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.
Some Utahns feel very differently.
If you don’t know much about your U.S. Secretary of Education, please learn about him.
1. In his own words: (speech) How Duncan and President Obama plan to increase the role of the federal government.
2. In his own words: what top-heavy controls Duncan has mandated for those states who were beneficiaries of the Race to the Top for the Assessments grant (SBAC and PARCC testing consortia members)
3. There is Duncan’s outrageous, official Department of Education “partnership” with the unelected, private D.C. club (CCSSO) that wrote and copyrighted the Common Core Standards –as well as the Common DATA standards. Yes, you read that right. Common Data Standards. The better to control you with, my dear.
4. In Duncan’s own words: what Duncan spun to the Society of American News Editors last June about student privacy and Common Core.
5. A letter– un-responded-to open letter to Secretary Duncan from teachers in Chicago.
6. Another letter –also un-responded-to – the open letter to Secretary Duncan from Democratic Senator Edward Markey about Duncan’s abuses of student data privacy.
Additional own research on Secretary Duncan’s “reforms”:
–Why Duncan made the “Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform” list
–The obvious lies of Arne Duncan about student privacy violations: “Spin it Like Duncan“
–Six sneaky moves that truly harm student privacy that Secretary Duncan has spearheaded
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.
It’s good to see major U.S. Newspapers taking a stand against Common Core, especially after seeing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan specifically target news editors, asking them to spin Common Core the way that federal power grabbers and corporate monopoly-makers want it spun.
This week, the Union Leader said:
“More and more parents are skeptical because there is no satisfying answer to even the most basic questions about Common Core. For example: What is Common Core? It is a set of standards in English “language arts” and math. But what does that mean? The standards are not a list of items students are expected to know, but brief, vague descriptions of broad skills students are expected to have at each grade level. How teachers impart those skills is largely left to them – except that the standards come with suggested methods, some of which seem highly questionable. And even among education experts there is great disagreement over whether these standards are as rigorous or as predictive of success as supporters claim… Many people who hated No Child Left Behind now champion Common Core. But they are peas in a pod. Both amount to national experiments being conducted in real time on our children without any firm sense of what the results will be. This is exactly the wrong way to do education reform in the American republic. One of the primary benefits of a federated republic is that states can funcion, in the famous phrase, as “laboratories of democracy.” Common Core weakens that advantage when it comes to education…
See the full Manchester Union Leader editorial here:
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, is angry.
How dare Americans demand freedom from nationalized testing, nationalized standards and data collection?
In yesterday’s speech to the American Society of News Editors, Duncan said:
“…This event has been an opportunity for federal leaders to talk about touchy subjects. For example, you asked President Kennedy to talk about the Bay of Pigs. So, thanks for having me here to talk about the Common Core State Standards. Academic standards used to be just a subject for after-school department meetings and late-night state board sessions. But now, they’re a topic for dueling newspaper editorials. Why? That’s because a new set of standards… are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools… And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important.”
Indeed it is.
Duncan admits: “… the federal government has nothing to do with curriculum. In fact, we’re prohibited by law from creating or mandating curricula. So do the reporting. Ask the Common Core critics: Please identify a single lesson plan that the federal government created…Challenge them to produce evidence—because they won’t find it. It simply doesn’t exist”.
Thank you, Secretary Duncan, for pointing this out.
Federally created lesson plans don’t exist because Duncan’s department has worked so hard to get around the rules (i.e., Constitution) and to make others do the wrongs that the Department then promotes and funds. The Department’s associates (i.e. Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Gates, David Coleman) work with Achieve, Inc., with SBAC, with PARCC, with CCSSO, with NGA and others, to collectively produce the federally-approved education “reform” agenda known as the Common Core Initiative. We know this.
But, thanks to Duncan for bringing up the term “lack of evidence.” We’ll get to that.
Duncan says: “The Department of Education is prohibited from creating or mandating curricula.” YES!
Yet the Department has coerced and urged and cajoled and bribed American educators into joining the Common Core State Standards Initiative, has funded tests upon which these standards are bases, and have mandated that the testing consortia must share student-level data with the federal government concerning Common Core tests. Just see the Cooperative Agreement for oodles of power-grabbing evidence that uses the tests as vehicles.
Duncan says there is no evidence of a federal takeover using Common Core. Well, almost; there is no trace of an Department of Education fingerprint on the writing of the national standards, tests and curriculum. This it correct.
But there are massive, unmistakable Department of Education fingerprints all over the promotion, marketing, funding and imposition of the standards on states. These fingerprints are everywhere.
