Tag Archives: Common Core Standards

Common Core Is An Insult to Everything Dr. King and President Lincoln Ever Taught

by C.E. White

This past week, President Obama was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States of America. As a history teacher, I was elated to learn he would be placing his hand on two Bibles, one belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the other belonging to President Abraham Lincoln, when he takes the oath of office to lead our great nation. Dr. King and President Lincoln helped define civil rights for America…historical heroes who transformed the idea of justice and equality.

As jubilant as I am that President Obama is symbolically using the bibles of two of the greatest Americans in our nation’s history, I am saddened that this administration seems to have forgotten what Dr. King and President Lincoln promoted regarding education.

In Dr. King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he stated “the goal of America is freedom.” As a teacher, it is such an honor to teach America’s children about freedom and patriotism. However, over the past few years, I began to learn about a new education reform initiative called Common Core Standards. A few years ago, when I first heard of Common Core, I began doing my own research. My students represent the future of the United States of America, and what they learn is of utmost importance to me. I care about their future, and the future of our country.

My research of Common Core Standards kept me awake at night, because what I discovered was so shocking. I discovered that Common Core Standards is about so much more than educational standards. I wanted so badly to believe these changes would be good for our children. How can “common” standards be a bad thing? After all, isn’t it nice to have students learning the same exceptional standards from Alabama to Alaska, from Minnesota to Massachusetts?

As a teacher, I began to spend nights, weekends, summers, even Christmas Day researching Common Core, because these reforms were so massive and were happening so quickly, it was hard to keep up with how American education was being transformed. I quickly began to realize that the American education system under Common Core goes against everything great Americans like Dr. King and President Lincoln ever taught. The very freedoms we celebrate and hold dear are in question when I think of what Common Core means for the United States.

One of my favorite writings about education from Dr. King is a paper entitled “The Purpose of Education.” In it, he wrote “To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

When I sit in faculty meetings about Common Core, I hear “curriculum specialists” tell me that Common Core is here to stay and I must “embrace change.” I am forced to drink the kool-aid. These specialists don’t tell us to search for facts about Common Core on our own, they simply tell us what the people paid to promote Common Core want us to know. Didn’t Dr. King want us to separate facts from fiction? Why are we only given information from sources paid to say Common Core is a good thing? Isn’t that the exact same type of propaganda Dr. King discussed in his writings about education? Shouldn’t we discuss why thousands of Americans are calling for a repeal of the standards?

I am told that I must embrace Common Core and I infer that resisting the changes associated with Common Core will label me “resistant to change.” As a teacher, I definitely believe our classrooms are changing with the times and I am not afraid of change. Teachers across America are hearing similar stories about how they should “feel” about Common Core. This is a brainwashing bully tactic. It reminds me of my 8th graders’ lesson on bullying, when I teach them to have an opinion of their own. Just because “everyone’s doing it,” doesn’t make it right. In regards to Common Core, I am not afraid of change. I am just not going to sell-out my students’ education so that Pearson, the Gates Foundation, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Marc Tucker and others can experiment on our children.

I agree with Dr. King, which is why I am so saddened at how propaganda from an elite few is literally changing the face of America’s future with nothing more than a grand experiment called Common Core Standards. Our children deserve more. Our teachers deserve more. Our country deserves more. Education reform is the civil rights issue of our generation, and sadly, parents, teachers, and students have been left out of the process.

President Lincoln once said “the philosophy of the classroom today, will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.” With Common Core, new standardized tests have inundated classrooms with problems of their own. Teachers find themselves “teaching to the test” more and more. These tests violate our states’ rights. I wonder if parents realized that all states aren’t created equal in Common Core tests? Shouldn’t all states, under “common” standards for everyone have everyone’s equal input on how students are tested?

What about privacy under Common Core? Why didn’t local boards of education tell parents about the changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act? Do parents realize their child’s data, including bio-metric data such as fingerprints and retinal scans, is being placed in a state longitudinal data system and shared with others?

If our philosophy of the classroom is to violate states’ rights, use children and teachers as guinea pigs, and hide from parents the fact that their child’s data is no longer private, it can only be inferred that the philosophy of government tomorrow will do the same. What is America becoming?

As I watched President Obama place his hand on the bibles of Dr. King and President Lincoln, the history teacher in me was overjoyed to watch such a patriotic moment in U.S. history. And yet, I was crushed at the realization that if we do not stop Common Core and preserve the United States educational system, the philosophy of our government tomorrow will not be the America we know and love.

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Common Core Organization Operates in Secrecy with Taxpayer Money. Why?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Why are meetings that use tax dollars for public education planning closed to the taxpayers who are paying for the services and providing the children for the public education system? 

