"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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Friday, March 15, 2013

Speak Out Against Common Core Survey for Teachers/Administrators

Are you a teacher or administrator who would like to speak out against Common Core but fear backlash from your state agency, school or the union? 

Here is a way for your opinion to be heard in Missouri.  Take this survey here.  Your identity will not be disclosed, unless you specifically allow it.  We do request you inform us in which county you live so we can forward comments to legislators in that county. They pay very close attention to their own constituents. The legislators are only hearing from those who drank the koolaid on Common Core and have the impression that it is only a faction from outside of teaching who think CC is a bad idea. They need to hear from you!

The Sharing of Student Data Creates Concern in NYC

From nbcnewyork.com and Parents Blast New State Database of Private Student Info:

Parents and privacy experts are blasting a new national database that compiles personal student information for educational companies that contract with public schools.

New York State officials, working with the city, have already uploaded students' names, addresses, test scores, learning disabilities, attendance and disciplinary records into the inBloom database, according to the Daily News.
Read more here and watch the news video.

What is inBloom?  From the Daily News:

InBloom, a 3-month-old database, is funded primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. built the infrastructure for the new electronic portal.

The state spent $50 million in federal grants to partner with inBloom and finalized its agreement in October to share data with the fledgling company.

The new service will not cost the city any money at first, though inBloom officials said they will probably start to charge fees in 2015.

Names, attendance records, disciplinary histories, addresses, test scores and more are delivered to the state. The state contracts with inBloom, a database that warehouses that information. InBloom then contracts with private companies selling educational products and services that can access the information.

Wouldn't "contracting with private companies selling educational products and services" that access students' personal information be considered selling student information without parental permission or knowledge?  Why is this being funded partially by federal grants so that the state can partner with inBloom and share student information with the company?

How to Sustain a Nationalized Educational System. Turn it Over to 501(c)(3) Groups for Outsourcing.

Outsourcing: Outsourcing is any task, operation, job or process that could be performed by employees within an organization, but is instead contracted to a third party for a significant period of time. In addition, the functions that are performed by the third party can be performed on-site or off-site.
The two private trade organizations The National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) sure had a nifty plan to nationalize education.  Get states to "voluntarily" sign  up to relinquish their constitutional authority to develop and deliver education for their citizens in exchange for two consortia controlling state educational programs.  "Voluntarily" refers to the dangling of money to states competing for Race to the Top, but when some states still didn't compete for or win grants, the ESEA waivers included states having to commit to CCSS. 

The two consortia (PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia) have been funded by stimulus money which runs out in 2014.   The Tampa Bay Times writes that the Common Core deadlines won't be met regarding assessment completion, computers and infrastructure requirements, and how to pay for the mandates. 

We attended a SBAC meeting open to the public last year and it was evident the consortia was concerned about the issue of how the consortia would survive after the federal tap of stimulus money was finished.    From what we heard in the September 2012 meeting, a move to privately fund a consortia should not be surprise, but rather a move for sustainability:

Twenty million students are expected to take the SBAC assessments on-line. There needs to be technical and professional support for this system going forward. Both SBAC and PARCC were funded with seed money from TARP. This money will run out September 30, 2014. Any remaining unused funds will revert to the US Treasury. Both consortia must now figure out how to make the assessments sustainable by finding other funding sources.

The first RFP for a consultant to take on this work received zero bids because SBAC had grossly underestimated the effort needed to do the work. They are now looking to identify areas of commonality with the other assessment consortia, PARCC, and see if the two groups can share a consultant on those common points. It is not a stretch to see that these two groups are probably going to have to combine in the future in order to remain sustainable. Then we will truly have national standards.

The plan is to go to private foundations to fund Phase 2. 

The plan for private funding has now been put into place for one consortia.   PARCC announced it is reorganizing itself as a 501(c)(3).  From edweek.com and Testing Consortium Reorganizes for Long-Term Survival:

The two big groups of states that are designing tests for the common standards have a lot more on their minds than the thorny work of test design. They're trying to figure out how they can survive once their federal funding runs out in the fall of 2014, before the tests are even administered.

