Archive for the ‘educational sovereignty’ Tag

The Global Common Core   14 comments

In an ongoing quest to comprehend what (and why) Common Core is what it is, I’ve found Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson PLC.

Sir Barber, a passionate Common Core promoter with a nice British accent, is all about top-down, global McEducation –and global McEverything, actually, from transportation to jails.

“McEverything” is not Barber’s word.  His word is “Deliverology.”

His book, “Deliverology 101,”  is purposed, oddly, specifically for leaders of American Education reform.” But what motivates a British citizen to write a manual on American states’ nationalized standards?

Well.

At last month’s British Education Summit, Barber gave a speech entitled “Whole System Revolution: The Education Challenge For the Next Decade”.

He spoke as if he’d just finished reading the United Nations Agenda 21 before coming onstage.  Creepy ideas, but said in such a nice way. http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA  – (This is Barber’s recent, August 2012, international speech.)

   Barber comes across as a nice, slightly weird, old British knight.  Actually, he is a knight: Sir Michael Barber was knighted for producing education reforms in England.

Yet some (who are also repected far and wide) scorn his philosophies.  John Seddon, British management guru and president of Vanguard, has a multi-part YouTube series entitled “Why Deliverology Made Things Worse in the UK.”

“I don’t go around the world bashing Deliverology, but I think I should,” said Seddon.

Seddon defines “deliverology” as “a top-down method by which you undermine achievement of purpose and demoralize people.”  http://youtu.be/2sIFvpRilSc

Seddon says “deliverology” imposes arbitrary targets that damage morale.  Just like Common Core.

But Barber will have none of that.  He seems to feel that education reform is too big an issue to pause for things like individual morale.

In Barber’s view, education reform is a “global phenomenon,” so reform is no longer to be managed by individuals or sovereign countries; education reform has “no more frontiers, no more barriers.”  Hmm.

http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA

Barber shows a chart during his summit speech, displayed at 12:06 minutes, which he calls a goal of “whole system revolution,” pinpointed as the sum of the following addends:  systemic innovation + sameness of standards + structure + human capital.  –Whole system revolution? Human capital?  What awful word choices, even for a chart.

Sir Michael Barber adds: “We want data about how people are doing. We want every child on the agenda.” (6:05)  –But who are the “we” that will control global data?  That one he does not answer.

    Barber’s collectivist, global-governance philosophy is everywhere.

http://youtu.be/ltAeLXUCqaQ .

In this clip, Barber praises Common Core (CC) at a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) interview, calling CC among other things, “internationally benchmarked.”  (That oft-repeated phrase, “internationally benchmarked” is one that Common Core Validation Committee Member, Professor Stotsky, calls false.  See http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf)

In another interview with the CFR, Barber says, “Can I congratulate the CFR for getting into this issue? I think it’s great to see education as an issue of national security and foreign policy as well as economic and domestic policy.” http://castroller.com/Podcasts/InsideCfrEvents/2695637

 

Then there’s the BBC interview.

   http://youtu.be/vTYMFzOv0wQ

In this clip, on the BBC show Hardtalk, Barber outlines the benefits of “private and public partnership,” which just happens to be yet another United Nations Agenda 21 bullet point.  (See http://www.un.org/partnerships/unfip_partner.html)

Pearson “invests,” says Barber, by purchasing cheap schools in developing countries in partnership with governments.  (PPP)

Pearson works hand in hand with both nongovernmental agencies (NGA and CCSSO) and with governmental agencies (U.S. Department of Education) to promote global education and Common Core. Because they see global education and Common Core as one and the same.

Evidence? Look at 6:05 on http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA –the August Summit speech.  Barber says that every country should have exactly the same definition of what it means to be good at “maths”.

At 4:00 he says that “citizens of the world” including every single child, “all 9 billion people who will be alive in 2050” must know    E(K+T+L) –which stands for (Knowledge + Thinking + Leadership) multiplied by “ethical underpinnings.”

Then Barber explains that the “ethical underpinning” is “shared understanding” of earth and “sustainability” that every child in every school around the world will learn.  Ethics, to Barber, have nothing to do with the supreme sanctity of human life, the idea of God, of individual liberty or the Golden Rule.  Nope, it’s about the collective, the earth-oneness.

So, now that we know where Barber stands, what do we do about Pearson?  Keep buying what they’re peddling, of course.

