"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, October 6, 2012

What Do Children and Shrimp Have in Common? Think Mamtek.

The Chinese are farming American children and shrimp.

Missourians may remember the debacle known as Mamtek, the investment scheme that blew up for Moberly Missouri citizens.  Bruce Cole, an American investor from California, swooped into the small rural town and charmed Missouri Department of Development staff and Moberly city officials to invest in his business venture involving significant overseas investments. Chinese investors were taking advantage of EB-5 investment program designed by the US government designed to spur American employment.  From businessweek.com:

The 21-year-old initiative makes 10,000 green cards available to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in U.S. companies that create or preserve at least 10 jobs in the country. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates that EB-5 has attracted more than $1.5 billion in investment since its inception, creating some 31,000 jobs.

 “This is a unique way for immigration to enhance the U.S. economy … at no expense to the U.S. taxpayer,” says Stephen Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell Law School. The primary conduit of investments for the EB-5 program, though, faces an uncertain future. About 90 percent of the money is funneled through private companies, known as regional centers, which match overseas investors with businesses in need of capital. These companies are authorized to participate in the program by legislation that expires every few years. 

Chinese investors can gain green cards for themselves and their families by providing money for start ups.  It didn't work out so well for Mamtek as Bruce Cole promised phantom investors and didn't deliver a suctrose plant.

What does Mamtek have in common with education and shrimp?  Mamtek is the same blueprint used in other investment ventures.  The Chinese are currently investing in Florida charter schools and a shrimp farm in Miami, Florida to gain their green cards and provide a service.  From miamitodaynews.com:

Chinese investors are taking advantage of the EB-5 investment visa program, the so-called "green card via red carpet," by putting millions into Florida's charter schools and an aquaculture farm in Central Florida.

 Under the EB-5 program, through investments of at least $1 million — or $500,000 for "targeted employment areas" — foreign nationals are able to obtain legal residency in the US so long as the money they invest will help secure or create at least 10 full-time jobs.

A group of Chinese investors have put $30 million into the state's charter school program to date and are looking to invest three times that amount in the next year, Ilona Vega Jaramillo, director of international business development for Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development arm, said in a US-China roundtable discussion last week. 

In addition, about 12 other Chinese investors have put their $500,000 into a $16 million aquaculture project on 100 acres in Fellsmere, FL.  

She would not name any of the investors, citing confidentiality.

At least $30 Million has been invested in charter schools and this figure may balloon to $90 Million in the next year.  Sucrose, shrimp and human capital sure are attractive investment opportunities these days in America.  Remember, taxpayer dollars are being used to open these charter schools (they are NOT private schools) and pay for these green cards.  And since Florida has signed onto common core and will be adopting "internationally" benchmarked standards, it should make perfect sense that Chinese nationals own the schools American children will attend.

I hope Florida children and taxpayers don't get shortchanged like the Moberly citizens did believing in Bruce Cole and his promises of a product in exchange for green cards.  Who should taxpayers be angry with, the investors or the politicians allowing these investments?  I believe the Federal programs should bear the brunt of taxpayer fury.  These investors are just doing what investors do: taking advantage of crony capitalistic programs designed by politicians and bureaucrats.  If these programs didn't exist, there would be no foreign investments in American schools propped up by taxpayer dollars.

The education investment is just that...an investment.  It's not so much about the education, it's just another investment for the investor and a way for Chinese nationals to gain green cards. 


Here is the information tying Mamtek into the EB5 Program, the same program Chinese investors are using to invest in Florida charter schools.  From eb5info.com and Bloomberg on Mamtek EB-5 Visa Regional Center Investment Failure:

In the recent article from Bloomberg Businessweek's Susan Berfield, A Missouri Town's Sweet Dreams Turn Sour, the author describes in great detail how the hopes of one small midwestern town collapsed under the weight of lofty promises and false promotion involving a project partially funded by EB-5 visa investors. This follows our reporting of the story in September.

