The Week That Was – Oklahoma School Reform Comes Crashing Down

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

Six days into the week that may mark the end of test-driven school “reform” in Oklahoma, our state may foreshadow the way that corporate reform collapses nationally. As the parent/volunteer leader of Central Parent Legislative Action Committee, Meredith Exline  says, “the trend in Oklahoma is not isolated. ‘I really feel like any story I read about education in other states, you could substitute in Oklahoma.’”

If it can happen here, the end of accountability-driven reform across the nation could come in a bang, and not a whimper.  We have not yet seen what our seventh day will bring. It is clear, though, that Oklahoma parents and educators are not resting in the counter-attack against high-stakes testing.

Monday’s “BREAKING NEWS” on all news stations and social media was the failure of online testing in numerous school systems. This was the second major breakdown in two years. It’s only one part of…

View original 964 more words

Peter Greene: Did Connecticut Discover a Way to Measure Grit?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

In the ever-ending boundaries of educational science, there is a new frontier: measuring grit.

Peter Greene discovers a striking phenomenon: apparently Connecticut has unlocked the secret of Grittology.

“I am sure that all of us, all around the country, want to know how this is done. I am sure that phones are ringing off the hook in CT DOE offices as other educational thought leaders call to ask for the secret of grittological measurements.

“Was it a physical test? Did they make teachers do the worm for a thousand yards? Did they make teachers peel onions and sing “memories” while watching pictures of sad puppies, all without crying? Did they have to compete in three-armed wheelchair races? Were they required to complete a season of the Amazing Race as participants? Did they have to stand stock still while being pelted with medium-sized canteloupes?

“Or perhaps it was a study…

View original 186 more words

DEDOE laughably rewrites history on the Delaware Talent Cooperative. #netDE #eduDE

If any members of the General Assembly need a case study in lies, here it is:


Money quote on why CSD rejected the fact-less, baseless “motivational” program that has attracted 2, count them 2 of 168 participants and the DOE’s 100% vindictive response in light of multiple other districts not participating (the actual reason they cited was that we had committed to it, then to read this bullshit lie?  Hilarious!):



Ruszkowski saw tremendous value in the DDOE’s ability to respond rapidly to these kinds of data requests. “I would ask a question, and by the end of the day, one of the data fellows or someone at SDP would come back with an answer,” he recalled. “This was not just helpful; it was essential to the work we were doing.”

Department leaders found the ability to conduct rapid, focused analyses especially valuable in their efforts to hold school districts accountable for implementing their RTTT commitments. For example, when the leaders of the Christina School District—Delaware’s largest school system—tried to gloss over high rates of educator attrition in their highest-poverty schools, DDOE leaders used the diagnostic analyses to highlight the severity of the problem and to press district leaders to respond with an appropriate plan. “This was no longer a question of ideology,” Ruszkowski emphasized. “It was about a district’s unwillingness to look at the data in front of them and invest resources in solving the problem.” Ultimately, the DDOE withheld nearly $2.4 million in RTTT funding from the district, using the diagnostic analyses as a core component of their justification.

Common Core Movement Never about Teaching and Learning, Always about Testing

Originally posted on the becoming radical:

As of April 24, 2014, I am tired to the core of writing about the Common Core because I know three things:
  1. I’ve said everything I need to say about Common Core: (a) Arguing about the quality of the CC standards is a distraction from the essential flaw in continuing to chase better standards and tests, (b) because accountability based on standards and tests has never and will never address directly the equity problem in society and education, and (c) thus, education reform must drop the accountability paradigm and seek an alternative reform plan based on equity.
  2. Almost no one of consequence is listening to the rational and evidence-based criticisms of Common Core because of the political advantage afforded by keeping everyone convinced that the debate is mostly by loonies on the Right and loonies on the Left.
  3. And still, I feel compelled to try once again.

View original 298 more words

This Is the Common Core You Support?

