Archive for the ‘obama and education reform’ Tag

From Caffeinated Thoughts Blog: Private Schools Are No Longer Free Under Common Core Constraints   7 comments

http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2012/12/private-schools-you-should-be-concerned-about-the-common-core/

I’m reposting Shane Vander Hart’s blog post.  I think it’s important that people understand his point: that even private schools will no longer enjoy the freedoms they have enjoyed previously if they accept federal monies in the form of school choice vouchers, because they will then be forced to obey the mandates and curricular guidance of the Common Core Initiative.  This desperately needs attention and discussion among among parents and voters nationally.

 

Private Schools – You Should Be Concerned About the Common Core

|December 12, 2012 | 2 Replies

Through popular school choice efforts several states like Indiana and Louisiana have adopted school vouchers.  While that seems great, and I am a proponent of school choice, vouchers seem to have unintended consequences for those who pushed for them – in that they give government a foot-in-the-door so to speak.  Because of this I’m concerned about a collective silence from private schools about the Common Core State Standards.

And Florida Governor Rick Scott is pushing for that very thing.  He said that students who receive tax dollars should be held to the same standards that apply to public schools.

That would be the Common Core folks.

Florida has adopted them.  Louisiana has some strings attached with their voucher program in the form of assessments.  Iowa even though they don’t have a voucher system (they offer a tax credit for donations made to school tuition organizations) private schools who are accredited through the Iowa Department of Education.  This is the only body who can accredit non-public schools at the moment.  Let’s put this in perspective failing public schools in Iowa are accredited.  Parents also can only access school tuition organization money if they are sending their child to an accredited non-public school.  Non-public schools don’t have to be accredited, but their parents can’t receive the tuition assistance.

So private school parents, teachers, administrators and boards – wake up.  You need to be concerned about the Common Core State Standards.  If you are forced to adopt these standards what choice will we really have?

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Shane Vander Hart is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts.  He is also the President of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  He is a communications director for American Principles Project’s Preserve Innocence Initiative.  Prior to this Shane spent 20 years in youth ministry serving in church, parachurch, and school settings.  He has also served as an interim pastor and is a sought after speaker and pulpit fill-in.  Shane has been married to his wife Cheryl since 1993 and they have three kids.  Shane and his family reside near Des Moines, IA.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.

Sir Michael Barber leads Common Core’s “Deliverology” via EDI and Pearson   2 comments

Question:  What do Sir Michael Barber, President Barack Obama, and your own children –unless you live in “Common Core-less” Texas or Virginia– each share?

Answer:  Common Core national standards.

–True, you won’t hear President Obama use the term “Common Core,” because he’s still saying Common Core is state-led.  But it’s a thin disguise wearing thinner by the minute:

If you go to the U.S. Department of Education’s definitions page, you see that his (and Arne Duncan’s) oft-used code phrase for Common Core is “career and college readiness,” defined as Common Core in this way:

standards that are common to a significant number of States” http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions

Since there aren’t any other standards “common to a significant number of States,” it’s gotcha-education-reform, Obama and Arne Duncan style.

So, I keep learning more and more about Sir Michael Barber, another Common Core lover-pusher, much to my dismay.

   Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson, advises governments worldwide, including the U.K. and Pakistan, on how to nationalize education standards.  He’s advised governments on how to create “delivery units”.  He industrializes and streamlines things. Mercilessly.

What will Sir Michael Barber do for (or to) American education?  Well, let’s look at the evidence:

  • He uses cozy terms like “revolution,” “global citizen,” “human capital,” “irreversible reform,” “rightsizing,” “sustainable” and “common core” in speeches to the Council on Foreign Relations or at the British Education Summit, for example.
  • He praises Common Core and says not only national, but the same global educational standards are to be sought.
  • He says he wants data on every “global citizen.”  (So he’ll be working to get rid of states’ FERPA and other privacy laws, I guess.  Might not prove difficult with Arne Duncan on his side since Duncan’s Dept. of Ed recently changed federal FERPA without Congressional approval, to remove parental consent requirements over student data.)
  • He’ll narrow things down so far as to to wring meaningfulness out of them, to “deliver” any goal.
  • He’ll push for a political “green” agenda in schools that minimizes the goal of gaining knowledge. By the way– education reform is not a local matter, in Barber’s view, because it’s global, and without borders. He puts “green” training as the “ethical underpinning” that must be placed above general knowledge or the ability to think for oneself.  His formula is:
  • E (K + T + L)  –Knowledge, Thinking and Leadership are to be combined as equal in importance, while Ethical Underpinnings (sustainable “green” environmental awareness) are of number one importance.
  • His company, Pearson, is purchasing schools worldwide in “private-public partnerships” (PPP).  When a BBC interviewer accused him and his company, Pearson, of trying to take over the governance of schools worldwide, his defense was that Pearson would blend with the governments: “I worked for government. I love government. I think government is a really important, a big part of the solution.”
  • He congratulated the Council on Foreign Relations for getting into the education reform business, saying that education is now “an issue of national security and foreign policy.”
  • Barber’s preface, in “Deliverology 101,” states that he wrote the book specifically to American educators.
  • A co-author of “Deliverology 101” is Achieve, Inc., which helped write the NGA/CCSSO’s Common Core.
  • Barber previously used deliverology methods in the U.K., where he made things worse. How? By focusing on a narrow goal to the exclusion of common sense and dignity.  According to Professor John Seddon, Barber’s fellow British countryman, deliverology is a management fad that harms what it touches.