But the Department of Education has been very careful to use other groups as smokescreens for its “reforms” while the Department oversteps its authority. It was the CCSSO/NGA that copyrighted the national standards, not the Department of Education.
It was David Coleman and his four friends who wrote the standards (with token feedback, largely ignored, from others) It was PARCC, SBAC, and AIR that created the common tests. It was Bill Gates (who partnered with Pearson) to write the lion’s share of the American educational curriculum. And it is the Department of Education that put a 15% cap on top of those copyrighted standards that they say are state-led.
Guess what? There is no evidence that Common Core will do anything it has claimed it can do does not exist– there’s no empirical data, no pilot test, no study to verify claims that the standards will improve diddledy.
We might each ask the reporters to ask for that evidence.
NOT RADICAL/ NOT CURRICULUM
Duncan says that Common Core agenda is “neither radical nor a curriculum.”
I beg to differ.
It is radical to create nationalized, (socialist-styled) testing and standards for schools in a land of liberty.
It is radical to shred the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) as the Department of Education has done, to demote “parental consent” from a privacy-protecting mandate to a “best practice” and to redefine protective terms to make them nonprotective, including “educational agency,” “directory information,” and “authorized representative.”
It is radical to carefully work around the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law’s prohibitions against federal control of education. For just one example: in the “Cooperative Agreement” between the Department of Ed and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government demands that states give conferences and phone updates, synchronicity of educational tests, triangulation of collected student-level data under the federal eye, and much more.
And Common Core is driving and creating a national curriculum, by encouraging governmental and corporate collusion to narrow and monopolize the educational purchases of the nation.
Duncan tries hard to persuade the American Editors Society in his speech to separate standards and curriculum, yet we all know that standards and curriculum go hand in hand –like frames shape homes, like hands shape gloves, like bones support flesh– standards direct curriculum.
As the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates, said in his speech at a 2009 Conference of State Legislatures, “Identifying common standards is just the starting point. We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards… When the tests are aligned to the Common standards, the curriculum will line up as well…. for the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers.” Watch clip here.
WE’RE NOT COLLECTING STUDENT DATA
Duncan also denies the existence of any federal push to collect personal student data. He says that critics, “make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”
No federal collection of student data? What a huge lie. Readers, please fact-check Secretary Duncan yourselves.
Aggregated student data has long been collected federally at the Edfacts Data Exchange. Edfacts states, “EDFacts is a U. S. Department of Education initiative to put performance data at the center of policy, management and budget decisions for all K-12 educational programs. EDFacts centralizes performance data supplied by K-12 state education agencies.” Although the information collected here is aggregated (grouped, not individualized) data, this will change because of the federal requests for more disaggregated (ungrouped, individualized) data.
Here are some federal sites you may click on to verify that the federal government is asking for more and more data points about each individual in our school systems. Click on:
Common Educational Data Standards – click on K12 student and find personally defining words like “identity,” “parent,” “incident,” “contact,” “authentication identity provider.”
National Data Collection Model – under “core entities” you will find “teacher,” “student,” “school,” “bus stop” and other identifying terms.
And Duncan is surely aware that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) which helped copyright and produce the standards, has a stated commitment to disaggregation of student data.
Lastly. A simple common sense test.
If Arne Duncan were truly concerned about the quality of American schools, if he and his group cared about the education of children and not the controlling and surveillance of populations, then would they not have pushed for tested, piloted standards that would have used, for example, the sky-high standards of Massachusetts as a template, rather than circumventing all voters, circumventing academic tradition, and using this literature-diminishing, algorithm-slowing, cursive-slashing, informational text-pushing, unpiloted experiment called Common Core?
So am I suggesting that this is a diabolical scheme? YES.
Duncan himself used the term in his speech. To make fun of those of us who see it as exactly that.
He quoted columnist Michael Gerson —President Bush’s former speechwriter— who wrote that if the Common Core “is a conspiracy against limited government, it has somehow managed to recruit governors Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, current governors Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce… A plot this vast is either diabolical or imaginary.”
Diabolical is the right word.
While Duncan and his education reformers may truly believe that socialism/communism is the way to go, I do not. And if most of America does, then let’s at least vote on it.
If anyone doubts that total governmental control of schools and children, to the detriment of families, is Duncan’s direction, view Duncan’s interview on Charlie Rose, where he outlines his goals for the complete takeover of family life by schools. Schools are to be health clinics, parental education centers, are to be open six or seven days a week and twelve hours or more per day, all year round, as day and night centers of civilization.
Folks, it’s not just standards.
Not by a long shot.