Tag Archives: Missouri

Videos: Meet Some Educational Freedom Fighters via @212Christel

H/T to Christel Swasey of Common Core: Education Without Representation

Remember, according to the Common Core cabal, these people don’t exist and all educational experts agree that Common Core will turn water to wine. You’re a big dumb, dummy if you don’t agree with them.

The links next to their names are often set to a specific point in the video. We have posted the videos in their entirety.

Christopher Tienken – Professor at Seton Hall, NJ –  http://vimeo.com/58461595

Jane Robbins – American Principles Project – Stop Common Core video series: http://youtu.be/coRNJluF2O4

Jamie Gass – Pioneer Institute – has been speaking about Common Core for many years; knows why Massachusetts had the best standards in the nation prior to Common Core. http://youtu.be/SBROaOCKN50

Senator Kurt Bahr – Missouri legislator fighting Common Core http://youtu.be/25NTsQxj-zg?t=1m49s

Senator William Ligon – Georgia legislator fighting Common Core http://youtu.be/ODz4X0GO-Fk?t=1m37s

Senator Scott Schneider – Indiana legislator fighting Common Core http://youtu.be/TH9ZxVrn6aA?t=1m10s

Dr. Bill Evers – Hoover Institute – Stanford University – http://youtu.be/LB014eno1aA

Robert Scott – Texas commissioner of education – rejected Common Core: http://youtu.be/WcpMIUWbgxY?t=2m25s

Diane Ravitch – liberal education analyst who just recently came out against Common Core http://youtu.be/ZkZUGpJJWy4?t=13s

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on their adequacy: http://bcove.me/ws77it6d  see min. 55:30

Ze’ev Wurman, math analyst http://youtu.be/0cgnprQg_O0?t=22s

Heather Crossin – Indiana mother fighting Common Core http://youtu.be/TH9ZxVrn6aA?t=54s

Utah moms  Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy – http://youtu.be/Mk0D16mNbp4

Jim Stergios – Pioneer Institute –  http://bcove.me/ws77it6d see minute 30:00

Jenni White – Oklahoma data collection expert –  http://youtu.be/XTbMLjk-qRc and http://youtu.be/JM1CTJFUuzM

Susan Ohanian – education analyst http://youtu.be/uJHkztNNFNk?t=23s

Dr. William Mathis of University of Colorado http://youtu.be/46-M1hH0D1Q?t=23s

Seattle Teachers who boycotted Garfield High School standardized testing. http://youtu.be/N5ODEoqZZHs

Gary Thompson, clinical psychologist http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/glenn-beck-on-privacy-and-data-mining-in-common-core/
Emmett McGroarty, American Principles Project http://youtu.be/wVI78lPCFfs?t=21s

David Cox, teacher http://youtu.be/W-uAi1I_6Ds?t=22m28s

Paul Bogush, teacher  http://youtu.be/oaDniHquMVI?t=56s

Sherena Arrington, political analyst http://youtu.be/QF337nKwx6M?t=6m35s

Walt Chappell, Kansas Board of Education  http://youtu.be/1S9jjNyXAE4?t=16m55s

Bob Shaeffer, Colorado Principal /Former Congressman http://youtu.be/Fai4K2ZVauk?t=1m15s

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Filed under Data Mining/Tracking, Data Systems, National Standards (Common Core), Videos

How do you Sustain a Nationalized Education System? Turn it Over to 501(c)(3) Groups for Outsourcing.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

The two private trade organizations The National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) sure had a nifty plan to nationalize education.  Get states to “voluntarily” sign  up to relinquish their constitutional authority to develop and deliver education for their citizens in exchange for two consortia controlling state educational programs.  “Voluntarily” refers to the dangling of money to states competing for Race to the Top, but when some states still didn’t compete for or win grants, the ESEA waivers included states having to commit to CCSS.

