Tag Archives: Bill Gates

A RESPONSE TO CHESTER E. FINN, JR.

Submission* by Karen Schroeder

Common Core: conservative to the core” is one of many articles Chester E. Finn, Jr., has penned encouraging conservatives to embrace Common Core State Standards. Unfortunately, Mr. Finn never discloses that his “conservative” Thomas B. Fordham Institute has accepted nearly a million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop supportive materials for Common Core Standards. Mr. Finn’s conflict of interest renders his assessment of Common Core self-serving and lacking credibility.

Advocates for Academic Freedom is funded solely by private donations. Representing taxpayers from every political party, every religion, and every socio-economic group, AAF has one goal: to demand truth and quality in all aspects of education. Our assessment of Common Core Standards conflicts with that of Chester Finn. CCS are not new, not rigorous or innovative, not fiscally responsible, not state created; they undermine accountability and traditional American values.

The Gates Foundation, David Coleman from the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and a myriad of others wrote Common Core Standards—NOT the states.

Common Core represents another “We have to pass it so we can find out what is in it” policy. During a February, 2010, Governors’ Luncheon, President Obama told governors to adopt CCSS to receive federal Title I funds. Since the standards had not even been written, the federal government added the word “state” to the title so the public would think that the normal process of teacher and public involvement had been employed. We the people are growing tired of these insulting shell games imposed by governmental agencies.

Teachers and taxpayers should be outraged that any set of standards would require a retraining of teachers to assure implementation. Why should a teacher need to have special training to implement Common Core? The reason is that Common Core Standards do not emphasize student acquisition of knowledge and development of skills. They demand that students develop a belief system and attitudes needed to create a population with a “world philosophy”.

Americans are being forced to spend sixteen billion dollars on a plan shaped by the same policies of Benjamin Bloom that have been failing our children since the 1960s. Dozens of standards that are far more rigorous than Common Core Standards are free and available on the internet. States have always had access to them. When one compares TIMSS math standards for fourth graders to those of Common Core for the same grade level, it becomes painfully obvious that CCSS are not the rigorous standards promised.

CCSS is peppered with standards like this one for nine-year olds in fourth grade: “Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others”. Most teachers would ask themselves: What is a viable argument appropriate for a nine-year-old child? What happens when a non-conformist refuses to critique a classmate/friend? What remediation will be provided? Will that remediation help the creative child learn to use non-conformity in a productive manner? How will this standard be assessed or tested for mastery?

Most math skills required under TIMSS at fourth grade can be found under the CC standards for fifth grade. Standards that are superior to CC focus on knowledge acquisition and skill development—not conformity, values, or beliefs.

Mr. Finn states that CC standards “written correctly, they do not dictate any particular curriculum of pedagogy.” Really? Then why has the federal government provided funding to publishers to align their textbooks to CCS and to testing consortiums to align all tests, ACT, SAT, accreditation, etc., to CCS?

Local control of schools includes a role in determining the curriculum taught. That is the American tradition that makes America a Constitutional Republic. When federal and state governments collude to impose standards upon the public, their DoEDs are acting in a dictatorial manner. America’s strength has always come from its people—not from its government.

It is time for taxpayers to get on the agenda for the next local school board meeting to demand rejection of CCSS and implementation of any one of the other excellent sets of standards available for free. It is time that citizens organize to stop the federal funding and the federal manipulation of the American educational system. Advocates for Academic Freedom works to build a grassroots movement to eliminate federal funding of education, to reallocate those federal educational dollars to the states, and to reinstate local control of schools. You may sign a petition on line at http://advocatesforacademicfreedom.org/petition.asp#.UdFzEuMo6po

Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, an experienced public school teacher, and an educational consultant. She provides informational seminars to promote citizen involvement at local and state levels of the educational system. Ms.Schroeder supports a return to fact-based curricula, accountability, and academic excellence in public education. Frequently interviewed by Wisconsin radio personalities including Vicki McKenna, Karen writes for the U.S. Journal and other newspapers in several states. Karen can be reached at kpfschroeder@centurylink.net or by calling 715-234-5072. Address: 331 S. Main St., Suite 307, Rice Lake, WI. 54686

*This is a submission. Submissions do not necessarily reflect an official position of Conservative Teachers of America. One of our goals is to give a larger voice to the many conservative voices that exist inside of education.

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

Common Core is Not Just About Standards, it’s also about Data Mining.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog.

We’ve written through the years about Common Core and have been concerned about the data mining allowed to occur now that states use common assessments.  The data mining is not just centered on educational information.  This educational reform also requires personal information on students and their families.  This is to create a managed workforce based on student data gathered from educational facilities and with the expansion of FERPA allowing information to flow freely, this information will be supplied to research firms, contractors and other interested parties.

