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…

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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…

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In her own words. Mother Jones releases audio of Susana’s graphic attacks on women, Hispanic business and teachers [graphic audio]

Originally posted on PROGRESSNOW NM:

The true Susana Martinez, in her own words.  That’s the first big takeaway from today’s Mother Jones article, “Is New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez the Next Sarah Palin?”

One Republican state legislator described her tactics thusly:  “Nastiness, misinformation, innuendo, and flat-out lies have created a toxic political environment.”

Just a week after Martinez released her first highly-polished campaign ad denouncing her national ambitions and promoting her warm and fuzzy side, new audio recordings from inside her 2010 campaign show the sexist, belittling and vindictive nature of the true Susana Martinez behind closed doors.

On Teachers & Hiding Her True Positions During the Campaign

Martinez told campaign staffers she would hide her opinions on teachers during the campaign, but she didn’t like teachers who “already don’t work,” referring to summer school breaks.

She then laughs with her chief campaign strategist, Jay McCleskey, about ways to avoid accusations that she hid her true…

View original 208 more words PARCC Tests Are “Working”!

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

On April 11, 2014,, a supposedly a “data-driven news site”  started this month  (April 2014) by Ezra Klein,   posted this propagandastic wonder  regarding Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC) field testing.

Note that field testing does not begin to touch the magnitude of actual PARCC testing designed for grades K-12 (see here and  here and here), quite the profit-garnering arm of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The piece is entitled, Common Core Tests Are in Classrooms– And They’re Actually Working.

That depends upon what one considers “working” to be.

If “working” is the cutting of non-tested (and therefore, less valued) school courses, programs and staff in order to feed the testing monster, then yes, the “tests are working.” I teach high school English. For the past three years, at the end of the year, I have heard my administration say, “We’re going to lose…

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Jindal to Dump PARCC?

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

An April 14, 2014 , article has Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal publicly saying he is “willing” to leave the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers (PARCC)– and even the Common Core State Standards (CCSS):

Gov. Bobby Jindal has said he is willing to withdraw Louisiana from a consortium of states developing the assessment associated with the Common Core academic standards if the Louisiana Legislature doesn’t choose to do so on its own.

Eight legislators sent a letter to Jindal Monday afternoon asking him to nix a years-old agreement that has Louisiana residents and policy makers helping craft the  Partnership of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. The governor, who once supported PARCC, said he was in favor of the state’s withdrawal from the assessment group and indicated that he hopes the anti-Common Core efforts currently brewing in some corners of the Legislature succeed.

“We share the concerns…

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Vision 2015 chief subtly continues the “Delaware schools are bad” approach to ed-reform. #netDE #eduDE

Ernie Dianastasis begins his News Journal editorial this way:

Delaware was in the spotlight this past week when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited to see firsthand the progress made here as a result of Race to the Top. While we should feel good about the direction we are going, I left that meeting with a sense of urgency, focus and shared ownership.

So, we should feel good because we were visited by the U.S. Secretary of Education, a man who has never taught in a school, nor turned a single one around? Because of progress as a “result of” RTTT with no citation of what that progress is, perhaps because no discernible progress has been made, or maybe because Mr. Dianastasis’ progress definition is arbitrary. Apparently,flat NAEP scores is progress, or foisting the 3rd different standardized test in 5 years is progress. Who knows really? Apparently he does, and teachers don’t.

When is comes to SINOs, he condescends to our teachers again, like the reformers always do:

As we continue our efforts to improve our schools by building on the massive amount of work already underway through RTTT, we need to listen to our educators and make course corrections on strategy, but we also need to keep moving forward, together. The world won’t wait, and neither should our kids.

Yeah, we’ll listen, but we won’t stop. Because kids. And teachers don’t care about kids. That’s the message here. Period. Oh and to ad insult, he drops in the “together” line. Classic. Tough talk from an organization that has 261 days left to fulfill its destiny. Sounds desperate.

As far as urgency, we should make sure that we don’t get beat by 3 other SEAs/LEAs that aren’t in Delaware. Because competition:

While Delaware has done some great work to lay the foundation for an amazing system of public schools, Secretary Duncan also shared that Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii are moving faster in terms of results

What results? Like delaying the Common Core and its onerous and useless standardized tests in Tennessee? Well, perhaps Vision 2015 is on to something.

Twas the night before testing…

Originally posted on Critical Classrooms, Critical Kids:


photograph courtesy of Common Dreams  

and I’m too exhausted to be clever.

Tomorrow, April 1, 2014, marks opening day of year two of the New York State Common Core assessments in English-language arts (ELA) and math. Like last year, I will be administering the tests to 5th grade English-language learners (ELLs) and to former English-language learners who are entitled to extended time (time and a half).

But I do so grudgingly – with a heavy heart – as I strongly oppose these invalid tests.  They are meaningless, exploitative and cruel.  As a proud member of MORE UFT, I stand in support of NYS parents and educators who are doing the right thing by refusing the 2014 tests, thereby starving the beast.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting testimonials of the administration of this year’s tests.  Parents, educators and students across New York State – please share with me your…

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Robert Shepherd: The Remarkable But True Tale of the Birth of Common Core

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Robert Shepherd, a frequent commenter on the blog, is an experienced veteran in the world of education publishing, having developed curriculum, textbooks, and assessments.

