"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, May 11, 2013

DESE's Facebook Postings, change.org petition and the Use of its Official E-Mail List for Political Purposes

Check out the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Facebook recent postings:

Sign the petition to support the Common Core State Standards in Missouri! http://www.change.org/petitions/state-of-missouri-support-the-common-core-state-standards-2
State of Missouri: Support the Common Core State Standards
We, the undersigned, state our support for Missouri’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The comments and questions are not overwhelmingly positive about this petition and many questions are raised by Facebook members that have not yet been answered.

Here is another Facebook posting by DESE:

Got Common Core questions? We have answers! http://on.mo.gov/11nVpMd
Again, the many questions coming from Facebook users have not been answered by DESE nor are referenced in the press release provided by DESE.
What is of particular interest about the change.org petition was noted by several Missourians and sent to me:

Below (in italics) is an e-mail that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sent out on Friday, May 10, to people on its TAXPAYER FUNDED OFFICIAL COMMUNICATIONS LIST and sent it from its mo.gov address encouraging recipients to sign a petition in support of the Common Core State Standards – that is, against Senate Bill 210.
From: DESE Communications <communications@dese.mo.gov>

Date: May 10, 2013, 3:01:17 PM CDT

Subject: Petition to Support the Common Core State Standards
On Monday, May 13, the House Education Committee will discuss the Common Core State Standards in a hearing. We need to accurately express the support for these Standards in Missouri.

Please show your support of the Common Core State Standards in Missouri by signing this online petition: <http://www.change.org/petitions/state-of-missouri-support-the-common-core-state-standards-2>

Feel free to pass along this link to other supporters of the Standards.

Thank you,

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Communications | 573.751.3469 | dese.mo.gov
The Department communications system should not be used for political purposes, that is, it should not be used as a lever against those who do not agree with the Department’s actions.
If you are concerned about the use of this taxpayer funded list for political purpose, have concerns about Common Core standards, and the lack of answers forthcoming to citizen questions about Common Core:
DESE's ABUSE OF INFLUENCE and YOUR TAX DOLLARS makes it all the more important for YOU to complete a witness form BEFORE 8 AM on MONDAY, May 13, when the House Education Committee meets consider SB 210.
You can access the witness form and submit it online at:

Help keep YOUR state government accountable to its citizens.

The Federal Government's Fingerprints are All Over the Common Core State Standards

Attendees at all the statewide Common Core DESE meetings on May 2 were told the Federal Government didn't have a role in the Common Core standards.

Research calls this statement into question:

     It has been established CCSS were crafted by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governor's Association, both private organizations, funded by federal stimulus money.
     CCSS could be adopted by states via a Federal waiver given by Arne Duncan to escape from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB)  requirements.
      Memorandums of Understanding (MOU's) were signed by Missouri to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia to send individual student, teacher, principal data to the consortia....and SBAC consequently signed a MOU with the USDOEd to send data to this federal agency for dissemination and research.

The federal government's fingerprints all over Common Core State standards.  Look at this report from McGraw-Hill in 2011.  From  education_brief:

pg. 4:

What role will the U.S. DOE play?
Although the U.S. DOE supports the Common Core Initiative, they have had no role in the development of the Common Core State Standards. Their involvment moving forward will depend heavily on future elections and overall changes to the role of the Federal Government in education. If the Fed continues to be a driving force in setting the education agenda with a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act then they could play a big role in linking competitive grant funding to the adoption and successful implementation of the Common Core Standards and new requirements for College and Career ready students.  (MEW note: would the Federal Government support development of standards that it didn't agree with?)

How will states assess the Common Core?
Two consortia have been awarded competitive grant funds for the development of tests to assess the Common Core Standards. SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was awarded a four-year$176 million Race to the Top assessment grant by the U.S. Department of Education to develop a student assessment system aligned to a Common Core of academic standards. Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC or Partnership) PARCC RttT Assessment Consortium was awarded $170 of the $330 million. Assessments are expected for 2014 and are expected to include results from performance-based tasks through testing and traditional end-of-year assessments. Both plan to include end of year assessments offered online.

pg. 7:

The Common Core Standards and Race to the Top
“While states voluntarily agreed to participate in the process, the effort gained a great deal of momentum when the Obama Administration included participation in the Common Core as an eligibility criterion for many of the programs created out of the $110 billion stimulus funds. Programs such as Race to the Top rewarded states that not only participated in developing the Common Core, but also adopted them.”

