Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Common Core News Roundup - Are Elected Officials Getting Smarter?

From Ed Week, are lawmakers finally connecting the dots between the Gates Foundation and Common Core?  Do tell.

In Michigan, here is what representative Tom McMillin had to say two days ago, in response to testimony from Chester Finn, of the Fordham Institute, which can be counted among the architects of test-driven reform.

McMillin points out that Chester Finn's colleague at the Fordham Institute, Michael Petrilli, had stated that after Arne Duncan hired four Gates Foundation staffers to high level positions in the Department of Education, "the Gates Foundation's agenda has become the country's agenda in education." 

Finn said he disagreed, however he acknowledged that "the Gates Foundation paid for the development of the Common Core standards. There's no disputing that." 

McMillin responded:
And they also paid $6 million to Fordham (Institute) and then you guys evaluate the Common Core standards and decide if they're any good or not. Don't you see a real conflict there, when Fordham gets $6 million, and then they're told to turn around and say Gates' project is a great thing?
Finn: I have no idea where you got the $6 million figure from.
McMillin: From the Gates Foundation web site.

That must have been one funny legislative committee meeting.

 The recent PDK/Gallup poll showed that public support for the use of test scores for teacher evaluation has fallen from 52% to 41% in just one year. Fewer than 25% believe that more student testing has led to better public schools. It also showed that most Americans are unaware of the Common Core.

This is an important poll - you should check it out.


Anthony Cody, the author of this Ed Week piece, finishes this way:

This is the key moment of vulnerability for this entire accountability regime. If the public is willing to accept that 70% of our students deserve to be considered failures, and thousands more schools deserve the "death penalty" for the low scores they will be getting, then public education will continue to decline. If the public realizes, however, that students are getting MORE tests, and teachers are getting even more pressure to teach to the tests, and none of this is really improving the quality of education, then the tide will turn. 

We can anticipate an increase in the rhetoric from corporate reformers, who will express ever more "urgency" that their increasingly destructive policies be implemented. But this song is so similar to the tune played for NCLB, the public has begun to recognize the tired melody. It is time to unplug that jukebox for good, and allow teachers and students the freedom to make their own music, without the payola playlist from the Gates Foundation and their representatives. 


Out of Boston:


In Boston, corporate reform dollars also seem to be raising some problems for candidates. Mayoral candidate John Connolly last week asked Stand For Children to cancel their plan to spend $500,000 in support of his candidacy. Although he had sought their support, he apparently thought better of it when he saw the reaction from voters. He also asked Democrats for Education Reform to stop spending money on his behalf. 

This could get interesting here if any City Council, mayoral or School Board candidates take money from DFER or Stand for Children. 

Next, a story from the LA Times where the LAUSD invested - via taxpayer voted bonds - in $1B in iPads for K-12 students.  A bit a of whoops as they figured out what many of us already know - you can work better and faster with a real keyboard.  (Ipads have a touchscreen keyboard but it is not easy to use if you are a fast typist.).   This was in anticipation of Common Core assessments needing to be taken by computer.

So whoops, they need about $40M more for keyboards.  And, of course, there is the $500M for things like installing a wireless network, etc. 

From the story:
But that setup might not satisfy the needs of older students writing term papers, for example. And if typing on them proves more difficult, that could frustrate or hinder students as they take new online tests. The device's touch screen could even obscure portions of a test item that would be visible in its entirety on a full screen.

States also are facing technological challenges. Thirty-four reported such challenges as having adequate Internet access and sufficient numbers of computers, in survey results released last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy. Initially, the new tests will have a paper-and-pencil version for those states that are catching up.

L.A. Unified has been a technology hodgepodge. Some schools have virtually no up-to-date computers, while others are better provided for.

So wait, some schools have up-to-date computers and some don't and yet all the students will take the same test? And those whose technology is sub-par, will their scores get a pass because of that?  Or their schools labeled "failing?"

Did an Alabama Chamber of Commerce overstep its bounds in helping teacher in putting out a flyer in schools supporting Common Core?  Ed Week Spotlight has the story:
To wit: According to the political news site Yellowhammer, teachers in Huntsville, Ala., have come under fire for distributing "pro common core" handouts at an elementary school open house last week.

The handouts, designed by the local chamber of commerce, addressed a number of apparent misconceptions about the standards that have been circulated by opponents of the framework, including the oft-heard charge that schools' curricula will be controlled by the federal government. 

Some parents who attended the open house accused the teachers who gave out the handouts of spreading political propaganda while on the job. "It's a blatant disregard of ethics," said one parent. 

A local school board member defended the teachers. "This is a curriculum issue, not a political issue," Jennie Robinson told Yellowhammer. "The flyers represent an effort to inform parents about state standards and curriculum issues."

Next, could super-group ALEC have gotten one thing correct?  The Huffington Post thinks so.  (But then ALEC changed its money-grubbing mind.)

ALEC faced a real quandary with CCSS, for CCSS pitted ALEC's professed federalism against its corporation-benefiting privatization.

In model legislation mailed to its Education Task Force members on July 1, 2011, ALEC chose the side of federalism over profits. The model resolution, entitled, Resolution Opposing the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative , was sponsored by ALEC member Jonathan Butcher of the Goldwater Institute. 

Their objections were basically, loss of local control, that the the idea that Common Core won't dictate curriculum is "refuted by language in the standards as written", that the money available for states to get ready is woefully small, and "local education officials, school leaders and parents" were NOT included "in the discussion, evaluation and preparation of the standards."

Sounds good, right?  But then a new member of the group stepped in and that's Wireless Generation (owned by Rupert Murdoch).  

Wireless Generation is owned by news mogul Rupert Murdoch. Wireless Generation built the data storage system for the controversial data cloud, inBloom. Too, Murdoch's Amplify, run by former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein, recently won the $12.5 million contract to design CCSS assessments.

There is just too much money to be made in selling student data and assessments for ALEC to reject CCSS.

Therefore, on November 19, 2012 -- almost a year following the ALEC vote to oppose CCSS- Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) promoted the idea of an ALEC "final final vote."

2 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Wow. What a hot mess.....

Mary Griffin said...

FYI, gentle readers, please do not confuse the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (herein referred to as the Fordham Institute) with Fordham University. There is absolutely no connection.