The Gates Money and Common Core

Mercedes Schneider has a fabulous audit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spending on Common Core.  In particular I want to highlight money spent on advocacy and advancing the Common Core.

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.

Almost $2 million dollars and yet Chester Finn of Fordham said the money had nothing to do with his support of the Common core.  Right, sure.  I find it fascinating he had to buy off both major teachers union.  We’re getting word that the Gates Foundation may be spending more money on advocacy as they since they’re losing ground.

I get asked how the opposition is being funded and I have to reply we don’t have a billionaire funding us.

Clinton Ties Common Core With Civil Rights

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Yesterday former President Bill Clinton spoke at the “Let Freedom Ring” rally at the Lincoln Memorial that commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In his speech he expressed support for the Common Core:

So how are we going to repay the debt? Dr. King’s dream of interdependence, his prescription of wholehearted cooperation across racial lines — they ring as true today as they did 50 years ago. Oh, yes, we face terrible political gridlock now. Read a little history; it’s nothing new. Yes, there remain racial inequalities in employment, income, health, wealth, incarceration, and in the victims and perpetrators of violent crime. But we don’t face beatings, lynchings and shootings for our political beliefs anymore. And I would respectfully suggest that Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock. It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the American people back.

We cannot be disheartened by the forces of resistance to building a modern economy and good jobs or to rebuilding our education system to give all our children a common core or to give all Americans access to affordable college training programs.

So what now the Common Core is a civil rights issue?

Oh the Common Core Will Make Us Combat Ready Too

Michigan Live published a story highlighting advocates of the Common Core saying it is important for military families and combat readiness.

The first argument is for military kids who tend to move around a lot.  This is not a new phenomenon.  So why the change now? We shouldn’t make changes in our entire education system based on the very small percentage of kids who move state to state.

Not to mention we’re told that schools can choose their own curriculum, the interpretation of different standards may vary, and states can add 15% to the standards.  Military kids will probably find the hardships are the same.

The second argument is that it will improve military readiness:

In addition to the effect on military families, Stone said Common Core is necessary because of the increased demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills in the military.

"With the emphasis on STEM, we’re going to have a problem with recruiting in the future if we’re not producing students ready to join the military," Stone said.

K.P. Pelleran, state director for Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit group focused on improving military preparedness by addressing children’s issues, echoed the same concerns as Stone.

"The corps is required to have advanced tech skills to operate our military equipment," Pelleran said. "This isn’t the same equipment we went to war with in World War I or World War II."

Pelleran said that 20 percent of Michigan high school graduates who try to enlist cannot pass the military’s entrance exam, which tests mathematics, literacy and problem solving.

First if a test has a 100% pass rate it probably isn’t tough enough.  Secondly there are many military occupational skills and not every skill will require the same level of tech knowledge.  Third it’s questionable that the Common Core will help anyway.

Mission: Readiness produced a report in Pennsylvania touting the standards.  They cite kids being overweight and juvenile crime as problems.  Last year they issued a report in Michigan citing education, weight and crime.  Does the Common Core address those?  Well some think it will reduce juvenile crime.  Incidentally Amy Dawson Taggart helped launch – Fight Crime: Invest in Kids which is also doing Common Core advocacy and receiving Gates money.  It doesn’t appear that Mission: Readiness is Gates funded, but the Gates Foundation has awarded the Military Child Education Coalition almost $150,000 in 2011 to “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.”

In 2008 that same group received almost $270,000 to “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.”

Common Core Targeted in Missouri Legislative Hearing

mo-flagThe Missouri House Interim Committee on Improving Government Responsiveness met yesterday and they got an earful from parents about the Common Core.  From the Missouri Times:

The House Interim Committee on Improving Government Responsiveness, Efficiency and Accountability met today in a hearing that largely became about the implementation of Common Core standards in Missouri

Parents from around the state testified before the committee about their concerns surrounding the new program, which would require schools across the state to adopt new standards for Mathematics and English.

Jill Carter, a parent from the East Newton School District, said her school board told her their “hands were tied” in implementing the new standards and that local control was at stake.

“If a local school board will lose accreditation with the state if they don’t adopt these new standards, then were is the local control?” Carter told The Missouri Times. “The Missouri State Board of Education says that local school districts are the guardians of education in the state. How can they be the guardians if they are being dictated to?”

Parents are also tiring of being ignored or marginalized by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:

Parents at the Tuesday hearing said the DESE meetings have not been helpful so far.

Stacy Shore, a mother of two, has said she intends to pull her children from their district if the situation continues, and said that at the public hearing she attended, DESE officials read from talking points and did not take questions. DESE representatives flatly denied this charge to The Missouri Times.

“It’s my tax dollars and this is my children’s education,” Shore said to the committee. “But when I persist with questions, I’m treated like a zealot or something, and I’m just a concerned parent.”

Anne Gassel’s Common Core Action List

This weekend I spoke this weekend at an event called “Exposing the Common Core” in Collinsville, IL (outside of St. Louis, MO).  Anne Gassel, the co-editor of Missouri Education Watchdog, also spoke.  I gave an overview of the Common Core and problems I had with it.  She presented an action list which I really liked and learned from.  With her permission I’m publishing it below.