One sign of this focus cropped up when PARCC announced that it had reorganized itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. This move facilitates the receipt of foundation funding, among other things, something that has been under consideration as a mode of survival once the group runs out of federal money.

As we've reported to you, PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have teamed up to do some thinking about sustainability. They've got a heavy-hitting consulting firm working on sustainability plans, and the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers—the folks who spearheaded the common-standards drive four years ago—are playing roles as well.

Read more here.

What's the problem with turning over the nation's education development and delivery to a 501(c)(3)?  Questions not having any easy answers include:

Who will be in control of the standards?  Who will be designing the assessments?  Will voters have any say in who is educating their children?  Could billionaires with an agenda (pick your side, left or right) organize a nonprofit to deliver the type of education they believe students should learn?

Edweek writes:

The sustainability question is key to the long-term work and goals of the consortia. Right now, no one really knows who will update the tests, for instance, as secure item pools dwindle. The research agenda is in question, too, and that's pretty huge. Without a multiyear inquiry into how students at various cut scores actually perform in college, it's tough to validate the test as being a sound proxy of college readiness. These—and many more—questions ride on the question of sustainability.

There is a near-term question of sustainability, as well. The groups are mindful that in order to protect the $360 million in federal funding they won, they each need to have at least 15 member states. With 24 in SBAC and 22 in PARCC right now, that doesn't seem to be a looming issue. But if enough states get skittish and drop out, federal officials could—according to their own regulations—cut off the funding that is meant to carry the consortia's work through the fall of 2014.

Count many folks in Missouri becoming more and more skittish of CCSS standards that were never field tested or even written before they were adopted by the governor, education commissioner and State Board of Education members.  

Now that taxpayers know of the plans of these two private trade organizations to nationalize education, do you think they will still want their tax money used for copyrighted standards by non-profit organizations?  Isn't education development and delivery the role of the states and local school districts?  Why is education now outsourced to private consortia and in the future, 501(c)(3) groups?

Listed here are some downsides to outsourcing which include:
  • loss of managerial control
  • hidden cost
  • threat to security and confidentiality
  • quality problems
  • tied to the financial well-being of another company
  • bad publicity and ill-will

Thursday, March 14, 2013

House Bill 616 Voted Out Of Committee

Representative Kurt Bahr's  house bill 616 was voted out of the Downsizing State Government Committee 8:4 today along party lines. HB616 requires the state to stop implementation of Common Core Standards and Assessments.

Parents, principals and teachers continue, as they learn more about the full scope of the Common Core initiative, to join the ranks of supporters of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. The slick marketing of this initiative to teachers and administrators over the last twelve months, paid for heavily by the Gates Foundation,  cannot overcome the deeply worrisome aspects of cost, loss of control and intrusive data collection on our children.

Many veteran teachers are all too familiar with the constructivist approach to teaching math inherent with CC and know that it does not work for a significant portion of students. Higher education teachers know that it will leave those unable to afford supplemental math enrichment in k-12 without the math skills necessary to complete college degree programs that rely heavily on mathematics like engineering without paying for extra math courses in college. Those in the language arts reject the heavy emphasis on informational text reading and analysis knowing that the research does not support that as a good path path to developing future writers.

MCACC provided expert witnesses at both the House and Senate hearings on Anti-Common COre legislation. Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project was one of them. He will be on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze tv tonight at 5:00 pm central talking about Common Core. Go to TheBlaze.com/tv to watch on line.

Join the MCACC network at MOAgainstCommonCore.com and spread the word about Common Core.

MO Department of Revenue Gathering/Storing Biometric Data. Is DESE gathering Data on Students?

Citizens are concerned with the Department of Revenue in Missouri and the recent discovery of secret data mining of their information when they renew their driver's license.  From The Dana Show and EXCLUSIVE: DHS Plans Backdoor Gun Registration? *UPDATES:

This from concerned citizen Eric Griffin and Missouri’s Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.  Department of Revenue is working with the Department of Homeland Security to install new hard and software to obtain data on Missouri citizens and transfer this information to DHS and unnamed third parties, says Kinder. Kinder and the Stoddard County Prosecutor today took legal action and held a press conference outlining the infringement on civil liberties as posted by the DoR and DHS. The move by the departments is related to the Real ID.