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

You have plenty of Urban Legend and baseless conspiracy theories swirling around the Common Core, and none of that really serves anyone well.

But you also have evidence (and from what I can tell, that doesn’t carry much weight).

So for all those who support the Common Core, and tend to ignore the evidence-based arguments against CC, I really want you to respond to this from David Coleman 2 Years Ago: We Were a Collection of Unqualified People (from Truth in American Education):


Let me help you since the video is long.

Introduction of David Coleman, architect of CC (see full transcript):

And he was invited to a sort of staff meeting where we were beginning in the Institute to think about what our stance was gonna be on the fact that new standards were maybe going to come our way. It was before the Common…

View original 1,130 more words

“Common Core: Building the Machine”

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

This is an interesting documentary on the Common Core, featuring some of its strongest supporters at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (as well as guest cameos by Jeb Bush and Bill Gates) and some of its strongest critics, notably Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, both of whom served on the “validation committee,” but refused to sign off on the standards. It was produced by the Home School Legal Defense Association (represented by Mike Farris). So far as I know, home schoolers are not bound to abide by the Common Core standards, although they may need them if they take the SAT or the ACT.

The documentary makes two very provocative points about Common Core.

One is a civic critique of the undemocratic way in which the Common Core standards were written: by a small committee that included no classroom teachers, no specialists in early childhood education or in the teaching…

View original 396 more words

Those 24 Common Core 2009 Work Group Members

John Young:

Yeah, it was state led…liars, all of them.

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

In May 2009 , Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former State Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This CCSS MOU would become “Appendix B” for the US Department of Education’s (USDOE’s) Race to the Top (RTTT) program.

In June 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA), in conjunction with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, announced that 46 states were already signed on for what would become CCSS.

The formal document, the CCSS MOU, outlines in detail the different groups of individuals and what their roles would be in “developing” CCSS.

The document signed by Jindal and Pastorek in May 2009– the CCSS MOU that would become RTTT Appendix B– is the same document I wrote about in this post.

The CCSS MOU makes it clear that the chief decision makers for CCSS were the individuals on the…

View original 3,325 more words

The circus is making sense. #CCSS #netDE #eduDE @nytdavidbrooks @dwablog @ecpaige

Jeff Bryant at Salon knocks it out of the park:



For years, elites in big business, foundations, well-endowed think tanks, and corporate media have conducted a well-financed marketing campaign to impress on the nation’s public schools an agenda of change that includes charter schools, standardized testing, and “new and improved” standards known as the Common Core.

These ideas were sold to us as sure-fire remedies for enormous inequities in a public school system whose performance only appears to be relatively low compared to other countries if you ignore the large percentage of poor kids we have.

But the “education reform” ad campaign never got two important lessons everyone starting out in the advertising business learns: Never make objective claims about your product that can be easily and demonstrably disproven, and never insult your target audience.

For instance, you can make the claim, “this tastes great” because that can’t be proven one way or the other. But when you claim, “your kids will love how this tastes,” and parents say, “my kids think it tastes like crap,” you’re pretty much toast. And you make matters all the worse if you respond, “Well, if you were a good parent you’d tell your kid to eat it anyway.”

Those two lessons seem to be completely lost on advocates behind the menu of education policies currently being force-fed to classroom teachers, parents, and school children across the country. As more Americans take a big bite of the education reform sandwich, more choose to spit it out.

A Heapin’ Helping Of Common Core Propaganda

The latest serving of education reformy slop was served to us in the pages of The New York Times where, first, one of the paper’s All Purpose Pundits David Brooks repeated false claims about the Common Core and denigrated anyone who disagreed with its agenda as being part of a “circus.”

Then the Times published a “news” story that completely ignored any well reasoned criticisms of the Common Core and framed the opposition as mostly a political tactic from rightwing factions of the Republican party.


Many have taken to personal blogs and websites, including Salon, to criticize what Brooks and the Times published.

