Friday, August 30, 2013

Ready for Evaluation on CCSS When Supervisors' Groups Cite Declining Support?

*Supervisors question the rush into CCSS *Update: Congressional discussion of attack on Syria, but not CCSS?
The Common Core tests are coming. But the mantra from the federal government and many state leaders is have faith and trust in them. But it is highly significant when superintendents and principles associations express strong reservations. If they express some reservations, particularly over the proper preparation for the tests, should not teachers and parents ask serious questions? (But recall that the Common Core is not a matter for public discussion. It was produced by private associations and there is no venue for public revision of the standards.)

From a letter and its report, as reported by Diane Ravitch: She cited a public statement, "School Leadership Groups Urge “Adequate Time” to Implement Common Core Standards" by major associations of school leaders, expressing trepidation about the implementation of the Bill Gates and David Coleman's Common Core State Standards. The statement is to be admired for its honesty.
The superintendents, principals and school boards associations, AASA, NAESP, NASSP, and NSBA wrote a public statement that expressed support for the Common Core, but argued for more careful implementation, particularly regarding the associated tests: AASA, The School Superintendents Association, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and The National School Boards Association (NSBA). (Interestingly they do not appear as beneficiaries of Gates Foundation largesse in deutsch29's audit of Gates' Common Core spending.) In contrast, as you hear union leaders, from the American Federation of Teachers' (AFT) Randi Weingarten and the National Education Association's (NEA) Dennis Van Roekel, on down to local leaders, talking about "getting on-board" with the Common Core, repeating the same talking points, keep this in mind: the two federations were paid off quite handsomely for the cooperation with the Common Core, over $9 million collectively.

It is interesting that the authors of the statement express concern that the confusion ensuing in the course of Common Core and its tests will weaken public support for public education. This mirrors the suspicion that many leftist critics have had with the Common Core: that it is a cynical attempt to destroy public faith in public education and pave the way for broader scale privatization.
Getting this transition right can mean the difference between getting and keeping public and educator support for the Common Core or a loss in confidence in the standards and even the public schools, especially if as expected the first-year scores will disappoint.
The letter reported news that is devastating to the Common Core boosters and the associated test boosters:
These philosophical considerations are compounded by real-world obstacles to implementing both the Common Core Standards and the related online assessment. AASA’s latest economic impact survey included items related to the standards and assessments, and the respondents delivered a clear message: State support for the Common Core Standards is holding steady at best, if not declining, and states and districts are woefully lacking as it relates to infrastructure and connectivity capacity to support the online assessments:

• 74% of respondents indicate that the level of funding/fiscal support provided by the state for implementing the Common Core Learning standards is “inadequate.”
• 57% of respondents indicate that the level of professional development provided by the state for implementing the Common Core Learning standards is ”inadequate.”
• With many states more than a year in to the work of implementing Common Core, school-based practitioners reported a very clear trend in DECLINING state support for Common Core implementation:

o 33% indicated State funding support has decreased.
o 23% indicated State professional development support has decreased.
o 31% indicated State leadership support has decreased.
o 23% indicated My state has considered legislative proposals that would decrease state policy/funding support for Common Core learning standards.

• In detailing their state, district and school capacity to implement the online assessments, respondents indicated:
Schools in my state are, on average, not ready to implement the online assessment.
Schools in my state, on average, lack the infrastructure to support the online assessments.
My school requires additional infrastructure to fully support the online assessments.
Schools in my state, on average, lack the bandwidth/connectivity to support the online assessments.
My school requires additional bandwidth/connectivity to fully support the online assessments.
My school is fully prepared, in terms of funding and bandwidth capacity, to implement the online assessments.
My state has adequate bandwidth capacity/the ability to support adequate school connectivity but lacks the funding to fully implement the online tests.
My state is fiscally prepared to implement the assessments, but lacks adequate bandwidth capacity/the ability to support adequate school connectivity.
Schools in my state are, on average, fully ready to implement the online assessments.
My state is fully prepared, in terms of funding and bandwidth capacity, to implement the fully-online assessment.

* This analysis reflects 497 responses from 46 states.
Now, here's the surprise: Diane Ravitch posted this notice on May 31, before much blow-back has occurred: before several states pulled out of the PARCC tests, before other state-level maneuvers really took off this summer. These developments, plus the large growth of blog, YouTube activity and increased populist fury among progressives that spiked during the summer. These things will likely decrease the level of public or legislative support for the Common Core State Standards.