Seattle Education reports on a grant received by school districts to gather this data:

One of the deals that we made with the devil when it comes to accepting Race to the Top dollars is the relinquishing of our children’s information.

Gates and others have begun to collect information about our children from New York to LA and it is about to happen in Seattle thanks to the efforts of the Road Map project, et al, falling all over themselves to receive a pittance of educational funding, $40 M to be split between 7 districts in our state. That’s $5.7M if it were to be divided equally.

To put that into perspective, West Seattle High School’s budget for this year is a little over $6M and that does not include building upkeep or other building costs including utilities.

The money will not go into established programs or to help with our budget crunch which happens to be a $32 M shortfall in Seattle, but is to go to “assessing” students starting in pre-school. Assessments basically mean testing on a long-term basis. This is not sustainable but oh well, there is some pie in the sky reasoning about receiving yet another largesse from Bill Gates, and maybe someday we would be able to continue to pay for everything that we have promised to deliver forever.

Per a previous post, A Race to the Top Winner. Really?, the following is the information that people want culled from our students’ “data”.

Road Map On-Track Indicators
The following is a list of the Road Map Project on-track indicators. These are reported annually against specific targets.
% of children ready to succeed in school by kindergarten
% of students who are proficient in:
3rd grade reading
4th grade math
5th grade science
6th grade reading
7th grade math
8th grade science
% of students triggering Early Warning Indicator 1*
% of students triggering Early Warning Indicator 2*
% of students who graduate high school on time
% of graduating high school students meeting minimum requirements to apply to a Washington state 4-year college
% of students at community and technical colleges enrolling in pre-college coursework
% of students who enroll in postsecondary education by age 24
% of students continuing past the first year of postsecondary
% students who earn a post-secondary credential by age 24
* Early warning indicators are for 6th and 9th grade students. EW1: Six or more absences and one or more course failure(s). EW2: One or more suspension(s) or expulsion(s)
Other Indicators to be Reported
The following is a list of the Road Map Project contributing indicators. These are reported annually or whenever possible, but do not have specific targets. These contributing indicators combined with the on-track indicators make up the full list of Road map Project indicators.
% of children born weighing less than 5.5 pounds
% of eligible children enrolled in select formal early learning programs
% of licensed childcare centers meeting quality criteria
% of families reading to their children daily
% of children meeting age-level expectations at the end of preschool
% of children enrolled in full-day kindergarten
% of students taking algebra by the 8th grade
% of students passing the exams required for high school graduation
% of English language learning students making progress in learning English
% of students taking one or more Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses
% of students absent 20 or more days per year
% of students who make a non-promotional school change
% of students motivated and engaged to succeed in school
% of students attending schools with low state achievement index ratings
% of females age 15-17 giving birth
% of 8th graders reporting select risk factors on the Healthy Youth Survey
% of students exhibiting 21st century skills
% of students who graduate high school by age 21
% of high school graduates completing a formal career and technical education program
% of eligible students who complete the College Bound application by the end of 8th grade
% of graduating College Bound students who have completed the FAFSA
% of students who directly enroll in postsecondary education
% of students who did not complete high school on time who achieve a postsecondary credential
% of students employed within 1 and 5 years of completing or leaving postsecondary education, including wage

It’s not theory anymore.  It will be coming to your school district in the future.  Your superintendent may declare he/she doesn’t compile this type of data, but you can see this is an important component of common core.  Not only do we need to compare student test scores, we need to compare their birthweight, if their parents read to them, their level of motivation, etc.

Stephanie Simon writing in Reuters K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents has uncovered data mining on children and has documented where it goes:

(Reuters) – An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as start-ups 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.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.

 Entrepreneurs can’t wait.

“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.

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, 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.

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.

“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.

Read more here.

One should shudder to read the statement from Mr. Williams from the IL State Board of Education.  Remember the Illinois Data Set that has been waiting to be rolled out with data sets pertaining to student blood test results, eye color, voting status?  Here’s the plan to keep students on the right track: a national based GPS system for your student so he/she will never get lost along life’s way.  

Like a car navigation system, the learning management systems of the future will know the current location of each learner and be able to plot multiple, individualized paths to the Common Core and other academic goals. Students will be able to select preferences of modality of instruction, language,and time. And, like a car navigation system, even if they decide to take a detour, the system will always know where they are, where they want to go, and multiple paths to get there. (pg 8 of 126) 
How do you feel about multiple agencies and private organizations tracking your child’s every move and data points? If you believe your child is a piece of inventory and human capital, this a suitable and desirable tracking mechanism.