(From Education Insider: Common Core Standards and Assessment Coalitions: Whiteboard Advisors)

Assessing the Common Core Standards
A significant piece of the CCSSI is the adoption of a common (or comparable) assessment system across the participating states. Supported through $330 million in funding from the ARRA, the Administration held a number of hearings to develop a competition to fund next generation assessment systems aligned to the standards. This competition resulted in two assessment consortia who would lead development efforts for a common assessment of the Common Core Standards.

pg. 8:

SMARTER Balanced Consortium (SBAC)
“A second consortium, The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), is a collection of 30 states that have been working collaboratively since December 2009 to develop a student assessment system aligned to a Common Core of academic content standards. The SBAC was awarded a four-year $176 million Race to the Top assessment grant by the US Department of Education (USED) to develop a student assessment system aligned to a Common Core of academic standards.”

pg. 12...what happens when this Federal money runs out?

State and District Implementation Plans
States and districts are unsure what the true cost of implementing Common Core will be and worry that the money needed will not be available in state or federal budgets. The recession and widespread budget cuts can adversely affect efforts to implement. States adopting these standards must be prepared to implement strategies and support as these will soon become the basis on which students are judged.  (MEW note: Where will this "support" come from?  This will be an unpleasant surprise to state legislators when they are left to pick up the bill for the implementation that bypassed them.)


State and District Implementation Plans
States and districts are unsure what the true cost of implementing Common Core will be and worry that the money needed will not be available in state or federal budgets. The recession and widespread budget cuts can adversely affect efforts to implement. States adopting these standards must be prepared to implement strategies and support as these will soon become the basis on which students are judged. (MEW note: if there is no federal involvement, why should states worry there will be no money available from the Federal government?)

(From Educator Insider: Whiteboard Advisor)

The Role of Federal Government in the Common Core
While the federal government has had no role in the development of the Common Core state standards, according to the CCSSI, the federal government may have the opportunity to support states as they begin adopting the standards.

For example, the federal government may:

  Support this effort through a range of tiered incentives, such as providing states with greater flexibility in the use
of existing federal funds, supporting a revised state accountability structure, and offering financial support for states to implement the standards.
  Provide long-term financial support for the development and implementation of common assessments, teacher and principal professional development, and research to help continually improve the Common Core state standards over time.
  Revise and align existing federal education laws with the lessons learned from the best of what works in other nations and from research.


Just because Arne Duncan's signature is not on the state MOUs agreeing to adopt Common Core, do proponents really believe citizens accept the talking point the "the federal government has had no role in the development of the Common Core state standards?"   This is a false assertion as the initiative was funded by stimulus money, the Federal government is establishing guidelines the states have to follow, state assessment systems were funded by federal dollars, states will be rewarded (or not) for implementation, and federal laws will be realigned that the states must follow.

If you are attending the Househearing on Monday, May 13 at noon for SB210 to require the Commissioner of Education to hold statewide meetings on CCSS, listen for the proponents to state "there is no federal involvement".  Hand the chairman a copy of McGraw-Hill’s report highlighted with evidence of the Federal Government's fingerprints on CCSS initiatives and development.

As a reader commented on a previous post about DESE's claims:

You gotta love their logic. Let's see, we don't have to get legislative approval for CC because it is stimulus money, but the federal gov isn't paying for CC. 

It is imperative to support SB210 to require DESE to address this type of disconnect present in the talking points of CCSS.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

More Reports on DESE Common Core Meetings

Whether or not you agree that people are paranoid about what Common Core will bring to Missouri, it is evident and irrefutable that the meetings were to be facilitated in the same manner.  They were scripted and questions were not answered.

Why would citizens take their time to attend meetings for information they could gather from DESE's website?  Do you think citizens would take their time to attend a meeting if they knew none of their questions would be answered? 

Please sign the witness form for SB210 to be heard in the House on Thursday, May 9.  This bill would require DESE to hold public hearings chaired by the Commissioner to answer questions as to cost and data mining information.  The bill also requires time for citizen testimony.   

From Kansas City:

Meeting at Center High School in Kansas City was a complete waste of time. Maybe 50 people in attendance. It pretty much was a propaganda session for DESE. Same old tired claims, canned presentation that I am sure was given at every meeting across the state. No questions taken by presenters. Had participants in groups to discuss Common Core after presentation. Participants were to complete a form that DESE took back. Had two questions on it: What do you like about the Common Core? and What questions do you have about Common Core? Most hilarious and telling statement of the night came from the Center High School Superintendent who introduced the speaker and issued closing remarks. Something to the effect of we aren't going to wait for the research we are going ahead anyway. Claim that the answers to our questions will be posted on the website in a week. DESE appeared to me to be ill equipped to answer questions. I get the impression they don't really know what they got themselves into by adopting these standards.

