How quickly Common Core has gone from being almost a secret, a truly under-the-news-radar movement, to being a sharp bone of contention and a scorchingly hot topic across the nation as right and left, legislators, parents, teachers and yes, students– join to fight the erosion of local control of education, and the erosion of high quality education.
Here’s just a smattering of the pushback happening across this nation. Please feel free to leave additional related Common Core pushback news links in the comments section!
I am fascinated with the increasing convergence of honest right-wing thinkers and honest left-wing thinkers in the context of protecting legitimate, locally controlled education and fighting Common Core and its data-mining tentacles. Professor Singer points out in his article not only what Pearson is doing in England and in the U.S., but how these “curious connections” that form alliances between “exceedingly rich men” whether socialists or capitalists, who, together with government boards, are taking over education, literally all over the globe.
People on both sides of the political aisle are feeling similar alarm at the partnershipping of governments and private corporations that is taking away the voice of the voter as it hands over the keys of the American (in this case, also the British) school bus –to that wild and crazy driver known as Sir Michael Barber, CEA of Pearson, self-proclaimed revolutionary.
The article below is reposted with permission from Alan Singer of Hofstra University, and it’s been posted at the Huffington Post. I actually prefer and recommend reading it at the Huffington Post, where helpful links are embedded, so you can fact-check the article for yourself.
For more information about Pearson’s CEA, Sir Michael Barber, and what he stands for, there are several articles I’ve posted previously here and here and here.
Beware! Pearson’s Plan for Education Is Coming to a Country Near You
By Alan Singer, Hofstra University Social Studies Educator, New York
In the United States school districts are traditionally organized and funded locally. Parents, teachers, and school and district administrators usually only think about state and national issues when they feel pressed from above by state imposed budget cuts or federal demands for curriculum change and new assessments. Much of the opposition to Common Core and Race to the Top arose because parents, teachers, and administrators felt local prerogatives were being undermined by unwarranted pressure from above. But an examination of the Pearson publishing mega-giant’s plan to control public education in Great Britain makes clear, the greatest threat to local initiatives in public education may be from powerful global corporations. Beware! The Pearson Plan for education in the United Kingdom may be coming to a country near you — unless we can stop it now.
In March 2013, The Guardian, one of the leading British daily newspapers, published an opinion piece charging that “unelected oligarchs” and “private sponsors” were taking over the British school system. The academy schools discussed in this article sound very similar to the charter school movement in the United States.
“All over England, schools are being obliged to become academies: supposedly autonomous bodies which are often “sponsored” (the government’s euphemism for controlled) by foundations established by exceedingly rich men. The break-up of the education system in this country, like the dismantling of the National Health Service, reflects no widespread public demand. It is imposed, through threats, bribes and fake consultations, from on high.”
The “academy” alternative was supposed to be reserved for failing schools, but according to the article, the reality in Britain is much different. A Department of Education memo makes clear “it is our ambition that academy status should be the norm for all state schools.” Another memo recommended transferring academies out of the state-run school system into the private sector. To achieve these goals, “academy” sponsors appear to be targeting good schools with temporary problems that they can claim to have turned around.
For example, from 2007-2012 the Roke primary school in the community of Croydon in south London was rated “outstanding” by the British government’s quality control department known as OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills). However, after several senior staff retired and a computer failure caused a delay in reporting data to inspectors, the school received a “Notice to Improve.” Although the school subsequently met the required standards, it was notified by the British Department for Education that it would be turned into an academy.
In September 2012, the British Department for Education held a closed meeting with school administrators and reportedly told them that if they did not immediately accept the demand to become an “academy,” they would be fired by the local school authority. They threatened that if local school officials did not carry out the order, it would be replaced by an interim board of governors that would. They also warned school administrators not to inform parents about the meeting or the decision.
School administrators at Roke acquiesced and selected the local secondary school as its partner. However, on the last day of the fall term, the Department of Education rejected the plan and paired the school with the “Harris Foundation,” a group founded by the chairman of a large retail store chain with close ties to the ruling Conservative Party. When parents learned of these events they rebelled and unanimously voted to partner with the secondary school. But the community was overruled by the British schools minister, who happens to be a wealthy businessman, a major donor to the British Conservative Party, and a sponsor of the academies plan.
In many ways the strategy for promoting academies in Great Britain is similar to the strategy for promoting charter schools in the United States. Working class and poor families are told the academies are a solution to educational inequality. The academies are also exempt from following national curriculum and are not answerable to local governments. According to one British commentator who has carefully documented the history of the academies, “When threats don’t work, the department resorts to bribery. Schools receive up to an extra £65,000 or over $100,000 in state funds, if they become academies. As a result, the academies program exceeded its budget by £1 billion ($1.6 billion) from 2010 to 2012.
The Guardian is especially concerned about the influence of Pearson, the educational publishing giant, over the so-called educational reform movement in Great Britain. Pearson, originally based in Great Britain but with most of its current revenue from the United States, is at the center of the academy movement. In partnership with the Royal Society of Arts, Pearson funded a study the Guardian suspects will be used to demonstrate the success of the academies scheme.
In addition, Pearson, through its Edexcel subsidy, is the largest testing company in Great Britain with sales totally over £317 million in 2010. It also has a contract to grade achievement tests for English 11-year-olds. Not surprisingly, Pearson sponsored another study to show how the exam system promotes “high standards.” Other Pearson ventures designed to shape educational policy and maybe also boost Pearson corporate profits include “Pearson Think Tank,” funding Oxford University’s Centre for Educational Assessment, and the “Pearson school model.” The “Pearson school model” includes a computer-based curriculum that can be sold to schools, dubbed “the Always Learning Gateway.”