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Support Alabama in Anti-Common Core Fight. It is NOT an “island” Withdrawing from Common Core.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

From CE White in Alabama:

As you may know, Alabama has two identical bills to repeal Common Core. House Bill 254 and Senate Bill 190. There is a public hearing on Wednesday, February 27th at 3pm at the State House. I feel we have the votes for this to pass in the Senate, but the House is dealing dirty politics. One superintendent (who is connected to Broad Foundation and has invited Pearson to his district next month) wrote an article last week in a newspaper, claiming that Alabama would be “an island” if we withdrew from Common Core. Since that article, legislators have started to question why we need to pass these bills. In fact, they are using the same terminology that we might be “an island” if we pass this bill. I will be speaking at the public hearing Wednesday. However, we really need to get the word out to our legislators that we will not be “an island.” We need them to know that we are not alone in our fight. We need them to know that other states are also fighting against Common Core. Could you please help us get the word out, by having your organization and other states contact our legislators and tell them to please pass HB 254 and SB 190, and we will not be “an island.” We need to flood them with calls and emails. They need to know they have the support of the country. Here is the link to our Alabama legislature page, with links to contact information:http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate/senators/senateroster_alpha.html

 

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Contact Alabama legislators and let them know that Alabama is not an island, but is a state joining in reclaiming state academic freedom with these states who have various anti-Common Core State (sic) Standards pending legislation:
  • Missouri
  • Indiana
  • Oklahoma
  • Michigan
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Kansas
  • South Dakota

These states did not adopt Common Core State (sic) Standards:

  • Nebraska
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Arkansas

This state adopted ELA standards only:

  • Minnesota

Alabama is NOT an island and legislators are being misled if they refer to the state in this manner. This is from  the article in which superintendent Casey Wardynski refers to Alabama as an island:

The proposed bill – cosponsored by Sen. Bill Holtzclaw of Madison, Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville and Sen. Clay Scofield of Guntersville – would repeal the state’s adoption of those standards and prevent the state school board from adopting them a second time.

“If it was to pass, immediately we would no longer be allowed to be aligned with anything that is going on in those other 47 states with regard to this common core curriculum. That would be devastating. Alabama would become an island,” Wardynski said.

Wardynski has mixed reviews as a superintendent and his association with The Broad Foundation in geekpalaver.com and Eli Broad’s Return On Investment:

So let’s recap:

  • Wardynski has recommended, and the board has approved hiring PROACT Search (with direct ties to The Broad Foundation) for $110,000 to hire approximately 10 new principals.
  • He has recommended, and the board has approved hiring SUPES Academy to provide professional development to new Principals for $300,000 for two years.
  • He has recommended, and the board will likely approve the hiring of 110 Teach for America (supported by The Broad Foundation) for $550,000 a year.

In five months, Dr. Wardynski recommended spending just shy of one million dollars on programs supported by The Broad Foundation.

That’s not bad for a five month tenure, is it? While it’s not clear how much The Broad Foundation has spent “training” Dr. Wardynski, if the “training” for Teach for America is any indication, it’s likely in the $20,000 range. In exchange for this investment, Dr. Wardynski has already returned $410,000 in five months. In all likelihood at some point in November the rubber stamp board will approve spending $550,000 for Teach for America to hire 110 teachers who haven’t been trained to teach.

If you’d like to read more about The Broad Foundation’s “commitment” to education, take a look at “How to Tell if your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus.” You might also consider following, “The Broad Report.”

$960,000 for five months work. Not bad. Not bad at all. I wish the ROI for Huntsville’s kids were as high.

The Broad Foundation is proud of Wardynski via its twitter feed:

Congrats to #broadacademy grad Dr. Casey Wardynski, named “Outstanding Superintendent of the Year” by Alabama PTA! http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/04/alabama_pta_names_huntsville_s.html …

It’s no surprise that the Alabama PTA would name him “Outstanding Superintendent of the Year”.  The PTA has received a million dollars to support CCSS (even before they were written) via The Gates Foundation and $240,000 from the GE Foundation for CCS support.  See here.

It should matter to Alabama legislators that Wardynski is wanting to implement standards that are unproven, untested and underfunded.  It should matter to these legislators he is supporting/promoting The Broad Foundation agenda while using taxpayer money.  It should matter to Alabama legislators that the PTA has been persuaded by Bill Gates and GE to support an agenda that does not protect teachers or students or parents from a vast public/private partnership that negates any local control.

Calling Alabama an island is a technique to take legislators’ eyes off the pertinent facts of Common Core State (sic) Standards.  Once you examine who is behind them and why, there is no question they should be rescinded.  They are not for the “kids”.  They are for organizations like The Broad Foundation, Bill Gates, TFA, PTA, etc to make money.

Contact the Alabama legislators and tell them the truth and the facts about Common Core State (sic) Standards.  Tell them how private outside companies are trying to direct the educational delivery and direction for Alabama students and schools.

