Tag Archives: Race to the Top

#CommonCore State Standards are federalizing your child’s future

by Karen Schroeder of Advocates for Academic Freedom.

The American educational system is being federalized through implementation of Race to the Top and Common Core State Standards. Once CCSS are completely implemented, the federal government will have control of assessment tools and textbooks used in core subjects. Also, a national data collection system called State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) will be used to determine a child’s educational opportunities. The federalization of education will turn all school-choice programs into federally approved programs.

The International Baccalaureate is a set of standards which are shaped by several United Nations treaties.  International Baccalaureate Organization explains that IB and CCSS share the values and beliefs of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights with emphasis on Article 26.

This means that CCSS and IB programs are teaching beliefs and values contained in treaties that the United States does not support.  These values include the surrender of the American Constitution, of national sovereignty, and of individual rights so students will accept becoming members of the “world community”. The CCSS standards focus on changing the social and political values of American children. Few goals address academics; math standards actually lower expectations. What had been required from a fourth grade student is now required from a fifth grader.

The national data collection system (SLDS) will follow a child from Kindergarten to adulthood. A student’s IQ scores, test scores, and his disciplinary and medical records will become part of the collected data which will help determine educational and job opportunities afforded each student.

Once these systems are in place, all students in every educational setting will have to meet these state standards if they are going to pass the state-created assessment tools. Therefore, the education provided in every setting must include the curricula presented in state schools.

To accomplish these goals, the federal government has cooperated with companies to write textbooks that meet the goals of CCSS and IB. The federal government is funding organizations that will create testing tools to assess the student’s progress in accepting the social and political ideologies being taught in the classroom. Implementation of CCSS is expected to be completed within the next two to three years.

The only effective means of preventing international control of the American educational system is to eliminate the federal funding of education. Advocates for Academic Freedom is an educational consulting firm working with legislators across the United States to organize a conservative movement to eliminate federal control of education. Visit the Advocates for Academic Freedom home page, find the Petition for Progress button on the left side of the page, click on that button and sign the petition. To stop the federalization of education, we must have proof that there is sufficient support from the electorate. Please sign the petition and become a member of the grassroots movement to limit federal governmental control by removing federal funding of education and reallocating those funds to the states.

 

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

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)

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

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

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

 Entrepreneurs can’t wait.

“This is going to be a huge win for us,” said Jeffrey Olen, a product manager at CompassLearning, which sells education software.

CompassLearning will join two dozen technology companies at this week’s SXSWedu conference in demonstrating how they might mine the database to create custom products – educational games for students, lesson plans for teachers, progress reports for principals.

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.

States and school districts can choose whether they want to input their student records into the system; the service is free for now, though inBloom officials say they will likely start to charge fees in 2015. So far, seven states – Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts – have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide.

“We look at personalized learning as the next big leap forward in education,” said Brandon Williams, a director at the Illinois State Board of Education.

Read more here.

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

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

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Filed under Data Mining/Tracking, Data Systems

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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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

Teacher Says “I QUIT”: The (Un) or Intended Consequences of Common Core?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Warchdog

Parents, when you go to conferences, take a copy of a teacher’s (Kris Nielsen) letter below and ask your child’s teacher and administrators their thoughts on what this teacher has written.  Ask:

  • how Common Core has affected their teaching and district autonomy
  • how a top down centralized “one size fits all” program actually “fits” all the students they teach
  • if they agree with this statement: “The silence of our professional organizations plus complicity of the unions has made Common Core a done deal.” —Susan Ohanian (and maybe write an email to your state NEA and ask its statement about Ohanian’s comment)
  • your principal if he/she can provide a school/district that educates to its mission statement and what that mission directed education looks like with the common core standard model in place

I would wager to guess most mission statements are similar to my district, Kirkwood School District in Missouri:

The mission of Kirkwood R-7 schools, a personalized educational network rich in tradition and energized by future possibilities, is to create environments characterized by a passion for learning, purposeful discovery and expectations of excellence in order to guarantee that each learner achieves personal goals, academic success, and becomes a leader in society.