Truth in American Education wondered why taxpayer Heather Crossin was unable to attend a recent meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers held in Indiana.  CCSSO is a private trade organization using federal and state funding (taxpayer money) to write/direct public education standards/assessments.  Crossin not only could not attend the meetings, she could not discover the persons on the panel writing the Social Studies standards your teachers will be teaching and your children will be learning.  From heartland.org:

Indiana resident Heather Crossin, whose children attend schools implementing the Core, attempted to attend an October 2012 CCSSO meeting in her Indianapolis hometown. Crossin called Michele Parks, a CCSSO meeting planner, to see if she could attend. No, Parks said. Crossin asked to see a list of people on the Social Studies standards writing team: “I was told that was not available for public release,” Crossin said.

Ten weeks entailing dozens of emails and phone calls to at least six CCSSO spokesmen and personnel for access to the Indianapolis meeting or any others at last yielded an email to School Reform News from spokeswoman Kate Dando in December: “our meetings/sessions at our meetings are open to press really on a case by case basis,” she wrote.

How much money does CCSSO receive?

CCSSO receives tax money from more than state dues. It receives millions from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Approximately 13% and 33% of the Council’s revenue and 25% and 34% of accounts receivable were provided by U.S. Department of Education grants or contracts for fiscal years 2011 and 2010, respectively,” the nonprofit’s 2010-2011 financial statement reads.

Applying the 2011 percentage to that year’s revenues yields an estimated $3,450,930 in CCSSO revenue from the federal government, just in that year. In 2011, $558,000 came from the 2009 stimulus bill for CCSSO’s involvement with one of two networks creating new tests to fit the standards.

In 2010, the U.S. DOE granted those two networks $330 million in stimulus funds. This action, more than any other, led conservative supporters of the Common Core to complain of federal interference in education, a constitutionally protected state function.

Maybe it’s time to ask your state educational agency and legislators how much money is paid to CCSSO with taxpayer funding in your state.  If you can’t get a seat at the table, then maybe it’s time to pull the state and district funding for this organization and allow the Federal government to fully fund this organization.

Oh, but that’s right.  It’s “state led”, right?  If it’s “state led” then why are there mandates set by the DOEd that the states must pay for via CCSSO costs and district costs for implementation?  It’s illegal for the Federal government to set Federally mandated educational direction for states but does it seem to you that’s what has happened?

As Truth in American Education asks:

Some reporters have attended some CCSSO meetings, usually on background, she said, which means they cannot directly quote what they hear. Why?
 Why? Exactly… what do they have to hide?

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StudentsFirst does NOT represent School Choice

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

“Entrepreneurial investment in education technology has skyrocketed from $100 million in 2007 to $429 million in 2011. It’s peculiar that the huge increase in companies investing in digital classrooms and testing materials to eventually align with the Common Core State Standards’ requirements began the same year Rhee became Chancellor of DC Schools and Obama began his reign as president”. 

Potter Williams Report: War on Education 2013 exposes the federal takeover of education and Michelle Rhee’s involvement in the “choice” movement which in reality is not choice for parents.   It’s not much of a choice to go from one school to another that has the same Common Core mandates and the same educational blueprint.

THERE IS NO SCHOOL CHOICE, and if organizations both conservative and liberal tell you there is, they’re lying. Only the left has the playing field while conservatives grind their teeth on the sidelines. Hedge fund managers who control charter schools versus union-backed majorities on school boards? Where’s the choice? If you want to understand how the war is going, read about the battle for Bridgeport, Connecticut. This is the kind of education reform taking place across the country; and it’s not helping teachers, students, parents or principals who have skin in the game.

Recently StudentsFirst sent out a letter stating Missouri received a “D” ranking according to StudentsFirst’s measurements.  It had its recommendations on how:

  • teachers should be evaluated
  • parents should be empowered
  • the legislature should fund education

Why is Michelle Rhee’s organization dictating how districts should evaluate their employees, what choices parents/school boards should be making for children in their districts and how state government should be directing funding to educational programs?  Does StudentsFirst’s attempts to correct Missouri’s educational deficiencies (as it ranks them) reduce federal control and spending?  Do these attempts really create choice or just more public/private partnerships under the ruse of competition?  Ask yourself, what does this private organization have to gain from the changes it wants to see in Missouri….and other states?  Is it really “for the kids”?

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Common Core is a Financial Disaster

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog
‘Trickle-down mandate’ hurts ed standards
 
MetroWest Daily News reports: 
To shine a light on the decision-making process, Pioneer Institute, under Massachusetts Public Records Law, requested documents pertaining to any cost-analysis prepared prior to the adoption of Common Core.  Sadly, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education admitted that none existed.
You wouldn’t build a house without costing out the labor and materials.  But, unfortunately, that is exactly what Massachusetts did when education officials and Governor Patrick adopted Common Core without estimating the cost of implementing the standards. That means the expense of assessments, textbooks, instructional materials and technology weren’t projected, or, more likely, even considered in the decision.

