Archive for the ‘truth’ Tag

“Student Success Act” to Crush Religious Freedom, Private School Autonomy, Parental Rights: #NO on HR5   108 comments

 

 

ssa

 

This one is such a betrayal.

I’ve never been so shocked and angry over a proposed Congressional bill that I burst into tears.  Not until tonight.

I’d been quietly reading and taking notes on H.R. 5, “Student Success Act” (SSA) when my husband simply, offhandedly asked me how I was doing.   Though I’d been quiet, I was boiling over as I read tucked-away portions of this 600+ page bill which,  despite the local-control-touting, anti-Common Core-sounding words (on page 10 and elsewhere), is terrible. When my husband asked how I was doing, I stood up, walked to the couch and explained through my hot, angry tears what destruction and reduction of vital freedoms will take place if this bill passes:

It ends private schools’ religious freedom from government control.  It harms funding freedom in private schools.  It puts into question parental rights and control over education.  It pushes sameness of testing.  Those are just a few things.  There are more.

We have conscious deceivers in D.C. pushing this bill:  its damages are so painfully ironic.  The bill is touted specifically to “reduce the federal footprint and restore local control while empowering parents“. What a poignant lie.

If H.R. 5 passes this week, in exchange for billions in federal funding, we will be crushed in the following ways.  The federal Department of Education aims to take over:

1.  STATE AUTHORITIES AND RIGHTS 

2.  PARENTAL RIGHTS TO DIRECT EDUCATION OF A CHILD

3.  RELIGIOUS FREEDOM – NO MORE RELIGIOUS COUNSELING, MENTORING OR TECHNOLOGIES ALLOWED IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS

4.  PRIVATE SCHOOL AUTONOMY: GOVERNMENT-APPOINTED OMBUDSMEN WILL MONITOR COMPLIANCE  

5.  PRIVATE SCHOOL FUNDING – PRIVATE SCHOOLS MUST CONSULT WITH PUBLIC DISTRICTS WHICH ENFORCE EQUALITY

 

H.R. 5  the “Student Success Act” won’t be enforced for five years– plenty of time for its promoters to plan implementation, and for the opposition to burn out, give up, to feel there’s no way to rein it in.

The bill is 600-plus-pages long but was just barely introduced this month; and it’s being fast-tracked for a vote this week.  Those whose lives will be changed by it have likely never heard of it and elected reps haven’t had time to debate intended and unintended consequences.

Would our representatives vote to pass this bill if they knew that it included such hidden away, serious damages to Americans’ freedoms?

I want to thank Ann Marie Banfield of Stop Common Core in New Hampshire, who  sent me her summary and pointed to specific paragraphs and pages in this huge bill, to focus attention on where vital freedoms are being slashed.   I have included her notes following mine.  I  invite you to verify for yourself.

 

 If you read no further, here’s the bottom line:  

H.R. 5  is not a viable alternative to the terrible “Every Child Ready for College and Career” bill

Please call reps and senators: 

Vote NO on H.R. 5, the Student Success Act.  

 

Here are highlights with pages, sections and direct quotes:

1.  FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF STATE AUTHORITIES AND RIGHTS

Subpart 4, Section 6561 (page 564 on the pdf) says:

STATES TO RETAIN RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES THEY DO NOT EXPRESSLY WAIVE” –How will a state “expressly waive” its authorities and rights?  –Answer from the bill: simply by having a state legislature accept federal money.

A state that acts “inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance” will waive its authority because the legislature of that state would have “expressly approved that [federal] program”.  If a state’s or a parent’s rights conflicted with a requirement, too bad: the federal bill claims authority to enforce obedience from states because the states take the money.

Read: “…nor shall any authority of a State have any obligation to obey… unless the legislature…. approved that program and in so doing, have waived the state’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary...”  So states have no obligation to obey unless they approved federally promoted programs (which the states have done in multiple ways).

As Ann Marie Banfield wrote: “What is going on here? The Secretary of Education can’t enforce any requirements under the program that would violate states’ rights UNLESS the state legislature gives its consent to participate in the ESEA, which encompasses around $25 Billion in aid to states.  Essentially, participating in the program to receive funds requires states to waive their states’ rights and those of the parent over their child if they conflict with ANY requirements of the program.”

2.  FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

On page 567, Section 6564, we read that “…Other than the terms and conditions expressly approved by State law under the terms of this subpart,  control over public education and parental rights to control the education of their children are vested exclusively within the autonomous zone of independent authority reserved to the states and individual Americans by the United States Constitution, other than the Federal Government’s undiminishable obligation to enforce minimum Federal standards of equal protection and due process.”

By tying inalienable parental rights to the receipt of funds and federal “obligations,” the bill just claimed authority to take parental rights away, under conditions it has just defined.

Even in the statement of purpose on page 11, the bill minimizes parents and maximizes itself, by “affording parents substantial and meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children”.

To reduce parents to a recipient of government-granted “opportunities to participate in” the education of a child is de-parenting.  It’s far, far different from Utah’s  legal code, which states in multiple places that: “A student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian.”

3.  GOVERNMENT CONTROL IN PRIVATE AND RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS  –  NEUTRALIZATION OF RELIGION 

Read pages 78-82.  It mandates that private schools:  “ensure that teachers and families of the children participate, on an equitable basis, in services and activities…  SECULAR, NEUTRAL, NONIDEOLOGICAL.—  Such educational services or other benefits, including materials and equipment, shall be secular, neutral and nonideological.

What’s a private Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Baptist, or any other private religious school to do?  –Alter its beliefs to match mandates for altered materials, equipment and services?

This is the price we pay for “school choice”  and “backpack funding,” folks.  It’s not what they make it out to be.  Where federal money goes, federal chokeholds follow.

The federal government has no right to mandate that private schools must give services  that are secular and non-religious.  (See page 79: it includes in its definition of services: one on one counseling, mentoring, educational television, computer technology and more).

 

4.  GOVERNMENT APPOINTED MONITORS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS

An ombudsman, if you haven’t heard the term, is a paid position, a role in which a person investigates and mediates official complaints for a living.  This bill mandates that private schools will be assigned a state-appointed ombudsman to monitor private schools:  “The State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements.”

On page 82 the bill states that the LEA (school district) must consult with private school officials and must transmit results of their “agreement” to a state-appointed ombudsman.  On page 86 the federal bill allows a private school to complain to the government:  “private school official shall have the right to file a complaint with the State educational agency that the local educational agency did not engage in consultation that was meaningful and timely”.  These are private schools.  They  never, ever have had any legal mandate to report to, complain to, speak to, or even think about state or federal governments.  These are private schools; private means not public, not under government mandates.

 

5.  FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF PRIVATE SCHOOL FUNDING AND BENEFITS

On page 535, the bill slashes freedom by mandating equity for private and public schools.  “Benefits provided under this section for private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel shall be equitable in comparison to services and other benefits for public school children, teachers, and other educational personnel”.  The government has no right to command a private school to give more benefits, nor to withhold benefits, from private school teachers, staff or children.  The same page states: “Expenditures for educational services and other benefits to eligible private school children, teachers, and other service personnel shall be equal to the expenditures for participating public school children.”  The ombudsman’s job, according to page 80, is to “monitor and enforce” such “equity for private school children”.

 

 

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ann marie banfield

 

Additional Information, provided below, comes from Ann Marie Banfield of Stop Common Core in New Hampshire:

 

Kline/ Rokita Student Success Act

 

Funding:

Title 1 Part A- 16,245,163,000

Title 1 Part B- $710,000

Title 11 $2,766,356,000

Title 111 Part A (1)- $300,000,000

Title 111 Part A (2)- $91,647,000

Title 111 Part A (3) $25,000,000

Title 111 Part B $2,302,287,000

Title 4 (1) $66,813,000

Title 4 (2) Basic Payments for Impacted LEAs- $1,151,233,000

Title 4(3) Payments for children with disabilities- $48,316,000

Title4 (4) Construction $17,406,000

Title 4 (5) Facilities Maintenance $4,835,000

 

Sec. 7 Sense of the Congress:

(a)(1) This paragraphs details how the ESEA prohibits the fed. Government from “mandating, directing, or controlling a State, a local educational agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of state and local resources, and from mandating a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under such Act.”

