Archive for the ‘wake up’ Tag

White House ConnectED: Phase Out Printed Textbooks   7 comments

connected

I already had a sense of growing nausea attached to my observations of locals’ infatuation with technology-centric schooling.

It got worse when I read the latest White House fact sheet on Obama’s ConnectEd plan.  Utah’s perfectly in line with  D.C. –the cool people are dumping the old fashioned notion of using books in schools to spend gobs and gobs and gobbledy-gob-gobs on technology.

Both the left wing (Obama’s ConnectEd plan) and the right wing (Jeb Bush’s Digital Learning Now) plan to gobbledy-gob our tax dollars on Common Corealigned,  Common Data Standards-aligned technologies –always provided by the same little money-gobbling  clique.

Even embedded in the Common Core tests and curriculum is the trendy party line that books are out –because technology is in.

I’m not against technology.  I’m against foolishness.

Technology is a great, glittering servant. But it’s a terrible master.  Its imperfections can be disastrous.  But in Obama’s version of reality, it has no flaws and it deserves our full (tax dollar) attention.

In the White House fact sheet on President Obama’s ConnectED “Plan for Connecting all Schools to the Digital Age”  we read that traditional education, the kind that our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were raised with, is to be discarded for solely technology-based education:

“Our schools were designed for a different era – based on a limited school day and a seasonal calendar. This system does not take into account the constant learning opportunities of global connectivity…”

(Recall that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been saying for many years that he wants students to attend school 6-7 days per week,  up to 14 hours per day, all year round. If you haven’t seen it before, watch that video clip here.)

ConnectED sounds appealing on the surface: upgraded connectivity, reaching out to rural students, exposing students and teachers to new technology.  It even appears, on first reading, that ConnectEd promotes local control: “purchasing choices remain in the hands of local educational leaders,” it says.

But remember: when the Gates-owned “Microsoft and its hardware partners unveiled a range of devices at various price points to help U.S. public schools make the digital transition,”  it promised: “all of the devices are Common Core testing compliant“.  Is there any actual choice here?

Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) is the unshakable shadow to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) –both of which which ConnectEd depends upon, and both CEDS and CCSS come from the same people:  The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –a private, unelected, nontransparent club of superintendents, financially backed by Gates.

CEDS common data standards ensure that all state databases (aka SLDS) match one another, and that all student and teacher information is fully labeled and compare-able.  Thus, there is no room for true diversity among states/schools in this system; no true freedom of thought, no true competitive soaring, just sameness.  And because CEDS are used in every state’s longitudinal database, are interoperable with the federal EdFacts Data Exchange, and are no longer protected by federal privacy law, it means also: no guarantee of student data privacy.

Fact:  “A continued commitment to disaggregation” of student data is a central goal of the CCSSO Council.  These facts make national school interoperability and connectivity sound a lot less peachy.

Still, the Obama and Jeb Bush clique is pushing for a one-size-fits-all national, matching technology system.  We are not just to receive the good things touted, like upgraded connectivity and new technology for kids;  we are also getting shackled to the CEDS/NCES data collecting system and to the Common Core testing system, and to the corporate educational products that are aligned to these systems.

Additionally, under the misleading subheading “Restoring U.S. Leadership in Vital Areas” the ConnectEd fact sheet touts the end of using actual books in schools, as a good thing.

“The United States is now falling behind… In South Korea, all schools are connected to the internet with high-speed connections, all teachers are trained in digital learning, and printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016.”

rose book

Why the hurry?  Are people afraid that if they question the race to “phase out books,” they will be labeled “against progress” and out of touch?  Are we backwards if we raise an eyebrow at the mad rush toward every student being hooked up to the internet?  What are the unintended consequences and opportunity costs of phasing out books and tangible libraries to bring about the brave new unvetted vision of Bill Gates, Marc Tucker, Sir Michael Barber, Obama and Bush?