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Best Research Award Winner Says #CommonCore is Data-less Decision Making #CCSS

by Anngie of Missouri Education Watchdog

Christopher Tienken, Ed.D. is the editor of the AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice. He is an assistant professor of Education Administration at Seton Hall University. He has public school administration experience as a PK-12 assistant superintendent, middle school principal, and elementary school assistant principal. He began his career in education as an elementary school teacher. Dr Tienken’s research interests include the effect and influence of professional development on teacher practice and student achievement, the construct validity of high-stakes standardized tests as decision-making tools about student achievement and school effectiveness, and curricular interventions used in schools to improve achievement. His research about the effects of professional development on student achievement has been recognized by the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Staff Development Council awarded him the Best Research Award in 2008.”

As a top researcher in academic practice and student achievement, Dr. Tienken looked at the claims of those who support the Common Core Standards and wrote about his findings in the Winter 2011 edition of the Journal of Scholarship & Practice. You can read his full report “Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making” here.  What follows are some key highlights from it.

On the claim that the standards are evidence based and internationally benchmarked.

“The standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended and unintended consequences they will have on the education system and children (Mathis, 2010)”

“The site alleges that the standards  are  “evidence  based”  and  lists  two homegrown documents to “prove” it: Myths vs Facts (NGA, 2010) and the Joint International Benchmarking Report (NGA, 2008). 

The Myths document presents claims that the standards  have  “made  use  of  a  large   and  growing  body  of  knowledge”  (p.  3). Knowledge derives in part from carefully controlled scientific experiments and observations so one would expect to find references to high quality empirical research to support the standards.

When I reviewed that  “large  and   growing  body  of  knowledge”  offered  by  the NGA, I found that it was not large, and in fact built mostly on one report, Benchmarking for Success, created by the NGA and the CCSSO, the same groups that created these standards; Hardly independent research.”

The need for the standards has been justified by claiming that, (a) America’s  children  are “lagging” behind international peers in terms of academic achievement, and (b) the economic vibrancy and future of the United States relies upon American students outranking their global peers on international tests of academic achievement.

Tienken’s response –
“Unfortunately for proponents of this empirically vapid argument it is well established that a rank on an international test of academic skills and knowledge does not have the power to predict future economic competitiveness and is otherwise meaningless for a host of reasons (Baker, 2007; Bracey, 2009; Tienken, 2008).”
He sites these examples to support his statement.
“The fact is China and its continued manipulation of its currency, the Yuan, and iron-fisted control of its labor pool, has a greater effect on our economic strength than if every American child scored at the top of every international test, the SAT, the ACT, the GRE, or the MAT.” (emphasis added)
“Japan‘s stock market, the Nikkei 225 Average, closed at a high of 38,915 points on December 31, 1989 and on October 15, 2010 it closed at 9,500 points, approximately 75% lower, but Japan ranked in the Top 10 on international tests of mathematics since the 1980‘s and has always ranked higher than the U.S. on such tests. Yet Japan‘s stock market and its economy have been in shambles for almost two decades. They have national curriculum standards and testing, and have for over 30 years. Japanese students outrank students from most other nations on math and science tests.”
“Economic strength of the G20 countries relies more on policy, than education achievement.”
“To believe otherwise is like believing in the tooth-fairy.”
Even if the standards were a good idea, they would not lead to the results that their proponents promise. Given their tremendous cost, it seems reasonable to question whether they are really needed. At the very least we should ask, is this a good investment of America’s capital?
Another phrase heard ad nauseum regarding the standards is that our students will need 21st century skills in order to compete in a global economy. I have been asking for months, someone please tell me what a 21st century skill is. I have received no answers and it would appear that the drafters of the Common Core Standards had no answer either.
“The language arts and mathematics curriculum sequences embedded in the standards are nothing more than rehashed versions of the recommendations from the Committee of Ten in 1893 and the Committee of 15 in1895; hardly 21st Century innovations.”
The United States Council on Competitiveness had a better answer than the consortia for what is needed to keep our economy growing.
“At the beginning of the 21st century, America stands at the dawn of a conceptual economy in which insight, imagination and ingenuity determine competitive advantage and value creation. To succeed in this hyper-competitive, fast-paced global economy, we cannot, nor should we want to, compete on low wages, commodity products, standard services, and routine science and technology development. As other nations build sophisticated technical capabilities, excellence in science and technology alone will not ensure success (p. 10).”
The CCSS, in contrast, contain no “authentic, critical thinking…. They are inert, sterile, socially static.” Tienken says, if we want to know what skills will be needed for the next century, we should ask the leaders of the businesses who will be looking for workers what they are looking for.
“The results from the 2010 Global Chief Executive Study conducted by the IBM Corporation made several recommendations that call into question the use of 19th century curriculum standards to address 21st century issues. After analyzing data from interviews with 1,500 of the worlds CEO‘s the authors stated that to remain competitive in the global economies CEO‘s and their employees must:
(a) use creative leadership strategies;
(b) collaborate and cooperate globally amongst themselves and with their customer bases;
(c) differentiate their responses, products, and services to ―build operating dexterity (p.51); and
(d) be able to use complexity to a strategic advantage.
The vendors of the CCSS have a problem: They have no data that demonstrates the validity of the standards as a vehicle to build 21st century skills nor as a means to achieve the things the business leaders say will be needed to operate in a diverse global environment. The CCSS are stuck in a time warp. A curricular time machine, if you will, set to 1858.”
Behind all the talk about the standards is fear mongering about America’s economic status in the world. America is painted as behind and falling further and further behind. The propaganda for Common Core claims this is because of our declining education system. But the real statistics show something very different. Below is just one example of many that Tienken provides.
“The U.S. has ranked either first or second out of 139 nations on the World Economic Forum‘s (2010) Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) eight out of the last 10 years and never ranked below sixth place during that period, regardless of results on international assessments and without adopting national curriculum standards.”
Unfortunately, the proponents of Common Core continue to push them as vital to our country’s future.
“Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Many of America‘s education associations already pledged support for the idea and have made the CCSS major parts of their national conferences and the programs they sell to schools.
“This seems like the ultimate in anti- intellectual behavior coming from what claim to be intellectual organizations now acting like charlatans by vending products to their members based on an untested idea and parroting false claims of standards efficacy.”
“It is an Orwellian policy position that lacks a basic understanding of diversity and developmental psychology. It is a position that eschews science and at its core, believes it is appropriate to force children to fit the system instead of the system adjusting to the needs of the child.”
The better solution, according to Tienken, is to bring control for education back to the local level.
“Alexander‘s (2002) study of course taking pattern before and after the introduction of New York‘s regent standards revealed that local contexts such as school size and demographics accounted for most of the disparity in course taking, and universal curriculum requirements did little to overcome that after their initial implementation. Local context, involvement and input matters greatly.”
“In fact, the experiment (Aikin, 1942)demonstrated that the less standardized, more diverse, locally developed and designed the programs (based on demonstrated research and theories of learning), the better the students did in college academically, socially, and civically compared their traditionally prepared peers.”
If we really want to bring up the lowest performing students, Tienken advances that a better approach would be the development of better social safety nets. “Housing policy has been shown to be a stronger intervention for increasing test scores than nationalizing curriculum (Schwartz, 2010).” These would have to be carefully constructed so as not to demolish personal responsibility or pride, and not foster an unnecessary dependence on the system.
Perhaps it‘s not universal curriculum standards that make the difference. Maybe it‘s a comprehensive social system that provides a quality social safety net for children and mothers that has the greatest influence on ultimate education outcomes.” 

