Tag Archives: Massachusetts

DEMOCRATS SLING INSULTS; COMMON-CORE OPPONENTS OFFER SOLUTIONS

by Karen Schroeder

Many citizens across the U.S. want legislators to hear their concerns about Common Core Standards. They can learn much by watching Wisconsin. The Wisconsin legislature, in an effort to protect local control of schools, is providing a series of public hearings about Common Core Standards. The first was held on October 3, 2013. Democrat leadership slung insults to the public in attendance while opponents of Common Core offered solutions that can be quickly and inexpensively implemented. The success of those recommended alternatives have been field tested and have been proven successful with students across all socio-economic and racial lines.

As opponents of common core addressed the federal overreach, politicization of instruction, and soft standards, Democrats like Senator John Lehman referred to the concerns of common core opponents as “kooky” and Representative Sandy Pope-Roberts condescendingly explained as she spoke to the leadership of the Department of Public Instruction and the audience, “At some point we need to recognize the expertise of these people and let them do their jobs.”  The implication is: since the Department of Public Instruction is filled with people who have PhDs, the only people who have the right to question them are others with PhDs. The rest of us must be in awe of the DPI and how dare we question them. (For my written response to Sen. Lehman and Rep. Sandy Pope-Roberts, visit the Advocates for Academic Freedom blog page.)

These attitudes would not be condoned by a citizenry or a legislature under a Constitutional Republic. They are the result of a democracy that is devolving into a government of mob rule, just what our founders warned against. These legislators were elected to represent people of both parties, yet they believe that they need to represent only people who hold their elitist views. This is a direct result of years of federal intervention in the educational system, the very thing the opponents of Common Core Standards are trying to stop. If respecting state laws that provide for local control of schools is “kooky”, then I am proud to be among the “kooky”.

My testimony focused on solutions which can be quickly and inexpensively implemented into the Wisconsin school district before by the 2014-2015 school year, just in time to avoid the federally aligned tests which were to be ready for the 2014-2015 school year and would be a final step in federalization of the entire school curriculum. Superintendent Tony Evers explained in a July 31, 2013, WisconsinEye interview, that Common Core will not be going away because all testing is federally aligned to Common Core and those tests will drive curricula. What Evers with his PhD forgets is that “We the People” are still free to reject the federally aligned tests through exercising our right to local control of schools.

Swift action is essential. My testimony provided an option that can be adopted NOW and implemented by the 2014-2015 school year at minimal cost to the state.

Before implementing Common Core Standards, Massachusetts’s students led our country in reading, math, English, and science for many years because of four simple changes in attitude and philosophy which require no additional teacher training or major funding. Those changes should become guidelines for Wisconsin’s DPI and include: increasing standards (algebra I is required before grade nine), guaranteeing that all curricula is “back-to-basics” by removing and forbidding all socially and politically ideological centered curricula, requiring that NO specific teaching methods be required as part of the standards: remove constructivist teaching methods currently required in Common Core Standards and lessons, and treating teachers as professionals by encouraging teachers to use the method(s) they believe are best suited to teach a specific lesson to a specific group of students.

The Massachusetts standards, unlike Common Core Standards, are truly internationally benchmarked because they are shaped after the TIMSS standards, an alternative provided in my previous testimony during the May hearings before a Wisconsin Joint Committee on Common Core.

It is essential that Common Core Opponents across the United States focus upon positive, immediate, and effective solutions as we continue through the three additional hearings. This process will also reveal imbedded flaws. The DPI emphasized that changes will take years to create and to implement. We under-educated “kooks” must insist that people with the expertise of those at the DPI find a way to accomplish this task expeditiously.

We must continue to be the voice for the children. It is our duty to protect our Constitutional Republic. Both can be accomplished through a quality educational system which results when parents and taxpayers decide how our children will be educated. That is what local control of schools is intended to do.

http://watchdog.org/109293/wr-common-bore/

http://www.wiseye.org/Programming/VideoArchive/EventDetail.aspx?evhdid=7737

http://advocatesforacademicfreedom.blogspot.com/

BIO:

Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, an experienced public school teacher with an MA, and an educational consultant. She provides informational seminars to promote citizen involvement at local and state levels of the educational system. Ms.Schroeder provides testimony before legislative bodies regarding educational issues. She is frequently interviewed by radio personalities including Wisconsin’s Vicki McKenna. Karen writes for thirty-two publications including the EAGnews.org and Daily Caller. Karen can be reached at kpfschroeder@centurylink.net or by calling 715-234-5072.