The “Pearson Think Tank” is an excellent example of the way Pearson’s not-for profit policy and research programs and its for-profit corporate activities intersect. According to its website, “Although the Pearson Think Tank is funded by Pearson, it is independent from its commercial activities. We are conscious of any conflicts of interest and operate accordingly, and final decisions about what and when we publish reside with us.” However, “Where possible we try to draw on Pearson’s networks, knowledge and expertise to gather new evidence about educational quality and access that is of interest to the wider sector.”
But the reality is that the Pearson Think Tank is actively promoting Pearson corporate interests. The think tank is working in partnership with the British Academies Commission to examine the implications of the “mass academisation,” or privatization, of Britain’s state run schools. Between May 2010 and November 2012 the number of academized schools increased from about 200 to almost 2,500. As with other Pearson supported “studies,” it somehow aligns with corporate goals. In this case its goal is “to develop a practical but compelling vision for the future of UK academisation” so that “young people experience the benefits of academisation.” The Commission’s report is titled, “Unleashing greatness: Getting the best from an academised system.”
The Pearson Think Tank has also conducted “research” to support the use of Pearson high-stakes tests in the United Kingdom; to promote the type of “enterprise and entrepreneurship education” provided by the Pearson UK online university; and to support “Pearson’s Teacher Training and Certification Programme.”
In praise of Pearson for-profits high-stakes testing programs, the Pearson Think Tank quoted Michael Gove, Great Britain’s Conservative Party Education Secretary who defended the tests as “tools of social mobility” based on human nature because “humans are hard-wired to seek out challenges”; sources of “satisfaction and contentment” for students on “a job well done”; and the basis to “ensure that a solid base of learning is complete before progressing on to further learning.” The tests are great because they “drive creativity” and “signal that a person is ready to take on greater challenge and responsibility.” Unfortunately, there was no research cited to support these over-the-top claims.
The Guardian article quoted Stephen Ball, a professor of the sociology of education at London University’s Institute of Education and an expert on education business, on Pearson’s “educational” ventures. According to Ball:
“They want to offer products and services in all areas of school practice: assessment, pedagogy, curriculum and management, and they want to create the possibility for that through policy work. They want to have indirect influence in policy to create opportunities for business expansion. It’s a very well thought-out business strategy.”
As we know from recent revelations by the Attorney General of New York State, Pearson operates the same way in the United States blurring the lines between its not-for-profit Foundation and its for-profit company. As a penalty and to avoid prosecution the Pearson Foundation agreed to pay $7.5 million into a fund managed by the Attorney General to support education in high-needs schools. When I posted a Huffington Post “Pearson Caught Cheating, Says Sorry, But Will Pay” on the Pearson Foundation Facebook page, Foundation officials responded:
“Pearson and the Foundation maintain we have always acted with the best intentions and complied with the law. However, we recognize that there were times when the governance of the Foundation and its relationship with Pearson could have been clearer and more transparent. The Foundation has adopted a number of reforms to enhance operations and programs and further its charitable mission.”
In the United States, Pearson donates to the Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to the Obama White House. John Podesta, Founder and Chair of the Center for American Progress, was Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House and is an important advisor to President Obama. Reports issued by the Center for American Progress have advocated in favor of the national Common Core Standards, changes in teacher preparation programs including alternative certification routes, and the validity of high stakes student assessments, all areas where Pearson for-profit is marketing products and services. While the Center for American Progress is considered a “liberal” think tank, it has some curious conservative and business connections. For example, Ulrich Boser, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress where he analyzes education issues also serves as research director of Leaders and Laggards, a joint project of the Center for American Progress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute.
I do not think Pearson’s problems in New York State were related to unclarity at all. What is happening in Great Britain makes it perfectly clear, Pearson’s not for-profit activities serve the global profit making goals of the Pearson company. If parents, teachers and students do not organize to resist corporate incursions into American public education, the Pearson Plan for Education will be coming to a country, state, city, town, and school near you!
Carol S. Moss, Utah legislator, caused a bit of a splash when she posted this photo of herself with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Facebook this week. Rep. Moss must have felt it was an honor to meet Mr. Duncan.
I don’t think many people could be aware of all of this and still feel good about posing for a picture with Secretary Duncan.
I do not think Rep. Moss is bad. I think she is naiive like virtually all our state education leaders. So few have even bothered to ask question one about Common Core’s origins, designs, price tag, experimentality, controlling governance system, and ultimate effects on children.
I’m going to paste Rep. Moss’s Facebook thread here. Decide for yourself whether we ought to be modeling admiration for this “reformer” as Rep. Moss has done, in front of children and other citizens. Or not.
REP. CAROL MOSS: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came to Salt Lake City to see the remarkable success of Northwest Middle School and hear from their administrators, teachers, students, and parents about how they transformed Northwest from a low-achieving school with an at-risk population to one of Utah’s best middle schools. A major factor: a $2.3 million school improvement grant which provided additional resources needed to assist struggling students. Most important factor: Visionary administrators and dedicated, talented teachers. (Yes, I am short, but Sec. Duncan is verrrrry tall.) I wish every legislator had been there.
