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.