Problem: Language doesn’t include standards

(b) Sense of the Congress: It is the sense of the Congress that States and local educational agencies should maintain the rights and responsibilities of determining educational curriculum, programs of instruction, and assessments for elementary and secondary education.”

Problem: Language doesn’t include standards.

Sec. 1001. Statement of Purpose

“The purpose of this title is to provide all children the opportunity to graduate high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce. -“

Problem:  To fulfill the purpose of this Act, or submit a plan that meets the intended purpose of this Act, a state technically would have to align their standards and assessments to the Common Core. In the state applications for Race to the Top and in NCLB waivers, state post-secondary institutions made assurances that the Common Core standards and assessments would be used to place students into entry-level courses without remediation, thus prepared for college or careers.

  • Many states have already completed the alignment of postsecondary institutions to the Common Core. For example, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington are all participating states in a grant (Rockefeller) called Core to College, which states its goal as: “Preparing Students for College Readiness and Success, aimed to foster long-term collaborations between state higher education and K-12 entities that will improve student achievement and college readiness and ultimately, increased rates of enrollment and graduation. One key to this success was using the Common Core State Standards and assessments to establish a statewide common definition of college readiness to signal a student’s preparedness for credit-bearing college courses. Having such a baseline informed processes to transition students successfully between high school and higher education environments.”

 

Core to College is only one of many similar programs establishing alignment of postsecondary institutions to Common Core, and they have been well underway since 2011. If the expectations for postsecondary institutions are the Common Core, how would a state prepare students for it without aligning their entire system to it?

 

  • There are general educational expectations of knowledge and skills that high schools provide to students who choose to join the workforce after high school, such as basic math, reading skills, etc., but “to provide all children the opportunity to graduate high school prepared for ….the workforce” could mean something more than this and could vary dramatically between states.

As used in the Statement of Purpose above, does “prepared” mean a student acquiring an industry certification, a license for a trade, or industry specific training and classes? If so, that would prescribe a great deal to the state regarding the organization, funding, and structure of their entire education system beyond the programs served under this Act.

  • While the Act authorizes the Secretary to “disapprove a State plan for not meeting the requirements of this subpart’” he does “not have the authority to require a State, as a condition of approval of the State plan, to include in, or delete from, such plan one or more specific elements of the State’s academic standards or State accountability system, or to use specific academic assessments or other indicators.” Would the Secretary have to authority to deny a State plan if through the peer review process, which he controls, determines that the state standards, assessments, or accountability system isn’t aligned to college and career established benchmarks and fails to “prepare students for post-secondary education or careers?” He wouldn’t have to condition his approval on including or deleting items concerning standards, assessments or accountability systems, he could simply deny it for failure to meet the purpose of the Act and send them back to the drawing board for the required revisions.

 

 

 

This section is on page 552, towards the very end, but it needs to be addressed first, as it negates so much of the entire Act.

‘Subpart 4—Restoration of State Sovereignty Over Public Education and Parental Rights Over the Education of Their Children

12 ‘‘SEC. 6561. STATES TO RETAIN RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES THEY DO NOT EXPRESSLY WAIVE.

‘‘(a) RETENTION OF RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES.— No officer, employee, or other authority of the Secretary shall enforce against an authority of a State, nor shall  any authority of a State have any obligation to obey, any  requirement imposed as a condition of receiving assistance under a grant program established under this Act, nor shall such program operate within a State, unless the legislature of that State shall have by law expressly approved that program and, in doing so, have waived the State’s  rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance.

‘‘(b) AMENDMENT OF TERMS OF RECEIPT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.—An officer, employee, or other authority of the Secretary may release assistance under a grant program established under this Act to a  State only after the legislature of the State has by law  expressly approved the program (as described in subsection (a)). This approval may be accomplished by a vote to affirm a State budget that includes the use of such Federal funds and any such State budget must expressly include any requirement imposed as a condition of receiving assistance under a grant program established under this  Act so that by approving the budget, the State legislature  is expressly approving the grant program and, in doing  so, waiving the State’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance.

Subpart 4, section 6561 What is going on here? It states that the Secretary of Education can’t enforce any requirements under the program that would violate states’ rights unless the state legislature gives its consent to participate in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which encompasses around $25 BILLION dollars in aid to states. Essentially, participating in the program to receive funds requires states to waive their state’s rights and those of the parent over their child if they conflict with ANY requirements of the program.

“[The US Department of Education may not violate states’ rights] unless the legislature of that State shall have by law expressly approved that program and, in doing so, have waived the State’s  rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance. “

The state will not be able to act inconsistently with ANY requirement that the Secretary of Education MAY impose through this program if they want to receive funding. Geez, I thought the NCLB waivers and Race to the Top grants were coercive!

“This approval may be accomplished by a vote to affirm a State budget that includes the use of such Federal funds……….. by approving the budget, the State legislature  is expressly approving the grant program and, in doing  so, waiving the State’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by  the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance.”

This is sneaky. They want states to be able to pass this without any fanfare, sort of like how Common Core was adopted- under the radar.

(e) EFFECTIVE DATE.—This section applies in each  State beginning on the 90th day after the end of the first regular session of the legislature of that State that begins 5 years after the date of the enactment of the Student Success Act and shall continue to apply in subsequent years until otherwise provided by law.

Why is it not effective until 5 years after SSA is enacted? Seems like Obamacare- let the nightmare unravel slowly….

‘‘SEC. 6564. INTENT OF CONGRESS.

‘‘It is the intent of Congress that other than the terms and conditions expressly approved by State law under the terms of this subpart, control over public education and parental rights to control the education of their  children are vested exclusively within the autonomous zone of independent authority reserved to the States and individual Americans by the United States Constitution, other than the Federal Government’s undiminishable obligation to enforce minimum Federal standards of equal protection and due process.

After the bill details how your states’ rights over education will be violated, they include this weak assurance that unless the rights were waived by participation in the program,  “state control over public education and parental rights to control the education of their children are vested exclusively within the autonomous zone  of independent authority reserved to the States and individual Americans by the United States Constitution.

Gosh, thanks, guys. It’s so kind of you to have the “intent” to let me keep any constitutional and inalienable rights over parental control that you didn’t illegally revoke by tying them to the receipt of federal funding. This is laughable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sec1003(a)

Replaces the school improvement section under NCLB, yet still requires school choice transportation services and SES. The new language calls these two services “direct student services.”

 

“Part A- Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantage”

“Subpart 1- Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies”

Chapter B- Allocations

Sec.1111. State Plans:

  • (A) “In General. Each State plan shall demonstrate that the State has adopted academic content standards and academic achievement standards aligned with such content standards that comply with such content standards that comply with the requirements of this paragraph.”

(C) Requirements, The standards described in subparagraph (A) shall:

  1. apply to all public schools and public school students in the State; and
  2. with respect to academic achievement standards, include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all public school students in the state.
  • Academic Assessments-

(B) REQUIREMENTS- Such assessments shall-

(ii) be the same academic assessments used to measure the academic achievement of all public school students in the State:

I think this should be amended to allow LEAs to use a comparable test, or nationally norm-referenced test that can be compared for accountability purposes, this allows for greater local control and freedom in testing necessary to prevent a one-size-fits-all curriculum, enforced by a single test as we witnessed with Common Core tests.

(viii) “include measures that assess higher-order thinking skill and understanding”

This language should be struck. It was also included in original NCLB text and has led to the incorporation of testing thinking skills and process of thought, which in younger grades is not developmentally appropriate. Young children’s brains, until age 11 or 12, have yet to fully develop the brain structures (pre-frontal cortex) needed to think abstractly which is required for high-order thinking- their thinking is still too concrete at this stage.

Additionally, assessing “high-order thinking” has been the impetus for mandating state assessments measure students’ thinking and process skills at the expense of measuring knowledge. The higher-order thinking skills are very difficult to accurately measure on a standardized test, and require test items like open-ended responses, constructed performance items, and technology-enhanced items that are expensive to develop and score, and don’t provide valid or reliable measurements of student knowledge. High-order skills are more accurately assessed by teachers in the classroom.

