"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

How To Recognize a Good Teacher

Last month, the President said in his State of the Union Address, "We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones." This statement was met, not surprisingly, with a round of applause. Almost everyone can agree that good teachers are absolutely essential to a good education. Yet our schools, even our good ones, have their share of bad teachers who seem to be as hard to get rid of as underarm stains on t-shirts.

Reaching agreement on the means to identify those good teachers has been the subject of much debate lately. The President and the DOE have stated in the past that they support merit pay as a means to identify and retain good teachers. However, one must first figure out how to measure "merit" so that a funding formula can be developed to calculate the appropriate salary. The first metric jumped upon, because it is so seemingly obvious, is student test scores. But you don't have to ponder this metric too long to see the problem with it. If it is just a matter of having the children score higher on the standardized tests, there are all kinds of ways to achieve that end and not all of them involve better teaching methods. There are already teachers who manipulate test scores in order to improve how their students look on paper, and consequently how they look at performance review time. Poor performing students are hidden by this practice and are passed on to the next grade to be "somebody else's problem."

The Association of American Educators surveyed its members last year to find out what education reform efforts they supported. A summary of their findings can be found here. They asked the teachers what they would like to see included in their evaluations. Findings of note include:

  • 61% of members surveyed agreed with a Delaware policy that teachers must be removed from the classroom if they have an ineffective rating for more than two years.
  • Teachers disagree strongly with the saying, “Last hired, first fired.”
  • 80% believe achieving tenure does not indicate an effective teacher.
Their study identifies a number of evaluation points that make up what they are calling a "value-added" model of teacher assessment. Their list of data points includes (in diminishing ranking):
  • Administrator/senior faculty reviews
  • Student test scores
  • Peer classroom observation
  • Self-evaluation
  • Teacher subject competency testing
  • Level of education
  • Parent reviews
  • and lastly, Years in the system.
This list looks very different from what the teacher's unions, supposedly the voice of the teachers they represent, usually presents as the criteria for teacher evaluation. That list pretty much includes; tenure, length of service and student test scores (not necessarily in that order). We, as parents, are never asked for our input on teacher retention but, it should be noted that such input is included on the AAE list.

As local school districts contemplate ways to reduce their budgets and hold out things like teacher salaries as sacred cows because of union contracts, keep in mind that the teachers protected by those contracts do not always support what their unions have negotiated for them. This video from Kids Aren't Cars gives you an idea what they really think and the pressure they are under by their unions to fall in line. So when things get heated at your school board meetings when discussing the budgets, keep in mind that, among the union banner toting and time card punching teachers, are some real gems who probably feel just like you do.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Common Core Standards--They Won't Cost Anything to Implement... According to DESE. Let's Examine their Reasoning.

One of our state senators posted a document he received from DESE dated February 10, 2011 relating to questions on Common Core standards. We appreciate him looking into this matter and sharing the information with us quickly. He has raised questions about the implementation of these standards and we appreciate his concern.

You may read the DESE document here. It is entitled: "Frequently Asked Questions about Common Core Standards", and it is a sheet about the standards and information on how much the implementation will cost.

We would like to address the information DESE is disseminating to the legislators. From DESE:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state‐led, not federal‐led, effort. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce. They built on the best “standards‐setting” work done at the state level, including Missouri’s ShowMe Standards.

There is disagreement about whether these standards are indeed state-led. Ed Week contains two articles about concern from states on the possibility of these common core standards being paid for by the Federal Government, (which apparently is illegal), and we hope our senator can help determine if this is what indeed is occurring:

Christopher T. Cross, who is a partner in the Washington-based education consulting firm Cross & Joftus, noted that the 1979 law that created the most recent iteration of the U.S. Department of Education prohibits the federal funding of curriculum. Cross helped write that law when he was the Republican staff director of the House committee on education and labor in 1978. (A brief overview of the history of the department is here, including mention of that law. The 1979 ban was prompted, knowledgeable sources tell me, by the National Science Foundation's controversial "Man: A Course of Study" curriculum.)

