale would be used as a class grade but a little slack given for the fact that this is a general test and not teacher specific. I believe in an EOC, (End of Course) test, so every grade and every subject will have its own test made by the teachers. The tests can be given within 2 periods.
Currently the testing is done in grades 3, 8 and 11. Testing scores in those grades carry back to the teachers in the prior grades. With the my method each grade is tested and the scores reflect that teachers teaching.
What are your thoughts about CCSS?
The entire CCSS (Common Core State Standards) issue is clouded by the common reference CCSS. There are actually 4 separate parts, the standards, the test, the curriculum, and the textbook materials. The standards have some minor problems that could be fixed. In math 1+1=2 was as true a standard in ancient Egypt as it is in today's class. The test still tests if 1+1=2. The test is not actually to assess knowledge gained, but to data mine for commercial and political purposes, not educational. Please note the AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) no longer requires academic progress, but just taking the test, obviously for data mining purposes. The curriculum is based on the test directly and the standards indirectly. The Common Core Textbooks are using the material as a vehicle to change their materials into indoctrination propaganda materials. For example the material may say John has one father named Bob and one father named Bill, how many fathers does John have? This is another example of how the Common Core is applied. The standard may say students will know the constitutional amendments, then I have seen where the second amendment was presented as “The right for the state militia to bear arms shall not be abridged”, this is a modified second amendment that takes away the individual’s right to bear arms. If cursive reading and writing is dropped so students cannot read the original constitution and amendments they will have to rely on this printed text book version.
What is your position on the Teacher Union?
There is the national union, National Education Association, and I agree that is a problem. The National is made up of the far left. I have been a state delegate to the state convention to try and effect changes. There were some issues I did not agree with, but most issues I was in agreement with the state group. I tried to become a delegate to national. I was told that was impossible, those delegates had been arranged years in advance. So much for local control or input. Then, as I said, there is the state union and that is mostly controlled by the teachers in the state. Teachers are a mix from very liberal to very conservative and that mix shows in those meetings. However, more liberal members seem to be the ones who show up to the state conventions. Then there are the local meetings where local input occurs. These seem to be center. Many local teachers would not be members of national if it were permitted.
How is Education Broken?
If you study education funding, you find Federal money is provided with the string attached that funds go to schools with "at risk" students, measured by low test scores. As a result, if a school needs funds, they just need to LOWER their test scores to qualify for more funding. This has had the result of school systems vying with each other for the LOWEST test scores. There is a dichotomy here. Administrators must get teachers to NOT teach effectively while at the same time appear to be trying as hard as they can to "improve" the quality of education. It has the effect of teachers NOT being permitted to teach effectively that is driving good teachers away and preventing others from wanting to become teachers. The reasons for them leaving are stated as: paperwork, administrative micro managing, overreach and distractions, teaching to the test, following the Common Core. Teachers who refuse to play this game, but refuse to leave on their own, are fired which leads to being forced out of education by administrators. Once you’re fired it’s hard to get another teaching position.
Would you have state education committees to investigate issues?
Of course, the short answer is yes. But I would not form committees like DPI forms them now. I have been on the State Assessment Task Farce (sic) since the beginning of this school year. The committee is reported by DPI to be made up of “stakeholders”. The incumbent even claims she has plans to set up yet another such committee made up of “stakeholders”. I think it is worth reviewing what is the current meaning of “stakeholders” as used by the Superintendent?
Of about 35 members of the assessment committee about 10 make their living giving, making, or selling assessments to North Dakota. In group break out, this was the largest group. They are stakeholders. If North Dakota teachers made and gave the state test, all these people would be out of work. So are they watching out for student’s best interest, or their continued incomes? About 10 are administrators; Assistant Principals, Principals, and School Superintendents. If teachers made and gave the state test, they might lose a lot of funding because funding is based on lower test scores. About 10 members are current or former Bismarck City School employees who are current or former colleagues of the superintendent. Is this crony education? Most of the rest of us call ourselves the “Minority Report”. The Minority Report includes 6 members of the committee,, but also receives input from 7 additional interested parties who attend the meetings, but are not permitted to participate. In the break out groups, there are three former teachers who had not been in the classroom for at least 2 years and myself, the only current core classroom teacher (note-I am officially representing Business and Industry, not teachers). If there are other current core classroom teachers, they consider their main participation reason is for a different reason than to represent teachers by their breakout group participation.
The Superintendent seems to think current classroom teachers are not stakeholders on the state test, or maybe not smart enough to add anything positive to the committee. CCSS was forced on teachers last year. So only teachers teaching core subjects this year or last year truly understand how CCSS has impacted the classroom. Former teachers on the committee, can only imagine how this as impacted the classroom with NO firsthand knowledge.
So, to answer your question, I would set up committees, but made up of actual stakeholders. Instead of specifically blocking interested parties who come at their own expense to share with the committee, but then are not permitted to participate. I would permit them to participate. But mostly, I would encourage participation by current classroom teachers who understand current education problems best. (Note: the numbers do not add to 35 because there are overlaps. For example, Bismarck City School administrators who work exclusively in assessments would be in all 3 categories of members. There is also a small group of legislators.