Griffin went to renew his driver’s license and was disturbed by how, and with whom, his information was being shared. Kinder and other lawmakers say that the move violates several Missouri state statutes.

Loesch followed up on this privacy gathering in Missouri Department Of Revenue Saving Biometric Data In Violation Of State Law:

Today I spoke with Missouri Senator Kurt Schaefer about this story I told you about two weeks ago. According to Sen. Schaefer, not only is the Missouri Department of Revenue colluding with the Department of Homeland Security and other third parties to illegally share Missourians’ conceal carry information, the DOR is also gathering and storing biometric data on every Missourian who gets a license.

Schaefer notes that the collection of biometric data was never discussed with Missouri lawmakers and that it was discovered quite by accident when suspicious Missourians questioned why the DOR would want their marriage licenses and a multitude of other information simply to renew their conceal carry permits. When Schaefer confronted the DOR, they twice lied to the senator, claiming that the DHS grant money was for things like “hole punchers.” Schaefer later learned the DHS grant money was actually used towards items like facial recognition hardware and software. It’s not only backdoor gun registration, but a massive invasion of privacy as well.

It raises two interesting questions: what else is the DOR lying about and what did Gov. Jay Nixon know and when did he know it?

The privacy gathering allowed through Common Core and the revised FERPA regulations mimics what has happened in the DOR:
  • the collection of biometric data was never discussed with Missouri lawmakers
  • DESE indicated currently 61 data points are gathered on Missouri students in legislative hearings
  • the sharing of student information with other entities violates several state statutes
  • DESE is working with the US Department of Education to obtain data on Missouri students and transfer this information to the DOEd and unnamed third parties approved by the DOEd to comply with Common Core mandates

Loesch writes:

Kinder and the Stoddard County Prosecutor today took legal action and held a press conference outlining the infringement on civil liberties as posted by the DoR and DHS. The move by the departments is related to the Real ID.

Could Kinder and a county prosecutor take legal action against DESE to outline civil rights infringements on civil liberties as posted by the US Department of Education?  The move by DESE and school districts to obtain information is related to the Common Core requirements.

If citizens are upset about their license data being shared with unknown agencies and third parties, shouldn't this outrage extend to the mining of their children's data?   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Update on Student Data Mining and Privacy Issues

From Mark Garrison in DataGate Update: Press Conference on Student Privacy:

There will be a press conference regarding growing concerns about student privacy this Thursday. Background to the issue can be found here, in addition to my recent post opposing the initiative.

It appears the New York State Department of Education will be issuing a “field memo” regarding the issue to school personal throughout New York State in the near future, likely in response to growing public concern, a concern that seems to be at least in part a result of growing opposition to the anti-public school reform movement (even more testing, more corporate charters, more cuts to funding for public schools, etc).

Another player in the data management for New York State is the New York Schools Data Analysis Technical Assistance Group (Datag), registered for tax purposes as a “Not for Profit Association”. School administrators from across NYS are convening at Datag this week. The connection between inBloom and Datag — actual or planned — needs to be explored.

Here's a link from a reader about Google's data gathering and invasion of privacy:

Google on Tuesday acknowledged to state officials that it had violated people’s privacy during its Street View mapping project when it casually scooped up passwords, e-mail and other personal information from unsuspecting computer users. 

In agreeing to settle a case brought by 38 states involving the project, the search company for the first time is required to aggressively police its own employees on privacy issues and to explicitly tell the public how to fend off privacy violations like this one.

While the settlement also included a tiny — for Google — fine of $7 million, privacy advocates and Google critics characterized the overall agreement as a breakthrough for a company they say has become a serial violator of privacy. 

“Google puts innovation ahead of everything and resists asking permission,” said Scott Cleland, a consultant for Google’s competitors and a consumer watchdog whose blog maintains a close watch on Google’s privacy issues. “But the states are throwing down a marker that they are watching and there is a line the company shouldn’t cross.” 

Read more here.

Marc Rotenberg from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) stated:

...the agreement was “a significant privacy decision by the state attorneys general,” adding that “it shows the ongoing importance of the states’ A.G.’s in protecting the privacy rights of Internet users.” 