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

Videos: Meet Some Educational Freedom Fighters via @212Christel

H/T to Christel Swasey of Common Core: Education Without Representation

Remember, according to the Common Core cabal, these people don’t exist and all educational experts agree that Common Core will turn water to wine. You’re a big dumb, dummy if you don’t agree with them.

The links next to their names are often set to a specific point in the video. We have posted the videos in their entirety.

Christopher Tienken - Professor at Seton Hall, NJ -  http://vimeo.com/58461595

Jane Robbins – American Principles Project - Stop Common Core video series: http://youtu.be/coRNJluF2O4

Jamie Gass – Pioneer Institute – has been speaking about Common Core for many years; knows why Massachusetts had the best standards in the nation prior to Common Core. http://youtu.be/SBROaOCKN50

Senator Kurt Bahr – Missouri legislator fighting Common Core http://youtu.be/25NTsQxj-zg?t=1m49s

Senator William Ligon – Georgia legislator fighting Common Core http://youtu.be/ODz4X0GO-Fk?t=1m37s

Senator Scott Schneider – Indiana legislator fighting Common Core http://youtu.be/TH9ZxVrn6aA?t=1m10s

Dr. Bill Evers – Hoover Institute – Stanford University – http://youtu.be/LB014eno1aA

Robert Scott – Texas commissioner of education – rejected Common Core: http://youtu.be/WcpMIUWbgxY?t=2m25s

Diane Ravitch – liberal education analyst who just recently came out against Common Core http://youtu.be/ZkZUGpJJWy4?t=13s

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on their adequacy: http://bcove.me/ws77it6d  see min. 55:30

Ze’ev Wurman, math analyst http://youtu.be/0cgnprQg_O0?t=22s

Heather Crossin – Indiana mother fighting Common Core http://youtu.be/TH9ZxVrn6aA?t=54s

Utah moms  Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy – http://youtu.be/Mk0D16mNbp4

Jim Stergios – Pioneer Institute -  http://bcove.me/ws77it6d see minute 30:00

Jenni White – Oklahoma data collection expert -  http://youtu.be/XTbMLjk-qRc and http://youtu.be/JM1CTJFUuzM

Susan Ohanian – education analyst http://youtu.be/uJHkztNNFNk?t=23s

Dr. William Mathis of University of Colorado http://youtu.be/46-M1hH0D1Q?t=23s

Seattle Teachers who boycotted Garfield High School standardized testing. http://youtu.be/N5ODEoqZZHs

Gary Thompson, clinical psychologist http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/glenn-beck-on-privacy-and-data-mining-in-common-core/
Emmett McGroarty, American Principles Project http://youtu.be/wVI78lPCFfs?t=21s

David Cox, teacher http://youtu.be/W-uAi1I_6Ds?t=22m28s

Paul Bogush, teacher  http://youtu.be/oaDniHquMVI?t=56s

Sherena Arrington, political analyst http://youtu.be/QF337nKwx6M?t=6m35s

Walt Chappell, Kansas Board of Education  http://youtu.be/1S9jjNyXAE4?t=16m55s

Bob Shaeffer, Colorado Principal /Former Congressman http://youtu.be/Fai4K2ZVauk?t=1m15s

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Filed under Data Mining/Tracking, Data Systems, National Standards (Common Core), Videos

Database in #CommonCore Explained. Segregation Revisited?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

We shared Mark Garrison’s written testimony yesterday supporting MO SB 210 and HB 616 which calls for the halting of Common Core implementation.

Garrison writes in An Irrational $170 Million Database We Most Certainly Don’t Need about the data to be gathered on students via databases and Common Core standards:

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While some folks have been warning the public about this for over a year, a recent Reuters article has renewed popular outrage over a privately controlled centralized database that will house an unprecedented amount of individual level data without the consent or even the knowledge of parents, and apparently, state or federal legislatures. My comments are throughout, as I can’t resist. The article reads, in part:

An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares. But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school. In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school — even homework completion.

Brushing off real concerns about this development, readers are reassured with this declaration: “Federal law allows [schools] to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.”
Further on readers are informed:

Federal officials say the database project complies with privacy laws. Schools do not need parental consent to share student records with any “school official” who has a “legitimate educational interest,” according to the Department of Education. The department defines “school official” to include private companies hired by the school, so long as they use the data only for the purposes spelled out in their contracts.

This raises a host of questions, ones that I’ll deal with in a future post. But, for now, let’s follow the “logic” outlined in the rest of the article and what it reveals about the “Career and College Ready” agenda that is driving this initiative.