Her investigation reveals that, in the rush to create desperately needed jobs in a small town without many options, city planners and economic development officials did not ask many questions about promoter/developer Bruce Cole and his plans to create a large manufacturing plant despite having little experience or financial resources:
Although Cole would not comment, interviews with former Mamtek executives, consultants, and city officials, as well as a review of the bond offering, legal filings, and other records made public, tell the story of Mamtek’s collapse. It’s a tale of economic desperation, the lure of Chinese wealth, and, most of all, people’s need to believe. “We all thought this was going to be awesome. We thought everything had been checked out,” says Lindsey. “Shame on us.

The following saga of development and mismanagement is well chronicled in the article, including the injection of equity from private investors and the bond offering made by the City of Moberly. Throughout this stage, developer Cole was constantly short of cash, a problem for which he was counting on EB-5 visa funding to help make payments:
Although Cole didn’t mention it in his official pitch, he was counting on raising millions through the U.S. EB-5 visa program...Mamtek intended to set up its own center to attract Chinese investors for the sucralose plant and other Moberly projects. Mamtek applied for expedited approval in January, which Cole hoped would come in April. The government denied the request.  Cole told Lindsey and other Mamtek employees that the company’s EB-5 application would be approved later through the regular process. In the meantime, he said, he was close to raising a great deal of money from other investors. No one had any reason not to believe him.

This should raise red flags for taxpayers and their money being used by Chinese investors opening charter schools in the United States.  The taxpayers in Moberly, just as the taxpayers in Florida, did not have access to the supposed investors for these promised ventures.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Numbers Game In Education

Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat and most recently That Used To Be Us, was interviewed by Jim Fleming on NPR's All Things Considered recently and had this to say about American education,
"Well, if you take the PISA test, which is the best kind of international comparative test on writing, math and science for 15-year-olds, we're right there in the middle of the pack with Slovenia.  We are not leaders in these math and science competitions or in the writing competitions.  We quote the latest sort of statistic, there's an annual kind of you know, math genius competition for college students.  And I think we have one school in the top ten, in Michigan.  And you know, you look at any international comparison test and we're now in the middle of the pack.  And a lot of people say well, that's because we have more diverse populations--no, they factor in all of that, okay.  I'm tired of having to explain like why we're in the middle of the pack.  How about we just come out number one and not have to explain anything anymore."
His remark is typical of those who believe we are in an educational crisis in this country. The PISA test in particular has been used  to demonstrate America's falling performance levels. We rank 24th in math and 17th in science out of 30 countries. But as we've already discussed, this is somewhat of a numbers game being played in the ranking.  Mr. Friedman is a smart man and a decent economist so he should be well versed in how statistics can be manipulated to make a point. In his statement he both acknowledges this fact and then dismisses it out of hand because it would be so much easier if we didn't have to explain statistical manipulation.

There are easy ways to achieve his desired number one status by next year. We could require a certain GPA in order to even take the PISA test. That way only our brightest students, who are obviously on the path to college, would take it and our scores would go up. Instead we encourage everyone to take standardized exams like the ACT and SAT and go on to college. In the last four years we have increased the number of students taking the ACT by 17%. Statistics tell us that this should lower the score as less advanced students are now taking the test. The ACT says, however, that the national scores have not changed in the last four years. That means the we actually have more students doing better now than four years ago.

The question he should be asking is why would anyone manipulate the statistics in the first place. Could it be, as Rahm Emanuel now famously said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste?" First you have to convince people there is a crisis and then you can do all kinds of things to fix it.

Such numbers manipulation is done nationally, and it turns out, locally as well. DESE reported earlier this year that Missouri was ranked 26th on our students' average ACT score. That would put us right in the middle of the pack and add to the evidence that our schools are in crisis and need of changing. It was decent support for our state getting into the Common Core Standards.  We were barely keeping our head above water.

It turns out, when you try to compare apples to apples with ACT scores, Missouri ain't doing so bad. In fact, we are 4th in the nation when compared with other states who have a similar percentage of students taking the test. Whew. Dodged that bullet. Let's pat ourselves on the back and call it a day.  Well, not quite.