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The Wrangling of Taxpayer Money by Jeb Bush and other Education Reformers

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Education is the “Wild West”.  Scott Joftus was correct when talking about money to be made in education reform:

Scott Joftus, closely aligned with Bill Gates and his foundation since the early years of 2000, had this to say about education in an article aptly titled “Is the Stimulus Really “No Consultant Left Behind” “?:

That metaphor is an apt one for the market as well. In the fall of 2009, Mr. Joftus was contacted by a former contractor who was working for Global Partnership Schools, a new school turnaround venture funded by GEMS Education, a Dubai-based company founded by entrepreneur Sunny Varkey. The caller was hoping to obtain copies of Mr. Joftus’ contract for school improvement services in Kansas.
“You know we’re in a new era when school turnaround firms in the U.S. are being funded out of the Middle East,” Joftus said. “To me, that says there’s money to be made. I call this period the Wild West in education.”

We wrote about Joftus in May 2011.  Researchers such as Susan Ohanian and Dora Taylor have been writing about the money trail to Bill Gates and other “entrepreneurs” using taxpayer money to fund their private companies for years.   Note that Joftus’ remark was in 2009.  This has been in the planning for some time by private corporations and the Federal Government to create an enormous public/private partnership without voter/legislative approval.

Joftus is just a small part in the big picture of corporate payback in education.  The story garnering the attention of education activists this week was the information on former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his plans to gain monetarily from the reforms designed “for the kids”. Rather than serving student educational needs, various education reforms allow the framework for investors and professional ed reformers to gain access to state/federal coffers.  Frominthepublicinterest.org:

Emails between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), founded and chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and state education officials show that the foundation is writing state education laws and regulations in ways that could benefit its corporate funders. The emails, obtained through public records requests, reveal that the organization, sometimes working through its Chiefs For Change affiliate, wrote and edited laws, regulations and executive orders, often in ways that improved profit opportunities for the organization’s financial backers.

“Testing companies and for-profit online schools see education as big business,” said In the Public Interest Chair Donald Cohen. “For-profit companies are hiding behind FEE and other business lobby organizations they fund to write laws and promote policies that enrich the companies.”

The emails conclusively reveal that FEE staff acted to promote their corporate funders’ priorities, and demonstrate the dangerous role that corporate money plays in shaping our education policy. Correspondence in Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Louisiana paint a graphic picture of corporate money distorting democracy.

This report focuses on testing companies and for-profit online schools and doesn’t mention common core standards.  But think how easy (and necessary for increased profits) it will be for these testing companies and on-line schools to use the mandated CCSS standards, assessments and resulting curricula.  It doesn’t matter so much to these companies/investors what students are learning, it’s that they are learning the same material so the process can be streamlined for the assessment/testing companies.

Does anyone seriously believe the push for CCSS is anything more than a money making scheme and to control educational content?  Why the clamor to sign on to assessments that were never even written?  Why are the standards/assessments copyrighted by private companies?  Why won’t states/school districts be able to adapt these standards/assessments?

Read again what Scott Joftus said in 2009 and understand what education reform is really about.  It’s never been “for the kids”.  Mr. Joftus may be discovering how making money in education reform is getting in the way of real teaching for his own children in his post When Education Reform gets Personal in EducationNext.org:

Over more than 20 years in the field of education—including two with Teach For America—I have helped promote state standards, the Common Core, the hiring of teachers with strong content knowledge, longer class periods for math and reading, and extra support for struggling students, to name a few. I have recently discovered, however, that what I believe as an education policy wonk is not always what I believe as a father.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live, academic expectations are extremely high. Our school district aims to teach math, for example, in a rigorous way. I appreciate this goal, but to date “increased rigor” has primarily meant that some students skip grade-level math classes and enroll in classes meant for older kids. Basic skills that are taught and reinforced in the grades being skipped are often given short shrift. In 2nd grade, my daughter brought home worksheets on probability before she had any real understanding of the concept, or even a strong foundation in simple division. Her frustration with probability, and consequently math, grew as we substituted times-table drills for play dates. Last year, to my horror, she said that she hated math. This year, which has included an increased focus on math facts and an inspiring teacher, math has become her favorite subject.

He writes how a child in the foster system disrupted the class and took the teacher’s time and away from other children:

The tension between my understanding of good education policy—driven by a deep commitment to equity and the belief that an outstanding education can transform lives, and this country—and what is right for my daughters makes me both a better policy wonk and a better father. The tension also illustrates why school reform is so difficult.

I would suggest the educational reform currently being driven by leaders like Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, Achieve, David Coleman, etc won’t alleviate the types of problems Mr. Joftus details.  Living in the “Wild West” of education leaves much to be desired, even for the education reformers profiting from the wrangling of taxpayer money.

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More Common Core Battles Emerging

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

“CCSS isn’t a solution to, but instead it is a deliberate doubling down of, the vile policies of NCLB and RTTT.”