Pearson is very successful in selling Common Core curriculum, online assessments, teacher professional development, and technological resources nationwide.   http://commoncore.pearsoned.com/index.cfm?locator=PS11Uz

Common Core is big business.  The Wall Street Journal quotes Pearson’s CEO:

“‘It’s a really big deal,’ says Peter Cohen, CEO of Pearson’s K-12 division,  Pearson School. ‘The Common Core standards are affecting literally every part of the business we’re involved in.'” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303674004577434430304060586.html

And Pearson has long been partnered with Achieve Inc., which also happens to be a co-author of Barber’s “Deliverology 101” which happens also to partner “with NGA and CCSSO on the [Common Core] Initiative and a number of Achieve staff and consultants served on the writing and review teams”.  http://www.achieve.org/achieving-common-core

Sigh.

These combinations of corporations, governments, NGOs and elite philanthropists (Bill Gates) appear to literally be taking over the globe’s educational decision-making.

When the BBC interviewer accused Barber of leading Pearson to take over nations’ educational systems as a huge corporation, Barber said, as a defense, “I worked for government. I love government.  I think government is a really important, a big part of the solution.”

Well, yes indeed.  Advising countries from the U.S. to Pakistan on how to implement nationalized education, is his specialty.

As the UK Guardian writes:

“…Barber and his graphs have gone global. As McKinsey’s hubristically titled “head of global education practice”, he has set up a US Education Delivery Unit (albeit as a private sector rather than government venture), co-authored books that claim to identify what makes national education systems successful, and taken the joint chairmanship of a taskforce in Pakistan to establish “national standards” in basic subjects. Now he’s becoming chief education adviser to Pearson, owner of Penguin Books and the Financial Times and also, in its own description, “the world’s leading learning company”, with interests in 70 countries…”  http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/14/michael-barber-education-guru

Double sigh.

Will any of this be easy to reverse?  Sir Michael Barber emphasizes the importance of what he’s dubbed “irreversible reform.”  He defines “sustainable reform” as “irreversible reform” and aims to “make it so it can never go back to how it was before.”

“If you want irreversible reforms, work on the culture and the minds of teachers and parents,” Barber says. Otherwise parents or traditionalists might repeal what’s been done because of their “wish for the past.”

Heaven help us.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Core? Not American Parents.   2 comments

Great editorial from Heartland in Chicago, reposted:

http://heartland.org/editorial/2012/09/04/common-core-rollout-draws-parental-opposition-nationwide

Common Core Rollout Draws Parental Opposition Nationwide

By Robert Holland

As schools open this fall, battle lines are forming over the rollout of Common Core (CC) national standards, the specifics of which have only recently started coming to public attention.

On paper, the fight would appear to be a mismatch.

You have on the pro-CC side:

  • The Obama-led U.S. Department of Education, the agency with the fastest-growing discretionary spending in the federal government (now approaching $70 billion) and a matching itch to dictate.
  • Achieve, the corporate-led outfit that started marshaling big-business clout behind national standards in 1996, during the Clinton years.
  • Inside-the-Beltway organizations such as the Best Practices Center of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which sponsored the handpicked Common Core writers.
  • Not least, Microsoft magnate Bill Gates, whose foundation has pumped tens of millions of dollars over the past decade into educationist organizations, including the teachers unions, that back the Common Core agenda. Gates has gone even further by subsidizing think tanks on both sides of the education-reform divide in clear hopes of winning favor for the Common Core, which is to be linked with national tests administered online.

And on the anti-CC side of the battle, you have:

  • Moms, everyday moms.

There are some dads, too, but moms are leading the anti-Common Core charge in a growing number of states. And by no means are they all conservatives.

Never underestimate the power of moms. Common Core opponents recently celebrated a possible harbinger of victories to come when the Utah Board of Education voted 12-3 to back out of the state’s membership in a federally funded consortium that is drafting a national test that will be linked with the Common Core.

In a similar reversal, Indiana schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, who had previously crowed about the state’s being in step with Washington on Common Core, reversed course and unleashed strong criticism of the Obama administration at a recent Tea Party gathering. “This administration,” said Bennett, “has an insatiable appetite for federal overreach. The federal government’s involvement in these standards is wrong.”

Interviews with activist moms in Utah, Indiana, and Georgia–just three of several hotbeds of opposition–indicated they all abhor the federal power grab, and they have other concerns in common. These include: the way parents have been kept in the dark about radical changes in their kids’ instruction, the heavy involvement of special-interest groups that are unaccountable to the public, and the mediocre quality of the national English and math standards.