Education historian and university professor Diane Ravitch wrote at her personal blogsite, “In order to explain a point of view, one must make the effort to hear the voices of critics without caricaturing them. Unfortunately, David Brooks has no idea why anyone would not embrace the Common Core standards.”

In another post, Ravitch blasted the Times report that characterized Common Core opposition as primarily a Republican political issue, noting the paper’s tendency to report on the standards “as though no reasonable person could possibly doubt the claims made on behalf of the Common Core.” She asked, “How can the nation’s ‘newspaper of record’ be so seriously indifferent to or ignorant of the major education issue of our day?”

Louisiana classroom teacher and prolific blogger Mercedes Schneider wrote at her personal site, “Brooks’ opinion is that opponents to CCSS are part of a ‘circus’ … Brooks believes he writes about CCSS from an op/ed perch outside of the Big Top. However, his place is in the ring of the many who support CCSS on the unsubstantiated opinion that CCSS is necessary to American public education.”

Russ Walsh, a retired classroom teacher and reading specialist, took particular offense with Brooks’ statement that “the [new] English standards encourage reading comprehension.” He countered, “As far as the ‘old standards’ go, they varied widely across states, but I have yet to see one that did not address reading comprehension.”

Even some reform enthusiasts had problems with the Brooks column. Writing for Education Week, Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute called the writing “ripped from the talking points of Common Core enthusiasts” and “an object lesson in the vapid triumphalism of Common Core boosters.


Read more!

Common Core Prescription Will Not Heal Education

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

During my presentations, I make the case that the Common Core Standards are a prescriptive list of content standards, rather than a descriptive framework. The other night, in Santa Fe, one of my more well-known audience members disagreed, based on her opinion.

What’s the difference? And why does it matter?

First of all, let’s consider the idea and definition of prescriptive:

Now, think of all the times you’ve heard people tell us that the Common Core doesn’t tell teachers how to teach.  There are no “exact rules, direction, or instructions” on how to teach the stuff, right?

We’ll get to that.  First, consider an even more important way that the Common Core is prescriptive–the way that it tells students exactly how to do things.  Consider the following third-grade math standards in statistics:

Now, take a step back.  If the standards are this prescriptive about how…

View original 728 more words

Five Louisiana “Educators” Want Common Core

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

On April 21, 2014, the Baton Rouge  Advocate  ran an article  by Will Sentell entitled,  Educators Renew Support for Common Core and Its Tests.

The first line of the article is comical:

Five educators said Monday morning that they will urge state House and Senate members to support the Common Core academic standards and the controversial tests that go with them. [Emphasis added.]

Since when is this news?

Ahh, but we are in “Stay the Course” mode (read about it in this post and this post).

So, we have a supposed “news” article centered upon five individuals who want the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its associated test constructed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Five “educators.”

That reminds me of the “three Louisiana teachers” who “developed” CCSS.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) is comprised of almost 21,000 teachers

View original 935 more words

Did Matt Denn get invited to Beau Biden’s June 13th Seminar with Arne Duncan?

Originally posted on Kilroy's delaware:


Beau BidenWe are very pleased to announce that the Beau Biden Spring Seminar special guest will be the Honorable Arne Duncan.

The Seminar is scheduled for Thursday, June 13, 2013 at Arsht Hall. The reception will be from 5:30pm to 6:30pm, and the program will begin at 6:45pm.

We all know there is much discussion these days about the importance of quality education for all of our children, and as the former CEO of the Chicago Public School System, we’re excited for the Honorable Arne Duncan to lead a robust conversation about this critical issue.

If you are not already a 2013 Seminar Member, please reserve your seats for the seminar by going to: If you’re unsure of your status, please contact Jennifer Karakul at

We look forward to seeing you all June 13th and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


View original 4 more words

Dear Star-Ledger Editorial Board: Stop it. Cami needs to go.

Originally posted on teacherbiz:

When I saw the title “ Cami Anderson takes a hit in Newark’s school wars: Editorial ,” I thought for a second that the  Star-Ledger’s  days as premier Anderson apologists might be coming to an end.

