Tag Archives: Council of Chief State School Officers

Conservative Teachers, Help Shine a Light on the Educational “Experts”

Karen professional photoThis is a guest post by Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates for Academic Freedom.

My Dear Fellow Conservative Teacher:

Thank you for all you do to assure that your students receive a quality education in spite of the encumbrances imposed by many unwelcome federal policies. The risks you take and the consequences you often endure are known and understood. Those of us who have been there and are now free of professional consequences are there for you. There are things we can and will do to help, if you wish.

My fellow teachers who value truth above social policy represent both political parties and reflect an incredibly generous spirit.

It is that spirit that I am relying upon as I offer unsolicited advice and ask that you add another task to your already overburdened schedule.

I ask that you do for each other what you do so well for students: provide knowledge and information. Provide your fellow teachers with information about the educational experts who have shaped the federal policies that create unnecessary struggles within the teaching profession. As your fellow teachers gain facts about those experts and ideologies, their support for the policies will wane. The opportunity for administrators to adopt practices that will limit actual academic success of your students will diminish. Your opinions and your support for new policies may even become a pre-requisite before adoption of any policy!

Your creativity is boundless. To get your innovative juices flowing, consider placing materials in the faculty lounge.

A copy of the Aspen Institute’s document A New Civic Literacy: American Education and Global Interdependence exposes the purpose behind educational policies. It is eleven pages of simply written, direct language which defines how educational experts view teachers from all political parties. It reveals how experts want to use students and their parents to accomplish ideological agendas. It suggests the federalization of education to free educational policy from interactions from “conservative” school boards, teachers, and parents. Underline some key phrases so those who deeply trust the experts need to see only a few lines to encourage the questioning to begin.

A single page flier with the picture of an educational expert, a key quote from him, and a short bio may stimulate thought and discussion.

For example: When Shirley McCune spoke at the Governor’s Conference on Education in 1989, she stated: “We no longer see the teaching of facts and information as the primary function of education… Building a new kind of people must be a part of the curriculum… More and more schools are the center of all human resource development… The earlier we can intervene in the lives of people the more effective we can be.”

At that time, McCune was the Senior Director of Mid Continental Regional Educational Laboratory (McRel) — one of ten regional laboratories under contract to the U.S. Department of Education.  Her resume included work with the National Education Association (NEA), the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the Kansas State Department of Education in developing strategic direction for Kansas schools in the Schools for the 21st Century program.  She also owned a company called Learning Trends, based in Aurora, Colorado, and later in Washington, DC.

Providing only the picture of the experts and their comments elicits few objections from opponents. However, those threatened by the truth will typically confront those who provide truth. By excluding all personal comments from the flier, the retort to those objecting can be, “What about this upsets you? This flier simply provides a quote from [name of expert]. Isn’t that what teachers are expected to do, provide unbiased facts?”

Please share with me what wonderful ways you found to alert your fellow teachers to the truth behind the federal policies that too often plague our profession. Feel free to post your findings on the Advocates for Academic Freedom FB page.  We look forward to meeting the experts that you identify. There are so many who need to be introduced to the public and you are in the best position to provide those facts.

Since teachers usually refer to their students as “my kids” or “my children”, I want to say, “God Bless you all for your dedication to your children and to the teaching profession.”

 

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Filed under Guest Post, Speaking Out

A RESPONSE TO CHESTER E. FINN, JR.

Submission* by Karen Schroeder

Common Core: conservative to the core” is one of many articles Chester E. Finn, Jr., has penned encouraging conservatives to embrace Common Core State Standards. Unfortunately, Mr. Finn never discloses that his “conservative” Thomas B. Fordham Institute has accepted nearly a million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop supportive materials for Common Core Standards. Mr. Finn’s conflict of interest renders his assessment of Common Core self-serving and lacking credibility.

Advocates for Academic Freedom is funded solely by private donations. Representing taxpayers from every political party, every religion, and every socio-economic group, AAF has one goal: to demand truth and quality in all aspects of education. Our assessment of Common Core Standards conflicts with that of Chester Finn. CCS are not new, not rigorous or innovative, not fiscally responsible, not state created; they undermine accountability and traditional American values.

