Archive for the ‘bill gates’ Tag
Brave New Schools
Guest post by California English teacher Cherie Zaslawsky
The much touted Common Core Standards (CCS) Initiative that is being pushed as a silver bullet to improve our schools is not simply the latest fad in education: CCS is actually an unprecedented program that would radically alter our entire K-12 educational system, affecting content (i.e. curriculum), delivery (largely via computer), testing (also via computer), teacher evaluations (connected to test scores), as well as creating an intrusive database of sensitive information from student “assessments.” This program, for all the protestations to the contrary, represents the nationalization of education in America, extinguishing any semblance of local control. Furthermore, it was essentially developed at the behest of billionaire Bill Gates, who also funded it to the tune of some $150 million, and who clearly thinks he knows what’s best for everybody else’s children. (His own are safely ensconced in private schools).
California adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS) Initiative on August 2, 2010, only two months after the standards were released. Nor has this multi-billion dollar program ever been piloted anywhere! It’s a nationwide experiment—with our children as the subjects. Nor was CCS ever internationally benchmarked. In California, as in most states, there was no time to devote to studying the intricacies of the program, vetting it, or introducing it to the public. Instead, Race to the Top money was dangled in front of state legislatures, and 45 states sprang for it, but 16 of these states at last count are already seeking to withdraw from the program.
Parents need to understand the implications of the Common Core Standards. These standards, which amount to a national curriculum via bundled tests, texts and teacher evaluations, would severely degrade our local schools. How? By lowering the standards of high-performing schools to make them “equal” with low-performing schools, in a misguided attempt to reach what its proponents call “equity” or “fairness” by mandating the lowest common denominator for all schools. True, this would close the muchballyhooed “achievement gap”—but only by dumbing down the education of the best and brightest to better match that of the unmotivated and/or less academically gifted.
The idea that all students should perform identically sounds eerily like something out of Mao’s China. What happened to our relishing of individual talents and uniqueness? Would we lower the standards for the best athletes to put them on a par with mediocre athletes to close the “performance gap” in, say, high school football?
How do a few of the experts view this program? Dr. James Milgrim of Stanford University, the only mathematician on the Common Core validation team, refused to sign off on the math standards because he discovered that by the end of 8th grade, CCS will leave our students two years behind in math compared to those in high-performing countries. And according to Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the respected expert who developed the Massachusetts standards, widely regarded as the best in the nation, “Common Core’s ‘college readiness’ standards for ELA are chiefly empty skill sets and cannot lead to even a meaningful high school diploma. Only a literature-rich curriculum can. College readiness has always depended on the complexity of the literary texts teachers teach and a coherent literature curriculum.”
As English teacher Christel Swasey notes: “We become compassionate humans by receiving and passing on classic stories. Souls are enlarged by exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, the poetic language and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that live in classic literature.” Instead, students will swim in the murky waters of relativism where all things are equal and no moral compass exists. We should not be surprised if they are also encouraged to view history along the lines of multiculturalism, “social equity,” and the Communitarian glorification of the collectivist “global village.”
Consider how drastically literature is being marginalized (30%) in favor of “informational” texts (70%) in the 12th grade, with a maximum of only 50% literature ever, throughout middle and high school English classes. The switch to a steady diet of “informational” texts virtually ensures that students won’t be learning to think critically or to write probing, analytical essays, let alone to develop the love of reading and appreciation for the literary masterpieces of Western culture. Put in practical terms, it means that instead of reading Hamlet, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice, your child will be reading computer manuals and tracts on “climate change,” “environmental justice,” and the virtues of recycling.
And the price of mediocrity? In California, implementation cost is estimated at $2.1 billion, with $1.4 billion as upfront costs—mainly for computers (every child needs one—along with special apps—could that be one reason Bill Gates poured a cool $150 million into this program? Perhaps giving new meaning to the word “philanthropist”…) along with training teachers to navigate the complicated new programs. Even though it’s been proven—as if we needed proof—that children learn better from real live teachers than from staring at LCD screens.
In addition, tests and “assessments” will be taken on computers—resulting in the harvesting of personal data that amounts to a dossier on every child, including choice tidbits about Mommy and Daddy. And what is to stop the powers-that-be from using these assessments and test results to “re-educate” “politically incorrect” students who show too much independence?
Clearly Common Core is a disaster in the making. So what can we do? The simplest solution is to insist that our school boards turn down the carrot of federal funding and reject Common Core in order to preserve the integrity of our local schools through local control and to continue to allow our teachers to use their creativity in the classroom. The price of compliance with Common Core, however tempting monetarily speaking, is just too high— the mortgaging of our children’s future.
Thanks to Cherie Zaslawsky for permission to publish her essay here.
Reposted from a School Book op-ed with permission from Professor Nicholas Tampio
May 17, 2013
Bill Gates Should Not Micro-Manage Our Schools
By Prof. Nicholas Tampio
The multinational software giant, Microsoft, once bundled its Explorer search engine with Windows, and refused, for a time, to have Windows run WordPerfect, a competitor to Microsoft Word. As head of Microsoft, Bill Gates wanted everyone to use the same program. As funder of the Common Core, I believe he wants to do the same with our children.
The Common Core is one of the most effective educational reform movements in United States history. Gates is a financial backer of this movement. Looking at this connection enables us to see why the United States should be wary of letting any one person or group acquire too much control over education policy.
Launched in 2009 and now adopted by 45 states, the Common Core articulates a single set of educational standards in language arts and mathematics. Although the Common Core claims not to tell teachers what or how to teach, school districts must prove to state legislatures or the federal government (via the Race to the Top program) that they are complying with the Common Core. The simplest and most cost-effective way for a school district to do that is to purchase an approved reading or math program.
The Common Core transfers bread-and-butter curriculum decisions from the local to the state and national level.
