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:

DeVos Cites Flexibility While Complaining About ESSA State Plans

Betsy DeVos at CPAC 2017

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Committee
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appeared to talk about of both sides of her mouth when she addressed the Council of Chief State School Officers Legislative Council.

DeVos cited the flexibility of the Every School Succeeds Act (ESSA) while, at the same time, complained about the state plans she has approved just met the “bare minimum.”

She made some encouraging remarks at first:

“We won’t weaponize waivers to compel you to adopt this administration’s politics. If we wanted to dictate from D.C., I’d claim the mantle of our nation’s “choice chief” and reject plans because they don’t give parents more quality choices. But I haven’t done that. And I won’t. The Department is not the national school board,” DeVos said. “This administration is committed to our Nation’s founding idea of separation of powers. The Department of Education doesn’t write laws, it implements them.”

She then went off the rails.

“ESSA was enacted partially in response to the widespread calls from state school chiefs – including many in this room — to give you the flexibility and opportunity to address your state’s unique challenges. Well, this law gives you that chance,” she said.

What? No, it doesn’t. In fact, it locked in many of the reforms implemented during President Obama’s administration.

Under the guise of “tough love” she chastised the school chiefs:

DeVos said she did not see much evidence that states have yet seized the supposed flexibility that ESSA provides in the state plans the Department has approved thus far.

“Some have said that they didn’t write their plans ‘to win an ESSA competition.’ Other plans look as though they were just written to get good grades from D.C. interest groups. Still other plans seem like they were written only for one purpose: compliance,” DeVos said. “Let me be clear: just because a plan complies with the law doesn’t mean it does what’s best for students.”

“Whatever the reasons, I see too many plans that only meet the bare minimum required by the law. Sure, they may pass muster around conference tables in Washington, but the bare minimum won’t pass muster around kitchen tables. And I’m not alone in this view,” she added.

When states still have to come to the U.S. Department of Education and say, “Mother, may I?” That is not flexibility, that is not local control, and that is still federal overreach.

State School Chiefs to Congress: Make Us Do Annual Testing

The letter and list of priorities that the Council of Chief State School Officers sent to Congress last week is mind boggling.  Yes they want to see mandates relaxed in a ESEA reauthorization, but they want Congress to keep the biggest mandate of all – the annual standardized test especially in light with the Senate flirting with the idea of ditching the annual testing requirement.

Can’t states do this without a federal mandate if they want?

Here’s the letter sent by Chris Minnich who is the executive director of CCSSO.

Here is their proposal for ESEA.

NGA Chair Gov. Mary Fallin Target of Campaign to End Common Core

Gov-Fallin-1American Principles Project, Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, Home School Legal Defense Association and several other grassroots conservative groups launched a campaign urging the Chair of the National Governors Association, Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK), to end the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  The NGA, along with the Council of Chief State School Officers, are co-owners of the copyright to the Common Core.

Fallin is facing a Common Core repeal bill that has passed both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature with an amended version that will need to be considered.  Governor Fallin has indicated that she is keeping an open mind about the bill, but it would put her in a strange position being chair of the NGA.

The letter has been signed by some of the leading figures in the fight to stop the Common Core State Standards such as Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins of American Principles Project, Phyllis Schlafly the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, Jamie Gass and Jim Stergois of the Pioneer Institute, syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute, Michael Farris of ParentalRights.org  and Stacy Mott the Founder and President of Smart Girl Politics Action.

The letter to Fallin states in part:

NGA’s activities, including its ownership, development and propagation of the Common Core,have caused profound harm to our constitutional structure.  NGA has enabled corporations and other private interests to drive education policy and, concomitantly, compromised the power of parents.  It has enlisted the power of the federal government to bring about these changes and, in so doing, has weakened the power of states to defend the authority and rights of parents and other citizens.

More specifically, NGA has assisted the federal government in employing a strategy against the states that has divided and conquered the state checks and balances that are intended to guard against federal overreach.  It has presided over the development of math standards that lock children into a defective education, one that does not prepare children for studies in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) or for admission to competitive public and private universities.  It has presided over the development of English standards that fail to prepare children for authentic college work in the humanities and that weaken the formation of strong citizen-leaders and individuals of substance who are fully capable of exercising their liberties.

The pushback against the Common Core rests on parents’ love for their children and their defense of the Constitution that protects their rights to form their children and direct their education.  It is a movement based on truth, and on highly informed citizens –citizens who follow in the footsteps of the Founders.  It is a movement that continues to grow and which will be victorious.