There is always room for improvement. As Mr. Friedman says it would be nice to just come out number one overall. To do that, we could look at states like Massachusetts which, while only having 15% of their graduating students take the ACT, blew us away on all the measures.  Forty four percent of their takers received benchmark scores on all areas of the ACT (English Composition, Algebra, Social Science and Biology) compared to the national average of 25% and Missouri's average of 27%. Benchmark scores are the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses. Perhaps we should adopt Massachusetts' standards and curriculum. If only improving test scores were that simple.

At least adopting MA standards would make some sort of logical sense. Look at who's succeeding and do what they do. Instead we have adopted Common Core Standards which don't look like MA standards.  They don't look like anyone's because they've never been done before. They've also never been tested before so we really don't know what they will do for our test scores. But at least we'll be able to compare our students scores against other states on a level playing ground, right?  Not exactly.

Since it now looks like there will be at least two versions of each of the assessments, a short and a long, it will be harder to compared state-to-state. In addition, each assessment is self adjusting, selecting harder questions for those who get answers right and easier questions for those who answer incorrectly. No two students will take the exact same test. That makes comparing student-to-student within the same classroom a difficult challenge, let alone comparing students between different states.

The numbers game in education will continue as long as there is money and power to be gained from it. Test developers, tutoring schools, educational "thought leaders", venture capitalists,  and a host of others who see an opportunity to make money or a name for themselves will continue to feed us statistics that tell us we need them; their money, their intellect, their policies. In the education numbers game, the only winning move, as they said in War Games, is not to play.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Your Children Belong to the Government via their Personal Data. The Holy Grail of Education Realized?

Do children tracked from birth by the US government give up individual right to privacy and freedom for the government's "right" to their data?

Do you like your data being shared on Facebook?  No?  Then why is it permissible for the Federal Government to track your child from birth and this information shared with various agencies and private researchers?  Does your family belong to the government?  Should the Federal Government establish educational policies and mandates for states to accomplish this data tracking?  From Portals, Dashboards and Universal IDs: Improving Early Ed Data:

States around the country have big plans to improve the collection and coordination of data on young children, including data dashboards, scorecards and tools for tracking the well-being of children from the day they are born. But how -- and if --  these plans turn into reality depends on whether they can win support from federal  grants, state funds or private philanthropy, according to a report released today by the Early Childhood Data Collaborative.

The Collaborative’s analysis starts by pointing out that timely, reliable data is scarce, with policymakers often unable to get answers to basic questions on the number of children participating in high-quality programs. In fact, as we reported last week, it’s even difficult to get comprehensive information at the local level on the number of children participating in pre-K programs or gaining access to full-day kindergarten at all, let alone whether they are enrolled in classrooms or centers that meet a high bar for quality.
The report spotlights several ideas states have put forward to improve the ability to link data between databases and enable the tracking of individual children’s progress over time, across multiple providers of child care, preschool and, in places where links are made to K-12 education data, to the public school system.
 Rhode Island, for example, plans to build a universal database that includes data on individual children starting at birth. It proposes to build on its public health data system called KIDSNET that tracks immunizations and data from newborn screenings and connect that data to the statewide longitudinal data system for K-12 education.  Rhode Island is a triple winner – winning an RTT-ELC grant, a K-12 Race to the Top grant and a competitive grant from the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program – so it may actually have the dollars to bring this kind of longitudinal database to fruition.
Other innovations revolve around the creation of portals or dashboards. Minnesota, for example, proposed the creation of a web-based dashboard that can create reports tailored for different audiences of parents, administrators and teachers. Pennsylvania wants to develop a “provider scorecard” that includes data on individual preschool and child care providers, such as how many stars they have earned in the state’s quality improvement and rating system (Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), the credentials of members of the workforce and data on  children’s growth and development.  

I submit Rhode Island is NOT a winner, but a state totally owned by the Federal Government in the educational delivery for its state citizens.  Is establishing a "longitudinal database to fruition" the Holy Grail in education reform?  We at MEW believe the implementation of data systems IS the key to establishing a managed workforce and circumvents the fundamental right of Americans to pursue their individual paths, rather than a life path mapped out by government/private businesses based on personal data from birth.