Some subject-matter specialists have pegged the reading level of CC high-school English at the 7th grade, with a drastic de-emphasis of classic literature in favor of workforce-oriented material. And they say the definition of “college-readiness” in CC math corresponds with a nonselective community college, not a university.

In Indiana, Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle are among the Hoosier parents who got an early warning last fall when their children brought home math worksheets and books they recognized as being of the “fuzzy” genre. Parental complaints resulted in a salesman for the text (Pearson’s enVision Math) coming to inform the parents “how lucky they were” to be getting one of the nation’s first Common Core-aligned textbooks.

Fired up, the two moms did their research and eventually began speaking to dozens of grassroots groups.

“We have found that most Hoosiers, including most legislators, have never heard of the Common Core until just recently,” Crossin said. “The majority of the teachers we have spoken to are just now being asked to transition to the Common Core, and they say they don’t like it. They cite the lack of clarity and quality.”

   In Utah, Alisa Ellis is actively involved in the public schools six of her seven children attend. She says she “did not hear about this new direction until a year after we had adopted the standards.” As more parents learn for the first time what’s happening, “Our numbers keep growing. We have over 2,000 signatures on a petition, plus a dozen or so organizations that have signed.”

A parent-activist in Georgia, Sherena Arrington, is not optimistic the battle will be won soon, given that “taxpayers have yet to understand that their rights to representation in the educational policies of this state are being stolen from them.”

In many respects, the current moms-versus-monolith battle resembles that of the 1990s, when forces aligned with the federal Goals 2000 movement sought to force a national School-to-Work curriculum on all schools. Moms slowed down the juggernaut then. Don’t bet against them stopping it this time.


Robert Holland (rholland@heartland.org) is a senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute, and author of Not With My Child, You Don’t (1995), a book about the parents’ revolt against nationalized K-12 education.

Common Core Splits GOP?   Leave a comment

   We were watching Paul Ryan’s incredible Republican National Convention speech last night on t.v. when I got a text message that a reporter who was at the convention wanted to talk to me.  Me?

I had submitted the idea to “Eliminate Common Core Collective Education” at the GOP website when they were soliciting grassroots input a few days ago.  So the reporter was fast, and the article’s published, and here’s the link to that article: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/08/common_core_state_standards_di.html

    But the link to my educational topic for the GOP input is gone now; I guess, since the convention’s going on, they don’t want more platform input.  But here’s the text of what I wrote, which was seconded by 39 people in the one day that it was there before they took down the site:

ELIMINATE COMMON CORE COLLECTIVE EDUCATION

I. COMMON CORE IS NOT ACADEMICALLY SOUND

It is a fact that the only math professor on the official Common Core Validation Committee, Dr. James Milgram, flatly refused to sign off on the standards as being valid.  The math standards lack a coherent sequence and do the opposite of what they claim to do (make USA students more internationally competitive).  The Asian Tigers have Alg. I in 8th grade.  Common Core has it in 9th.  By junior high, Common Core places students one to two years behind what they should be. 
In the English department, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who also served on the Common Core Validation Committee, also refused to sign off on the standards being adequate.  They are not legitimate college prep because they slash narrative writing and classic, time-tested story reading to make room for info-texts.  This is almost like book burning in its refusal to make generous room for literature in American classrooms. Under mandate.

Dr. Kirst of Stanford University said his concern was that the standards call 4 year, 2 year, and vocational school preparation the same thing.  Is college prep to be dumbed down? Yes, absolutely. That is how we will make all our students common. 
This Harrison Bergeron-esque attempt to make all students equal and common is absurd. 

II. EDUCATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION:

Local educational decision-making capacity is severely reduced by Common Core.

Common Core is education without representation: the federal government incentivized its adoption by states but the public did not vote on the initiative, did not know what it was until after state school boards and governors implemented it, and has no means to amend the standards, as they are under NGA/CCSSO copyright.  (Source:   http://www.corestandards.org/terms-of-use
There is no means provided for voters to recall Common Core standards-setting administrators.  And the Dept. of Ed put a 15% cap on how much states can add.

We can do better. 

So, I hope somebody read it.  I hope the truth about Common Core comes out for all citizens, teachers, and within both parties, as more and more people study what it does and does not do.