You can find the two Ed Week articles here and here. From "Can the Federal Government Fund Curriculum Materials":

The assessment consortia are doing more than just designing tests; they are both planning to design a range of curriculum and instructional materials reflecting the common standards. The consortia's plans to wade into designing curricular and instructional materials came up at the meeting, sparking immediate questions about what sorts of things they have in mind, and when folks in the states will be able to see it. But it also sparked this question: are you allowed to design curriculum using federal funds? (The work is being done with $31.6 million in supplemental funds above and beyond the $330 million in grants the two groups won in the Race to the Top assessment competition.)

Pascal "Pat" Forgione, the former Austin, Texas schools superintendent who is hosting this meeting as the head of ETS's Center for K-12 Assessment & Performance Management, said that this issue could be "the Achilles heel" of the consortia's work. Will that turn out to be the case?

It seems as if DESE's contention that these are state-led, not federal-led may not be accurate. If federal money is being used to craft curricula resources, that would lead one to believe these are, in fact, federal-led. Heck, the federal government is paying for them so it has a vested interest in what is contained in those resources.

DESE continues:

No additional costs are anticipated for revising and maintaining the standards in Missouri. The current department budget and staff have been involved in ongoing activities related to standards, assessments and support for schools since the first adoption of the ShowMe Standards in 1996. In states where curriculum development is centralized and textbooks or programs are chosen by the state, there probably would be a significant cost. However, that is not the case in Missouri. It is also true that states, where there are numerous differences between former state standards and the Common Core, may see a need to support a statewide initiative for professional development; however, the gap analysis conducted shows close alignment between the ShowMe Standards and the Common Core. The work to implement the 3rd edition of the ShowMe Standards will be part of the ongoing curriculum revision process that districts routinely conduct as part of business.

When DESE decided to apply for Race to the Top, it estimated it would cost the state approximately $743,000,000. Now the same goals we are chasing in the adoption of common core standards are determined by DESE to cost us nothing in the state:

"No additional costs are anticipated for revising and maintaining the standards in Missouri". DESE believes that Missouri does not need to "support a statewide initiative for professional development as the gap analysis conducted shows close alignment between the ShowMe Standards and the Common Core."

I would like to know which gap analysis DESE is referring to which shows close alignment between the ShowMe standards and the common core. Here you can find the Fordham Institute's report on Missouri (and other states) communication arts and math standards vs. the common core standards. States were rated as Clearly Superior to the Common Core, Too Close to Call, and Clearly Inferior to the Common Core. What does Fordham's report state for Missouri's grade? Missouri falls in the "clearly inferior to the Common Core" group:

English language arts: Missouri D Math: Missouri D

Perhaps DESE has another study it would like to produce to show close alignment to the ShowMe standards and the common core standards. The Fordham Institute's review panel was noted:

Reviews of ELA standards were led by Sheila Byrd Carmichael, former deputy executive director of the California Academic Standards Commission and founding director of the American Diploma Project. Math reviews were led by W. Stephen Wilson, professor of mathematics at Johns Hopkins University and former Advisor for Mathematics in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

DESE explains about the new assessments:

Missouri is a governing member of the SMARTER Balanced Consortium. The consortium (not Missouri) has received federal grants to develop an assessment system that all states can share and continue to build upon collaboratively. The new system will include assessments for grades 3‐8 (much like our current MAP), end‐of‐course tests (again, the same or similar to those we are currently using), and tools that all teachers can use to improve classroom instruction. The plan also calls for the system to include an end‐of‐high‐school assessment which will measure mastery of elementary and secondary content and assure that every child is ready to go on to post‐secondary training, education or employment. There is no cost to Missouri associated with the SMARTER‐development assessment system.

