Archive for the ‘Arne Duncan, Common Core and the Witchery of Wordplay’ Category

Oklahoma’s Jenni White on Rod Arquette Show Today and KTALK 630 Tomorrow   Leave a comment

jenni
Today at 6:20 on KNRS on the Rod Arquette show, Oklahoma’s Jenni White will be interviewed about how Oklahoma successfully booted Common Core from the state.   Listen free here.
Tomorrow at 2:00 on KTALK 630, she’ll be interviewed again.
And tomorrow night, at a free public event, she’ll speak telling the story of how a few Oklahoma parents influenced the governor and legislature to boot the entire Common Core out of Oklahoma, as well as explaining what we must do to stop the unauthorized data mining of students, and why parents should opt out of Common Core tests.

Thank you, Jenni White  and friends from  Restore Oklahoma Public Education.    

Where and when:  Thursday, September 11th at 7679 South Main Street in Midvale, Utah at 7:00 PM. 

 See you there!

Oklahoma Powerhouse Mom to Speak at Free Utah Event   3 comments

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Wouldn’t you love to hear the story –directly from an Oklahoma mom– of how a few Oklahoma parents influenced the governor and legislature to boot the entire Common Core out of Oklahoma? 


Now you can!  Clear your calendar: come hear the incredible Jenni White, from Restore Oklahoma Public Education, who will speak on Thursday, September 11th at 7679 South Main Street in Midvale, Utah at 7:00 PM. 

The event is free and open to all.

Jenni White, mother and former teacher, has been involved in fighting the Common Core Agenda in Oklahoma for years. Jenni has been featured on Glenn Beck, Fox News and multiple national media outlets.  See you there!

Vanderbilt Law Review: Duncan’s Waivers Illegal   1 comment

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Peter Greene, teacher, blogger and Huffington Post writer, has written another funny and fascinating ed reform article.  In this one, he highlights the findings of University of South Carolina law professor Derek W. Black.  Black’s soon-to-be-published findings include the following:

Two of the most significant events in the history of public education occurred over the last year. First, after two centuries of local control and variation, states adopted a national curriculum. Second, states changed the way they would evaluate and retain teachers, significantly altering teachers’ most revered right, tenure. Not all states adopted these changes of their own free will. The changes were the result of the United States Secretary of Education exercising unprecedented agency power in the midst of an educational crisis: the impending failure of almost all of the nation’s schools under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The Secretary invoked the power to impose new conditions on states in exchange for waiving their obligations under NCLB…. As a practical matter, he federalized education in just a few short months.”

Peter Greene divides the law journal article into four simple, easy-to-digest segments, and explains them.  You will laugh as you learn.

For example, under “Part I:  No Changing the Rules” Greene writes:  “When the feds pass a law, they have to lay out all the rules that do and will apply to that law. You can’t pass a law, start folks working under it, and then years later announce, ‘Oh, yeah, and by the way, we’ve changed this law about making cheese sandwiches so that it also covers sloppy joes, and also, if you don’t go along with us on this, we get to take your car.”Also, you can’t suddenly say, ‘We’ve given my brother-in-law the power to judge your sloppy joes.’  Conditions for receiving federal fund must be “unambiguous” and non-coercive.”

Both the funny and easy-to-understand analysis of Duncan’s illegal waiver-waving, and the official law journal publication by Dr. Derek Black, as soon as it becomes available to the public, must be read and shared.

Let’s stop the Department of Education’s lawless disrespect for constitutional local control of education –and protect our children– by learning and then sharing these facts widely.

Event Ticket Giveaway Today: Beck’s We Will Not Conform   3 comments

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If you are interested in attending the Glenn Beck “We Will Not Conform” event which will play live on the big screen at the Provo, Utah Cinemark 16 on 1200 Towne Center Boulevard, today’s a lucky day. I’ve been given four special event passes by a Glenn Beck producer to give away and they need your name on them.

Just send an email to consecutiveintegers@yahoo.com with one reason that you would like two free tickets to this show.  Give me your mailing address and I’ll send out the four tickets,  two tickets per winner, today.  If you don’t win the free tickets, you may buy tickets at FathomEvents.com

About the event:

This Tuesday, July 22nd,  liberty goes up against the Common Core.  A live, interactive event will take place at about 700  local movie theaters across the nation simultaneously.  It will be filmed at the Glenn Beck studios in Dallas, Texas, where a handful of Utah friends will join others in Dallas as part of Glenn Beck’s participant panel.

Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Jenni White, David Barton and many other Common Core fighters will interact with the nationwide audience, via social media, in a meeting of the minds to use “the brainpower, experience and passion of thousands of people from around the country…captured in a comprehensive, unified plan of action”.

You don’t want to miss this.

Another, non-interactive repeat showing of the evening will be rebroadcast in theaters on the evening of July 29th.

National Teachers Union to Federal Education Secretary Duncan: You’re Fired   1 comment

 

The NEA just passed a resolution calling for the resignation of federal education secretary Arne Duncan.

 

The fact that the NEA is calling for Duncan’s resignation is a very big deal.  Duncan’s trying to downplay it.   But this is a very big deal.

Check out details here:

CBS  News

Fox News

Diane Ravitch

Politico

Huffington Post

Blogs

A Utah elementary school teacher, Lily Garcia,  happens to be the brand new head of that huge teachers union, the NEA.  Interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist (Teacher) Protests Common Core at New York Art Gallery   2 comments

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An interesting art exhibit now at the 464 Gallery in Buffalo, New York  features the work of a teacher, Jennifer Scott.  It’s receiving national  attention because the art is an anti-Common Core protest. The central piece in Scott’s exhibit, “For the Love of Learning: Students First” stars a man in a crown of standardized test bubble sheets –a man exactly resembling NY Education Commissioner John King.

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Another Jennifer Scott art piece with a privacy-invasion theme also features Commissioner King.  This time he’s a giant, peering in through the school room window with a gleeful countenance at small, unhappy students.

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Why does Jennifer Scott use King as the puppetmaster of Common Core?  Why not Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Sir Michael Barber, David Coleman or President Obama?

Commissioner King has been an longtime, outspoken defender of the indefensible in New York.

Recently, King has been more than just hotly criticized. The New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE, a coalition of 45 parent and educator groups in the state)  actually, publically condemned Commissioner King to termination last month in a press release.

NYSAPE cited  too much emphasis on testing, problems with Common Core standards, “one-size-fits-all” statewide curriculum, and the casual dismissal of the concerns of parents and educators “to the detriment of their children for far too long.”  (Stop Common Core New York, a parent-led group, had been calling for King’s resignation for at least six months previous to NYSAPE’s call.)

The New York anti-fed-ed-reform movement grows and grows. (A full 48% of Worcester Central School District, NY, opted out of standardized math tests!) It was New York (Comsewogue District) Superintendent Joseph Rella who led a huge rally in his school’s football stadium against Common Core last year.  And now, national news about the poignant art of teacher Jennifer Scott is receiving media attention while New York legislators  work to restore local control and legitimate education.

Still, can the art of an indignant teacher, or can a handful of legislators, or can the pressure of 45 educational coalitions in New York, or can the clear reasoning of remarkable, outspoken local professors– Diane Ravitch, Alan Singer, Christopher Tienken, Nick Tampio and others–  really oust John King, his Board of Regents and the fed-ed reforms?

Consider the fact that King is a favorite, a true darling of Secretary Arne Duncan and a staunch member of the brave new politicorporate ed reform establishment.  For years, King and Duncan have been buddying about, making speeches both together and separately, officially explaining the religion of fed-ed.  This includes not only Common Core and “robust” federally accessible data but also the idea that children should be forced to stay in school for more  hours of the day, (a longtime Duncan favorite theme) or “let’s mandate more and more high stakes testing with Common Core adoption”   –notions the two insist are very, very good for children– despite a complete lack of empirical evidence to support their points.

How do they get away with this?

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I don’t know.  It’s so clearly wrong.  More people need to know it.

Let’s hope Jennifer Scott’s art multiplies and influences millions of additional New Yorkers to take a long, hard look at the awful transformations happening in their school systems.  Let’s hope the parents and educators in New York win the fight for their children.

Then, let’s have an early  –very early– retirement party for Commissioner King.

 

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Thank you,  Jennifer Scott.

 

 

Outsmarting the Language of the Common Core Cuttlefish   4 comments

A smiling school board member, tired of me and unwilling to fight the Common Core monster, advised me to do what she does: focus on the positive parts of Common Core.  Be an optimist, she said.