  In England, Seddon said, deliverology met the goal of reducing emergency room wait times in hospitals by having emergency patients sit and wait indefinitely, in ambulances, rather than emergency rooms, or in designated “other rooms” next to the emergency waiting room.   –But oh, they delivered the goal.

  At California State University, Seddon said, deliverology met the goal of increasing graduation rates by 8% by:

  • paring down the number of classes required to get a degree
  • paring down the amount of writing students must do while in college
  • eliminating whole academic programs and departments
  • increasing student fees sharply
  • narrowing a campus’s geographical service area to restrict enrollment
  • laying off faculty and support staff

So nice.

See also CSU Professor Susan Meisenhelder’s “Cautionary Tale” ariticle:  http://www.calfac.org/post/cautionary-tale

Let us be wise.  We should politely say “No, thank you,” to Common Core, to Deliverology, to EDI, to Sir Michael Barber and to Pearson.  Please watch this video, from Professor John Seddon, on the subject.

And… Sir Michael Barber has created a legitimate-sounding “U.S. Education Delivery Institute” (EDI).  Sounds governmental. Well, it’s a business. The business of taking over meaningful classroom experience in favor of “delivering” whatever the government(s) mandate at any cost to teachers, students, or legitimate, meaningful learning.

EDI “hosts gatherings of its K-12 and higher education networks several times each year.  We also work closely with a number of the state systems, providing training and support.”

EDI is an “organization that focuses on implementing large-scale system change in public education.” They write, “Our mission is to partner with K-12 and higher education systems with ambitious reform agendas and invest in their leaders’ capacity to deliver results.  By employing an approach known as delivery, a proven methodology for effective implementation in the public sector, we help state leaders maintain the necessary focus to plan and drive reform.   http://www.deliveryinstitute.org/members/sir-michael-barber

It should scare us to think that Sir Michael Barber is creating for the United States “U.S. Education Delivery Units.”

As one British newspaper put it:

“[Barber] 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”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/14/michael-barber-education-guru

How many thousands of American schools are already using Pearson technology, Pearson textbooks, Pearson webinars for teacher trainings?  Do we realize who is the man behind this?  Do we realize he is a zealot on the extreme left and he has every intention of indoctrinating our kids –what he calls his “human capital” –with his brand of global “green” citizens?

He said, he actually said these words:  “we want them to have some knowledge.”  Some, as in minimal, not so important.  The really big thing, Barber preaches, is the green “ethical underpinning” that must override minor things like knowledge, thinking for oneself, and learning leadership.

Remember his formula.

E(K+T+L)

Christian Science Monitor: Massachusetts’ Education Since Common Core Began   Leave a comment

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2012/0905/Is-top-ranked-Massachusetts-messing-with-education-success

This article is worth reading in full.  Posted here is just an excerpted version:

Is top-ranked Massachusetts messing with education success?

Massachusetts public schools produce students who are top in the nation in reading and math. Here’s what the state did to get there, and here’s why its shift to the new Common Core standards worries some experts.

     By   , Staff writer / September 5, 2012

Heidi Stevens recalls the day that got her thinking about uprooting her family from California to move to Massachusetts. Frolicking with her boys at a playground in 1998, she wished some teenagers a happy Independence Day.
She was met with blank stares. “You know, the Fourth of July,” she offered. Then they smiled and nodded, and she prodded a bit: “Do you know who we got our independence from?” One guessed France, another Mexico, and the last one said the Indians. “They were not kidding,” Ms. Stevens says.

