Saturday, September 19, 2015

Duncan's Former Chief of State Says States "Forced" to Take on Common Core

Must be the month for "I knew it" moments (the first being the Washington State charter school law.)

Common Core may be toast now.  Except that states and districts, like ours, have invested millions on following and using it.  And invested millions in testing those standards.

Guinea pigs - your children were nothing but guinea pigs to these people.  Shame on them. 

From Breitbart:

In a remarkable admission, the former director of the Race to the Top (RttT) competitive grant program and chief of staff to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the federal government “forced” full support for adoption of the Common Core standards from each state by requiring its governor, chief state school officer, and head of the state board of education to sign off on the grant application.

Weiss, who led RttT from its start, explains the federal government took advantage of the fact that states were strapped for cash due to the recession.

“[S]o the large pot of funding that we had to offer was a significant inducement for states to compete,” she writes, adding the surprise number of 46 states willing to sign onto the Common Core standards initiative was due to “our decision to leverage the spirit of competition.”

Leverage - that's one way to put it.  (FYI, this former DofE official, Joanne Weisss,  is a former New Ventures director, a "charter investment" group supported by...Gates Foundation and Broad Foundation.)

Writing at The Pulse 2016, attorney Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with American Principles in Action, says that Weiss’ admission shows that USED “was actively coercing states, in blatant violation of constitutional principles of federalism, from the earliest days of Common Core.”

Robbins tells Breitbart News Weiss’ admission “blows the lid off” any presidential candidate’s claim that Common Core was a “state-led” process that was simply hijacked by the federal government.

“A perfect storm for reform,” with no teacher or parent approval necessary or invited involvement. Many of those on your “panel of independent education experts” refused to sign off on this rushed RTTT “induced” experiment.

Noted public education blogger Cheri Kiesecker writes:  You have used our children as your guinea pigs, testing out common standards, and data driven instruction. You have changed laws to allow the taking and sharing of children’s personal data and have been backed by billions of edtech dollars, because they stand to make even more money from our children’s data and from the business that is now education…

Noted public education author and blogger Victoria M. Young writes:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars being used on a poorly designed experiment was a horrible waste of tax dollars at a time when schools – ACROSS THE COUNTRY – needed real help.

Christopher Chase, Ph.D., a professor of English Language Studies at Seinan Gakuin University, a Christian university in Japan, comments as well: I’m a Stanford School of Education graduate who worked with real education reform in the 1990s, the Accelerated Schools Project started by former Stanford Prof. Hank Levin…

In reality, what happened is that your Common Core standards and assessments were put together in secrecy by people associated with testing (not learning), with a pedagogy out of the Cold War era (New Criticism) and little input from real teachers and education reform experts. You ignored research on child development, focused on high-stakes testing and rigid standards, which all the research has shown diminishes student motivation and learning…

Your “reform” approach was set up to take over, manipulate and sabotage American education…


Anonymous said...

Breitbart is a horrible source of information, which, frankly is about as reliable as the National Enquirer.

The actual article referenced on the Breitbart site is found at Stanford Social Innovation Review and it says nothing about Common Core and is only concerned with her bragging about RTT. While the Breitbart post itself is lot of blather about Race to the Top from a Federalist, ie., the government has no business funding education, point of view, if you are going to criticize the author or her points, it would be better to have read the actual article, rather than relying on Breitbart. Certainly there is a connection between RTT and Common Core, and one could argue a between-the-lines, read of the article would provide the "facts" as written on Breitbart, but if you are going to do that, you should take credit it for yourself.


Anonymous said...


The reported information on CCSS and associated testing is 100% correct and has been obvious for years.

One needs only look at the actions of Randy Dorn and OSPI as well as House of Reps Education Chair Sharon Tamiko-Santos during 2010 and 2011 for confirmation of the reported information on CCSS history and the Federal overseers and promoters.

Bewildered Mind

Anonymous said...

Rather than read the Stanford article, just listen to Pink Floyd's 'money'. It's more to the point.


seattle citizen said...

You can learn a lot from Pink Floyd. I think their song Welcome to the Machine is also an apt descriptor of the situation, given CCSS's goal of directing thought and dreams, the business world's goal of selling us on the dream of wealth as success, and the reformers' goal of collecting data...

Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine, from Wish You Were Here

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
Where have you been? It's alright we know where you've been.
You've been in the pipeline, filling in time,
provided with toys and Scouting for Boys.
You bought a guitar to punish your ma,
And you didn't like school, and you know you're nobody's fool,
So welcome to the machine.
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.
What did you dream? It's alright we told you what to dream.
You dreamed of a big star, he played a mean guitar,
He always ate in the Steak Bar. He loved to drive in his Jaguar.
So welcome to the machine.

dan dempsey said...

"Noted public education author and blogger Victoria M. Young writes:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars being used on a poorly designed experiment was a horrible waste of tax dollars at a time when schools – ACROSS THE COUNTRY – needed real help."

Speaking of Real Help and Arnie Duncan's decrees:
it seems Pink Floyd's "Money" is spot on.

Let us not forget the paths to turn around a "failing school" none of which work. All move away from local control and toward "big money's needs not student needs".

No Child Left Behind created a framework on educational accountability for all children. In many ways, NCLB represents an unprecedented level of system-wide direction in core elements of public education, and it promises federally mandated restructuring if schools fail to reach the established performance goals.

What Is Restructuring?

Under NCLB, restructuring means making a change in governance. Governance, by definition, is about who has authoritative direction and control of an organization. The options presented in NCLB are all appropriate choices for any school that needs to make large, speedy improvements in how much children are learning.

If these schools fall short of their state’s academic targets at the end of the sixth year, they must implement the restructuring plan the following school year.
NCLB offers five options for schools in restructuring:

1. Reopen the school as a public charter school;

2. Replace “all of most of the school staff (which may include the principal) who are relevant to the failure to make AYP;”

3. Contract with an outside entity, such as a private management company, with a demonstrated record of effectiveness, to operate the school;

4. Turn the “operation of the school over to the State educational agency, if permitted under State law and agreed to by the State;” or

5. Engage in another form of major restructuring that makes fundamental reforms, “such as significant changes in school staffing and governance, to improve student academic achievement in the school and that has substantial promise of enabling the school to make adequate AYP.”

(NCLB, Sec. 1116, 20 U.S.C.A. §6301-6578; 2002).

dan dempsey said...

More about restructuring option #5
Engage in another form of major restructuring that makes fundamental reforms,

Non-regulatory guidance from the U.S. Department of Education in 2006 further defines this fifth option to include reforms such as:

• Changing the governance structure of the school either to diminish school-based management and decision making or to increase control, monitoring, and oversight by the LEA (ELO);

• Closing the school and reopening it as a focus or theme school with new staff or staff skilled in the focus area;

• Reconstituting the school into smaller autonomous learning communities;

• Dissolving the school and assigning students to other schools in the district;

• Pairing the school in restructuring with a higher performing school; or

• Expanding or narrowing the grades served.

Who knows:

What schools in the SPS continually failed to make AYP?

What restructuring took place?

GarfieldMom said...

I'm with Yikes. Info sourced from as disreputable a site as Breitbart is always suspect, even if it turns out to be somewhat or even entirely accurate. Better to find the info from a reputable source, then post.

Anonymous said...


I heartily endorse your skepticism. I suggest you read the comments to the original article as POSTED HERE

Yikes makes a great point about reading the original article "Competing Principles" by Joanne Weiss (a Broad Academy grad) but be sure to read the comments.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

The comments in the SSIR are indeed fabulous--meaty, on point and well-informed. The article itself is a load of you-know-what, but at least it's pretty blatant in it's fluff and spin. When you have to try so hard to make it sound like you've done something good, there's usually a problem.

And I love how it's all been such a great success, prior to any actual educational outcomes. I wonder if anyone's tracking related outcomes such as time wasted, money wasted, increased distrust of the system, etc.?

If this becomes the model for "high impact grant making", we're in trouble.


Anonymous said...

HF wrote:
"When you have to try so hard to make it sound like you've done something good," you could be a Broad Academy Grad.

" I wonder if anyone's tracking related outcomes ... "

Well Richard Innes has been looking at educational outcomes in Kentucky, which was a very early adopter and implementer of CCSS. His findings thus far are lots of spending and no increase in student achievement.

-- Dan Dempsey

GarfieldMom said...

Dan, great minds think alike -- that's pretty much what I always do. I always figured you for the kind of person who also bothers to check the actual sources that stories or data are based on -- you have never struck me as someone willing to just accept someone else's conclusions. :)

Anonymous said...

Wait just a minute. Can the following be true for WA State?