“The positive parts?  –You mean the lies?” I thought, because I’ve not seen positive parts unless you count the positive-sounding parts.

There are lots of those– the Common Core advertisements, the school board’s website promotions and newspaper quotes.

To the non-researcher, the Common Core sounds completely positive– but this “initiative” turns out to be very bad when the naked facts are revealed, about how it’s controlled,  whom it pays off and what it robs.

Because the smiling board member knew many of these unsavory facts that she wished not to know, her advice reminded me of the part in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when Dr. Jekyll tells Utterton not to worry about Mr. Hyde.  How illogical, dangerous and self-defeating.  But to some, it seems that being an optimist requires putting ourselves at the mercy of bullies and pretending to agree to things that are clearly not so.

This conversation exposed the wide gap between the pretty surface language versus the ugly facts under the belly of Common Core.

 

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In response to that conversation, I’m promoting George Orwell’s brilliant 1946 “catalogue of swindles and perversions” entitled  Politics and the English Language.

Orwell’s great at explaining how to cut through verbal jungles of lies.  (Please read his whole essay here; I’m just borrowing highlights.)

My favorite image from the essay tops Orwell’s explanation of how manipulators make a bad situation sound grand by using language to cloud truth:  as a cuttlefish clouds his intentions by squirting a lot of ink.

cuttlefish and ink

When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns… to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink” … the great enemy of clear language is insincerity,” he wrote. 

Orwell’s essay does more than reveal how political language deceived listeners in 1946; it also foretells 2014 ed reform lingo.  It could have been titled “Interesting Ways That People Cook Up Lies to Appear Not Only True, But Delicious.”

 

Many people have never considered Orwell’s main point:  that official language is not only used to express thought; language can be and is also used “for concealing or preventing thought.”  Orwell said that political language can “make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.

The politicorporate cuttlefish do this!

They can’t risk alerting Americans to the real direction in which ed reforms have taken our liberties.  Speaking plainly would reveal everything, so they use language to conceal and cloud the sources of the power grab, banking on the fact that most people accept wordiness as if it were smartness and lawfulness.

As a cuttlefish squirts out ink to mask the direction in which he’s really swimming, so do DuncanObamaGates, ColemanBarberTucker, writers of grants, reports and publications try to cloud our minds to lull us, as school boards, governors, parents and taxpayers, to nod and hand over our keys– because we can’t see where the cuttlefish is going and the ink’s kind of pretty.

This is how they do it.

1.  BORROWED WORDS OR PRIVATE DEFINITIONS

Those who are either lazy or liars continually borrow phrases and metaphors “tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house,” as Orwell called it, rather than to actually work to think of an original phrase, metaphor or image.

Keeping that henhouse in mind, watch for the repetitive phrases tacked together in education reformers’ speeches.   The repeated handful of vague, positive terms include:

These terms have defined, mostly private second meanings.  For one example, “world class education” does not mean the best in the world, as we might think –instead, it means noncompetitive, as in: the same as all the world –which is supremely ironic given the fact that the phrase “international competitiveness”  is another prefabricated ed reform hen house phrase.

Orwell said that people use words of this kind “in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.”  The trendy, pre-fab terms are re-echoed by the federal government, the NGA, CCSSO, Achieve Inc., the Chamber of Commerce, and top university leaders.  Some high up officials do not even know that there are private definitions, and they parrot what they’ve heard from people who they may not even recognize as being liars;  real, actual, ongoing, habitual, caught-in-the-act liars.

The prime example, of course, of an overused, overborrowed term with a private definition is President Obama’s “call for success in college and careers” also known as “college and career ready standards.”  It sounds unobjectionable.  But it’s not just a nice, vague term to Obama.  It’s narrowly defined on the federal website as standards “common to a significant number of states.”  That’s no definition at all except common, the same.   Excellence doesn’t come into it.  And the phrase is repeated seven times just in one short white house press release.  It’s that important and weighty.  Now I can’t hear the term “college and career ready” without groaning and rolling my eyes.  The ed reformers stole its innocent meaning.