Pay attention to the last sentence. The new assessment system relies heavily on computer generated assessment answers from the students. This means districts will need computers for each student, or expanded computer labs at every school. We believe these assessments will be very different from the ShowMe standards and WILL require extensive professional and software development for districts. Again, who is going to pay for the computers needed by students required by the mandates? Where is the money to train the persons necessary to score these new on line assessments?

To the question of any increased cost to the data system, DESE states:

No additional state funding for this system has been requested....Additional funds for further developing Missouri’s comprehensive data system will be met through various state, federal and foundation programs as they become available.

The state has received as DESE noted a federal grant of $9,000,000 to help with this system. If and when additional funding is requested, exactly what state, federal and foundation programs will be able to financially back more spending? The state is broke, the districts are broke and the federal government is $14 Trillion dollars in debt. And I have to ask: Why if these same basic goals were thought to cost $743,000,000 in January 2010...why aren't they costing anything today? We have received some federal funding, and while I would like to know from DESE exactly how much we have received for implementation of all these goals, I would guess it's nowhere near $743,000,000 Million DESE initially thought it would cost the state.

Finally, DESE speaks to the question of any money needed for new assessments:

As stated earlier, the Department has not requested additional or new funding for the implementation or professional development associated with revised standards and assessments...Districts also should not have additional costs over and above their current investments in ongoing curriculum and professional development. These costs are built into current budgets and devoted to current activities related to instructional improvement.

There will be costs associated with professional development according the Ed Week article entitled "Common-Assessment Consortia Expand Plans":

BAC also intends to work with states and professional groups to build teachers’ expertise in its assessment system and teach them how to score and analyze student responses to test items. It will create, among other resources, model curriculum and instructional units aligned to the common standards and training modules for teachers to help them focus instruction on the standards, according to the group’s plan.

"Working with states and professional groups to build teachers' expertise in its assessment system and teach them how to score and analyze student responses to test items" is called professional development and that costs either the state and/or the districts money.

"These costs are built into current budgets and devoted to current activities related to instructional improvement": Is DESE contending this type of training is already in a district's budget? If that is true, I imagine these costs are the most expendable from a district's budget in these financially difficult times. Districts would need to decide if they would cut their budgets with money set aside for assessment training, or firing teachers and other staff.

Read this comment from a reader in the Ed Week article "Common-Assessment Consortia Expand Plans":

9:14 AM on February 11, 2011

While it's great that new funds are available to provide support for the new learning and assessment of that learning resources use, may I suggest that such resources will be seen as prescriptive if indeed not presented / provided as being prescriptive. The new funds will not provide nearly enough support for all the situations that will arise but cannot be built into use.
It's very much like preparing for a cross-country auto trip. One can take lessons in how to drive and get a license, can get a route plan via a GPS unit or map (remember them??) service, and get a vehicle checked out and prepared for the trip. BUT if you think that's going to be sufficient for an enjoyable long trip, I have a bridge for sale as the saying goes. Experience consistent with the resources to be used and planning / communication with the suppliers and other experts are absolutely required to deal with unpredictable but guaranteed to happen situations that will arise.

Such is the problems with prescriptive solutions and their supplied materials ...

DESE's version of the cost of common core standards don't seem to make sense from the documentation we've been able to research from national sources. DESE's arguments are dubious and I hope the senator who forwarded this document and the other legislators press DESE for more direct answers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Missouri Taxpayers Ask DESE--"How Much Will it Cost to Implement Common Core Standards"?

Are you concerned about the cost of common core standards? Do you know how much the standards are going to cost your state? If you live in Missouri, follow the directions below to contact the Commissioner of Education, your senator and representative, and ask them that question:

How much are the common core standards going to cost the taxpayers of Missouri?

If you are in another state and have concerns on the amount your state is spending on the standards, perhaps this letter will serve as a template and you can insert your own state's pertinent information.


Here is a letter to send out asking about the cost of common core standards.

Chris Nicastro's address: commissioner@dese.mo.gov

To find your representative and senator go here. When you click on their names, their email addresses are displayed.