As school returns to session, as non-full year legislatures re-convene, parents and teachers, people that are not forced to indoctrinate their subordinates with myths and doublethink delusions, should stand up and challenge the lies and doublethink of the Common Core. Let me be clear, children deserve consistency, within a city and state to state; careful, highly reflective reading should be pursued in the classroom. Yet, the Common Core is the Emperor's New Clothes myth. It did not come from the states, it is not internationally benchmarked, it is not the only path forward for helping the nation's education system towards "college and career readiness." These things all sound very acceptable. But they are simply not true. In repeating falsehoods, in having media and armies of school supervisors stay narrowly on-script and repeat the mistruths, the Common Core engineers are using classic propaganda techniques straight out of Orwell's 1984. They keep referring to their research or what the research tells us when promoting their agenda. But they have never shared that. (The proceedings were under conditions whereby participants signed confidentiality agreements, so we have none of the CCSS's internal documentation.) Real maturity is asking questions and recognizing a falsehood when you see it, not obediently mouthing a party line. Parents and teachers should challenge the system that has non-education experts dictating to teachers how to teach. David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, the English standards authors, never worked as teachers. Coleman's Oxford friend and lead math author, Jason Zimba, and the two other math authors, professors, yes, but never teachers. Yet, they are dictating national teaching practice.

We must stand up once and for all, and collectively question what authority do these individuals have to dictate best practices? And politically more offensive, how outrageous that they have been allowed to create the Standards in a process completely parallel to, and outside of legislative or bureaucratic channels. What we see in the process of how Gates hatched and propelled this program (detailed in the link for the last sentence) is a private government, bought by paymaster Bill Gates.
[POSTSCRIPT: Washington is, rightly, in a debate over whether president Barack Obama should have American forces commit a missile strike against Syria. The contention is that Congress must have a voice, that as a democracy, there should be discussion and debate over the matter. Yet, note that there has been no discussion contending that America should have a open democratic discussion authorizing national authority to strong arm states into committing to the Common Core and Race to the Top. It is a sorry state of affairs that we recall the need to have multiple institutions authorize military force, but we do not likewise expect multiple institutions have authority over educational policy. No, we have merely ceded authority to David Coleman and his secretive author committee of the Common Core.]

One New York district superintendent, Ken Mitchell, has issued a report, "Federal Mandates on Local Education: Costs and Consequences – Yes, it’s a Race, but is it in the Right Direction?," laying out in scrupulous detail how compliance with Common Core and other Race to the Top mandates will seriously strain districts' revenues, as well as force districts to reopen union contracts. He cited Christopher Tienken: “the standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended or unintended consequences they will have on the education system and children.” And he also cited Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman: “On the whole, the image of the curriculum implicit in CCSS (and explicit especially in the new documents attempting to spell out implications for instruction) is not visibly research based; it is not based on large-scale reforms that have demonstrated a method for bringing highneeds students to the levels of the Common Core. If that were the case, then the nation would be invited to observe otherwise typical high-needs schools where most of the graduates are flourishing at their colleges." In compliance with the Common Core, we are called to accept, wholesale, Gates' and Coleman's program, while suspending conventional expectations that proper research and trials be conducted.

Fortunately, some New York superintendents, for example, Joseph Rella and William Johnson are not following the official story script. The people can, and must, rebel against the Common Core script.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Brief Audit Shows How Gates Paid to Launch CCSS and Buy Off Potential Opponents (& Part II)

            *Blockbuster Gates-CCSS audit expose *Time for popular revolt vs. Microsoft
            *Installment II of audit at the base of this post

Here is a blockbuster post by the blog deutsch29 that provides details and analyzes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's financial manipulation of civic society to create and launch the Common Core State Standards. This manipulation enabled Bill Gates to engage in an unprecedented hijacking of the constitutional republican process in a cloaked "shadow bureaucracy" fashion outside of political convention that I analyzed earlier this month in "The Common Core and Gates' Education Commercialization Complex".  Last week I spoke to the basis for the left and right to cooperate in fighting the neoliberal new Whigs (Democrats) and the Republicans. In "Common Ground vs. Common Core" I wrote on how the AFT and NEA leaders are on board with the Common Core State Standards, and how the Thomas Fordham Institute is supporting the program.

Deutsch29's audit shows that monetary inducements of millions of dollars per organization (to the AFT, $4.4 million, to the NEA, $6.3 million) that turned the aforementioned potential opponents into lapdog endorsers of the program. This brilliantly thorough research job just misses the P20 Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems aspect which links test performance with potentially interstate student data mining, such as in the pioneering inBloom project. The PARCC and the SBAC tests, along with the SLDS and computation of value-added measures, will need to run on computer servers. The sheer scope will mean that it would be too expensive to run them on Apple Computers, ergo, the grand payoff for Microsoft. Why else would Gates be poring millions to the various actors and institutions documented in this expose? Say, whatever happened to that anti-trust suit against Microsoft in which Joel Klein was the lead prosecutor? The main problem was that it only dealt with Gates' bundling mandates of the Internet Explorer browser in with operating systems. It did not get to his essential Microsoft monopoly in institutional operating systems and office suites. The movement against Common Core must carry corollary popular demand that the government initiate an authentic monopoly case against Microsoft. Regardless of the tech world buzz that it has lost its position to Apple, the fact remains that computers running on Microsoft are cheaper and remain the operating system of choice to institutions and budget-minded individuals. Gates' usurpation of democracy and the educational system should once and for all be the basis for a popular uprising against his power, power that no major Democrat or Republican has challenged.

