In yet another apparent issue with the policies adopted by the new administration of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) websites provide information for teachers about tools in the Cognitive Learning Training (CLT) program, despite Northam’s repeated statements that the program has never been taught in the commonwealth’s classrooms.
Shortly after the new governor took office, education industry attorney and veteran educator Joshua Kaller explained the dangers of the program’s open-ended lesson plans in an op-ed for the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
“In the instance of children working with non-native English speakers to take a high-stakes test, the Learning Tools & Examples section of the CTL guide states a student may attempt to earn an A. You also can order all the course materials (while the rest of the materials are available free of charge), including all the training materials for ongoing Professional Development. These [materials] contain long descriptions of when, how and what to practice. This creates a conveyor belt that will get very expensive. Therefore, if teachers are not adequately trained, their students will never be prepared for Advanced Placement or end-of-course exams.”
Following the audit of the standards-based curriculum produced by the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Northam took on the mantle of fighting what he called “the faulty standards championed by the previous governor.”
In an article posted on his website entitled “This is Why I Was Right to Fight CCSS: State Standards Were the Wrong Way to Bring Common Core” in April of this year, Northam continued his rant against the controversial standards.
“I opposed CCSS, despite the pressure from the Obama administration. Ultimately, my view of CCSS came down to one key factor: How many students, what grade, and what subject is being taught? That made me hesitant to embrace a centralist approach and increased my sense of urgency to get the best possible education for Virginia’s students.”
However, in a video just released by the University of Tennessee, McVay senior lecturer Burt Smith clarified that Northam had no basis for his assertions that the previous administration fostered the creation of more than 90 math and language arts standards.
“The Common Core Standards only mentioned a curriculum and author,” he stated. “There was no requirement that teachers implement the Common Core. In fact, teachers could have adopted language arts and math standards that reflected what they were taught in the past as alternatives to the Common Core. However, their teachers would still be expected to teach based on the Common Core, which in some cases is exactly what happened.”
Kaller, who focuses on the flaws in the CTL program, told Fox News it is unlikely Northam is unaware of the program he just criticized.
“The governor may be unfamiliar with the distance learning component,” he speculated. “But teachers, teachers’ unions, and academics strongly supported the inclusion of this component because schools need new strategies to teach math and literature across languages, cultures, and cultures. In some cases, the professors teaching CTL were professors from the current cohort of universities.”
The CTL program, which provides educators with an image of the teaching efforts required for reading and writing, is costly, Kaller emphasized.
“One of the things that K-12 teachers should demand is that all new books sold to them include materials aimed at students in grades 9-12,” he noted. “Often all you will have to do is add this supplementary material, and your students will be better prepared than the students at the next campus.”