Understand the doublespeak from the article above:
  • "it’s even difficult to get comprehensive information at the local level on the number of children participating in pre-K programs or gaining access to full-day kindergarten at all, let alone whether they are enrolled in classrooms or centers that meet a high bar for quality" means private centers may be subject to government's "high bar for quality" (common core must be used in private businesses for a high rating)
  • "...ideas states have put forward to improve the ability to link data between databases and enable the tracking of individual children’s progress over time, across multiple providers of child care," means again, the intrusion of common core standards/assessments into private child care delivery
  •  "Pennsylvania wants to develop a “provider scorecard” that includes data on individual preschool and child care providers, such as how many stars they have earned in the state’s quality improvement and rating system (QRIS), the credentials of members of the workforce and data on  children’s growth and development" again means a group intent on a managed workforce will decide if private preschool and child care providers will be credentialed based on common core standards and assessments
  • "...reliable data is scarce, with policymakers often unable to get answers to basic questions on the number of children participating in high-quality programs" raises the concern, "who/what is determining what a "high-quality program" is? The government?  Is the belief a pre-school must follow common core assessments/standards to be deemed high quality?  Why does the government need to track pre-K programs when most states don't even mandate education for children until the age of 6 or 7?
Why does the government want to track your child from birth?  Do you know where this information will be stored or who will have access to personal information?  Even if you buy into the idea "the government is here to help you", understand the assistance is whatever the government  deigns to provide your child.  But what's even worse, the government will decide if private organizations will receive it's coveted "stars" via QRIS and if your child's growth and development fits its needs for the workforce.

Here are two goals from a 2009 document (An Actionable Federal Frameworkto Promote QRIS in the States) detailing how the federal government can and should force states to adopt a nationalized system of education in state public schools and private schools and the establishment of data systems to track children from birth:

The requirement that states establish a QRIS, as well as funding and supports targeted to this purpose, should be included in all federal legislation, rule or regulation that authorizes, funds or creates early care and education programs or initiatives. This would include, but is not limited to, the following: the proposed Early Learning Challenge Fund, the state Early Childhood Advisory Councils, the Child Care and Development Fund, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, ESEA Title I, Head Start/Early Head Start, the State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems initiative, early intervention (IDEA), and family support initiatives. Such action at the federal level will model for and support the states in their effort to align their early care and education policy, funding and systems in a collaborative manner around a core set of agreed upon program standards.

The Child Care Bureau and the Department of Education should jointly prepare a biennial “State of QRIS” report that includes data on state QRIS systems and participation levels. In addition to information on state QRIS standards and how they align with national benchmarks, the report should include, at a minimum, data on:
• the proportionate level of participation, at each quality level, of each type of ECE  provider in the state (including regulated center-and home-based child care programs, public and private preschools, programs that receive Head Start funding and programs that provide early intervention services)
Why doesn't QRIS establish a goal that children should be chipped at birth?  It probably would be more cost effective and less labor intensive.  If a child has no right to privacy, then let's go ahead and get that child connected to the government from day one with a tracking chip.  What's the difference between what the QRIS currently recommends vs tracking a child via an internal chip?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Is Southern Poverty Law Center's Mix It Up Day Coming To Your School?

Mix It Up At Lunch Day is coming October 30th. Hundreds of schools across the county will be joining in this celebration of diversity and yours could be one of them. The idea is for kids to sit with someone new at lunch that day in order to demonstrate their tolerance for those who are different from them. Sounds harmless enough, unless you look at whose brain child this is. As part of their Teaching Tolerance project, the Southern Poverty Law Center created Mix It Up At Lunch Day and has been promoting it to schools, especially elementary and middle schools.  If there was ever anyone who understood mixing it up, it is SPLC.