The Gates Foundation, David Coleman from the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and a myriad of others wrote Common Core Standards—NOT the states.

Common Core represents another “We have to pass it so we can find out what is in it” policy. During a February, 2010, Governors’ Luncheon, President Obama told governors to adopt CCSS to receive federal Title I funds. Since the standards had not even been written, the federal government added the word “state” to the title so the public would think that the normal process of teacher and public involvement had been employed. We the people are growing tired of these insulting shell games imposed by governmental agencies.

Teachers and taxpayers should be outraged that any set of standards would require a retraining of teachers to assure implementation. Why should a teacher need to have special training to implement Common Core? The reason is that Common Core Standards do not emphasize student acquisition of knowledge and development of skills. They demand that students develop a belief system and attitudes needed to create a population with a “world philosophy”.

Americans are being forced to spend sixteen billion dollars on a plan shaped by the same policies of Benjamin Bloom that have been failing our children since the 1960s. Dozens of standards that are far more rigorous than Common Core Standards are free and available on the internet. States have always had access to them. When one compares TIMSS math standards for fourth graders to those of Common Core for the same grade level, it becomes painfully obvious that CCSS are not the rigorous standards promised.

CCSS is peppered with standards like this one for nine-year olds in fourth grade: “Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others”. Most teachers would ask themselves: What is a viable argument appropriate for a nine-year-old child? What happens when a non-conformist refuses to critique a classmate/friend? What remediation will be provided? Will that remediation help the creative child learn to use non-conformity in a productive manner? How will this standard be assessed or tested for mastery?

Most math skills required under TIMSS at fourth grade can be found under the CC standards for fifth grade. Standards that are superior to CC focus on knowledge acquisition and skill development—not conformity, values, or beliefs.

Mr. Finn states that CC standards “written correctly, they do not dictate any particular curriculum of pedagogy.” Really? Then why has the federal government provided funding to publishers to align their textbooks to CCS and to testing consortiums to align all tests, ACT, SAT, accreditation, etc., to CCS?

Local control of schools includes a role in determining the curriculum taught. That is the American tradition that makes America a Constitutional Republic. When federal and state governments collude to impose standards upon the public, their DoEDs are acting in a dictatorial manner. America’s strength has always come from its people—not from its government.

It is time for taxpayers to get on the agenda for the next local school board meeting to demand rejection of CCSS and implementation of any one of the other excellent sets of standards available for free. It is time that citizens organize to stop the federal funding and the federal manipulation of the American educational system. Advocates for Academic Freedom works to build a grassroots movement to eliminate federal funding of education, to reallocate those federal educational dollars to the states, and to reinstate local control of schools. You may sign a petition on line at http://advocatesforacademicfreedom.org/petition.asp#.UdFzEuMo6po

Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, an experienced public school teacher, and an educational consultant. She provides informational seminars to promote citizen involvement at local and state levels of the educational system. Ms.Schroeder supports a return to fact-based curricula, accountability, and academic excellence in public education. Frequently interviewed by Wisconsin radio personalities including Vicki McKenna, Karen writes for the U.S. Journal and other newspapers in several states. Karen can be reached at [email protected] or by calling 715-234-5072. Address: 331 S. Main St., Suite 307, Rice Lake, WI. 54686

*This is a submission. Submissions do not necessarily reflect an official position of Conservative Teachers of America. One of our goals is to give a larger voice to the many conservative voices that exist inside of education.

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

How do you Sustain a Nationalized Education System? Turn it Over to 501(c)(3) Groups for Outsourcing.

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

The two private trade organizations The National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) sure had a nifty plan to nationalize education.  Get states to “voluntarily” sign  up to relinquish their constitutional authority to develop and deliver education for their citizens in exchange for two consortia controlling state educational programs.  “Voluntarily” refers to the dangling of money to states competing for Race to the Top, but when some states still didn’t compete for or win grants, the ESEA waivers included states having to commit to CCSS.