If you also want to send this to the Senate education committee, House education appropriation committee and House budget committee, you may click on the links for their names and email addresses.


To: Commissioner Chris Nicastro, DESE
RE: Common Core Standards Implementation Cost
CC: Senator
CC: Representative


Dear Commissioner Nicastro, Senator _________________ and Representative ________________________:

As a Missouri taxpayer, I want to know how much the implementation of Common Core standards will cost the state of Missouri and school districts. The state of California cost has been predicted to be $1.6 Billion ( from the nonprofit group EdSource, which estimates that California will incur costs of $800 million for new curriculum, $765 million for training teachers and $20 million for training principals, plus assorted minor costs, coming to a total of $1.6 billion).

Washington state's five year total costs are $182.6 million. $17.1 million of those costs are state level costs and $165.5 million of the costs will be the responsibility of the local school districts.

Missouri's prediction in January 2010 to implement Race to the Top was approximately $743,000,000. I realize we did not receive Race to the Top funding, however, our state is implementing the common core standards and the longitudinal data system that were present in this plan. Many of the common core standards implementations are similar to those in Race to the Top. Is this $743,000,000 figure for Race to the Top comparable to the amount it will require for Missouri common core standards implementation?

If you do not have this figure calculated at this time, when should this figure be available?


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Citizen's Bullet Points on Educational Goals

I'm part of an email thread that has had some very interesting discussions on education. The question put to the group was to tell what we (taxpayers and parents) would like to see in our public education system in a bullet point format. Our guest editor sent this to the group:


Here are your bullet points:

Description: cid:image002.jpg@01CBC62C.74923270

Just in case the graphics don’t work, here they are again with a little explanation:

Goals for my school district:

- Fund the essentials:

Reading, Math, Science, and HISTORY

- Promote classroom order:

Take teacher referrals of misbehavior and classroom disruption seriously instead of minimizing disciplinary consequences so your schools numbers look better. Once we regain control over our schools, misbehaving students would not become financial burdens for the school district. They would go home and learn how do a menial job until they were ready and willing to learn.

- Foster and support enthusiastic teachers:

Don’t wring the enthusiasm out of teachers by assigning them to a numbers factory. Use commonsense managerial and leadership skills to identify and reward great teachers. Likewise, identify and improve bad ones. If they can’t be improved, eliminate them.

- Retain expert, respectful administrators:

They are quite a few Phd’s running around in the school administrative ranks. At least in St. Charles, they are remunerated quite handsomely (quite a bit more handsomely than the governed from whom they derive their consent). If they are truly experts, they should be quite capable of performing the tasks outlined in the previous bullet, while at the same time creating an outstanding curriculum tailored to my community’s desires. Remember, they are gonna have more time, once we get the classrooms under control.

- Provide outstanding learning opportunities - for all motivated students:

This is where enthusiastic teachers and an outstanding curriculum converge. We might even want to implement RSMo 170.260 – Motivated Students Program. Just in case some are unaware of this statute, I must point out it is for MOTIVATED students of any IQ level.

- Wrest control from State and Federal bureaucrats so efforts to achieve these goals can be tailored to my community:

Few of these goals can be achieved until we get out from under State and Federal regulations that prevent meaningful restoration of local control. Also, as brilliant as the edu-crats are, they are not representative of the community. The winnowing process that creates the educational elites skews the normal distribution curve far too far to the left. Letting these elites devise and impose national, Common Core Standards for the masses is bound to anger the commoners. That is, IF we are aware of it. It is hard for me to believe that the brilliant edu-crats didn’t realize this. Then of course, they did almost pull it off, just like national healthcare “reform.”

BTW - The only metrics that I care to entertain my school district’s system are the teachers’ grade books ( and teachers will be permitted to give zeros). I realize every student will not get the same education, but I am more interested in human beings rather than in human capital (sorry, but I can’t get through any contemporary, educational commentary without using a little Race-to-the-Top verbiage). If we are not permitted to develop individually from varying educational experiences, how are we ever going to sustain our differences of opinion that lead to such lively debates?


