"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

How will Common Core/National Science Standards Address Climate Change?

A recent post by MEW reported on a parent's delight about the forthcoming national science standards and her belief they would teach climate change is primarily due to humans.  She wrote:

Federal science standards coming later this month will recommend that public schools educate students about climate change. Once students understand, they may just educate their parents. 

 Oops. From HotAir and The Economist's findings on climate change:

The Economist has been pretty reliable about beating the climate-alarmist drum for years on end now, often peddling the urgent need for an overarching global climate treaty to combat the threat. In a piece this week, however, the British publication took a much more moderate approach and hashed out some of the different studies suggesting that the planet actually might not be quite as sensitive to changes in carbon dioxide levels as the global-warming scaremongers have long been insisting.
OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”
Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise. Ed Hawkins, of the University of Reading, in Britain, points out that surface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range of projections derived from 20 climate models (see chart 1). If they remain flat, they will fall outside the models’ range within a few years. …
If, however, temperatures are likely to rise by only 2°C in response to a doubling of carbon emissions (and if the likelihood of a 6°C increase is trivial), the calculation might change. Perhaps the world should seek to adjust to (rather than stop) the greenhouse-gas splurge. There is no point buying earthquake insurance if you do not live in an earthquake zone. In this case more adaptation rather than more mitigation might be the right policy at the margin. …
  How will climate change be addressed in nationalized science standards? Do you think once we have a nationalized set of standards in education, will it matter when/if research/data proves Al Gore incorrect?

Maybe 12 year old children don't know everything after all.


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.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Public Private Partnership in Nationalized Education. Local Control is Non-Existent.

From ed.gov and Education Department Launches 2013 Investing in Innovation Competition:

The U.S. Department of Education announced the start of the $150 million 2013 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition today with the release of the program's invitation for pre-applications for the i3 "Development" grant category and the notice of final priorities for the i3 program overall. Today's announcement incorporates several improvements the Department has made to the grant competition in its efforts to support school districts and nonprofit organizations in partnership with schools to pursue innovative ideas that increase student success.

The Development category, which funds grantees with promising but relatively untested ideas, has been the most popular of the three grant categories throughout the previous three i3 competitions.

In addition, this year the Department has modified the competition to assist grantees in building meaningful private-sector support. The i3 competition requires all grantees to secure private-sector matching funds; i3 Development grantees must secure a private-sector match comprising 15 percent of their budget. Each highest-rated applicant, as identified by the Department following peer review of the full applications, must submit evidence of 50 percent of the required private-sector match prior to the awarding of an i3 grant by the end of the year. The i3 grantees must then provide evidence of the remaining 50 percent of the required private-sector match no later than six months after the project start date.

This is currently how education is delivered and developed.  Your local state/district's decisions are dictated by the federal tier.  The Federal Government is giving out grants for untested ideas (think Common Core State Standards) to provide outcomes the USDOEd requires.  The priorities for this new grant are taken from Race to the Top.  Even if your state didn't win RTTT grant money, your state/district still has a chance to implement these goals/objectives in your state via more Federal grant money:
  • Improving the Effectiveness of Teachers or Principals;
  •  Improving Low-Performing Schools;
  •  Improving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education;
  •  Improving Academic Outcomes for Students with Disabilities;
  •  Improving Academic Outcomes for English Learners (ELs);
  •  Improving Parent and Family Engagement;
  •  Effective Use of Technology;
  •  Serving Rural Communities

The interesting difference between the original RTTT grant and this grant is the requirement of private-sector matching funds.  The Federal government is setting educational direction/development and requiring private sector funding to implement programs within the Federal government's blueprint.

This is similar to the development of Common Core STATE standards.  The Federal government gave stimulus funding to the NGA and CCSSO (two private trade organizations) to set standards within the parameters of USDOE requirements.  The standards must be common for data retrieval and updates to state longitudinal data systems.  Is it any surprise FERPA regulations were revised by the US Department of Education to allow the free exchange of information between states?

Did you believe the standards were really state led?  Would the US Department of Education grant federal dollars for programs that didn't meet the USDOE's requirements or work against the stated desire of the USDOE? 