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

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

Twenty million students are expected to take the SBAC assessments on-line. There needs to be technical and professional support for this system going forward. Both SBAC and PARCC were funded with seed money from TARP. This money will run out September 30, 2014. Any remaining unused funds will revert to the US Treasury. Both consortia must now figure out how to make the assessments sustainable by finding other funding sources. The first RFP for a consultant to take on this work received zero bids because SBAC had grossly underestimated the effort needed to do the work. They are now looking to identify areas of commonality with the other assessment consortia, PARCC, and see if the two groups can share a consultant on those common points. It is not a stretch to see that these two groups are probably going to have to combine in the future in order to remain sustainable. Then we will truly have national standards.

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

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

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

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

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

Read more here.

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

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

Edweek writes:

The sustainability question is key to the long-term work and goals of the consortia. Right now, no one really knows who will update the tests, for instance, as secure item pools dwindle. The research agenda is in question, too, and that’s pretty huge. Without a multiyear inquiry into how students at various cut scores actually perform in college, it’s tough to validate the test as being a sound proxy of college readiness. These—and many more—questions ride on the question of sustainability. There is a near-term question of sustainability, as well. The groups are mindful that in order to protect the $360 million in federal funding they won, they each need to have at least 15 member states. With 24 in SBAC and 22 in PARCC right now, that doesn’t seem to be a looming issue. But if enough states get skittish and drop out, federal officials could—according to their own regulations—cut off the funding that is meant to carry the consortia’s work through the fall of 2014.

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

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

Listed here are some downsides to outsourcing which include:

  • loss of managerial control
  • hidden cost
  • threat to security and confidentiality
  • quality problems
  • tied to the financial well-being of another company
  • bad publicity and ill-will

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

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We have already added more states. Please click on the page link at the top of the page to see if your state is on there. If not, contact us and we will get one set up for you!

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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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PTA Implores Love for the Common Core. Why?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Eric Hargis, Executive Director of the National PTA writes in Don’t Politicize the Common Core in edweek.org:

Unfortunately, like so many other issues, the Common Core State Standards are surrounded by myths and are being misrepresented for supposed political gain; the incredible value that the Standards provide to parents wanting to be fully engaged in their children’s education makes this all the more dangerous and could represent a huge loss to our education system in America.

Bashing anything done by the Federal Government, always a popular sport in America, has now reached Olympic class status, and there are those claiming that the Standards are a government take-over of education and call them “Common Core National Standards.” This isn’t even a Pinocchio stretch of the truth, but an out and out lie. The truth is, states are driving this process and have been involved at every level —  from the drafting and development stages through revisions and the final product.

In fact, states voluntarily adopted the Standards. States can even go above the content of the Standards by 15% to cover content that they feel is important but not currently a part of the Standards. Importantly, states and school districts still have autonomy in decisions made on how to teach the Standards in the classroom.

At the same time, as a parent, I will be assured quality and consistency in my children’s education regardless of where we live. While most all members of state and district education boards pursue only the highest of academic standards, one need only watch the television talk shows to hear what a few believe should be taught as science and history. Let’s keep them on the talk shows and out of our classrooms!

As we all know too well, business in Washington and in many states is driven by partisan politics. Despite the proven effectiveness of the Common Core State Standards, they have become an easy target for a bickering Congress, and divided state and local leaders. The American people are tired of the political games that are hurting our children. We want our government leaders to come together to ensure that our children receive a better education than we did. Those states that have still not adopted the standards for purely political reasons are doing their state’s students an incredible disservice.


Mr. Hargis’ contentions need to be addressed:

