Common Core Collaborators

Photo Credit: J. Sanna (CC-By-2.0)

Richard P. Phelps at the Nonpartisan Education Review provides an excellent resource. They offer five articles that provide a historical, financial and media analyses of the organization that spawned the Common Core State Standards, the two copyright holders, two of the paid proselytizers, and the delivery vehicle, where the reputed Common Core architect, David Coleman, now runs things where Phelps says he earns an annual salary of well over million dollars.

Here are the links to each article:

More Parents Indicate They Will Refuse the Test

Achieve, Inc. released a survey that contains some interesting data. Since they are the group behind Common Core and are Gates-funded, I think the majority support indicated in their poll as utter hogwash however.

They explain the methodology that makes the Common Core support polling suspect:

On behalf of Achieve, Public Opinion Strategies with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted a national survey of 1,200 public school parents, with at least one child in grades 3–12 with oversamples of 300 each of Hispanic moms; African-American moms; and suburban moms with a household income of +$80,000.

The survey was conducted in May 2016 and has a margin of error of +2.83%. The margin of error for the oversamples is +5.7%.

Oversampling Hispanic moms and African-American moms skew the results as minority groups in urban areas have tended to poll higher in their support of Common Core.

What this does do is show that it appears more parents will opt their students out of assessments in the 2016-2017 school year as you can see below. The numbers double with Hispanic and African-American moms.

achieve opt out rates

Achieve opt out poll

HT: NYC Public School Parents

“State-Led” Common Core Primarily Had Only Five Writers

Joy Pullmann at School Reform News wrote an excellent piece that helps to further demonstrate that the Common Core State Standards were not state-led.  While there were many people who served on various committees and work groups all of the feedback was filtered by only five people.

After giving a brief history of what led to the development of the Common Core, Pullman writes:

By July 1, 2009, NGA and CCSSO had formed more committees. There were two work groups, whose dozen members in math and English wrote the standards. These included no teachers, but did include a few professors. Second were two feedback groups, who were supposed to provide research and advice to the writers. Those had 18 members each, who were mostly professors but included one math teacher. Third was the validation committee, announced in September 2009, which acted as the final gate for Common Core. Their job was to “ensure [the standards] are research and evidence-based.”

While many people sat on these various committees, only one in sixty was a classroom teacher,according to teaching coach and blogger Anthony Cody.  All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private. While Linn says six states sent intensive teacher and staff feedback, committee members weren’t sure what effect their advice had, said Mark Bauerlein, an Emory University professor who sat on a feedback committee.

“I have no idea how much influence committee members had on final product. Some of the things I advised made their way into the standards. Some of them didn’t. I’m not sure why or how,” he said. He said those who would know were the standards’ lead writers: David Coleman and Susan Pimentel in English, and Jason Zimba, Phil Daro, and William McCallum in math. Of these, only McCallum had previous experience writing standards.

Several people on the validation committee said the same: They had no idea what happened to their comments once they submitted them. (emphasis mine)

Then we see exactly how transparent the Common Core developers were:

Five of 29 validation committee members refused to sign off on Common Core. The validation committee’s final report does not mention their objections. Its author later told Sandra Stotsky, another committee member, he had never received any written objections from committee facilitators, she said, although she and several others had sent them. He would have included them, he told her.

Be sure to read her full article here.

Debunking Misconceptions: “The Common Core is State-Led”

I thought that I would start a series on common misconceptions related to the Common Core State Standards.  I don’t know how frequently I’ll come back to this series, but as these misconceptions come up or as I hear them I want to address them.  The first is one that I hear quite frequently and I was told was a misconception repeated in the Iowa House Education Committee meeting the other day when the Common Core was briefly discussed.

The Common Core is not state-led.  To be fair, when I say that I’m not saying that the U.S. Department of Education wrote the Common Core.  I’m not even saying it was their idea.  It wasn’t.  Advocates of the Common Core who say it is state-led typically are saying neither of these things happened.

On that we can agree.

It’s always important to get past lingo and clarify what we mean.  When I say something is “state-led,” I mean it is initiated within state departments of education with the blessing of the state’s governor and then approved by the state legislature and then signed into law by the state’s Governor.

A scenario that could have happened with standards that could legitimately be called “state-led.”  Say members within the say Texas Education Agency said “hey, we really like what Massachusetts is doing with their standards.”  They then go on to study them, talk to experts who are knowledgeable with the process of developing those standards, get parental and teacher input, tweak the standards in a way that makes sense to Texas, send them to the Texas Legislature who then approves them, and then Governor Rick Perry signs it into law.  Some Texas Legislators rub elbows with state legislators from other states saying… “this is what we did in Texas, and then state legislators from Massachusetts said, “hey yes you should look at what we’re doing.”  Then other state legislators go back to their states and initiate that process.  Perhaps this conversation could take place within the National Governor’s Association or Council of Chief State School Officers, but the point is they were standards written at the state level, approved in the legislative process and is then reciprocated by other states in a way that makes sense to them.