Tienken offers these conclusions about Common Core.

There is no reliable, independently validated empirical support for the CCSS initiative and yet many policy-makers and educators support it.

It is an attractive idea to support because it limits the intricacies of the real issues and makes it easy to lay the blame at the foot of a system (public education) that reacts to society, not drives it.

The CCSS initiative compartmentalizes complexity and compartmentalizing messy issues allows people to be intellectually lazy. Developing coherent education and social policy is more difficult.

The vendors of the CCSS present the standardization of America’s  children  as a neat and clean solution, easily manageable and easy to discuss.

Unfortunately the real world is not so organized and it is much more cognitively complicated. Believing that we can eliminate the complexity of educating all students by putting forth superficial ideas like one-size fits- all standards is like believing rankings on international tests really mean something. (Is your tooth under the pillow?)

It seems anti-intellectual, and based on the lack of evidence, unethical to support such a massive social experiment, using participants who have no choice but to go along.

The evidence suggests that there is not a crisis in education; there is a crisis in education leadership at all levels. Those who perpetuate bad ideas based on flawed data are practicing poor leadership. If some school leaders and their organizations do not want to stand up for children then they should stand down and let those who are willing assume the leadership reins.

The entire article is relatively short, well documented and worth the read.

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Common Core Battles Explained. It’s Really Not About the Standards. Really.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

If you are new to the Common Core Standards battle, below is an article that explains the outcome of the standards.  The basic truth of the standards is that they are unproven, untested, underfunded and proponents cannot point to “internationally benchmarked” standards to which they are purportedly aligned. They are a cash cow for those education reformers providing the infrastructure and implementation: new text, new computers, new training manuals, etc.  What a great cash infusion into the economy…you’ve got to love those private companies taking advantage of that public money/partnership opportunity.

The method of making money (not really providing education reform for the sake of education) is in full swing.  But look down the road.  WHY are we experiencing this monstrous wave of centralized control?  It’s for the data.  The linked article explains about the surveillance of Americans via the National Security Agency (NSA) capturing email information (without Americans realizing it) and the massive storage and infrastructure needed for this activity.  WHY is the government keeping your information?  Michael S. Rozeff writing in LewRockwell.com:

If we examine the legality of this NSA warrantless surveillance, we will quickly become mired down in abstruse issues of statutory and constitutional law.   Let us not go there. That won’t give us the central answer to the question of what’s wrong with a wide network of government surveillance of Americans, with or without warrants.