"Common Core may be toast now. Except that states and districts, like ours, have invested millions on following and using it. And invested millions in testing those standards."

Randy Dorn said that testing using SBAC rather than MSP would save WA State money.
Is this untrue?
Who has the data on this?

(I am guessing that Randy overlooked equipment costs and infrastructure improvement costs as an SBAC cost.)

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...


Uh Breitbart is the Glenn Beck of "Journalism" And then we have Stanford.. well this is the group that studied Uri Gellar as legitimate.. bend my spoon please..

Here is the You Tube about those illustrious experiments...

A great film about debunking that is Honest Liar about the Amazing Randi on Netflix.

So while I don't discount of course the requisite conspiracy theories and of course bribery and influence peddling to do anything in our government there is a long history of vaguely named acronym groups ensuring their place at the top of the line.. look at how good groups became corrupted in the pursuit of their own agenda and in turn federal funds and laws made thanks to their lobbying.

And then there is this Charlotte Danielson the titular figurehead of her named consulting group who for a 72 year old woman has a quite the resume.. None of it actually specified where she worked, when and whom can verify any of it. This is the woman whom we can blame for the current teacher evaluation system and the testing nonsense that are costing states - including Washington State money - as this is tied to RFTT money.

There is one article in Huff Po about her and yet I cannot figure out who the hell this broad is.. she is linked to ETS the Testing system of America. Again want to know why your kids score comes weeks to months later, how they are scored and weighted? Well ETS won't be telling you. Go to one of their testing sites here in Mountlake Terrace it is TSA security. Take a test and weeks later you get only points, you don't know what questions you missed, the rubric for grading short answers or any detail

So who is Charlotte Danielson read the woman's bio and ask yourself why you need to opt your kid out of any of this testing..

Danielson traveled a crooked road to get where she is today. Born in West Virginia, her family moved to Princeton during high school. She graduated from Cornell with a degree in history – specializing in Chinese history, actually – and then went to Oxford University to earn her master’s in philosophy, politics and economics. Twelve years later, in 1978, she earned another master’s from Rutgers in educational administration and supervision. After college, she worked as a junior economist in think tanks and policy organizations. While working in Washington, D.C., she got to know some of the children living on her inner-city block – and that’s what motivated her to choose teaching over economics. She obtained her teaching credentials and began work in her neighborhood elementary school.

She and her husband moved to New Jersey, where she worked her way up the spectrum from teacher to curriculum director, then on to staff developer and program designer in several different locations, including ETS in Princeton, and a developer and trainer for teacher observation and assessments. Those experiences shaped her vision of teacher evaluations.

The breakthrough for Danielson was her book, Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching, originally published in 1996. “Framework for Teaching,” as it’s often referred to, was one of several of her books published through the Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

So there is a much more interesting backstory here..

SPS Ignored Staff

Anonymous said...

GarfieldMom wrote: Dan- "you have never struck me as someone willing to just accept someone else's conclusions. :)"
Anyone who has ever read a School Board Action Report coming from Staff back in the MGJ - Santorno - Enfield era knows to dig out the real story.

Unfortunately most education leaders want uniformity not thoughtful analysis.
In short Board Action Reports should say: "Don't worry about it. Buy what we are selling"

and Peter Maier, Steve Sundquist, Harium Martin-Morris, and Sherry Carr often did just that "Buying what they were Sold" in the interests of uniformity.

Board President Cheryl (no meaningful discussion please) Chow was a champion of 7-0 uniformity.

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yikes, I erred in not linking to another (better) source but her words betray her. What was dissected was from her article. Yes, I did read it. And I read the comments from many people whose names I know to be solid public education writers.

She also said - at the Harvard Business Review in 2011 (credible enough for you?)):

"The development of common standards and shared assessments radically alters the market for innovation in curriculum development, professional development, and formative assessments. Previously, these markets operated on a state-by-state basis, and often on a district-by-district basis. But the adoption of common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale."

There's your early smoking gun - "common standards" and "shared assessments" and "education entrepreneurs" and "national markets."

From Education Next recently, Ms. Weiss said:

"Fourth, Race to the Top recognized that the politics of education reform are tough. So it rewarded states for enlisting districts and local communities in designing and implementing the plans; it encouraged states to build political support across key constituencies and across sectors; and it provided political cover for state and local leaders to push forward ideas that could be controversial."