The letter is being sent along with a 13-page statement addressing the unconstitutionality of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Emmett McGroarty, Director of APP Education, with American Principles Project in a released statement said, “The American people know that government has drifted away from them and no longer responds to their will,” said APP Education Director Emmett McGroarty. “This letter details how state government has been turned into the tool of the federal executive branch, rather than responding to the will of the people.”

McGroarty continued, “Governor Fallin, though, has a wonderful opportunity to stand up for the American people and the Constitution that is intended to protect their rights, including their right to have a say in what their children learn and who teaches it to them.”

Parents, teachers and community members are encouraged to add their names to the letter here.

Cross-posted from Caffeinated Thoughts.

Common Core State Standards Not Nevada’s Creation

By Karen Briske & Christina Leventis

State-led, state-led, no really it was state-led! How many times have “We the People” been told the Common Core State Standards c. 2010 was a state-led process? How many times have “We the People” been told the adoption of the standards were voluntary (which, of course, begs the question why would the federal government need to tell sovereign states they have the right to adopt something they created – but we digress)?

For the past year-and-a-half we, along with many other parents and concerned citizens, have been pondering this state-led initiative suddenly and coincidentally under-taken, voluntarily, by 45 states all at the same time. Why has the federal government and state leaders waved this blood red flag at us? We heard you the first time and we heard you the one thousandth time. We hear you still. We hear you, but we don’t believe you.

Without recreating the full narrative on the development of the standards by the five or six businessmen, under Achieve, commissioned by the NGA and CCSSO (who are heavily funded by the federal government and who currently hold the copyright to CCSS), we are simply going to lay out the chronological order of how our great state of Nevada came to be saddled with the Common Core State Standards c. 2010 that our teachers and parents played no role in:

Dr. Rheault did not have Legislative approval to sign for Nevada. It is doubtful many, if any at all, members of Nevada’s Legislature were even aware of what was at work behind the scenes, in secret, with Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and the individual states at the time of this signing. (See Laurie H. Rogers Education News story on July 14, 2009: (http://www.educationnews.org/articles/common-core-standards-secretive-expensive-and-wrong.html

  • June 25, 2009, Dr. Keith Rheault, introduced the fact that the MOA had been executed on behalf of Nevada. In the minutes from the state board meeting Dr. Rheault states, “The intent of this initiative is to align state standards and assessments.” Rheault also said that he would, “hold town hall meetings in December for public input and appropriate input.” (http://doe.nv.gov/BoardEd/Meetings/2009/2009-06-25_Minutes_BOE.pdf)

Clearly this initiative was well underway and Nevada’s Superintendent and Governor were looking to take advantage of the end-product. We have yet to find minutes from any town hall meetings Dr. Rheault (may or may not have) held, nor have any been offered by the state board in the last four years.

  • November 17, 2009, Dr. Rheault, at the Legislative Committee on Education meeting, regarding the adoption of the Common Core Standards, said: “Nevada would have to remove some of the standards that are currently in place.” Dr. Rheault also pointed out that adoption of the common core standards was not voluntary for states applying for Race to the Top grants. http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Interim/75th2009/Minutes/Education/IM-Education-111709-10344.pdf

Clearly stated here is the fact that the standards that did belong to Nevada would be replaced with the Common Core Standards that came tied to the request for federal money.

  • April 6, 2014, Dale Erquiaga, Superintendent of Public Instruction, for the state of Nevada stated, in a Las Vegas Sun article, “he has yet to hear a substantive argument against the standards from Common Core critics. Most of the criticisms focus on the way the standards were developed — which Nevada could not control — and objectionable lesson plans, workbooks and textbooks that are being used in other states to teach Common Core material, he said.” http://lasvegassun.com/news/2014/apr/06/new-standards-education-dredge-old-apprehensions/

Mr. Erquiaga could not have stated it more succinctly – “Nevada could not control (the development of the standards)…

We cannot imagine what more could be said on the subject of state-led. We may stop kicking this horse now – it’s dead.

U.S. Chamber: It’s Time for the Common Core Propaganda to Begin

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its pro-Common Core video, “It’s Time for the Common Core State Standards” to counter HSLDA’s release of their documentary on the Common Core called Building the Machine.  CCSSO, in an email to members, described this video as a “mini-documentary.”  Carissa Miller of CCSSO said that it will  “provide the pro-Common Core side” and and will “feature education reformers, teachers, chamber leaders, and business representatives, showing the unified support for Common Core across generations, political lines, and states.”