It’s the same for Common Core Standards.  The grab of educational direction by the Department of Education is unconstitutional, but trying to get them out of your state legislatively promises to take several years.  Look bigger picture. WHY is the government so interested in establishing common core standards?  Like the NSA and the tracking of financial transactions, the tracking of student data will be able to determine your student’s place in a managed workforce.  Your students will be placed in a position based on his/her data set.

So what’s the problem?  If Americans want a nanny state, CCSS is the answer to figuring out what type of job your student will secure in the future.  No hard decisions for your little one to worry about:

The mandated Longitudinal Data System (a nationwide computer system connected to states using Common Core standards) will be connected not only to other states for educational information, but also to various federal agencies, such as the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services for information to supply the workforce:

The term workforce is defined as consisting of the workers engaged in a specific activity, business or industry or the number of workers who are available to be assigned to any purpose as in a nation’s workforce.

The public workforce system is a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion and facilitate the development United States workforce. The system is designed to create partnership with employers, educators, and community leaders in order to foster economic development and high-growth opportunities in regional economies so that businesses find qualified workers to meet their present and future workforce needs. (Emphasis added)

Your student’s data (educational and personal) is to be fed into the LDS to determine his/her strengths and weaknesses. This is surveillance most taxpayers/parents probably don‘t even know is occurring.  Do you remember signing a permission form giving the government the right to share your child’s information with a network of federal, state, and local offices that function to support economic expansion?  Is this what you envision for your child as he/she sets off for school each day?

The education reformers and some nanny state parents ask: Isn’t this a positive service our government is doing to/for our children?  Helping our children decide what to do for a job and where to work?  Whatever is the problem?  The answer:  What occurs if your student decides he/she doesn’t want to do the job designated for him by his/her data?

What’s wrong with the surveillance state? The balance of power between citizens and government in America is already lopsided and becoming increasingly so. The surveillance state opens up new opportunities and new vistas for government control of its citizens.

The biggest danger is that Americans be trained to accept the State’s controls over their lives, or that they have a limited notion of what freedom means. In roughly 15 years of training, a new generation can be taught that the State’s controls are PROPER and that what the State is doing is RIGHT and for the GOOD of the people. When this happens, further restrictions and controls become easier and a high degree of oppression reigns, and it even meets with a high degree of acceptance.

As you read What’s Wrong with the Survelliance State, think how this applies to the intrusion and data mining in education and the real purpose of Common Core standards.  If there is no common data mined and shared via state computers to other agencies, this silent surveillance on your student cannot occur…at least in school.

******************************************************************************

Do you know what the NSA is? It’s the National Security Agency. The NSA has collected an estimated 15 to 20 trillion communications involving Americans.

Government spying on Americans and surveillance of Americans are rapidly increasing. The government has forced telecommunications companies to participate. This is being litigated in lawsuits.

Financial institutions must report certain cash transactions to the Department of the Treasury. This is accepted practice. This reporting includes the following and I quote the U.S. Treasury:

“Individuals transporting over $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments into/out of the US.
“Shippers/Receivers of over $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments into/out of the US
“For each person engaged in a trade or business who receives over $10,000 in cash in one transaction or two or more related transactions.
“For each U.S. person who has a financial interest in, or signature authority, or other authority, over any financial accounts, including bank, securities, or other types of financial accounts in a foreign country, if the aggregate value of these financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.”

Former NSA official, William Binney, says that the government is collecting and storing everyone’s e-mails.

“…the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.”

Asked if this collection were only of those who could be a threat to national security, he said

“It’s everybody. The Naris device, if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10-gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why they’re building Bluffdale [database facility], because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, emails are going to be stored there in the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.”

If we examine the legality of this NSA warrantless surveillance, we will quickly become mired down in abstruse issues of statutory and constitutional law.

Let us not go there. That won’t give us the central answer to the question of what’s wrong with a wide network of government surveillance of Americans, with or without warrants.

Binney gives us the beginning of the answer:

“Unfortunately, the state of our surveillance state is: all set, to be turned on for the imperial presidency to do whatever it wants to do.”

What’s wrong with the surveillance state is (1) that the State has far more power than each individual American has, and (2) the State can and will turn that power against Americans if it can get away with it.

The State is not some beneficent body of men and women devoted to public service who are unselfishly acting on behalf of the welfare of Americans. Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, John Boehner, Harry Reid, John Roberts, David Petraeus, Keith B. Alexander, Robert Mueller, and Michael Hayden are not saints. They are not even close.

We have had recent examples of the abuses of power as exercised by George Bush and his administration. Barack Obama continues those abuses and adds more of his own. The Congress continues its many abuses. The Supreme Court continues its abuses. If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that men and women in the U.S. government have immense power to do many evil and foul deeds, and they have done them, and they will continue to do them.

It is built into human nature and into the nature of the institutions of government that such evils can and will occur, and they must be curtailed or else they annihilate civil society.