The two consortia (PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia) have been funded by stimulus money which runs out in 2014.   The Tampa Bay Times writes that the Common Core deadlines won’t be met regarding assessment completion, computers and infrastructure requirements, and how to pay for the mandates.

We attended a SBAC meeting open to the public last year and it was evident the consortia was concerned about the issue of how the consortia would survive after the federal tap of stimulus money was finished.    From what we heard in the September 2012 meeting, a move to privately fund a consortia should not be surprise, but rather a move for sustainability:

Twenty million students are expected to take the SBAC assessments on-line. There needs to be technical and professional support for this system going forward. Both SBAC and PARCC were funded with seed money from TARP. This money will run out September 30, 2014. Any remaining unused funds will revert to the US Treasury. Both consortia must now figure out how to make the assessments sustainable by finding other funding sources. The first RFP for a consultant to take on this work received zero bids because SBAC had grossly underestimated the effort needed to do the work. They are now looking to identify areas of commonality with the other assessment consortia, PARCC, and see if the two groups can share a consultant on those common points. It is not a stretch to see that these two groups are probably going to have to combine in the future in order to remain sustainable. Then we will truly have national standards.

The plan is to go to private foundations to fund Phase 2.  

The plan for private funding has now been put into place for one consortia.   PARCC announced it is reorganizing itself as a 501(c)(3).  From edweek.com and Testing Consortium Reorganizes for Long-Term Survival:

The two big groups of states that are designing tests for the common standards have a lot more on their minds than the thorny work of test design. They’re trying to figure out how they can survive once their federal funding runs out in the fall of 2014, before the tests are even administered.

One sign of this focus cropped up when PARCC announced that it had reorganized itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. This move facilitates the receipt of foundation funding, among other things, something that has been under consideration as a mode of survival once the group runs out of federal money.

As we’ve reported to you, PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have teamed up to do some thinking about sustainability. They’ve got a heavy-hitting consulting firm working on sustainability plans, and the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers—the folks who spearheaded the common-standards drive four years ago—are playing roles as well.

Read more here.

What’s the problem with turning over the nation’s education development and delivery to a 501(c)(3)?  Questions not having any easy answers include:

Who will be in control of the standards?  Who will be designing the assessments?  Will voters have any say in who is educating their children?  Could billionaires with an agenda (pick your side, left or right) organize a nonprofit to deliver the type of education they believe students should learn?

Edweek writes:

The sustainability question is key to the long-term work and goals of the consortia. Right now, no one really knows who will update the tests, for instance, as secure item pools dwindle. The research agenda is in question, too, and that’s pretty huge. Without a multiyear inquiry into how students at various cut scores actually perform in college, it’s tough to validate the test as being a sound proxy of college readiness. These—and many more—questions ride on the question of sustainability. There is a near-term question of sustainability, as well. The groups are mindful that in order to protect the $360 million in federal funding they won, they each need to have at least 15 member states. With 24 in SBAC and 22 in PARCC right now, that doesn’t seem to be a looming issue. But if enough states get skittish and drop out, federal officials could—according to their own regulations—cut off the funding that is meant to carry the consortia’s work through the fall of 2014.

Count many folks in Missouri becoming more and more skittish of CCSS standards that were never field tested or even written before they were adopted by the governor, education commissioner and State Board of Education members.

Now that taxpayers know of the plans of these two private trade organizations to nationalize education, do you think they will still want their tax money used for copyrighted standards by non-profit organizations?  Isn’t education development and delivery the role of the states and local school districts?  Why is education now outsourced to private consortia and in the future, 501(c)(3) groups?

Listed here are some downsides to outsourcing which include:

  • loss of managerial control
  • hidden cost
  • threat to security and confidentiality
  • quality problems
  • tied to the financial well-being of another company
  • bad publicity and ill-will

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

Common Core Organization Operates in Secrecy with Taxpayer Money. Why?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Why are meetings that use tax dollars for public education planning closed to the taxpayers who are paying for the services and providing the children for the public education system? 