 

A Plea for Higher Educational Standards and Educational Freedom: Letter to Representatives and Senators   1 comment

     

Dear Representatives and Senators:

I’m writing to ask what steps the legislature plans to take to protect our citizens from Common Core’s mediocre standards and non-representation. Here are a few suggestions.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Included in the duties of the state school board to direct education is no authority to give their authority to direct education away, to forces beyond the Utah Constitution’s jurisdiction (forces that include NGA,CCSSO, Dept. of Ed, consortia, etc.) Can the state school board can be held accountable for that sobering overstep of Utah Constitutional authority?

The Utah legislature can add conditions or prohibitions to the funding that are provided to the School Board. An option would be to attach a requirement that funds cannot be used to implement Common Core as it currently stands, requiring a process that involves top scholars nationally to revisit the standards and revise them to ensure that math standards are truly internationally competitive. Similarly, something could added regarding the focus of English standards on classic literature rather than allowing the Common Core mandate of dominance for info-texts over classic literature and narrative writing.

COST ANALYSIS

It is appropriate for the Legislature to require a detailed cost analysis of what it has and will cost to implement Common Core.

INDEPENDENCE

Common Core annulment may loom as an embarrassing and awkward step for a few leaders, but to not end the arrangement is a much more serious mistake.  Right now, when only a handful of Utah schools have already implemented Common Core, it will be the easiest time for Utah to change course.  It may not even be possible, later.  As Jim Stergios of Pioneer Institute has said, “Gentlemen’s agreements quickly turn into mandates.”  We should agree to reject what we now recognize as literature-limiting, math-slowing, cursive-ending, un-Amendable standards.

TRANSPARENCY AND EDUCATOR INPUT

The USOE and State School Board is not listening to educators or citizens who oppose Common Core.  They claim to have spent time with us, but in reality, they flee from any discussion of the standards, especially with a credentialed Utah teacher like me, because I oppose the national standards.  I’ve been told “no” to a face-to-face talk with lawyer Carol Lear, and have had numerous written requests for references and verification of Common Core’s claims of “rigor” totally ignored by Superintendent Larry Shumway and USOE’s Brenda Hales.

SIMPLE FACTS

Disregarding the unanchored claims and promises (of CCSSO’s Gene Wilhoit, Sec. Arne Duncan, and the USSB/USOE) we are left with the legally binding, written facts, the simplicity of which are startling:

1. NGA/CCSSO is in charge of Utah’s standards.

2. NGA/CCSSO holds copyright.

3. US Dept of Ed sets a cap on the copyrighted standards at 15%. No amendment process exists.

4. Limitation of classic literature.

5. Limitation of math.

6. Common Core only prepares kids for nonselective community college, according to Common Core architect Jason Zimba himself.

 

7.  Common tests require giving data directly to the federal government, including nonacademic and family data.

 

8. No voice exists for Utah to change any of it –except to pull out of Common Core.

We do not want to be found siding with those who are trampling on freedom of education and the sacred right to privacy. This is one of the most important fights there could ever be– the educational decisionmaking power that touches our own children’s lives. Giving in to nationalized standards will set a precedent for more and more educational intrusion by forces who have no legitimate stakeholder vote.

I am asking you to be heroes to future generations of students and teachers in leading Utah’s reclamation of educational freedom and citizen privacy.  All of America is watching.

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

Utah parent and educator

Heber City

Dr. Sandra Stotsky to Utah: We Can Write Higher, Better Standards — Free   Leave a comment

Dear School Board, Superintendent Shumway and Governor Herbert,

I am writing to express my gratitude to those who were instrumental in yesterday’s vote to reverse Utah’s membership in the SBAC testing consortium.  It was a heroic moment and America is watching.

Early on, when I read the Cooperative Agreement between the SBAC and the Department of Education, I was horrified to see that it required  SBAC members to expose student data to the federal government “on an ongoing basis, subject to applicable privacy laws,” and I knew that the Dept. of Education had changed privacy FERPA regulations to make that data easy to access.

I had also been horrified by the micromanagement the Dept. of Education planned to do, in demanding that PARCC and SBAC synchronize tests “across consortia,” effectively nationalizing education under the triangulation of those two consortia with the Dept. of Education.  Also, in writing to WestEd, the SBAC’s test writing project manager, I had found out that “In order for this [testing] system to have a real impact within a state, the state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards.)” -April 2012 statement from WestEd Assessments and Standards Senior Research Associate Christyan Mitchell, Ph.D.