Thanks again to our guest editor for his talking points. What concerns me about many of the plans presently in front of the taxpayers are the unenthusiastic feelings they engender from many of the folks who are paying for these plans. They've not been asked their opinions on how schools should be structured, what students should be studying, how teachers should be compensated, etc. From what I can pick up from the "chatter" on the ground, people truly care about their children, care about public education, and are pretty angry about the current state of education. They also feel as if they have little or no voice in educational decisions unless they choose to go through the private, parochial or home school route.

The education "choices" have been crafted by think tanks, legislators, philanthropists and special interest groups. The people who entrust their money and children to the system are frequently dismissed. When constituents begin asking questions and can't be dismissed any longer, they then run the risk of being ridiculed by the think tanks, legislators, philanthropists and special interest groups. This is not unique only to Missouri. We saw this dismissal of the citizenry present in the crafting and voting processes in the Health Care Bill.

What kind of system is this that dismisses and/or ridicules the people who support it with their money and children? When did we start thinking parents and taxpayers should take the back seat in making educational decisions for their children? I wish our guest editor and others had a forum in which they had a real vote and voice in public education decisions.

One of the main themes to emerge from this educational discussion and others is the recurring desire of taxpayers to divorce the states from the Department of Education. These citizens understand the centralization of education has crippled innovation and autonomy in local school districts. I imagine many of these people wish the abolishment of the Department of Education and resumption of true local control was a school choice being promoted by their legislators.

Maybe if our guest editor's last goal was realized (wrest control from State and Federal bureaucrats), then his other goals (Fund the essentials, Promote classroom order, Foster and support enthusiastic teachers, Retain expert, respectful administrators, and Provide outstanding learning opportunities - for all motivated students) could actually be realized.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bill Gates and the Education of Human Capital

Bill Gates has an intense interest in education. The question is "why"?

This 1999 Wall Street Journal article written by Michael Milken wants Bill Gates and other philanthropists to do six things: follow your passion, get personally involved, think big, foster teamwork, fight the zero-sum-game mentality, and transfer skills, not money.

Gates has followed Milken's advice, particularly in the third step, "think big":

Think big. The value of the world's financial and industrial assets, perhaps $100 trillion by conventional measures, might triple if you include (as I believe we should) the value of human capital. While even the Gates Foundation appears small in this context, it will magnify its ability to produce lasting world-wide social effects by using human capital creatively.

Bill Gates IS thinking big AND using human capital creatively. He is taking over the public education realm by his foundation providing Common Core Standards (they are all "free"-think philanthropy) to states if they will agree to use its blueprint. And if the states agree to do so (under financial pressures from the Federal Government), the Gates Foundation can control what and how students learn. He's done this by crafting the standards under which students will learn. The states have been ruled impotent in exercising their sovereign right to educate their citizens in the manner deemed appropriate by the state by this takeover of education.

The goal is to produce lasting world-wide social effects by using human capital creatively. And what world-wide social effects will human capital create? And how is it that Bill Gates is the one to decide how to "use" human capital in his idea of world-wide social effects? Do we send our students to school so Bill Gates and his foundation can control the outcome of students' education?

Regarding the fifth step, fight the zero-sum-game mentality, Mr. Milken writes:

Foundations don't "spend" money on grants. They invest in society to produce a greater return.

He's right. But in whose return are they investing? Your student...or theirs? What is the incessant need to document student data through a P-20 pipeline? Why is this data being shared with the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services? Why is data being gathered on psychometric information on your child? Is this indicative of an interest in a child as a human being or a commodity that can serve the system?