Another pet deceit among ed reformers is to misuse the word “back” by equating any attempt anyone makes (to restore freedoms previously held) to moving backward, or making unintelligent decisions.  Bill Gates said that controversy around Common Core “comes from people who want to stop the standards, which would send us back to what we had before.”   He did not define “what we had before” as freedom.  He left that intentionally vague.  But ponder it:  would restoring text and test diversity really be a step backward?  Would restoring student privacy by getting rid of common data standards (CEDS) and the common databases (SLDS) be a step backward or forward for lovers of freedom?  Is all change positive change?

Of course, some changes are good and some are bad.  But top ed reformers, including education sales giant Pearson, relentlessly push the idea that deletion of traditional education is good.  Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber said,  “governments need to rethink their regulatory regimes for an era when university systems are global rather than national… standing still is not an option.”

Do you buy the idea that governments should give up their national constitutions and local systems and that holding fast to time-tested traditions in education is stupidly “standing still”?  Me neither.  But this gives us insight into the private definition of “globally competent”.

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2. VERBAL FALSE LIMBS

Overuse of the quantity words, especially of overused and educratically vogue words,  is usually deliberate snowing.  Ed reformers cover up the sharp truths so people don’t recognize what they’re doing, nor fight back.  But George Orwell pointed out that adding extra, unneeded words is as obvious and cumbersome –if you pay attention– as adding an extra limb to the body.  Watch for phrases lacking usefulness but still commanding space and posing as credibile.

The excessive limbs game was used, for example, when the Federal Register attempted to hide its removal of parental consent over student data-sharing in FERPA policy, by using so many words that only a committee of lawyers could uncover it.

Remember: the motive is to conceal, not to reveal, truth.  Orwell said that these excess words “fall upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details… ”

Indeed they try.  But there are red flags that they themselves created, phrases that can signal to us that lies are afoot.  One especially irksome phrase is “informed by” –such a trendy, snooty false limb.  Its academic tone may intimidate some readers, but the phrase is often used as a spout near missing evidence.  For example, the Common Core official website states that “Common Core is informed by  the highest, most effective standards from states across the United States and countries around the world.”  Not true!

Promoters used to claim, often and loudly, that Common Core was internationally benchmarked, but after critics pointed out that not a single country had math and English standards that matched Common Core, promoters changed to the term “informed by” which is so vague that it’s harder to prove it’s a lie.

Still, it’s a lie:  top state standards-holders prior to Common Core were Massachusetts, Indiana and California, and they dropped their high standards and came down to common core. Common Core didn’t reach up at all.  There’s nothing “internationally informed” about them.  Just ask validation committee member Dr. James Milgram, who said that the reason he didn’t sign off on the standards was that “they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least two years behind practices in high achieving countries by seventh grade”.

A very wordy example of verbal false limbs running amok is seen in a federal Common Core grant called the “Cooperative Agreement.” It connects the federal government and the Common Core tester, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  The lengthy agreement applies to PARCC, too. And since SBAC partnered with Utah’s and Florida’s current testing group, A.I.R., this document still matters to me despite Utah’s dropping out of SBAC.  Buried in its snowbanks of wordiness is a micromanaging federal bully.  States must:

“Actively participate in any meetings and telephone conferences with ED staff… Be responsive to requests from ED for information about the status of the project… providing such information in writingComply with… ED staff … make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis…  [R]espective Project Directors [this means the testing arms] will collaborate to coordinate appropriate tasks and timelines to foster synchronized development of assessment systems… The Program Officer for the RTTA grantees [this means the Feds] will work with the Project Directors for both RTTA grantees [this means the testing arms] to coordinate and facilitate coordination across consortia.”

In other words, conform.  But that sharp message is buried behind pleasant phrases earlier in the document, such as “the purpose of this agreement is to support the consortium recipient.”  Support?  The way that a jail supports those jailed inside it?  This brings us to the next tool: pretentious diction.

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3.  PRETENTIOUS DICTION

Orwell said that pretentious diction tries to “dignify sordid processes” and to “give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments.”

Example:  Read the pretentious, one-sided judgments underlying the highly controversial Obama-Duncan “Preschool For All Initiative”.  For those who don’t know, this move puts four year old toddlers in federal preschools –based on supposedly settled scientific research that concludes that this will benefit little ones.

Yet, highly respected researchers oppose  what Obama-Duncan tout; they say that it is best to keep young children free of institutionalization (not to mention keeping them free of data tracking and high stakes testing).  Still, President Obama speaks about the federal Preschool For All, using “research” that serves his idea that government should rear children from the cradle.