On the Common Core website, Gates applauds this development, stating that the initiative brings the nation closer to “supporting effective teaching in every classroom.” Here, I believe, one sees a link between Gates’s business and advocacy sides.
The Common Core may raise standards in some school districts, but one ought to read the literature with a critical eye. The Common Core has not been field-tested anywhere. The Common Core does not address many root causes of underperforming schools, such as hungry students or dangerous neighborhoods. And the Common Core has an opportunity cost, namely, that it forces thriving school districts to adopt programs that may be a worse fit for the student body.
We can learn a lesson from the recent history of the computing industry. Apple and Microsoft have pressed each other to make better applications, phones, notepads, and cameras. Though Gates may have wanted to vanquish Apple, Steve Jobs prompted him to improve his products, which in turn benefited every computer user. Competition brings out the best in people and institutions. The Common Core standardizes curricula and thereby hinders competition among educational philosophies.
Surely, one could say, certain standards are self-evidently good. A Common Core principle of first grade math is that students should “attend to precision” and “look for and make use of structure.” Just as a computer program requires each number, space, and function to be in its right spot to operate, so too the standards emphasize thinking in an orderly fashion and showing each step of the work.
In a new book, Letters to a Young Scientist, the Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson argues that the demand for precision can hurt the scientific imagination. Wilson celebrates the fanciful nature of innovation by reflecting on how Darwin formulated the idea of descent with modification while sailing on the H.M.S. Beagle and Newton discovered that white light is a mix of colored lights while playing with a prism. Though teachers sometimes need to write orderly equations on a blackboard, real progress comes “amid a litter of doodled paper.” Doodling is a prelude to a eureka moment, the fuel of scientific research.
Would it be wise to nationalize an educational policy that frowns on doodling?
One could argue about the details of the Common Core standards: how to strike the right balance, say, between fiction and non-fiction, humanities and sciences, doodling and straight lines, and so forth. And yet this approach concedes that America ought to have the same approach in every classroom.
America needs many kinds of excellent programs and schools: International Baccalaureate programs, science and technology schools, Montessori schools, religious schools, vocational schools, bilingual schools, outdoor schools, and good public schools. Even within programs and schools, teachers should be encouraged to teach their passions and areas of expertise. Teachers inspire life-long learning by bringing a class to a nature center, replicating an experiment from Popular Science, taking a field trip to the state or national capital, or assigning a favorite novel. A human being is not a computer, and a good education is not formatted in a linear code.
As a result of the Common Core, teachers in our school district must now open boxes filled with reading materials, workbooks, and tests from a “learning company.” How depressing and unnecessary. As Apple and Google have shown, great work can be done when talented employees are granted power and encouraged to innovate.
In regards to education policy, I’d prefer Bill Gates to have a loud voice in his school district, but a quieter one in mine.
Prof. Nicholas Tampio teaches Critical Theory at Fordham University.
Postscript from Professor Nicholas Tampio on why he began to study the Common Core:
Last spring, my son’s kindergarten education went from outstanding to mediocre in a blink. The teacher is a wonderful woman who lives and breathes her craft. For years, she developed innovative curricula and inspired children to love school. The year before my son started kindergarten, the high school valedictorian spoke at length about how this teacher sparked his curiosity in physics and space. He is at Stanford now.
In February, the teacher had to use a program designed to satisfy the Common Core criteria. She was required to open big boxes and follow a script. My son’s curriculum went from fresh to canned and, as could be anticipated, the classroom mood suffered. My son’s problem at the start of kindergarten was that he was too excited to learn (he would answer every question she asked, etc.). That “problem” disappeared.
I met with administrators and they were nice and helpful. But their hands are tied. The state signed up for the Common Core. The state wants proof that our school district is complying and the way to do that is to use a program.
My motivation, then, is simple: I want my kids to have a great education. When the rubber hit the road, the Common Core damaged our school district. I am confident that Americans, when presented with good arguments and evidence, will realize that the Common Core is a misguided initiative. The sooner the better.
Pearson and Gates have joined forces.
Why is a Pearson and Gates combination a nightmare for America, for anyone who cares about competitive free enterprise, constitutional rights regarding education, and local control?
First, a few facts:
1. Pearson, led by Sir Michael Barber, is the biggest education product sales company on earth.
2. Bill Gates is the second richest man on earth, a man who has almost single-handedly funded and marketed the entire Common Core movement.
Gates previously partnered with UNESCO to bring a master curriculum worldwide in his “Education For All” program. Gates openly values extreme socialism and says that it’s much better than American constitutional government. Listen to Gates at minute 6:20 on this clip. Gates says, “We’ll only know this works when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.”
Pearson’s CEA is Sir Michael Barber, a man whose company colludes with governments worldwide in public-private-partnerships (soft fascism) and believes that children’s data should be gathered on a global scale. Barber pushes his version of “sustainable educational revolution,” worldwide, explaining that sustainable education reforms mean “it can never go back to how it was.” See his speeches on YouTube and his Twitter feeds.
These two mega forces for globalizing and standardizing education have now come together.
In a New York Times article on the partnership, Susan Neuman, a former Education Department official in the George W. Bush administration who is now a professor at the University of Michigan, was quoted:
“This is something that’s been missing in all the policy statements on the common core: a sequential curriculum,” Dr. Neuman said. But she worries that Pearson has few rivals.
“Pearson already dominates, and this could take it to the extreme,” she said. “This could be problematic for many of our kids. We could get a one size fits all.”
So when my state school board says that Common Core is just a set of minimum standards, not a curriculum, I will point them to this: the biggest monopolizer of textbooks, technologies and teacher training–Pearson– has now partnered with one of the wealthiest foundations on earth to create a one size fits all curriculum.
Where will private schools and others go to buy books, who don’t want Common Core-aligned curriculum? How will others stay in business with such huge competition?
Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform
Bill Gates: Scary Philanthropy
Countdown # 5
This is the fifth in a countdown series of introductions, a list of the top ten scariest people leading education in America. For numbers 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, click here.