The State consists of a relatively small group of men and women with great power, and they will abuse this power if they can, that is to say, if the governed do not control their governors.

The State has organized and official power that we as individuals do not have. The State has the power to make laws and say what is legal or not legal, constitutional or not constitutional. It has the power to carry out and enforce its laws. The State’s power also finds acceptance among many Americans.

When there is a contest between some Americans and the State, or when some Americans oppose the government’s powers, their means of recourse are not as strong as the State’s, not as well organized, not as well known, not as well focused, and not as well accepted. It is more difficult for Americans to find ways to control the State than it is for the State to devise ways to control Americans. The citizens who wish to keep the State under control do not as a routine and accepted matter have institutions that they have built up and used over time to check the State’s power.

As government has grown and State power accumulated, the powers of civil society to control the State have atrophied. It is in the interest of the State to diminish those powers, and over time it is doing this. It is in the State’s interest to diminish an armed citizen militia and to replace it with a nationalized, centralized and professionalized armed force. It is in the State’s interest to replace common law and dispersed courts with a nationalized and centralized system of law-making, law-interpretation and law-enforcement.

It is by no means impossible to control the State, but it’s a non-routine and trying task. When the State flexes its muscles and oversteps, legal and electoral mechanisms may be slow and unwieldy and they may fail. The State has staying power.

And so William Binney accurately pinpoints the risk. With a surveillance state in place and with access to information on everyone, the few at the top who run the State and particularly the imperial President, who already is attempting to rule by Executive Order, can do whatever he or she wants to do.

What I envision is creeping totalitarianism, also one can call it democratic totalitarianism. It is a totalitarianism in which a facade of democratic or republican government, call it what you will, is maintained, but the actuality is increasingly detailed and oppressive control over ordinary life. The State will know where you are and what you are doing, and it will have the means of punishing you if you do not obey its rules.

Surveillance is a key component of such totalitarianism. Imagine that the State controls currency and eliminates hand-to-hand cash altogether, replacing it by electronic transactions. These can be monitored and collected. The State can know every item that you buy or sell. The State then can pass a law, according to its whim, that outlaws a certain food or item or service, or it can do the opposite. It can pass a law requiring a certain food or medical procedure. Surveillance gives it the means of enforcing its laws by knowing who is obeying and who is not. The State can turn anyone into a criminal ex post facto by passing a law and then searching past records, communications and transactions to find evidence of their previous wrongdoing. The U.S. Constitution forbids ex post facto laws, but it also forbids fiat money and requires declarations of wars by Congress. Many other constitutional provisions are ignored.

What’s wrong with the surveillance state? The balance of power between citizens and government in America is already lopsided and becoming increasingly so. The surveillance state opens up new opportunities and new vistas for government control of its citizens.
The biggest danger is that Americans be trained to accept the State’s controls over their lives, or that they have a limited notion of what freedom means. In roughly 15 years of training, a new generation can be taught that the State’s controls are PROPER and that what the State is doing is RIGHT and for the GOOD of the people. When this happens, further restrictions and controls become easier and a high degree of oppression reigns, and it even meets with a high degree of acceptance.

Totally free communication is absolutely essential to prevent this from occurring. There must be the capacity to speak freely and to educate all people, young and old, about freedom and the challenges to freedom emanating from the State. If surveillance is used to instill fear of speaking freely or used to control speech or used to prevent people from earning a livelihood or used to tie people up in legal proceedings or used to blackmail people into silence, the threat to freedom at that point is open and severe.

The surveillance State constantly drags its heels and seeks to keep its surveillance secret. There is no possibility of citizens controlling a government when they don’t know what the government is doing. If whistle blowers, soldiers and ex-soldiers, government officials and ex-government officials, and media figures are repressed and prevented from making information public, in other words, as the surveillance state seeks to keep its activities secret, the threat to freedom amplifies.

The battle lines between citizens and the State are always drawn. They never go away. The State is always a threat to freedom. The State is always pushing for greater control unless the citizens push back, develop and use means to control the State. Growing surveillance by the State is an offensive operation of the State in this never-ending war. It is up to the citizens to resist the State’s surveillance, form ongoing institutions to control the State, form a culture of citizen control, and dismantle the State’s capacity for such surveillance. It is that or else surrender more of their disappearing freedom.

December 31, 2012
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.
Copyright © 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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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 Numbers Game In Education

This piece comes to us from Missouri Education Watchdog.

Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat and most recently That Used To Be Us, was interviewed by Jim Fleming on NPR’s All Things Considered. He had this to say about American education,

“Well, if you take the PISA test, which is the best kind of international comparative test on writing, math and science for 15-year-olds, we’re right there in the middle of the pack with Slovenia.  We are not leaders in these math and science competitions or in the writing competitions.  We quote the latest sort of statistic, there’s an annual kind of you know, math genius competition for college students.  And I think we have one school in the top ten, in Michigan.  And you know, you look at any international comparison test and we’re now in the middle of the pack.  And a lot of people say well, that’s because we have more diverse populations–no, they factor in all of that, okay.  I’m tired of having to explain like why we’re in the middle of the pack.  How about we just come out number one and not have to explain anything anymore.”