That would be a “state-led” initiative and a process I could applaud.  States should look for what works.  Why not look at Massachusetts standards, Indiana’s ELA standards, and say California’s math standards (prior to alignment to the Common Core).  I’m for common sense, and that would be common sense.

That isn’t what happened however.

The process was initiated by the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  They then delegated the drafting of the standards to Achieve, Inc. who was created by the NGA.  This process was managed by six state Governors who were chosen by a non-democratic process).  The oversight also included the CEOs of Battelle Memorial Institute, Intel Corporation, Prudential Financial, Achieve, Inc. and State Farm Insurance.

This was all financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Boeing Company, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the GE Foundation, IBM Corporation, Intel Foundation, Nationwide, the Prudential Foundation, the State Farm Insurance Company, Washington Mutual Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewett Foundation.

To top it off the NGA-recognized “reviews” of the standards commissioned by Achieve were funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an interest group who were pushing the standards to begin with.  No conflict of interest there!  Since January of 2008 the Gates Foundation has awarded the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers over $35 Million (this is a dated amount, it most certainly has increased by now).

This is what we call state-led?  No, if advocates of the Common Core were honest they would say it is special-interest written and funded.  However it was Federally-pushed getting other states on board.  That’s where Race to the Top grants come in.  Through the 2009 stimulus package $4.35 billion in discretionary money was given to the U.S. Department of Education and in order to qualify for these grants states had to adopt the Common Core.

This is state-led?

Education Secretary Arne Duncan went on to tell states that in order to receive a No Child Left Behind Waiver had to, for starters, adopt the Common Core and then adopt other “reforms” prescribed by the Department.

That’s state-led?

Even Tony Bennett, who was recently ousted as Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, bemoaned the standards being “federalized.”

No state has yet adopted these through their state legislature.  That’s state-led?

Under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, education is among the most important policy power not “delegated to the United States” and therefore is “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Historically, U.S. Education policy-making has been a matter of local control, where parents have the most influence.  That was not honored in this process.

So we can all the Common Core a whole plethora of things, but “state-led” can’t honestly be one of them.

If the Public is in the Dark About the Common Core, Just Do Some Poll Manipulation

Robert Holland, a senior fellow for education policy with the Heartland Institute, wrote an excellent op/ed in The Washington Times highlighting how the general public is in the dark about the Common Core State Standards:

Achieve, a band of like-minded corporate moguls that formed in 1996 to push national education standards, had to report rather sheepishly last month that its own poll showed Americans are almost totally in the dark about the Common Core juggernaut.

A remarkable 79 percent of registered voters know “nothing” or “not much” about what Achieve calls the Common Core State Standards. Another 14 percent said they knew “some,” and just 7 percent claimed to know “a lot.”

None of that is surprising: Those standards for teaching English and mathematics were put together behind closed doors starting in 2009 by “experts” assembled by resident bureaucrats of the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association.

Achieve then had to recover and do some poll manipulation in order to cover this embarrassment up.

Achieve had a headache remedy handy for the embarrassing lack of public knowledge revealed by its own pollsters: Write a glowing description of the Common Core and then ask folks again what they thought. After reading it, 77 percent of respondents said they supported implementation of the Common Core, a finding Achieve then touted. This was the description the pollster spoon-fed them: “These new standards have been set to internationally competitive levels in English and math. This means that students may be more challenged by the material they study, and the tests they take will measure more advanced concepts and require students to show their work.”

That’s a classic example of a pollster manipulating questions to obtain a result desired by an advocacy group. Remember, the description was for folks who confessed to knowing basically nothing about the Common Core.

Holland wondered how would people poll if given some basic facts about how the Common Core State Standards have been developed and what their implementation means for local schools:

“Your local schools are about to start implementing standards and assessments developed by Washington-based interest groups and pushed by the federal government. These standards, known as the Common Core, have never been field-tested, and your local school board has been unable to put them to a public hearing or vote.

“The national standards provide no process for states or localities to amend them. They will require students to take four federally subsidized tests a year, all of them via computer, and the results will be a factor in evaluating local teachers.”

Given that factual statement, it is doubtful the desire to push forward with immediate implementation would have reached 25 percent.

He’s probably right.  We need to continue to shine the light on the Common Core State Standards that way we do have people informed about these standards that are being foisted on states and local school districts.

Some Fuzzy Research on Common Core Math Standards

Achieve pointed out new research that links Common Core Math Standards to higher achievement.  Fascinating since those standards haven’t been implemented yet.  Maybe they are testing them on animal subjects… somebody better warn PETA. 

Oh never mind, here’s how they got their results…

Schmidt’s work focuses on the strong resemblance of the CCSS for mathematics to the standards of the highest-achieving nations; the improvement in focus, coherence and rigor of the CCSS for mathematics beyond the state standards they replaced; and the link between higher National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) mathematics scores and states with standards closely aligned to the CCSS for mathematics.

This is research that is co-sponsored by Achieve who in turn is being funded by The Gates Foundation who supports national standards.  Typically you launch into a study without a predetermined result.  The key words here are “closely aligned”… so not the Common Core Math Standards themselves.  Forget what else may be taking place in those classrooms, forget that some of the subject students aren’t even in American classrooms.  Forget this isn’t how credible research is done.