We’d be remiss not to mention that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was given a $1.38 Million dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “to lead the effort to engage and educate state and local chambers to support Common Core State Standards.”

This is not an educational movie, they offer no evidence, and – unlike HSLDA – don’t bring in both sides.

This is nothing but a propaganda fluff piece with talking heads who offer nothing but platitudes, but can’t provide an actual research-based rebuttal to our concerns with the Common Core.  Then again that has been the typical response from Common Core proponents, I don’t know why we’d expect anything different from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who endorsed the Common Core before the standards were even released!

What a joke.

A Formal Response to the CCSSO Letter on Student Data Privacy

privacy36 groups in 26 states co-signed this letter written by Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch and co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, in response to a letter that members of the Council of Chief State School Officers sent to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  Since Truth in American Education is a network made up of different organizations and individuals we were not a co-signer, but several of the groups and individuals who comprise our network did.  You can read Karen’s response below:

By Karen Effrem

On January 23rd, 2014, thirty-four chief state school officers sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan trying to reassure the public that individual student test data will not be given to the federal government and that that data is safe as the Common Core national standards and federally funded and supervised national tests are put into place.

Here are the important quotes from that letter:

  • “We are writing today to confirm that the consortia will not share any personally identifiable information about K–12 students with USED or any federal agency.”  (Emphasis in original)
  • “Our states have not submitted student-level assessment data in the past; the transition to the new assessments should not cause anyone to worry that federal reporting requirements will change when, in fact, the federal government is prohibited from establishing a student-level database that would contain assessment data for every student.”
  • “As we have historically done, our states will continue to provide USED with school-level data from our state assessments as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended in 2002. Our states and local education agencies will continue to retain control over student assessment data and will continue to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations with regard to the protection of student privacy.”
  • “We are confirming that our states will not provide such information to USED and that everything we have said here is consistent with our understanding of the cooperative agreement between the consortia and USED.”

These statements are problematic on a multitude of levels for the following reasons:

  • The testing consortia are under obligation to the U.S. Department of Education to provide individual student test data via the cooperative agreements that they signed:

“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” (Emphasis added)

  • The most applicable privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), has been so weakened via regulation that there is no real protection of individual student data.

§99.31   Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?

  • Individual student data may be released without consent to organizations and entities that have “legitimate educational interests,” which basically means for any reason that a state or the federal governments or researchers or corporations want to use the data in conjunction with any state or federal program.

(a) An educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without the consent required by §99.30 if the disclosure meets one or more of the following conditions:

(1)(i)(A) The disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution whom the agency or institution has determined to have legitimate educational interests.

  • The regulations give private corporations, foundations, and researchers or even volunteers access to our children’s data without parental consent.

(B) A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a school official under this paragraph provided that the outside party—  (Emphasis added)

(1) Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use employees;

(2) Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of education records; and

(3) Is subject to the requirements of §99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

  • FERPA currently allows data to be given without consent to authorized representatives of the following entities including the US Department of Education, which combined with the cooperative agreement quoted above make the state chiefs letter MEANINGLESS.  The authorized representatives include the “contractor, consultant or volunteer” entities quoted above :

(3) The disclosure is, subject to the requirements of §99.35, to authorized representatives of—

(i) The Comptroller General of the United States;

(ii) The Attorney General of the United States;

(iii) The Secretary [of Education]; or (Emphasis added)

(iv) State and local educational authorities.

  • The regulations  give the states and the consortia carte blanche to “legally” give individual student test and other data to the federal government without consent to continue to develop and evaluate the national tests and “improve instruction” meaning the NCLB waivers that require the Common Core standards.

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (Emphasis added).

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

  • So, even though the letter says the states will comply with current federal law and regulations, nothing is stopping the states entering into an agreement with the consortia and the consortia from “redisclosing” this data to the feds.

(ii) Nothing in the Act or this part prevents a State or local educational authority or agency headed by an official listed in paragraph (a)(3) of this section from entering into agreements with organizations conducting studies under paragraph (a)(6)(i) of this section and redisclosing personally identifiable information from education records on behalf of educational agencies and institutions that disclosed the information to the State or local educational authority or agency headed by an official listed in paragraph (a)(3) of this section in accordance with the requirements of §99.33(b).  (Emphasis added.)

  • The data is supposed to be protected but may be given to any entity with a “legitimate interest” in the information, which as has been explained is defined very broadly.