The Common Core Standards battles are occurring more frequently.  Education activists and teachers are confronting teachers/education industry reformers and are not mincing words in their concern of individuals/corporations supporting the standards. Robert Skeels in Schools Matter weighs in on the support an educator (a Latin teacher) gave CCSS:

The following is my edited commentary in response to comments by a CCSS supporter on the Professor Ravitch post: A Teacher of Latin Writes In Defense of Fiction.
  
Kaye Thompson Peters, I’ve grown weary of the trite “apple and oranges” device that you employ everywhere in your stalwart defense of Corporate Core. You even used it in a gushing apology for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on Hoover’s fringe-right EdNext. While you might not be uncomfortable that Pearson Education, Inc. has been promoting your writings on CCSS, it does cause some of us consternation. When discussing CCSS in relation to NCLB and RTTT, we’re not conflating apples and oranges, we’re discussing a bushel of rotten apples foisted on us by a bunch of billionaires suffering from the Shoe Button Complex

You can read more here.

This article came in my email late last night about another Common Core proponent’s (a paid education reformer) stance on the standards,  My View: Common Core means common-sense standards:

Common Core fixes previous shortcomings by setting rigorous standards that ensure a child is mastering necessary material, not just memorizing it. It has been said that Indiana’s old standards were good, but they were a mile wide and an inch deep. The old standards expose students to everything but do little to ensure they truly understand any of it. The Common Core is focused on targeting key materials students need to know, coherent so that student learning builds upon the previous grades, and rigorous to ensure students master the concepts and processes behind the information.

The writer, Kristine Shiraki, is interim executive director of Stand for Children Indiana.  What is Stand for Children?

Stand has seen an enormous influx of corporate cash. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began by offering a relatively modest two-year grant of $80,000 in 2005. In 2007, Stand for Children received a $682,565 grant. In 2009, the point at which Stand’s drastically different political agenda became obvious, Gates awarded a $971,280 grant to support “common policy priorities” and in 2010, a $3,476,300 grant.

Though the Gates Foundation remains the biggest donor to Stand for Children, other players in the world of corporate education reform have also begun to see Stand as an effective vehicle to push their agenda.

New Profit Inc. has funded Stand since 2008—to the tune of $1,458,500. According to its website, New Profit is a “national venture philanthropy fund that seeks to harness America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship to help solve the country’s biggest social problems.”


The Walton Family Foundation made a 2010 grant of $1,378,527. Several other major funders are tied to Bain Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm founded by Mitt Romney.

The commentors to Ms. Shiraki’s letter to the editor question her statements and ask her to provide data to confirm her contentions.  From the online version of the article:

Kristine, Could you post to this comment section the names of any teachers from Indiana who were on the writing team for the common core English or math common core standards? I have attached a link for Hoosiers to see how much representation Indiana had on the creation of the common core. http://

http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_K-12_dev-team.pdf Some readers may recognize the name Mark Tucker who is on the ELA team, a highly controversial political figure.
We both know that states can only add 15% to the common core standards and they may not delete or edit any standards as they are copyrighted and owned by two trade organizations in Washington DC, NGA and CCSSO. Stand for Children should be honest on this point. The new PARCC test that is replacing IStep will not test over the 15%. In this world of high-stakes testing, few, if any, teachers will have the time or incentive to teach any additional standards.
The idea that the common core standards are “fewer, clearer, deeper” is also untrue. The only people claiming Indiana’s former standards were “a mile wide and an inch deep” are Tony Bennett and your organization. See for yourself here http://hoosiersagainstcommoncore.com/whats-in-the-common-core-state-standards-content/
and
I’m pretty sure that Shiraki’s days as interim are numbered, in part because she lacks a fact checker so she gets her facts dead wrong and her flacking falls apart. For instance, Shiraki, can you or duh Star tell us (call Tony for help if you need to) just which particular countries were the Kommen Kore “standards” benchmarked against? Since, we both know that you will have to look them up, when you reply please do cite page numbers from which you are consulting. My gentle suggestion is, Shiraki, you won’t find that page because it doesn’t exist anymore than your claim of international benchmarking does.
Why would Fordham suggest to Indiana that Indiana keep its higher and better academic standards and not adopt Kommen Korps? While one may argue about the benefit or value of high standards no one argues about the value of the carrot suspended in front of the horse drawn wagon.
So, (and any other flack can help her) Name the Counties against which CC is benchmarked. Or, retract your mis statement and admit that Stand for Children actually supports dumbing down standards.

More and more citizens are starting to question organizations like Stand for Children, Bill Gates Foundation, The Walton Foundation, CCSSI, the National Governors Association and other education reformers who seem to believe that deciding and setting “common policy priorities”  for the citizenry might not be as appreciated by the taxpayers as they had once thought.   They may not have even given the taxpayers a thought in the crafting of these policies, actually, since none of them were involved (or are currently) in the implementation of the standards in school.  The elites have come up with the plan and we get the pleasure of paying for it.