The sweep of Gates' money is breath-taking. He has managed to build liberal and conservative unity among government actors, interest groups and the media. As discussed elsewhere, the standards amount to a semi-curriculum as they mandate how teachers must teach. The standards/semi-curriculum carry the force of law, so deviance is a professional transgression. School supervisors have been carrying out an intensive re-orientation effort to get staff to at once buy into the idea that they must teach according to the standards [which are content-free, but process-focused] but that the standards do not dictate how to teach. This is not doublethink? (Contrary to the oft repeated lie, teachers were not involved in writing the Standards. None of the authors was a teacher, and only three were involved, and this was at the validation stage.)
Fortunately, the controversial nature of the standards has captured the outrage of the populist right and more recently the populist left, to create what has been dubbed an "unholy alliance." Among education professors, the reaction against the Standards has brought into concert Diane Ravitch on the left --who Jonathan Alter has dubbed the "Whitaker Chambers of education reform"-- and James Milgram on the right.
This is a moment in history that poses to citizens --will we permit this hijacking of democracy and repeat the lie that this was a free creation by the states, and moreover, to educators --will we carry out orders in conducting educational malpractice. Or will we speak truth to power? The time to act and resist is now.

A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending

August 27, 2013
This is a post about Bill Gates and his money, a brief audit of his Common Core (CCSS) purchases. Before I delve into Gates accounting, allow me to set the stage with a bit of CCSS background.
It is important to those promoting CCSS that the public believes the idea that CCSS is “state-led.” The CCSS website reports as much and names two organizations as “coordinating” the “state-led” CCSS: The National Governors Association (NGA), and the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Interestingly, the CCSS website makes no mention of CCSS “architect” David Coleman:
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.[Emphasis added.]
Nevertheless, if one reviews this 2009 NGA news release on those principally involved in CCSS development, one views a listing of 29 individuals associated with Student Achievement Partners, ACT, College Board, and Achieve. In truth, only 2 out of 29 members are not affiliated with an education company.
CCSS as “state-led” is fiction. Though NGA reports 29 individuals as involved with CCSS creation, it looks to be even fewer:
NGA first directly involved governors in nationalizing education standards in June 2008, when it co-hosted an education forum with the Hunt Institute, a project of former North Carolina Gov. James Hunt Jr. In December 2008, NGA, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and Achieve Inc. released a report calling for national standards. The report recommended “a strong state-federal partnership” to accomplish this goal.
Those three nonprofits answered their own call the next few months, deciding to commission Common Core. NGA and Hunt’s press releases during that time, and a paper describing NGA’s Common Core process by former NGA education director Dane Linn, provide no endorsement of such activity from more than a handful of elected officials. [Emphasis added.]
Also involved in creation of CCSS is Student Achievement Partners, the company David Coleman started in 2007 in order produce national standards. Student Achievement Partners has no work other than CCSS.
Now to Bill Gates and his money.
The four principal organizations associated with CCSS– NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners– have accepted millions from Bill Gates. In fact, prior to CCSS “completion” in June 2009, Gates had paid millions to NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve. And the millions continued to flow following CCSS completion.
Prior to June 2009, NGA received $23.6 million from the Gates Foundation from 2002 through 2008. $19.7 million was for the highly-disruptive “high school redesign” (i.e.,“small schools”) project, one that Gates abandoned.
After June 2009, NGA received an additional $2.1 million from Gates, the largest payout coming in February 2011,
to work with state policymakers on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, with special attention to effective resource reallocation to ensure complete execution, as well as rethinking state policies on teacher effectiveness 
Amount: $1,598,477 [Emphasis added.]
Years ago, Gates paid NGA to “rethink policies on teacher effectiveness.”
One man, lots of money, nationally shaping a profession to which he has never belonged.
As for CCSSO: The Gates amounts are even higher than for NGA. Prior to June 2009, the Gates Foundation gave $47.1 million to CCSSO (from 2002 to 2007), with the largest amount focused on data “access” and “data driven decisions”:
March 2007 
Purpose: to support Phase II of the National Education Data Partnership seeking to promote transparency and accessibility of education data and improve public education through data-driven decision making 
Amount: $21,642,317 [Emphasis added.]
Following CCSS completion in June 2009, Gates funded CCSSO an additional $31.9 million, with the largest grants earmarked for CSSS implementation and assessment, and data acquisition and control:
July 2013 
Purpose: to CCSSO, on behalf of the PARCC and SBAC consortia to support the development of high quality assessments to measure the Common Core State Standards 
Amount: $4,000,000
November 2012 
Purpose: to support the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in helping States’ to build their data inoperability capability and IT leadership capacity 
Amount: $1,277,648
October 2012 
Purpose: to support strategic planning for the sustainability of the Common Core State Standards and the two multi-state assessment consortia tasked with designing assessments aligned with those standards 
Amount: $1,100,000
June 2011 
Purpose: to support the Common Core State Standards work 
Amount: $9,388,911
November 2009 
Purpose: to partner with federal, state, public, and private interests to develop common, open, longitudinal data standards 
Amount: $3,185,750
July 2009 
Purpose: to increase the leadership capacity of chiefs by focusing on standards and assessmentsdata systems, educator development and determining a new system of supports for student learning 