What we may be witnessing here is politicians willing to be complicit in a move towards corporatist fascism to a tyrannical ruling elite. Recall what Diane Ravitch said about Bill Gates:

“In a way, being Secretary of Education is less significant than being Bill Gates,” the education historian Diane Ravitch said, guessing that the foundation gives more money annually to education than the U.S. Department of Education has available in annual discretionary funds. “I’d rather be Bill Gates.”

Bill Gates wants to control education and has been successful in reaching that goal. Do you think his philanthropy is "for the kids" or for Bill Gates and his interests? Does the phrase "using human capital creatively" give you pause in turning your child over to public educators following common core standards and who are gathering intrusive data on your child?

Reprinting the Message "Seducing the States"

You can’t call yourself a conservative and ask for education money from Washington.

Republicans dominate both houses of the Missouri legislature. You’d think they’d act like republicans (lower case). But when it comes to education bribes from Washington, many of our Republican legislators show little resistance to political seduction. We can help them.

On BigGovernment. com, Bob McCarty highlights the hypocrisy of blasting ObamaCare from one side of the mouth while begging for federal cash out of the other. He points to a Heritage Foundation video that features our own education watch dog Gretchen Logue.

Ronald Reagan never got around to dismantling the Department of Education. In the year of his 100th birthday, let’s honor him by resisting the seduction of Washington bribes. The Constitution is clearly silent on the issue, which means the 10th Amendment prohibits appropriations for local schools.

Here’s What You Can Do

Contact your Missouri State Legislators today and ask them to send Arne Duncan’s bribe back to DC. Call or email your Missouri State Rep. and Senator. Tell them to send DC’s Education Bribe back where it came from.

Senators Lembke and Nieves are trying to #senditback. And they need our help.

Call or email now.

Then Do One More Thing

In addition to calling or writing, please do the following:

Don’t Listen to the Liberal Lies

If Missouri takes Arne Duncan’s bribe, it will simply INCREASE general spending, not education spending. That’s just the way government works.

By returning this bribe (and its burdensome handcuffs), we’ll send a message–and instill fiscal responsiblity in both Jeff City and Washington.

Please call your state Representative and Senator today.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What Type of Education Does the United States want to Provide for Public Education Students..."Follow Your Passion" or "Human Capital" Blueprint?

I was wondering about the dichotomy between the phrases "find your passion" and "human capital". I thought these would be polar opposites in their meaning and creed for living your life. "Finding your passion" seems more in line with living in tune with your strengths and desires. "Human capital" strikes me to be more of a labeling of human beings; seeing humans as commodities and not as people with dreams and desires and gifts to bring to a workplace or other arena.

We've written about the use of "human capital" as it relates to students and readying them for the workplace from birth to age 20. The Longitudinal Data System required to be implemented by states through the acceptance of common core standards will link student/family data not only to the local school, but nationwide to the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor. Why would information on your child be linked to all these agencies?

Here is information from the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences:

What are new requirements for SLDSs awarded in 2010?

Grants awarded in 2010 will fund the creation of and expansion to P20 longitudinal data systems, which include education data from preschool through postsecondary and workforce information, including employment, wage, and earnings data. In addition to 18 other SLDS requirements in the 2010 RFA, SLDSs must now link student data with teachers, i.e., enabling the matching of teachers and students so that a given student may be matched with the particular teachers primarily responsible for providing instruction in various subjects.

Are the P20 data systems funded by these grants required to be "one system"?

No. Although one of the requirements of the 2010 competition is to link early childhood, K12, postsecondary and workforce data, these data do not have to reside in one place or within one agency. Instead, the actual data system could be a series of linked data systems, as long as these systems achieve the required capabilities listed in the RFA.

