Click to see preamble.


SEPTEMBER 27, 2015


Hour 1 Common Core Test Results WE THE PEOPLE RADIO
  with Vice President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Robert Pondiscio  
Hour 2 United States Justice Foundation WE THE PEOPLE RADIO
  with Executive Director, Michael Connelly  
Common Core Test Results

Thomas B. Fordham

Robert Pondiscio is senior fellow and vice president for external affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He is also a senior advisor to Democracy Prep Public Schools, a network of high-performing charter schools based in Harlem, New York. He writes and speaks extensively on education and education-reform issues, with an emphasis on literacy, curriculum, teaching, and urban education. After twenty years in journalism, including senior positions at TIME and BusinessWeek, Robert became a fifth-grade teacher at a struggling South Bronx public school in 2002. He subsequently served as vice president for the Core Knowledge Foundation. Robert’s articles and op-ed columns on education have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the New York Daily News, Education Next, and many other publications. A frequent speaker and expert guest on education issues, he has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, and elsewhere.

Authored Articles and Reviews
September 23, 2015
Common Core Watch
September 23, 2015
September 16, 2015
Common Core Watch
September 16, 2015
Common Core Watch
September 09, 2015
Common Core Watch
September 04, 2015
The Fordham Institute's Mission

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is the nation's leader in advancing educational excellence for every child through quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as on-the-ground action and advocacy in Ohio.

We advance:

  • High standards for schools, students and educators;
  • Quality education options for families;
  • A more productive, equitable and efficient education system; and
  • A culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and excellence.

We promote education reform by:

  • Producing rigorous policy research and incisive analysis;
  • Building coalitions with policy makers, donors, organizations and others who share our vision; and
  • Advocating bold solutions and comprehensive responses to education challenges, even when opposed by powerful interests and timid establishments.
There has been a great deal of controversy in California and nationally over the Common Core education standards.  And now, California parents and taxpayers are getting their first look at the results of new tests aligned to the standards.  


Don’t shoot the test-score messenger, California
By Michael J. Petrilli & Robert Pondiscio

Five long years ago, California and more than 40 other states adopted the Common Core standards in reading and math, setting dramatically higher expectations for students in elementary and secondary schools. Now we’ve reached a critical milestone in this effort, as parents and taxpayers just got to see for the first time the scores on the new tests aligned to the standards. The news was sobering.

Just a third of California’s students are on track in math; the results weren’t much better in reading and writing. Though the scores may come as a shock to many, let us explain why people shouldn’t shoot the messenger.

First it’s important to remember why so many states started down this path in the first place. Under federal law, every state must test children every year in grades three through eight and once in high school to ensure they are making progress. That’s a good idea. Parents deserve to know if their kids are learning, and taxpayers are entitled to know if the money we spend on schools is being used wisely.

But it is left to states to define what it means to be “proficient” in math and reading. Unfortunately, most states set a very low bar. They “juked the stats.”

The result was a comforting illusion that most children were on track to succeed in college, carve out satisfying careers, and stand on their own two feet. To put it plainly, it was a lie. Imagine being told year after year that you’re doing just fine, only to find out when you apply for college or a job, that you’re simply not as prepared as you need to be.

Such experiences were not isolated cases. Every year, 85 percent of California’s community college students must take “remedial” math courses. Many of those students will leave without a degree, or any kind of credential. That’s a lousy way to start one’s adult life.

The most important step to fixing this problem is to stop lying to ourselves — and to parents — and ensure our children are ready for the next grade, and when they turn 18, for college or work. Several national studies, including analyses of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), show that just 35 to 40 percent of high school graduates leave our education system at the “college prepared” level. Considering that 20 percent of our children don’t even make it to graduation day, that means that maybe a third of our kids nationally are getting to that college-ready mark. (Not coincidentally, about a third of young people today complete a four-year college degree.)

The Common Core should help to boost college readiness — and college completion — by significantly raising expectations, starting in kindergarten. But we shouldn’t be surprised that California found that just a third of its students are “on track” for college. In fact, that’s what we should expect. Parents, in other words, are finally learning the truth.

This is a big shift, but a necessary one, from the Lake Wobegon days, when, like in Garrison Keillor’s fictional town, all the children were above average. Parents and taxpayers should resist the siren song of those who want to use this moment of truth to attack the Common Core or the associated tests. They may not be perfect, but they are finally giving parents, educators, and taxpayers a much more honest assessment of how our children are doing — a standard that promises to end the lies and games with statistics. Virtually all kids aspire to go to college and prepare for a satisfying career. Now, at last, we know if they’re on track to do so.

Michael J. Petrilli and Robert Pondiscio are president and vice president, respectively, of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and fathers of school-aged children.


United States Justice Foundation

Michael Connelly

Michael is a U.S. Army veteran, a Constitutional attorney, and the Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation.  He currently lives in Dallas, Texas.  Michael received his Juris Doctorate degree from Louisiana State University in 1973 and practiced law in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for 26 years specializing in Constitutional law during his practice and handled cases involving the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, and 10th Amendments to the Constitution.  

Michael is a published author, freelance writer, and teacher. He is the author of four books,  "Riders in the Sky: The Ghosts and Legends of Philmont Scout Ranch", "The Mortarmen", a story about his father's unit in WW II; "Amayehli: A Story of America" and the newly released "America's Livliest Ghosts" In addition, he also has an affordable, pocket size booklet on the Constitution called "Our Constitution" that is receiving great reviews. You can read more about these books by going to the pages on each book on this website.