Amount: $9,961,842  [Emphasis added.]
Gates money also flowed to Achieve, Inc.; prior to June 2009, Achieve received $23.5 million in Gates funding. Another $13.2 million followed after CCSS creation, with $9.3 million devoted to “building strategic alliances” for CCSS promotion:
 June 2012 
Purpose: to strengthen and expand the ADP Network, provide
more support to states for CCSS implementation, and build strategic national
and statewide alliances by engaging directly with key stakeholders 
Amount: $9,297,699  [Emphasis added.]
CCSS is not “state led.” It is “Gates led.”
How foolish it is to believe that the man with the checkbook is not calling the CCSS shots.
The “nonprofit” Student Achievement Partners, founded by CCSS “architect” David Coleman, also benefits handsomely via Gates. All that Student Achievement Partners does is CCSS, and for that, in June 2012, Gates granted Coleman’s company $6.5 million.
In total, the four organizations primarily responsible for CCSS– NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners– have taken $147.9 million from Bill Gates.
Common Core Gates Standards.
Let us now consider major education organizations and think tanks that have accepted Gates money for the express purpose of advancing CCSS:
American Enterprise Institute: $1,068,788.
American Federation of Teachers: $5,400,000.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: $3,269,428.
Council of Great City Schools: $5,010,988.
Education Trust: $2,039,526.
National Congress of Parents and Teachers: $499,962.
National Education Association: $3,982,597.
Thomas B. Fordham Institute: $1,961,116.
(For most of the organizations above, Gates has funded other reform-related efforts, including those related to charter schools, small schools, teacher evaluation, and data systems. My comprehensive listing of Gates grants for the organizations above [and then some] can be found here:  Gates Foundation Grants to Select Education and Policy Groups)
From the list of organizations above, I would like to highlight a few particular Gates purchases. First is this one, paid to the Fordham Institute:
Date: January 2011 
Purpose: to track state progress towards implementation of standards and to understand how what students read changes in response to the standards 
Amount: $1,002,000 [Purpose emphasis added.]
Even though CCSS was never piloted, Gates and Fordham want to watch state “progress” in implementing CCSS, and they even want to know how the untested CCSS shifts the curriculum– even though reformers are quick to parrot that CCSS is “not a curriculum.” This “tracking” tacitly acknowledges CCSS is meant to drive curriculum.
Next is this Gates purchase of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI):
Date: June 2012 
Purpose: to support their education policy work in four distinct areas:
Exploring the Challenges of Common Core, Future of American Education Working Groups, Innovations in Financial Aid, and Bridging K-12 and Higher Ed with Technology 
Amount: $1,068,788 [Purpose emphasis added.]
Gates is paying AEI to promote educational policy that bolsters CCSS. And Gates is getting his money’s worth from AEI “scholar” Frederick Hess, who offers these twoarticles advising “Common Core’ites.”
Third is the Gates purchase of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT):
Date: June 2012 
Purpose: to support the AFT Innovation Fund and work on teacher
development and Common Core State Standards 
Amount: $4,400,000
Even though AFT was not invited to the CCSS table until the “standards” had already been drafted by the CCSS Inner Circle noted above, and even though CCSS has not been piloted, AFT only called for a testing moratorium and not for a cease-and-desist of CCSS altogether. It appears that accepting $4.4 million in order to “work on teacher development and Common Core Standards” precludes “just saying no” to what amounts to the CCSS Colossal Education Experiment.
Fourth is the Gates purchase of the National Education Association (NEA). In July 2013, NEA officially endorsed CCSS, and in July 2013, Gates paid NEA for its support in the form of two grants totaling $6.3 million:
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the capacity of state NEA affiliates to advance teaching and learning issues and student success in collaboration with local affiliates
Amount: $2,426,500
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support a cohort of National Education Association Master Teachers in the development of Common Core-aligned lessons in K-5 mathematics and K-12 English Language Arts
Amount: $3,882,600
NEA was not at the CCSS birthing table with NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, and David Coleman’s Student Achievement Partners. However, after the establishment of CCSS without teachers, now Gates is willing to pay a teachers union to create curricula that in the end do not really matter since the CCSS power is in the assessments that are completely out of NEA’s control.
I have saved my favorite CCSS-Gates purchase for last, this one to the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS):
Date: June 2011 
Purpose: to promote and coordinate successful implementation of the new common core standards in major urban public school systems nationwide 
Amount: $4,910,988
Date: March 2010 
Purpose: to support the development of a cross-sector proposal to pilot test the new common core standards in a set of selected cities 
Amount: $100,000  [Purpose emphasis added.]
It seems that Gates paid CGCS $100,000 to propose a pilot study of CCSS in 2010 (not to conduct a pilot study– just to draft the idea for a pilot). Fifteen months later, there is no mention of a “proposal” much less a pilot study materializing; instead, Gates pays CGCS to “just go ahead” and “coordinate successful implementation” of the untested CCSS.
So much Gates cash, and so many hands willing to accept it.
Bill Gates likes Common Core. So, he is purchasing it. In doing so, Gates demonstrates (sadly so) that when one has enough money, one can purchase fundamentally democratic institutions.
I do not have billions to counter Gates. What I do have is this blog and the ability to expose the purchase.
I might be without cash, but I am not without power.
Can Bill Gates buy a foundational democratic institution? Will America allow it? The fate of CCSS will provide crucial answers to those looming questions.
deutsch29, August 27, 2013, A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending


Gates Money and Common Core: Part II

September 3, 2013
On August 27, 2013, I wrote a post about Bill Gates’ financial involvement in advancing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Though CCSS promotes itself as “state led,” in my previous post, I showed that all four major organizations responsible for CCSS from inception for its principal development– the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners– have received in total $147.9 million from Bill Gates for a variety of purposes, $32.8 million of which is expressly earmarked to advance CCSS.
One man is purchasing his view of what American education should be.
This is not democratic. It is horrific.
And it doesn’t stop there.
I showed also that other key education organizations have taken millions from Gates in order to promote CCSS, not the least of which are both national teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) ($5.4 million) and the National Education Association (NEA) ($4 million).
Gates has spent much more on CCSS than I have indicated in that previous post. Thus, I have decided to write a series on the groups that have decided to sell America’s right to a “free and public” education to this man. The sheer number of states willing to submit to the federal requirement of CCSS inclusion in order to be considered for Obama’s and Duncan’s Race to the Top funding (not legal) bespeaks the cowering of state departments of education to the Almighty Dollar.
Bill has billions of Almighty Dollars.
In this second post of my Gates CCSS funding series, I examine organizations influencing state education departments and local districts and that have accepted Gates money for promoting and implementing CCSS. The complete listing is included here: Gates Common Core Funding for Organizations Influencing State Departments and Local Districts of Education
Here are the organizations in sum, along with the current total of Gates CCSS funding for each as noted on the Gates grant database:
National Association of State Boards of Education:  $2,328,625
Education Commission of the States:  $799,221
Hillsborough County Council of PTA/PTSAs (Florida):  $800,000
Military Child Education Coalition  $419,963
Council of State Governments  $369,623
National Writing Project  $3,095,593
National Council of Teachers of English:  $249,482
For the remainder of this post, I offer discussion that I believe the public will find particularly enlightening.
National Association of State Boards of Education
On its website, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) states that its mission is to “serve and strengthen State Boards of Education in their pursuit of high levels of academic achievement for all students.” None of the Gates grants to NASBE involve a critical examination of CCSS. Instead, all three concern implementation:
Date: June 2013                                                                                                      Purpose:to support a development plan for the organization and to support its efforts to provide training and information to implement Common Core StateStandards                                                                                                                   Amount: $800,000
Date: February 2011                                                                                                Purpose: tobuild the capacity of State Boards of Education to better position them to achieve full implementation of the Common Core standards              Amount:$1,077,960
Date: October 2009                                                                                               Purpose: to convene regional meetings of policymakers and leaders to increase member knowledge around the common core standards                              Amount: $450,675   [Purpose emphasis added.]
The never-piloted CCSS is being promoted via a national association supposed to “strengthen state boards of education in pursuit of levels of high academic achievement.” No one involved with NASBE knows whether or not CCSS does indeed contribute to “high academic achievement.”  Yet NASBE has accepted millions to sell CCSS to state boards of education.
Education Commission of the States
The next organization, the Education Commission of the States (ECS), offers the following information on its history and purpose:
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) is an interstate compact created in 1965 to improve public education by facilitating the exchange of information, ideas and experiences among state policymakers and education leaders. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization involving key leaders from all levels of the education system, ECS creates unique opportunities to build partnerships, share information and promote the development of policy based on available research and strategies.  Forty-nine states, three territories and the District of Columbia constitute the commission’s current membership.  [Emphasis added.]
Thus, ECS notes its role as “facilitator of ideas” that is “based upon available research.” Nevertheless, ECS has accepted Gates money in order to promote an untested CCSS, including P-20 implementation– meaning that ECS is helping Gates push CCSS to literally cover the entire possible academic life span of a student– from preschool through college:
Date: October 2010                                                                                               Purpose: to support awareness building among key stakeholders around postsecondary goals and objectives and P-20 rationale for the Common Core State Standards                                                                                                                 Amount: $799,221 [Purpose emphasis added.]
Two observations regarding this “P-20″ CCSS. First, I am wondering when Gates will help finance Common Core In Utero. After all, learning begins in the womb, so why not throw a few million into controlling “pre-birth college readiness,” as well?  Second, if the obsessive goal ends with high school graduation, (i.e., ”college readiness”), why invade postsecondary ed unless the “and career readiness” presumes a career only to follow college? In other words, the CCSS ad nauseam slogan, “college and career ready” really does exclude a career that (May it never be!) does not necessitate a college education.