One of SPLC's claim to fame is their list of hate groups.  On the list of almost 1,000 groups are many that most people would agree preach a message of hate like the KKK, various skin head and neo-nazi groups and the Institute for Historical  Review, a holocaust denier organization which was eventually forced by court order to make good on their promise to pay anyone who could come forward with proof that there were gas chambers in Nazi Germany.

Of note is the fact that SPLC also includes the New Black Panther Party on their list.  After hearing NBPP leader King Samir Shabbaz state, "You want freedom you’re going to have to kill some crackers. You’re going to have to kill some of their babies," one can understand how this group would be labeled a hate group.

But here is where SPLC shows its own ability to Mix It Up.  They call the New Black Panthers a "radical right" group.  They almost had to. They call everyone on their list a radical right organization. That enables them to label many religious and quasi religious groups as hate groups. Certainly some of them are. It is easy for the wolf to lead the flock astray. That is why we see  groups like Tony Alamo Christian Ministries on their list and several extreme Catholic groups which have been either excommunicated from the Catholic church or were never part of it in the first place.

The SPLC includes groups like the Concerned Women For America, Family Research Council and The Traditional Values Coalition on their list of hate groups. There has been a long standing feud between SPLC and the American Family Association who also appears on the list.  Much of the conflict centers around the issue of gay rights. Keep in mind this is supposed to be a list of hate groups who promote hate speech, not just groups with a different ideology. CWA and the others inclusion on this list simply confirms SPLC's bias. They are only concerned about the evil right. There are NO liberal hate groups on their list.

Interestingly, SPLC's page on Mix It Up At Lunch Day confirms their own bias. On it they state "Cafeterias are the focus of Mix It Up because that’s where a school’s social boundaries are most obvious. Breaking down these barriers can be an important step for students who don’t have many opportunities in school to interact with someone unlike them." Have these people ever stepped into a classroom? American education's literal love affair with the collaborative process puts these kids in situations where they are forced to work with someone they are not like All The Time. The lunch room is one of the last bastions where they can hang out with their friends.

SPLC laments the current environment for many students.
  • The average white student goes to a school that is more than three-quarters white.

  • One in four children in poverty attends schools with few middle- and upper-middle class schoolmates.

  • One-third of black and Latino students attend schools with 90 to 100 percent minority populations. In the Northeast, over half of black students are in majority black schools. 
In my day we called this the neighborhood school. You went to school with kids who lived around you, whose families had similar socio economic status because they could afford the houses in your neighborhood. You tended to be very comfortable with these people. SPLC is not concerned with your child's comfort.

Apparently if you live in poverty your children would be better off rubbing elbows with upper middle class kids. Proximity should endow those children with better academic outcomes and richer lives. You also have no role models in the minority community which is a tragedy that needs to be fixed by integration of the schools. Why else would you complain that there are schools that are 90-100% black? Seems like the SPLC can't help but put its biased foot in its mouth.

Its unclear whose thinking needs to be adjusted in this mixing but, given everything else that comes out of SPLC, it's probably the upper middle class kids who need to learn to stop looking down their noses at the poor kids. I hate to clue them in, but kids in general are so egocentric they couldn't be bothered to take the time to look down on anyone. They spend most of their day inwardly focused. 

The only support SPLC offers for why schools need to do this comes from sociology professor Roslyn Arlin Mickelson who noted in her [unnamed] 2011 research brief that “students who attend racially and socioeconomically diverse schools are more likely to achieve higher test scores and better grades, to graduate from high school, and to attend and graduate from college.” This NC professor has also stated that minority parents are often excluded from the informal networks that white parents use for information about courses, gifted programs and testing. Again, the information that is available at the school for any parent is somehow unavailable to minority parents because they are not part of a gossiping social clique.  And this statement is not pejorative of minorities how? They do not have the wherewithal to go get it themselves? SPLC using biased researchers to support a biased program - not a surprise.