LISA CUMMINS (of Utahns Against Common Core): What a shameful picture! After what Mr. Duncan has said and done, to violate family privacy rights, what he has said about parents (and white suburban moms) and other things, this is not a proud moment for Utah Rep. Moss! I wonder, as does Heather Andrews Williamson, if data was sold for Mr. Duncan’s visit, as it was in California. If I was a parent who’s child was at Northwest, I’d pull my child out of that school as fast as I could! What a pariah!
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss: Your comments are insulting to all the great teachers, administrators and parents who are proud of the success of NW Middle School. They used the grant to help the students make great gains and change a school culture that did not create a great learning environment. They were proud to have Sec. Duncan visit their school and tout it as a public school success. I am sorry to hear such hateful comments about what was a celebratory occasion.
Christel Lane Swasey: Carol Moss, I have to defend Lisa Cummins. Arne Duncan has a history of lying to the American people. I’m sure he’s nice to his children and small animals, and I wish him a Merry Christmas, but he is not a good Secretary of Education nor is he a good example of one who upholds the Constitution or teacher’s autonomy. Lisa Cummins and others are trying to defend teachers’ rights, to defend students’ rights and to fight Duncan’s Common Core and related disaterous “reforms” that hurt us. Some may have felt Mr. Duncan’s visit was a celebratory occasion, but many do not. His painful reforms speak for themselves. We cannot pretend that “all is well in Zion” when it is not.
LISA CUMMINS: Carol, I am sorry you feel my comments are insulting. But I was in no way directing them to the parents, administrators, and especially the teachers. I believe that local control is best, and they do not need the head of education, a department which I see as unconstitutional, to come to give them praise! Seeing their children succeed is of course, great to see. However with Mr. Duncan coming to our State, into our schools, coming close to our children concerns me a great deal!
This man has limited my and other parents authority over our kids’ data by his editing of FERPA laws, two years ago this month. He had the laws edited without Congressional approval or oversight, sighting that shareholders needed to be able to have access when necessary. That getting parental approval was ‘optimal or best practice’.
As our Representative, I would hope that you would support parents’ rights and the privacy of our children, and not be proud to celebrate with a man who seeks to take these away. If Utah is going to retain local control we cannot take handouts and the strings that are attached. There are better ways and people have succeeded with much less.
I hope you will respect my concerns of Arnie Duncan and protecting my and others’ children.
Christel, thank you for standing beside me!
SARAH FELT: I agree with Lisa and Christel. His visit is not something I would be proud of. Yes, be proud of NW school’s accomplishments. (Which by the way she did not attack.) And I would still like to know if what Lisa brought up is true here in Utah also. Was our student data bartered for just like in California? That question was not answered by you. I, as a parent, do not feel it justified to have my child’s personal data sold, particularly without my express consent, not for any amount of money for any potential educational “gain”. You mentioned that NW accepted a grant. What were the terms and conditions of that grant? Are all the parents aware of those conditions? Was there full disclosure?
LeNell Hancock Heywood: Arne Duncan is not a celebrity. The teachers are the true heroes! We need less bureaucrats and more teachers so that class sizes are smaller.
Published this week at The Federalist is an article by Joy Pullman: “Common Core: The Biggest Election Issue Washington Prefers to Ignore”.
Pullman points out that while Washington does its best to ignore or discredit Common Core opposition, the fact remains that some heavy names and powerful organizations are fighting Common Core:
“Common Core opponents include, as entire institutions or representatives from them, the American Principles Project, Americans for Prosperity, the Badass Teachers Association, the Brookings Institution, the Cato Institute, Class Size Matters, Eagle Forum, FreedomWorks, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Goldwater Institute, the Heartland Institute (where I work), the Heritage Foundation, Hillsdale College, the Hoover Institute, Notre Dame University, the National Association of Scholars, the Pioneer Institute, Stanford University, United Opt-Out, and leaders from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to a coalition of Catholic university scholars and teachers union darling Diane Ravitch. These organizations’ flavors range from constitutionalist to libertarian to liberal.The people making the noise are regular moms, dads, and grandparents, but they’re backed up by organizations with intellectual chops.”
She writes, “Even so, knowledge of Common Core is relatively low among the general public, so many politicians have seen this as an opening to disregard or ignore it. That’s a dangerous move….the biggest thing Washington politicos may be overlooking about Common Core is the simple fact that wedge issues matter. Most of the populace does not show up to vote for most elections. People who have strong reasons to vote do, and turnout often determines elections. Getting passionate people to vote is half the point of a campaign. The Common Core moms have a reason to vote, and boy, do they have a lot of friends.”
Democratic Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey has written a vital letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about the loss of student privacy under new education reforms. The Senator asks the Secretary eight great questions. My favorite is question #2.a): “Should parents, not schools, have the right to control information about their children?”
The Honorable Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202
Dear Secretary Duncan:
The efficient collection, analysis and storage of K-12 students’ academic records holds promise for improving scholastic performance and closing the achievement gap. By collecting detailed personal information about students’ test results and learning abilities, educators may find better
ways to educate their students. However, putting the sensitive infomation of students in private hands raises a number of important questions about the privacy rights of parents and their children.
According to a recent article in The New York Times (“Decidir1g Who Sees Students’ Data”, October 5, 2013), a growing number of school districts are outsourcing data storage functions to private companies. This change, the companies assert, will “streamline access to students’ data to bolster the market for educational products”. While better analysis of student reading may, for example, help educators better target the appropriate reading materials to students, disclosure of such information, which mayr extend well beyond the specific private company hired by the school district to a constellation of other firms with which the district does not have a business relationship, raises concerns about the degree to which student privacy mayI be compromised.