(xiv) where practicable, be developed using the principles of universal design for learning as defined in section 103(24) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 USC 1003(24) which describes an assessment that provides for multiple ways answering questions

What is Universal Design? In education circles in means “Embedding continuous assessment in instructional materials and methods themselves through the kind of technology-rich, UDL-based curriculum recommended by the National Educational Technology Plan would make it possible to assess not only students and their teachers but the curriculum itself. This would allow the collection of voluminous and timely data on the effectiveness of every element in the curriculum: what works, what doesn’t work, and what works for whom. The result: comprehensive accountability systems and instructional reforms that could support robust learning opportunities for all.”

This language should be struck. It is too prescriptive to states and prevents them from having full control over the type of assessments they develop.

(e)  PEER REVIEW AND SECRETARIAL APPROVAL

(1) ESTABLISHMENT- Notwithstanding section 6543, the Secretary shall-

(A) establish a peer-review process to assist in the review of State plans; and

If the Secretary shall establish the process the peer-reviewers use it allows him to set the criteria for how a State plan must meet the requirements of this section. This is an overreach of federal authority and negates all the language which prohibits the Secretary from mandating the states to use particular standards, assessments, and accountability systems. This is how the criteria will be set to evaluate whether State plans are approved or not approved.

(D) have the authority to disapprove a State plan for not meeting the requirements of this subpart, but shall not have the authority to require a State, as a condition of approval of the State plan, to include in, or delete from, such plan one or more specific elements of the State’s academic standards or State accountability system, or to use specific academic assessments or other indicators.

This sounds great, but as long as the Secretary sets up the process to judge whether the State plan meets the requirements it is weakened.

(g) FAILURE TO MEET REQUIREMENTS.- If a State fails to meet any of the requirements of this section then the Secretary shall withhold funds for State administration under this subpart until the Secretary determines that the State has fulfilled those requirements.

This make it clear that there is no financial penalty directly incurred by LEAs or individual schools. The financial loss is strictly at SEA level. The State administration funds are noted in SEC 1004. STATE ADMINISTRATION. (a) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subsection (b), to carry out administrative duties assigned under subparts 1,2, and 3 of part A if this title, each State may reserve the greater of

  • 1 percent of the amounts received under such subparts; or
  • $400,000 ($50,000 in the case of each outlying area)

 

Section1112. LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY PLANS.

(b) PLAN PROVISIONS Each local educational agency plan shall describe

(12) if appropriate, how the local educational agency will use funds under this subpart to support preschool programs for children, particularly children participating in Head Start program, which services may be provided directly by the local educational agency or through a subcontract with the local Head Start agency designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under section 641 of the Hard Start Act, or another comparable early childhood development program;

This section allows funds to be used for preschool programs and preferences Head Start instead of for the disadvantaged students the Act is intended to serve in K-12 public education. There is finite amount of money allotted to schools, to give to preschool programs reduces the amount available for K-12.

(13) how the lea through incentive for voluntary transfers, the provision of professional development, recruitment programs, incentive pay, performance pay, or other effective strategies, will address disparities in the rates of low-income and minority students and other students being taught by ineffective teachers.

Why should the federal government dictate how the lea will manage its personnel?

(14) if appropriate, how the lea will use funds under this subpart to support programs that coordinate and integrate-

(A) career and technical education aligned with State technical standards that promote skills attainment important to in-demand occupations or industries in the State and the State’s acadmic standards under section 1111(b)(1); AND

(B) Work-based learning opportunities that provide students in-depth interaction with industry professionals; AND

(15) if appropriate, how the lea will use funds under this subpart to support dual enrollment programs, early high schools, and AP or IB programs.

While it says “if appropriate” leas should not have to use funds to support anything besides the basic education of students. This clause doesn’t stipulate high school, thus it would include K-8 schools. This dilutes the purpose and intended use of Title 1 funds away from supplementing the education of disadvantaged students.

(c) ASSURANCES Each lea plan shall provide assurances that the local lea will-

(3) provide technical assistance to schoolwide programs

Why not to targeted? Does this create an incentive for targeted schools to implement schoolwide programs?

(5) In the case of a lea that chooses to use funds under this subpart to provide early childhood development services to low-income children below the age of compulsory school attendance, ensure that such services comply with the performance standards established under section 641 (a) of Head Start Act

Again, why would title 1 funds be used for children outside the K-12 system, further, why would they choose to align with the performance standards of Head Start which has a failed record to improve student long term achievement?

(6) inform eligible schools of the lea’s authority to request waivers on the school’s behalf under Title VI and

 

Part B of Title 1 (sec141) NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF TITLE I

 Amendments to section 1301(which use to be section 1501) to do the following:

  • In subsection (a)
  • In paragraph (1) , by inserting “acting through the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (in this section and section 1302 referred to as the ‘Director’) after “The Secretary”’
  • In paragraph (A) strike “reaching the proficient level” and all that follows and insert “graduating high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce.”

It would read as follows: A) The implementation of programs assisted under this title and the impact of such implementation on increasing student academic achievement (particularly in schools with high concentrations of children living in poverty), relative to the goal of all students reaching the proficient level of achievement based on State academic assessments, challenging State academic content standards, and challenging State student academic achievement standards under section 1111.graduating from high school prepared for postsecondary education of the workforce.

They have been very careful to switch the expectation and the goal of the Act from being proficient on assessments that measure the State standards to attaining the necessary preparation of entering college or the workforce- which is already defined through the waivers and RttT as being the end expectations of CC. Even if the reauthorization voids those agreements, the end result of them remains- public universities are, or have already, aligned their expectations to the CC. Those who wrote this had to have a measurable way to judge if in mind to measure whether or not the new goal would be met by states. What other measure will the IES Director use to see if students are prepared for postsecondary schools or workforce?

  • The types of programs and services that have demonstrated the greatest likelihood of helping students reach the proficient and advanced levels of achievement based on State student academic achievement standards and State academic content standards. meet State academic standards.

 

If the Director of IES is no longer using the measures of proficient, advanced, what will he use to gauge if the standard is met? Will he use the 1,2,3,4 score from CC aligned tests?

(v) used State educational agency and local educational agency funds and resources to help schools in which 50 percent or more of the students are from families with incomes below the poverty line meet the requirement described in section 1119 of having all teachers highly qualified not later than the end of the 2005-2006 school year. address disparities in the percentages of effective teachers teaching in low-income schools.

 

GENERAL CONCERNS ABOUT THE DIRECTOR OF IES AS ARBITRATOR OF WHAT IS EFFECTIVE AND INCREASES STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: What happens to the approval process of State plans that don’t address issues in accordance with the analyses of the Director of IES based on his analyses the data collected from schools and students? It is very likely that the Secretary could say the State plan doesn’t fulfill the requirements of the Act because the methods they choose are ones that the IES data report as “ineffective.” IT will become reversed- the Director of the IES will tell states what the data says regarding effective standards, school improvement efforts, assessments, etc. and the State plan will be formed accordingly, instead of the State presenting a fresh plan and the Secretary evaluating it.

 

(c) NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL STUDY-

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary Director shall conduct a longitudinal study of schools receiving assistance under part A. subpart 1 of Part A

(2) ISSUES TO BE EXAMINED- In carrying out this subsection, the Secretary Director shall ensure that the study referred to in paragraph (1) provides Congress and educators with each of the following:

(A) An accurate description and analysis of the short- and long-term effect of the assistance made available under this title on academic achievement.

(B) Information that can be used to improve the effectiveness of the assistance made available under this title in enabling students to meet challenging academic achievement standards. State academic standards.

(C) An analysis of educational practices or model programs that are effective in improving the achievement of disadvantaged children.

(D) An analysis of the costs as compared to the benefits of the assistance made available under this title in improving the achievement of disadvantaged children.

(E) An analysis of the effects of the availability of school choice options under section 1116 on the academic achievement of disadvantaged students, on schools in school improvement, and on schools from which students have transferred under such options. extent to which actions authorized under section 1111(b) (3)(B)(iii) improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students and low-performing schools.

(F) Such other information as the Secretary Director considers appropriate.