Personal goals have to be secondary to common goals now as Kirkwood School District and the majority of public school (and charters) are now under Common Core standards.  That “passion for learning” is increasingly being overtaken by a passion for testing.  Missouri schools are under the same standards/assessment mandates as North Carolina schools where this teacher taught.  Find the mission statement of your district and send them our way.  It would be interesting to compile a list of mission statements and figure out how districts will accomplish them with top down mandates.

The letter below should be shared with your teacher/administrator/superintendent.   You can follow the teacher at his twitter handle, @klnielsen74.

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Dear North Carolina Public Schools: I Quit

October 26, 2012 7 Comments

Thanks to all of my friends who have already published this on their sites.  Let’s get our schools back!

To All it May Concern:
I’m doing something I thought I would never do—something that will make me a statistic and a caricature of the times.  Some will support me, some will shake their heads and smirk condescendingly—and others will try to convince me that I’m part of the problem.  All I know is that I’ve hit a wall, and in order to preserve my sanity, my health, my family, and the forward movement of our lives, I have no other choice.

Before I go too much into my choice, I must say that I have the advantages and disadvantages of differentiated experience under my belt.  I have seen the other side, where the grass was greener, and I unknowingly jumped the fence to where the foliage is either so tangled and dense that I can’t make sense of it, or the grass is wilted and dying (with no true custodian of its health).  Are you lost?  I’m talking about public K-12 education in North Carolina.  I’m talking about my history as a successful teacher and leader in two states before moving here out of desperation.

In New Mexico, I led a team of underpaid teachers who were passionate about their jobs and who did amazing things.  We were happy because our students were well-behaved, our community was supportive, and our jobs afforded us the luxuries of time, respect, and visionary leadership.  Our district was huge, but we got things done because we were a team.  I moved to Oregon because I was offered a fantastic job with a higher salary, a great math program, and superior benefits for my family.  Again, I was given the autonomy I dreamed of, and I used it to find new and risky ways to introduce technology into the math curriculum.  My peers looked forward to learning from me, the community gave me a lot of money to get my projects off the ground, and my students were amazing.

Then, the bottom fell out.  I don’t know who to blame for the budget crisis in Oregon, but I know it decimated the educational coffers.  I lost my job only due to my lack of seniority.  I was devastated.  My students and their parents were angry and sad.  I told myself I would hang in there, find a temporary job, and wait for the recall.  Neither the temporary job nor the recall happened.  I tried very hard to keep my family in Oregon—applying for jobs in every district, college, private school, and even Toys R Us.  Nothing happened after over 300 applications and 2 interviews.

The Internet told me that the West Coast was not hiring teachers anymore, but the East Coast was the go-to place.  Charlotte, North Carolina couldn’t keep up with the demand (why did this city need over 300 teachers?)!  I applied with three schools, got three phone interviews, and was even hired over the phone.  My very supportive and adventurous family and I packed quickly and moved across the country, just so I could keep teaching.

I had come from two very successful and fun teaching jobs to a new state where everything was different.  During my orientation at CMS, I noticed immediately that these people weren’t happy to see us; they were much more interested in making sure we knew their rules.  It was a one-hour lecture about what happens when teachers mess up.  I had a bad feeling about teaching here from the start; but, we were here and we had to make the best of it.

Union County seemed to be the answer to all of my problems.  The rumors and the press made it sound like UCPS was the place to be progressive, risky, and happy.  So I transferred from CMS to UCPS.  They made me feel more welcome, but it was still a mistake to come here.

Let me cut to the chase: I quit.  I am resigning my position as a teacher in the state of North Carolina—permanently.  I am quitting without notice (taking advantage of the “at will” employment policies of this state).  I am quitting without remorse and without second thoughts.  I quit. I quit. I quit!