Remember that EPIC has filed a lawsuit challenging the United States Department of Education's reinterpretation of FERPA laws and the allowance of student data mining via Common Core.  

Database in Common Core Explained. Segregation Revisited?

We shared Mark Garrison's written testimony yesterday supporting MO SB 210 and HB 616 which calls for the halting of Common Core implementation.  

Garrison writes in An Irrational $170 Million Database We Most Certainly Don’t Need about the data to be gathered on students via databases and Common Core standards:


While some folks have been warning the public about this for over a year, a recent Reuters article has renewed popular outrage over a privately controlled centralized database that will house an unprecedented amount of individual level data without the consent or even the knowledge of parents, and apparently, state or federal legislatures. My comments are throughout, as I can’t resist. The article reads, in part:
An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares.
But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.
In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school — even homework completion.
Brushing off real concerns about this development, readers are reassured with this declaration: “Federal law allows [schools] to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.”
Further on readers are informed:
Federal officials say the database project complies with privacy laws. Schools do not need parental consent to share student records with any “school official” who has a “legitimate educational interest,” according to the Department of Education. The department defines “school official” to include private companies hired by the school, so long as they use the data only for the purposes spelled out in their contracts.
This raises a host of questions, ones that I’ll deal with in a future post. But, for now, let’s follow the “logic” outlined in the rest of the article and what it reveals about the “Career and College Ready” agenda that is driving this initiative.
“This is going to be a huge win for us,” said Jeffrey Olen, a product manager at CompassLearning, which sells education software.
CompassLearning will join two dozen technology companies at this week’s SXSWedu conference in demonstrating how they might mine the database to create custom products — educational games for students, lesson plans for teachers, progress reports for principals.
Maybe I’m confused, but I thought teachers created lesson plans and principals created reports? This discourse suggests the intensification of the deskilling and de-professionalization of educators that began decades ago with scripted protocols, etc. Once in place, any Teach for America like temp worker can print up the computer-generated lesson plan, which will certainly include some “educational games”. Results of those “games” will automatically populate the report that the virtual principal will produce for the virtual school board.
Next we are told:
The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp [known for violating privacy rights and spying], built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.
What isn’t shared in the article is the role this database will play in implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), which would not exist in its present form without the Gates Foundation. The inBloom website discussion board clearly indicates that this database is designed around the CCSS. The CCSSI assessment apparatuses are likely to directly tie into this database if and once they become fully functional. And, given that the plan is to have student essays graded by computer, there are likely to be “digital” assessments of student writing from the dispositional point of view. Might an angry or merely “different” essay by a student trigger a “no education list” (a la the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center’s no fly lists) and be used by corporate charters in screening applicants, inventing a vast and detailed hierarchy of “human capital”?
The article continues:
States and school districts can choose whether they want to input their student records into the system; the service is free for now, though inBloom officials say they will likely start to charge fees in 2015. So far, seven states — Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts — have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide.
So, individual data collected by public authorities that are responsible to protect the privacy claims of these individuals is turned over to a private company, and then the public authority has to pay the private company for access to that data? Now that’s “critical thinking”! And while “inBloom pledges to guard the data tightly, its own privacy policy states that it ‘cannot guarantee the security of the information stored … or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.’ ” Seems like a double standard when you think about how “reformers” would scream if a public school stated that it could not protect student privacy.
The article does report that parents from
New York and Louisiana have written state officials in protest. So have the Massachusetts chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and Parent-Teacher Association. If student records leak, are hacked or abused, “What are the remedies for parents?” asked Norman Siegel, a civil liberties attorney in New York who has been working with the protestors. “It’s very troubling.”
I encourage parents to send a letter, similar to this.
What follows is the main justification for the initiative, and it is worth parsing out in detail.
“We look at personalized learning as the next big leap forward in education,” said Brandon Williams, a director at the Illinois State Board of Education.
First, I believe “personalized learning” is the new language for what used to be called tracking based on “ability”, social class, or other forms of social differentiation (“race,” ELLs, etc.). But it gets better:
Does Johnny have trouble converting decimals to fractions? The database will have recorded that — and may have recorded as well that he finds textbooks boring, adores animation and plays baseball after school. Personalized learning software can use that data to serve up a tailor-made math lesson, perhaps an animated game that uses baseball statistics to teach decimals.
What kind of nonthinking human being creates such narrative? Even the most unmotivated mediocre teacher can determine if a student has trouble converting decimals to factions! And wouldn’t the database be more useful if it could identify those students who actually found textbooks exciting? And, seriously, might teachers, unencumbered by the demands of “accountability” that increasingly block them from establishing meaningful relationships with their students, know which student likes baseball?