(3) SCOPE- In conducting the study referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall ensure that the study —

(A) bases its analysis on a nationally representative sample of schools participating in programs under this title;

(B) to the extent practicable, includes in its analysis students who transfer to different schools during the course of the study; and

(C) analyzes varying models or strategies for delivering school services, including —

(i) schoolwide and targeted services; and

(ii) comprehensive school reform models

  • Analyses varying models or strategies for delivering school services, including schoolwide and targeted services.

 

 

SEC. 1503. ASSESSMENT EVALUATION.

(a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall conduct an independent study of assessments used for State accountability purposes and for making decisions about the promotion and graduation of students. Such research shall be conducted over a period not to exceed 5 years and shall address the components described in subsection (d).

(b) CONTRACT AUTHORIZED- The Secretary is authorized to award a contract, through a peer review process process consistent with section 1206, to an organization or entity capable of conducting rigorous, independent research. The Assistant Secretary of Educational Research and Improvement Director shall appoint peer reviewers to evaluate the applications for this contract.

(c) STUDY- The study shall —

(1) synthesize and analyze existing research that meets standards of quality and scientific rigor; and

(2) evaluate academic assessment and accountability systems in State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and schools; and

(3) make recommendations to the Department and to the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the United States House of Representatives and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the United States Senate, based on the findings of the study.

(d) COMPONENTS OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAM- The study described in subsection (a) shall examine —

(1) the effect of the assessment and accountability systems described in section (c) on students, teachers, parents, families, schools, school districts, and States, including correlations between such systems and —

(A) student academic achievement, progress to the State-defined level of proficiency, toward meeting the State academic standards and progress toward closing achievement gaps, based on independent measures;

(B) changes in course offerings, teaching practices, course content, and instructional material;

(C) changes in turnover rates among teachers, principals, and pupil-services personnel; specialized instructional support services.

(D) changes in dropout, grade-retention, and graduation rates for students; and

(E) such other effects as may be appropriate;

(2) the effect of the academic assessments on students with disabilities;

(3) the effect of the academic assessments on low, middle, and high socioeconomic status students, limited and nonlimited English proficient students, racial and ethnic minority students, and nonracial or nonethnic minority students;

(4) guidelines for assessing the validity, reliability, and consistency of those systems using nationally recognized professional and technical standards;

(5) the relationship between accountability systems and the inclusion or exclusion of students from the assessment system; and

(6) such other factors as the Secretary finds appropriate.

(e) REPORTING- Not later than 3 years after the contract described in subsection (b) is awarded, the organization or entity conducting the study shall submit an interim report to the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the United States House of Representatives and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of the United States Senate, and to the President and the States, and shall make the report widely available to the public. The organization or entity shall submit a final report to the same recipients as soon as possible after the completion of the study. Additional reports may be periodically prepared and released as necessary.

(f) RESERVATION OF FUNDS- The Secretary may reserve up to 15 percent of the funds authorized to be appropriated for this part appropriated under section 3(a)(2) to carry out the study, except such reservation of funds shall not exceed $1,500,000.

 

Sec 1403 STATE ADMINISTRATION

  • In general, Each state that receives funds under this title shall:
  • Ensure that any State rules, regulations, and policies relating to this title conform to the purposes of this title and provide any such proposed rules, regulations, and policies to the committee of practioners created under subsection (b) for review and comment.
  • Minimize such rules, regs, and policies to which the State’s local educational agencies and school are subject;
  • Eliminate or modify State and local fiscal accounting requirements in ,,,,,,,
  • Identify any such rule as State imposed
  1. Identify any duplicative or contrasting requirements between State and Federal rules or regulations
  2. Eliminate the rules and regulations that are duplicative of Federal requirements
  • Report any conflicting requirements to the Secretary and determine which Fed or State rule or regulation shall be followed.

How is it ensuring the rights of states and local school districts to govern education policy if all rules and regulations required under this act are to be evaluated by a committee that the USDOE picks the types of people who will sit on it, and further that they recommend which state rules will be followed if the conflict with fed rules or regs under this title. This is an attempt to have one set of federal rules and regs that govern all aspects of the state in relation to programs under this Act.

The Act requires the state to appoint the majority of the committee from representative of local education agencies. It must include administrators of other federal programs under the Title, this would include IDEA, Head Start, Health and Human Services, etc; teachers from public charter schools, traditional public, and career and technical educators; parents; members of local school boards; reps form charter school authorizers, public charter school leaders, reps of private school children, and specialized instructional support personnel ( this category includes people who are school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, and other qualified professional personnel involved in providing assessment, diagnosis, counseling, educational, therapeutic, and other necessary services, including related services as that term is defined in section 602 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as part of a comprehensive program to meet  student needs.)

In an emergency situation where such rules or regs must be issued within a very short period of time, the State education agency can issue a regulation without prior consultation, but shall immediately thereafter convene the State committee of practioners to review it before issuance in final form. Great, if the State educ, agency needs to it can act unilaterally, without the consent of the non-elected committee of practioners required to be formed by the Secretary of Education under this title.

 

TITLE II TEACHER PREPARATION AND EFFECTIVENESS

Part A

Section 2113. the state must make available 95% of the funds received under this section as grants to LEAs to do the following:

Section 2122: If state doesn’t have a statewide teacher and school leader evaluation system, the funds must be used to create and implement one. (1)(B) The LEA must show how the “activities to be carried out by the lea under this subpart will be evidence-based, improve student academic achievement, and improve teacher and school leader effectiveness.”

Section 2132: The teacher evaluation system may (1)(A)“use student achievement data derived frk a variety of sources as a significant factor in determining a teacher’s evaluation, with the weight given to such data defined by the lea.;(1)(B) use multiple measures(1)(C) have more than 2 categories for rating the performance of teachers(1)(D) be used to make personnel decisions,

Really? State autonomy is restored or enhanced by a grant telling the State how the leas may constitute their evaluation systems? Also, it is worth mentioning that the extensive rulemaking authority of the Secretary allows for him to decide what are “evidence-based,” and what data shows it has “imporved teacher and school leader effectiveness.” This is also related to the new authority granted under this Act to the Director of the Institute for Educational Sciences to access data through a cariety of sources, including state and local reporting, to conduct studies to show which practices are effective and have positive impacts. This will become a loop, where schools must report data, that data will be analyzed and recommendations will be made, through the rulemaking authority, those recommendations will become necessary for approval of state plans, etc.

The funds may also be used to under (6) for professional development for teachers and school leaders that is “evidence based, job embedded, and continuous” such as

(B) aligned to State’s academic standards

(E) professional development based on the current science of learning, which includes research on positive brain change and cognitive skill development

(G) professional development on intergrated, interdisciplinary, and project-based teaching strategies, ..

 

Section 2131 REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

The lea must report to the state education agency on an annual basis the following:

(a)(1) how the lea is meeting the purpose of this part described in sect 2101

(2) how the lea is using the funds

(3) if the lea is implementing a teacher evaluation system, the results of of such evaluation system, except if individually identifiable

(4) any such other information as the State educ. Agency may require

This takes complete authority away from local school districts and will require them to report any student or teacher information/data that is required by the state.

Section 2132 NATIONAL ACTIVITIES

“From the funds reserved to the Secretary under section 2111(b)(1)(A) the Secretary shall, directly or through grants and contracts-

  • Provide technical assistance to States and local educational agencies in carrying out these activities under this Act; and
  • Acting through the Director of IES, conduct national evaluations of activities carries out by the state educational agency and local educational agency under this part

RED FLAG: This gives the director of IES authority to request any data from both the State and LEA to “evaluate” the program. Remember that under FERPA, personally identifiable information is allowed to be shared- without consent- for an audit or evaluation – to authorized representatives of Federal, State, and local educational agencies. FERPA 99.31- authorities conducting an audit, evaluation, or enforcement of education programs.

 

 

‘‘PART F—EVALUATIONS

18 ‘‘SEC. 6601. EVALUATIONS.

19 ‘‘(a) RESERVATION OF FUNDS.—Except as provided  in subsections (c) and (d), the Secretary may reserve not  more than 0.5 percent of the amount appropriated to  carry out each categorical program authorized under this Act.

The reserved amounts shall be used by the Secretary, acting through the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences to 1. Conduct an evaluation of the program of the effectiveness of the and long and short term impact to local schools and state, and performance of grant recipients.