  • The states are not driving the process of Common Core standards.  It has been documented the standards are privately owned and copyrighted and states/schools/districts cannot alter the standards/assessments.
  • States “voluntarily” adopting the standards statement comes with a caveat.  If states did not adopt the standards, they were ineligible to gain a waiver from the NCLB goals. Describing this as a “voluntary” choice meant states jumped from the frying pan into the fire.  What kind of ” voluntary choice” is this really?
  • He is correct that states will be “allowed” to go above the mandated standards/assessments to deliver an extra 15% of material.  Why should there be mandates on schools/districts/states that “allow” teachers to teach a whopping 15% of the “allowed” material?  Is it even feasible to teach additional material when assessments may be scheduled every three weeks on the mandated 85%?
  • Bashing anything done by the Federal Government might just hold important validity.  Federal Spending has skyrockted 190% in four decades and test results have flatlined.  This is not a ringing endorsement of the Federal Government’s involvement in education, which is a state’s responsibility.  The Federal Government certainly has its hands in the CCSS mandates as it funded the consortia via Stimulus funding.
  • Mr. Hargis is simply making up fact when he states “despite the proven effectiveness of the Common Core State Standards”….these standards are in reality unproven and untested.  They have never been implemented in small studies to determine their effectiveness.
  • States pushing back on Common Core standards (such as my state, Missouri) are in fact, doing their state a great service by demanding back local control (and cost) of standards and assessments for their students.  Perhaps Mr. Hargis sees it as a political tug of war.  Many of us prefer to see it as the reclamation of state authority to provide educational direction for students and a voice for local districts in the most effective way to educate their community’s children.
  • Mr. Hargis writes: “While most all members of state and district education boards pursue only the highest of academic standards, one need only watch the television talk shows to hear what a few believe should be taught as science and history. Let’s keep them on the talk shows and out of our classrooms!” Question: Who SHOULD decide what should be taught as science and history?  Should this be assigned to private trade organizations who copyrighted the standards/assessments that states/districts/schools cannot alter and taxpayers cannot change even though tax dollars have paid for them?

Mr. Hargis believes this is a parental involvement issue and will help parents become more involved in educational decisions.  That’s an interesting viewpoint.  Parents are discovering objectionable material being taught to their children and the school can only shrug its shoulders and say “sorry”.  It’s mandated by the Common Core standards.

Why would Mr. Hargis come out with such an article imploring that we all love the Common Core standards when many of his claims cannot be proven or are just flat out wrong?  Could it be that the National PTA accepted a lot of money from CCSS proponents?  From Red Flags, National PTA, and Common Core Standards at susanohanian.org:

Clearly the Gates Foundation has added to this bucket of money by giving the PTA a million dollars to use in promoting the standards.

You can read all about the numerous red flags in the 2009 article.  The author, Niki Hayes, writes:

An immediate red flag appears, for example, because the PTA jumped onto the CCSSI bandwagon in September 2009—before the public input period was completed that ran from mid-September to mid-October. Ideas, questions, and concerns “from the field” of those who would have to live and work with these standards were not considered by the PTA’s leadership before they made this big leap with an incomplete product.

With all due respect to Mr. Hargis, a million dollar contribution from Mr. Gates does not make the standards any more than what they are: centralized, federally supported/funded, unproven, untested and an incomplete product (3 years in the making) of expensive theories and plans to make education reformers wealthy. Opponents are not “politicizing” the Common Core standards, they are just asking for data to prove their effectiveness and questioning the legality for these private/public partnerships to decide how communities pay for and provide educational services to students.

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Missouri Teacher Turned Republican State Representative Locked in Battle With His School District

Bryan Spencer was elected to represent the people of West St. Charles County and Eastern Warren County last November.  Instead of being able to focus on legislative priorities in Jefferson City, the Missouri state capitol, he has to fight a battle with the Francis Howell School District.

Spencer decided to run for office after redistricting from the 2010 census due to request from parents, former student, colleagues, and members of community service/political/religious organizations encouraged him to run.  Before filing, he filled out a personal day form to take a day away from school to file for office.  He then consulted with his principal at Francis Howell North High School.  The principal explained that there had been other teachers that have filed for political offices and were not successful.  Spencer was wished the best of luck and told that it would be a great learning experience for him.

After winning the primary election, Spencer thought it would be good to ask for an unpaid leave of absence in case he won the general election. The Francis Howell School Board denied the request simply stating that they had reviewed the request and the request was denied.  There was no specific reasoning given for their denial. Spencer went on to win the November general election. Once again, he went to his school board and asked for an unpaid leave of absence.  This time Spencer listed precedent when other teachers have been granted leaves of absences for a variety of reasons.  The school board once again denied his request.