Moreover, as the article cited above also explains, sensitive information such as students’ behavior and participation patterns also may be included in files outsourced to third-party data firms and potentially distributed more widely to additional companies without parental consent.
Such loss of parental control over their child’s educational records and performance information could have longstanding consequences for the future prospects of students.
Recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permit “schools to share student data, without notifying parents, with companies to which they have outsourced core functions like scheduling or data management,” according to the Times article. The infomation shared with private companies mayr vary from infomation such as grades, test scores, and attendance records, to other sensitive data such as disability, family relationships, and
In an effort to understand the Department’s views on the impact of increased collection and distribution of student data on their privacy, I respectfully request that the Department provide answers to the follow questions:
1) In 2008 and 2011, the Department issued new regulations with respect to FERPA that addressed how schools can outsource core functions such as scheduling or data management and how third parties may access confidential information about students. These changes also permit other government agencies that are not under the direct control of state educational authorities, such as state health departments, to access student infomation. Please explain those changes.
a. Why did the Department make these changes?
b. Did the Department perform any analysis regarding the impact of these changes on student privacy? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?
2) Has the Department performed an assessment ofthe types of infomation that are shared by schools with third party vendors, including but not limited to Contact information, grades, disciplinary data, test scores, curriculum planning, attendance records, academic subjects, course levels, disabilities, family relationships, and reasons for enrollment? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?
a. Should parents, not schools, have the right to control infomation about their children even when their data is in the hands of a private company?
b. Do you believe that parents should have the right to choose which infomation is shared by schools with third party vendors and which is kept confidential?
In other words, is it the Department’s view that some elements of personal data are more sensitive than others, and therefore deserve greater protections?
2) Has the Department issued federal standards or guidelines that detail what steps schools should take to protect the privacy of student records that are stored and used by private companies? For example, are there guidelines about access to the information, how long it can be retained, hcw it will be used, whether it will be shared with other parties (including but not limited to colleges to which students apply), and if it can be sold to others? lf yes, please provide those standards 0r guidelines. If not, why not and will the Department undertake the development and issuance of such guidelines?
4) Are there minimization requirements that require private companies to delete information that is not necessary to enhance educational quality for students?
5) Do students and their families continue to have the right to access their personal infomation held by private companies as they would if their personal information were held by educational institutions? If yes, please explain how students and families may exercise this right and how they should be informed of the existence of this right. If not, why not?
6) While there are significant potential benefits associated with better collection and analysis of student data, does the Department believe that there also are possible risks when students’ personal infomation is shared with such ñrms and third parties? If yes, what is the Department doing to mitigate these risks? If not, why not?
7) Does the Department require entities that access student data to have security measures in place, including encryption protocols or other measures, to prevent the loss of or acquisition of data that is transferred between schools and third parties? What security measures does the Department require that private companies have in place to safeguard the data once it is stored in their systems?
8) Does the Department monitor whether these third parties are safeguarding students’ personal infomation and abide by FERPA or guidelines released by the Department? If yes, please explain. If not, why not?
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please provide written responses to these questions no later than November 12, 2013. If you have any questions, please have a member of your staff contact Joseph Wender on Senator Markey’s staff at 202-224-2742.
“I moved into my school district because it has small classes, very well educated teachers… Each year they put out a pamphlet showing where the graduates go to school… 95 out of 100 are going to good schools, some are going to the very best in the country.
Our school district was not broken.
In 2012 we got this incredible, radical shift across the curricula… I just got my son’s homework last night. It’s a MacMillan McGraw Hill which I just learned is a subsidiary of Pearson. And it’s just this incredibly rote –I just think it’s way beneath– where a lot of children are. And what’s very frustrating to me is that I can’t have a meaningful discussion with my son’s teacher or the principal or the superintendent because it’s not our call anymore.
I have this letter from 2010 signed by David Patterson saying we’re committed to Race to the Top. There was no public debate beforehand. There was no legislative debate. Now, as a parent, I’m voiceless in my school district.
I just think that’s outrageous.”
Hear more from Professor Nick Tampio about Common Core on this radio interview from Pacifica News:
It’s interesting to see such striking similarities in what Republicans and Democrats are saying about the need to stop Common Core by not funding it, and by returning the money to legitimate and local education.
These Democrats and Republicans who have done their homework (and who are not funded by the Gates-Common Core machine as most Common Core advocates are) agree: because Common Core ends local control and liberty, Americans have to stop feeding the standardization-of-education beast and must start funding legitimate, classical education.
The buck stops (isn’t this an ironic sentence?) –with funding.
Compare what both Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and what activist Paul Horton, an Illinois Democrat and current high school history teacher, have vocally (and repeatedly) said.
“I seek to eliminate further U.S. Department of Education interference with state decisions on academic content standards by using Congress’s power of the purse to prohibit any further federal funds being used to advance any particular set of academic content standards. Whether states adopt or reject the Common Core Standards should be between the citizens of each state and their state elected officials. State governments must be able to make that decision, or to change their decision, based on direct accountability to the citizens of their states, free from any federal coercion.”