The sustainability of the USDOE's educational agenda must have a buy in from the private sector which may not be concerned with WHAT educational services it is providing.  WHAT is taught is irrelevant to the private sector.  It has been told what needs to be delivered and private firms are happy to take the federal dollars to do so.  It's the perfect plan for How to Sustain a Nationalized Educational System. Turn it Over to 501(c)(3) Groups for Outsourcing:

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. 


DESE States Common Core Effective without Empirical Evidence

Missouri DESE released this statement:

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro says the new Common Core State Standards are relevant to the real world that would focus on the knowledge and skills in areas such as Mathematics and English Language Arts, that students will need in order to succeed in life after high school.

There is no research/data with this statement and it is interesting DESE (and other state educational agencies) have dropped the claim that these standards are "internationally benchmarked".  When pressed to support these claims, DESE took that phrase off their talking point sheets.

Here is a peer reviewed and research based study from Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice ,The “Common Core” Standards Initiative: An Effective Reform Tool?, July 2010, which raised questions on the effectiveness and adoption process of common core standards.  Some of the findings of this extensive brief:

Contentions about global competitiveness provide a key rationale given for common standards, along with increasing equity and streamlining the reform process.  The analysis presented here suggests that the data do not support these contentions. U.S. states with high academic standards fare no better (or worse) than those identified as having low academic standards. Research support for standards–driven, test-based accountability systems is similarly weak. And nations with centralized standards generally tend to perform no better (or worse) on international tests than those without. 
The NGA/CCSSO standards-development process was completed quickly—in approximately one year—by Achieve, Inc., a private contractor. This brief raises several concerns about the development, content, and use of those 500 pages of standards and supporting documents. For instance, the level of input from school-based practitioners appears to be minimal, the standards themselves have not been field tested, and it is unclear whether the tests used to measure the academic outcomes of common standards will have sufficient validity to justify the high-stakes consequences that will likely arise around their use. Accordingly, it seems improbable that the common core standards will have the positive effects on educational quality or equality being sought by proponents, particularly in light of the lack of essential capacity at the local, state and federal levels. 

...the Economic Policy Institute’s Richard Rothstein highlights a paradox in the administration’s proposed policy: an increasingly technology-dependent world actually requires fewer skills for almost all people. Beyond entry-level training and on-the-job training, 70% of United States jobs do not require more than a high school education, 20% require a college education, and only 10% require technical training.
...the call for college- and career-ready standards as necessary for the 21st century global economy does not meet two somewhat different criteria. First, it does not reflect the actual workforce needs of the nation and, second, it is a vague and all-encompassing term that while appearing to be definitive, is
anything but that.
Read this researched based study and then reread the DESE statement again.  You can decide for yourself if you believe common core standards are based on transparent legal process, field testing, international benchmarking, true input from classroom teachers and if Common Core writers actually know what a 21st century skill looks like.

If you believe what the Great Lakes Center wrote in 2010 about Common Core standards and its empirical evidence, you have misgivings on many levels on the adoption/implementation of Common Core standards.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

National Science Standards Are Needed for Stupid Parents

From Mother Nature Network, mnn.com and Climate change education in new federal standards:

Federal science standards coming later this month will recommend that public schools educate students about climate change. Once students understand, they may just educate their parents.

What little my boys know about climate change, they know from me or their own reading, not from school. While I believe climate change is happening and I believe that humans have a hand in it, I don’t know much about the science behind it. So, I was glad to read on NPR that climate change education will be coming to classrooms. The sweeping changes that a report on climate change literacy recommends for K-12 classrooms are voluntary; schools will not have to implement them, but they should.
They should because it’s important science to know and understand. Older students who are capable of making decisions on what they buy and how they get from point A to point B will be able to make informed decisions. Younger students will begin to learn facts that will help them make choices in the future.
There’s something else good that could come out of climate change education in schools. Many students will pass the information they learn on to their parents, and some of them just may make changes because of it.
How would this writer feel if the prevailing science theory was something different than what she believed?  Would she be so excited if her child was taught one theory (in opposition to her own research as a parent) and came home and told her how clueless and wrong she was?  Would she be so excited about national science standards funded by private organizations such as big oil companies touting the wonders of oil as the best energy resource if she believed in green energy as the answer to America's energy issues?