 

Title 1 funds can’t be reserved for sec 6601 or other programs under this act where funds have already been reserved for an evaluation

 

 

‘‘Subpart 2—Education of Migratory Children

12 ‘‘SEC. 1131. PROGRAM PURPOSES.

13 ‘‘The purposes of this subpart are as follows:

14 ‘‘(1) To assist States in supporting high-quality

15 and comprehensive educational programs and serv-

16 ices during the school year, and as applicable, during

17 summer or intercession periods, that address the

18 unique educational needs of migratory children

 

Will they propose to offer year-round school for these kids or provide free child care when school is not in session?

 

‘‘(4) To help such children overcome edu-

5 cational disruption, cultural and language barriers,

6 social isolation, various health-related problems, and

7 other factors that inhibit the ability of such children

8 to succeed in school.

9 ‘‘(5) To help such children benefit from State

10 and local systemic reforms.

(4) allows the federal funding to establish “wrap around services for mental and physical medical treatment through the schools, and (5) requires schools to help the children, and I suppose their families, to access public assistance programs offered through the State and localities.

 

 

In Section 1001 the Statement of Purpose is to provide “all” children with the opportunity to graduate high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce. Of course this must be done by 1) meeting the needs of low income children, 2) closing achievement gaps, 3) affording parents meaningful participation, 4) “challenging states to local educational agenices to embrace meaningful, evidence based education reform, while encouraging state and local innovation.”

 

 

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

 

I take issue with the purpose of the title to be for “all” children and that it will be accomplished by, among other things, number 4, -“challenging states to embrace reform policies” that will affect all schools.  This means all students, regardless of benefitting or qualifying for the program, will be stuck with statewide reforms necessary for federal compliance.

 

Private schools are eligible to receive a “direct student service” provided by the LEA to offer choice transportation and tutoring services on an equal basis to children in public schools.

 

Section 1120 PARTICIPATION OF CHILDREN ENROLLED IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS

  • GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

(1)(A) an lea shall “provide such service on an equitable basis and individually or in combination, as requested by the officials or representatives to best meet the needs of such children, special education services, instructional services, counseling, mentoring, one-on-one tutoring, or other benefits under this subpart (such as dual enrollment, educational radio and television, computer equipment and materials, other technology, and mobile educational services and equipment) that address their needs and

(B) “To help ensure equity for such private school children, teachers and other educational personnel, the SEA involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements of this subpart.

(5) PROVISION OF SERVICES- The local educational agency or, in a case described in subsection (b)(6)(C), the State educational agency involved, may provide services under this section directly or through contracts with public or private agencies, organiztions, and institutions.

 

Any provision that comes with the assignment of an ombudsman to monitor and enforece compliance of private school’s adherence is problematic.

 

(b) IN GENERAL- “…….the lea shall consult with appropriate private school officials during the design and development of such agency’s programs under this subpart to reach agreement about equitable and effective programs for private school children……the results will be transmitted to the omsbudsman….

 

I’m not sure whether or not there many provisions that stop Title 1 money from following the child into private schools. The range of services is the same and it is to be on an equitable monetary amount. IT is concerning that the provision of these services must be delivered to the children in a manner prescribed by the lea in “consultation with the private school.”

 

The consultation must discuss:

“how children’s needs are identified (will they be assessed and data collected)

What services are offered (Can a private school reject certain services or will lea have the say)

How, where, and by whom the services are provided (School can’t provide it themselves- must be done by a third party or the lea, or Sea if lea can’t provide)

How the services will be academically assessed and how the results of that assessment will be used to improve those services. (Assessment, data collection, changes made based on that data)

 

The provision of services must be from a secular provider:

(d) PUBLIC CONTROL OF FUNDS (2)(B) REQUIREMENTS- In the provision of such services, such employee, individual, association, agency or organization shall be independent of such private school and of any religious organization, and such employment or contract shall be under the control and supervision of such public agency.

(e) If a local educational agency is prohibited by law from providing for participation on an equitable basis to children enrolled in private schools…….or determines the lea has failed or is unwilling, the Secretary waives the requirement and shall arrange for the provision of services to such children

The Secretary will take over the provision of equitable services to private schools if the lea refuses?

 

 

 

 

 

‘‘SEC. 6302. OPTIONAL CONSOLIDATED STATE PLANS OR APPLICATIONS.

(b) COLLABORATION.—

  • IN GENERAL.—In establishing criteria and procedures under this section, the Secretary shall collaborate with State educational agencies and, as appropriate, with other State agencies, local educational agencies, public and private agencies, organizations, and institutions, private schools, and parents, students, and teachers.

Looks like private school children, not just teachers, are part of this Act in such a substantial way that the Secretary would want to consult them on forming the State plan? I think Title 1 funds are portable to private schools, regardless of the lack of language stating it. There is nothing that prevents it.

 

  • —Through the collaborative process described in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall establish, for each program under this Act to which this section applies, the descriptions, information, assurances, and other material required to be included in a consolidated State plan or consolidated State application.

This seems to allow the Secretary broad discretion to require additional assurances, information, and “other material” in a consolidated State plan. Why should this be different than a State plan where it is submitted for each program?

 

  • NECESSARY MATERIALS.—The Secretary shall require only descriptions, information, assurances (including assurances of compliance with applicable provisions regarding participation by private school children and teachers), and other materials that are absolutely necessary for the consideration of the consolidated State plan or consolidated State application.

Again, here is the private school children language.

 

———————————————————————

 

Thank you, Ann Marie Banfield and Stop Common Core New Hampshire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Report on Jenni White’s Utah Speech   4 comments


jenni

Jenni  White of Oklahoma’s Restore Oklahoma Public Education spoke  last night in Midvale, Utah, to a clapping, cheering, energized crowd that included two  legislators from the Utah House of Representatives, Kay Christofferson and LaVar Christiansen, both of whom stood and spoke after Jenni’s speech to voice their support.

Feisty, hilarious, sassy and smart, Jenni White’s presentation explained that she and her group have been working for many, many years (longer than the majority of us have in Utah) to stop Common Core.  The bills that were written there never got heard, or only made it through one committee hearing, year after year.  It took hard work and dogged persistence to work the miracle that Oklahoma finally saw this year.  Her speech was filmed and will be posted soon.  Here are highlights:

What Oklahoma moms did:

1.  They didn’t just work with one or two legislators.  They emailed all the legislators, every week, with short, vital pieces of information to help educate them about just what the Common Core Initiative has done to schools, to student privacy, to teacher autonomy, to the voice of parents, to the power of local control of education.

2.  They showed up by the hundreds during the legislative session, wearing the green Stop Common Core t-shirts, and made it impossible during rallies for legislators to walk down the halls without swerving around green t-shirted parents and teachers and students.  They would not be ignored or dismissed.

3.  They sent legislative baseball cards, stop common core cookie bouquets, postcards, notes, legislator memos, tweets, emails.

4.  They held a “Hear the Bills!” rally to persuade legislators to at least listen, to at least let this issue have a fair hearing.

5. They did photo ops with Governor Fallin, wearing the green t-shirts, even before she had decided to stand against Common Core.

6. They had meetings statewide, educating the public, asking the public to call their legislators and tell them they wanted Common Core to be repealed and replaced with better standards like Massachusetts had prior to the Common Core-ing of America.

7. They stuck together, not allowing infighting or small disagreements to break apart their coalition of parents, teachers and citizens who wanted Common Core to go away.

Since the Oklahoma miracle, some pro-Core advocates such as Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrelli, (a financial beneficiary of Bill Gates, of course) have tried to spin the Oklahoma miracle of repealing Common Core as a disaster, saying that Oklahoma teachers have no idea what to teach right now.

The indomitable Jenni White, rather than shrink under his arrogance and criticism, happily invited Petrelli to Oklahoma for an open debate and discussion on this subject.

Petrelli has accepted, according to his Twitter feed.

Thank you, Oklahoma!  We love you!

green

 

 

Outsmarting the Language of the Common Core Cuttlefish   4 comments

A smiling school board member, tired of me and unwilling to fight the Common Core monster, advised me to do what she does: focus on the positive parts of Common Core.  Be an optimist, she said.

“The positive parts?  –You mean the lies?” I thought, because I’ve not seen positive parts unless you count the positivesounding parts.