Meanwhile, from Paul Horton*, a Democratic high school history teacher (who wrote to his Senator, Richard Durbin (Democrat from Illinois):
“Mr. Durbin, I encourage you to completely kill funding for NCLB [No Child Left Behind], RTTT [Race to the Top], and I don’t want Mr. [U.S. Education Secretary Arne] Duncan to have a penny to spend because he and this administration’s policies are hopelessly misguided. All remaining Stimulus monies should be divided by your committee among the most underserved districts all over the country to rehire support and teaching staff. Not a penny should go to Pearson Education or any other Education vendor, or on spending for any standardized tests. Standardized tests will never close the achievement gap! Wake up!”
RTTT will not reduce achievement gaps. No research supports RTTT on this matter. The only thing that will reduce the achievement gaps id full employment,
livable wages, and more investment in neighborhood schools to supply support staff, clinics, and four well qualified teachers in every classroom of no more than twenty-two students. We need to pursue policies that attract the best people that we can into the classroom like Finland. It should be an honor to be a teacher because it is an honorable profession.
This administration has chosen to vilify teachers. Most credible studies show that we have 3% of teachers nationally that are ineffective, but current punitive policies discourage most from considering the profession. This party has turned its back on a very loyal, well educated, and hardworking constituency. If you continue these policies, you no longer deserve the support of teachers.
I strongly encourage you to look to what Singapore, Finland, and China are doing, which is quite the opposite of RTTT.
Our current policies are a boondoggle for Pearson Education, Microsoft, and Achieve, etc. You simply must see through the smoke! Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan are following the precepts of Democrats for Education Reform. The Wall Street bundlers who have supported RTTT and private charters are acting under a quid pro quo deal made between them and those in the current administration who decided to choose Mr. Duncan over Ms. Darling-Hammond. The trade-off is money for national Democratic campaigns in exchange for policies that will lead to more school privatization. This is becoming increasingly obvious to more citizens.
Shame on this party!
What is happening is absurdly crass. The money that will go to Illinois testing for the RTTT will not stimulate the economy of Illinois. We are talking about an estimated $733 million dollars. Why should this money go to Pearson Education?
Pearson Education produces shoddy product, look at their record. We may as well be flushing taxpayer’s money down the toilet.
You know people who are very close to the Joyce Foundation that has fed the Chicago Tribune misinformation.
The DOJ Anti-Trust Division needs to investigate Pearson Education. I attach a complaint to the Federal DA that has been circulating among thousands of citizens in Northern Illinois. The Education Secretary is in clear violation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and this administration
is doing its best to protect him by not allowing him to respond to specific questions.
Mr. Durbin, I encourage you to completely kill funding for NCLB, RTTT, and I don’t want Mr. Duncan to have a penny to spend because he and this administration’s policies are hopelessly misguided. All remaining Stimulus monies should be divided by your committee among the most underserved
districts all over the country to rehire support and teaching staff. Not a penny should go to Pearson Education or any other Education vendor, or on spending
for any standardized tests. Standardized tests will never close the achievement gap! Wake up!
You have recently voiced much concern about gun violence in Chicago. Senator Durbin, consider the effect o the failure of 70% (RTTT Pearson Education
developed tests) of the students on the South and West sides. The citizens of New York state are currently experiencing this immoral fiasco. What will happen
to the dropout rate when this happens? We will not be preparing students for college, we will be preparing them for prison. I live in Woodlawn, and the young
people already say school is increasingly like prison. Wake up!
Invest remaining education funds in people, not corporations, and not in standardized testing. I thought that the Democratic Party was supposed to listen
to the people. More and more people are beginning to see through Mr. Duncan’s blatant misrepresentations.
We need education that serves kids, not the plutocrats this party is in bed with.
Please come if you can, or spread the word if you have contacts in or around Maine:
On Wednesday, August 21st at noon, there will be a Stop Common Core press conference in Augusta, Maine, at the Capitol in the Hall of Flags led by Maine State School Board member Heidi Sampson.
There will also be a Stop Common Core Rally at 6:00 pm that night at the Governor Hill Mansion, Augusta, Maine.
I am excited. I get to participate in person.
Speakers will include Heidi Sampson, of the Maine State School Board; Emmett McGroarty, of American Principles Project; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Erin Tuttle, activist mom from Indiana; and me– Christel Swasey, from Heber City, Utah.
The East Coast is suddenly exploding with new energy dedicated toward stopping Common Core and reclaiming education.
Paul Horton is a Democrat, a political activist, and a Chicago high school history teacher who stands up against Common Core. He writes:
“I will vote for a Republican for governor who will get rid of Common Core and PARCC, if the Democrats can not produce a candidate who will. Thousands of Democratic voting teachers and parents are willing to the the same.”
Here’s Paul Horton’s most recent open letter, to Illinois Senator Kwame Raoul.
State Senator Kwame Raoul
Suite 4000 Chicago, Illinois; 60654
Dear Senator Raoul,
We know from every measure that the Wilmette-Winnetka, Niles, Hinsdale, and Naperville schools are excellent. They are the highest achieving public schools in the state of Illinois. Their average SAT and ACT scores and the percentage of students enrolled in AP classes, not to mention exemplary performance on AP tests, makes these districts respected by competitive colleges all over the
country. Indeed, there is a national competition for graduates of these districts.
Why do we need another measure that we cannot afford? Why are we going to pay Pearson Education millions of dollars for products that will force many exemplary schools to lower their standards?
You will see what a massive fraud the Common Core Curriculum is when these schools are forced to lower their standards to teach Common Core and then their achievement will be denigrated by invalid measures designed to make all public schools look bad. When the New York public schools were required to take Pearson Education developed tests this spring, dozens of exemplary schools
and districts that have similar profiles to the Illinois public schools mentioned above, received substantially lowered school ratings. The same thing happened in Kentucky last year: scores went down in the best schools, and scores reflected preexisting conditions in underserved schools and communities.