If a high school graduate opts to not attend college, will this person be classified as a “CCSS dropout”?  Is CCSS the slow and constant drip-drip dulling of student free will over life decisions?
A powerful, well-funded few controlling the educational life of the many. As author and seasoned teacher Susan Ohanian observes:
…The Common Core State (sic) Standards (CCSS)… puts children on a treadmill to becoming scared, obedient workers….
Hillsborough County PTA/PTSAs (Florida)
Gates is also willing to pay parent teacher associations to push CCSS implementation– not to critically examine CCSS. In my first post, I included information on Gates’ funding National PTA $500,000 “to empower leaders to create the changes they need in their school systems for Common Core implementation.” What “empowerment” is there if one cannot critically question, “Should parents accept CCSS in the first place?”
Bill’s money allows for no questions about acceptance. Just “implement,” already. And so it goes with the Hillsborough County PTA/PTSAs (Florida):
Date: June 2013                                                                                                    Purpose: to support a development plan for the organization and to support its effortsto provide training and information to implement Common Core State Standards                                                                                                                Amount: $800,000   [Purpose emphasis added.]
Parental indoctrination.
Military Child Education Coalition
The Gates funding descriptions for the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) are both very telling. One of the grants predates official CCSS completion (June 2009):
Date: November 2011                                                                                          Purpose: to develop and execute an advocacy campaign in support of the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in multiple states by leveraging the voices and actions of its network of military families and uniform leadership                                                                                                              Amount:$149,965
Date: October 2008 
Purpose: to create an alliance with Achieve and other national
partners to support ADP Common Core Math Standards, identify middle school
supporting content critical for mobile students, and create training modules
accessible to students and educators 
Amount: $269,998  [Purpose emphasis added.]
The 2008 Gates grant description sure reads like, “We want you to be part of the Inner Circle of CCSS creation for math standards, not for all math standards, just for the ones that match the ADP… including creating curriculum to match.”  And the 2011 grant: “Here’s some more money to convince military parents around the nation to buy in.”
Again, no room for the questions, “Is CCSS a good idea to begin with? And how do we know CCSS works?”
Council of State Governments
The remaining three organizations in this post– the Council of State Governments (CSG), the National Writing Project, and the National Council of Teachers of English– all accept Gates money to saturate American education with this “not national though nationally promoted” CCSS.
According to Gates, the job of CSG is to sell legislators, not only on CCSS, but also on the assessments “and the benefits”:
Date: July 2011                                                                                                             Purpose:to hold summits to inform and educate state legislators on the common core standards and assessments and the benefits for implementation in their states                                                                                                                          Amount: $369,623  [Purpose emphasis added.]
Do tell: What are the tested and proven “benefits” of CCSS?
Gates paid money in 2011 to push the “benefits” of CCSS assessments.
What assessments?
Gotta sell the legislators.  After all, they control the state coffers, and CCSS is a money-making business– especially for the cost of assessments (see here andhere for examples).
CCSS proponents really want those assessments to happen.
National Writing Project and
National Council of Teachers of English
As to the National Writing Project and National Council of Teachers of English, consider the CCSS sale complete. Now show teachers what they are expected to do:
National Writing Project:                                                                                                 Date: July 2011 Purpose: to increase capacity for professional development opportunities in implementing the Common Core State Standards for literacy Amount:$3,095,593  [Purpose emphasis added.]
National Council of Teachers of English:                                                                  Date: July 2013 Purpose: to support implementation of the Common Core State Standards                                                                                                               Amount: $249,482 [Purpose emphasis added.]
More treadmill.
Stay Tuned: Gates’ Departments of Education Purchase
The organizations examined in this post have been paid by Bill Gates to influence state education departments and local districts– and teachers, and parents– into blind acceptance of a set of so-called standards with no room for reconsideration, adjustment, or rejection. As such, CCSS is glaringly undemocratic and stands as a lesson for what can happen when one man has enough money to enforce his opinion via “checkbook vote.”
In my next post, I will examine the state departments and local districts that have directly received Gates money for CCSS indoctrination as well as these boards’ recently publicized decisions regarding CCSS.
Despite Gates’ obscene funding for CCSS, its survival grows shakier each day.
That though comforts me.
deutsch29 blog, September 3, 2013