  1. Join forces with other like minded people and spread the word as far as you can throughout the state. Most people don’t know about common core, where it came from, what its purpose is and where public education is heading. You will need large visible groups to get your point across that you are not the fringe. You are the average informed person.
  2. Recognize that what is going on in education, while new, has also been creeping in for a long time. We have unconsciously assigned our responsibility as parents to teach our children to publicly paid employees. We assumed they were doing a good job and had our children’s best interest at heart. Getting rid of common core will not address many of the problems with public education. This is a long mission. We must be more vigilant of what is happening in our schools and not be afraid to speak up against the little things, because those are often just the first steps towards a radically different public education.
  3. Get to know all the other parents in your child’s classroom. If you ever need to go to the administration with a problem, groups of parents will make it harder for the administration to ignore or marginalize you. Show them you are ALL watching what they do and you will make your concerns known.
  4. Identify people who can do research. Research critical dates for your state. Find copies of MOU’s signed by your officials and DOWNLOAD THEM before they disappear. READ YOUR STATE STATUTES REGARDING EDUCATION. Find our what local district’s rights are. Find out what kind of authority your state department of education has. What responsibility do they have to your legislature? Where are the checks and balances in your system? When you fight this you will need to use the law and their words against them. These will be your strongest weapons!
  5. Demand documentation for every claim proponents make. The entire education industry claims they want to make decisions based on data, so let’s agree with them. Make them share their data before you share your tax dollars.
  6. Make it easy to share your findings. Don’t make others recreate the wheel. There simply isn’t time.
  7. Keep your eye on the final goal. Don’t get caught up in power struggles, ownership, pride or the need to be seen as THE expert. Always ask if what you are doing will lead to your final goal and can many people benefit from your work.
  8. Be clear on where the right pressure points are. Don’t hound your local district for things they must do because state statute says they have to. Go to your legislature for those things. Don’t waste your time badgering your teachers about CC. They are the most impotent in all of this. Do network with teachers who also oppose CC. They can give you great insight into what is happening in the schools and where they are experiencing problems.
  9. READ WHAT YOUR KIDS MUST READ FOR SCHOOL (textbooks, worksheets etc.) . CC is just a set of standards and doesn’t have a ton of specific ideology in it. What it does, however, is allow textbook and curriculum suppliers to market products with a lot of ideology under the guise of being “aligned to CC.” The proponents of CC will tell you YOU still have control of curriculum so assert that control any time you see materials that you think are unacceptable. CC is not solely responsible for this liberal moral relativity stuff. It has been creeping in for many years, but we have remained mostly silent. In their minds, silence equals agreement. Don’t be silent.
  10. Write letters to the editor. Keep your position in front of the public. They are trying to marginalize you. Show them that there are a lot of you who think the same way about national standards and data collection on students.
  11. GET ON YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD or work to get someone you trust on there. The right candidate has time to do research on things presented by the district, is not afraid to question the status quo or demand that the voice of the public be heard. The school board must correct the role of the superintendent. He/she answers to them, not the other way around. Get the board to sign the resolution against common core.

Upcoming New York Senate Education Committee Hearings on Common Core

The information below is from Stop Common Core in New York State:

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District), Chairman of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education, announced that the Education Committee will be holding a series of hearings to review the impact and effectiveness of recent state education reforms.

The hearings will primarily focus on several major issues including state assessments, the implementation of common core state standards, and the protection of student privacy.

Remainder of link here: Senator Flanagan’s Educational Hearings

September 17th, 2013 Long Island (Suffolk Community College)
October 1st, 2013 Syracuse (Syracuse City Hall)
October 16th, 2013 Buffalo (Buffalo City Hall)
October 29th, 2013 New York City (Senate Hearing Room NY)

Parents YOU need to call, write and email your elected officials NOW and demand to be part of these hearings.  This process should NOT be staged and no one should be “cherry picked”.  If you do not know who your state legislator is scroll down below to “Find Your Senator” or “Find your representative

Find out if your Senator or Assembly member is a part of the Education Committee if so, call, write or email them and ask them for for details about the upcoming educational hearings and tell the that you would like to be part of the process.
Please call, write and email Senator Flanagan’s office NOW to ask for more details about the hearings after all even if you are not a constituent of his he is still accountable to ALL New York Parents due to his position: Chairman of the New York State Senate for the Education Committee!

District Office: (631) 361-2154

260 County Road, Suite 10

Smithtown, NY  117787
Albany Office: (518) 455-2071
Room 805 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 112247
Email: flanagan@nysenate.gov

CALLING **ALL** NEW YORKERS:
Mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older sisters & brothers anyone who has a child in their life that they love and are the apple of your eye.  Action is NEEDED!  It only takes an email or letter to voice your concerns.   If we want to make a difference there needs to be engagement from all 62 counties across New York State.

Contact your Representatives and Senators on both levels, even local.