If groups/individuals complain or lobby their legislators,  you then will see education reformers’ letters to the editor written about how wonderful these unproven, untested and unfunded these standards really are.  Their message?  “Trust them.  They create more federal control but really, they are in your state’s best interest. ”

Who is setting the “common” priorities taxpayers get the pleasure of paying for and these same taxpayers are not directing their own community’s educational direction?  And the second question: why are these groups putting millions of dollars into this legislative fight against grassroots organizations/citizens who don’t want this education reform that has been crafted by private corporations and paid for by tax dollars?

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The Sunday Education Weekly Reader 12.11.11

Thanks to Gretchen Logue over at Missouri Education Watchdog, this is a weekly feature on her website. We wanted to cross-post it here.

Welcome to the Sunday Education Weekly Reader for 12.11.11.  Highlighted today:

  • Another story comparing education providers to living in the Wild, Wild West to make money , rather than living there to provide better education;
  • The tipping over of the education pyramid;
  • An analogy on how the Common Core standards are akin to Obamacare and the proposal of one group to stop them.

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Not only are businessmen like Bill Gates and convicted hedge fund managers like Michael Milken setting policies and direction for education, so are social networkers.  From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Reid Hoffman and Matt Cohler, two of Silicon Valley’s social-networking pioneers, are throwing their hats into the education ring.

The entrepreneurs-turned-venture capitalists today led a $15 million investment in Edmodo, a free learning site for teachers and students that claims almost 5 million registered users. The cash pile, from Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital, gives the management team the runway to hire developers and add products without doing the one thing they prefer not to talk about: making money.

Rob Hutter, the company’s chairman, said the new financing gives the company “several years” to build and expand the product without worrying about generating revenue. He and Borg are looking for developers who are passionate about education and want to build something that they say is helping change education. (emphasis added)

Of course, venture capitalists don’t invest in startups unless they see the opportunity to make several times their money back, and Greylock and Benchmark have been among the most successful firms in that regard. 

Question:  How are these social networkers (investors) helping to “change education”?  The delivery of providing education is what they are changing, not the education itself.  Remember, the education (WHAT students are learning) is controlled by the Federal Government, the NGA and the CCSSO.  These venture capitalists are providing the vehicles to deliver education, not crafting the core of what students are learning.  Remember what Scott Joftus said about education:

“You know we’re in a new era when school turnaround firms in the U.S. are being funded out of the Middle East,” Joftus said. “To me, that says there’s money to be made. I call this period the Wild West in education.” 

There IS money to be made in education reform but is it really “for the kids”?  If investors and developers are delivering educational “reform” that  is faulty and insufficient at is core, it doesn’t matter how it’s presented.

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Education Week reports on the “education pyramid”.  The pyramid is:

the prevailing model of ed policy decision-making, illustrated in The Mitchell 20 film: a hierarchical pyramid, with decision-making power concentrated at the peak–Congress and the Department of Education– flowing down through layers and layers of state bureaucracy, district offices and administrators, and ending up on the shoulders of teachers.

The author envisions what it might be like if that pyramid is turned on its side and the power would flow horizontally so teachers would have more voice (megaphones) in the actual teaching of children.

I would add additional stakeholders to the pyramid.  Parents and taxpayers need admittance into that pyramid and a turn at the megaphone.  Everyone wants a seat at the table but parents and taxpayers seem to never be mentioned as an important stakeholder.  After all, they are the ones paying for the education and they provide the human capital necessary to staff these publicly funded halls of learning.

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Will conservatives finally push back on the educational version of Obamacare? Why haven’t more legislators made the connection the educational reforms are as constitutionally egregious as the health care plan?  From Heritage and its reporting on model legislation waiting for adoption by ALEC:

For the past two years, the Obama Education Department has been supporting an effort to implement national education standards and tests. The national standards push, which will affect all public schools, has been underway outside the normal legislative process. At least (to quote Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute) Obamacare went through Congress.

It’s time for state leaders to stand up to strong-arming from Washington, instead of faulting conservative organizations for pushing back on this latest federal overreach. A nationalization of education is underway, and unless conservatives work to fight Washington’s power grab, Obamacare won’t be the only overreach we’ll have to live under.

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Educational quote for the week:

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

H. G. Wells (1866 – 1946), Outline of History (1920)

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Recommended Reads 9/25/2011

Below you will find some educational articles from the past week that we think are worth reading.

Our Achievement-Gap Mania

This piece is by Frederick M. Hess, he is director of education-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday’s Ideas. This essay was made possible in part by generous support from the Hertog/Simon Fund for Policy Analysis.

The truth is that achievement-gap mania has led to education policy that has shortchanged many children. It has narrowed the scope of schooling. It has hollowed out public support for school reform. It has stifled educational innovation. It has distorted the way we approach educational choice, accountability, and reform.