The biggest philanthropist on earth comes across as the epitome of sincere, nerdy nice-guy. And he probably is very nice and very sincere. But does sincerity trump truth?
The truth is, Bill Gates’ herculean attempt to fund and market Common Core to Americans, and to circumvent the voting public on educational issues, is dangerously, dangerously misguided.
Thus, not everybody is happy in philanthropy land. The biggest philanthropist in the world got behind the unproven experiment of Common Core and –using money rather than the voice of the American voter– he pushed it into schools, circumventing any vetting by legislative, educator or parent groups.
Gates’ astronomical wealth has persuaded millions that Common Core is the solution to education problems, the argument from everywhere, approved (by him) and beyond debate. But let me repeat the fact: regardless of whether the standards are horrible or glorious, the truth remains that whenever unelected philanthropists are permitted to direct public policy, the voting public gets cut out of the process. It’s happening all over the U.S., but not just in the U.S. The Gates-directing-world-education effect is happening everywhere.
Since Gates has no constituency he can’t be un-elected; so it’s not the the wisdom of experienced educators, but simply one man’s money that is directing implementation of the controversial Common Core. His money has bought, besides technology, work groups, and a seat at the policy making table, extreme marketing success.
He’s got control of the education opinion factory. When Common Core was debated at the Indiana State Capitol, who showed up to advocate for Common Core? Stand for Children, which Bill Gates funds. He also funds the League of Education Voters, the Center for Reinventing Public Education and the Partnership for Learning, all Common Core advocates; Gates owns Editorial Projects in Education, parent of Education Week magazine.
No wonder, then, even educators don’t seem to know the full truth about Common Core. They’re reading Education Week and the Harvard Education Letter. Translation: they are reading Gates’ dollar bills. (By the way: want to make some money selling out your fellow teachers? Gates is searching for a grant recipient who will receive $250,000 to accelerate networking of teachers toward acceptance of Common Core. )
Wherever you see advocates for Common Core, you see Gates’ influence. He gave a million dollars to the national PTA to advocate to parents about Common Core. He gave Common Core developer NGA/CCSSO roughly $25 million to promote it. (CCSSO: 2009–$9,961,842, 2009– $3,185,750, 2010–$743,331, 2011–$9,388,911 ; NGA Center: 2008–$2,259,780.) He gave $15 million to Harvard for “education policy” research. He gave $9 million to universities promoting “breakthrough learning models” and global education. Gates paid inBloom 100 million dollars to collect and analyze schools’ data as part of a public-private collaborative that is building “shared technology services.” InBloom, formerly known as the Shared Learning Collaborative, includes districts, states, and the unelected Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The list goes on and on and on.
It’s hard to know exactly how much money Gates has put toward the promotion of Common Core because of the chameleon-like wording of educational granting areas. For example, he gave $3 million Stanford University and $3 million to Brown University for “college and career readiness.” (The average person wouldn’t know that college and career readiness is a code phrase defined as common core by the Department of Education.) Sometimes he’s promoting “support activities around educational issues related to school reform” for the CCSSO (common core developer) and other times he’s “helping states build data interoperability” –which not everyone would recognize as Common assessments’ bed-making.
According to Gates himself, he’s spent five billion dollars to promote his vision of education since 2000.
He really, reealllly believes in Common Core. So it doesn’t matter that Common Core is an experiment on our children that’s never been tested and has been rejected by countless top education analysts. It doesn’t matter that Common Core is an un-American, top-down, nonrepresentative system that state legislatures didn’t even get to vet. Bill Gates wants it.
And not just in America– he wants global education standards.
Gates’ company, Microsoft, signed a cooperative agreement with the United Nations’ education branch, UNESCO. In it, Gates said, “Microsoft supports the objectives of UNESCO as stipulated in UNESCO’s constitution and intends to contribute to UNESCO’s programme priorities.” UNESCO’s “Education For All” key document is called “The Dakar Framework for Action: Education For All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments.” Read the full text here: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001211/121147e.pdf
So Gates partners with the U.N.’s educational and other goals via UNESCO’s “Education for All” which seeks to teach the same standards to all children (and adults) on a global scale. Why is this a problem? It supercedes local control over what is taught to students, and dismisses the validity of the U.S. Constitution, all in the name of inclusivity and education and tolerance for all nations.
At this link, you can learn about how Education For All works: “Prior to the reform of the global EFA coordination architecture in 2011-2012, the Education for All High-Level Group brought together high-level representatives from national governments, development agencies, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector. Its role was to generate political momentum and mobilize financial, technical and political support towards the achievement of the EFA goals and the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). From 2001-2011 the High-Level Group met annually.”
The six goals of “Education For All” are claimed to be internationally agreed-upon. On the linked Education and Awareness page of the U.N. website, we learn:
“Education, Public Awareness and Training is the focus of Chapter 36 of Agenda 21. This is a cross-sectoral theme both relevant to the implementation of the whole of Agenda 21 and indispensable” http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/susdevtopics/sdt_educawar.shtml
Did you get that? Education is indispensable for the U.N. to get its agenda pushed onto every citizen worldwide. They just admitted it out loud. They want a strong hand in determining what is taught worldwide.
So then we click on Chapter 36. In 36.2 it says we should “reorient” worldwide education toward sustainable development. (No discussion, no vote, no input needed on this reorientation plan, apparently.) 36.3 says: “Both formal and non-formal education are indispensable to changing people’s attitudes…. It is also critical for achieving environmental and ethical awareness, values and attitudes, skills and behaviour consistent with sustainable development… To be effective, environment and development education should deal with the dynamics of both the physical/biological and socio-economic environment and human (which may include spiritual) development, should be integrated in all disciplines, and should employ formal and non-formal methods”
The take-away? What does Bill Gates agree to in his Microsoft – UNESCO partnership?