Why?

Because…

I refuse to be led by a top-down hierarchy that is completely detached from the classrooms for which it is supposed to be responsible.

I will not spend another day under the expectations that I prepare every student for the increasing numbers of meaningless and expensive tests.

I refuse to be an unpaid administrator of field tests that take advantage of children for the sake of profit.

I will not spend another day wishing I had some time to plan my fantastic lessons because administration comes up with new and inventive ways to steal that time, under the guise of PLC meetings or whatever.  I’ve seen successful PLC development.  It doesn’t look like this.

I will not spend another day wondering what menial, administrative task I will hear that I forgot to do next.  I’m far enough behind in my own work.

I will not spend another day wondering how I can have classes that are full inclusion, and where 50% of my students have IEPs, yet I’m given no support.

I will not spend another day in a district where my coworkers are both on autopilot and in survival mode.  Misery loves company, but I will not be that company.

I refuse to subject students to every ridiculous standardized test that the state and/or district thinks is important.  I refuse to have my higher-level and deep thinking lessons disrupted by meaningless assessments (like the EXPLORE test) that do little more than increase stress among children and teachers, and attempt to guide young adolescents into narrow choices.

I totally object and refuse to have my performance as an educator rely on “Standard 6.”  It is unfair, biased, and does not reflect anything about the teaching practices of proven educators.

I refuse to hear again that it’s more important that I serve as a test administrator than a leader of my peers.
I refuse to watch my students being treated like prisoners.  There are other ways.  It’s a shame that we don’t have the vision to seek out those alternatives.

I refuse to watch my coworkers being treated like untrustworthy slackers through the overbearing policies of this state, although they are the hardest working and most overloaded people I know.

I refuse to watch my family struggle financially as I work in a job to which I have invested 6 long years of my life in preparation.  I have a graduate degree and a track record of strong success, yet I’m paid less than many two-year degree holders.  And forget benefits—they are effectively nonexistent for teachers in North Carolina.

I refuse to watch my district’s leadership tell us about the bad news and horrific changes coming towards us, then watch them shrug incompetently, and then tell us to work harder.

I refuse to listen to our highly regarded superintendent telling us that the charter school movement is at our doorstep (with a soon-to-be-elected governor in full support) and tell us not to worry about it, because we are applying for a grant from Race to the Top.  There is no consistency here; there is no leadership here.

I refuse to watch my students slouch under the weight of a system that expects them to perform well on EOG tests, which do not measure their abilities other than memorization and application and therefore do not measure their readiness for the next grade level—much less life, career, or college.

I’m tired of watching my students produce amazing things, which show their true understanding of 21st century skills, only to see their looks of disappointment when they don’t meet the arbitrary expectations of low-level state and district tests that do not assess their skills.

I refuse to hear any more about how important it is to differentiate our instruction as we prepare our kids for tests that are anything but differentiated.  This negates our hard work and makes us look bad.

I am tired of hearing about the miracles my peers are expected to perform, and watching the districts do next to nothing to support or develop them.  I haven’t seen real professional development in either district since I got here.  The development sessions I have seen are sloppy, shallow, and have no real means of evaluation or accountability.

I’m tired of my increasing and troublesome physical symptoms that come from all this frustration, stress, and sadness.

Finally, I’m tired of watching parents being tricked into believing that their children are being prepared for the complex world ahead, especially since their children’s teachers are being cowed into meeting expectations and standards that are not conducive to their children’s futures.

I’m truly angry that parents put so much stress, fear, and anticipation into their kids’ heads in preparation for the EOG tests and the new MSLs—neither of which are consequential to their future needs—in addition to the all of the other testing that happens almost weekly.  As a parent of a high school student in Union County, I’m dismayed at the education that my child receives as her teachers frantically frontload trivial information in preparation for more tests.  My toddler will not attend a North Carolina public school.  I will do whatever it takes to keep that from happening.