Gates Brings Microsoft's Cannibalistic Culture to Teaching

*Postscript: scroll down for the Pledge on the Ethical Use of Student Data, student data being the basis for teacher cannibalism
This is all coming to make sense: Design metrics to numerically rank teachers. Have teachers compete against each other. Watch the low scorers get demoralized and quit or get terminated. Get new hires at low rates.
P.L. Thomas' very essential piece at "The Becoming Radical":

Gates’s Cannibalistic Culture: Coming to a School Near You!

August 26, 2013

Bill Gates has adopted education as a billionaire’s hobby for many years—once supporting small schools projects, but more recently focusing on teacher quality.
Little attention, however, has been paid in the mainstream media to Gates’s struggles in business (Microsoft) or his complete lack of expertise, experience, or success as an educational entrepreneur.
Until this expose by Vanity Fair addressing the key practices at the foundation of Microsoft’s failures (“Today, a single Apple product—the iPhone—generates more revenue than all of Microsoft’s wares combined”). [1]
Gates has argued for a need to identify the best (and worst) teachers in order to control who teachers teach and how:
What should policymakers do? One approach is to get more students in front of top teachers by identifying the top 25 percent of teachers and asking them to take on four or five more students. Part of the savings could then be used to give the top teachers a raise. (In a 2008 survey funded by the Gates Foundation, 83 percent of teachers said they would be happy to teach more students for more pay.) The rest of the savings could go toward improving teacher support and evaluation systems, to help more teachers become great.
In effect, Gates’s plan to address teacher quality is shared among almost all education reformers, including the USDOE and Secretary Arne Duncan, and focuses on labeling,ranking, and sorting teachers—a practice eerily similar to the “Cannibalistic Culture” identified as central to the failures at Microsoft:
Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”
“Competing with Each Other”: Students as Weapons of Mass Instruction
It all starts with a lie. A very compelling lie that has the weight of common sense reinforced by the proclamations of people with wealth, Bill Gates, and power, Secretary Arne Duncan: Teachers are the single most important element in the learning of a child.
The problem is, of course, this is factually untrue. Nonetheless, the follow up lie (when you base a conclusion on a false permise, that conclusion is also false) is also compelling: Teacher quality must be improved!
The balance of evidence shows that measurable student outcomes (itself a serious flaw in how we draw conclusions about both student learning and teacher quality) is overwhelmingly linked with out-of-school factors—anywhere from about 2/3 to well over 80% of that data correlated with out-of-school factors.
Even arguing that teachers are the single most important in-school factor in measurable student outcomes is problematic since the research on that claim is mixed at best (some evidence suggests that school leadership and culture are as important, if not more so, than teacher quality).
Gates and the USDOE, then, are making a foundational problem of seeking solutions to problems that haven’t been identified. In other words, no one has shown definitively that teacher quality is the primary or even one of the primary causes of low student outcomes.
Now, once we move beyond that problem, approaches to teacher evaluation and pay may need to be revised, but ample evidence shows that the proposals being offered by Gates and Duncan, as well as all across the U.S., are also without solid evidence to support them (disproportionate teacher assignment has been identified, but that reality is somehow often ignored since the privileged children are winning in that inequity [see Peske & Haycock, 2006]).
Incentive-based evaluation and compensation have a long record of being ineffective, counter-production, and not cost effective (see Hout & Elliot, 2011, and Kohn, 1993/1999). Yet, as with the compelling message about teacher quality and student outcomes, competition and incentives are almost universally embraced in U.S. culture without regard for the evidence (see Worthen, et al., 2009, regarding competition).
That leads to the revelations about the previously unexplored problems at Microsoft exposed by Eichenwald—the Cannibalistic Culture of stack ranking by which all workers are evaluated on an imposed scale of ranking in order to identify the elite workers.
If Eichenwald’s characterization of the ranking as corrosive is accurate, leading as it did to workers “competing with each other,” then we can anticipate a truly disturbing reality to occur when teachers are held accountable for their students’ grade as significant percentages of their evaluations and compensation: Teachers will begin to use their students as weapons of mass instruction to defeat the students of the competing teachers, either in their own school or within the district.
This is a debilitating and ethically corrupt outcome that cannot be avoided if we continue to seek incentive-based, VAM approaches to teacher quality.
Education and teacher quality absolutely need to be reformed, but increasing the Cannibalistic Culture for teachers and students is not the path we need as a free people seeking universal public education as a central institution supporting democracy.
Education is a collaborative venture; a culture of competition is poison in the teaching/learning dynamic. Labeling, sorting, and ranking teachers and students is inexcusable in any form as long as we are genuinely committed to fostering a culture of collaboration necessary for learning.
The Cannibalistic Culture has created the winners who call for expanding that game. The Cannibalistic Culture benefits only the winners as it forces the status of loser upon most people regardless—again consider the stack ranking at Microsoft.
Teacher evaluation and education need to be reformed toward a culture of collaboration, a culture that encourages human interactions that are not about winning or losing and not about fighting for ever-shrinking pieces of the pie.
Public education and teacher quality reform currently being pursued is certain to drive good people from teaching and to ask less and less of both teachers and students. We have ample evidence from the disturbing Microsoft story being revealed to us, but we also have the stories of generations of teachers who know how education and teaching need to be supported and reformed.
Teachers want all students to succeed. Teachers want to be treated as professionals. Teachers want school conditions that support their work as educators.
Teachers do not want to use their students to outperform some other teachers’ students.
A Cannibalistic Culture will certainly create students as weapons of mass instruction that will destroy universal public education.
Michelle Gunderson of Chicago has developed a great graphic on the Ethical Use of Student Data. Remember that student data is the essential instrument for ranking and sorting teachers. The extolling of some and termination of others --in parallel fashion to Gates' Microsoft's stack ranking-- cannot happen in the age of metrics over everything cannot happen without student data. Here is Gunderson's essential analysis:
Now, we see standardized test scores used to justify privatizing our schools. Over and over again our downtown administration starves neighborhood schools of resources and refuses to address the needs of our impoverished students. Then when these schools have low performing test scores, they are closed. Charter schools, which are private enterprises even when non-profit, are opened up to fill this void.
Hence, in my career as a CPS teacher I’ve witnessed standardized testing used to sort, punish, and privatize.
And I am saying enough is enough.
I’ve developed a Personal Pledge for the Ethical Use of Student Data. This pledge is my way of communicating to fellow teachers, parents, administrators, and education policy allies my stance on standardized testing. It’s a document that helps codify my moral stance, and it is hoped it will help others take a similar action.
I realize it is just a start. If I could wave a wand and make the tests disappear I would. But I do know that if my school district insists on giving these tests, I can insist upon exercising some control over how they are used.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Can You Pass The Progressive's Common Core Quiz?