His remark is typical of those who believe we are in an educational crisis in this country. The PISA test in particular has been used  to demonstrate America’s falling performance levels. We rank 24th in math and 17th in science out of 30 countries. But as we’ve already discussed, this is somewhat of a numbers game being played in the ranking.  Mr. Friedman is a smart man and a decent economist so he should be well versed in how statistics can be manipulated to make a point. In his statement he both acknowledges this fact and then dismisses it out of hand because it would be so much easier if we didn’t have to explain statistical manipulation.

There are easy ways to achieve his desired number one status by next year. We could require a certain GPA in order to even take the PISA test. That way only our brightest students, who are obviously on the path to college, would take it and our scores would go up. Instead we encourage everyone to take standardized exams like the ACT and SAT and go on to college. In the last four years we have increased the number of students taking the ACT by 17%. Statistics tell us that this should lower the score as less advanced students are now taking the test. The ACT says, however, that the national scores have not changed in the last four years. That means the we actually have more students doing better now than four years ago.

The question he should be asking is why would anyone manipulate the statistics in the first place. Could it be, as Rahm Emanuel now famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste?” First you have to convince people there is a crisis and then you can do all kinds of things to fix it.

Such numbers manipulation is done nationally, and it turns out, locally as well. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Eductation reported earlier this year that Missouri was ranked 26th on our students’ average ACT score. That would put us right in the middle of the pack and add to the evidence that our schools are in crisis and need of changing. It was decent support for our state getting into the Common Core Standards.  We were barely keeping our head above water.

It turns out, when you try to compare apples to apples with ACT scores, Missouri is not doing so bad. In fact, we are 4th in the nation when compared with other states who have a similar percentage of students taking the test. Whew! Dodged that bullet. Let’s pat ourselves on the back and call it a day.  Well, not quite.

There is always room for improvement. As Mr. Friedman says it would be nice to just come out number one overall. To do that, we could look at states like Massachusetts which, while only having 15% of their graduating students take the ACT, blew us away on all the measures.  Forty four percent of their takers received benchmark scores on all areas of the ACT (English Composition, Algebra, Social Science and Biology) compared to the national average of 25% and Missouri’s average of 27%. Benchmark scores are the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college courses. Perhaps we should adopt Massachusetts’ standards and curriculum. If only improving test scores were that simple.

At least adopting MA standards would make some sort of logical sense. Look at who’s succeeding and do what they do. Instead we have adopted Common Core Standards which don’t look like MA standards.  They don’t look like anyone’s because they’ve never been done before. They’ve also never been tested before so we really don’t know what they will do for our test scores. But at least we’ll be able to compare our students scores against other states on a level playing ground, right?  Not exactly.

Since it now looks like there will be at least two versions of each of the assessments, a short and a long, it will be harder to compared state-to-state. In addition, each assessment is self adjusting, selecting harder questions for those who get answers right and easier questions for those who answer incorrectly. No two students will take the exact same test. That makes comparing student-to-student within the same classroom a difficult challenge, let alone comparing students between different states.

The numbers game in education will continue as long as there is money and power to be gained from it. Test developers, tutoring schools, educational “thought leaders”, venture capitalists,  and a host of others who see an opportunity to make money or a name for themselves will continue to feed us statistics that tell us we need them; their money, their intellect, their policies. In the education numbers game, the only winning move, as they said in War Games, is not to play.

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Common Core Standards and the Federalization of Education

By Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates for Academic Freedom

Common Core Standards are a federal program in which the federal government will define the curricula and the academic standards for each subject taught in the every school setting. These Federal Standards will basically eliminate local control of schools and provide unfettered access to curricula by the Federal Government and by the United Nations eventually. To date, 46 states have adopted Common Core Standards. The cost for implementing these standards may require a new method of taxation that is more accommodating for federal control of the educational system.

President Obama’s federal program Race to the Top provides bonus points to states that institute common learning goals. Common Core Standards represent about $16 billion in new unfunded mandates. It imposes mediocre standards upon the states which must be accepted or the states are threatened with loss of present funding. Federal mandating of these standards bypasses any congressional scrutiny and the state legislative process as well as violating the public trust by preventing any school board, parental, or teacher approval of these programs.

The federal government has been encouraged to implement these standards by educational policy experts because, as A New Civic Literacy: American Education and Global Interdependence provided by the Aspen Institute explains, “decentralization” of education (local control) makes educational change difficult to introduce.” Therefore, policy experts recommend that the federal government be given the responsibility to assure the implementation of global interdependence. Advancing global interdependence has replaced the original educational goal and that is why our schools are failing academically, but schools are succeeding to advance our population’s acceptance of surrendering our border, our right to secure elections, and respect for our founding documents.