It is apparent the data on your human capital will be linked for "workforce information" and perhaps other data systems yet undetermined. We can see that this data system will indeed follow your child outside of school in this government report as well as documenting psychometric information:

NCES 2011234 Postsecondary and Labor Force Transitions Among Public High School Career and Technical Education Participants
This set of Issue Tables provides information on the transition of high school career and technical education (CTE) participants into postsecondary education and the labor market during the first 2 years after their high school graduation, from 2004 to 2006. Data are drawn from the Education Longitudinal Study, the most recent NCES longitudinal survey that followed students through and out of high school.
NCES 2010009 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) Preschool--Kindergarten 2007 Psychometric Report
This methodology report documents the design, development, and psychometric characteristics of the assessment instruments used in the preschool and kindergarten waves of the ECLS-B. The assessment instruments measure children's cognitive development in early reading and mathematics, socioemotional functioning, fine and gross motor skills, and physical development (height, weight, middle upper arm circumference, and head circumference). The report also includes information about indirect assessments of the children through questions asked of parents, early care and education providers, and teachers.

What does this have to do with "following your passion" type of education vs. a "human capital" approach to education? This publication, Human Capital Review, on cursory reading, seems to make the case for creativity and imagination:

What does it take to lead today? Annie Coetzee points out that leaders tend to be too brain driven. In our search for solutions and achievements, we fail to recognise that the heart is an informational, creative and energetic source of wisdom. She encourages us to be great leaders who lead with our hearts.

and from another article by the same publication:

Albert Einstein’s dream, 100 years ago, was ─ To understand the universe. His genius fundamentally changed the way we look at the universe. His dream and hope were the guiding principle of his personal brand (the ‘gentle genius’). He saw the universe as a puzzle, and he delighted in trying to solve its mysteries. All he needed to contemplate the cosmos was his most valuable scientific tool ─ his imagination. He said: ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ When somebody asked Einstein what would be the one question he would ask God, he replied, ‘Why was the universe created? Because then I would know the meaning of my own life.’

Both of these pieces highlight the need for imagination to be successful and a good use for human capital. I'm still bothered by the term "human capital" however, and can see how human beings are being groomed for the system, rather than the system existing to serve human beings. Is Einstein considered remarkable because of his imagination, where it took him and how he used it? Are the children today going to be given that chance given the immense pressure on them to perform well on standardized testing?

Albert Einstein may very well have been considered a failure in today's testing frenzy as he tested well in mathematics and physics, but failed in an entrance exam for study at the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. We'll talk tomorrow about others' definition of human capital as it relates to today's students. It's not imagination that is revered; rather, it is what the human capital can do for the workforce. Human capital is being used to fill slots, not passions of the soul.

The last person listed in this Human Capital Review is Bill Gates, one of the main proponents and designers of the Common Core Standards:

Bill Gates’ dream, 30 years ago, was ─ To put a personal computer on each desk in each house. Recently he said, ‘When I was 19, I saw the future and based my career on what I saw. I have been right … PC’s have become the most empowering tool we have ever created. They are tools of communication, they are tools of creativityand they can be shaped by their user.’ For a long time the richest person in the world, Gates knew his genius at that time, namely developing and marketing PC software. Since then he has been doing related work with love and passion. His personal brand started with his dream, hope, and his passion for changing the PC industry. Years ago he left Harvard, dropping out because he was too busy fulfilling his own dream to wait around for a Harvard degree. He is truly trying to make the world a better place, with his money, his brains, his personal brand and his connections. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is currently the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world.

"Gates Knew his genius at that time, namely developing and marketing PC software". The article goes on to say his passion was to change the PC industry. He seems to have expanded it to include changing the way education is delivered in this country via common core standards and immense dependency on computers and software needs. He apparently now wants to develop and market the education system in the United States:

To remedy the low-quality standards and tests, the foundation will continue its effort to create a national set of standards. (The Gates Foundation has been a lead funder of the American Diploma Project, which since 2005 has spearheaded a voluntary effort by states to sign onto common standards.)

Phillips said the foundation will also invest in creating high-quality national tests that will be examined to see how well they predict students’ success in college. The best test will be made available to any state or school district, free of charge.