Check if your school has registered to participate and then ask the administration if they want to participate in a program, no matter how well intended or how good it sounds, that is sponsored by SPLC. Some parochial schools as well as public schools are registered. They may not be so familiar with the sponsor of Mix It Up Day. Ask the school if the children are not regularly put with children unlike themselves in class and instead are allowed to work in cliques. More importantly, ask them if any parents have complained that there is not enough tolerance for diversity in the school. It may be true in a very few schools, but do we need to spend time fixing a problem that doesn't exist?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Meet the New Boss (Sir Michael Barber)...Same As the Old Boss (Marc Tucker)

Education Reform: We "won't get fooled again"...or will we?


Who is Sir Michael Barber from England and why is he directing educational directives in the United States?

It's because education is global now.  He's accomplishing what Marc Tucker tried to implement in the 90's but was thwarted by Liz Cheney.  (Where is Liz Cheney's voice in this global takeover of education today and why is she silent?)

The following is excerpted from The Global Common Core on Sir Michael Barber and how he is taking Marc Tucker's plan, adopting/adapting it to fit today's philanthropists (who are funding much of this takeover of public education) for a global vision.  Read the full article from whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com for invaluable links and more discussion on the Barber/Pearson/Gates global takeover of education:
In an ongoing quest to comprehend what (and why) Common Core is what it is, I’ve found Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson PLC.

Sir Barber, a passionate Common Core promoter with a nice British accent, is all about top-down, global McEducation –and global McEverything, actually, from transportation to jails.

“McEverything” is not Barber’s word.  His word is “Deliverology.”

His book, Deliverology 101,”  is purposed, oddly, specifically for leaders of American Education reform.” But what motivates a British citizen to write a manual on American states’ nationalized standards?

Barber comes across as a nice, slightly weird, old British knight.  Actually, he is a knight: Sir Michael Barber was knighted for producing education reforms in England.

Yet some (who are also respected far and wide) scorn his philosophies.  John Seddon, British management guru and president of Vanguard, has a multi-part YouTube series entitled “Why Deliverology Made Things Worse in the UK.”

“I don’t go around the world bashing Deliverology, but I think I should,” said Seddon.

Seddon defines “deliverology” as “a top-down method by which you undermine achievement of purpose and demoralize people.” 

Seddon says ”deliverology” imposes arbitrary targets that damage morale.  Just like Common Core.

But Barber will have none of that.  He seems to feel that education reform is too big an issue to pause for things like individual morale.

In Barber’s view, education reform is a “global phenomenon,” so reform is no longer to be managed by individuals or sovereign countries; education reform has “no more frontiers, no more barriers.”  

Sir Michael Barber adds: “We want data about how people are doing. We want every child on the agenda.”  But who are the ”we” that will control global data?  That one he does not answer.
Pearson ”invests,” says Barber, by purchasing cheap schools in developing countries in partnership with governments. Pearson works hand in hand with both nongovernmental agencies (NGA and CCSSO) and with governmental agencies (U.S. Department of Education) to promote global education and Common Core. Because they see global education and Common Core as one and the same.

Then Barber explains that the “ethical underpinning” is “shared understanding” of earth and “sustainability” that every child in every school around the world will learn.

Will any of this be easy to reverse?  Sir Michael Barber emphasizes the importance of what he’s dubbed “irreversible reform.”  He defines “sustainable reform” as “irreversible reform” and aims to “make it so it can never go back to how it was before.”

“If you want irreversible reforms, work on the culture and the minds of teachers and parents,” Barber says. Otherwise parents or traditionalists might repeal what’s been done because of their ”wish for the past.”
Heaven help us.
This is the Marc Tucker redux from the 1990's but with bigger players on a global perspective.  Heaven help us indeed.  We're meeting the new boss...same as the old boss.  Lyrics compliments from The Who and "Won't Get Fooled Again":

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution

Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again

Change it had to come

We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fall that's all
But the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution

Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!

I'll move myself and my family aside

If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
For I know that the hypnotized never lie

Do ya?

There's nothing in the street

Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now the parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution

Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!