This folks is what we call fuzzy research or as Greg Forster would put it “pre-search.”

ALEC Education Task Force Approves Anti-Common Core Model Legislation

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) met last week in Scottsdale, AZ.  They are an organization whose mission is “to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.”  They have several task forces, one of which is education.

This group is important as model legislation is often developed and discussed and then taken home to the state capitals and placed on legislative agendas.  Though the group’s mission is to advance Jeffersonian principles, in particular federalism, pro-common core state standards advocates like Achieve, Jeb Bush, and The Gates Foundation have gained ground with its members.

The education task force heard argument from Closing the Door to Innovation, a statement that has been signed by 350 prominent education policymakers, researchers, teachers and parents.  As a result the education taskforce approved model legislation (sponsored by American Principles Project, The Goldwater Institute, and the Washington Policy Center) opposing the common core state standards.  The model legislation below will hopefully be introduced in a state legislature near you:

Comprehensive Legislative Package Opposing the Common Core State Standards Initiative:

WHEREAS, high student performance and closing the achievement gap is fundamentally linked to an overall reform of our public education system through a strong system of accountability and transparency built on state standards; and

WHEREAS, the responsibility for the education of each child of this nation primarily lies with parents, supported by locally elected school boards and state governments; and

WHEREAS, in 2009 and 2010, the State was offered the chance to compete for education funding through the “Race to the Top” program created by the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”); and

WHEREAS, the only way to achieve a score in the competition sufficient to qualify for funding was to agree to “participation in a consortium of States that… (i)s working toward jointly developing and adopting a common set of K-12 standards…”, and

WHEREAS, the only such “common set of K-12 standards” existent at that time, or since, is known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (“CCSSI”) and was developed without a grant of authority from any state; and

WHEREAS, local election officials, school leaders, teachers, and parents were not included in the discussion, evaluation and preparation of the CCSSI standards that would affect students in the state; and

WHEREAS, citizens had no opportunity to review and comment on the final version of CCSSI standards, and states were not offered an option to modify those standards before their adoption; and

WHEREAS, no empirical evidence indicates that centralized education standards result in higher student achievement; and

WHEREAS, adoption of the CCSSI standards would force several states to lower the rigor and quality of their standards; and

WHEREAS, the National Assessment of Educational Progress national test already exists and allows comparisons of academic achievement to be made across the states, without the necessity of imposing national standards, curricula, or assessments; and

WHEREAS, imposing a set of national standards is likely to lead to the imposition of a national curriculum and national assessment upon the various states, in violation of the General Education Provisions Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and the Department of Education Organization Act and

WHEREAS, claims from the Common Core Initiative that the CCSSI standards will not dictate what teachers teach in the classroom are refuted by language in the standards as written; and

WHEREAS, common standards will lesson the ability for local stakeholders to innovate and continue to make improvement over time; and

WHEREAS, when no less than 22 states face budget shortfalls and Race to the Top funding for states is limited, $350 million for consortia to develop new assessments aligned with the CCSSI standards will not cover the entire cost of overhauling state accountability systems, which includes implementation of standards and testing and associated professional development and curriculum restructuring; and

WHEREAS, special interest groups can manipulate the vulnerability of the centralized decision making that governs common standards and lower the standards’ rigor and quality of over time to suite their priorities;

Option A (Resolution):

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the (legislative body) of the state of (name of state) rejects any policies and procedures that would be incumbent on the state based on Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Option B (Statute):

The State Board of Education may not adopt, and the State Department of Education may not implement, the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as the effective date of this section are void ab initio.  Neither this nor any other statewide education standards may be adopted or implemented without the approval of the Legislature.

Originally posted at Caffeinated Thoughts

Iowa to Help Lead Undemocratic Process to Advance National Science Standards

Jason Glass, the Director of the Iowa Department of Education, announced last week that Iowa was one of 20 states that will lead the development of the “Next Generation Science Standards” which is part of the Common Core State Standards that is being managed by Achieve (read Bill Gates), which is a non-profit education reform organization.

Along with Iowa other state departments of education that will be involved are from Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Glass said, “I’m proud that Iowa is on the front lines of this ground-breaking effort to improve science education with the development of new standards.  Raising the bar for science education fits with our goal to build a world-class education system in Iowa and to prepare every child to graduate ready for college and careers in a globally competitive context. It’s also crucial to Iowa’s economy, which depends on STEM-related fields.”

The framework for the standards has already been developed, and the jobs of the educrats that each state education department assigns to the state committees will write standards based off of that.  To be considered each state had to submit a letter signed by the state education director and the chair of the state board of education.

Nothing about legislative approval?  No surprise.  Let’s be clear – “states” are not involved, unelected (in most cases) state education department heads and staff are.  They will be advancing science standards, which are substandard, in an undemocratic fashion.  No state legislature has voted on these standards, there has been no input given.  What these standards are sure to do is to continue to widen the achievement gap between the United States and higher achieving countries.

As an Iowan being proud of this development is the last thing than comes to mind.