“This is going to be a huge win for us,” said Jeffrey Olen, a product manager at CompassLearning, which sells education software. CompassLearning will join two dozen technology companies at this week’s SXSWedu conference in demonstrating how they might mine the database to create custom products — educational games for students, lesson plans for teachers, progress reports for principals.

Maybe I’m confused, but I thought teachers created lesson plans and principals created reports? This discourse suggests the intensification of the de-skilling and de-professionalization of educators that began decades ago with scripted protocols, etc. Once in place, any Teach for America like temp worker can print up the computer-generated lesson plan, which will certainly include some “educational games”. Results of those “games” will automatically populate the report that the virtual principal will produce for the virtual school board.

Next we are told:

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp [known for violating privacy rights and spying], built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.

What isn’t shared in the article is the role this database will play in implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), which would not exist in its present form without the Gates Foundation. The inBloom website discussion board clearly indicates that this database is designed around the CCSS. The CCSSI assessment apparatuses are likely to directly tie into this database if and once they become fully functional. And, given that the plan is to have student essays graded by computer, there are likely to be “digital” assessments of student writing from the dispositional point of view. Might an angry or merely “different” essay by a student trigger a “no education list” (a la the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center’s no fly lists) and be used by corporate charters in screening applicants, inventing a vast and detailed hierarchy of “human capital”?

The article continues:

States and school districts can choose whether they want to input their student records into the system; the service is free for now, though inBloom officials say they will likely start to charge fees in 2015. So far, seven states — Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts — have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide.

So, individual data collected by public authorities that are responsible to protect the privacy claims of these individuals is turned over to a private company, and then the public authority has to pay the private company for access to that data? Now that’s “critical thinking”! And while “inBloom pledges to guard the data tightly, its own privacy policy states that it ‘cannot guarantee the security of the information stored … or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.’ ” Seems like a double standard when you think about how “reformers” would scream if a public school stated that it could not protect student privacy.

The article does report that parents from

New York and Louisiana have written state officials in protest. So have the Massachusetts chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and Parent-Teacher Association. If student records leak, are hacked or abused, “What are the remedies for parents?” asked Norman Siegel, a civil liberties attorney in New York who has been working with the protestors. “It’s very troubling.”

I encourage parents to send a letter, similar to this.

What follows is the main justification for the initiative, and it is worth parsing out in detail.

“We look at personalized learning as the next big leap forward in education,” said Brandon Williams, a director at the Illinois State Board of Education.

First, I believe “personalized learning” is the new language for what used to be called tracking based on “ability”, social class, or other forms of social differentiation (“race,” ELLs, etc.). But it gets better:

Does Johnny have trouble converting decimals to fractions? The database will have recorded that — and may have recorded as well that he finds textbooks boring, adores animation and plays baseball after school. Personalized learning software can use that data to serve up a tailor-made math lesson, perhaps an animated game that uses baseball statistics to teach decimals.

What kind of non-thinking human being creates such narrative? Even the most unmotivated mediocre teacher can determine if a student has trouble converting decimals to fractions! And wouldn’t the database be more useful if it could identify those students who actually found textbooks exciting? And, seriously, might teachers, unencumbered by the demands of “accountability” that increasingly block them from establishing meaningful relationships with their students, know which student likes baseball?

No teacher, school administrator or parent needs this database; it is a solution to a non-existent problem. It’s a complete hoax. It is also frightening that someone thought the above narrative was a useful public justification and that it could stand in a news item. How far gone are we that the absurdity is not evident? “Personalized learning” = remove the teacher -> collect “data” -> replace real teaching with “virtual games” -> so as “to get to know the student.”[1]

But wait, there’s more!

Johnny’s teacher can watch his development on a “dashboard” that uses bright graphics to map each of her students’ progress on dozens, even hundreds, of discrete skills.

Forgive me, but I prefer to watch the development of young people in person. “Bright graphics” — sounds like Disney, not education. “Discrete skills” — nothing says “product specification” better than “discrete skills.”

“You can start to see what’s effective for each particular student,” said Adria Moersen, a high school teacher in Colorado who has tested some of the new products.[2]

If you need a glowing, colorful dashboard of “discrete skills” to “see” your “students develop” and discern what is “effective” there’s definitely a problem. Or, maybe that’s the vision? Let’s continue:

The sector is undeniably hot; technology startups aimed at K-12 schools attracted more than $425 million in venture capital last year, according to the NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that focuses on the sector. The investment company GSV Advisors tracked 84 deals in the sector last year, up from 15 in 2007.