She enrolled her older son in first grade that year but wasn’t happy with the emphasis on “creative spelling” and art projects. So she traveled to Massachusetts and visited public schools in Northampton, a town that boasts five colleges and universities within a short radius.

“We knew Massachusetts was a fabulous state for public education,” she says…

They haven’t been disappointed living in a state that by many measures sets the gold standard for public education in the United States.

In national reading and math tests, the state’s fourth- and eighth-graders have scored the best since 2005. Compared with the national average, greater shares of students here graduate from high school and score high on college-level Advanced Placement (AP) exams. The state even compares respectably with some of the top-performing countries…

But now Massachusetts, like 45 other states and the District of Columbia, is revising its curriculum as part of a collaboration called the Common Core State Standards – a new chapter in education reform premised on the idea that to compete globally, the benchmarks for reading and math in all states need to reflect a richer set of skills to equip students for 21st-century demands.

Massachusetts could be a good test case for whether the Common Core approach lives up to that lofty rhetoric. President Obama has pushed for it through federal funding incentives, though critics say he has strong-armed states into de facto national standards, chipping away at state control.

For some education observers, Massachusetts has broken the axiom “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and is in danger of watering down a key element of its success.

Others say just the opposite – that the new common standards are at least as strong as Massachusetts’ previous ones and could catapult more states to heights that the Bay State has already achieved…

The emphasis on high-stakes testing led some teachers and parents to protest, worried that it would nudge borderline students into dropping out – a debate that later resonated nationally because of the testing regimen established by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

“There was tremendous pushback, bills filed every year to do away with it, but we stuck with it,” Mr. Driscoll says.

After the new system took hold, significant learning gains among Massachusetts students were reflected in both state and national tests.

The MCAS “made us feel as if Massachusetts had higher standards of learning than other states because that test is harder than other, average tests,” Stevens says.

One big reason people came to accept the reforms: The state boosted education funding by more than 10 percent for each of the first six years – targeting the money largely to schools and districts with the highest needs. To date, the 1993 law has channeled $34.5 billion in extra state funding to school districts.

Strategies to boost achievement in Boston – the state’s largest district – have included double blocks of time for reading and math instruction, as well as efforts “to get the best teachers teaching the kids that needed the most support,” says Thomas Payzant, Boston’s superintendent from 1995 to 2006.

In the 2010-11 school year, 97 percent of Massachusetts teachers were licensed specifically in the area they taught, and all teachers are required to earn a master’s degree during their career, says Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Moreover, a statewide testing system for teacher applicants has helped bring up the quality of education.

Another factor: The state reform law set up a rigorous approval process for charter schools, many of which boast strong academic achievement….

Many parents in the state have high education levels and good incomes, making it easier to support their children’s education. In addition, Mr. Toner says, school districts are relatively small, allowing for teachers to know the community better; any student can enroll in an AP course; and all students are encouraged to take college-entrance exams such as the SAT.

With high-stakes testing, some students do have to drill basic skills rather than enjoy a well-rounded curriculum as they approach 12th grade, Toner says, but “you’d have to admit that by having a graduation requirement … it got kids’ and families’ attention and you could see the proficiency numbers on the exams [going] up.”

…[Texas] adopted new math standards this year after a democratic process – starting with a draft based in part on standards from high-performing states, including Massachusetts, says Todd Webster, chief deputy commissioner of the Texas Education Agency. Texas is sticking with those standards rather than adopting the Common Core.

But Massachusetts’ future doesn’t look as rosy to observers such as Jamie Gass, director of the Center for School Reform at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, a conservative-leaning group in Boston.

“Massachusetts made historic gains … but in the last four or five years, a lot of those policy gains have been rolled back,” he says. “There are other states that are nipping at our heels … [and] Massachusetts has kind of plateaued.”

Particularly problematic, he says, is the state’s decision to jump on the Common Core bandwagon. Massachusetts’ standards were a model, he says, and the Common Core standards are of lower quality. For instance, standards for English-language arts used to be based largely on classic literature and poetry, which have a rich vocabulary, but the Common Core emphasizes more informational text, Mr. Gass says. To him it’s part of a “trendy fad” focusing on workforce-development goals and “softer” 21st-century skills.

Commissioner Chester defends the state’s decision to adopt the Common Core, saying it “advanced what we already had on the table.”

Collaboration is increasing among states as more leaders look at the bigger picture of the global economy, Chester says: “When [there are] 50 different sets of standards [and testing] … you’re not necessarily giving children and parents honest and accurate information about how they measure up in a world where state boundaries are less and less relevant to your economic opportunities.”

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