I quit because I’m tired being part of the problem.  It’s killing me and it’s not doing anyone else any good.  I will now take my place among the rest of the American educators, parents, citizens, and children who are dedicated to getting our schools–and our future–back.

Farewell.

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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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Radicals and the Common Core State Standards

During the debates you may have heard President Obama hint out his federal school reforms. Just as everything else that comes out of his mouth, his belief that he has “reformed” anything is laughable on its face, and the reality of what is actually going on is dangerous at its Core. In all of the chaos of the last four years, the one thing patriotic Americans have paid little attention to is the education “reforms” pushed by our President and his non-educator Secretary of dis-Education Arne Duncan. The Republican response to many of their “reforms” have been similar to cows being herded for slaughter. Please take a few minutes to read and share these two articles by Mary Grabar the relate to what has been going on, she writes over at dissidentprof.com.

Terrorist Professor Bill Ayers and Obama’s Federal School Curriculum

Three years after the Department of Education announced a contest called Race-to-the-Top for $4.35 billion in stimulus funds, some parents, teachers, governors, and citizen and public policy groups are coming to an awful realization about the likely outcomes:

  • A national curriculum called Common Core
  • Regionalism, or the replacement of local governments by federally appointed bureaucrats
  • A leveling of all schools to one, low national standard, and a redistribution of education funds among school districts
  • An effective federal tracking of all students
  • The loss of the option of avoiding the national curriculum and tests through private school and home school

Working behind the scenes, implementing these policies and writing the standards are associates from President Obama’s community organizing days. In de facto control of the education component is Linda Darling-Hammond, a radical left-wing educator and close colleague of William “Bill” Ayers, the former leader of the communist terrorist Weather Underground who became a professor of education and friend of Obama’s.

‘ObamaCore’: Radical Education Bill Set to Take Effect After Election

Barack Obama, having little else in his arsenal, began his first debate by touting his signature education program“Race to the Top.” Joe Biden also cited “education” in his debate with Paul Ryan. Last Tuesday, Obama even turned a question about gun control into an opportunity to boast about his education policies. During the final debate, Obama repeatedly claimed that continued government investments in education are necessary to compete with China and to develop “clean energy technology.”

Race to the Top may have been the one domestic policy initiative that did not garner the universal ire of Republicans — indeed, it has many GOP supporters. They likely do not realize what a monster they have birthed by promising to follow federal Common Core curriculum guidelines (in math and English/language arts, so far) as part of the Race to the Top contest for $4.35 billion in stimulus funds.

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Do CCSSI and RTTT Mandates Ensure Educational Exellence..or is it Something Else that the Government Hasn’t Yet Mandated?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

“Boys Hope Girls Hope” is a program in St. Louis and other cities designed to help at risk students.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch recently ran an article explaining how the privately funded program works and the enormous commitment needed from the students and families so students succeed in school.

What I didn’t read in the article that made kids successful were the following talking points from the Obama administration on how education needs to be reformed:

  • The need for global competitiveness
  • Common Core standards
  • Race to the Top funding
  • The need to be tracked into the workforce via Longitudinal Data Systems
  • The need for charter schools
  • The need to track teachers via assessment scoring to determine if they are effective

According to the article, what helped make these students successful in school were:

  • Structured daily life
  • Two hours of study each night
  • Dinner at a family type setting
  • Weekly chores
  • A designated bed time
  • No tolerance for disrespect
  • Mentors providing academic support, tutoring, and serving as role model
  • Every student is required to attend some kind of worship service weekly and prayer is said before dinner

The article states the program moves students into an environment that encourages development, promotes scholarly ways.  Some of those in the organization also believe an active faith life is essential to healthy personal development.

Are these the magic keys for education reform?  Students learn to take control of their own development on educational and emotional levels.  If so, do any of the current educational reforms mandated by the government incorporate these successful methods by “Boys Hope Girls Hope”?  Or are they reforms designed to track children for the workforce and create jobs for private corporations funded by taxpayers that are then unaccountable to the taxpayers?