Truth in American Education wondered why taxpayer Heather Crossin was unable to attend a recent meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers held in Indiana.  CCSSO is a private trade organization using federal and state funding (taxpayer money) to write/direct public education standards/assessments.  Crossin not only could not attend the meetings, she could not discover the persons on the panel writing the Social Studies standards your teachers will be teaching and your children will be learning.  From heartland.org:

Indiana resident Heather Crossin, whose children attend schools implementing the Core, attempted to attend an October 2012 CCSSO meeting in her Indianapolis hometown. Crossin called Michele Parks, a CCSSO meeting planner, to see if she could attend. No, Parks said. Crossin asked to see a list of people on the Social Studies standards writing team: “I was told that was not available for public release,” Crossin said.

Ten weeks entailing dozens of emails and phone calls to at least six CCSSO spokesmen and personnel for access to the Indianapolis meeting or any others at last yielded an email to School Reform News from spokeswoman Kate Dando in December: “our meetings/sessions at our meetings are open to press really on a case by case basis,” she wrote.

How much money does CCSSO receive?

CCSSO receives tax money from more than state dues. It receives millions from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Approximately 13% and 33% of the Council’s revenue and 25% and 34% of accounts receivable were provided by U.S. Department of Education grants or contracts for fiscal years 2011 and 2010, respectively,” the nonprofit’s 2010-2011 financial statement reads.

Applying the 2011 percentage to that year’s revenues yields an estimated $3,450,930 in CCSSO revenue from the federal government, just in that year. In 2011, $558,000 came from the 2009 stimulus bill for CCSSO’s involvement with one of two networks creating new tests to fit the standards.

In 2010, the U.S. DOE granted those two networks $330 million in stimulus funds. This action, more than any other, led conservative supporters of the Common Core to complain of federal interference in education, a constitutionally protected state function.

Maybe it’s time to ask your state educational agency and legislators how much money is paid to CCSSO with taxpayer funding in your state.  If you can’t get a seat at the table, then maybe it’s time to pull the state and district funding for this organization and allow the Federal government to fully fund this organization.

Oh, but that’s right.  It’s “state led”, right?  If it’s “state led” then why are there mandates set by the DOEd that the states must pay for via CCSSO costs and district costs for implementation?  It’s illegal for the Federal government to set Federally mandated educational direction for states but does it seem to you that’s what has happened?

As Truth in American Education asks:

Some reporters have attended some CCSSO meetings, usually on background, she said, which means they cannot directly quote what they hear. Why?
 Why? Exactly… what do they have to hide?

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

The Architect of Your Future – Data Quality Campaign

by Anngie from Missouri Education Watchdog.

We all remember the Life of Julia, where the Obama Administration laid out how government programs were going to affect someone’s entire life. But in order for those programs and policies to be there to ferry Julia from one life stage to another, some government agency had to design and implement them. Someone had to anticipate future problems and create programs that would address them. In today’s world you only do that with data which is collected, crunched, analyzed and finally used to justify policy. That data collection begins at birth and ends at death. A social security number is applied for at birth which creates a permanent record for that individual. A death certificate is registered at the end of that life.  In the middle other data are collected: a student ID, a driver’s license, a mortgage account, a credit report, a criminal record, a health record, etc. All this data tells the story of us. Or it would if it were all easily accessible in one place which up until now has not been possible.

Enter the Data Quality Campaign, whose goal is “to ensure that every citizen is prepared for the knowledge economy.” In their most recent document Pivotal Role of Policymakers as Leaders of P–20/Workforce Data Governance the DQC wrote, “Achieving this goal requires unprecedented alignment of policies and practices across the early childhood; elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education; and workforce sectors (P–20W). Consequently, many policy questions require data from multiple agencies to answer.”

See, they need data from all these agencies in order to answer policy questions about education.  But they have a problem.  Though states have independent databases that track the information policy makers claim they need (we’ll get back to that in a minute) they run into “challenges” accessing this information due to: turf, time, technical issues, and trust.