Shame on the public officials of this country for turning their backs on the Northwest Ordinance, a document that precedes the Constitution in American history and law! The Ordinance made an historic commitment to public education. Federal and state governments have turned their backs on public schools because of their dependence on Wall Street funding for political
campaigns. How can we allow this to happen?
If Bill Daley is the Democratic nominee for governor and he plans to support the current state school board, I will vote for the Republican candidate if the nominee will do something about Superintendent Koch, Common Core, and the PARCC assessments. Superintendent Koch received paid trips from Pearson Education and the state then hired Pearson to develop its Common Core standardized tests.
I am a life long Democrat whose family has proud connections to the Civil Rights movement in the South. This administration and its operatives like Mayor Emanuel, have all but abandoned the country’s historic commitment to public education. When will an element within the Democratic party of Illinois stand up for common sense in Education?
Senator Raoul, you have stood very bravely in defense of teacher pensions. Can you stand up for the teachers and parents of Illinois, and buck Mayor Emanuel, Secretary Duncan, and the Democrats for Education Reform who seem more interested in attracting Wall Street money to Democratic campaigns in exchange for support of school privatization? Alderman Burns (the President’s local political protégé) will not do so for obvious reasons. I hope that you will consider a run against the plutocrats who currently control the Democratic Party in Illinois.
The citizens of Woodlawn where I live are sickened by what is happening to their neighborhood schools. An insurgent candidate for governor could gain the support of disaffected Democrats of many stripes.
All the best,
History teacher, 1365 E 64th, #1; Chicago, Illinois, 60637; 773-241-9085
The Tampa Bay Times reports that popular Florida Senator Marco Rubio has taken a firm stand in opposition to the Common Core.
“Common Core started out as a well-intentioned effort to develop more rigorous curriculum standards,” Rubio said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “However, it is increasingly being used by the Obama Administration to turn the Department of Education into what is effectively a national school board. This effort to coerce states into adhering to national curriculum standards is not the best way to help our children attain the best education. Empowering parents, local communities and the individual states is the best approach.”
“I have long supported and continue to support strong standards and accountability for public schools,” Rubio said, charging that Obama has used Common Core for no good.
Rubio said that standards should be drawn at the state level.
Rubio hasn’t mentioned Jeb Bush and his “Foundation for Excellence in Education,” a Gates-funded, pro-common core foundation. But his stand against Common Core further highlights the break in the Republican party that has been caused by Common Core. Most Floridians realize that the stand Rubio has taken against Common Core is a stand against Jeb Bush’s foundation. Bush, former Florida Governor and brother/son to the former Presidents Bush, had been a respected voice in the Republican party.
While some Republicans side with Jeb Bush, and others side with Marco Rubio on the Common Core issue, at the same time, in the Democratic party, there are people lining up on the pro and on the con side of the Common Core argument. Even progressive education reformer Michelle Rhee is quoted in the Tampa Bay Times article as saying:
“Some way right-wing tea party people don’t like federal mandates, then you’ve got left wing teacher union folks who don’t like accountability for their teachers.”
It is, after all, a freedom issue even more than it is an academic one. Both sides of the aisle can see it.
Isn’t it interesting that in this still-great country, an increasing number of both Democratic and Republican teachers see eye to eye on the tragic error of anyone– whether a governmental body or a corporate body or a partnership between the two– disfiguring our educational system and labelling it reform, while circumventing the voices of experienced teachers and of the American voters to do it?
Like thousands of experienced classroom teachers throughout our great country, I am very concerned about how you decided to go the way that you did with your Education policies.
I was recently told by a close friend of the yours that “Arne’s Team looked at all of the options” and decided to go with its current policies because “they would get us where we needed to go more quickly than any other set of alternatives.” I was also told, “that not everybody could be in the room.”
The problem was that you and Mr. Duncan did not listen to experience. The blueprint for Arne’s plan for stimulus investment that morphed into the Race to the Top Mandates (RTTT) featured advisers from the Gates and Broad Foundations, analysts from McKinsey Consulting, and a couple of dozen superintendents who were connected, like Mr. Duncan, to the Broad Foundation. Most of those who were invited to advise you were committed supporters of heavy private investment in Education who favored high stakes testing tied to teacher evaluations. Most of these advisers also favored the scaling up of measurable data collection…
If you had listened to the leading experts on standardized testing and the achievement gap, you would have learned that your policies were bound to fail… You should have taken the time to learn learn about Campbell’s Law, a concept that is taught in every graduate level statistics course here at the University of Chicago.
…Mr. President, you consulted many of your contacts in Democrats for Education Reform, an organization funded mostly by Democratic leaning Wall Street investment firms. And you were also very impressed by the ideas and passion of a Denver charter school principal and Democratic activist, Michael Johnston.
…The true measure of one’s commitment to Education is one’s willingness to sacrifice one’s will to power and economic potential to be successful in the classroom. TFA kids who go back to grad school after two years in the classroom and buy into corporate education reform are embracing their will to power. Most of these kids tend to have every advantage to begin with, they get an Ivy League education, and they are ambitious young liberals.
Rather than staying in the classroom and truly making a difference by developing their teaching skills over twenty or thirty years, they can achieve administrative positions in the charter world that have far more economic potential than teaching positions by buying into the mantra of data-driven corporate reform lingo.