- Environmental education will be incorporated in formal education.
- Any value or attitude held by anyone globally that stands independent to that of the United Nations’ definition of “sustainable education” must change. Current attitudes are unacceptable.
- Education will be belief-and-spirituality based as defined by the global collective.
- Environmental education will be integrated into every subject, not just science.
The stated objectives (36.4) include endorsing “Education for All,” and “giving special emphasis to the further training of decision makers at all levels.”
Hence the need for people like Gates to influence the training of decision makers. When asked what matters most to him, Gates said: education. His version of education. The Huffington Post reported:
“I’d pick education, if I was thinking broadly about America,” Gates responded. “It’s our tool of equality.” Is it coincidence that equality and redistribution are also concepts that Linda Darling-Hammond, Chaka Fattah and Arne Duncan are promoting in the federal Equity and Excellence Commission?
How committed is Bill Gates to the United Nations having a say in American education?
In his annual letter, Gates emphasized the importance of following the United Nations’ Millennial Goals and measuring teachers more closely. One of those UN Millennial goals is to achieve universal education. Also, Gates helped create Strong American Schools (a successor to the STAND UP campaign launched in 2006, which was an outgrowth of UNESCO’s Millennium Campaign Goals for Universal Education). It called for U.S. national education standards. (link 1) (link 2)
Also, Gates’ Foundation funded the International Benchmarking Advisory Group report for Common Core Standards on behalf of the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and ACHIEVE, Inc. titled, “Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education.” This report showed the United Nations is a member of the International Benchmarking Advisory Group for Common Core Standards. (link)
It appears that Bill Gates is more than a common core philanthopist; he is a promoter of global sameness of education as defined by UNESCO and the U.N.
- Does every state have a federally funded, interoperable State Longitudinal Database System that tracks people throughout their lives? Yes.
Every state has accepted 100% federally funded data collection (SLDS). The Data Quality Campaign
states: “every governor
and chief state school officer has agreed to build statewide longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early childhood through K-12 and postsecondary ed and into the workforce as a condition for receiving
State Fiscal Stabilization Funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). A condition of getting the funding (ARRA money) was that the system would be interoperable
- Is the SLDS accessible by the federal government? Yes.
The SLDS grant
explains that the SIF (state interoperability framework) must provide interoperability from LEA to LEA, from LEA to Postsecondary, from LEA to USOE, and from USOE to the EdFacts Data Exchange.
The EdFacts Data Initiative
is a “centralized portal through which states submit data
to the Department of Education.”
The P-20 workforce council exists inside states to track citizens starting in preschool, and to “forge organizational and technical bonds and to build the data system needed to make informed decisions” for stakeholders both in and outside Utah. — http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
Is personally identifiable student information gathered, or only aggregate group data? Personal, identifiable, individual data is collected.
- Many of us in Utah were present last summer when UT technology director John Brandt stood up in the senate education committee and testified that there are roughly twelve people in the state of Utah who have access to the personally identifiable information of students which is available in the Utah Data Alliances inter-agency network of student data. So it is not true that we are talking about only aggregate data, which leaders often insist. The Utah School Board confirmed to me in writing, also, that it is not allowed for any student to opt out of the P-20/ SLDS/ UDA tracking system, (which we know is K-workforce (soon to include preschool) citizen surveillance.)
- Is the collected private student data accessible to agencies beyond than state education agency? Yes:
There are state data alliances that connect agencies. The Data Quality Campaign states: “states must ensure that as they build and enhance state K–12 longitudinal data systems, they also continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce (P–20/workforce) and with other critical agencies, such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”
- What data will be collected? According to the new FERPA regulations, pretty much anything. Social security numbers, psychometric and biometric information (see pg. 4 and 6) are not off the table. According to the National Data Collection model, over 400 points. Jenni White mentioned another federal model that asks for thousands of data points.
- How does this affect parents?
Data linking changes being made in regulations and policies
make former privacy protection policies meaningless. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sued the Dept. of Education
, under the Administrative Procedure Act, arguing that the Dept. of Ed’s regulations that changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in Dec. 2011 exceeded the Department of Education’s authority and are contrary to law
The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that it is not now a necessity for a school to get student or parental consent any longer before sharing personally identifiable information; that has been reduced to the level of optional.
“It is a best practice to keep the public informed when you disclose personally identifiable information from education records.” http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf
Dec. 2011 regulations, which the Dept. of Education made without Congressional approval and for which they are now being sued by EPIC, literally loosen, rather than strengthen, parental consent rules and other rules. http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=5aa4af34-8e67-4f42-8e6b-fe801c512c7a
The Federal Register of December 2011 outlines the Dept. of Education’s new, Congressionally un-approved regulations, that decrease parental involvement and increase the number of agencies that have access to private student data: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf (See page 52-57)
Although the Federal Register describes countless agencies, programs and “authorities” that may access personally identifiable student information, it uses permissive rather than mandatory language. The obligatory language comes up in the case of the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and the states’ testing consortium http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
Effectively, there is no privacy regulation governing schools anymore, on the federal level. Khalia Barnes, a lawyer at EPIC disclosed that these privacy intrusions affect not only children, but anyone who ever attended any college or university (that archives records, unless it is a privately funded university.)
- Why did the Dept. of Ed need to alter FERPA regulations?
To match their data collection goals (stated in the Dept. of Ed cooperative agreement with testing consortia) which contracts with testing consortia to mandate triangulation of tests and collected data. This federal supervision is illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment). http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
- Who can access collected data?
The National Data Collection Model
(the federal request for what states ought to be collecting) represents 400 data points schools should collect and “it is a comprehensive, non-proprietary inventory… that can be used by schools, LEAs, states, vendors, and researchers”.