From Havens for learning help keep St. Louis children on road to college:

Last year, the Boys Hope Girls Hope organization was named by the Educational Policy Institute as one of 10 exemplary programs in the U.S. that prepare students for college.

In Boys Hope Girls Hope, all of the more than 3,000 students in the last 20 years who stuck with the program have graduated from high school, and 79 percent of those students have either completed their college degrees or are on course to do so.

The success comes from what the organization calls “arms around care.” The organization picks up the tab for food, clothing, transportation and any other needs of the students, including college. Costs per student can go as high as $50,000.

How can the government create a nurturing and structured environment for students?  Is this what a private group can accomplish that the bureaucracy cannot?  Local, state and federal governments are systems.  Systems are designed for efficiency (since when is a government system efficient?) and are not designed for personal needs.  What these students in the STL Post Dispatch article were missing were people in their lives unable to attend to the students’ financial and/or emotional needs.  College money may be available due to a federal program in the future, but if the student is not prepared emotionally and educationally, college entrance is meaningless if the student is unable to perform well.

If a nurturing and structured environment is important in student success, how can the government mandate loving, caring, stable, and attentive parents and/or other adults to tend to their children?  Do any of the current reforms allude to the important aspect parents and other caring adults play in their childrens’ lives?   Can governments mandate parents or other adults care and become responsible for their children?

The title of the Dispatch article, Havens for Learning, says it all.  Much of what creates student opportunity for educational excellence is to provide a haven for children which traditionally has been a family’s responsibility.  That’s what’s missing from these billion programs, isn’t it?

If you agree the Boys Hope Girls Hope is a valid recipe for educational success and you believe it is government’s job to educate children, then the government’s only logical choice is to use this recipe to ensure educational success for failing students.  Otherwise, if CCSSI and RTTT are the government’s idea for educational success, without the parental/adult support, they will be useless and expensive mandates doomed to fail.

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Your Children Belong to the Government via their Personal Data. The Holy Grail of Education Realized?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Do you like your data being shared on Facebook?  No?  Then why is it permissible for the Federal Government to track your child from birth and this information shared with various agencies and private researchers?  Does your family belong to the government?  Should the Federal Government establish educational policies and mandates for states to accomplish this data tracking?  From Portals, Dashboards and Universal IDs: Improving Early Ed Data:

States around the country have big plans to improve the collection and coordination of data on young children, including data dashboards, scorecards and tools for tracking the well-being of children from the day they are born. But how — and if —  these plans turn into reality depends on whether they can win support from federal  grants, state funds or private philanthropy, according to a report released today by the Early Childhood Data Collaborative.

The Collaborative’s analysis starts by pointing out that timely, reliable data is scarce, with policymakers often unable to get answers to basic questions on the number of children participating in high-quality programs. In fact, as we reported last week, it’s even difficult to get comprehensive information at the local level on the number of children participating in pre-K programs or gaining access to full-day kindergarten at all, let alone whether they are enrolled in classrooms or centers that meet a high bar for quality.

The report spotlights several ideas states have put forward to improve the ability to link data between databases and enable the tracking of individual children’s progress over time, across multiple providers of child care, preschool and, in places where links are made to K-12 education data, to the public school system.

 Rhode Island, for example, plans to build a universal database that includes data on individual children starting at birth. It proposes to build on its public health data system called KIDSNET that tracks immunizations and data from newborn screenings and connect that data to the statewide longitudinal data system for K-12 education.  Rhode Island is a triple winner – winning an RTT-ELC grant, a K-12 Race to the Top grant and a competitive grant from the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program – so it may actually have the dollars to bring this kind of longitudinal database to fruition.