  • Although there is a prohibition against a national student database in one section of federal  law called the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) that says, “Nothing in this title may be construed to authorize the establishment of a nationwide database of individually identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data under this title; (Section 182)” that language appears to be negated by this language in Section 157:

“The Statistics Center [meaning the National Center for Education Statistics] may establish 1 or more national cooperative education statistics systems for the purpose of producing and maintaining, with the cooperation of the States, comparable and uniform information and data on early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, adult education, and libraries, that are useful for policymaking at the Federal, State, and local levels.” (Emphasis added).

That language is even more worrisome in light of the grants to fund and promote state longitudinal databases in section 208 of ESRA, in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and even more heavily promoted in the Race to the Top K-12 and Early Learning Challenge programs.  Although the federal government will not be developing a national database, the SLDS and other regulatory language allow it to happen in a de facto manner.  (Here is a  full analysis of the federal issues).

  • This loss of data privacy when the federal government is both funding and supervising the development of the national tests is extremely worrisome, especially, as shown below, because the standards and assessments are meant to teach and test psychological parameters.

“The [federal] review will focus on two broad areas of assessment development: the consortium’s research confirming the validity of the assessment results and the consortium’s approach to developing items and tasks.”   (Emphasis added)

  • Given that the federal government admits  that the Common Core standards will be teaching and the aligned national tests will be assessing psychological or “non-cognitive” traits, parents should not be reassured by this letter:

“In national policy, there is increasing attention on 21st-century competencies (which encompass a range of noncognitive factors, including grit), and persistence is now part of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.”  (Emphasis added.)

“[A]s new assessment systems are developed to reflect the new standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science, significant attention will need to be given to the design of tasks and situations that call on students to apply a range of 21st century competencies that are relevant to each discipline. A sustained program of research and development will be required to create assessments that are capable of measuring cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills.” (Emphasis added).

The only way to truly protect our children’s data is to restore local control of education that has been usurped by the unconstitutional presence and actions of the US Department of Education. Until that ultimate goal is reached, we will work to remove each of our states from the state longitudinal data systems and demand genuine state developed standards and assessments, instead of name changes, cosmetic adjustments to the Common Core standards, and deceptive reassurances about state control of test data.

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:

  • Education Liberty Watch
  • Badass Parents Association
  • Badass Teachers Association
  • Home School Legal Defense Association
  • Parent-Led Reform
  • Parents and Educators Against Common Core
  • Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

STATE ORGANIZATIONS:

  • Alabama Eagle Forum
  • Alabamians United for Excellence in Education
  • Arkansas Against Common Core
  • Core Concerns, Fort Collins
  • Stop Common Core in CT
  • Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
  • Florida Parents Against Common Core
  • Georgians to Stop Common Core
  • Idahoans for Local Education
  • Hoosiers Against Common Core
  • Iowans for Local Control
  • Kansans Against Common Core
  • Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards in Kentucky
  • MA Parents Interested in Common Core
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Superior Education Standards
  • Stop Common Core in Michigan
  • Minnesotans Against Common Core
  • Missouri Coalition Against Common Core
  • Parent Led Reform Nevada
  • C5-NJ (the Committee to Combat the Common Core Curriculum-NJ)
  • NM Refuse the Tests
  • Stop Common Core in New York State
  • Parent Led Reform Oregon
  • South Dakotans Against Common Core
  • Parent Led Reform Texas
  • Stop Common Core in Virginia
  • Stop Common Core Nevada
  • Washington State Against Common Core Standards
  • Wyoming Freedom in Education

Wait! Weren’t We Told the Common Core Was Initiated By “The States”?

We’ve been told by Common Core advocates that they were developed by “the states.”  The Huffington Post on Friday published a defense of the Common Core, and they have a historical overview of the Common Core’s development.  We learned fascinating things about how Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday agonized over how to accomplish his state legislature’s directive to write new standards while “munching on pasta and salad” (a fascinating detail I know).

He then thought aha!  The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers did a presentation on how states could pool resources and create standards.

Wait a minute?  Doesn’t that illustrate that the standards were in fact the brainchild of trade organizations?  Why yes, yes they were (as we’ve been saying for years).

