Tag Archives: RTTT

More Common Core Battles Emerging

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

“CCSS isn’t a solution to, but instead it is a deliberate doubling down of, the vile policies of NCLB and RTTT.”

The Common Core Standards battles are occurring more frequently.  Education activists and teachers are confronting teachers/education industry reformers and are not mincing words in their concern of individuals/corporations supporting the standards. Robert Skeels in Schools Matter weighs in on the support an educator (a Latin teacher) gave CCSS:

The following is my edited commentary in response to comments by a CCSS supporter on the Professor Ravitch post: A Teacher of Latin Writes In Defense of Fiction.
  
Kaye Thompson Peters, I’ve grown weary of the trite “apple and oranges” device that you employ everywhere in your stalwart defense of Corporate Core. You even used it in a gushing apology for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on Hoover’s fringe-right EdNext. While you might not be uncomfortable that Pearson Education, Inc. has been promoting your writings on CCSS, it does cause some of us consternation. When discussing CCSS in relation to NCLB and RTTT, we’re not conflating apples and oranges, we’re discussing a bushel of rotten apples foisted on us by a bunch of billionaires suffering from the Shoe Button Complex

You can read more here.

This article came in my email late last night about another Common Core proponent’s (a paid education reformer) stance on the standards,  My View: Common Core means common-sense standards:

Common Core fixes previous shortcomings by setting rigorous standards that ensure a child is mastering necessary material, not just memorizing it. It has been said that Indiana’s old standards were good, but they were a mile wide and an inch deep. The old standards expose students to everything but do little to ensure they truly understand any of it. The Common Core is focused on targeting key materials students need to know, coherent so that student learning builds upon the previous grades, and rigorous to ensure students master the concepts and processes behind the information.

The writer, Kristine Shiraki, is interim executive director of Stand for Children Indiana.  What is Stand for Children?

Stand has seen an enormous influx of corporate cash. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began by offering a relatively modest two-year grant of $80,000 in 2005. In 2007, Stand for Children received a $682,565 grant. In 2009, the point at which Stand’s drastically different political agenda became obvious, Gates awarded a $971,280 grant to support “common policy priorities” and in 2010, a $3,476,300 grant.

Though the Gates Foundation remains the biggest donor to Stand for Children, other players in the world of corporate education reform have also begun to see Stand as an effective vehicle to push their agenda.

New Profit Inc. has funded Stand since 2008—to the tune of $1,458,500. According to its website, New Profit is a “national venture philanthropy fund that seeks to harness America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship to help solve the country’s biggest social problems.”


The Walton Family Foundation made a 2010 grant of $1,378,527. Several other major funders are tied to Bain Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm founded by Mitt Romney.

The commentors to Ms. Shiraki’s letter to the editor question her statements and ask her to provide data to confirm her contentions.  From the online version of the article:

Kristine, Could you post to this comment section the names of any teachers from Indiana who were on the writing team for the common core English or math common core standards? I have attached a link for Hoosiers to see how much representation Indiana had on the creation of the common core. http://

www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_K-12_dev-team.pdf Some readers may recognize the name Mark Tucker who is on the ELA team, a highly controversial political figure.
We both know that states can only add 15% to the common core standards and they may not delete or edit any standards as they are copyrighted and owned by two trade organizations in Washington DC, NGA and CCSSO. Stand for Children should be honest on this point. The new PARCC test that is replacing IStep will not test over the 15%. In this world of high-stakes testing, few, if any, teachers will have the time or incentive to teach any additional standards.
The idea that the common core standards are “fewer, clearer, deeper” is also untrue. The only people claiming Indiana’s former standards were “a mile wide and an inch deep” are Tony Bennett and your organization. See for yourself here http://hoosiersagainstcommoncore.com/whats-in-the-common-core-state-standards-content/
and
I’m pretty sure that Shiraki’s days as interim are numbered, in part because she lacks a fact checker so she gets her facts dead wrong and her flacking falls apart. For instance, Shiraki, can you or duh Star tell us (call Tony for help if you need to) just which particular countries were the Kommen Kore “standards” benchmarked against? Since, we both know that you will have to look them up, when you reply please do cite page numbers from which you are consulting. My gentle suggestion is, Shiraki, you won’t find that page because it doesn’t exist anymore than your claim of international benchmarking does.
Why would Fordham suggest to Indiana that Indiana keep its higher and better academic standards and not adopt Kommen Korps? While one may argue about the benefit or value of high standards no one argues about the value of the carrot suspended in front of the horse drawn wagon.
So, (and any other flack can help her) Name the Counties against which CC is benchmarked. Or, retract your mis statement and admit that Stand for Children actually supports dumbing down standards.