NEW YORK STATE:

NY State Senate: Find your senator

NY State Assembly: Find your representative
New York Senate Education Committe Members

New York State Assembly Education Committee Members

Federal Government to have Access to your Child’s Data via Common Core Assessments

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) assessments will provide the securedownloadfederal government access to information about your child. Yes, that is right. And you were never asked as a parent if this is okay with you, were you? How did this happen? Who authorized this?

If your state has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and will be using either the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessments the federal government will have access to your child’s individual data. Let’s explore this a bit.

First, the CCSS are a set of standards identifying what students are expected to learn. The standards themselves do not require any data to be shared with anybody. If that is the case, why do some people claim the Common Core State Standards require states to share student data with the federal government?

The Race to the Top (RTTT) Assessment Program awarded grants to PARCC and SBAC to develop assessments aligned to the CCSS. They each have an identical cooperative agreement. For PARCC, it is called the Cooperative Agreement Between the U.S. Department of Education and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers. For SBAC, it is called the Cooperative Agreement Between the U.S. Department of Education and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the State of Washington (fiscal agent). You can download the Cooperative Agreements from the Race to the Top Assessment Program Awards page.  Consortia member states are bound by the terms of these agreements. Are there terms in these agreements parents should be concerned about? YES!

Let’s look at the terms that may concern parents having to do with data. You are encouraged to check the cooperative agreement documents for yourself to verify these terms are actually n the agreements. It is established early in the document that ED stands for U.S. Department of Education. Grantee refers to the grant recipient—either PARCC of SBAC. Item 5 on page 3 says:

5) Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill, the program requirements established in the RTTA Notice Inviting Applications and the conditions on the grant award, as well as to this agreement, including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity, and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws.

This establishes that the agreement is referring to student-level (individual) data when it mentions data. The document says nothing about aggregate data.

Item 5(b) on page 11 reads:

(b) Producing all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard that is approved by the Department during the grant period;

Item 6 on page 10 reads:

6) The Grantee must provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the State level to ED or its designated program monitors, technical assistance providers, or researcher partners, and to GAO, and the auditors conducting the audit required by 34 CFR section 80.26.

If asked, your state officials may deny the Common Core requires the state to share student data with the federal government. While they may not be lying to you they aren’t being entirely honest as a result of semantics. Instead of the state sharing data it is the consortia providing access. The state isn’t required to share student-level data through the Common Core. The consortia are required to “provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the state level” to the federal government. So even the consortia are able to deny they are sharing student data with the federal government. They aren’t sharing in the sense of giving, rather they are providing access so the federal government can reach in and take whatever data they want whenever they want.

This is where people get the idea the Common Core requires the state to share student data with the federal government. It really is the federal government requiring the assessment consortia to provide complete access to student-level data.

I will pose a few of the many questions this access to individual student data to the federal government raises. If parents know about this will they see it as a violation of their privacy and the privacy of their child? How many parents willingly and knowingly would consent to the federal government being provided access to their child’s individual data? Who authorized this? Did “We the People” authorize this? Since the federal government is prohibited from developing a nationwide database on students is this a way to circumvent the prohibition and in essence promote, support, and have access to individual student data from the majority of states? Once aware, what will parents do about this? Do teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members know they are enabling the federal government to have complete individual student data access by administering these assessments? How many legislators are aware of this and not doing anything about it? How do parents, taxpayers, and voters feel about their legislators not putting a stop to this?

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The NC Supt. Responds to the Lt. Gov.'s Questions About the Common Core

…or does she? On July 18, I posted a video in a post titled NC Lt. Gov. Forest Expresses Concerns and Questions About the Common Core. In the video the Lt. Gov. of NC posed a lot of questions he was seeking answers to from the state superintendent. He also provided a link to his letter that contained all of his questions. The superintendent has responded to the Lt. Gov. and he provides this video to share the response with the public.

I watched the video and skimmed through the response letter Lt. Gov. Forrest received. Wow! What arrogance. We end up seeing that kind of arrogance all the time when we ask for information and clarification on issues it is just not as big time and evident.

And the real answer to Lt. Gov. Forrest’s questions is:

1) Find your own answer, or
2) Any answer is acceptable, after all it is the Common Core and the process, not accurate answers, is what’s most important.

Here is the response letter.

Americans Are Sick of Standardized Tests

Yesterday I reported at Caffeinated Thoughts on the Gallup/PDK poll that showed only 1-out-of-3 Americans knew anything about the Common Core State Standards.  Not surprising really, well actually the surprising aspect is that it is that high.  Only 45% of public school parents knew – and it is being implemented in their school!  This blows a hole in the common talking point from Common Core advocates that this was a transparent process.

Valarie Strauss at The Washington Post today pointed out that in the same poll Americans say they are also sick of high-stakes standardized testing.  In 2012 a majority approved of them.

*Fewer than 25 percent of those polled believe increased standardized testing has helped the performance of local public schools.

*Fifty-eight percent of Americans polled reject using student scores from standardized tests to evaluate teachers, a big initiative of reformers.

What happened?  The Common Core happened.