Common Core Standards have been written for math and English and are currently being written for social studies curricula. The standards for this subject are key to the successful advancement of the social and political policy of global interdependence which these standards are intended to help implement. According to A New Civic Literacy the “students in our public schools constitute the nation’s greatest and most attractive sucker list. Everybody with anything to sell—a global perspective—would naturally like to get at this market of future American adults, and get them as early in life as possible.” The document identifies teachers of social studies and the publishers of text books as key points of leverage. Because of the importance of this access to the American public, these policy experts defined education as “the most important subject we as a people are engaged in.”

Teachers, parents, and some legislators have been discouraging the implementation of Common Core Standards because the standards are weak. They eliminate oversight by school boards, teachers, and parents and any control parents and educators would have over academics in the classroom. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 8, 2012, in “School-Standards Pushback” that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is concerned that these standards will “relinquish control of education to the federal government” and that Emmett McGroarty, executive director of American Principles in Action, called the standards “mediocre and costly to implement.”

Many are concerned that the Common Core Standards, once successfully implemented, will provide unfettered access of our educational system by the United Nations. Some textbooks and curricula for our public schools have already been written by UNESCO and the International Baccalaureate program that is currently in many school districts across the United States. Grabbing additional access is a natural next step. Once they write the curricula, they must have authority to develop all testing tools. They will decide who becomes a teacher and what preparation will be provided for that teacher. The International Baccalaureate curriculum upsets parents and teachers because the focus includes sustainable development, abortion rights, gay marriage, universal disarmament and social justice curricula.

The UN involvement in the American educational system has already been facilitated by treaties signed by American presidents from both parties. Those documents include but are not limited to: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Treaty on the Rights of the Child, Civic Education: Classroom Connections, and Agenda 21.

EdWatch.org published “Marc Tucker’s New Education Initiative” written by Professor Allen Quist in 2007 in which the professor explains that experts representing the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) seem to believe that it will be easier for the public to accept a new method of funding education once schools are burdened under these unfunded mandates. According to professor Quist, the NCEE suggests that regional development authorities be created and given power to tax removing all remaining local control of schools. Once the federal government has total control of education, what will happen to school choice?

For effective educational reform, citizens must unite around a single mission: eliminate federal mandates and federal funding of education and reallocate those funds to the states.

_

Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom (AAF) which is a proponent for a return to fact-based curricula, accountability, and academic excellent in public education. Karen was appointed to the Governor’s Educational Communications Board on May 1, 2012.  She provides seminars designed to inform and motivate citizens to reclaim their responsibility to become involved in the decisions made at the local and state levels of the educational system. Karen is regularly interviewed by Wisconsin radio personalities. 

With a BA degree in education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education, Ms. Schroeder has taught in suburban public schools for thirty-six years. During her teaching career, she became a free-lance writer to provide citizens with information revealing the impact of social and political policies on the educational system. Her works are published in the Eau Claire Journal and numerous other newspapers across Wisconsin.

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Mitt Romney on Common Core

Mitt Romney made his position on the Common Core State Standards known last week at NBC’s “Education Nation” summit.

In response to Brian Williams’ question about what to make of the Common Core, Romney stated that it is not the federal governments place to be involved in educational standards.

I think it’s fine for people to lay out what they think core subjects might be and to suggest a pedagogy and being able to provide that learning to our kids. I don’t subscribe to the idea of the federal government trying to push a common core on various states.

It’s one thing to put it out as a model and let people adopt it as they will, but to financially reward states based upon accepting the federal government’s idea of a curriculum, I think, is a mistake. And the reason I say that is that there may be a time when the government has an agenda that it wants to promote.

And I’m not wild about the federal government having some kind of agenda that it then compensates states to teach their kids. I’d rather let education and what is taught state by state be determined state by state, not by the federal government.

In response to a New York City educator, Romney stated this about the responsibility of implementation.

I don’t happen to believe that every time that there’s a good idea that comes along the federal government should now finance the implementation of that. We certainly didn’t. States have responsibility for the education of their children, their respective borders. And I’m not looking for more federal spending. I mean, I know it is the nature of politics for someone in my position to promise more free stuff, to say we’re going to get more—we’ll send money, we’re going to do this, and people say, boy, he really cares about education. I really care about education.

I care so much about our kids that I don’t want to saddle them with trillions on trillions of dollars of debt when they come out of school. And so I’m just not willing to add more spending to get people happy with me. I’m willing to say, say look, education is done at the state level, the federal government provides funding for special needs students and low-income students. But in terms of implementing the common core, if you’ve chosen it, congratulations, work on it and do it within the resources of your own state.

There is much to applaud in Romney’s comments about the Common Core and its implementation. In a recent PDK/Gallup survey only 50% of Americans stated that they believe the Common Core State Standards will improve the quality of education. The Common Core State Standards is the latest over-promised, over-hyped “solution” to America’s educational woes. New, fancy, shiny standards do not fix bad instruction.

H/T Education Week

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