Vendors are already using this
- How can we get free of this system?
has provided expert testimony about the student data collection
, but has also said that an educational data monopoly is an issue, too. She explains that a group exists, including Bing, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc., that assigns high or low attention to content and directs internet traffic. So if code uses hashtags and common core aligned taxonomies, your education data will get traffic. If not, it won’t. If you are searching for any educational data it won’t come up unless it’s using that coded taxonomy. This wrecks net neutrality and is, in her educated opinion, an anti-trust issue
of the internet. She mentioned the CEDS, (common element data system) that is ending net neutrality. She also finds appalling the Learning Registry
, funded by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education, which is a place for teachers to advertise for common core aligned products– all using stimulus money.
- Why did the Dept. of Ed redefine FERPA’s meaning of the term “educational agency” to include virtually any agency and redefine “authorized representative” to mean virtually anyone, even a “school volunteer?
When FERPA is weak, linking of data allows easy access to data, both technologically and in terms of legal policy. It also trumps other laws, such as HIPPA. For example, as both Gary Thompson and Jenni White have pointed out, the new, weak FERPA law takes precedence over HIPPA (patient privacy) when medical or psychological services are provided in schools or when educational services are provided in jails.
In that document, states are obligated to share data with the federal government “on an ongoing basis,” to give status reports, phone conferences and other information, and must synchronize tests “across consortia”. This triangulation nationalizes the testing system and puts the federal government in the middle of the data collecting program.
For understanding of the motivation of the federal government, read some of US Dept. of Education Arne Duncan’s or Obama’s speeches that show the passion with which the federal agency seeks access to data to control teachers and educational decisions. http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.pdf
- Are teachers also to be studied like guinea pigs, along with students? Yes.
The Common Core of Data (CCD)
is another federal program of data collection that studies TEACHERS as well as students. It calls itself “a program of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics that annually collects fiscal and non-fiscal data about all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States. The data are supplied by state education agency officials and include information that describes schools and school districts, including name, address, and phone number; descriptive information about students and staff, including demographics; and fiscal data, including revenues and current expenditures.” http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/
- How does Common Core relate to the federal and corporate data collection movement?
Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss at the Dept. of Education has been publicly quoted saying that “data-mashing” is a good idea. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gives speeches calling for ”more robust data.” And at the recent White House Datapalooza
, the CEO of eScholar stated that without Common Core tests being “the glue” for open data
, this data movement would be impossible.
There’s an 8th grade teacher by the name of Paul Bogush in Connecticut, who writes a blog called BLOGUSH. He says:
“I don’t think anyone would teach using a unit on tolerance given to them by the enemies of civil rights. No teacher would put up with that.
But yet, teachers (including myself) will start off this year fully supporting the Common Core in the classroom.
I feel as though every day when I come home I need to take a shower, because I have spent my day in bed with the enemy.”
Bogush has researched the corporate web of common core promoters, has studied the standards themselves, has felt the pressure of having to teach lessons that feel, he says, more like advertisements than education, and recently, he’s made a video that expresses his feelings about Common Core.
The video’s funny. It’s smart. And it’s sad.
The funny part is when he shows the absurdity of micromanagement on the sports field. A coach lifts a player up under the armpits to make sure she’s jumping high enough. A coach runs right behind a soccer dribbler, almost making it impossible for the player to play. You get the idea.
Then he says: If micromanagement doesn’t work in the field, why would it work in the classroom?
He points out that Common Core standards tell a teacher what, when, and how to teach –and it comes from people who are not teachers, and who don’t know HIS kids. This, he notes, also comes with 13 years of continuous testing of the little ones. Sad music plays as the video ends. Worth watching.
Today’s string of interesting emails
(between my State School Board representative, Dixie Allen, and me)
On Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 7:45 AM, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
There is some very informative information in this weeks Ed Week – Thought you might gain some valuable insight – if you have time to check it out.
Thanks again for including me in your loop.
Were you aware that Ed Week, like so many organizations that promote Common Core, is a Gates’ product?
I can’t take Ed Week seriously because it is published by Gates’ funding and its articles support his unelected-dictatorial influence over American education policy.
Christel – that saddens me because most of their articles are written by educators and of all the participants involved in education – I trust teachers, students and parents most.
I also believe it is important to keep an open mind.
Openmindedness is great, but sincerity does not trump truth. Teachers and parents have written articles on both sides of the Common Core debate. I hope you listen to all of us, not just those published by Gates. There are some teachers and parents whose side of this story has been published elsewhere, because Gates will never publish the side that hurts his well-intentioned but unrepresentative agenda.
Yes Christel, I do — however, in Utah where we are the lowest funded state in the nation by a long shot for per student expenditure, it would be so costly to throw out the Core curriculum that we have adopted and try to put in place another curriculum — especially the way we have developed curriculum over the past many years I have been in education (over 30 years).
The way we have created core standards over time is to bring teachers and other educators together from all over the state and decide which standards work in specific curricular areas and grade level expectations. By adopting the Common Core we upgraded all the curriculum by grade level for both Language Arts and Mathematics. Up until that time our State ranked about a C in Language Arts curriculum and a B for our Mathematics curriculum. So the issue of rewriting the curriculum is just not economically possible for this state — the best we can do is take standards that we know work and change those that we don’t believe will work.
When a state like Utah funds education at such a low level, there are many parts of the educational process that we must borrow from others who have the funding to develop them. In some cases that has been other states, that allowed us to use some of their identified quality education practices — so you may be right that those with lots of money have influenced this core — however, I know from experience that our State Office and many experts in the fields of educational mathematics and language arts were really the ones who wrote the standards — not the Bill Gates of the world.
Please, in conjunction with your fellow educators who have concerns – share those concerns with us or the State Office of Education and allow us to work on improving what we can with the little funding we do have now and over time. But don’t ask us to throw out the Core, because we cannot afford to do that, either in time or money.
Thanks for your passion.
Thanks for continuing to talk with me.