Silly parents.  They need to be educated by national standards because their views are now determined to be antiquated and clueless and their assumptions are obviously wrong. 
Al Gore must be mighty proud.  Remember when he said to 12 year old children about global warming (now renamed climate change), "you know things older people don't know"?    It is up to knowledgeable 12 year children educated by scientists like Al Gore to educate their parents about global warming or climate change or whatever the current crisis is in America.  You can listen to his speech here

Teachers Union Opposes Common Core

A New York state teachers union comes out against Common Core State (sic) standards and has started an online petition.  From  Growing Concerns About Common Core:
“It’s a setup for failure,” said John Pavone of the Rochester Teachers Association. Teachers are worried they will be evaluated based on a curriculum that was rolled out this year.  “They’re going to blame me if the kids can’t pass the test and the kids can’t pass the test. It’s set up in such a way that you can’t pass the test.”

“Nobody was prepared for these changes,” Moran (a parent) said. “There was no public discussion about it. The parents weren’t prepared for it. Frankly I don’t think the teachers or administration was prepared for it.”

“It’s going to be a disaster,” said retired Rochester principal Dan Drmacich, a frequent critic of testing. “You’re going to have at least 30 percent statewide failures on this and that’s because they haven’t given teachers time to teach or kids time to learn it.”
Here is your assignment for the day.  Read the article here, then find and discuss the common theme present in the article.  From The Library of Congress and Document Based Questions and Primary Sources:

On the Library of Congress’ Teachers page, you’ll find sets of primary sources preselected specifically for classroom use.  Learning activities can be designed from these sets of freely accessible primary sources to help your students analyze and synthesize primary sources. These resources can be a valuable time saver in planning lessons to prepare students from elementary through high school to effectively respond to Document Based Questions, otherwise known as DBQ’s.

The DBQ requires students to analyze common themes, assess varied perspectives on major historical events, and provide historically based evidence and reasoning to support their ideas. These skills, of course, are valuable in completing tasks other than answering a DBQ. Whether your students are presented with DBQ’s or not, you can use the Library’s sets of primary sources on specific topics, together with the Primary Source Analysis Tool, as an instructional resource that provides a range of visual and textual information to increase critical thinking.

Research CCSSO documents  and determine if there is historically based evidence to bolster the concerns of the retired principal, parent and union spokesperson.  
  • Is teacher accountability going to be decided by student test scores?
  • Did CCSSO provide public discussion on CCSS?
  • Will students be taking assessments on curriculum that does not yet exist?
  • Were teachers given enough time to teach specific curriculum before students were tested on it?

If these concerns are valid and factually based, then this is an educational directive that should be opposed.  

In Missouri, many citizens have these same concerns about CCSS.   Please sign the petition to stop the implementation of Common Core.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Common Core Adoption/Implementation. "This is the Hotel California that Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia Built"

Private trade organizations NGA/CCSSO say:   This is the house that we built via our specifications that you have to pay for and live in.  Just call it the "Hotel California"

Think of Common Core standards and adoption this way.  States can check in but they can never leave.  (At least not without the approval of the Federal Government).  Here's how CCSS evolved:

A contractor contacts you and says he will you build you a house in a subdivision of other homes.  He will give you $100,000 toward the construction, but he will build the house of his dreams, not yours.  He promises it will be a mansion and the best on the market.  It will be just as beautiful and quality constructed as the other homes in the subdivision.  He can't show you a blueprint and can't give you an idea of your final cost, but trust him.  It will be great.

You also don't know his credentials and his subcontractors but you decide his promise of giving you some money toward the initial construction is worth a gamble as you have been led to believe your living situation is dire and his offer holds the promise of a better home.  The meeting between all the construction vendors are held in secret and you don't have an idea of how big the house will be, what it will look like or if it suits your living style, but again, you have signed the MOU/contract so these decisions are out of your hands.

Only after signing on the dotted line do you realize:
  • the contractor has never spent a day constructing a house
  • the contractor has no finished blueprint 3 years after you have signed the contract or MOU
  • the contractor has subcontracted out the work to firms that also have no contracting experience but they are really nifty in the IT business
  • the contractor has mandated many items in your house are necessary that you can't afford to pay for (or want)
  • the contractor's funds are being depleted and he will have to look to you for more money to finish the house plan that you didn't choose 
  • if you are unhappy with the procedures and progress, the contractor will make it extremely difficult to rescind the contract

If a local building permit official told you that was how your house would have to be built and this was the process by which you must abide by to have a house built,  you would probably laugh him/her out of the room and insist he/she was delusional.   Any sane person would walk away from such a legally binding contract.  It is fraught with the unknown in terms of product, quality and cost and control of building your own house for your own needs within your own budget is out of your hands.