Challenge 1 Turf – Data is power and money. One does not just casually hand that over to another agency just because the other agency has claimed a need for it. Those who currently manage the data “silos” need assurance that they will not lose control or have another entity assigned oversight on what they do. This is a reasonable concern since education data collection which started in the states has had rules and restrictions placed on it by the states that cannot and should not be violated. DQC’s response is to “define clear and distinct roles and responsibilities aligned to commonly established goals. This creates and fosters a culture of shared responsibility…”

Challenge 2 Time – Only so many hours in a day and money to pay people to manage all this data. And since all that money comes from taxpayers, regardless of whether it is a government employee or a government contracted company, there needs to be assurances in place that the time/money is well spent on data management.

Challenge 3 Technical Issues -each agency defines its own data standards and protocols and procedures for data use, making sharing data difficult and inefficient. Here is where DQC can really shine because their goal is to make all these databases talk to each other so sharing data across them is – they use the word efficient, but let’s call it – easy.  These inefficiencies and mismatching may be the last  thing protecting your privacy and DQC is working like bunnies to strip that away.

Challenge 4 Trust -”Agencies are concerned about how their data might be used once the data are linked, matched, and shared.”  How about parents? Mightn’t they be concerned about how this data will be used once matched and shared? Throughout this entire document the people who really “own” this data, the children and those who speak for them, their parents, are never mentioned.

Maybe I came too late to the discussion. When was it discussed that the government had a right to collect and use personal data on every single American? That seems to already have been agreed upon by un-elected bureaucrats who don’t answer to parents. Here are the Board members of DQC.

Tom Luce, Chair Chairman, National Math and Science Initiative 
John Bailey Director, Dutko Worldwide 
Tammi Chun Policy Analyst, Office of the Governor, State of Hawaii 
Kathy Cox CEO, U.S. Education Delivery Institute 
Kati Haycock President, The Education Trust  
Bruce Hoyt Former Board MemberDenver Public Schools Board of Education 
Sharon Robinson President and CEO, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education 
Bob Swiggum Chief Information Officer, Georgia Department of Education
Gene Wilhoit Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers 

Their process looks like this:

  • Link Systems to allow for efficient matching of data that have been deemed necessary for specified purposes.
  • Match Data to create datasets with connected records on the same individuals from two or more databases.
  • Share information to provide participating agencies and institutions knowledge that was unavailable prior to the data matching.

There are circumstances where some data would be useful. How could colleges improve their course offerings if they didn’t track how many of their graduates got jobs and in what fields? How would high schools know whether they were truly preparing their graduates for the real world if they didn’t track how many went to college and how many got jobs?

The problem is more in the Field of Dreams area.  If you build it, they will come. If you begin to create a completely integrated data stream of personal data (which everyone always refers to as lacking individually identifiable data, right) with guidelines on how to set up new databases that can link to it and job descriptions that include making sure your data is compatible with the integrated system, you begin to create something so powerful that its governance should not be in the hands of any single individual or agency. Try preventing that from happening.

Most people only look at the privacy issues in terms of the individual databases. So what if someone knows my kid’s student ID. Who cares if I’m part of the public record as someone who receives unemployment payments. With groups like DQC working to connect all this data and develop policy on it, who knows what kinds of policies could be developed because of someone’s interpretation of that data. Maybe a policy needs to be established that requires an automatic visit by Child Protective Services for every child whose parent has become unemployed because past data showed a statistical potential for neglect when a parent loses a job.

The bigger issue is that government agencies will be self directed by data to address problems that the public has not asked to be addressed.  Our elected representatives could, in essence, be replaced by databases.  Whatever efficiencies or solutions might be gained by creating such a system should be weighed heavily against the possibility of such systems being abused by someone you don’t agree with. In addition should always be the concern of  such data being compromised, maybe even from entities outside the U.S. One of the key elements in the P-20 system is that it be accessible. That means, by definition, outside entities need to have a way in. There is no such thing as a completely secure system that needs broad access and any honest IT person will confirm that. So how much data do we want to put in such a system?  Has anyone asked us?

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Filed under Data Mining/Tracking