As Diane Ravitch states in the same article:

“In a way, being Secretary of Education is less significant than being Bill Gates,” the education historian Diane Ravitch said, guessing that the foundation gives more money annually to education than the U.S. Department of Education has available in annual discretionary funds. “I’d rather be Bill Gates.”

“To me, the scary thing is that they have so much money,” Ravitch said. “From the point of view of, let’s say, the democratic process, it’s frightening. That one foundation should have this much power, more so than our federal government, is alarming.”

Is this the future of educational systems in the United States? Is this for the good of the student or for Bill Gates' plan of supplying educational directives whose purpose is to provide human capital for the workforce? Where is the democratic process in this reshaping of education? Bill Gates is supplying the common core standards tests for "free". This "free stuff" comes with strings attached: the loss of state sovereignty and unfunded mandates for Bill Gates' vision.

Massachusetts Legislators Raise Concern about Common Core Standards Adoption

The Massachusetts Legislature is the latest state legislative body, along with Utah and New Hampshire, to question the wisdom of signing onto to Common Core standards. Here is the article from The Beverly Citizen:


For a stretch during the gubernatorial campaign last summer, the decision by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt a new set of national Common Core school curriculum standards sparked a heated back and forth between the candidates over whether the state was retreating from MCAS.

That debate, which fizzled with the election, could be reignited on Beacon Hill this session with a bill filed by Rep. Todd Smola that would override the board’s vote through legislation and retain the MCAS assessment system based on the state’s current curricula.

Smola, a Palmer Republican, did not take a strong position for or against the bill Tuesday, saying he filed it at the request of the Tantasqua Regional School Committee.

“I certainly think it’s something that needs review,” Smola told the News Service. “The general concerns are still there and still very vaild whether or not we made the right decision here in Massachusetts to adopt Common Core standards. I think it would be different if Massachusetts were at the bottom of the pack, but we’re at the top.”

Smola said he had less than 48 hours to review the bill before he filed it, and admitted he did not have a chance to have lawyers review the language to determine whether the Legislature had the authority to overturn a BESE vote.

“We will work that out as time progresses, and at the very least if it can call attention to this issue then all the better,” Smola said.

The implementation of the national Common Core standards will ultimately force Massachusetts education officials to realign its MCAS testing to the new curriculum.

Critics, including Baker, former gubernatorial candidate and state Treasurer Tim Cahill, and officials from the Pioneer Institute question why state education leaders would move away from the gains made under MCAS and the 1993 education reform law that propelled Massachusetts students to the top ranking on many national scorecards.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced Tuesday that Massachusetts 4th graders tied for first nationally in science performance and 8th graders tied for second on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The vote to sign on to the Common Core initiative, encouraged by the Obama administration, played a role in the state’s successful application for $250 million in federal Race to the Top education funding.

“Are we doing it for the money or are we doing it because it puts Massachusetts’ best foot forward. I think a lot of people are still asking that question and it deserves a stem-to-stern review,” Smola said.

The Department of Education could not immediately be reached for comment.

Most states have adopted the Common Core standards and the state standards initiative says the goal is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

The state Board of Education last December voted to incorporate the national standards into the state's public education curricula, with plans to fully weave the standards into English and math testing by 2013.

Gov. Deval Patrick has said he would not have supported the standards if they were not at least as rigorous as the state’s current curriculum frameworks.

State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester has called the standards "strong, comprehensive, and rigorous, reflecting the best thinking of educators in Massachusetts as well as nationally." He called the standards "the foundation upon which the primary work of our schools - curriculum and instruction - is based."

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education officials say schools will first be asked to emphasize the standards that overlap with Massachusetts's existing curriculum and to begin phasing out standards that will eventually be eliminated. By 2012, school districts will be asked to fold in new standards into their framework, and by 2013 or 2014, those standards would be reflected on the MCAS, Massachusetts primary standardized test.


EduWeek comments on this move by the Massachusetts Legislature and notes some Democrats are also concerned about the loss of state control.

Where do Missouri legislators stand on this issue?
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