"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, March 30, 2013

Common Core Proponent & Foundation for Excellence Member Mitchell Chester: Let Them Eat Cake?

A nonprofit group released thousands of e-mails today and said they show how a foundation begun by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and national education reform leader, is working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders.  from washingtonpost.com

Neal McCluskey writes a most revealing article on how Common Core proponents view growing citizen questioning of the legality of Common Core standards.  From Only the Little People Oppose Common Core:

With the Common Core – national curricular standards in English and math – having been adopted by 45 states, it seems Core supporters’ heads might be getting a bit big. Or, at least, they are starting to more openly express their feelings that Core opponents are very small. Like “little people” who pay taxes small.

The reputed Leona Helmsley quote is, actually, highly apropos for the view expressed by Mitchell Chester, education commissioner for the state of Massachusetts, at a recent AEI conference on implementation and governance of the Common Core. At the end of a session in which, alas, there was a fair amount of contempt expressed for supposedly conspiracy-theorizing Core opponents, Chester gratuitously threw in a small diatribe excoriating anyone who would object to the Core based on its cost. Keep in mind, reasonable estimates of the cost of fully bringing on Common Core hit as high as $16 billion.

Start at the 1:10:00 mark to hear Chester say, essentially, if it will help kids, people simply have no “right” to object to the Common Core based on costs.

See the video and read more here

Who is Mitchell Chester who doesn't think taxpayers have a right to object to Common Core, even as the same taxpayers are mandated to pay for it?  He's education commissioner for Massachusetts but his connections to the education reform community run deep.  He's also a member of the Foundation for Excellence.  From excelined.org:

Dr. Chester began his career as an elementary school teacher in Connecticut.  He was a middle school assistant principal and a district curriculum coordinator.  He has served in multiple leadership roles, including Chief of the Bureau of Curriculum and Instructional Programs for the Connecticut State Department of Education, Executive Director for Accountability and Assessment for the School District of Philadelphia and Senior Associate Superintendent for Policy and Accountability for the Ohio Department of Education.  Dr. Chester holds a doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University, as well as advanced degrees from the University of Connecticut and the University of Hartford.

It's no wonder Dr. Chester would make such remarks to Neal McCluskey.  Foundation for Excellence is Jeb Bush's organization pushing various education reforms that take away state/local decisions for the educational development/delivery for students.  Think of it as one big elite think tank developing reforms for us little people.

The Washington Post uncovered emails between the Foundation for Excellence and education officials clearly showing a run around of legislative process for state educational reforms.  Now you know why Dr. Chester would show such disdain for the taxpayers who pay for these programs.  They are necessary for funding but for planning and implementation purposes they should be invisible:

The e-mails are between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a group Bush set up called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education commissioners who support Bush’s agenda of school reform, which includes school choice, online education, retention of third-graders who can’t read and school accountability systems based on standardized tests. That includes evaluating teachers based on student test scores and grading schools A-F based on test scores. John White of Louisiana is a current member, as is Tony Bennett, the new commissioner of Florida who got the job after Indiana voters rejected his Bush-style reforms last November and tossed him out of office.

Donald Cohen, chair of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible for contracting in the public sector, said the e-mails show how education companies that have been known to contribute to the foundation are using the organization “to move an education agenda that may or not be  in our interests but are in theirs.”

He said companies ask the foundation to help state officials pass laws and regulations that make it easier to expand charter schools, require students to take online education courses, and do other things that could result in business and profits for them. The e-mails show, Cohen said, that Bush’s foundation would often do this with the help of Chiefs for Change and other affiliated groups.


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