And its animating principles — including its moral philosophy — are, at best, highly questionable. Indeed, the relentless focus on gap-closing has transformed school reform into little more than a less objectionable rehash of the failed Great Society playbook.

http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/our-achievement-gap-mania

Dear Rick Hess: There is Nothing Wrong with “Achievement Gap Mania”

In the spirit of open and honest debate, please check out the response by RiShawn Biddle to the above article in Dropout Nation.

When your Dropout Nation editor has been brought low by that horrible viral-based disease called Influenza, it not only forces him to spend days sleeping in bed (when not coughing and other disgusting aspects of being sick), but limits him to reading a lot of really smart people writing and saying dumb things. And if you have been reading this publication long enough, there are few things that displease me more than smart people — especially Beltway school reformers — uttering statements that shouldn’t even come from their minds, much less their pens.

http://dropoutnation.net/2011/09/21/rick-hess-nothing-wrong-achievement-gap-mania/

Five things students say they want from education

Technology, creativity, and choice are among the features students would like to see in school.

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/07/28/five-things-students-say-they-want-from-education/

Obama rolling back Bush-era education law

Many teachers oppose NCLB, liberal and conservative, but this is not a solution to the problem.

President Barack Obama is giving states the flexibility to opt out of provisions of the No Child Left Behind law, a move he says is designed to energize schools but Republicans challenge as outside his authority.

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/national_world&id=8365374

Father upset over homework promoting polygamy, Islam

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A father’s complaint that his daughter’s homework promotes the Muslim faith could lead to a lesson change in Cobb County.

Channel 2’s Tom Regan talked to the father who showed him where his daughter’s homework which said there’s nothing wrong with having multiple wives.

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/29284189/detail.html#.Tn6PXb7YtFM.twitter

The Outrage of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is Misdirected

I have to say I am skeptical of Bill Gates asking for support of his educational vision. I am tired of the Gates Foundation putting out its version of how education should and can be fixed with The Gates Foundation plan using taxpayer money. Here is one of the latest articles and tweets from the Gates Foundation about “where’s the outrage”?

http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2011/09/outrage-of-bill-and-melinda-gates.html

Finally, as just a fun item. Do you want to annoy a liberal educator from Wisconsin? We came across this piece by a Wisconsin teacher, and thought it might be fun to encourage conservatives to leave a comment. You’ll understand why once you get there and read this, it’s always fun to look into the mind of a liberal union educator once in a while. Just don’t stay there too long.

http://monologuesofdissent.blogspot.com/2011/09/scott-walker-vs-state-of-education-open.html

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Bill Gates is the Pac-Man of Education Reform. He’s Eating the Constitution.

Thanks to our friends over at Missouri Education Watchdog for this piece.

Remember the Pac-Man game? It introduced Americans to video games, replacing arcade games such as pinball, foosball and skeeball. What’s the difference between current video games and the old fashioned mechanical games?

Video games are computerized and do not having moving parts, such as balls or pucks. Everything is contained in a screen and the movement is a blip. You are controlling the movement but it’s more of a passive control and takes only fingers on a stick or pad to create movement. Physical movement is minimal in video games; the game itself is in a screen, rather than involving balls and a person directing that move in an overtly physical manner. Video games perhaps could be considered activity through a simulation setting vs actual physical action.

Is that what is happening in education? The taxpayers, parents and students have for quite some time been in a simulated educational program. Taxes have been paid into a system in which taxpayers have little to no voice and minimal effect. Parents can complain about objectionable material taught to their students but since it is set by the state and not the district, these objections are often futile for change. Students are taught to the test so the school won’t lose funding and the real goal of education is whittled down to basic test questions. School “reform” options are crafted by lobbying groups and PACs, not the local communities in which they are located.

Teachers, administrators, superintendents and state educational agencies discover they are further drawn into the simulation of education. Their hands are tied by No Child Left Behind, students are not tested or taught to as individuals, rather as subsets, and federal regulations strangle innovation. Throw Common Core standards (heavily funded by Bill Gates) into this equation, and the perfect video game of public education emerges.

Bill Gates has become the Pac-Man of the United States Public Education system!

He’s been named as a gobbling Pac-Man as early as 1991:

Hey everyone. I’ve just posted my latest project called Pac-MANager (which moves Bill Gates around as Pac-Man as he tries to “eat up” the competition) on PSC, which includes a lot of stuff that different people on this forum helped me with — thanks all!

Back then Gates was eating up business competition. Now he is eating the traditional stakeholders in education: students, parents, taxpayers, school districts, etc. that he considers competition to his educational vision. How is Gates sating his appetite for educational control?

