"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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Monday, May 7, 2012

Are Your School Board Members Independent Thinkers or Parrots? Time to Find Out.

DESE and Local School Board Response to Arne Duncan's Educational Mandates?

Do your state and local board members understand Common Core standards and the ramifications in the push for privatizing public education?  You might just want to forward these three pieces against the standards and massive privatization to your state and local Board members and compare their responses.  My local district's response so far has been almost identical to the DESE statements from Jefferson City.  

Do ANY state or local educational bureaucrats responsible for your child's education truly understand the standards or are they just propagating the information paid for by Gates and other companies making billions on "education reform"?


University of Oregon professor Yong Zhao's 2009 book Catching Up or Leading the Way sent a jolt through our educational system. He questioned the use of tests and "accountability" from the unique perspective of someone educated in China, now living - and raising children - in the USA. His next book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, is due out soon, so I asked him to share some thoughts about some current issues.......

Question: What will be different five years from now if the current plans go forward?

Yong Zhao:
It's always dangerous to predict the future. But if history is any indication, judging from the accomplishment of NCLB and Race-to-the Top, I would say that five years from now, American education will still be said to be broken and obsolete. We will find out that the Common Core Standards, after billions of dollars, millions of hours of teacher time, and numerous PD sessions, alignment task forces, is not the cure to American's education ill. Worse yet, we will likely have most of nation's schools teaching to the common tests aligned with the Common Core. As a result, we will see a further narrowing of the curriculum and educational experiences. Whatever innovative teaching that has not been completely lost in the schools may finally be gone. And then we will have a nation of students, teachers, and schools who are compliant with the Common Core Standards, but we may not have much else left.

Read the rest of the interview here.

From Ze'ev Wurman in Betrayed:

Common Core research is "just another piece of misleading advocacy"

By Ze'ev Wurman

"What Schmidt is doing here borders on the dishonest."
- Ze'ev Wurman

Last week Bill Schmidt, of Michigan State University, rolled out in a highly publicized national press event the “key conclusions” from his recent research. We can’t see any of the underlying research, as Schmidt did not publish it. Its supposed findings, however, already got so much uncritical exposure and praise from the usual suspects that it is important to put Schmidt’s words in their proper context. And that context seems more problematic than organizations like Achieve, or Chiefs for Change, who sponsored this research, would like us to believe. 

.........Bill Schmidt centers his argument around two themes: that the Common Core standards are similar to those of the A+ countries; and that states with standards more congruent to the A+ countries show bigger progress on the NAEP. To make the last claim work, Schmidt redefines “congruency” to include cut-scores for no logical reason. Both claims are unsupported by his own data and, in addition, his own data is riddled with errors.

Yet, the
Chiefs for Change already tout that, “Dr. Schmidt’s research shows that state leaders are on the right track. Common Core State Standards have the potential to raise student learning and performance across America. Most importantly, they are competitive with the standards found in the highest achieving countries.”

What Dr. Schmidt presented is just another piece of misleading advocacy research, brought to you and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and channeled through the friendly services of Achieve (which received a recent $375K grant for advocacy from the Gates Foundation), the
Foundation for Excellence in Education (which received a recent $1M grant for advocacy from the Gates Foundation), CCSSO (which received $9.5M last year from the Gates Foundation to promote the Common Core), and Chiefs for Change (funded by the Foundation for Excellence in Education).

Read the rest of the article here.

Ze'ev Wurman worked over 30 years in the high tech industry, most recently as the Chief Software Architect with Monolithic 3D, a semiconductor start-up in the Silicon Valley. He has a long involvement with mathematics standards and assessment in California and served on the 1997 Mathematics Framework Committee and on the STAR Mathematics Assessment Review Panel since its inception in 1998. He was a member of the 2010 California Academic Content Standards Commission that evaluated the suitability of Common Core’s standards for California. He was a member of the Teaching Mathematics Advisory Panel to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Between 2007 and 2009 Wurman served as a Senior Policy Adviser to the Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development in the U.S. Department of Education. Wurman has B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.


This is from a writer in The Republic in Columbus, IN alerting readers to the privatization push in education.  This writer focuses solely on conservatives pushing this reform and seems to be blaming them for these measures.  The last time we looked, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, David Coleman and even the President were not considered conservatives...and yet, they are embracing this increasing privatization:

A headline on the front page of the Republic on May 1st, read “Officials: Web ISTEP gaffes fixed”. The first sentence was “The Indiana Department of Education said it believes a contractor has fixed the problems that kicked as many as 9,000 students offline during computerized ISTEP tests last year.”

I know, that doesn’t sound all that captivating but hang on — there may be more to this than you think.

The article cited was about the test problems and hoped for solutions created by CTB/McGraw-Hill. Now, everyone who went to public school in this country must have heard of McGraw-Hill. They published all sorts of text books with emphasis on science and technology. But what’s this CTB stuff? CTB has developed as a result of NCLB.

Are you still there? NCLB is No Child Left Behind. CTB is part of McGraw-Hill that does the tests and assessments required by NCLB and makes huge profits in the process. Where do they get the money for these huge profits?

From you and me.

Bet I have your attention now.

One of NCLB’s unintended consequences was to change the standardized testing industry from a 5 billion dollar a year business to a 15 billion dollar a year industry. Where did that extra 10 billion dollars come from? From the states’ department of education and school boards. In other words, our tax dollars. The states’ books might look better, but less of our money is going to the public education of our children.

....Indiana has a few problems with the privatized testing services. That’s not the real issue, people.

Governor Daniels’ talking points on education follow the mission statement of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a group headed by Jeb Bush, who claims to be a “limited government conservative”. His group promotes private school vouchers, online courses, reading tests etc. All non-public.

You can start referring to this as the industrial-education complex.

Read the rest here. 


Forward these articles to your state and local officials.  Ask them what they think about this massive private intrusion and direction of public education that taxpayers are beholden to pay for....that many writers, educational professionals and citizens increasingly have come to believe are doomed to fail.  

Determine if you are getting the parroted answer from DESE statements, or even better yet, from the Department of Education.  You want to bet a box of crackers what your officials will say?

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