NewSchools is a big supporter of charters and other privatization schemes.

In addition to its $100 million investment in the database, the Gates Foundation has pledged $70 million in grants to schools and companies to develop personalized learning tools.

Again, I offer my suggestion that “personalized” is the new language of tracking. Data will be the new marker used to segregate.

Also of note is that the official estimates of the Gates Foundation contribution to the Common Core Standards is $100 million; but if we include all those grants that are part of the Core agenda, the number becomes much, much bigger; the above $170 million constituting a start. Based on data I have collected from their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website, I estimate the total expenditure to be about $1.5 billion between 2009 and 2012. The next bit is revealing as well.

Schools tend to store different bits of student information in different databases, often with different operating systems. That makes it clunky to integrate new learning apps into classrooms. […] The new database aims to wipe away those obstacles by integrating all student information — including data that may previously have been stored in paper files or teacher gradebooks — in a single, flexible platform. […] Education technology companies can use the same platform to design their software, so their programs will hook into a rich trove of student data if a district or state authorizes access.

This reminds me of the justification for the security state built post 9/11. We would all be safe if we could just break down those barriers between databases (e.g., eliminating boundaries between local, state and federal police agencies) and remove the blocks to spying!

At the Rocketship chain of charter schools, for instance, administrators must manually update at least five databases to keep their education software running smoothly when a child transfers from one teacher to another, said Charlie Bufalino, a Rocketship executive. The extra steps add expense, which limits how many apps a school can buy. And because the data is so fragmented, the private companies don’t always get a robust picture of each student’s academic performance, much less their personal characteristics.

First point: you most likely don’t need the software; the money could be better spent. Second point: who cares if the “private companies don’t get a robust picture”? Why are we all of a sudden so concerned about private companies having a “robust picture” of our children?

Yes, it even gets better.

Larry Berger, an executive at Amplify Education, says the data could be mined to develop “early warning systems.” Perhaps it will turn out, for instance, that most high school dropouts began to struggle with math at age 8. If so, all future 8-year-olds fitting that pattern could be identified and given extra help.

Forgetting for a moment that Larry’s statement erases more than 40 years of research on the predictors of “dropping out” (linked mostly to poverty, racism and lack of funding), my question is this: will the “early warning system” be color coded, like the now infamous “terror alerts?” Is “fitting the pattern” the new language for profiling? Sounds like the noble language of helping to prevent “drop outs” might hide something a little less palatable; maybe inBloom will partner with state governments to alert them of students not “ready” to vote?

Companies with access to the database will also be able to identify struggling teachers and pinpoint which concepts their students are failing to master. One startup that could benefit: BloomBoard, which sells schools professional development plans customized to each teacher.

Well that’s good news. Private companies that are charging the public for access to the data provided to them by the public will assist in further attacking teachers as the source of the problem while social inequality reaches new heights! Hopefully BloomBoard will lobby for more computers — I just hope some of the leaking roofs won’t short out the circuits. I also hope their statisticians can develop models that can compensate for students not giving a damn as they sit, alienated, in their PARCC testing cages.

The new database “is a godsend for us,” said Jason Lange, the chief executive of BloomBoard. “It allows us to collect more data faster, quicker and cheaper.”

But I thought it was “all about the kids”?

In the end, this is an untenable plan, doomed to failure, with more harm along the way. It should be opposed.

  1. Even the introductory video on the inBloom website presents a vision of the teacher/student interaction as completely mediated by their database which is to form the basis of and completely structure the student/teacher relationship. In the video, both students and teachers are presented as passive, with very limited voice, only acting through the devices devised by the database developers.
  2. The formulation “each particular” set me off, so I went searching on the Internet for Adria, and I came up with what appears to be someone who loves signing up to all the social media, but never really uses any of it (is she real?). No posts from her twitter account. No info on Linkedin, but a member. “Summitt Post” indicates “high school teacher” in Colorado. On “Clas talk”, nothing. Uses “pinterest” — what I saw was vapid. Appears on “rate my teacher” with 3 stars out of 5, from six respondents (“fun” was used frequently by those posting). (Obviously the sites that did not identify her profession and location could be for someone else.) From what I could find, she does not come across as an authority on the subject of using large databases to enhance education. She has been a teacher for a short time, and in general strikes me as an odd choice for an interview by an international news agency.

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Filed under Data Mining/Tracking, Data Systems, National Standards (Common Core)