"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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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lean to the Right or Left; Common Core is a Disaster...The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 06.24.12

Common Core is a bipartisan disaster. The Left & Right have sold us out.

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 06.24.12.  

This week will consist of a reposting of Susan Ohanian's excellent blog entitled School-Standards Pushback: Conservative Groups Oppose National 'Common Core' as an Intrusion on States.

Susan has corresponded with me over the last year or so and while we may have differences in thoughts about how education can/should be reformed, we can find common ground in our concern about common core state standards and longitudinal data systems (LDS) supplying personal data about student/families to various federal agencies.  Politically we may not see eye to eye on all issues, but taking the politics out of common core/LDS and focusing solely on the issues, it is obvious these "reforms" deny the individualism of students, are being directed by special interests (for monetary vs educational reasons) and infringe on student/family privacy. 

No Child Left Behind has been decried by both the left and the right for its unreachable bipartisan goals; so should Common Core be protested for its bipartisan push for privatization of education that is really the shifting of taxpayer money into pre-selected vendors and touting it as reforming education.   These are not standards written by the states.  Ohanian is correct when she writes:

 ...this section of my website is titled Common Core State [sic] Standards. These are the Bill Gates/U. S. Department of Education Standards. Follow the money.

The LDS should be decried by both the left and the right as infringement on civil liberties.  Why is the ACLU silent on this data grab on American citizens?  Folks are upset about credit card information being breached.  Where is the outcry on data being gathered from birth on children that will be shared with federal  agencies and private researchers?

Thanks to Susan for her many years of educational reporting.  I hope a bipartisan movement will emerge against common core standards and privacy grab by the Federal government.  ALL student data should be protected regardless of party affiliation.  ALL students should be able to learn according to their learning style and not be molded to fit into a "one sized fits all" common core assessment model that private companies craft with taxpayer money.


Ohanian Comment: Conservatives speak out against the Common Core. Liberals are still out to lunch. Godonlyknows what a dither they'll be in if ALEC denounces the Common Core.

The sad fact is this: Liberals sell us down the river on Common Core. Conservatives have fought it from the get-go. Although I do not agree with every point (particularly the curriculum section) they make, Truth in American Education, which is affiliated with a number of conservative groups and individuals, offers a very concise and compelling document in opposition to the Common Core. Their first point is exactly why this section of my website is titled Common Core State [sic] Standards. These are the Bill Gates/U. S. Department of Education Standards. Follow the money.

Adoption Process

  • Contrary to proponents’ claims, the Common Core Initiative is not 'state‐led,' but rather the Common Core (CC) standards were created and funded by special interests. States had little to no input.

  • The federal government has coerced states into accepting the CC standards, by tying
    their adoption to Race to the Top funding, No Child Left Behind waivers, etc.

  • Under the Constitution, the federal government has no role in education policy.
    Moreover, three federal statutes prohibit what the federal government has done with
    the CC and the attendant assessments.
    State/Local Control and Governance

  • The federal government is funding the creation of the tests that will be aligned with CC and what's on the tests will dictate what's taught in the classroom. The inevitable result
    will be a national curriculum controlled by the federal government.

  • A state must accept the CC standards word for word. It may add 15% content but may
    not subtract anything. Anything it adds will not be included on the national tests.

  • In order to change any strand of the CC, a state must persuade 44 other jurisdictions
    (and probably the US Dep't of Education) to agree to the proposed change.

  • Content Concerns

  • The English language arts standards in CC de‐emphasize the study of literature and have
    been found by a University of Arkansas expert as inadequate to prepare students for
    college. She writes: "The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students
    learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they
    graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s ‘standards’ . . . ."
  • The math standards in CC, by moving algebra I from 8th grade to 9th, will ensure that the large majority of students do not reach calculus in high school.

  • The math standards in CC require that geometry be taught by an experimental method
    that has never been used successfully anywhere in the world.

  • It opens the door for the federal government to push future standards in other subjects.

  • Cost of Implementation to the States/Localities

  • The states' costs of implementing CC will be substantial and will include new textbooks,
    teacher re‐training, technology, etc. One study estimates $16 billion nationwide in implementation costs alone.