One might ask why should the district accommodate Spencer? The school district has granted numerous unpaid leaves for various reasons in the past. Most interestingly, the Missouri State NEA President is Chris Guinther. According to her biography on the MNEA website, Guinther is from the Francis Howell School District, and according to Spencer, she is currently on an unpaid leave of absence.  She has been on a leave of absence since 2001.  Spencer also claims that the current NEA President of the district’s local chapter, Anita Miller, is on an unpaid leave of absence. One would assume what is fair for the NEA is surely fair for an elected representative of the people.  There have been many teachers on leave for a variety of reasons.

On January 17 the Francis Howell School District had a closed door meeting to discuss the future of Spencer’s employment with the school district. Shortly after the meeting, Spencer received a letter from the district stating that he was in breach of his contract for excessive absenteeism. The district is currently pursuing a due process hearing for tenured termination. There is also a risk that the school district may pursue filing charges against Spencer with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Depending on DESE’s response, Spencer risks losing his teaching certification with the state of Missouri.

To further complicate matters, Spencer could be in violation of the law. Missouri law states that a person cannot collect two paychecks from the government. Because he is fighting for the unpaid leave, Spencer has not voluntarily terminated his contract with the district. He has stopped any direct deposit of his salary, and he is not collecting his paycheck in any form.

Probably the saddest part of all of this is that Spencer was inducted into the Francis Howell Hall of Fame in the spring of 2011. Spencer has taught for twenty two years, all of which have been spent with the Francis Howell School District.

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The War of Women on Federal Control of Local Schools Being Waged in Maryland and Missouri.

By Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog.

Two women, one in Maryland and the other in Missouri, are extremely concerned about what’s happening in public education.  One is sounding the alarm about Common Core, the other about Race to the Top and her district planning to apply for the RTTT “direct to district” grants, bypassing the state educational agency.  Who needs state educational agencies when the Federal government will give your district money and mandates?  The Federal DOEd has bypassed state agencies and will direct district education from Washington DC, hardly a constitutional power granted to the federal government.

Cindy Stickline-Rose, a parent, wrote a two part article first appearing at www.TheTentacle.com for parents and taxpayers about Common Core standards.  Excerpts are reprinted below with permission from  Ms. Stickline-Rose and TheTentacle.  From Taking Parents Out of The Equation – Part 1:

Beginning today Frederick County Public Schools will be hosting a series of education nights to familiarize parents with The Common Core Standards.
 
As a parent advocate, I want interested persons to be fully informed before setting one foot inside their propaganda rooms. I don’t hold the school system wholly responsible for the spin. Most are ignorant as to how what we know as “Common Core” grew from an ideology to an idea and into reality.
 
I’ll share the facts I know and let you decide if you want this in our local classrooms.
 
First, let’s start out calling Common Core what it is: a National Curriculum. It was sold to schools, parents and educators as a way to level the playing field for career and college readiness. Students in Miami would be taught the same as students in Seattle.
 
It was sold as standards in math and English; but, oh, looky here, come this December Social Studies will be added in.
 
Before I continue, let me point out that there are two groups working on “education reform.” Group One I call the “faux reformer.” They seek to transform the American education system into the Department of Labor. Group Two is the one I and my associates are working on. It seeks to re-establish the parent as the entity with first and final authority over how and what our children are taught under a “true partnership” with our educators.
 
So, you should not be surprised that less and less control is being had on the local level because it is the faux reformers who have current control over education.
 
Power is being siphoned away from local jurisdictions back to the states and will ultimately arrive at the feet of the federal government. The conduit is Common Core. The end game of this reform is to remove the parents and the states completely.
How a nationally run education system is put in place starts with three pieces of legislation from 1994: Goals 2000 Act (also known as the Educate America Act), School to Work Act and Improving American Schools Act. They run in concert with the No Child Left Behind Act (the reauthorized, tweaked version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), Race to The Top and Common Core Standards.
 