… You and your administration have encouraged a “Cultural Revolution” in American education. Your Education Secretary embraced and applauded the Madame Mao of this movement and allowed his Inspector General to whitewash an investigation of cheating in DC Schools.
You promoted your basketball buddy and very close friend of your campaign finance manager to be Secretary of Education. You chose someone with a Broad Foundation background. The Broad Foundation has written a “toolkit” for the destruction of public schools that is being used in Chicago, Philly, and New Yorks and in many cities across the country.
Your policies represent a new elitism. You seem to think that: “if we can get these really smart Ivy League educated former TFA people in senior policy, superintendent, and administrative positions, then we can turn this whole thing around.”
This idea is arrogant beyond belief, the equivalent of the “best and the brightest” idea that drove us into the ground in Vietnam, only you have decided to do it in Education… Mr. Duncan has a great deal of empathy, however his policies are misguided…. his use of the authority of his office overstepped the legal parameters of the laws circumscribing federal involvement in the formulation of Education policy.
Ms. Weiss and Mr. Sheldon III, two of Secretary Duncan’s advisors who worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation prior to serving under Secretary Duncan, articulated what Mr. Gates wanted on his terms in exchange for tacit support for your campaigns.
Several Wall Street investing firms also made it clear to you and to Mr. Emanuel that they were willing to support you if your Education policies encouraged private investment in charter schools.
… The policies that you have endorsed will set the teaching profession back twenty years much as the Cultural Revolution set China back twenty years. While recent studies have indicated that only two to three percent of classroom teachers are ineffective, your policies vilify the 98% who are effective and exemplary.
… You have bought into a corporate model of Education Reform: you seek to create competition among public and private schools, you encourage the “creative destruction” that your University of Chicago Business School buddies and Judge Posner love, and you seem to be gung-ho about selling off the public commons of American Education that were built with the sweat and blood of American farmers and workers…
Your Education policies embrace the management tactics of McKinsey Consulting that call for the firing of twenty to twenty-five percent of the teacher workforce every two years. You have said that Education should not “all be about bubble tests,” but your policies measure progress by bubble tests and they narrow the curriculum…
This open letter is published with permission from the author, liberal high school history teacher and former professor Paul Horton of Chicago.
The Honorable Tom Harkin
Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services, and Education
Senate Appropriations Committee
June 3, 2013
Dear Chairman Harkin,
I was very saddened to hear that you have decided not to run for reelection as a United States senator. You have always represented the most honest branch of the Democratic Party and the long proud legacy of Midwestern prairie populism extending from James B. Weaver, to Williams Jennings Bryan, to Bob LaFollette, the Farm-Labor party, Paul Simon, George McGovern, and Tom Daschle. We could also count the comedian turned senator from Minnesota in this, but he needs a few more years of “seasoning.” I am sure that you are mentoring him in the tradition. Your friend and my senator, Dick Durbin, shares this tradition, but I am worried that he has cozied up too closely with the Chicago plutocrats to be an effective spokesperson for “the small fry.”
I write because you hold a very important position in congress that has oversight over Education. I am a history teacher, a historian, a leader of history teachers, and a critic of the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top Mandates. I have thirty years of teaching under my belt, including service to the people of the great state of Iowa at Malcolm Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls where I taught high school students and trained pre service history teachers at the University of Northern Iowa.
I would like to encourage you to call our Secretary of Education before your committee and ask him some hard questions about the way that the RTTT mandates were constructed. His responses to the concerns that many citizens have from all points on the political spectrum have been exceedingly evasive. He typically claims that those who are opposed to the RTTT mandates and the Common Core Standards are hysterical wing nuts who fully embrace Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories about attempts to create a one world government: <http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/paul_horton_of_common_core_con.html>.
I humbly recommend that Mr. Duncan be called before your committee to answer some serious questions under oath about corporate and investor influence on Education policy. Mr. Duncan told a committee of congress that he did not want to “participate in the hysteria” surrounding the RTTT and the CCS. Because he is a public servant, it is his duty to serve the people of the United States. Part of his job is to be accountable to the public.
I recommend a few questions that any populist or progressive senator would have asked in the 1890s or early twentieth century:
1) How many of your staffers have worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? Who are they, and why did you hire them?
2) What role did these staffers and Bill Gates have on the formulation of the RTTT mandates?
3) How much classroom teaching experience do the principal authors of the RTTT mandates have, individually, and as a group?
4) Why are these individuals qualified to make decisions about education policy?
5) Were you, or anyone who works within the Department of Education in contact with any representative or lobbyist representing Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill, or InBloom before or during the writing of the RTTT mandates?
6) What is the Broad Foundation? What is your connection to the Broad Foundation? What education policies does the Broad Foundation support? How do these policies support public education? How do these policies support private education? What was the role of the Broad Foundation in the creation of the RTTT mandates?
7) How many individuals associated with the Broad Foundation helped author the report, “Smart Options: Investing Recovery Funds for Student Success” that was published in April of 2009 and served as a blueprint for the RTTT mandates? How many representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation assisted in writing this report? What was their role in authoring this report? How many representatives of McKinsey Consulting participated in authoring this report? What was David Coleman’s role in authoring this report?
8) Do you know David Coleman? Have you ever had any conversations with David Coleman? Has anyone on your staff had any conversations with David Coleman? Did anyone within the Department of Education have any connection to any of the authors of the Common Core Standards? Did anyone in your Department have any conversations with any of the authors of the Common Core Standards as they were being written?