This parallels the process and issues in the CCSS adoption/implementation:

Questions:  Is this an acceptable way to build a house?  Is this an acceptable way to institute educational reform?

If you don't think houses should be built in this manner or educational policies should be adopted circumventing legislative approval which contain unfunded and continually evolving mandates, please sign the petition of rid Missouri of Common Core standards.


Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! " 

Full lyrics here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teacher Tweets the Truth on Common Core

I've deleted the names of the teachers on twitter but this is an otherwise unedited exchange between two teachers.  Remind me again why Common Core standards are so great?


Thought for today: CA schools are not ready for Common Core. From infrastructure to instruction, we're being setup for failure. 

Tell me more - why/how are CA schools being set up for failure?

In 1.5 years we start testing on standards we're not teaching with curriculum we don't have on computers that don't exist.


Common Core Costs $22 Million in One Alabama District

Pearson is really cleaning up in the Huntsville, Alabama school district.  From The Report Card and Pearson $22 Million Contract With Huntsville AL Schools Exposed:

Editor: The Report Card has published a series of articles pro and con about on the Common Core K-12 Standard now required in 46 states. Diane Ravtich, and Sandra Stotsky well known educational reformers have come out against the Common Core saying. Dr. Stotsky has asserted that the CCS will drive up costs and lower literary and educational standards. Paul Horton, history teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory School has documented that Pearson, a $9 Billion publishing giant and CCS supplier has engaged in influence peddling. Diane Ravitch said: Pearson is overstepping the bounds of the role of a profit-making business. The corporation is acting as a quasi-government agency in several instances.”

An Alabama official who wished to remain anonymous, sent us a copy of sweeping $21 Million five-year contract between Pearson and the City of Huntsville. Population 180,000. The official was concerned that the there were no competitive bids for the service, and that the contract gave Pearson too much control over the curriculum and the operation of important local functions. The contract gives Pearson a total grip on Hunstville schools because it controls student content, teacher training, the Information Technology Platform, and apparently testing.

Keith Ward, Director of Communication and digital services for Hunstville Schools stated that the contract has been executed and work is being implemented. Mr. Ward was unaware of  whether there was a competitive bidding process or not and stated that he would research the matter and get back with the information.  Mr. Ward said that the main purpose of the contract was to permit Huntsville to move forward with digital learning. According to the anonymous Alabama official, The entire reason that the contract was developed in the first place was to ensure that Huntsville schools were CCS compliant. So Sandra Stotsky’s argument that Common Core Standards would be too costly seem to have a strong basis in fact. Many questions remain. Was there a competitive bidding process? Is CCS the driver behind all of this expense?

You can see the contract here.

That's a lot of money over a 5 year period for just one school district, school population of 26,000.  How much do you think implementation of Common Core will cost your district?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jay P. Greene on Common Core and Why it will Fail

Jay P. Greene's article Why Common Core Doesn’t Matter (and Why It Does) encapsulates the Common Core debate perfectly:

The success of Common Core depends on building a centralized machine of assessment and consequences linked to the national standards.

Read more here.

If you like centralization and data tracking, you are a Common Core proponent. 

If you like localized control and states setting educational direction and delivery, then sign the petition at Missouri Coalition Against Common Core to stop the implementation of Common Core standards.

Student Data Privacy Lawsuit Against DOEd. FERPA = Tracking from Cradle to Grave

From Washington Post and Lawsuit charges Ed Department with violating student privacy rights:

The U.S. Education Department is being sued by a nonprofit organization for promoting regulations that are alleged to undercut student privacy and parental consent. The rules allow third parties, including private companies and foundations promoting school reform, to get access to private student information.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been fighting for the department over 2011 regulations involving the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as FERPA,  a law that is supposed to protect the privacy of student education records at all schools that receive federal education funds. FERPA was passed to give parents specific rights in regard to their children’s education records, rights which transfer to the student he/she becomes 18 or goes to a school beyond the high school level.