 From Camdenton:

We are blessed to have good schools in Camdenton, Missouri. As a parent of students in 12th, 10th, 1st, and kindergarten I feel I have a good grasp on the positive aspects of the Camdenton School District. I was unaware before last month that Common Core was coming to Missouri Schools, including Camdenton. Camdenton, without community input, had even applied last year for Race To The Top (aka Race to the Middle) funding but was denied. There was a meeting last Thursday about Common Core for the district who invited parents to come. It was the same thing played out in many other communities in Missouri. A short video presentation followed by breaking up into groups. A sheet of paper was given to everyone with two portions. The top portion, which was the largest, asked “What things do you like about Common Core?” with a large section of lines to fill in. Mine was blank except for the words “Not much”. The bottom smaller half asked “What questions do you have about Common Core?” I filled that section in completely asking questions about why this is being forced on us, the elimination of more classical literature from English programs, and how does the Math Standards compare globally with top nations, not to mention our own district. Why do they not admit it is only preparing kids for a 2 year college, instead of 4 year universities? Common Core may bring up the worst districts in Missouri, but it will pull down districts that are providing a good education. Currently Camdenton gets 9% of its funding from the federal government, why can’t we find a way to go it alone? Our children’s future may just depend on it.

From Hazelwood:

(Responding to Brian Bollman's article on the DESE meeting in Cape Girardeau):

Sounds similar to the meeting I went to in Hazelwood.

                                                   Another Camdenton remark:

Tonight in Camdenton there were many more people than seats. There was a standing room only crowd left with more questions than answers.  Within the first three minutes the DESE rep  made it clear to the crowd who had come to learn more about Common Core, there would be no questions allowed.  We were told that we would be redirected to "table facilitators" after the power point presentation (that can be found on the DESE web site) was played for the attending crowd. The rep read from a script, and acted very nervous.   
People were encouraged to move to each "table facilitator" and ask questions that would be given to DESE to compile and faq sheet on that will be found on their web site in coming weeks. 20 minutes was allotted for the group discussions at each table.
Many people in attendance left in disgust when redirected to tables and "facilitators" because they came to hear answers to questions, not a sales pitch.  Many people at the Camdenton meeting migrated to the back of the room while networking in an effort to plan a "real" educational forum where people could ask questions and expect answers right then and there. 
Some of my favorite quotes of the night were:
"The federal government played NO role in Common Core".
"No data collection is required with Common Core".
"A state can change the standards at any time.  It is the state's choice on HOW to use the standards."
"The standards are owned by the state, therefore can be changed by the state."
"Standards do not tell teachers HOW to teach."
"The Missouri Constitution and state law direct DESE to set high academic standards."
I left encouraged.  People were challenging the "facilitators" at each table. I don't think it went as DESE had hoped it would tonight. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Missouri Call to Action. Show Your SB210 Support to Shed Transparency on Common Core Cost/Data Retrieval.

URGENT! Hearing Thursday, May 9th -- Fill out a witness form NOW
SB 210 is a bill designed to shed some light on Common Core Standards, which the Missouri Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education intends to implement in 2014. This bill requires DESE to hold a series of public meetings and issue reports to the legislature.

Hundreds of citizens from around the state are concerned about Common Core resulting in an intrusive national database of very personal data about our children. This bill provides the transparency needed to establish the facts.
Find the witness form here.  

Post Dispatch STL Today's Disingenuous Editorial on Common Core Standards. Susan Ohanian Chimes In.

The definition of disingenuous amply sums up the St. Louis Post Dispatch's editorial on Common Core standards and the recent meeting DESE held "informing" the public on the initiative.  From a google search of the word:


Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.

insincere - false - devious - hollow-hearted

You can read the editorial here.  The readers' comments are overwhelmingly against the PD's stance and the paper's integrity is called into question. Those with any factual knowledge about Common Core and who have read more than what the Post has published about CCSS will recognize this editorial as reprinting talking points about the initiative from either CCSSO or the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  There are no facts in this editorial piece to back up the editorial board's statements, but why should a newspaper let facts stand in its way?