No teacher, school administrator or parent needs this database; it is a solution to a non-existent problem. It’s a complete hoax. It is also frightening that someone thought the above narrative was a useful public justification and that it could stand in a news item. How far gone are we that the absurdity is not evident? “Personalized learning” = remove the teacher -> collect “data” -> replace real teaching with “virtual games” -> so as “to get to know the student.”[1]
But wait, there’s more!
Johnny’s teacher can watch his development on a “dashboard” that uses bright graphics to map each of her students’ progress on dozens, even hundreds, of discrete skills.
Forgive me, but I prefer to watch the development of young people in person. “Bright graphics” — sounds like Disney, not education. “Discrete skills” — nothing says “product specification” better than “discrete skills.”
“You can start to see what’s effective for each particular student,” said Adria Moersen, a high school teacher in Colorado who has tested some of the new products.[2]
If you need a glowing, colorful dashboard of “discrete skills” to “see” your “students develop” and discern what is “effective” there’s definitely a problem. Or, maybe that’s the vision? Let’s continue:
The sector is undeniably hot; technology startups aimed at K-12 schools attracted more than $425 million in venture capital last year, according to the NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that focuses on the sector. The investment company GSV Advisors tracked 84 deals in the sector last year, up from 15 in 2007.
NewSchools is a big supporter of charters and other privatization schemes.
In addition to its $100 million investment in the database, the Gates Foundation has pledged $70 million in grants to schools and companies to develop personalized learning tools.
Again, I offer my suggestion that “personalized” is the new language of tracking. Data will be the new marker used to segregate.
Also of note is that the official estimates of the Gates Foundation contribution to the Common Core Standards is $100 million; but if we include all those grants that are part of the Core agenda, the number becomes much, much bigger; the above $170 million constituting a start. Based on data I have collected from their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website, I estimate the total expenditure to be about $1.5 billion between 2009 and 2012. The next bit is revealing as well.
Schools tend to store different bits of student information in different databases, often with different operating systems. That makes it clunky to integrate new learning apps into classrooms. […]
The new database aims to wipe away those obstacles by integrating all student information — including data that may previously have been stored in paper files or teacher gradebooks — in a single, flexible platform. […]
Education technology companies can use the same platform to design their software, so their programs will hook into a rich trove of student data if a district or state authorizes access.
This reminds me of the justification for the security state built post 9/11. We would all be safe if we could just break down those barriers between databases (e.g., eliminating boundaries between local, state and federal police agencies) and remove the blocks to spying!
At the Rocketship chain of charter schools, for instance, administrators must manually update at least five databases to keep their education software running smoothly when a child transfers from one teacher to another, said Charlie Bufalino, a Rocketship executive.
The extra steps add expense, which limits how many apps a school can buy. And because the data is so fragmented, the private companies don’t always get a robust picture of each student’s academic performance, much less their personal characteristics.
First point: you most likely don’t need the software; the money could be better spent. Second point: who cares if the “private companies don’t get a robust picture”? Why are we all of a sudden so concerned about private companies having a “robust picture” of our children?
Yes, it even gets better.
Larry Berger, an executive at Amplify Education, says the data could be mined to develop “early warning systems.” Perhaps it will turn out, for instance, that most high school dropouts began to struggle with math at age 8. If so, all future 8-year-olds fitting that pattern could be identified and given extra help.
Forgetting for a moment that Larry’s statement erases more than 40 years of research on the predictors of “dropping out” (linked mostly to poverty, racism and lack of funding), my question is this: will the “early warning system” be color coded, like the now infamous “terror alerts?” Is “fitting the pattern” the new language for profiling? Sounds like the noble language of helping to prevent “drop outs” might hide something a little less palatable; maybe inBloom will partner with state governments to alert them of students not “ready” to vote?
Companies with access to the database will also be able to identify struggling teachers and pinpoint which concepts their students are failing to master. One startup that could benefit: BloomBoard, which sells schools professional development plans customized to each teacher.
Well that’s good news. Private companies that are charging the public for access to the data provided to them by the public will assist in further attacking teachers as the source of the problem while social inequality reaches new heights! Hopefully BloomBoard will lobby for more computers — I just hope some of the leaking roofs won’t short out the circuits. I also hope their statisticians can develop models that can compensate for students not giving a damn as they sit, alienated, in their PARCC testing cages.
The new database “is a godsend for us,” said Jason Lange, the chief executive of BloomBoard. “It allows us to collect more data faster, quicker and cheaper.”
But I thought it was “all about the kids”?
In the end, this is an untenable plan, doomed to failure, with more harm along the way. It should be opposed.
  1. Even the introductory video on the inBloom website presents a vision of the teacher/student interaction as completely mediated by their database which is to form the basis of and completely structure the student/teacher relationship. In the video, both students and teachers are presented as passive, with very limited voice, only acting through the devices devised by the database developers.
  2. The formulation “each particular” set me off, so I went searching on the Internet for Adria, and I came up with what appears to be someone who loves signing up to all the social media, but never really uses any of it (is she real?). No posts from her twitter account. No info on Linkedin, but a member. “Summitt Post” indicates “high school teacher” in Colorado. On “Clas talk”, nothing. Uses “pinterest” — what I saw was vapid. Appears on “rate my teacher” with 3 stars out of 5, from six respondents (“fun” was used frequently by those posting). (Obviously the sites that did not identify her profession and location could be for someone else.) From what I could find, she does not come across as an authority on the subject of using large databases to enhance education. She has been a teacher for a short time, and in general strikes me as an odd choice for an interview by an international news agency.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Professor of Education Policy and Research Written Testimony Supporting the End of Common Core Standards Implementation