But in 2011, regulations issued by the department changed FERPA to allow the release to third parties of student information for non-academic purposes. The rules also broaden the exceptions under which  schools can release student records to non-governmental organizations without first obtaining written consent from parents. And they promote the public use of student IDs that enable access to private educational records, according to EPIC, a nonprofit public-interest center based in Washington D.C.

Government officials have defended the regulations. A government notice in the Federal Register says the rules are necessary  

to ensure that the Department’s implementation of FERPA continues to protect the privacy of education records, as intended by Congress, while allowing for the effective use of data in statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) as envisioned in the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (COMPETES Act) and furthermore supported under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).   Improved access to data contained within an SLDS will facilitate States’ ability to evaluate education programs, to build upon what works and discard what does not, to increase accountability and transparency, and to contribute to a culture of innovation and continuous improvement in education.  (MEW bolded)
The Common Core Initiative was funded by ARRA.  If the CCSS were not implemented, the need for intrusive data and the argument, Improved access to data contained within an SLDS will facilitate States’ ability to evaluate education programs, to build upon what works and discard what does not, to increase accountability and transparency, and to contribute to a culture of innovation and continuous improvement in education, would not be a compelling reason to gather and disseminate student data. 

What type of student data is gathered under the FERPA regulations as redesigned by the Department of Education?

...privacy advocates oppose the rule change because student data can be shared by local officials with private companies and foundations. Some say FERPA was loosened to make it easier for third parties to get access to student data by funding initiatives such as student data bases. Stephanie Simon of Reuters wrote in this story about a new $100 million database built in large part with Gates Foundation money that:
…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.
From an earlier post on MEW:

The question then must be asked, what does the government consider "high-value data sets on students, open data and more"?  The government does not provide a detailed idea on this site of what the datasets will contain but we have an idea on what to expect from the datasets from the National Education Model and the Illinois Data Warehouse report.  As the Illinois set is aligned with other state data models, you can reasonably expect this will be present in your Common Core state data set.

Read more here from the Washington Post on why Senator Buckley sponsored FERPA to protect student data.  Ironically, the rewriting of FERPA does not protect student data, it releases it to various federal agencies and private companies.  Arne Duncan might as well have renamed it "the tracking of students from cradle to career act" and abolished FERPA outright.  He orchestrated Race to the Top without legislative oversight.  He tweaked FERPA (without legislative oversight) to ensure it doesn't protect student/family privacy but rather opens the floodgate to gather student data for tracking purposes.  As one reader commented:

How did Arne and ED issue regulations that countermanded FERPA? I thought he was in the Executive branch. It appears that he is also in the legislative branch. If this is over-reach, when can we expected the hand to be slapped?

Please sign the petition from Missouri Coalition Against Common Core to rid Missouri of Common Core and the intrusive data gathering that will be done on your student/family.  


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Will Common Core Allow Pearson to Dictate Curriculum?

From Alan Singer in Huffington Post, Cuomo, Common Core and Pearson-for-Profit: 

If it has its way, Pearson will soon be determining what gets taught in schools across the United States with little or no parental or educational oversight. Pearson standardized exams will assess how well teachers implement Pearson instruction modules and Pearson's common core standards, but not what students really learn or whether students are actually learning things that are important to know. Pearson is already creating teacher certification exams for eighteen states including New York, organizing staff development workshops to promote Pearson products, and providing school district Pearson assessment tools. In New York, Pearson Education currently has a five-year, $32 million contract to administer state test and provides other "testing services" to the State Education Department. It also recently received a share of a federal Race to the Top grant to create what the company calls the "next-generation" of online assessments.

Pearson, which claims to be the "world's leading learning company," is in the process of designing mind-numbing "multimedia textbooks... designed for pre-schoolers, school students and learners of all ages" for use on Apple's iPad so school systems will have more products to purchase instead of investing in quality teaching and instruction. In case you are not already worried about children seating dazed in front of computer screens for hours on end, Pearson promises its "respected learning content" will be "brought to life with video, audio, assessment, interactive images and 3D animations."

From February 9-11, Pearson organized a National Summit in Orlando, Florida to promote its concept of "Best Practices in School Improvement" and to sell its programs for integrating Common Core State Standards into curriculum, instruction and assessment. These include providing "struggling and successful schools alike with professional development and consultative services that have helped their leaders transform instruction in the classroom and raise students' achievement levels." The company brags that senior America's Choice fellows Sally Hampton and Phil Daro, employees of a Pearson sub-division, "not only led the development of the Common Core Standards, but also helped design Pearson's CCSS services, helping us tailor our professional development, district level consultative services, job-embedded coaching, learning teams for building capacity, and even whole school CCSS implementation services in order to meet your specific needs and interests as you align curriculum content and practices to the standards."