Types of Cases the United States Justice Foundation represents:

  •  Faith and Family Protection
    • Abortion
    • Defense of Marriage
  • Government Waste and Abuse
    • War Powers Resolution
  • Media Appearances
  • Obama Eligibility
  • Securing Our Borders
    • Minuteman Project
  • Veterans and the 2nd Amendment
  • Voter Fraud


I know that may seem like a strange statement since I am a U.S. Army veteran, have two sons who are serving in the army, and am a lifetime member of the American Legion and past commander of a Legion Post. In addition, I have written a book about my father’s unit in World War II. It was while researching and writing that book that I realized that I would never meet a war hero, at least not anyone who would admit to being one.

I started working on the book “The Mortarmen” in 2001 I had only my father’s diary to work with. He had died in 1987 so I could not even question him to get more details. However, I learned that in the mid-nineties an association of the survivors of the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion had been formed and the battalion records and some company records were available. I made copies of these and studied them carefully. I found that of a battalion of almost 1,000 men 18 had received the Silver Star, 103 had been awarded Bronze Stars for bravery, and 336 had been awarded Purple Hearts.

The battalion had landed on Utah Beach on D-Day and was in combat for 326 straight days. Sixty five soldiers in the 87th were killed and hundreds were wounded. After my initial research I started contacting and interviewing the unit survivors, and in 2004 I attended the final reunion of the men of the 87th in Baltimore. There were only eleven of them able to make it, but I was able to talk to them individually and as a group.

Some of the men I interviewed at the reunion, and both before and after, had won awards for heroism yet I couldn’t get them to talk about that. They all denied being heroes, but they gladly talked about their buddies who they all proclaimed were real heroes. I had run across this before with my own father. He was a 21 year old 1st Lieutenant on D-Day and as such Roy Connelly was one of the oldest members of the unit and was known as one of the “old guys”. This was because so many of these men were not technically men at all, but teenagers.

When we were growing up my brother and I were occasionally allowed to go through my Dad’s foot locker he had kept after the war. It contained many pictures he had taken and well as items captured from German soldiers. There was also a case containing his Bronze Star. He just referred to it as a medal he had received. He had other medals in the foot locker and he never talked much about them. Years later we learned that this medal was different and it was for valor. Eventually, we got him to tell us the story of how he had won it.

The 87th had been moving into a village that had supposedly been vacated by the Germans. However, the retreating Germans had not left yet and the battalion ran right into them. A fierce fire fight broke and the mortarmen suddenly found themselves fighting as infantry. It was absolute chaos and at one point my Dad saw two of the men under his command penned down behind some rubble in a street by a German machine gun crew firing from the second story of a nearby building.

It was just a matter of time before the men were killed so my father charged the building, dodging the enemy fire. He got to the wall of the building just under the window the fire was coming from. His back was to the wall and he could not step out without drawing enemy fire, so he does the only thing he can; he pulls a grenade from his belt, pulls the pin and throws the grenade back over his head toward the window.

It was an act of incredible bravery. If the grenade is on target, Dad would save the lives of two of his men. On the other hand, if the grenade misses the window, it will bounce back to my father’s feet and kill him instantly. Obviously, the grenade hit its mark and my father received the Bronze Star. Yet according to him, he was not a hero; “he was just doing his job.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that statement from America’s heroes. At my American Legion post you will hear many war stories because veterans will talk to each other, but not that often to others, even in their own families. However, I can’t remember any of them talking about their medals. They would just say they were doing their jobs and they mean it.

This humility is just one of the things I see in my fellow veterans. They took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and they don’t believe that oath ever goes away. They ask for very little in return for their sacrifices, and unfortunately they get even less than they deserve.

They are not just ignored by the government they defended they are labeled as potential domestic terrorists simply because they served. They are under assault by numerous federal agencies that seek to declare them incompetent to handle their own affairs and declare them too mentally ill to own firearms. They are denied not only decent medical care, but even the basic rights of all Americans to privacy and due process of law.

Instead the PC crowd has created a new class of “heroes” for the American people. I’m not buying it. An NBA player who announces that he is gay is not a hero and does not deserve a phone call from the President. Especially from a President who is effectively destroying the U.S. Military.

A young thug who commits a robbery in Ferguson, Mo and is killed while attacking a police officer is not a hero and doesn’t deserve to have three representatives from the White House attend his funeral. Especially since no one from the White House attended the funeral of American sniper Chris Kyle, the funeral of U.S. Army General Harold Greene who was killed in Afghanistan, or any of the funerals of the marines and sailor killed by a terrorist in Chattanooga.

In addition, a man who decides he really wants to be a woman and starts wearing dresses does not deserve a heroism award from a major television network. Jason Collins, Michael Brown, and Bruce Jenner never put their lives on the line by joining the military and fighting for our country. They are not heroes and neither are the people at McDonald’s who demand $15.00 per hour for making burgers while the new recruits in the military work much more than 40 hours per week and are paid just over $8.00 per hour for risking their lives.

Compare $8.00 per hour with the millions demanded by professional athletes who work for approximately six months a year. Some of them earn millions more with product endorsements. They are proclaimed as heroes and receive all types of rewards and accolades if they win a championship for their team. When American veterans win a battle or even a war, they are told to be quiet and go away into obscurity. Military members may be honored at half time of an NFL game, but only if the military pays the teams for the privilege.

Veterans stand at attention and salute when the pledge is being said, while the First Lady of the United States sends text messages or mouths the words, “all this for that damned flag.” I know who the real heroes are in this country even though they won’t admit it. They are not overpaid sports stars, Hollywood or news media elitists, and certainly not the politicians who take the same oath to the Constitution as our soldiers do and then promptly ignore it and push for their own agenda. Our heroes are members of the military, military veterans, police officers, fire fighters and EMTs, and they deserve our respect and support.

Michael Connelly




site search by freefind advanced