9) Have you ever had any conversations with representatives or lobbyists who represent the Walton Family Foundation? Has anyone on your staff had any conversations with the Walton Family Foundation or lobbyists representing the Walton Family Foundation? If so, what was the substance of those conversations?
10)Do you know Michelle Rhee? If so, could you describe your relationship with Michelle Rhee? Have you, or anyone working within the Department of Education, had any conversations with Students First, Rhee’s advocacy group, about the dispersal foundation funds for candidates in local and state school board elections?
This is just a start. Public concerns about possible collusion between the Department of Education and education corporations could be addressed with a few straightforward answers to these and other questions.
Every parent, student, and teacher in the country is concerned about the influence of corporate vendors on education policy. What is represented as an extreme movement by our Education Secretary can be more accurately described as a consumer revolt against shoddy products produced by an education vendor biopoly (Pearson and McGraw Hill). Because these two vendors have redefined the education marketplace to meet the requirements of RTTT, they both need to be required to write competitive impact statements for the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice.
Senator Harkin, I have a simple solution to this education mess. You represent a state with a great education system. In Iowa, there are great teachers in Cumming, Hudson, and West Des Moines. Most teachers across the country are dedicated, talented, and creative. They, and not Pearson, McGraw Hill, or InBloom , have a better sense about what is good for kids. Allow teachers to create national rubrics to evaluate authentic assessments and allow teachers to do their jobs and grade these assessments. We can save billions of dollars in a time of austerity if we do this. You have control over the disbursement of RTTT funds. These funds should go to teacher assessments, not assessments designed by people with little or no classroom experience. Likewise, these assessments should be graded by teachers, not by temporary employees or computers under the control of for profit corporations.
Let’s invest in our teachers to insure that this investment stays in our communities and states. Education vendors are not loyal to kids, parents, or states. They seek profit, and they will invest their proceeds wherever they can make the most money. It is time for some common sense. We need education policy for the small fry, not education policy for plutocrats.
I would love to speak to you and to your committee on these issues.
The very best to you,
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
former History Instructor, The University of Northern Iowa
Malcolm Price Laboratory School, Cedar Falls, Iowa
The document I’ve pasted here is co-sponsored by the Republican Women’s Federations of Alabama, Nebraska, Delaware, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Tennessee.
Do you think it is time for Utah to join them?
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN RESOLUTION
Defeat National Standards for State Schools
Passed Unanimously at the NFRW36th Biennial Convention
Kansas City, MO – October 1, 2011
WHEREAS, The national standards-based “Common Core State Standards” initiative is the centerpiece of the Obama’s Administration’s agenda to centralize education decisions at the federal level;
WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is using the same model to take over education as it used for healthcare by using national standards and boards of bureaucrats, whom the public didn’t elect and can’t fire or otherwise hold accountable;
WHEREAS, National standards remove authority from States over what is taught in the classroom and how it is tested;
WHEREAS, National standards undercut the principle of federalism on which our nation was founded;
WHEREAS, There is no constitutional or statutory authority for national standards, national curricula, or national assessments and in fact the federal government is expressly prohibited from endorsing or dictating state/local decisions about curricula; and
WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is attempting to evade constitutional and statutory prohibitions to move toward a nationalized public-school system by (1) funding to date more than $345 million for the development of national curriculum and test questions, (2) tying national standards to the Race to the Top charter schools initiative in the amount of $4.35 billion, (3) using the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) to pressure State Boards of Education to adopt national standards with the threat of losing Title 1 Funds if they do not, and (4) requesting Congress to include national standards as a requirement in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act (No Child Left Behind);
BE IT RESOLVED, That the National Federation of Republican Women vote to encourage all State Federation Presidents to share information about national standards with their local clubs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That State Federation Presidents ask their members to (1) contact their State Boards of Education members and request that they retain control over academic standards, curriculum, instruction and testing, (2) contact their Congress Members and request that they (i) protect the constitutional and statutory prohibitions against the federal government endorsing or dictating national standards, (ii) to refuse to tie national standards to any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, (iii) defund “Race to the Top” money, and (iv) prohibit any more federal funds for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, including funds to assessment and curriculum writing consortia, and (3) spread the word about the threat of a federal government takeover of education.
Submitted by: Alabama Federation of Republican Women
Elois Zeanah, President
Nebraska Federation of Republican Women
Delaware Federation of Republican Women
Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women
Georgia Federation of Republican Women
Tennessee Federation of Republican Women
California Republicans and Democrats are coming together to fight a common problem: the Common Core takeover of education.
At the Californians United Against Common Core website (CUACC) you can purchase Orlean Koehle’s book, “Common Core: A Trojan Horse for Education Reform” and see the growing list of Californian individuals and organizations opposing the Obama-backed initiative:
Eagle Forum of California – Orlean Koehle, President
Eagle Forum of Long Beach – Jeanne Goodin, President
Eagle Forum of Sonoma County – Carol Pascoe, Vice President
Pacific Justice Institute – Brad Dacus, President
Pacific Research Institute – Lance T. Izumi
David Geer – City Council Member Modesto
Redding Tea Party – Erin Ryan
Angela Weinzinger – President of Travis Unified School Board
Rosa Koire – Director of postsustainabilityinstitute.org – democratsagainstUNAgenda21.com
Nina Pellegrini – Californians For Property Rights
Heather Gass – President CitizensTownHall.org and East Bay Tea Party