  • Privacy/Data Sharing

  • As part of the CC process, the federal government pushed states into creating massive
    databases of very personal student and family information, which it can now share with
    other federal and state agencies.

  • My god, how funny is it that The Wall Street Journal becomes the first media that I know of to label the Thomas B. Fordham Institute "right-leaning"? When I looked at 7,000 articles to see how media identified the talking heads they asked for soundbites, here's how Fordham-associated people were identified--over and over and over: policy expert; policy researcher; education reformer. The Institute itself is identified as a "Washington D. C. think tank."
    For example, here are some Education Week identifiers for Michael Petrilli:

  • at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute

  • a vice-president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
  • the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington-based research and advocacy group

  • the executive vice president of the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which favors more flexibility for states

  • Ask yourself how these identifier inform--or fail to inform--readers about what Petrilli's opinions.

    As I noted in an article for Extra! The Magazine of FAIR, the Media Watch Group Race to the Top and the Bill Gates Connection: Who gets to speak about what schools need? on occasion, Education Week uses soundbites from Fordham officials three times in the same issue.

    Here's a sample of how The New York Times identifies Petrilli:

  • , vice president for national programs and policy of the Fordham Institute, a group that supports education reform.

  • an education analyst and researcher with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute

  • an education official under President George W. Bush

  • a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a research group that studies education policy

  • a vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, an educational research and advocacy organization

  • And on and on and on, always careful to give no indication of what the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is up to. . . which makes Stephanie Banchero's identifier exceptional.

    I found three reporters will to discuss the Gates money connections: Daniel Goldman in Bloomberg Businesweek, Matt Murphy in the Lowell Sun, and Clay Holtzman in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

    Gates Foundation personnel are rarely quoted in the press. They don’t need to be: Their money talks for them. Both Golden and Murphy pointed to the tidy sum that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute received from Gates to provide analysis of the Common Core standards.

    FYI, here's Fordham's Gates money:

    Date: July 2003
    Purpose: to strenghten [sic] Ohio's charter school program by recruiting, training, and supporting quality sponsors for existing and future charter schools
    Amount: $250,000

    Date: July 2005
    Purpose: to inform public debate and advance academic achievement in Ohio charter schools by convening charter school leaders, producing research, and disseminating information on charter school issues
    Amount: $497,639

    Date: July 2005
    Purpose: to support the Fordham Foundation in its role as a community school sponsor in Ohio to recruit other high school developers and to share best practices across the field
    Amount: $1,849,173

    Date: August 2006
    Purpose: to support creation of a new education policy network promoting equitable education reform
    Amount: $100,000

    Date: June 2008
    Purpose: to support the activities of an emerging network of state level education advocacy organizations in support of a convening around strategic issues
    Amount: $155,000

    Date: June 2009
    Purpose: to support the PIE Network which brings together policy research groups with state-level education advocacy organizations to advance equity, improve student achievement, share best practices and capture lessons learned in state policy implementation
    Amount: $398,534

    Date: October 2009
    Purpose: to review the common core standards and develop supportive materials
    Amount: $959,116

    The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is the secondary point here. The real point is the failure of the press to inform the public. The vaunted New York Times slogan "All the news that's fit to print" deliberately ignores and omits a lot of important information. Similarly, the reader must be aware that Education Week's banner: American Education's newspaper of Record presents a record tainted by omission.

    By Stephanie Banchero

    The Common Core national math and reading standards, adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia two years ago, are coming under attack from some quarters as a federal intrusion into state education matters.

    The voluntary academic standards, which specify what students should know in each grade, were heavily promoted by the Obama administration through its $4.35 billion Race to the Top education-grant competition. States that instituted changes such as common learning goals received bonus points in their applications.

    Supporters say the Common Core standards better prepare students for college or the workforce, and are important as the U.S. falls behind other nations in areas such as math proficiency.

    A 2010 report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning educational-research group, said the Common Core standards "are clearly superior to those currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English. For 33 states, the Common Core is superior in both math and reading."

    But conservative lawmakers and governors in at least five states, including Utah and Alabama, recently have been pushing to back out, or slow down implementation, of Common Core. They worry that adoption of the standards has created a de facto national curriculum that could at some point be extended into more controversial areas such as science.