Watch how he does it.  He imposes the intimate, tiny yet very pretentious term “we” on listeners, and implies that “we” can simultaneously –and fairly– serve the child, the business interests, and the educational-political interests:

“Research  shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.”

Notice that the president omits any mention of governmental mandate.  Elsewhere, we learn that Preschool For All  is to be mandatory.   In an April 29, 2014 speech, Duncan called for mandatory preschool, saying, “The third major priority in the 2015 request is to continue the President’s commitment to expanding educational opportunity for millions of children through a $75 billion mandatory Preschool for All program…”

Pretentious diction overflows,  like the polluted froth on a sick river,  over and through the current math and English Common Core standards.  It  lives in the speeches of education sales giant Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber as he explains reasons for making environmental education a centerpiece of every school in every subject in every nation (see Pearson’s CEA Sir Michael Barber‘s speeches.)  It’s in the term “misinformed” that proponents loves to call all Common Core’s opponents.  Pretention is everywhere ed reformers speak and write.  They depend on pretense because they lack actual authority.

A clue to detecting the lies that are hidden behind pretentious diction is to search for links to research that supports the claims being made.  Usually, there are no references, no links; listeners are expected to be trusting and dumb enough to assume what is being said is truthful.  On those rare occasions that links to evidence are provided, find out if the cited think tank/university/publisher is financially partnered with the politicorporate cuttlefish of Common Core.  Invariably, they are.

We are left to realize that in Common Core ed reform, money now has a stronger voice than voters, teachers, parents, students or taxpayers in determining what will be policy.  And that money is deeply committed to making more of itself.  Case in point:

Gates’ company, Microsoft, wrote:  “At Microsoft, we are deeply committed to working with governments… [blah blah blah] … learning for all.”

Deeply committed” sounds good.  It sounds noble.  But why is Gates’ company so deeply committed to “learning for all”?  Because they’re making money while altering political and educational policy.  Making money is a good thing; I’m all for capitalism.  The problem is that nobody elected Microsoft or Pearson;  they have no authority other than the dollars they use as bait.  We can’t un-elect them now or ever, and we’ve swallowed their baited hooks right and left in countless “partnerships” with our governments.

Deeply committed.

 

 4. MEANINGLESS WORDS

Orwell pointed out that much of what passes for writing is “strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly even expected to do so by the reader.”  Orwell despised “long passages almost completely lacking in meaning.”  He would not enjoy the 26-transcript-paged speech by David Coleman, current president of the College Board, because it is a black hole that says nothing except for the part when Coleman admitted he’s unqualified for his office.  That part would be funny if the education of children were some kind of laughing matter.

Here’s more meaninglessness:  Bill Gates said:  “common standards could transform U.S. education.”  It’s meaningless because nobody would argue it; it’s like saying rain could make your hair wet.  Common standards could and ARE transforming education.  But is it a disasterous or a delightful transformation?  He left out that part so nobody could argue with him or criticize his sound byte.  Except that I am criticizing it for its desperate spineless meaninglessness.

Sometimes Gates speaks so vaguely that he covers both ends of opposing concepts.  He said that Common Core would “enable American students to better compete globally.”  He didn’t explain how (considering the fact that the standards are only preparing students for nonselective colleges).  But since it’s an established, defined fact that “world-class education” now means “noncompetitive education,” Gates’ statement passes neither the logic nor the meaningfulness test.

Why does the second richest man in the world, who probably has dozens of speech writers and image makers, deliberately choose to speak and write meaninglessly, vaguely?  Because Common Core is a power grab and the truth would upset people.  He can’t say so.

Neither can Arne Duncan or President Obama.  So the cuttlefish use words that mean “we control; you submit” but that don’t sound that way.  Look at the beige terms they use such as:

  • turning around schools
  • fostering rigor
  • supporting states
  • flexibility for states
  • federal accountability
  • sustainable reform
  • education pipeline
  •  stakeholder

These terms support the top-down edu-politicorporate control system that boils down to “we are the boss of you.”

Orwell warned readers against such ready-made phrases, not only because they often veil corrupt power moves, but also because “every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.”

Not to mention that they smell like lies from miles away.

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