*Common Core quiz from The Progressive magazine *Florida liberals against Common Core


Susan Ohanian and Stephen Krashen, The Progressive, January 26, 2013 

7. Common Core Standards were developed because
a) parents worry that US children score far below other countries on international tests.
b) teachers lack the skills to craft adequate curriculum and wanted help.
c) state departments of education asked for them.
d) of grass-roots concern that children need special tools to compete in the Global Economy.
e) the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation paid for them.

8. Common Core Standards in literacy were written by
a) classroom teachers.
b) child psychologists.
c) university researchers.
d) business leaders.
e) a lawyer who specializes in "standards-driven reform" and someone whose background is in Management Consulting, who once tutored children while studying at Yale.

9. The new Common Core tests
a) let the teachers know exactly what each student needs to learn next.
b) give parents evidence teachers are doing their job.
c) ensure that standards are being met.
d) give principals a fair way to evaluate teachers.
e) make fiscal demands many districts cannot meet.

10. The new online feature of Common Core testing
a) will reduce administration costs.
b) will streamline student evaluation.
c) offers new opportunities for creativity.
d) will lead to more individualized learning.
e) means students will be tested many more times each year.

7. E
Is the Gates Foundation Involved in bribery,” July 23, 2010
JoLLE Forum--Rotten to the (Common) Core,” Nov. 1, 2012
8. E
David Coleman bio; Susan Pimentel bio
9. E
Federal Mandates on Local Education: Costs and Consequences--Yes, it's a Race, but is it in the Right Direction?”
10. E

For questions 1 through 6 of the quiz, go to Ohanian and Krashen's article in The Progressive.
[For facts on how Gates used the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to push through Common Core, and the key players in the secretive formation of the Common Core, read The Common Core and Gates' Education Commercialization Complex and read here on how bipartisan the elite support for it is, and how bipartisan the opposition can become.]
 * * *

Notice that the Democratic ed reformers seem to have their arguments in a pack style. (Just take your pick of the New York Times op-ed pieces.) NYSED Commissioner John King and US ED Secretary Arne Duncan both characterize the opposition as exclusively Tea Partiers. (See here and here, respectively.) NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and NYSED Associate Commissioner Ken Wagner both attribute student's stress over tests as coming from their parents' reading anti-test material in the media. (For both, see here.)

So, in Florida we see a qualified criticism of the Common Core from the liberal Bad Ass Teacher chapter, Maureen McGrory reported in the Miami Herald. Also, the Democratic Progressive Caucus in the state is expressing concern over the Common Core testing. So, more proof to disprove Sec. Duncan.