Other innovations revolve around the creation of portals or dashboards. Minnesota, for example, proposed the creation of a web-based dashboard that can create reports tailored for different audiences of parents, administrators and teachers. Pennsylvania wants to develop a “provider scorecard” that includes data on individual preschool and child care providers, such as how many stars they have earned in the state’s quality improvement and rating system (Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), the credentials of members of the workforce and data on  children’s growth and development.

I submit Rhode Island is NOT a winner, but a state totally owned by the Federal Government in the educational delivery for its state citizens.  Is establishing a “longitudinal database to fruition” the Holy Grail in education reform?  We at MEW believe the implementation of data systems IS the key to establishing a managed workforce and circumvents the fundamental right of Americans to pursue their individual paths, rather than a life path mapped out by government/private businesses based on personal data from birth.

Understand the doublespeak from the article above:

  • “it’s even difficult to get comprehensive information at the local level on the number of children participating in pre-K programs or gaining access to full-day kindergarten at all, let alone whether they are enrolled in classrooms or centers that meet a high bar for quality” means private centers may be subject to government’s “high bar for quality” (common core must be used in private businesses for a high rating)
  • “…ideas states have put forward to improve the ability to link data between databases and enable the tracking of individual children’s progress over time, across multiple providers of child care,”means again, the intrusion of common core standards/assessments into private child care delivery
  •  “Pennsylvania wants to develop a “provider scorecard” that includes data on individual preschool and child care providers, such as how many stars they have earned in the state’s quality improvement and rating system (QRIS), the credentials of members of the workforce and data on  children’s growth and development” again means a group intent on a managed workforce will decide if private preschool and child care providers will be credentialed based on common core standards and assessments
  • “…reliable data is scarce, with policymakers often unable to get answers to basic questions on the number of children participating in high-quality programs” raises the concern, “who/what is determining what a “high-quality program” is? The government?  Is the belief a pre-school must follow common core assessments/standards to be deemed high quality?  Why does the government need to track pre-K programs when most states don’t even mandate education for children until the age of 6 or 7?

Why does the government want to track your child from birth?  Do you know where this information will be stored or who will have access to personal information?  Even if you buy into the idea “the government is here to help you”, understand the assistance is whatever the government  deigns to provide your child.  But what’s even worse, the government will decide if private organizations will receive it’s coveted “stars” via QRIS and if your child’s growth and development fits its needs for the workforce.

Here are two goals from a 2009 document (An Actionable Federal Framework to Promote QRIS in the States)detailing how the federal government can and should force states to adopt a nationalized system of education in state public schools and private schools and the establishment of data systems to track children from birth:

The requirement that states establish a QRIS, as well as funding and supports targeted to this purpose, should be included in all federal legislation, rule or regulation that authorizes, funds or creates early care and education programs or initiatives. This would include, but is not limited to, the following: the proposed Early Learning Challenge Fund, the state Early Childhood Advisory Councils, the Child Care and Development Fund, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, ESEA Title I, Head Start/Early Head Start, the State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems initiative, early intervention (IDEA), and family support initiatives. Such action at the federal level will model for and support the states in their effort to align their early care and education policy, funding and systems in a collaborative manner around a core set of agreed upon program standards.

The Child Care Bureau and the Department of Education should jointly prepare a biennial “State of QRIS” report that includes data on state QRIS systems and participation levels. In addition to information on state QRIS standards and how they align with national benchmarks, the report should include, at a minimum, data on:
• the proportionate level of participation, at each quality level, of each type of ECE  provider in the state (including regulated center-and home-based child care programs, public and private preschools, programs that receive Head Start funding and programs that provide early intervention services)

Why doesn’t QRIS establish a goal that children should be chipped at birth?  It probably would be more cost effective and less labor intensive.  If a child has no right to privacy, then let’s go ahead and get that child connected to the government from day one with a tracking chip.  What’s the difference between what the QRIS currently recommends vs tracking a child via an internal chip?

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Filed under Data Systems, National Standards (Common Core)

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.

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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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Filed under Education Reform, Federal Department of Education, National Standards (Common Core)