He writes:

The New York legislature just voted to dump inBloom. But Diane Ravitch’s first post about that subjected noted, wisely, that inBloom was dead “for Now.”

Don’t think for a moment that Big Data has been beaten. I am going to explain why. I hope that you will take the time and effort to follow what I am going to say below. It’s a little complicated, but it’s a great story. It’s a birth narrative–the astonishing but, I think, undeniably true story of the birth of the Common Core.

The emergence of the Internet presented a challenge to the business model of the big educational publishers. It presented the very real possibility that they might go the way of the Dodo and the Passenger Pigeon…

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Good Advice for Duncan and King from a Graduate Student at NYU

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and State Commissioner of Education John King spoke at the Wagner School at New York University. This comment came from a graduate student at that institution. Her insight was so on target that I thought I would share it.

She writes:

“I am an NYU Wagner graduate and a public school parent. I was unable to attend Commissioner King’s speech and Secretary Duncan’s appearance. I hope a bright Wagner student asked how two men entrusted with our children’s education could miss so many of the fundamentals taught at the Wagner School. A Wagner education includes the analysis of case studies. If they are not already doing so, I hope Wagner students will soon be studying the Common Core as an overwhelming failure and as an example of what not to do in order to create change. The Federal Government and New York State have set…

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Steve Newton: Thank you for being a voice of reason instead of sitting on your hands.. #netDE #eduDE

This is why you will be an outstanding state representative.



Put an end to harmful high-stakes student testing

High-stakes testing has proven not merely ineffective, but also potentially harmful

Nearly two decades of high-stakes testing have left Delaware’s public schools with a legacy of failure.

I co-chaired the Governor’s Social Studies Curriculum Frameworks Commission from 1992-95. Our commission included teachers, parents, students, administrators, academics and business partners. All commissions held public meetings, engaging in deliberations to create “world class standards” in English, math, science and social studies. We did our job well enough that many of those standards remain in place today.

Those standards were designed to be tested via “performance assessment,” but the General Assembly thought individualized testing cost too much. Instead, they approved the DSTP, which lacked reliability and validity; failed to assess all the standards; and was compromised by backroom politics from Day One. DSTP was high-stakes: students who failed could not be promoted to the next grade without summer school and retaking the test.

As the first legislators’ and donors’ kids failed, student accountability evaporated.

Under No Child Left Behind, consequences migrated to the schools, rated via a complex system of “cells” that often left Annual Yearly Progress for each building determined by test scores of a handful of students. One elementary school repeatedly failed AYP due to the scores of profoundly handicapped children who never entered the building, but lived in that feeder pattern. School districts employed full-time managers to challenge attendance patterns and force failing scores to be credited to other districts.

When the U.S. Department of Education announced waivers to exit this insane system, Delaware got in line.

Meanwhile, DCAS replaced DSTP, and SBA is now replacing DCAS. If you don’t comprehend the acronyms, don’t worry: They’ll change again.

Race to the Top brought Delaware $119 million for data analysis, teacher learning communities, Common Core, and testing computers. (Simultaneously, the General Assembly cut reimbursements for transporting homeless children to school.)

Accountability in high-stakes testing now descended on teachers.

State bureaucrats generated strict, test-based teacher accountability regimes, while legislators enacted unprecedented regulations for teacher preparation programs in our universities.

None of this actually improved public education, which Gov. Jack Markell tacitly admitted in his State of the State Address: “Only 20 percent of our kids graduate from high school ready for college or a career.”

Content standards and standardized tests have their place in education, but high-stakes testing has proven not merely ineffective, but also potentially harmful.

Pursuing the idea that moving the consequence to this group, or changing to that test will abruptly erase the socio-economic disparities dogging public education has wasted critical resources. In Delaware alone, hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and tens of thousands of teacher preparation hours have not been spent placing great programs at inner-city schools, providing full funding for special needs students, or turning lose the individual creativity of classroom teachers. Resources devoted to music, the arts, the humanities, physical education, and special needs have declined.

Here’s a modest plan for returning to sanity:

First, exempt special needs students on IEPs from standardized testing that often traumatizes them and rarely returns valuable data.

Second, accept the unanimous recommendation from teacher representatives in the Delaware State Education Association and legislate a parental “opt-out” from standardized testing.

Third, revisit the adoption of Common Core. Research indicates that content standards should not be so extensive that they become a de facto curriculum. The breadth of Common Core – all arguments about quality placed to the side – is too wide to leave room for instructional depth or teacher creativity. We need a Delaware process, driven by your child’s teachers and not political/corporate reformers, to re-examine our academic standards.

Finally, cap testing costs to direct resources back into the classroom. When our poorest schools have access to the high-quality programs like Gifted & Talented or Odyssey of the Mind that our suburban schools boast, we can consider new testing expenditures, not before.

The money already invested in the high-stakes testing mania is irrevocably lost. Parents, teachers and voters must now unite to insure that more good money does not follow the bad.

Send resources into our classrooms, not new testing computers.

Steve Newton is a professor of history and political science at Delaware State University and the Libertarian candidate for State Representative in the 22nd District.