Monday, October 1, 2012

Follow Obama's/Duncan's North Star to Educational Disaster via Common Core


From a reader via an on line educational group and reprinted with permission:

When I received the picture (above), I did not think it appropriate to send to our education network group.  I ended up deciding to send it anyway---it is appropriate.  No matter where you stand politically, there are some interesting quotes used in this picture.  The one that really got my attention is the Duncan quote, "The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama's goal..."  
It brought Marc Tucker's cradle to grave agenda to mind.  This quote piqued my interest enough to search for it in context.  I had seen the quote before but not where it came from.  My search yielded a scary find....
It is worth your time to read this Duncan September 2010 speech in its entirety.  It is scarier than just the cradle-to-career quote.  I will pull some quotes out and present them here.  When you read the speech for yourself, you may find other quotes that jump out at you.  These are the ones that jumped out at me.  

The four assurances got their name from the requirement that each governor in the 50 states had to provide an “assurance” they would pursue reforms in these four areas, in exchange for their share of $49 billion in a Recovery Act program designed to largely stem job loss among teachers and principals.
In my eyes, this is an admission of bribery.

The second assurance governors provided was in the area of data systems. The department has supported states and provided several hundred million dollars to build longitudinal data systems that measure student progress over time. More robust state data systems and a new generation of assessments can assist teachers and principals to improve their practices and tailor their instruction to students in ways that were largely unthinkable in the past.
Duncan clearly ties the longitudinal data systems to the assessments.  Since the assessments are directly related to the Cash Cow State Standards, it is not a leap of faith to make the connection between the CCSS and the data systems, it is a logical deduction.

Traditionally, the federal government in the United States has had a limited role in education policy.
He neglects to say why and does not acknowledge the constitution (which he and many others like to ignore).

We have sought to fundamentally shift the federal role so that the Department is playing a greater role in supporting reform and innovation in states, districts, and local communities across the nation.
This statement along with this one...

We are similarly overhauling the way the department provides technical assistance, so that it focuses on helping states build the capacity to implement programs successfully—instead of focusing on compliance monitoring, as we have done in the past. I said earlier that the United States now has an unprecedented opportunity to transform education in ways that will resonate for decades to come.

give indication that the department will now be directing states on how and what to implement.  The Obama administration's transformation of education will resonate for decades to come.  I only hope we can recover from the disharmonious resonation ironically brought about by the Recovery Act ($98 billion worth).

In the end, transforming education is not just about raising expectations. It has to be about creating greater capacity at all levels of the system to implement reform. It has to be about results. And that is one reason why Sir Michael Barber's book, Instruction to Deliver, is so valuable.
Another network member has been putting Barber's name in front of us.  He was brought to my attention more than a year ago.  His involvement and influence is becoming more evident.  Has he been directly involved as an architect of ed reform in this country or only having an indirect influence on it?
But we are committed to establishing a different relationship with states--one more focused on providing tailored support to improve program outcomes.
Interpretation:  We are committed to establishing a controlling relationship with the states---one more focused on providing tailored support for implementing policies and practices desired by the federal government without regard for evidence of effectiveness.  (as might be used the the federal government, desired is simply a nicer way of saying required...  much like voluntary means the same as required in federal speak).

I thought it was bad in 2004, when Sec. of Education Rod Paige called the teachers' union a "terrorist organization" and in my eyes, by extension dubbed all teachers as terrorists.  While I was outraged at the time, I now see it as a mild insult relative to the action that goes beyond the words of Arne Duncan.  Duncan's (and the Obama administration's) actions are more than an insult to teachers...his actions will directly have a negative impact on the lives and livelihood of all students and the freedom and liberty of every American.
This Duncan quote caught my eye regarding the "transformation of education":

Transformational reform especially takes time in the United States, which has more than 100,000 public schools, 49 million K-12 students, more than three million teachers, and 13,800 school districts--all of it largely administered and funded by local governments. Systemic change, in short, takes time.
The Constitution gives the power to the states for the administration and funding of education.  The Federal government does not have this power.  Would politicians remind Arne Duncan that the systemic change he and Obama crave is illegal?  Have all the politicians on the local, state and national levels forgotten the Federal government has no right to this power?
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