    Critics argue that the standards are weak and could, for example, de-emphasize literature in favor of informational texts, such as technical manuals. They also dislike that the standards postpone teaching algebra until ninth grade from the current eighth grade in many schools.

    A study released this year by a researcher at the Brookings Institution think tank projected Common Core will have no effect on student achievement. The study said states with high standards improved their national math and reading scores at the same rate as states with low standards from 2003 to 2009.

    But mainly, critics of Common Core object to what they see as the federal government's involvement in local-school matters.

    "The Common Core takes education out of the hands of South Carolina and parents, so we have no control over what happens in the classroom," said Michael Fair, a Republican state senator who plans to introduce a measure that would bar his state from spending money on activities related to the standards, such as training teachers and purchasing textbooks.

    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who took office after the state adopted Common Core, wrote in a letter to Mr. Fair that the state should not "relinquish control of education to the federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states."

    Common Core could take another hit Friday when the 23-member board of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of more than 2,000 state lawmakers and business members who back limited government and free markets, among other conservative goals, is set to vote on a resolution to formally oppose the standards. The resolution was passed by the ALEC education task force in December.Model legislation often is drafted from the group's resolutions and taken by ALEC members to their state legislatures.

    Common Core evolved from a drive by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to delineate world-class skills students should possess. The standards, created with funding from, among others, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, set detailed goals, such as first graders should understand place values in math and eighth graders should know the Pythagorean Theorem.

    "We brought the best minds in the country together to create international benchmarks that, once mastered, would make our students more competitive, globally," said Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. He said his group has no plans to create national science standards.

    As the standards were being developed, the Obama administration launched Race to the Top in July 2009, which awarded points to states that adopted "a common set of K-12 standards" that are "substantially identical across all states in a consortium," according to the grant's policies. The department didn't specifically mention Common Core, but it was the only common set of standards being developed.

    As a result, most state's legislatures or state boards of education adopted Common Core.

    The standards have yet to show up in many classrooms as states are just beginning to implement them. But in Kentucky, where Common Core rolled out this school year, teachers are altering instruction and searching for new classroom reading materials.

    Jahn Owens, a teacher in Owensboro, Ky., said the more rigorous standards require her to teach her fifth-graders how to multiply and divide fractions. Previously, that was taught in sixth grade. First-grade teacher Heidi Dees has added more nonfiction books to her classroom.

    "These standards take students much deeper into the subjects and force them to do more critical thinking," Ms. Owens said. "It's been hard work for the teachers because the implementation was so quick, but we are now more purposeful about student learning."

    The Obama administration has awarded more than $360 million to two groups to create student assessments aligned to Common Core.

    Wireless Generation, an education-technology company owned by News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal, recently purchased Intel-Assess, a company that creates student assessments aligned to Common Core.

    Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the U.S. Department. of Education, called Common Core a "game changer" but said the administration didn't force states to adopt it. "A bipartisan group of governors created these standards and states collectively adopted them," he said.

    But Emmett McGroarty, executive director of American Principles in Action, a conservative lobbying group that wrote the ALEC resolution, said states were "herded" into adopting the standards with no time to deliberate on their worth. He called the standards "mediocre" and costly to implement.

    Write to Stephanie Banchero at stephanie.banchero@wsj.com


    1. The recent privacy breach in Oklahoma is defended by the OK State Superintendent of Schools. She redacted some of the student imformation that was posted on. state website after widespread criticism and obvious ignorance of FERPA. The OK fiasco is a preview of coming attractions when student data can be given to third parties. They goof, parents and students have no legal recourse.

      By the way, the OK state superintendent was endorsed by former FL Gov. Jeb Bush when she ran for office and successful won. She was a dentist and a charter school operator.

    2. Noel Wilson has shown the illogical and irrational falsehood that are educational standards, i.e., Common Core, grading and standardized testing in his 1997 dissertation “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” found at:
      http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/577 Everyone involved in public education should read and understand what Wilson has written and realize the harm we cause to students using grades, educational standards and standardized testing.

      For a shorter read on the invalidities involved in standardized testing read his review of the "bible" of standardized testing "Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing" (2002 ed) put out by the APA, AERA and NCME. The review "“A Little Less than Valid: An Essay Review” can be found at: http://www.edrev.info/essays/v10n5index.html


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