Then David Coleman was interviewed and I found this excerpt to be very interesting:

Government officials meeting in airport hotels weren’t the only ones thinking about these problems. In New York, college buddies David Coleman and Jason Zimba had created — then sold — the Grow Network, a startup that sought to make the results of tests under No Child Left Behind inform teachers’ instruction. Coleman recalled they were shocked to discover in their research that learning standards tended to be so scattershot and cumbersome that it was almost impossible for a teacher to convey them to her students with any depth. Existing learning standards, he felt, were simply a laundry list, a product of school-board politics.

Coleman, now president of the College Board, and Zimba, a former Bennington College physicist, went to work on a seminal paper for the Carnegie Foundation that called for "math and science standards that are fewer, clearer, higher." Directors at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation saw the paper and were impressed by its ideas. They funded some of Coleman’s work — and eventually dropped as much as $75 million on what would become the Common Core.

So now we see how the Gates Foundation pushing the idea of the Common Core by ideas set forth by David Coleman and Jason Zimbia.

“The States” did not initiate the Common Core State Standards special interest groups did.  Common Core advocates need to at the very least be honest about the origin of the Common Core.  The claim that the Common Core originated in “the states” is absolute nonsense.

Bill Gates Wins Hearts for the Common Core By Lining Pockets

6a00d83451f25369e201157147430e970c-800wi

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent millions to advance the Common Core State Standards in 2013.

From Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post:

Millions of Gates dollars were awarded this year for various Core-related activities, including to increase public support for the Common Core;  a $3.2 million grant to the New Venture Fund is intended “to support successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards by building public awareness and understanding.” (The fund’s Web site says it is a nonprofit organization “offering domestic and international grant-making services, executing donor-developed projects, and providing full fiscal sponsorship including grant and contract management for innovative public-interest projects.”)

Some of the grants are to help develop new standardized tests aligned to the Core; the Council of Chief State School Officers won $4 million in July “to support the development of high quality assessments to measure” the standards. Other grants are to help teachers develop materials for the Common Core. The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education won a few grants in this regard, including one in July for $3,882,600 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,” and another in October for $501,580 “to give support to teachers in Kentucky to implement the Common Core State Standards confidently and effectively.”

Meanwhile, the National Conference of State Legislatures won $447,046 in November to “continue its support of state legislators on Common Core and teacher effectiveness”; UCLA won $942,527 in September “to develop a tool that helps states on Common Core-aligned assessments”; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in August won $115,000 “to support an online, game-based learning experience for reading and writing aligned to Common Core literacy standards”; and the University of Kentucky Research Foundation won $1 million in February to “to support the launch of a new Center for Innovation in Education to advance implementation of the common core and more personalized learning for students and teachers that will enable young people to graduate career and college ready.”

I seem to recall testimony in Wisconsin from a representative of the National Conference of State Legislatures who claimed to be neutral.  If memory serves correct we can deem him a liar.  Then there is $800,000 that went to the National Association of School Boards – sigh.

You can see the list here.

Alabama State School Board to Vote on Meaningless Resolution

alabama-state-flagThe Alabama State Board of Education is set to vote on a resolution that would rescind a 2009 agreement with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers related to the Common Core State Standards.  The Dothan Eagle reports:

According to a press release by the state, the move would help remove doubts that Alabama’s standards in math and English language arts were in fact a state initiated and a state-led effort. The NGO helped develop Core Standards, but each state adopting the standards was able to put its own spin on their state’s standards.

The original agreement between Alabama and the NGO and CCSSO was intended to acknowledge the development of a set of internationally-benchmarked standards that could be shared across states, according to the state Department of Education.

Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said the state will continue to work with the NGO and CCSSO and will also continue to implement the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, the Alabama version of Common Core.

Board member Betty Peters says she’s not voting in favor because it’s a meaningless resolution.  I agree.  How exactly will this resolution “remove doubts”?  Only a low-information voter would believe that.  Are they repealing the standards?  No.  Are they rewriting the standards?  No.  Are they even having public hearings on these?  No.  What does this do?  They are playing revisionist history hoping that enough people buy it.  So what if they rescind the agreement if they keep the standards?  The resolution doesn’t DO anything.

Dr. Bice says they will continue to implement the “Alabama College and Career Ready Standards” while working with the NGO and CCSSO.  Oh yes, he’s trying to pull an Arizona.  If you call it something different then people won’t think it’s Common Core.  Alabama residents, don’t be fooled, the “Alabama College and Career Ready Standards” for Math and ELA are Common Core.  They were not state-led, they were special interest led and funded.  The Alabama Department of Education may not have a formal MOU with NGA or CCSSO, but will continue to work with them.  What has changed?

Absolutely nothing.