What these pieces of legislation set out to do:
 
·        Bypass local school boards and parents by having federal funding go directly to the states, through the governors, not to the schools.
 
·        Centralize all student information into a national data base. This information would include personal, identifying information such as family information, social security numbers, academic, medical, mental and behavioral information as well as information from guidance counselors in K-12, college and the work place.
 
·        National standards and testing. To solidify control, the 12th grade diploma will be replaced with a Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM). No person will be able to get a job without a CIM.
 
Don’t think it’s being implemented in our local schools? Take a look at the Frederick County Board of Education’s position paper to the local legislators in 2012: “Today’s investments in Frederick County Public Schools are key to a prosperous economy, strong business growth, and students’ ability to compete for good jobs in a global, high-tech economy.”
 
I’m not seeing a whole lot of language about educating our children today so they can have bright futures tomorrow based on what they choose for themselves. It looks like an employment and economy pitch not an education pitch.
 
Troubled yet?
Ms. Stickline-Rose has done an excellent job informing folks of what common core is and who is behind it and why it is being implemented.  It’s not so much “for the kids” as it is for a managed economy.
 
Laura Martin, a school board member from Camdenton, Missouri, is raising questions about educational direction and programming as well.  Her superintendent wants to receive Race to the Top grants given directly to districts, bypassing the state educational agency, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  From Camdenton School District faces scrutiny from within over Race to the Top:
According to the application, the grant, offered by the U.S. Department of Education, would allow Camdenton R-III, Marshall and Knob Noster school districts to partner with State Fair Community College and the University of Central Missouri to build a facility to house some of Camdenton’s programs; it would provide personalized learning environments in the form of take-home laptops, iPads and tablet computers for all middle and high school students in the three districts; and it would allow the districts to integrate career planning systems and develop curriculum designed to focus on “real-world applications” of academic content in order to allow students pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and their parents to better plan for the future.
 

Camdenton Schools had expressed interest in program to the U.S. Department of Education by Aug. 30, according to district officials.

“We had just gotten out from under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program so I was leery about rushing into something else offered by the federal government,” Martin said, adding that her concern quickly grew when she realized the board was being asked to approve the grant so it could be submitted by the deadline of Oct. 30. “It might be a great deal but I wanted to read our application and research the program before committing,” she said. “To me, this had undertones of Nancy Pelosi’s ‘sign-it-now, read-it-later’ handling of the health care law.”

Others apparently agreed. The board told the superintendent to continue pursuing the grant but decided to table the vote until the next meeting. That meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 7:30 a.m., Oct. 23, and will include a presentation by Pat Gillman, the director of College and Career Readiness for State Fair, who took the lead on preparing the grant.

In the meantime, Martin said she set out to learn as much as possible about Race to the Top.

The article details the excellent questions Martin has about RTTT  regarding the cost, the federal control, the emphasis on career training for the entire district, teacher evaluations, the sustainability requirements, the lack of teacher input and tax levies necessary when the grants ran out.  Martin is doing the job a school board member should be performing; asking questions on debt, future ramifications of decisions to taxpayers and students and the reasons “reforms” are being adopted by the Board.  You can find more of Martin’s concerns here on her blog, The Sunshine Seeker.

The War of Women on Corporate/Governmental Educational Reforms is here.  Join women (and concerned men) to fight these reforms that are not “for the kids” but for special interests and the federal control of education. These reforms are not “state led”.  In fact, these reforms actually make state education agencies, school boards and taxpayers powerless and useless.

The federal mandates are funded by the taxpayers.  These taxpayer funded mandates (not voted on by the taxpayers) are administered by bureaucrats who have no power except by which they are “granted” by the Federal Department of Education and private corporations.  Are these educational mandates an example “of the people, by the people, for the people”?  Hardly.  Instead of education being a Declaration on Independence from the Federal Department of Education, these education reforms are more akin to a nationalized version of managing human capital for state/corporate purposes.

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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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