Susan Ohanian wrote about this disingenuous attempt by a newspaper board to dismiss people who don't agree with the adoption/implementation of the standards.  From her post Paranoia about 'common core' is a lousy way to fix schools:


NC Reader Comment: I am sit on the Parent Advisory Board at my child's school, I have volunteered there for years, I regularly attend School Board meetings. My State, NC, was awarded 400 million dollars by Race to the Top and we committed to Common Core without any public notice at the local level. I can promise you that

Ohanian Comment: Calling Common Core opponents paranoid reveals a lot of editorial ignorance. Why should parents be polite to people who mouth Common Core boilerplate? Count how many words in this uninformed, biased editorial that repeat boilerplate right out of press releases from the National Governors Association, Achieve, et al, that is to say, repeat misinformation:

  • bipartisan

  • competing in a global economy

  • National Governors Association initiative

  • much public discussion

  • a very public process

  • The only factual part of the above list is bipartisan. To the shame of both parties, they followed lockstep with the corporate initiative.

    The competitive global economy is so important to these editorialists that they used it twice.

    The editorialists claim there have been no secrets about the Common Core. Ha! I wonder if the editorialists know who paid for the Common Core --or who wrote the Standards.

    When bureaucrats and politicos won't listen, then maybe shouting is the only option. Calling opponents paranoid isn't much of an argument. And trying to brand conservatives opposing the Common Core as nut jobs is just an attempt to drive a wedge between people of different political persuasions--so they won't join hands in fighting the Common Core. I am very far from being a Glenn Beck fan, but I watched one Glenn Beck show about the Common Core and I agreed with about 75% of the points made.

    I found only one word to agree with in this editorial: Yes, the Common Core received bipartisan support. That's no surprise. Most politicos are much more eager to look to corporate moneybags than to their own constituents. My bumper sticker reads: Republicans/Democrats: Same shit/different piles. Kathy Emery, my co-author for Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools? noted, "When Ted Kennedy and George Bush agree on something, you need to worry about who the man behind the curtain is." While writing our book, it became clear to us that the men behind the curtain are the members of the Business Roundtable.

    You'd find out more by reading Missouri Education Watchdog comment on this editorial than by reading the editorial itself.


    Imagine a school conference that begins like this:

    The teacher explains to the parent the progress being made by his child, based on grades of various tests and homework. Those results stem from a curriculum posted on the school's website for all parents to see.

    The parent gets angry. Really angry.

    "Tell the truth!" he or she screams at the teacher, who tries to calmly explain the rationale for the curriculum and grading.

    Not satisfied, the parent strikes out again.

    "Are you using my kid as a science experiment? Why are you trying to control his thoughts?"

    This was the actual scene the other night at the Lindbergh School District as a supervisor with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education tried to explain the various elements of the new "common core" curriculum standards being adopted in Missouri and 45 other states.

    The anger is being fueled by conspiracy theorists, including some in the Missouri Legislature, who see the common core movement as some evil federal takeover of schools, rather than the thoughtful and bipartisan attempt that it is to raise standards and unify them across state lines so that the United States can do a better job of competing in a global economy.

    For too long, schools from district to district and state to state have had wildly different standards and tests that make it harder for some students to compete and harder for parents and educators to get a handle on how well schools are performing.

    The bipartisan effort to develop common core standards in reading, writing and math grew out of a National Governors Association initiative. The standards were developed over a several-year period of much public discussion at the local, state and federal level.

    Missouri's Board of Education adopted them in 2010, and the state has been working with local districts to implement them ever since.

    The meetings held at Lindbergh and seven other sites statewide last week were an attempt to appease Republican lawmakers who have been trying to put the brakes on the Common Core Standards. Some, including Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, argue there hasn't been enough information made available about the standards.

    To them, we say: Perhaps you shouldn't have skipped your child's school conference.

    The Missouri Board of Education holds open meetings. It's been very public about its process. Governors in nearly every state have been touting them. There have been no secrets about the common core.

    Fact is, a few Republican politicians, including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, have decided "common core" is the new "Obamacare," a wedge to be used to divide a nation that seems to be easy to divide these days.

    The Glenn Becks of the world are telling their gullible radio listeners that the common core standards are part of a federal and international socialist brainwashing plot. Mr. Cruz, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, likely doesn't believe that, but when he signs a letter asking the federal Department of Education to delay its implementation, he sends a signal to those motivated right-wing activists that he's one of them.

    Education policy should be above such low-brow political antics, but, unfortunately, it's not.