The following written testimony by Mark Garrison, Ph.D. was entered to support MO SB 210 and HB 616 and end the implementation of Common Core State Standards:


March 3, 2013

Based on my research, I have concluded that the CCSSI should be opposed for four reasons.*
They are:

1. There is no evidence that the CCSSI will improve the quality of education, reduce
inequalities, or ensure students are prepared to contribute to society or engage in
higher learning. For example, researchers have compared states with higher standards
to those with less challenging ones, and found that the existence of higher, better or
clearer standards did not result in demonstrably better results on the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or other international tests. There is,
however, a great deal of research that suggests the CCSSI will further narrow
curriculum, further mechanizing teaching. It needs to be understood that the architects
of the CCSSI mean to vastly increase the amount of testing (tests controlled by one of
the two private testing consortia created with federal funds). Testing will include
computer scoring of student essays, which raises a host of issues that I am certain
parents will be very concerned about. Finally, after review of many CCSSI documents,
I have come to the conclusion that the entire project treats students as “products” or
“things” and not human beings. If parents knew the whole truth about what the CCSSI
has in store for their children, I believe their opposition would be swift and

2. Despite the name of the initiative, there is little evidence that the effort was “state
lead.” Many state officials signed on to the CCSSI before the final standards were
even written. The former commission of education in Texas, Robert Scott, has
publically stated he was pressured by reformers to sign the Common Core Standards
MOU. There is evidence that governors in other states compelled their education
leaders to rubber stamp the CCSSI. As the legislatures of each state have been largely
absent from the process, it is impossible that legislator constituencies were involved,
making empty CCSSI advocates claims to have “parent support”. Few parents even
know about the CCSSI or that their schools are now being restructured to meet the
demands of the CCSSI.