Wait, what? You have a program to provide "political cover" for elected leaders? Why would you need that if this was truly a good idea?

She critiques RttT:

"So, what did Race to the Top get wrong? First, while “comprehensive and coherent” are good goals, Race to the Top expected states to take on a lot, and for many, it was too much, too fast. The result was messy, incoherent implementation in too many places and that understandably frustrated educators and parents and undermined some of the good work that was being done. In an ideal world, new standards would have been rolled out together with aligned curricula and professional development. The new instructional practices demanded by the standards would have been reflected and reinforced through teacher observations, with feedback given by trained coaches and principals. And student growth would have been introduced thoughtfully into teacher evaluation systems based on new measures aligned to the new standards. The sequencing of complex new initiatives matters a lot, and Race to the Top didn’t do enough to guide states in how to think it all through."

Melissa Westbrook said...

So if it was important to not just get standards right but the curricula and PD, why wasn't that done? Why wouldn't you want to get it right?

What is worth acknowledging is that the administration didn’t anticipate that providing incentives to adopt college and career readiness standards drafted by the states would be seen, politically, as a threat to local control.

Really? If she didn't see this as a threat to local control, then she is either being disingenuous or not that bright. There's no way that wasn't going to come up.

She continues:

"In the end, will Race to the Top have contributed to the undoing of the Common Core? Or will it simply be a footnote in the complex narrative of how the U.S. aligned its expectations for students with the demands of college and the workplace? I would place money on the latter."

Well, I'm going with former.

About RttT, from education writer, Rick Hess,

"Every one of the dozen winning states has come up short on its promises."

"For all of his threats and bluster, Secretary Duncan has never withheld a nickel from a Race to the Top winner as a result of these violations."

What else does Hess say?

"For instance, the Common Core, which might have been a collaborative effort of 15 or maybe 20 enthusiastic states absent federal “encouragement,” became a quasi-federal initiative with lots of halfhearted participants. In pushing states to hurriedly adopt new evaluation systems that specifically used test results to gauge teachers, Race to the Top also ensured that many not-ready-for-primetime systems would be hurriedly rolled out and entangled with the Common Core and its associated tests."

He finishes:
"The public imagination is often captured by the fact of a federal program, but what matters in a realm as complex as schooling is how programs actually work. In 2009 and 2010, proponents embraced Race to the Top as a singular triumph—enthralled by the symbolic statement that reformers had stormed the nation’s capital. Yet, five years on, even a well-wisher can conclude that Race to the Top may have done as much to retard as to advance its laudable goals. The admonition that “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” may never be more relevant than when Washington has bold ideas about how to improve America’s schools."

Anonymous said...

Sooooo, when exactly are the SBAC scores going to be posted????? Remember one of the selling points for the SBAC was the "faster turn around time so results could impact instruction" hahahhahhahha.
What happened to the mandatory parent-teacher meeting for any 3rd grader who's reading scores where low? That was the reason for doing all the 3rd grade LA testing first - to give time for the meetings and remediation to take place before the end of the school year. Good one!
Now its a new school year and how easily we forget all this.
The district has had the results for some time now so when will they be posted for parents/students? When will the parent-teacher discussions take place for low-scoring elementary readers?
Are they going to keep the results secret like they did with the Beacon Amplify tests they took during the year ( this replaced MAP and whatever your opinion about MAP as a test, at least we got to see the MAP scores).
I'm uneasy about excessive standardized testing and this confirms to me that these tests provide no useful information about individual students to teachers or families. Show us the results, already.


Anonymous said...

Melissa wrote an excellent analytical summary of Ms. Weiss's views.

It is of particular interest to me that Ms. Weiss makes the assumption that pushing "a completely untried plan without any field testing" was a good idea and worth expending Billions of dollars upon.

Her type of thinking would lead many folks to believe abolishing or greatly reducing the size of the US Department of Education is an excellent idea.

I thank Ms. Weiss for clarifying that her Brand of Ed Reform is more about Race to the Bank and No Vendor Left Behind than maximizing each student's learning.

-- Dan Dempsey

dan dempsey said...

So Ms. Weiss's ramblings sure makes it look as though the BIG BATTLE will be for public opinion.

Will the public wake up and resist this take over of schools?

In Massachusetts the battle for public opinion is well under way =>

OUR OPINION: Massachusetts must reject Common Core PARCC test

from The Patriot Ledger