As you know, Utah districts are funded primarily by local taxpayers, then some by the state, and then a small fraction of funding comes from the federal government. So, the fact that the people who pay the most have the least say, and the people who pay the least have the most say, is absurd. I’m sure you agree.
We can’t afford NOT to toss out the core. Although we have invested tens of millions (at least) in the tests and standards and PD so far, this is a drop in the bucket. California and Mississippi and other states are publishing news articles about the painfulness of having to implement all Common Core’s platforms without having the financial support from those who invited us to join Common Core. It’s a huge burden that will only become heavier with time.
The cost of creating our own Utah standards need not be exorbitant. In fact, I can almost promise you that it could be FREE. Many of the top curriculum and standards writers in our nation are on the stop common core side of this debate. ELA standards have been posted and published for free, for use by us or any state, for example, here: http://www.uaedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/Stotsky-Optional_ELA_standards.pdf
Math standards, I am sure would also be available for free if we were to ask, from such giants in the math and curriculum fields as James Milgram, Ze’ev Wurman, Christopher Tienken, William Mathis, Jim Stergios, David Wright, and others who are true friends to education and to Utah.
The CCSSO/NGA have published that they solely developed the standards, so I don’t know how any Utahns can claim to have done it.
The CCSSO meetings are closed-door without transparency for some reason, so there is no way that we will ever be able to find out who really did what. Nor can we influence what they’re doing with social studies and science right now. Nor can we amend the many problems we see, and/or that teachers and parents will be seeing over the next few years. By then it may be way too expensive to pull out.
That’s why I feel the time is now. Thanks for listening.
For full effect, this article really needs to be read out loud.
Eduschuyster exposes some ugly truths about corporate edu-opportunism.
Full Text Here: http://edushyster.com/?p=1653#more-1653
Minneapolis: Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles
The Twin Cities’ Venture Academy is already raising expectations—not to mention a boatload of cash—despite the fact that the school hasn’t opened yet.
‘Tis the season for miracles and today I give you a miraculous one indeed. Imagine a school so excellent, so innovative that it has succeeded in raising expectations and boosting achievement before its doors have even opened. Where is this miracle occurring? Reader: it’s time to squeeze into your ski pants and slip the insulator over your wine box. We’re headed to Minneapolis, or as I like to call it, the Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles.
2 Cool 4 School
Today the Rephorm Express is making but a single stop: the Twin Cities’ Venture Academy. Alas we can’t go inside to see the excellence as the school won’t officially open its doors until August 2013, but breathe in the frosty air, reader, and the scent is unmistakable: audaciousness. Now hater, I know what you’re thinking: how can a school be handed a gold star before it admits a single student? Meet my edu-visionary friend Bill Gates, who just named named Venture one of 20 winners of the Next Generation Learning Challenges award, which identifies breakthrough school models, because next generation learning knows no boundaries.™
Also, we know that Venture is different because of its totally cool job titles. Whereas old school union-stifled public schools are filled with space occupiers with titles like “LIFO lifer” and “clock watcher,” Venture Academy has a Chief Learning Officer AND a Chief Entrepreneurship Officer. And the stuff they do at the school is way cooler and more innovative than the achievement gap widening that happens at a failing public school—or at least it will be when Venture actually opens. They don’t “teach,” reader, they “transfer” and “coach.” And forget about old school educating—Venture is about Growing Good People™ and Try-Measure-Learn-Iterate-ing™. And how cool is this? During all-school assemblies, students will be encouraged to celebrate “marvelous mistakes” by sharing weekly failures and what they’ve learned.
Did I mention that Venture Academy is hiring? Old, union-stifled teachers need not apply though. Venture is only interested in what Chief Learning Officer Kerry Muse describes on his blog, Blend My Learning, as the “MacGyvers” of education: mission-driven, able to think on his feet and solve complex problems in resourceful and creative ways, and as a scientist he also has in-depth content knowledge. If you’re baffled by this particular pop culture reference allow me to translate: using his Swiss Army Knife and knowledge of a few common scientific principles, the innovative educator at Venture Academy “MacGyvered” a solution to what had long seemed like an intractable problem: poverty, which, by the way, is not an excuse.
The Next Big Thing
But will tricked out job titles and a mad entrepreneurial ethic really be enough to ensure that Venture Academy is able to prepare poor minority students for college? Absolutely, reader. You see Venture embodies the Next Big Thing: blended learning, which will FINALLY reverse our schools’ long slide into suckage by filling them with cool new hand-held devices. And we already know that this approach is guaranteed to succeed because the people peddling the hand-held devices keep telling us this. The only thing holding Operation Big Blender back is that it costs so much to employ living, breathing, teachers that there isn’t enough dough left over to purchase the miracle blenders. Note to LIFO lifers: this is a different kind of blender then the one you fire up at 3:07 PM and, on very special occasions, in the teachers’ lounge.
That’s why Venture Academy is guaranteed to be a success—it’s the model of the very School of the Future™, one where edu-stuff, helpfully provided by an endless and evolving parade of edu-vendors, is the real star of the show. Best of all, before it even opens its doors, Venture Academy has already joined the ranks of Minneapolis’ growing roster of miracle schools: institutions that teach the EXACT SAME STUDENTS as the city’s union-stifled public schools but with EXTRAORDINARY, OUTSTANDING and AUDACIOUS results. Venture Academy will soon be working miracles with these exact same students—as long as they meet a few simple requirements.
Are you a MacGyver of education? Send comments to email@example.com.
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Thank you, Eduschuyster, for keeping us informed about educorporate goings-on in Minnesota.
For those who still believe Common Core is “rigorous” and good for kids, here is a must-read from Jay Mathews and the Washington Post.
Fiction vs. nonfiction smackdown
By Jay Mathews, Published: October 17
There is no more troubling fact about U.S. education than this: The reading scores of 17-year-olds have shown no significant improvement since 1980.
The new Common Core State Standards in 46 states and the District are designed to solve that problem. Among other things, students are being asked to read more nonfiction, considered by many experts to be the key to success in college or the workplace.