Studies show that reading a paper-and-ink book is a better, more lasting learning experience than reading electronically.   For sobering reasons, top Silicon Valley computer experts send their children to technology-free schools.  Education systems can suffer when so many eggs are placed in one basket– and the basket falls. When we become overly reliant on technology, when technology is hacked or when it breaks; when it’s philosophically hijacked by software designers employed by narrow minded politicians, or when it is aligned with consent-less data mining,  what then?

Remember the smell of a book and the feeling of paper.  Are books suddenly worthless because they are not speedy, networked and electronic? If we don’t invest philosophically and financially in books, soon there won’t be many around.   

Please wake up, American leaders and Utah leaders.  We can find solutions for increased technology, free from the Obama-Bush-Gates clique’s narrow vision.

Let’s hold on to real books, real libraries, and the time-tested culture of academic  freedom and student data privacy.  Let’s shake off the chains of  common data, common testing, and common data mining that will bind our children down.

 

 books qu

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The Constitution v. Redistribution of Teachers and Money in Ed Reform   Leave a comment

The heavyhanded education reform machine, by which I mean both the federal Department of Education and the corporate education business machine that’s led by the Bill Gates/Pearson folks, could never get away with what they are getting away with, taking over public education, testing, privacy, and the direction of textbook alignment nationwide, if the average American understood –and demanded– his/her constitutional rights.

1. There’s the right to representation.

Remember the rallying cry of the American colonists against Mother England in the 1700’s? No Taxation Without Representation. I don’t see many people carrying signs down at the Capitol today that read, “No Education Without Representation.” Yet, under Common Core, we have no representation. Putting aside for a moment* the fact that it’s constitutionally illegal to even have nationalized education in this country– if it was legal, it should at least be representative! But the copyrighted Common Core standards are written behind closed doors by private, unelected groups (NGA and CCSSO) that have no public accountability and are not subject to the laws to which elected groups (like Congress) are subject. The two groups are tricky; for example, using the official sounding name of National Governors’ Association (NGA) one group fooled most of us into believing that they were a representative, legitimate governing group. No. NGA has some governors as members, but it is a private group with zero accountability to you or me.

We weren’t represented when our legislatures were bypassed and our states adopted Common Core as part of a grant application signed by only two Utahns.

And we weren’t represented when the money and influence of Bill Gates (not a public vote) produced the whole Common Core, partially by bribing the national PTA and countless other influencers to call this “state-led” and to call it good for kids. Even though it never was.

2. There’s the 10th Amendment* which we are now taking back.

It says that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, to the people! That means that education is reserved to the states, to the people. There is no such thing as accountability to the Department of Education– unless we stupidly accept grants with strings attached, from that department. Then we are accountable to whatever we agreed to under the conditions of the grant.

3. There’s the right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Many people still don’t realize that unreasonable searches are happening electronically, using schools to collect personal and family information about individual students. And too many of those who do realize it, are unalarmed.

As NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden recently explained, “The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change… People will know the lengths to which government is going to grant themselves powers– unilaterally– to create greater control over American society and global society but they won’t be willing to take the risk necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interest…. the only thing that restricts surveillance activities are policy… They’ll say that because of the dangers… we need more authority… it will be turn-key tyranny.” (see minute 10:48)

4. There’s the right to pursue happiness.

–Not the right for groups to take away others’ happiness or rearrange the happiness distribution of citizens.

The pursuit of happiness for teachers and students is being threatened by new plans for the redistribution of teachers and of wealth, wrapped up in the education reforms that we’re all having rammed down our throats.

If you read the Executive Summary of Race to the Top, (RTTT was the original grant contest that lured states into the Common Core movement) you will see this on page 3:

(D)(3) Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.

What will this look like?