This meant that the 15% additional content which the Dept. of Education was permitting states to add to their local version of Common Core, would have been meaningless in the context of the tests.  Teachers would not have been motivated to teach that extra 15% of unique Utah content, since there would be such pressure to conform to the high-stakes, competitive tests.  Now they are freed from that pressure and can teach students, not teach for others.

I am extremely relieved to find that we have reclaimed our independence in the realm of testing and in the realm of easy federal access to student data collected via tests.  But I am still concerned that the federally paid-for state longitudinal database system (SLDS) and the P-20 student tracking systems will be available to the federal government and marketers, since our Utah Technology leader, John Brandt, who is a chair member of CCSSO and a member of NCES, the research arm of the Dept. of Education, has published the fact that our data can be shared with state agencies and at the federal level.  Also, Chief of Staff of the Dept. of Education Joanne Weiss made a statement recently that she is mashing data systems on the federal level, and is releasing reports to “help” states to use SLDS systems to mash data as well.  These things trouble me.  I hope you are aware of them and are taking steps to fortify our citizens’ privacy rights against federal intrusion which can easily invade in these other ways –other than the SBAC test data collection method, which we seem to be freed from.

–Or are we?  Attendees at yesterday’s State School Board meeting have informed me that there is school board talk of purchasing SBAC tests anyway, regardless of the conflict of interest issue.  This, even now that we’ve cut membership ties with SBAC.  If our board votes to use SBAC tests, we will hardly be better off than if we had not taken the step of cutting off membership ties.  Our childrens’ data would then still be collected by SBAC, and we know from the Cooperative Agreement that the SBAC will triangulate tests and data collected with the federal government.  We must cut all ties with SBAC, including purchasing or using SBAC or PARCC written tests.

On Sept. 6th, the ESEA flexibility waiver window ends.  I have asked a question but have not received a response:  does that Sept. 6th deadline mean that after Sept. 6th, Utah’s option to write her own standards, ends?

We need legitimately high, not spottily or for just some grades/topics, occasionally high, standards.  We need standards like those Massachusetts had before that state caved to political pressure to lower standards in adopting Common Core.  Massachusetts tested as an independent nation and was among the very top.  Massachusetts’ standards were the highest in the USA.  Then Common Core took them down to the middle of the road.  Does Utah really want that?  If so, why?  Is it Superintendent Shumway’s board membership in CCSSO and SBAC that is driving these decisions?  Or is it what’s really the highest possible standards for our children and teachers?

Political and money-making pressures are pushing Utah to stay aligned with Common Core, while attempting to obscure the truth:  that Common Core is not rigorous enough.  It does not solve our very real educational problems.

First, it blurs excellence and sub-par into a common standard that is mediocre.  Stanford University Professor Michael Kirst assessed the standards and said that “My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented”.

Dr. Bill Evers, Hoover Institute scholar and professor at Stanford, said that the “Asian Tigers” countries keep Algebra I in 8th grade, as Utah’s prior standards had them; but Common Core retards Algebra I to 9th grade.

Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off that the standards were adequate.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the head English professor on the same committee, also refused to sign off on the standards.  She said they did not represent a coherent, legitimate pre-college program and she opposed slashing classic literature and narrative writing, as 99% of all English teachers –and parents– would surely agree.

Importantly, the NCLB/ESEA waiver allows two ways to fulfull the “college readiness” requirement.  1) States can use Common Core.  Or 2)states can write their own standards, using University approval as a benchmark.  If we choose option 2, by Sept. 6th, 2012, then we can write our own standards, using what’s best out of common core, building up to a better standard set by Massachusetts, led by the very professor who created Massachusetts’ superior standards— for free!

    Dr. Sandra Stotsky has promised Utah that if we pull out of Common Core and want help in developing our own ELA standards (better than what we used to have), she will help write them, for free.   She worked on the excellent, (Common Core-Less) Texas standards in 2007-2008, contracted with StandardsWork.

Dr. Alan Manning, of BYU, who is opposed on academic grounds and on grounds of lost liberty, to Common Core, would be a great resource for writing Utah’s standards, as well.

Please contact Dr. Stotstky and Dr. Manning about the possibilities of creating superior standards for Utah.

Thank you sincerely for your continued work on educational issues in Utah.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

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