"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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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Who are the "Elves" behind Common Core Standards, Longitudinal Data Systems and Workforce Development? ALEC, Bill Gates and Others Revealed.

Shh! We're not REALLY lobbyists.

The following is from an email (reprinted with permission) I received from Kris Alman, a physician in Oregon, who has been following the educational reform that includes Common Core, charter schools, longitudinal data systems, etc.  She was replying to the  EducationNext piece by Michael Petrelli in which he defends "conservatives" such as Christie, Daniels and Jeb Bush and their support of common core standards. 

Many educators, writers and citizens understand there is little difference between Democrats and Republicans, progressives or conservatives, when talking about educational reform.  Dr. Alman explains the marriage of the parties and how this enables political and corporation power and influence to the detriment of students and taxpayers.  

I believe the ALEC schism reflects the "neo" in conservative and liberal economics of the 21st Century. Neocons and neoliberals are fighting over a bigger piece of the "free" market pie. I made it very clear in my testimony last week to the Oregon Education Investment Board.

Neoconservative economics (a wikipedia link) shows several points of disagreement with classical liberalism and fiscal conservatism.

This blog post describes it well on the conservative side, concluding:
So which is the true “conservative” resolution? The one that tells states what to do and demands a one-size-fits-all approach (pulling out of the Common Core)? Or the one that trusts states to make up their own minds—without interference from Washington? If you chose the latter, you will be relieved to know that Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Tony Bennett, and Jeb Bush—Common Core supporters all—agree.

Jeb Bush, now sucking at the teat of internet-based education, banks on this political capital . He has taken lessons from brother Neil, who made big bucks on Curriculum on Wheels (COWs) with NCLB money. Yet... as Mother Jones points out, if accountability measures were used, this enterprise would have had the plug pulled a long time ago!

Now MoJo may not be a magazine that you might read. But here is a key point.
To that end, you have to get policymakers to buy in—and that's the area where Bush has excelled. Bennet Ratcliff, a political consultant who once produced ads for Bill Clinton and now does PR work for Bush's foundation, says Digital Learning Now is all about "advocating for policies in the states and in districts that would promote digital learning. For instance, it could be talking to boards of education, it could be talking to state chiefs, it could be talking to governors, district [superintendents], legislators." None of this, he hastens to add, constitutes lobbying: "I do need to be very clear about that. This is an advocacy and education effort about digital learning. What we are not doing is lobbying." When I asked him who was actually doing the talking, he replied, "Elves."

Consider the muscle power of the Lumina Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York with "Core to College."

Carnegie Corporation has 8 pages of grants (25 per page) going to the rightest of corporate education education reforms. I have included a few relevant ones below--esp. the one to Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). When Gates sponsored an SLDS project for the WICHE states in 2008, he put corporate reform koolaid in the water cooler of all of Oregon's educational state agencies.

Neoliberal economics is firmly rooted in the very blue state of Oregon. After all, everybody wants a stable pay check and recognition for their strong work.

Who represents Oregon on the WICHE Commission? Dr. Camille Preus, Oregon Commissioner of the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development was appointed as one of 13 members of the USED National Board of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education; Tim Nesbitt, former AFL-CIO labor leader, appointed as top aid to Governor Kitzhaber on Education Reform; Ryan Deckert, former D-state senator and currently Oregon Business Association President.

http://www.luminafoundation. org/newsroom/news_releases/ 2011-12-19.html
The partners developed Core to College with the assistance of Education First Consulting, which will provide continuing project management. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the program’s fiscal sponsor, is responsible for grant decisions and all aspects of ongoing grant administration.
Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington will each receive $200,000 per year for three years, pending annual reviews of progress against goals.

http://rockpa.org/page.aspx? pid=580
The desired outcomes of this grant activity include a statewide definition of college readiness, postsecondary institution use of CCSS assessments as a determinant of a student’s readiness for credit-bearing course enrollments, and K-12/postsecondary sector alignment to the CCSS around academic courses and sequences, data and accountability, and teacher development.

Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford professor and senior advisor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, was asked to be an expert witness for Colorado's Lobato v State School funding. She testified, “It would be hard to believe” Colorado can successfully implement new content standards “without investments.” http://www.ednewscolorado.org/ 2011/08/19/23271-lobato-819-a- high-profile-witness

http://www.ednewscolorado.org/ 2012/04/17/36874-a-lobato- debate-in-the-house
On Dec. 9 Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the Lobato v. State suit, finding the state’s spending formula for K-12 schools does not meet constitutional requirements for a “thorough and uniform” school system.
Estimates of what it might cost to meet Rappaport’s ruling run between $2 and $4 billion a year on top of the roughly $5.2 billion the state and districts now spend for basic school operating costs.
Critics of the Lobato ruling fear it it will force lawmakers to slash other government programs in order to increase school funding.

On the Oregon Department of Education website:
Note: Currently the cost for the SBAC Interim and Formative Assessments is above what the Oregon legislature has funded in the past.

When inadequate school funding went to the Oregon Supreme Court, the Quality Education Model was slapped down.

The Court held that each provision of this inconsistent constitutional clause should be read separately and enforced separately: i.e. the legislature is obligated to appropriate the amount of money that is necessary to meet the quality educational goals, but if it doesn’t meet this obligation, it should issue a report that admits to the under funding and explains to the public why it did not meet its obligation and what impact the under funding will have on the state’s public education system.

**That's why any new unfunded mandates coming from state lawmakers who ride the corporate tidal wave of reforms is irresponsible. In Oregon, the Democrats are the enabling party in control. They don't give a rip about how much new standards, assessments and longitudinal databases cost local schools; how much it tears about the social fabric of communities; how much it narrows opportunities; how much it destroys morale of children, parents and teachers who want to support public education.

Dr. Yong Zhao explains it far better than me in his "Ditch Testing" blogs. http://zhaolearning.com/2011/07/17/ditch-testing-part-5-testing-has-not-improved-education-despite-all-the-costs/


**MEW note:  Dr. Alman's opinion on how the Oregon Democratic controlled legislature operates mimics the Republican controlled legislature in Missouri:

They don't give a rip about how much new standards, assessments and longitudinal databases cost local schools; how much it tears about the social fabric of communities; how much it narrows opportunities; how much it destroys morale of children, parents and teachers who want to support public education.
Those elves certainly have worked their way into politics and taxpayer pockets, haven't they?  We find ourselves living in a bad fairy tale.

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