There are lots of those– the Common Core advertisements, the school board’s website promotions and newspaper quotes.

To the non-researcher, the Common Core sounds completely positive– but this “initiative” turns out to be very bad when the naked facts are revealed, about how it’s controlled,  whom it pays off and what it robs.

Because the smiling board member knew many of these unsavory facts that she wished not to know, her advice reminded me of the part in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when Dr. Jekyll tells Utterton not to worry about Mr. Hyde.  How illogical, dangerous and self-defeating.  But to some, it seems that being an optimist requires putting ourselves at the mercy of bullies and pretending to agree to things that are clearly not so.

This conversation exposed the wide gap between the pretty surface language versus the ugly facts under the belly of Common Core.

 

orwell one

 

In response to that conversation, I’m promoting George Orwell’s brilliant 1946 “catalogue of swindles and perversions” entitled  Politics and the English Language.

Orwell’s great at explaining how to cut through verbal jungles of lies.  (Please read his whole essay here; I’m just borrowing highlights.)

My favorite image from the essay tops Orwell’s explanation of how manipulators make a bad situation sound grand by using language to cloud truth:  as a cuttlefish clouds his intentions by squirting a lot of ink.

cuttlefish and ink

When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns… to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink” … the great enemy of clear language is insincerity,” he wrote. 

Orwell’s essay does more than reveal how political language deceived listeners in 1946; it also foretells 2014 ed reform lingo.  It could have been titled “Interesting Ways That People Cook Up Lies to Appear Not Only True, But Delicious.”

 

Many people have never considered Orwell’s main point:  that official language is not only used to express thought; language can be and is also used “for concealing or preventing thought.”  Orwell said that political language can “make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.

The politicorporate cuttlefish do this!

They can’t risk alerting Americans to the real direction in which ed reforms have taken our liberties.  Speaking plainly would reveal everything, so they use language to conceal and cloud the sources of the power grab, banking on the fact that most people accept wordiness as if it were smartness and lawfulness.

As a cuttlefish squirts out ink to mask the direction in which he’s really swimming, so do DuncanObamaGates, ColemanBarberTucker, writers of grants, reports and publications try to cloud our minds to lull us, as school boards, governors, parents and taxpayers, to nod and hand over our keys– because we can’t see where the cuttlefish is going and the ink’s kind of pretty.

This is how they do it.

1.  BORROWED WORDS OR PRIVATE DEFINITIONS

Those who are either lazy or liars continually borrow phrases and metaphors “tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house,” as Orwell called it, rather than to actually work to think of an original phrase, metaphor or image.

Keeping that henhouse in mind, watch for the repetitive phrases tacked together in education reformers’ speeches.   The repeated handful of vague, positive terms include:

These terms have defined, mostly private second meanings.  For one example, “world class education” does not mean the best in the world, as we might think –instead, it means noncompetitive, as in: the same as all the world –which is supremely ironic given the fact that the phrase “international competitiveness”  is another prefabricated ed reform hen house phrase.

Orwell said that people use words of this kind “in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.”  The trendy, pre-fab terms are re-echoed by the federal government, the NGA, CCSSO, Achieve Inc., the Chamber of Commerce, and top university leaders.  Some high up officials do not even know that there are private definitions, and they parrot what they’ve heard from people who they may not even recognize as being liars;  real, actual, ongoing, habitual, caught-in-the-act liars.

The prime example, of course, of an overused, overborrowed term with a private definition is President Obama’s “call for success in college and careers” also known as “college and career ready standards.”  It sounds unobjectionable.  But it’s not just a nice, vague term to Obama.  It’s narrowly defined on the federal website as standards “common to a significant number of states.”  That’s no definition at all except common, the same.   Excellence doesn’t come into it.  And the phrase is repeated seven times just in one short white house press release.  It’s that important and weighty.  Now I can’t hear the term “college and career ready” without groaning and rolling my eyes.  The ed reformers stole its innocent meaning.

Another pet deceit among ed reformers is to misuse the word “back” by equating any attempt anyone makes (to restore freedoms previously held) to moving backward, or making unintelligent decisions.  Bill Gates said that controversy around Common Core “comes from people who want to stop the standards, which would send us back to what we had before.”   He did not define “what we had before” as freedom.  He left that intentionally vague.  But ponder it:  would restoring text and test diversity really be a step backward?  Would restoring student privacy by getting rid of common data standards (CEDS) and the common databases (SLDS) be a step backward or forward for lovers of freedom?  Is all change positive change?

Of course, some changes are good and some are bad.  But top ed reformers, including education sales giant Pearson, relentlessly push the idea that deletion of traditional education is good.  Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber said,  “governments need to rethink their regulatory regimes for an era when university systems are global rather than national… standing still is not an option.”

Do you buy the idea that governments should give up their national constitutions and local systems and that holding fast to time-tested traditions in education is stupidly “standing still”?  Me neither.  But this gives us insight into the private definition of “globally competent”.

orwell two

2. VERBAL FALSE LIMBS

Overuse of the quantity words, especially of overused and educratically vogue words,  is usually deliberate snowing.  Ed reformers cover up the sharp truths so people don’t recognize what they’re doing, nor fight back.  But George Orwell pointed out that adding extra, unneeded words is as obvious and cumbersome –if you pay attention– as adding an extra limb to the body.  Watch for phrases lacking usefulness but still commanding space and posing as credibile.

The excessive limbs game was used, for example, when the Federal Register attempted to hide its removal of parental consent over student data-sharing in FERPA policy, by using so many words that only a committee of lawyers could uncover it.

Remember: the motive is to conceal, not to reveal, truth.  Orwell said that these excess words “fall upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details… ”

Indeed they try.  But there are red flags that they themselves created, phrases that can signal to us that lies are afoot.  One especially irksome phrase is “informed by” –such a trendy, snooty false limb.  Its academic tone may intimidate some readers, but the phrase is often used as a spout near missing evidence.  For example, the Common Core official website states that “Common Core is informed by  the highest, most effective standards from states across the United States and countries around the world.”  Not true!

Promoters used to claim, often and loudly, that Common Core was internationally benchmarked, but after critics pointed out that not a single country had math and English standards that matched Common Core, promoters changed to the term “informed by” which is so vague that it’s harder to prove it’s a lie.

Still, it’s a lie:  top state standards-holders prior to Common Core were Massachusetts, Indiana and California, and they dropped their high standards and came down to common core. Common Core didn’t reach up at all.  There’s nothing “internationally informed” about them.  Just ask validation committee member Dr. James Milgram, who said that the reason he didn’t sign off on the standards was that “they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least two years behind practices in high achieving countries by seventh grade”.

A very wordy example of verbal false limbs running amok is seen in a federal Common Core grant called the “Cooperative Agreement.” It connects the federal government and the Common Core tester, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  The lengthy agreement applies to PARCC, too. And since SBAC partnered with Utah’s and Florida’s current testing group, A.I.R., this document still matters to me despite Utah’s dropping out of SBAC.  Buried in its snowbanks of wordiness is a micromanaging federal bully.  States must:

“Actively participate in any meetings and telephone conferences with ED staff… Be responsive to requests from ED for information about the status of the project… providing such information in writingComply with… ED staff … make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis…  [R]espective Project Directors [this means the testing arms] will collaborate to coordinate appropriate tasks and timelines to foster synchronized development of assessment systems… The Program Officer for the RTTA grantees [this means the Feds] will work with the Project Directors for both RTTA grantees [this means the testing arms] to coordinate and facilitate coordination across consortia.”

In other words, conform.  But that sharp message is buried behind pleasant phrases earlier in the document, such as “the purpose of this agreement is to support the consortium recipient.”  Support?  The way that a jail supports those jailed inside it?  This brings us to the next tool: pretentious diction.

orwell four

3.  PRETENTIOUS DICTION

Orwell said that pretentious diction tries to “dignify sordid processes” and to “give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments.”

Example:  Read the pretentious, one-sided judgments underlying the highly controversial Obama-Duncan “Preschool For All Initiative”.  For those who don’t know, this move puts four year old toddlers in federal preschools –based on supposedly settled scientific research that concludes that this will benefit little ones.