Singer writes about possible legal issues with a private company unduly influencing Department of Education officials:

According to the New York Times, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is "investigating whether the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of one of the nation's largest educational publishers, acted improperly to influence state education officials by paying for overseas trips and other perks." Since 2008, state education officials have been treated to trips to London, Helsinki, Finland, Singapore, and Rio de Janeiro.

So, Common Core proponents.  Here are some questions for you.

What say you?  Is Alan Singer writing xenophobic statements?  Or are these Pearson plans  getting in your way for your undying support for untested and unfunded mandates controlled/crafted by private trade organizations and Pearson?  Citizens (like this writer) must push back against those who continue to spew talking points not based on resarch or data.

 I'm sure opinion writers can spin this takeover of education by private entities and still portray those against Common Core as silly, uneducated and as child haters.  But eventually, the truth about the privatization of education and centralization nightmare will come home to roost.

Common Core Discussion Board for Parents

Parents and taxpayers, here's your chance to have your voice heard about the standards/assessments to be taught to your children via Common Core.

From Education Week Teacher and Teaching Parents about the Common Core:

For the Education Week Teacher story package on "Common Core Instructional Opportunities,” we spoke with teachers, curriculum specialists, and principals about what the new standards mean for teaching. One group of stakeholders we did not have a chance to cover, but that came up in our reporting, was parents.

 In your experience, what do parents knowor not knowso far about the Common Core State Standards? What do you think is important for them to understand? How have you, your school, and/or your district reached out to them about this issue? What else would you like to see done? 

You can comment at the site.

Letter to the Editor Debunks Common Core Talking Points

The exponent-telegram.com printed a letter to the editor questioning the spin from the Common Core special interest groups (NGA, CCSSO, State School Boards, School districts, education reform companies, companies/researchers funded by the Gates Foundation):


From the wvde.state web site, questions and their “answers” that I have to question.

1) “Is having common standards the first step toward nationalizing education?”

Their answer: “No. Common Core Standards are a state-led effort. The federal government has not been involved in the development of the standards.”

My response: The true answer is that 45 states were bribed by Washington with several million dollars in education funds to accept the Common Core Curriculum for state education without even knowing what it was about. West Virginia was one of them. That was the first step.

2) “What is the role of the federal government in standards implementation?”

Their answer: “The federal government has had no role in the development of the common core state standards and will not have a role in their implementation.”

My response: Other than their role in requiring the implementation as part of the Common Core Curriculum boondoggle.

3) “Who is leading the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives initiative?”

Their answer: “Parents, teachers, school administrators and experts together with state leaders, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) are leading the effort to develop a common core of state standards.”

My answer: It may not be identified as the federal government, but it is dominated and led by the government and specifically government employees. While they list parents first, that is just deceptive tokenism to disguise the extreme left that has dominated education for decades and continues to do so.

My response: These questions and “answers” are nothing more than deceptive “spin.”
Additionally, when examining the companion philosophy of “21st Century Learning Skills,” it is no wonder the U.S. is falling behind in student achievement. It is obvious they are concentrating on teaching the integration of social interactions and willingness to compromise one’s ideas and principles to get along, rather than stand up for what you believe, in order to reach some “common” goal. How is this different from “teaching to take the test?”

The concentration on basic math and English skills is lost in all the time spent “teaching to the test.” Now they will be lost in “teaching to the 21st Century Learning Skills.” This is all no different than the next new, nice-sounding, expensive bureaucratic solution that Washington has been selling us for decades, like “No Child Left Behind” and all the “grow government” forerunners.

There is a better answer. Studies have shown that to improve public school student achievement — 20 percent to 26 percent on average in one study — implement competition through school choice with vouchers that follow the student.

The answer is not the next new, expensive, “grow government,” bureaucratic self-justification that continues to sink American education lower and lower. School Choice is the Right Choice.


I do have a question for the writer. How is school choice the right choice if all schools are Common Core mandated? Wouldn't the right choice be to stop the implementation of CCSS and restore true local control to public schools?

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