The Common Core standards are one of our hottest trends. Virginia declined to participate but was ignored in the rush of good feeling about the new reform. Now, the period of happy news conferences is over, and teachers have to make big changes. That never goes well. Expect battles, particularly in this educationally hypersensitive region.
Teaching more nonfiction will be a key issue. Many English teachers don’t think it will do any good. Even if it were a good idea, they say, those who have to make the change have not had enough training to succeed — an old story in school reform.
The clash of views is well described by two prominent scholars for the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based public policy group, in a new paper. Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas and Mark Bauerlein of Emory University say the reformers who wrote the Common Core standards have no data to support their argument that kids have been hurt by reading too much fiction. They say analyzing great literature would give students all the critical thinking skills they need. The problem, they say, is not the lack of nonfiction but the dumbed-down fiction that has been assigned in recent decades.
“Problems in college readiness stem from an incoherent, less-challenging literature curriculum from the 1960s onward,” Bauerlein and Stotsky say. “Until that time, a literature-heavy English curriculum was understood as precisely the kind of pre-college training students needed.”
The standards were inspired, in part, by a movement to improve children’s reading abilities by replacing standard elementary school pabulum with a rich diet of history, geography, science and the arts. University of Virginia scholar E.D. Hirsch Jr. has written several books on this. He established the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville to support schools that want their third-graders studying ancient Rome and their fourth-graders listening to Handel.
Robert Pondiscio, a former fifth-grade teacher who is vice president of the foundation, quotes a key part of the Common Core standards making this case:
“By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades.”
The Common Core guidelines recommend fourth-graders get an equal amount of fiction and nonfiction. Eighth-grade reading should be about 55 percent nonfiction, going to a recommended 70 percent by 12th grade.
Bauerlein and Stotsky say that could hurt college readiness. The new standards and associated tests, they say, will make “English teachers responsible for informational reading instruction, something they have not been trained for, and will not be trained for unless the entire undergraduate English major as well as preparatory programs in English education in education schools are changed.”
Pondiscio says he admires Bauerlein and Stotsky and doesn’t see why English classes have to carry the nonfiction weight. Social studies and science courses can do that. The real battle, he says, will be in the elementary schools, where lesson plans have failed to provide the vocabulary, background knowledge and context that make good readers.
Those who want the new standards say learning to read is more than just acquiring a skill, like bike riding. It is absorbing an entire world. That is what the fight in your local district will be about.
What Does Common Core Have To Do With the U.N.’s Agenda 21 ?
–And Why Should You Care?
There’s an interesting article about Obama’s call for the U.S. to pay for education of the world. It’s ”A Global Fund for Education: Achieving Education for All” that you can read in full here: http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2009/08/education-gartner
Its summary states: “In order to realize the world’s commitment to ensuring education for all by 2015, important innovations and reforms will be needed in the governance and financing of global education. In 2008, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama committed to making sure that every child has the chance to learn by creating a Global Fund for Education. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently called for a new architecture of global cooperation… A new Global Fund for Education… must be capable of mobilizing the approximately $7 billion annually still needed to achieve education for all, while holding all stakeholders accountable for achieving results with these resources. None of these objectives will be achieved without a major rethinking of the global education architecture and an evolution of current mechanisms for financing education… Achieving these two Millennium Development Goals, and the broader Education for All Goals… will require more capable international institutions.”
I have to ask three questions as I read this:
- Since when do nations collectively finance global education?
- Since when has the whole world agreed on what should be taught to the whole world?
- Since when is the United States of America reduced to “accountable stakeholder” status over its own educational and financial decisionmaking?
So Obama created a global education fund, using U.S. taxpayer money. I don’t remember voting on this.
And Hilary Clinton is misusing the word “inclusiveness” to now mean “no more independent sovereignty for anyone.” Meanwhile, there’s a United Nations/UNESCO program called “Education For All” that involves the same ideas and the very same key people as “Common Core”. And there’s also an “Education, Public Awareness and Training” chapter in the U.N.’s Agenda 21 goals.
Both the U.N.’s educational goals (via UNESCO and “Education for All” ) and “Common Core” do sound very appealing on the surface. Each seeks to educate by teaching the exact same standards to all children (and adults) on a national or a global scale. But both supercede local control over what is taught to students, and both dismiss the validity and importance of the U.S. Constitution implicitly.
Both UNESCO’s educational goals and Common Core are, coincidentally, heavily funded by activist and philanthropist Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest billionaires on earth. http://www.eagleforum.org/links/UNESCO-MS.pdf ( Link to Gates’ Microsoft/Unesco partnership)
Gates gave the Common Core developer/copyright holders, NGA/CCSSO, about $25 million dollars to promote his special interest, Common Core. (See CCSSO: 2009–$9,961,842, 2009– $3,185,750, 2010–$743,331, 2011–$9,388,911 ; NGA Center: 2008–$2,259,780 at http://www.keepeducationlocal.com .
Gates partnered with UNESCO/U.N. to fund ”Education For All” as well. See http://bettereducationforall.org/
The “Education For All” developer is UNESCO, a branch of the United Nations. Education For All’s key document is called “The Dakar Framework for Action: Education For All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments.” Read the full text here: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001211/121147e.pdf
At this link, you can learn about how Education For All works:
In a nutshell: “Prior to the reform of the global EFA coordination architecture in 2011-2012, the Education for All High-Level Group brought together high-level representatives from national governments, development agencies, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector. Its role was to generate political momentum and mobilize financial, technical and political support towards the achievement of the EFA goals and the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). From 2001-2011 the High-Level Group met annually.”
The six goals of “Education For All” are claimed to be internationally agreed-upon. But since much of what happens with the United Nations threatens the sovereignty of the United States and all sovereign nations, I do not recognize that these goals, or anything else for that matter, are “internationally agreed-upon.” Do you?