Yet, highly respected researchers oppose  what Obama-Duncan tout; they say that it is best to keep young children free of institutionalization (not to mention keeping them free of data tracking and high stakes testing).  Still, President Obama speaks about the federal Preschool For All, using “research” that serves his idea that government should rear children from the cradle.

Watch how he does it.  He imposes the intimate, tiny yet very pretentious term “we” on listeners, and implies that “we” can simultaneously –and fairly– serve the child, the business interests, and the educational-political interests:

“Research  shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.”

Notice that the president omits any mention of governmental mandate.  Elsewhere, we learn that Preschool For All  is to be mandatory.   In an April 29, 2014 speech, Duncan called for mandatory preschool, saying, “The third major priority in the 2015 request is to continue the President’s commitment to expanding educational opportunity for millions of children through a $75 billion mandatory Preschool for All program…”

Pretentious diction overflows,  like the polluted froth on a sick river,  over and through the current math and English Common Core standards.  It  lives in the speeches of education sales giant Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber as he explains reasons for making environmental education a centerpiece of every school in every subject in every nation (see Pearson’s CEA Sir Michael Barber‘s speeches.)  It’s in the term “misinformed” that proponents loves to call all Common Core’s opponents.  Pretention is everywhere ed reformers speak and write.  They depend on pretense because they lack actual authority.

A clue to detecting the lies that are hidden behind pretentious diction is to search for links to research that supports the claims being made.  Usually, there are no references, no links; listeners are expected to be trusting and dumb enough to assume what is being said is truthful.  On those rare occasions that links to evidence are provided, find out if the cited think tank/university/publisher is financially partnered with the politicorporate cuttlefish of Common Core.  Invariably, they are.

We are left to realize that in Common Core ed reform, money now has a stronger voice than voters, teachers, parents, students or taxpayers in determining what will be policy.  And that money is deeply committed to making more of itself.  Case in point:

Gates’ company, Microsoft, wrote:  “At Microsoft, we are deeply committed to working with governments… [blah blah blah] … learning for all.”

Deeply committed” sounds good.  It sounds noble.  But why is Gates’ company so deeply committed to “learning for all”?  Because they’re making money while altering political and educational policy.  Making money is a good thing; I’m all for capitalism.  The problem is that nobody elected Microsoft or Pearson;  they have no authority other than the dollars they use as bait.  We can’t un-elect them now or ever, and we’ve swallowed their baited hooks right and left in countless “partnerships” with our governments.

Deeply committed.

 

 4. MEANINGLESS WORDS

Orwell pointed out that much of what passes for writing is “strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly even expected to do so by the reader.”  Orwell despised “long passages almost completely lacking in meaning.”  He would not enjoy the 26-transcript-paged speech by David Coleman, current president of the College Board, because it is a black hole that says nothing except for the part when Coleman admitted he’s unqualified for his office.  That part would be funny if the education of children were some kind of laughing matter.

Here’s more meaninglessness:  Bill Gates said:  “common standards could transform U.S. education.”  It’s meaningless because nobody would argue it; it’s like saying rain could make your hair wet.  Common standards could and ARE transforming education.  But is it a disasterous or a delightful transformation?  He left out that part so nobody could argue with him or criticize his sound byte.  Except that I am criticizing it for its desperate spineless meaninglessness.

Sometimes Gates speaks so vaguely that he covers both ends of opposing concepts.  He said that Common Core would “enable American students to better compete globally.”  He didn’t explain how (considering the fact that the standards are only preparing students for nonselective colleges).  But since it’s an established, defined fact that “world-class education” now means “noncompetitive education,” Gates’ statement passes neither the logic nor the meaningfulness test.

Why does the second richest man in the world, who probably has dozens of speech writers and image makers, deliberately choose to speak and write meaninglessly, vaguely?  Because Common Core is a power grab and the truth would upset people.  He can’t say so.

Neither can Arne Duncan or President Obama.  So the cuttlefish use words that mean “we control; you submit” but that don’t sound that way.  Look at the beige terms they use such as:

  • turning around schools
  • fostering rigor
  • supporting states
  • flexibility for states
  • federal accountability
  • sustainable reform
  • education pipeline
  •  stakeholder

These terms support the top-down edu-politicorporate control system that boils down to “we are the boss of you.”

Orwell warned readers against such ready-made phrases, not only because they often veil corrupt power moves, but also because “every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.”

Not to mention that they smell like lies from miles away.

The Dying of the Light: How Common Core Damages Poetry – by Esolen, Highfill, Stotsky   11 comments

FULL COMMON CORE DOCUMENTARY MOVIE NOW ONLINE   13 comments

Breaking News:  The HSLDA has just released its Common Core documentary movie on its website.

It is free to watch and can be viewed in full here:  http://commoncoremovie.com/

–Or here:

Please watch and share!

 

 

Reader Responses to Utah High School Student’s Screen Shots   14 comments

The Utah teenager and her mother who decided to take a stand last week by taking screen shots and sharing them with the public  –photos of the SAGE/Common Core writing test,  hit some raw nerves.  Over a hundred comments were added here, with more posted on Facebook, and almost a hundred thousand views of those screen shots were logged in a few days.

Why? Reasons ranged and tempers flared:   Was the act of sharing screen shots heroic– or was it cheating? Was the test itself fair –or manipulative?  Should the student be failed and the teacher who didn’t see or stop her be fired?  Was the blog posting itself fair or manipulative?  Is this all evidence of an improved education system that creates deep-thinking students, or the very opposite?

A few of the responders words are worth repeating and are posted below.

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Former teacher Laureen Simper wrote:

“Author Ray Bradbury could have used a SAGE test with a prompt like this, in his book “Farenheit 451”. As another commenter mentioned, Bradbury wrote:  ‘There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.’

“I have questioned the motives of central educational planners for years, ever since I had school-aged children. That was when I learned about John Dewey, when “Common Core” was going by the name du jour: “Outcome-Based Education“. That was when I read the original Humanist Manifesto.    John Dewey was one of the original drafters/signers of what I recognized as an anti-God constitution.  I learned that secular humanism and progressivism were the idealogies driving education “reform”.

“Progressive central planners continually repackage education reform when “the ignorant masses” figure out what the true motive is: to manage the lives of those ignorant masses, because they’re seen as too ignorant to manage their  lives for themselves. Sadly, as long as a shell game can continually be played with shifting appellations, all the sleepy little frogs go back to sleep, as our nice warm bath continues to heat up.

“The agenda to shift public thinking away from self-government started at least as early as the early 20th century. The Intercollegiate Socialist Society was founded in 1905. Its original members believed that 60 college campuses were enough leavening to turn social thinking towards government dependence.

“Originally, the movement focused on higher education. Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton, said that the goal of higher education should be for a young man to come out of university as unlike his father as possible.

“But the plan was not limited to changing graduates of higher education. John Dewey, a few decades later, said that the influences of the home and family are properly challenged (by “steadying” ) in the government schools. This came from the “father” of modern education.

“Those who have not connected the same dots will disagree.  But I’ve read what I’ve read and heard what I’ve heard – straight from the mouths of the arrogant progressive central planners.

“Their motives are not pure. They plan to manage our lives of the ignorant masses, because they think that people are  too stupid or too lazy to govern themselves.  And the education reformers’ answer is not Jefferson’s answer:   ‘…If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. ‘ –Thomas Jefferson, 1820

“Education reformers today, from Dewey to Coleman, seem to feel that the best answer is to wrest that self-government from the people.

“It is a big deal that a 16-year-old kid risked photographing test questions, knowing what kind of retribution could be brought to bear if she were caught.

“It is a big deal that a mother, equally aware of that retribution, would get those photos into the hands of a group of warriors who have connected the same dots I have connected – putting these test prompts into a completely different, stark, sobering context.

“Those who are screaming that anti-Common Core crusaders are taking these test questions out of context need to ask themselves if it is not they, themselves, who are taking them out of context.”    –Laureen Simper

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Another commenter, Michelle, wrote:

“And this is how they test “critical thinking skills”: “Your argument must be based on ideas, concepts, and information that can be determined through analysis of the four passages.” Students must base their argument on four passages alone. No room for their own ideas. No place for the inclusion of information outside of those four passages. No opportunity to question the ideas and information given in the passages.