More and more citizens are starting to question organizations like Stand for Children, Bill Gates Foundation, The Walton Foundation, CCSSI, the National Governors Association and other education reformers who seem to believe that deciding and setting “common policy priorities”  for the citizenry might not be as appreciated by the taxpayers as they had once thought.   They may not have even given the taxpayers a thought in the crafting of these policies, actually, since none of them were involved (or are currently) in the implementation of the standards in school.  The elites have come up with the plan and we get the pleasure of paying for it.

If groups/individuals complain or lobby their legislators,  you then will see education reformers’ letters to the editor written about how wonderful these unproven, untested and unfunded these standards really are.  Their message?  “Trust them.  They create more federal control but really, they are in your state’s best interest. ”

Who is setting the “common” priorities taxpayers get the pleasure of paying for and these same taxpayers are not directing their own community’s educational direction?  And the second question: why are these groups putting millions of dollars into this legislative fight against grassroots organizations/citizens who don’t want this education reform that has been crafted by private corporations and paid for by tax dollars?

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)

DOEd – The Master of Loopholes?

This article is cross-posted from Missouri Education Watchdog.

The DOEd has just released their draft regulation for the latest round of the Race To The Topgrant competition. Many have noted extensively how they no longer seem to care that they are forbidden by law from developing national standards. Duncan and his representatives have repeatedly stated that they are not doing that. Rather, it is state consortia (which DOEd incentivized the creation of through the first RTTT) who are developing standards (which they require states to adopt to receive second round awards in RTTT).  But it is this latest round of RTTT that is by far the biggest power grab by a federal department who was originally only designed to be a clearing house for education information. In it, DOEd seems to have perfected the technique of loophole optimization by taking on things that are so far afield from public education that no one could say they are in opposition to their original mandate to focus on education delivery.

Applicants for this RTTT award will be Local Educational Agencies (LEAs).  DOEd has drilled down below the states directly into your school board through this version of RTTT. Here are some of the requirements for receiving this latest award.

At least forty percent of participating students across all participating schools (as defined in this document) must be students from low-income families, based on eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch subsidies under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, or other poverty measures that LEAs use to make awards under section 1113(a) of the ESEA.

Clearly this round is meant for a very specific type of school district. Only those districts who are in urban areas or extreme rural communities will meet this qualification. However, high poverty, high needs schools must follow very prescriptive rules based upon federal and state guidelines which limits their ability to innovate. This would seem to fly in the face of the grant competition’s goal of inspiring innovation. It does exploit a loophole that then allows the feds to funnel money to urban areas which, coincidentally I guess, tend to vote one way.

The next requirement is where the DOEd seeks direct control of your school board and superintendent.

  • Applicants must demonstrate a track record of commitment to the core education assurance areas (as defined in this document), including, for each LEA included in an application, an assurance signed by the LEA’s authorized legal representative that–

The LEA has, at a minimum, designed and committed to implement no later than the 2014-15 school year–

  1. a teacher evaluation system (as defined in this document);
  2. a principal evaluation system (as defined in this document);
  3. a LEA superintendent evaluation (as defined in this document); and
  4. a LEA school board evaluation (as defined in this document).

An assessment of the LEA school board that both evaluates performance and encourages professional growth. This evaluation system rating should reflect both (1) the feedback of many stakeholders, including but not limited to educators and parents; and (2) student outcomes performance in order to provide a detailed and accurate picture of the board’s performance.

See, now your school board members will be rated and their performance will be tied to student performance. One does not set out to create a rating without the intent to use it as a means to take action. If your district’s students continue to perform poorly on the standardized assessments, something may need to be done about your school board members. Your vote for them will be greatly diminished if not negated.

And nothing can come out of DOEd without the requisite requirement to provide DATA.

The LEA has a robust data system that has, at a minimum,–

  1. An individual teacher identifier with a teacher-student match; and
  2. The ability to match student level P-12 and higher education data.

def. Student Performance Data – information about the academic progress of a single student, such as formative and summative assessment data, coursework, instructor observations, information about student engagement and time on task, and similar information.

Individual districts, not the state, will now supply this information directly to DOEd. If it has the ability to match teachers to students and track students beyond P-12, it is not sanitized for your protection. While the regulation states that such data have, “regulatory protections in place that ensure Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) compliant privacy and information protection,” it still maintains that such data be made accessible and usable by stakeholders. The more broadly this data is disseminated to stakeholders (who are very broadly defined by DOEd) the less control they have over it and the less secure your private information is.