3. The process by which the CCSSI has been adopted and implemented violates basic
principles of the United States Constitution and the laws of the United States. The
framers of the Constitution worked to construct a political system to avoid tyranny,
which meant that governmental power could not be consolidated in one office or
branch. Thus, framers insisted on the separation of powers between the legislative,

judicial and executive branches, and a weak central government. Importantly, the right
to operate schools was reserved to the States or the people themselves. Education was
envisioned as one means to block tyranny through the force of “enlightened public
opinion”. But education cannot serve this function if people lose control over their
schools. The federal Department of Education, an executive branch, has nonetheless
acted to make laws with its Race to the Top (RttT) initiative and its waivers to
provisions of No Child Left Behind Act. While executive waivers have legal
precedent, Secretary Duncan’s use of RttT funds and NCLB waivers as “incentives”
for states to adopt the CCSSI, which is not rooted in existing law, is in fact a form of
law making. Taken in conjunction with 1979 law prohibiting the Department of
Education from having “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum”
(section 103b), the CCSSI adoption process is unconstitutional and violates existing
federal law as well. And, how many legislatures know that the MOU for entry into one
of the two Common Core assessment apparatuses (Missouri is a member of the
Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) required alteration or elimination of any
state laws that might interfere with the operation of the assessment consortia!

4. While the federal Department of Education is in violation of the law, the CCSSI
represents something worse than a “federal power grab.” In fact, the illegal power of
the federal government has been used to remove public power over education at the
local, state and federal level and place it in the hands of four private (501c3)
publically unaccountable corporations, who have strong connections to test publishers
and the big private philanthropies secretly driving education reform. They are: the
National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers
(CCSSO), and the two assessment apparatuses, the Partnership for Readiness for
College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
Most telling is that the Common Core State Standards, standards that now govern
curriculum, instruction and assessment across the country, are jointly “owned” by the
NGA Center for Best Practices and the CCSSO! Both federal and state legislatures,
not to mention local school boards, are complete removed from having a say.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fuzzy Math Coming Home to Roost in Common Core State (sic) Standards?

In a recent email,  GovExec.com Today: Pay freeze limbo; fuzzy math on BRAC savings, from govexec.com:

The 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission may have achieved recurring annual savings, but flawed cost estimates produced a doubling of anticipated expenses, the Government Accountability Office reported on Thursday.

Auditors also recommended improved methodology for predicting new costs in base construction, information technology and personnel during future BRACs.

“By implementing BRAC 2005, DoD closed 24 major bases, realigned 24 major bases, eliminated about 12,000 civilian positions, and achieved estimated net annual recurring savings of $3.8 billion,” GAO said. “However, the department cannot provide documentation to show to what extent it reduced plant replacement value or vacated leased space as it reported in May 2005 that it intended to do. Also, DoD did not establish a target for reducing excess infrastructure, as it did in the 1995 BRAC round.”

In projecting savings from base closings and related infrastructure adjustments, the Pentagon uses a quantitative model known as the Cost of Base Realignment Actions. Overall, GAO said, that tool is reasonable, but in many instances planners underestimated costs--military construction costs increased from $13.2 billion estimated by the BRAC Commission in 2005 to $24.5 billion after implementation ended in 2011.

“Most of this 86 percent increase was caused by requirements that were added or identified after implementation began,” GAO acknowledged, but other costs estimates rose because of initial under-estimates or failure to document all relevant inputs from staffing cuts and required IT improvements. “For example, the initial information technology cost estimate for one recommendation was nearly $31 million,” GAO said, “but implementation costs increased to over $190 million once those requirements were better defined.”

To improve the accuracy of projecting future BRAC savings, auditors recommended that the Office of the Secretary of Defense identify suitable measures of effectiveness in achieving savings and set a target for eliminating excess military infrastructure. GAO also recommended legislative changes to the BRAC statute to give Congress greater visibility of the potential savings.

Defense officials, reviewing a draft of the report, disagreed with five of its 10 recommendations, citing a need to stress military value over simple savings from capacity reductions, and attributing more of the changes in the estimates to requirements added later in the process.