“One of the selections is a blog post. Yes, a blog post. “Why playing videogames better than reading books.” (That wasn’t a typo; that is the title of the post as written on the actual blog site.)  I wonder if they don’t refer to Wikipedia articles as well in other test questions.

“The other selection is from Steven Johnson’s book, “Everything Bad is Good for You” which, according to a review by The Guardian, asserts that TV, film, and video games make us smarter, yet the assertion fails miserably to back up those claims with actual science.

“So apparently, when Common Core proponents speak of “critical thinking skills” they don’t actually mean teaching children to think for themselves or to critically analyze arguments presented in selections of informational text or even to carefully select reliable and credible sources on which to gather information to form arguments. Instead, they mean teaching children to write argumentative essays by cutting and pasting information and ideas from blog posts and pseudo-science.

Our poor children.”

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A dad named Jared wrote:

“I review hundreds of ELA books & tests every year.  I am seeing these kinds of two-sided “opinion” reading/writing assignments all the time now. Here’s how to recognize it:
– ‘Two sides’ of a controversial/political/social/environmental/values-oriented subject are presented.
– The material is billed as “balanced” because “two sides” of an issue are presented.
– The student reads both sides, then writes an essay promoting one side.

“… these kinds of “opinion” writing assignments are subject to bias by nature, because the author/publisher controls the entire argument.  In the examples I have seen, the author typically gives a reasonable-sounding Opinion A, and an unreasonable (straw man) Opinion B. The child naturally gravitates toward the more reasonable-sounding argument, and thinks she logically came to her own conclusion.

“If test question writers wanted to test a child’s writing ability, while avoiding straw men and indoctrination (intended or otherwise), they could simply avoid controversial subjects for their material.  Why don’t they?”

Utah Mother of Seven Alisa Ellis to Speak This Week in Kansas and Wyoming About Common Core   3 comments

My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control – Alisa Ellis

Alisa

Picture a bread-baking, fun-loving, church-going, small-town mother of seven –who was never politically active, who never even used to vote, –picture her becoming a sudden political activist who now travels across Utah and to other states to speak to live audiences, radio audiences, and on t.v. about the Common Core Initiative. Let me tell you a little bit about Alisa Ellis, a woman whose motto is, “I do not live in fear.”

To Alisa, education had always been important. She and her husband liked to say that they were proudly raising a family of nerds. They were the kind of parents who volunteered in the classroom. They were the kind who paid attention.

But their introduction to the educational transformation of America known as Common Core came in 2011, long after the initiative had been adopted by the state. (2011 is a whole year after the Utah state school board adopted Common Core without public knowledge or vetting; and it was two years after the state had agreed to accept the federal $9.6 million to create an “SLDS” student tracking database.)

Alisa received a Common Core pamphlet at a parent-teacher conference.

She stared at it. She puzzled. She asked the teacher to explain.

“I didn’t know how one size-fits-all would work without hurting the top and bottom students,” she recalls. But when she asked the teacher to expound on the subject, that teacher didn’t know anything.

Alisa began to ask around.

“I asked everyone I knew for their thoughts on Common Core. I tried researching online but everything was fluff,” she said, “It was nine months before I was invited to a meeting to learn more.”

One day at the grocery store, she bumped into a friend who actually knew something about the Common Core Initiative. The conversation lasted a long time. The friend invited Alisa to come to a “Cornerstone of Freedom” meeting to learn more. The friend added, “Oh, and would you make a few comments?”

Alisa thought that meant that she should raise her hand and make comments. She found out, during the meeting, that she was an actual scheduled speaker– after the other speaker.

“I saw my name on the schedule and immediately panicked. I pulled out my tablet and started researching ‘What is Common Core?’ After a few minutes, I realized it was pointless and I would be better off just sharing my concerns.”

She told the audience of her concerns which had begun with the Common Core pamphlet at the parent/teacher conference. She told the story of another meeting, a gifted-and-talented informational meeting, where the director said that next year, teachers would ‘start digging deeper.’

(“Digging deeper? That same line was repeated so many times that I knew I was being fed something,” she explained.)

She also told the audience another story: a school guidance counselor had advised her to take her son out of AP history. The counselor had said that her son’s “career track was more along the lines of engineering.”

He’d said, based on Alisa’s son’s ACT practice test, that: “clearly your son isn’t going to be a history professor, so we should pull him out of AP world history and put him in a class that follows his career path.” Because Alisa had trusted the system, she hadn’t questioned the counselor’s advice so she pulled her son out of AP history. This was a decision she later regretted.

Alisa started digging more deeply into the whole Common Core Initiative. She read the state’s Memorandum of Understanding with the developers of the Common Core. She read the Cooperative Agreement. She saw how the State Longitudinal Database System intertwined with the academic standards and tests. She read speeches by secretary of education Arne Duncan. She read the No Child Left Behind documents and waivers. She read the implementation manuals that were sent out to governors to tell them how to promote Common Core. She read documents by Achieve, Inc., the group that helped create the standards for the copyrighters. She could hardly believe that the Common Core’s takeover of local control was out in the open, yet unknown by virtually everyone who ought to know about it.

My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control,” she said.

She went with her friend, Renee Braddy, to meet with local teachers, principals, local school board members, the community council, and the local superintendent to discuss Common Core. These discussions resulted in the opportunity to make a presentation at the local school board meeting. (That presentation was filmed, and is called Two Moms Against Common Core on YouTube.) The superintendent had asked them not to film their presentation, but since it was an open, public meeting they did anyway. The video was shared around the state and ignited a firestorm of activists to stand up and fight against Common Core. I was among the people who got to see Alisa and Renee’s video the first week it was posted.

Next, Alisa decided it was time to become more active. She became the county delegate to the Republican convention, and before the convention, she started making phone calls to find out which candidates were promoters of Common Core. She found that all the candidates running for national level seats were opposed to Common Core. All the local candidates, aside from the current Governor, were also against it. (Governor Herbert was undecided at the time.) However, the candidates running for state legislature seats were less willing to take a position.

With unflinching determination, she successfully set up two face-to-face meetings with Governor Herbert to discuss Common Core. Then she organized public meetings and helped bring in expert academic witnesses to meet with legislators; she started her blog called Common Core Facts, she repeatedly attended and spoke up at state school board meetings, and she co-founded Utahns Against Common Core with a handful of other Utahns. (That website and petition “Utahns Against Common Core” today has over 8,000 signatures.)

Alisa’s actions, along with other activism happening around the state, eventually helped push Utah’s leadership to agree to withdraw from the SBAC Common Core testing consortia. It was a chink in the seemingly impenetrable armor of Common Core. (Side note: after Utah bowed out of SBAC, other states also began to withdraw from SBAC and PARCC. Sadly, Utah’s state school board subsequently chose to use another Common Core testing entity, AIR, which is partnered with the same SBAC. –But that’s another story.)

From the beginning, Alisa began to get invitations to speak across the state and then from other states. Today, she has probably given over fifty speeches on the subject, in tiny places and large venues, both with other speakers from Utahns Against Common Core and on her own.

This week, she will be speaking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and in Merriam, Kansas.

You are invited.

Girl with Barcode on Foot

WYOMING

What: WHAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TOLD ABOUT COMMON CORE: TRACKING YOUR CHILDREN FROM PRE-K INTO THE WORKFORCE

Where: Snow King Resort Teton Room

When: 6:15 PM on January 28, 2014

Who: Speakers will include Amy Edmonds – Wyoming Liberty Group; Alisa Ellis – Utahns Against Common Core; Christy Hooley – Wyoming Teacher; Kelly Simone – Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core – Presented by Concerned Women’s Group of Jackson Hole

Cost: Admission free; a donation of any amount to help cover expenses will be appreciated.

Alisa in Kansas

KANSAS

What: Alisa Ellis will speak on the history and truth about Common Core and its impact on our children and their education.

When: Tuesday, February 4th, 7:00 pm

Where: Antioch Library – 8700 Shawnee Mission Pkwy, Merriam, KS 66202

Note from the Antioch Library: Besides the library’s parking lot, parking is available behind Taco Bell and to the larger lot west of Taco Bell.

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Thank you, Alisa. And thank you, Renee. (I will write about Renee and her adventures another day.)

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