Asking individual school districts to be sophisticated enough to develop the necessary software encryption to protect such information is unrealistic. Most likely they will have to go to a private vendor to purchase an existing software package. Who could be waiting in the wings to provide that little piece of business?

One of the last sections is titled “Competitive Preference Priority–Cradle-to-Career Results, Resource Alignment, and Integrated Services.” The federal government has stated openly that their goal (by giving preference priority to applicants who agree to this) is to be involved in your children’s lives from cradle to career (HHS takes over the grave part.) At this point does this even look like school anymore?

In this section of the draft regulation, they state they will be looking for:

Whether the applicant has formed a coherent and sustainable partnership with public and private organizations, such as public health, after-school, and social service providers; businesses, philanthropies, civic groups, and other community-based organizations; early learning programs; and post-secondary institutions to support the plan described in Absolute Priority 1. The partnership must identify not more than 10 population-level desired results for students in the LEA or consortium of LEAs, which may span from cradle to career, that align with the applicant’s proposal and reform strategy.

Here is your community school.  In addition to providing a basic education for children, your school district will now be evaluated on:

family and community results (e.g., students demonstrate social-emotional competencies, students are healthy, students feel safe at school and in their communities, students demonstrate career readiness skills through internship and summer job opportunities)

This is a gargantuan power grab by the federal government that, sadly, some individual school districts will actually ask them to do. It seems unfathomable that school board members, superintendents and tax payers would want the federal government this involved in the running of their schools, just for the benefit of a few dollars.  Nowhere in the grant application are districts required to show fiscal feasibility of maintaining any program started with RTTT funding. If DOEd isn’t going to ask for this, maybe the taxpayers should, because they will be the ones on the hook for increased “school” (and I now use that word loosely) funding.

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Filed under Federal Department of Education

Bill Gates is the Pac-Man of Education Reform. He’s Eating the Constitution.

Thanks to our friends over at Missouri Education Watchdog for this piece.

Remember the Pac-Man game? It introduced Americans to video games, replacing arcade games such as pinball, foosball and skeeball. What’s the difference between current video games and the old fashioned mechanical games?

Video games are computerized and do not having moving parts, such as balls or pucks. Everything is contained in a screen and the movement is a blip. You are controlling the movement but it’s more of a passive control and takes only fingers on a stick or pad to create movement. Physical movement is minimal in video games; the game itself is in a screen, rather than involving balls and a person directing that move in an overtly physical manner. Video games perhaps could be considered activity through a simulation setting vs actual physical action.

Is that what is happening in education? The taxpayers, parents and students have for quite some time been in a simulated educational program. Taxes have been paid into a system in which taxpayers have little to no voice and minimal effect. Parents can complain about objectionable material taught to their students but since it is set by the state and not the district, these objections are often futile for change. Students are taught to the test so the school won’t lose funding and the real goal of education is whittled down to basic test questions. School “reform” options are crafted by lobbying groups and PACs, not the local communities in which they are located.

Teachers, administrators, superintendents and state educational agencies discover they are further drawn into the simulation of education. Their hands are tied by No Child Left Behind, students are not tested or taught to as individuals, rather as subsets, and federal regulations strangle innovation. Throw Common Core standards (heavily funded by Bill Gates) into this equation, and the perfect video game of public education emerges.

Bill Gates has become the Pac-Man of the United States Public Education system!

He’s been named as a gobbling Pac-Man as early as 1991:

Hey everyone. I’ve just posted my latest project called Pac-MANager (which moves Bill Gates around as Pac-Man as he tries to “eat up” the competition) on PSC, which includes a lot of stuff that different people on this forum helped me with — thanks all!

Back then Gates was eating up business competition. Now he is eating the traditional stakeholders in education: students, parents, taxpayers, school districts, etc. that he considers competition to his educational vision. How is Gates sating his appetite for educational control?

We and other bloggers have been writing about Gates’ idea of philanthropy. Unlike previous philanthropists, these new philanthropists drive the reform, rather than leaving organizations to do so. The New York Times published findings from a graduate student who has studied how Gates is taking over education:

For years, Bill Gates focused his education philanthropy on overhauling large schools and opening small ones. His new strategy is more ambitious: overhauling the nation’s education policies. To that end, the foundation is financing educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies on issues like the seniority system and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.

In some cases, Mr. Gates is creating entirely new advocacy groups. The foundation is also paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations.