We and other bloggers have been writing about Gates’ idea of philanthropy. Unlike previous philanthropists, these new philanthropists drive the reform, rather than leaving organizations to do so. The New York Times published findings from a graduate student who has studied how Gates is taking over education:

For years, Bill Gates focused his education philanthropy on overhauling large schools and opening small ones. His new strategy is more ambitious: overhauling the nation’s education policies. To that end, the foundation is financing educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies on issues like the seniority system and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.

In some cases, Mr. Gates is creating entirely new advocacy groups. The foundation is also paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations.

Bill Gates is not stingy with his money and the vast amount given to various entities buy acquiescence for his vision:

The foundation spent $373 million on education in 2009, the latest year for which its tax returns are available, and devoted $78 million to advocacy — quadruple the amount spent on advocacy in 2005. Over the next five or six years, Mr. Golston said, the foundation expects to pour $3.5 billion more into education, up to 15 percent of it on advocacy.

Given the scale and scope of the largess, some worry that the foundation’s assertive philanthropy is squelching independent thought, while others express concerns about transparency. Few policy makers, reporters or members of the public who encounter advocates like Teach Plus or pundits like Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute realize they are underwritten by the foundation.

“It’s Orwellian in the sense that through this vast funding they start to control even how we tacitly think about the problems facing public education,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who said he received no financing from the foundation. (emphasis added)

What does this vast amount of money buy?

The foundation paid a New York philanthropic advisory firm $3.5 million “to mount and support public education and advocacy campaigns.” It also paid a string of universities to support pieces of the Gates agenda. Harvard, for instance, got $3.5 million to place “strategic data fellows” who could act as “entrepreneurial change agents” in school districts in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The foundation has given to the two national teachers’ unions — as well to groups whose mission seems to be to criticize them.

“It’s easier to name which groups Gates doesn’t support than to list all of those they do, because it’s just so overwhelming,” noted Ken Libby, a graduate student who has pored over the foundation’s tax filings as part of his academic work.

What might be an effective method to demonize teacher unions?

While the foundation has given money to both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, totaling about $6.3 million over the last three years, some of its newer initiatives appear aimed at challenging the dominance that unions have exercised during policy debates. Last year, Mr. Gates spent $2 million on a “social action” campaign focused on the film “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” which demonized Randi Weingarten, the president of the federation.

“Waiting for Superman” and screenings for legislators were concerns we wrote about in this past legislative session and the multi-million dollars poured into the school choice movement. “Waiting for Superman” was touted as a grassroots movie, but the mass infusion of cash and influence is far removed from grassroots philosophy. Most of the grassroots comments from various blogs about “education reform” mention the desire to abolish the Department of Education and not so much about charters, trigger options and the redistribution of teachers. The movie and school choice movement have been shown to be a carefully orchestrated public relations move:

A document describing plans for the group, posted on a Washington Post blog in March, said it would mobilize local advocates, “establish strong ties to local journalists” and should “go toe to toe” with union officials in explaining contracts and state laws to the public.

But to avoid being labeled a “tool of the foundation,” the document said the group should “maintain a low public profile.”

The Gates Foundation has been exposed for what it is: a version of the Pac-Man game eating all the unnecessary and cumbersome stakeholders in its way for the quest of remaking the United States educational system:

Gates Memo to Support “Race to the Top”

Note that Gates tells applicants what questions will be asked–and what the answers must be. This is their view of education in a nutshell.

The Gates Foundation had already handpicked 15 states to receive $250,000 each to help them apply for Race to the Top funds: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. Now, probably because of whining of “unfair,” they’re offering a bone to the other 35 states –if they can answer “Yes, master,” enough times.

See the Gates memo here.

September 23, 2009

This is how our government is operating. It used to be tycoons like Gates wanted to eat their business competition for a larger piece of the business pie; now they want to control the government in which they operate. This is a Pac-man version of our constitutional right to self-govern being eaten up by special interests. Taxpayers have been co-opted in the past by educational unions (even the retiring NEA counsel states it’s not for the children or because it has a vision for great public education for every child) and now it’s Bill Gates and his funding of think tanks, professors, software companies, governors and even the Department of Education. Watch this video by retiring NEA counsel Bob Chanin, and substitute Gates’ names and organizations he’s funded:

The United States Public Education System has become one big huge power grab by special interests such as the Federal Government (isn’t this interesting how it has become a special interest), the unions and the corporations. In the meantime, the student, taxpayer and parents are not receiving a quality education focused on education and use of these taxes is not free of these special interests. Education is centered not so much on teaching sound educational material; rather, much of education today teaches politically correct theories and is delivered in a way that will make hedge funders, venture capitalists, and technology companies quite wealthy.

This is a great history lesson on how not to let control of your local school district be given to a state agency, then a federal agency and then to a consortia controlled by Gates money. Stop the money train to all these organizations (government, union and private), bring it down to the local level (where it belongs) and then maybe, just maybe, the dialogue can begin about authentic educational reform.

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