Watch out, Common Core. Political analysis Michelle Malkin has stepped up to the plate.
Malkin’s New Year’s resolution is to use her syndicated column and blog space “to expose how progressive “reformers” — mal-formers — are corrupting our schools.”
Rotten to the Core: Obama’s War on Academic Standards
By Michelle Malkin – (Part 1)
January 23, 2013 09:43 AM
…This is the first in an ongoing series on “Common Core,” the stealthy federal takeover of school curriculum and standards across the country.
…. Under President Obama, these top-down mal-formers — empowered by Washington education bureaucrats and backed by misguided liberal philanthropists led by billionaire Bill Gates — are now presiding over a radical makeover of your children’s school curriculum. It’s being done in the name of federal “Common Core” standards that do anything but raise achievement standards.
… In practice, Common Core’s dubious “college- and career”-ready standards undermine local control of education, usurp state autonomy over curricular materials, and foist untested, mediocre and incoherent pedagogical theories on America’s schoolchildren.
Over the next several weeks and months, I’ll use this column space to expose who’s behind this disastrous scheme in D.C. backrooms. I’ll tell you who’s fighting it in grassroots tea party and parental revolts across the country from Massachusetts to Indiana, Texas, Georgia and Utah. And most importantly, I’ll explain how this unprecedented federal meddling is corrupting our children’s classrooms and textbooks…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thank you, Eduschuyster, for keeping us informed about educorporate goings-on in Minnesota.
Intrusive to the core
Article excerpted and reposted from The Boston Herald
By Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass | Sunday, September 2, 2012 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Op-Ed
…The so-called Common Core State Standards in English and math were almost entirely developed inside the Beltway by a small group of D.C.-based education trade organizations.
Many of the 46 states that adopted the standards did so before they were even complete. In the vast majority of states, educational officials adopted the standards unilaterally; few state legislatures ever even voted on them.
To bolster their decisions, some state education officials relied on comparisons of their existing standards to Common Core, comparisons that were funded by the same Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that has spent more than $100 million to develop and promote the national standards.
This embarrassing spectacle calls into question John Adams’ famous claim that the United States is “[a] government of laws, and not of men.”
At least three federal laws explicitly prohibit the federal government from directing, funding or controlling any state and local standards, curriculum, testing or instructional materials.
Despite these clear legal prohibitions, the Obama administration made adoption of Common Core a criterion for states competing for more than $4 billion in federal grant money. Each state that received a so-called Race to the Top grant had either adopted or promised to adopt Common Core.
Another $362 million in federal grants was doled out to two national consortia that are developing common assessments to “help” states transition to nationalized standards and tests.
In their federal grant applications, the two testing consortia flat-out stated their intent to use the money to create a “model curriculum” and instructional materials “aligned with” Common Core, in direct violation of the law. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan even said that the consortia’s work includes “developing curriculum frameworks” and “instructional modules.”
In short, the U.S. Department of Education has paid others to do what it is forbidden from doing. The tactic should not inoculate the department against curriculum prohibitions imposed by Congress.
Courageously, Thomas Gosnell, who heads the state chapter of the union Shanker once led, opposed Massachusetts’ 2010 adoption of Common Core. “Our standards . . . are clearly higher than what the federal government is proposing,” he said. “Our students are number one in the nation and the Western world, and here we are being asked to sign onto those [national] standards”…
Charles Chieppo is a senior fellow and Jamie Gass directs the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank.
The last thing our struggling education system needs is for local school districts to become dependent on Washington for education funding, further centralizing school-level policies in the hands of federal bureaucrats.
RTT-D is an offshoot of the original Race to the Top (RTT), the Obama Administration’s $4.35 billion competitive grant program to states carved out of the “stimulus.” The DOE says the new district-level program will “help schools become engines of innovation”…
Concern about the Administration’s push to nationalize the content taught in schools across America through the Common Core State Standards led some states to pass on the original RTT competition. States like Alaska, Texas, and North Dakota have never applied for RTT grants. Under the new district-level competition, the feds will appeal directly to school districts, offering up millions in exchange for adoption of the White House’s preferred policies.
Applicant districts must agree to implement the four core components of RTT (common standards, teacher evaluations, data systems, and the Administration’s school turn-around model), and must secure school board and teacher union buy-in for their application.
The DOE notes that all school districts with more than 2,000 students are eligible to apply, including those districts in states that did not apply for RTT grants. While smaller school districts may pull together to apply for a grant, the 2,000-student minimum biases larger districts, making it unlikely that small rural school districts will be winners of one of the 15–25 grants that are awarded.
The Administration has demonstrated a pattern of circumventing Congress on key education policy issues. It set an arbitrary deadline for No Child Left Behind reauthorization, and when Congress (in the midst of a thoughtful debate about the future of the nation’s largest education law) failed to meet it, began offering strings-attached waivers to states that agreed to implement the White House’s education agenda. Now the Administration will circumvent states that have chosen not to apply for RTT grants and dangle up to $40 million each to districts willing to toe the line.
It’s another step in centralizing education control and a continuance of Washington-centric education policy that has burdened taxpayers, encumbered states, and failed students for the last half-century.