Bill Gates is not stingy with his money and the vast amount given to various entities buy acquiescence for his vision:

The foundation spent $373 million on education in 2009, the latest year for which its tax returns are available, and devoted $78 million to advocacy — quadruple the amount spent on advocacy in 2005. Over the next five or six years, Mr. Golston said, the foundation expects to pour $3.5 billion more into education, up to 15 percent of it on advocacy.

Given the scale and scope of the largess, some worry that the foundation’s assertive philanthropy is squelching independent thought, while others express concerns about transparency. Few policy makers, reporters or members of the public who encounter advocates like Teach Plus or pundits like Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute realize they are underwritten by the foundation.

“It’s Orwellian in the sense that through this vast funding they start to control even how we tacitly think about the problems facing public education,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who said he received no financing from the foundation. (emphasis added)

What does this vast amount of money buy?

The foundation paid a New York philanthropic advisory firm $3.5 million “to mount and support public education and advocacy campaigns.” It also paid a string of universities to support pieces of the Gates agenda. Harvard, for instance, got $3.5 million to place “strategic data fellows” who could act as “entrepreneurial change agents” in school districts in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The foundation has given to the two national teachers’ unions — as well to groups whose mission seems to be to criticize them.

“It’s easier to name which groups Gates doesn’t support than to list all of those they do, because it’s just so overwhelming,” noted Ken Libby, a graduate student who has pored over the foundation’s tax filings as part of his academic work.

What might be an effective method to demonize teacher unions?

While the foundation has given money to both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, totaling about $6.3 million over the last three years, some of its newer initiatives appear aimed at challenging the dominance that unions have exercised during policy debates. Last year, Mr. Gates spent $2 million on a “social action” campaign focused on the film “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” which demonized Randi Weingarten, the president of the federation.

“Waiting for Superman” and screenings for legislators were concerns we wrote about in this past legislative session and the multi-million dollars poured into the school choice movement. “Waiting for Superman” was touted as a grassroots movie, but the mass infusion of cash and influence is far removed from grassroots philosophy. Most of the grassroots comments from various blogs about “education reform” mention the desire to abolish the Department of Education and not so much about charters, trigger options and the redistribution of teachers. The movie and school choice movement have been shown to be a carefully orchestrated public relations move:

A document describing plans for the group, posted on a Washington Post blog in March, said it would mobilize local advocates, “establish strong ties to local journalists” and should “go toe to toe” with union officials in explaining contracts and state laws to the public.

But to avoid being labeled a “tool of the foundation,” the document said the group should “maintain a low public profile.”

The Gates Foundation has been exposed for what it is: a version of the Pac-Man game eating all the unnecessary and cumbersome stakeholders in its way for the quest of remaking the United States educational system:

Gates Memo to Support “Race to the Top”

Note that Gates tells applicants what questions will be asked–and what the answers must be. This is their view of education in a nutshell.

The Gates Foundation had already handpicked 15 states to receive $250,000 each to help them apply for Race to the Top funds: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. Now, probably because of whining of “unfair,” they’re offering a bone to the other 35 states –if they can answer “Yes, master,” enough times.

See the Gates memo here.

September 23, 2009

This is how our government is operating. It used to be tycoons like Gates wanted to eat their business competition for a larger piece of the business pie; now they want to control the government in which they operate. This is a Pac-man version of our constitutional right to self-govern being eaten up by special interests. Taxpayers have been co-opted in the past by educational unions (even the retiring NEA counsel states it’s not for the children or because it has a vision for great public education for every child) and now it’s Bill Gates and his funding of think tanks, professors, software companies, governors and even the Department of Education. Watch this video by retiring NEA counsel Bob Chanin, and substitute Gates’ names and organizations he’s funded:

The United States Public Education System has become one big huge power grab by special interests such as the Federal Government (isn’t this interesting how it has become a special interest), the unions and the corporations. In the meantime, the student, taxpayer and parents are not receiving a quality education focused on education and use of these taxes is not free of these special interests. Education is centered not so much on teaching sound educational material; rather, much of education today teaches politically correct theories and is delivered in a way that will make hedge funders, venture capitalists, and technology companies quite wealthy.

This is a great history lesson on how not to let control of your local school district be given to a state agency, then a federal agency and then to a consortia controlled by Gates money. Stop the money train to all these organizations (government, union and private), bring it down to the local level (where it belongs) and then maybe, just maybe, the dialogue can begin about authentic educational reform.

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Filed under Education Reform