As one teacher recently noted:

“I can’t make teachers understand that the equitable distribution of effective teachers mean that they get moved if they do a good job. Principals don’t get this either. They will no longer have the ability to retain their best teachers. They will be placed. I can just imagine, a teacher does a good job and has high test scores, so her reward is to be placed in a failing school and as a bonus, she will now be deemed a “leader” charged with extra responsibilities on her new PLC team. That won’t possibly cause problems, will it? And what about the people who move into a certain attendance area because they like the teachers and principals? Schools will become revolving doors with no stability or consistency. We will be on a hamster wheel forever. Well, maybe when principals find out they will lose their best and brightest, they might stop drinking the Kool-aid. They’ve been fed a dribble of this for years and now they just accept it! By the way, this includes them as well. They will be rewarded by being moved to a turnaround government-run school… They have to begin actively recruiting minorities and start hiring a certain amount. No longer the best teacher for the job, but the best minority who might not be as good as [another] applicant. What happened to opportunity for all? When I interview for a job, I would like to think that I get a fair shot.”

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are founding American rights. Redistribution of wealth and redistribution of teachers is totally un-American.

Source Documents for Common Core   11 comments

Nobody has to choose between relying on the proponents of Common Core, or relying on the opponents of Common Core.

To find out what Common Core really is and does to education and to liberty, study for yourself.

These are just a starter batch. There are more!  Some of these are Utah-specific.  If you are in another state, do a related word search to easily find your own.

 

DOCUMENTS:

The Race to the Top Grant Application

The No Child Left Behind Waiver

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant

The lawsuit against the Department of Education

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education

The speeches of President Obama on education

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange,  the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database.

The Common Core English and Math standards

The full contract that Utah has signed with the American Institutes for Research (if you can get a copy from the USOE; it is not online yet). Here is AIR’s common core implementation document.

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Here are some explanations of each of the documents, and what you can learn from them.

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The Race to the Top Grant Application  – Utah got points for having a kid-tracking SLDS database system.  Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core.  This was how we got into it.  Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver  – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable Common Core standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant  – This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has.  It tracks students within the state.  Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange.

The lawsuit against the Department of Education  – The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA  – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no local control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama.  It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC.  This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment.  It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He seems to believe Common Core was Obama’s idea from the start.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s goal is total control of everything– teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every  school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda.  He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for us all.

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President –He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be.  This will hurt colleges.

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance  – behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government.  It’s all about control.

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database.  -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.

The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards.

The full contract that Utah has signed with the American Institutes for Research (if you can get a copy from the USOE; it is not online yet). Here is AIR’s common core implementation document.  – This shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute.  Parents and teachers may not see the test questions.

Marc Tucker at it again: “The United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”   8 comments

There aren’t many people of whom you can correctly say that this person is a conspirator against the America we all know and cherish.  But Marc Tucker fits into that category, indisputably.

(Evidence:  His 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton, which was archived in the Congressional Record, showed his twisted vision of a new form of government that would micromanage every step of the citizens’ lives, using schooling as the facade for the control.  Read it here.)

Marc Tucker’s been arguing his point in academic circles for a long time.  He got a recent beating-up by the brilliant Professor Yong Zhao for his controllist ideas.  But he doesn’t give up.

Marc Tucker has long been ambitious to break down all that represents freedom in education.

BUT NOW:

The Center for American Progress (which “progresses” America away from the Constitution) published this recent report in which Tucker asserts, among other things, that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”

Here’s a little taste of what his report proposes:

If Americans are  going to decide which level of government we want to run our education systems,  the only realistic choice is the state. No one wants a national education system  run by the federal government, and the districts cannot play that  role.              

                                                                                          [Mr. Tucker– why not?  Why wouldn’t districts play that role?  –Silly man.]

…Each state needs to consolidate in its state department of  education the policymaking and implementation authority that now resides in a  welter of state-level commissions, agencies, and other independent  bodies.  And the United States will have to largely  abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is  to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies,  much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local  control.