And then I actually read the editorial.

Referencing Newark’s religious leaders’ “scathing rebuke” of the State Superintendent, the Star-Ledger Editorial Board concluded that “the politics around [Anderson's] school reform effort have become untenable.”

The politics around her reform effort have become untenable?  Not her reforms themselves?  (Does that even make sense?)

The immediate problem with this editorial is that its authors label Anderson’s Two Newarks One Newark plan as a “community relations effort.” Given that Anderson’s goals include firing veteran teachers, importing Teach for America corps members, closing neighborhood schools, and turning Newark’s children over to private management companies, I’d say the “community relations effort” label is a ridiculous misnomer.

As for the “worthwhile” reforms the Star-Ledger insists should…

View original 742 more words

David Brooks’ Amateur Cheerleading for the Common Core

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

The pundits of the New York Times are united in their love of the Common Core standards, and none seem to understand why anyone questions the standards. In order to explain a point of view, one must make the effort to hear the voices of critics without caricaturing them.

Unfortunately, David Brooks has no idea why anyone would not embrace the Common Core standards. All he knows is what Arne Duncan says about them.

He actually believes that CCSS was a response to some sort of economic crisis (surely not the one where financial institutions nearly collapsed our economy in 2008, a catastrophe that was not caused by the schools or their standards). He is under the impression that having a diversity of state standards causes low academic performance, despite the lack of evidence for that assertion.

He does not understand how the standards were written or funded or…

View original 630 more words

Guest post from teacher Mark Butler: Kicking the Common Core Football @parccinfo

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

On the surface it might seem confusing as to why Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA) would  suddenly come out in opposition to the PARCC assessment - and in doing so, undermine the authority of State Superintendent, John White, Jr. Jindal hand-picked White for Superintendent in January 2012, and has until this recent turnabout, remained lockstep with him on all significant issues.


But politics is politics- I suspect some Republicans now have decided that there’s capital to be gained from linking PARCC (a botched & widely unpopular standardized online assessment) with Common Core State Standards, and in turn to Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. If this strategy means also throwing corporate giants, Pearson under the bus, then perhaps it’s a necessary sacrifice: power trumps money every time.

To be clear, Common Core State Standards (adopted/tweaked by almost every state in the Union) are in and of themselves, a set of learning outcomes:…

View original 346 more words

Gates and Duncan and Their Common Core “Freedom” Charade

Originally posted on deutsch29:

In his purchased keynote at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) (I know, huh?), billionaire-with-zero-teaching-experience Bill Gates insisted that the feds are getting the bum rap when it comes to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). As  Huffington Post’s  Joy Resmovits notes ,

Gates went on to address critiques that the Common Core represents a national curriculum, a federal takeover or the end of innovation. He said these claims are false and distract from teaching — and that teachers can provide the most effective response to critics. [Emphasis added.]

However, Resmovits continues with details that do indeed implicate US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his USDOE in attempting to fashion “a national curriculum, a federal takeover, and an end to innovation”:

The creation of the Common Core started in 2009, and thanks in part to nudges from the federal government via the Race to the Top competition…

View original 1,629 more words

Why you can’t compare simple achievement gaps across states! So don’t!

Originally posted on School Finance 101:

Consider this post the second in my series of basic data issues in education policy analysis.

This is a topic on which I’ve written numerous previous posts. In most previous posts I’ve focused specifically on the issue of problems with poverty measurement across contexts and how those problems lead to common misinterpretations of achievement gaps. For example, if we simply determine achievement gaps by taking the average test scores of children above and below some arbitrary income threshold, like those qualifying or not for the federally subsidized school lunch program, any comparisons we make across states will be severely compromised by the fact that a) the income threshold we use may provide very different quality of life from Texas to New Jersey and b) the average incomes and quality of life of those above that threshold versus those below it may be totally different in New Jersey than in…

View original 863 more words