The Obama administration, in its fiscal 2013 defense budget, asked Congress for a new BRAC round, but lawmakers were not receptive. Implementation costs of the 2005 round exceeded the initial 2005 estimate of $21 billion by 67 percent.
Note the readers' comments and how they also pertain to the decisions made by the private trade organizations (NGA and CCSSO) and the US Department of Education in the crafting and funding of Common Core State (sic) Standards:

Obviously, they used the same method that has always been used by the US Government, namely - use the absolute BEST CASE scenario when planning so they can show the most savings from a completely idiotic plan, then pretend surprise when the savings don't materialize, but the costs to the taxpayer multiply geometrically!! As long as we keep electing people whose main loyalty is to their own power and the power of businesses, and not to the taxpayers who voted (by the way, if corporations, etc. are persons, then why can't they vote? Oh, I forgot, they put millions into the lies broadcast by PACs so they get lots of votes from people who can't be bothered to find out what's real!) them into office, we are going to have this kind of corrupt idiocy from our government!


Until they make it so that the folks on the commission are personally responsible for their decisions it will be a joke. Imagine if upon finding that things weren't done right they could go in and take all of the personal assets of the BRAC commission members then this will not happen.

Could this be the reason the CCSSI standards are copyrighted and have a disclaimer (noted below) stating the organization can't be sued if the standards don't deliver as promised ?

At least with BRAC, there was at least an implementation cost estimate.  Missouri DESE has not yet officially given the Legislature a figure on the CCSS cost to taxpayers and school districts.  Is this sound practice and operating procedure?  

The GAO recommended legislative changes to give Congress a better visibility of potential savings.  The Missouri legislature needs legislative oversight on how the governor and DESE want to spend taxpayer money and on specifically what programs so this fuzzy math issue is not a concern.


Disclaimer from CCSSI:

Representations, Warranties and Disclaimer:


Limitation on Liability:



Common Core Consortia Written Testimony Supporting MO SB 210 and HB 616

A businessman explains how consortia work and why they are not suitable in written testimony for MO SB 210 and HB 616:


I am Thomas A Byrne, a resident of Greene County. My background in not in education but in Business Management and it from that background that I come here today to raise my concerns about Common Core.
A business is not staffed with people with Management, Accounting or Engineering Degrees. Most are people who can run a lathe, drive a forklift, assemble an engine, and drive the delivery truck. In my day this area of “education” in high school was called Industrial Arts. Is there room for this type of education in the Common Core Program? There are students who want to learn how to be a good carpenter. Where do they fit in this new scheme?

The cost of this program is another concern. I have not been able to find a budget line for this cost nor have I been able to see a good estimate of what the cost will be. Furthermore, when one joins a Consortia you take on part of the front end costs. As States drop out, and they will and have, more of that cost falls on the States remaining. Whiteboard Advisors did a recent study where 83% of the people in education felt that more States would leave the Consortia. Are we going to be left with an unknown cost in this time of tight educational budgets? There has got to be high cost to implement this program; where is that money coming from?

I am always concerned when something as important as Education is turned over to national organizations. Do they really know what the children of Missouri educational needs are? Do you, as legislators, want to give up your say in what is taught to the children of Missouri? Do you want to take away from local school boards a say in what is taught in their schools? It seems to me that if the assessment document is copy righted; then we on the local level have little say is what is taught.

Common Core sounds like the time a salesman came to sell me a new system. It had all the bells and whistles, but the research had not been done and the project ran way over cost. What research is there that backs up Common Core? Has the research been done that this will be worth the cost? What comments I have seen, wonder if we will get much “bang for the buck.”

Before you allow Missouri to continue to be wedded to Common Core, you have many things to consider. I have tried to mention a few; others will offer more points for you to consider. Please give them you careful consideration.

If you or your staff would want reference and documents that I have drawn on, I will be happy to provide them.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


For MEW readers, here is a Whiteboard Advisors article with predictions of the failure of Common Core:
Not going to happen on time and it's a disaster if you believe in accountability.
The opting out of Alabama just the start of a trend.  You heard it here first: the astonishing success of Duncan's first term unravel in the second as implementation of teacher evals, common core, and common assessment fail.  Sound and fury ultimately signifying nothing. 
While everyone is worrying about Smarter Balanced but PARCC is starting to have internal troubles of its own.  More states will go, and that's OK.  But if more states go and they can't deliver a coherent product, that's a big problem.

This Missouri resident's common sense and practical experience is borne out by the educational insiders raising concern about both SBAC and PARCC.


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