….I  propose to greatly strengthen the role of the state education agencies in  education governance, at the expense of “local control,” and of the federal  government. In this plan, school funding would be the responsibility of the  state, not the locality, and the distribution of state funds for schools would  have nothing to do with the distribution of local property wealth. Thus the  governance roles of the local districts, as well as the federal government,  would be significantly decreased. Independent citizen governing boards would be  eliminated. The line of political accountability would run to mayors and  governors through their appointees. At the state level, the governance of the  schools, higher education, early child- hood education and youth services would  all be closely coordinated through the governance system. Though the role of the  federal government would be curtailed, there are some very important national  functions that must be served in a modern education system. I propose that a new  National Governing Council on Education be established, composed of  representatives of the states and of the federal government, to create the  appropriate bodies to oversee these functions…”

Did Tucker really think that WE THE PEOPLE were going to roll over and give in to his constitution-slaughtering dream to end local control and to permit governmental tyranny over education?

Really?

I believe that WE THE PEOPLE will stand up for our children.

Tucker’s 1992 socializing-America letter to Hillary may have partially come to pass.  But he will not win this one.  Because this time, we are awake.

Alyson Williams: Centralized Education By Any Other Name   1 comment

Centralized Education Reform by Any Other Name Would Smell

Reposted from Utahns Against Common Core
by Alyson Williams

Centralized Education Reform

 

Getting caught up in discussions about whether Common Core is “state led” or a federal program seems a fruitless debate of semantics.

What is the danger of a federally controlled education system that makes “state led” sound better? Those who oppose federal control typically oppose a concentration of power that would dictate one set of educational ideals (yes, even standards represent certain values) to the exclusion of others, establishing an intellectual tyranny of sorts.

Whether one sees Common Core as a federal program, or as the product of an extragovernmental cartel of state leaders (aka state-led) and special interests who had no constitutional commission to affect nationwide education policy in the way that they did, the outcome is the same:

Decisions were concentrated into the hands of a select few and the reforms of one ideology were championed (with the help of federal funds) while all other voices were shut out.

In other words, those who argue that this was not an outright federal mandate have a valid point. Common Core is the result of the second scenario, which is even worse than a direct federal mandate (as if No Child Left Behind wasn’t intrusion enough) from our duly elected representatives in Washington D.C.

This process sets an alarming precedent for circumventing our constitutional representative form of government and seems to establish a safe haven for the collusion of public funds and private interests without the traditional oversight established by law at either the federal or the state level.

I question what seems to be a generally accepted notion that Governors and Chief State School Officers have the legal authority to represent the state in making decisions jointly with other states. I see that as the role of Congress.

Common Core was not a “best practice” that was modeled by one state and copied by others. It was a joint initiative that had never been piloted anywhere… an unusual collaboration between the executive branches of State and Federal government and private interests that was brokered by the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It was a process that was not openly accountable to “we the people,” that was not subject to open meetings, open records, lobbying restrictions etc.

There is a long history of disagreement over the best way to teach math, or what books and literature are of the most worth. In a free society, this competition of ideas has traditionally been considered a valuable condition that would encourage innovation, preserve liberty, and provide options. When the results of competing ideas and methodologies can be compared, people can make informed decisions and choose for themselves what works best.

Those who comfort themselves with the remaining sliver of local control over curriculum within the confines of the Common Core standards and tests seem strangely willing to trade some of the last vestiges of local control (unlikely to ever be returned once surrendered) to support an untried philosophy of education that is dismissive of the experience and creativity of our best teachers, and of the primary stewardship of parents over their children.

Meanwhile textbooks, summative assessments, prepackaged curriculum and formative assessments grow ever more homogenous as they align to “common” standards, and the benefits of school choice are practically erased.

If this were just about standards that would be one kind of disagreement… but the furor over Common Core is about a fundamental shift in control over education.

This is about how decisions for education, and perhaps even other “state led” initiatives, are governed going forward.

This is about whether those closest to the children and their needs will be marginalized in favor of overgeneralized policy by bureaucrats and educrats.

This is not just about what our kids will learn, but about who gets to decide.

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Thank you, Alyson Williams and Utahns Against Common Core.

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