    The good news about the Missouri Legislature is that a bill to block common core standards is unlikely to pass. Rural superintendents still hold enough sway to keep lawmakers from extremely conservative districts from supporting measures that will damage local schools.

    The enemy here is not the standards, and it's not the educators trying to find a way to prepare our children for the competitive global economy.

    It's people who believe that shouting down a bureaucrat at a public meeting accomplishes anything. Ever.


So let me get this straight.  The Post Dispatch in an editorial encourages the Occupy Movement, folks demonstrating against entrenched privatization and that's acceptable behavior and motivation:
The result is "a feeling of mass injustice," says the Occupy Wall Street manifesto, which includes a long and eclectic list of specific causes and grievances — which an asterisk notes is not intended to be all inclusive. Mortgage foreclosures. Corporate bailouts. Executive bonuses. Factory farming. Animal cruelty. Corporate control of news media. And so on. (MEW note: see below)

You never know when a moment will become a movement. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 1955, Rosa Parks rode a Montgomery, Ala., bus home from work without incident. The next evening she refused to give up her seat. The cause was right, but the struggle continues. Lasting change takes courage, persistence and dynamic leadership.
The Occupiers aren't there yet. But they've started.  

The same newspaper belittles parents and taxpayers who are feeling the same frustration at the educational industry.  The "And so on" from the above editorial apparently doesn't include taxpayers railing against the corporate/private takeover of education and the silence and/or complicity of the politicians and bureaucrats allowing it to happen.  I'd call that disingenuous, wouldn't you?

For more articles from citizens who attended the Lindbergh DESE meeting, click here.  To sign the petition to slow/rid Common Core implementation in Missouri, click here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Speaks Out Against Common Core

A teacher speaks out against Common Core:
One goal for all is not likely to be an equitable system. We should push back against the Common Core imposition with teacher professional development, socio-culturally responsive curricula, and project-, performance-, and portfolio-based assessments work at the most local level.

Like many teachers right now, I have a Common Core app on my iPad. Reading through the newly refined learning standards for K-12 students, I am concerned about my IEPs, especially the ELLs who are perhaps also ADD and receive pull-out services, or others whose paras might not be familiar with strand 1.RFS.4, which says that a first grader needs to be able to “read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension” and are only worrying about keeping him from bouncing off the wall when I’m trying to DRA half the class and Tungsten the rest and all the other kids are perfectly silent doing their SSR. I am not at all concerned about my Proficients -- nobody is -- but come next May when MAP rolls around, how will I ever get my Basics and Below Basics where they’ll need to be if I want to avoid getting pic’d? I had a walk-through last week and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing any DOK.

Actually, I’m just pretending that’s me so you can hear how it sounds when teachers talk in these DDTs (Data Driven Times). Teachers will laugh or cry. The rest of you will have no clue, but oh well. Pop into your neighborhood public school for a cheat sheet.

The truth is, I do keep the Common Core on my iPad, because one of the many things I do in schools is try to develop the professional aptitude of teachers and teachers need to deal with Common Core. I read last week that many of my fellow Show-Me’s, citizens and state representatives alike, are all riled up about the Standards, which are rolling out next year across the country. They feel our state education officials have not been transparent. They sense that the standards (kind of like background checks for gun-buyers and sort of like universal access to health care) indicate a frightening penetration into the heartland of a creeping Stalinist federal government.

On the other side are the educators worried about Common Core for altogether different reasons. Having an idea of where you’re trying to “get kids” may be fine, these people say, but since all learning emerges out of a highly individual and dynamic interaction between a specific person and her teachers, peers and cultural and social setting, one-goal-for-all may not be an-equitable-system-for-all.

Read more here from Common Coredom in the stlbeacon.com.  She ends her commentary with this thought:

So here we are: the Show-Me states’ rights folks and the Show-Me human rights folks are actually sorta bedfellows when it comes to local control of schooling. Instead of ragging on Common Core right now, we should be working together to push out of Missouri the carpetbagging Big Businesses squeezing our state’s hard-earned tax dollars out of schools: Out with the people who have brought us to this jargon-larded education dystopia. Down with Big Curriculum, Big Testing and Big Data.

I submit that one of the reasons we do need to rag on CCSS right now is because the standards framework IS the vehicle to allow the big curriculum, big testing and big data to occur.  Take away the common core and the big threes present in the mandates (common curriculum, common testing and common data) disappear.  Push Common Core out of Missouri and many of the corporate educational vendors will disappear.   They will take their carpetbags and go home.

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