For everyone on earth to totally agree, we’d have to submit to a one-world government with a one-world constitution that would override any individual country’s constitution. There are some great thoughts on this subject here: http://www.keepeducationlocal.com/
But in the U.N.’s own words:
“Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment. Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests were adopted by more than 178 Governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 3 to 14 June 1992. The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up…” See: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/
So Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken by everyone. We all apparently have been signed up to agree, whether we agree or not. I’m already getting the communist creeps.
But most of us haven’t even heard of Agenda 21 nor do we know anything about “sustainable development”.
On the linked Education and Awareness page of that same U.N. website, we learn:
“Education, Public Awareness and Training is the focus of Chapter 36 of Agenda 21. This is a cross-sectoral theme both relevant to the implementation of the whole of Agenda 21 and indispensable for achieving sustainable development.” http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/susdevtopics/sdt_educawar.shtml
Did you get that? Education is indispensable for the U.N. to get its agenda pushed onto every citizen worldwide. They just admitted it out loud. They want a strong hand in determining what is taught worldwide.
So then we click on Chapter 36. The “indispensable” implementation tool they are describing are your children’s American public schools. Yes, really:
36.2 says they plan to “reorient” worldwide education toward sustainable development. (No discussion, no vote, no input needed on this reorientation plan, apparently.)
36.3 says: “While basic education provides the underpinning for any environmental and development education, the latter needs to be incorporated as an essential part of learning. Both formal and non-formal education are indispensable to changing people’s attitudes so that they have the capacity to assess and address their sustainable development concerns. It is also critical for achieving environmental and ethical awareness, values and attitudes, skills and behaviour consistent with sustainable development and for effective public participation in decision-making. To be effective, environment and development education should deal with the dynamics of both the physical/biological and socio-economic environment and human (which may include spiritual) development, should be integrated in all disciplines, and should employ formal and non-formal methods
- Environmental education will be incorporated in formal education globally.
- Any value or attitude held by anyone globally that stands independent to that of the United Nations’ definition of “sustainable education” must change. Current attitudes are unacceptable.
- Environmental education will be belief-and-spirituality based.
- Environmental education will be integrated into all disciplines, not just science.
The stated objectives (36.4) include endorsing “Education for All,” achieving “environmental and development awareness in all sectors of society on a world-wide scale as soon as possible”; and to achieve the accessibility of environmental and development education, linked to social education, from primary school age through adulthood to all groups of people; and to promote integration of environment concepts, including demography, in all educational programmes, and “giving special emphasis to the further training of decision makers at all levels.”
Does that not sound like quite an agenda?
But it gets worse.
Under “Activities,” we find:
“Governments should strive to update or prepare strategies aimed at integrating environment and development as a cross-cutting issue into education at all levels within the next three years. This should be done in cooperation with all sectors of society…. A thorough review of curricula should be undertaken to ensure a multidisciplinary approach, with environment and development issues and their socio-cultural and demographic aspects and linkages.”
So, if a country like the USA, for example, has a Constitution and G.E.P.A. laws that states that its federal government has absolutely no legal right to supervise or direct state school systems, then what? How can it be done?
I’ll tell you how! Just get a U.S. President to circumvent Congress and the states’ right to educate. Just use nongovernmental groups like the NGA/CCSSO to write and copyright new national educational standards. Just pay groups to do what you are not legally authorized to do. Just create “Race to the Top” grants. Just promote a socialist education system but call it a state-led Common Core. Then get zillionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to promote and pay for most of it.
And that is what has happened.
Enough info for today? Oh, no. Not even close.
They go on to say how countries should pay for all the reorientation and values/attitudes changing for all people. And there’s even a media-to-museum rebranding blitz outline:
“Countries… should promote a cooperative relationship with the media, popular theatre groups, and entertainment and advertising industries by initiating discussions to mobilize their experience in shaping public behaviour and consumption patterns and making wide use of their methods. Such cooperation would also increase the active public participation in the debate on the environment. UNICEF should make child-oriented material available to media as an educational tool, ensuring close cooperation between the out-of-school public information sector and the school curriculum, for the primary level. UNESCO, UNEP and universities should enrich pre-service curricula for journalists on environment and development topics;
(f) Countries, in cooperation with the scientific community, should establish ways of employing modern communication technologies for effective public outreach. National and local educational authorities and relevant United Nations agencies should expand, as appropriate, the use of audio-visual methods, especially in rural areas in mobile units, by producing television and radio programmes for developing countries, involving local participation, employing interactive multimedia methods and integrating advanced methods with folk media;
(g) Countries should promote… environmentally sound leisure and tourism activities… making suitable use of museums, heritage sites, zoos, botanical gardens, national parks…”
So, it should be pretty clear that there is a huge re-education program happening to all countries, the aim of which is to change people’s attitudes toward believing in “sustainable development” and environmental education. If it’s picking up litter, some other innocuous program, fine; spend trillions without taking a vote to make sure we all think alike. Stupid but harmless. On the other hand, what if, what IF, it’s something we DON’T all agree upon? There are hundreds of countries. Even if it were just up to China* vs. the U.S. to define “sustainable behavior” how would we ever agree? Paper or plastic? Paper wastes trees; plastic creates landfills. These “green-defining” issues are endless.
But the problem, in a nutshell, is simply: Whose version of “sustainable” do you want to re-educate everyone to believe –assuming that you can accept massive-scale propagandizing for the promotion of one single belief system, under which people didn’t get a representative vote)
*Sustainable thinking includes limiting by abortion the number of babies allowed to be born, in order to have control over population growth. The Chinese “One Child Policy” was introduced by the Chinese Government in 1979 with the intention of keeping the population within sustainable limits even in the face of natural disasters and poor harvests, and improving the quality of life for the Chinese population as a whole. Under the policy, parents who have more than one child may have their wages reduced and be denied some social services.” (BBC)