Tag Archives: Rhode Island

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

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another one, second-grade teacher Stephen Round posts epic resignation video, sick of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ curriculum

Rhode Island teacher and 15-year veteran, Stephen Round, posted this video on YouTube. In it he states that he was denied the ability to read his resignation letter at a recent school committee meaning.

Round states in the video, “The school system in which I had so much pride drastically changed. Rather than creating lifelong learners, our new goal is to create good test-takers. Rather than being the recipients of a rewarding and enjoyable educational experience, our students are now relegated to experiencing a confining and demeaning education.”

In closing he states, “I would rather leave my secure $70,000 job, with benefits, and tutor in Connecticut for free than be part of a system that is diametrically opposed to everything I believe education should be.”

Well said Mr. Round.

America, this is what you are doing to your children. This will only get worse under the “educrats” precious Common Core State Standards.

h/t TheBlaze

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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)