"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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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Common Core is a Money Making Venture and Social Justice. Is this the Educational Reform Taxpayers Want?

Forget the Arne Duncan "Happy Dance" and verbal spin about his plan of education reform.

Common Core and Race to the Top mandates are not about making students STEM ready or globally competitive.  It's about:
  • making preselected suppliers wealthy
  • centralized educational control
  • educational equity
That's it.  It's capitalist cronyism disguised as choice, centralization of power, and social justice played out in schools.

Here's an exchange a friend of  mine (who knows about Common Core Standards and how they are untested, unproven and underfunded) had in an airport and passed along:

I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me while eating dinner at the bar in the Chicago airport during my layover. It turns out he is an education consultant/trainer on his way to Minneapolis for some big charter school conference tomorrow. I played dummy and started to ask him questions. He brought up common core and said, "I hate curriculum stuff. It is really boring. But that is where the money is. The thing is a pot of money." I asked him what it would cost the average school district to implement it. His answer, "That is a really good question. There will be some software and training, but I really have no idea."

The reference to the "pot of money" is reminiscent to Scott Joftus' remark many years ago about education reform being the "Wild West" in terms of making money.   The answer about the cost for the average school district is similar to DESE stating "it won't cost much" for taxpayers. 

The educational equity goals are paramount in Common Core standards and RTTT mandates.  Oak Norton in Utahns Against Common Core discovered interesting information about the standards as they relate to social justice:

I was at a Meet the Candidates event last night and someone told me that Phil Daro, one of the writers of the math standards, said they wrote Common Core specifically for social justice. For those that don’t know, social justice is a buzz word that means redistribution of wealth or helping the poor at the expense of the wealthy. I did a couple of web searches and found a teacher’s website (who seems to get it) with this video where Phil says it right at the end.

Common Core set minimum standards for all students which means minimal learning for those who could accelerate. Thus social justice is achieved by holding down the achievers to the level of the lowest common denominator and by forcing them to learn what you want them to learn instead of letting them become individualized and accelerating their education as they can.

Nowhere is this going to happen more than in Utah where we adopted math standards in an integrated fashion instead of discrete years. If you’ve not read about that problem yet please click that link. Otherwise watch Phil’s video clip. I’m not sure who he’s speaking to but they are an easily entertained bunch. :)

Here's the clip from Oak's site:

When you attend your child's mid-year conference, understand that his/her progress is not about him/her at all.  It's "progress" based on Common Core standards of "show me the money" and attempting to make everyone the same. 

Americans' confidence in public schools is down five percentage points from last year, with 29% expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in them. That establishes a new low in public school confidence from the 33% measured in Gallup's 2007 and 2008 Confidence in Institutions polls. The high was 58% the first time Gallup included public schools, in 1973.

Over approximately four decades, confidence in public schools has declined 29%.  Could this decline have anything to do with the more than three decades old Department of Education and its centralized mandates?  Can we now determine federal involvement in education has been a failure, academically and financially? 

Do you think that by making schools money making ventures for private companies using taxpayer money and constructing a program of "one size fits all for students" will "reform" education?  Do you think Gallup will see an uptick in citizen confidence or will Common Core standards create a race to the bottom in polling and real learning?

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