Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

When Common Core supporters call Common Core opponents "enemies", I think, hmmm.

This appeared in a NY Times op-ed (that I thought was fairly pedantic) and Ready Washington, a mystery public/private WA state cheerleading group for Common Core, retweeted the link as though it's a good thing to divide people who want a transparent discussion about Common Core.  And really, the op-ed isn't even really about Common Core.

Speaking of Ready Washington, they say at their Facebook page that the discussion has to be "fact-based."  Okay, but who decides what is factual?  Because at their webpage, they have a big whopper in their FAQs on Common Core:

Who developed the Common Core ?
The Common Core was created by states, for states.

Uh, no, that's not true.  Here's what true (and this comes from numerous sources including U.S News&World Report and Wikipedia).

Common Core standards were created by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and a non-profit education reform group called Achieve. The NGO is - by their own words - "a public policy organization" and they are a non-profit. They do not have public meetings. CCSSO is also a non-profit with corporate partners like ETS, InBloom, Microsoft and Pearson.

If "states" had created them, then how are the standards copyrighted by NGA and CCSSO? State departments of education have to have a license to use the standards.

Was there input from many people in many states?  Sure, but state-created?  No.

I'm fine if OSPI is working with groups like Stand and LEV and PTA to push Common Core (not to mention Microsoft and the Alliance and Washington Roundtable) but yes, once you involve public (read: taxpayer-funded entities), the cheerleading has to be truthful AND factual. 

Let Stand and LEV tell their tales but OSPI needs to be on the straight and narrow. 

When Director Blanford seems to have to ask an awful lot of questions at a Board committee meeting, causing it to come to a standstill, I think, "Does no one give new directors an informational book before they get on committees?"  I say this out of frustration because when directors are supposed to oversee massive capital spending and yet do not know the basics of building (and don't know the right questions to ask), it's hard to fathom how anyone can say there is oversight.  At least he's honest about what he doesn't know (and it's a lot).  

When the Alliance says, several times at this morning's annual breakfast, that they are involved in education "causes" (rather than education).  Hmmm.

Indiana has pulled out of Common Core.  Will their own standards be Common Core-lite? 

This follows the "rebranding" of Common Core by several states like Arizona (Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards), Iowa (the Iowa Core), and Florida (Next Generation Sunshine State Standards - very cheery).  Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas said, "rebrand it, refocus it, but don't retreat."

Or redirect.  Hmmm.


mirmac1 said...

Is Dorn a member of the CCSSO? If so, how much do we spend sponsoring his membership at attendance on these junkets? Or perhaps he is sponsored by BMGF?

lowell parent said...

Did you misunderstand what the author was referring to when she said when she said enemies. You should re-read the article.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, what you call "a big whopper," I would call splitting hairs. Yes, the NGA and CCSSO did create the CCSS. But you do understand that the NGA is the professional association of the governors (i.e., the executives of the states) and CCSSO is the professional association of the state chiefs (i.e., the executives of the state departments of education), right? The CCSS were, therefore, created by the governors and the chiefs; in other words, they were created by the states.

NGA is directed by the governors --- they have staff but the leadership is comprised entirely of governors. CCSSO is the same --- they have staff but the leadership is comprised entirely of the chiefs. Their organizations were thus used in the collective interest of the governors and chiefs to create the CCSS. Achieve operated under contract with NGA and CCSSO to facilitate the writing of the standards.

Finally, neither NGA nor CCSSO is obligated to hold open meetings. No decisions made by these organizations bind the states to anything. In other words, they do not adopt laws, rules, or policies that states are obligated to adopt.

Finally, the CCSS are copyrighted by NGA and CCSSO to prevent commercial enterprises like Pearson and McGraw Hill from using them as their own products without attribution. The state departments of education do not have to license the CCSS. If states adopt the CCSS, they are free to do with them as they please.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lowell, I'm referring to the fact that Ready Washington has chosen to tweet that line like (1) it's true and (2) it was actually what she meant.

No SWK, it's not splitting hairs. They are not-profit groups that represent some elected officials. Those governors didn't vote on something in an elected capacity. And our state legislatures - you know the ones that make the laws and pay the bills - they certainly didn't vote.

And Achieve? Who are they then, because they, too, created the standards.

And right, no decisions are legally binding so I see nothing legal in all of it.

And yes, the states ARE doing as the please, starting with Indiana.

BlueGlass said...

If you haven't seen this 2013 outline of spending history behind the Common Core development, it's interesting. Admittedly it has an clear agenda (the title tells all) but it does layout some of the timeline/players rather nicely.

A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending


BlueGlass said...

Ready Washington, is according to it's website registry entry an offshoot of "Partnership For Learning" described on it's site as "the education foundation of the Washington Roundtable" - which if I'm not mistaken is a business organization? - it certainly has some heavy hitters on its Board of Directors.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Blueglass, yes, I've seen this and will likely repost it. Seattle parents need to understand this from its beginning.

Oh yeah, big news. The Dem Senate leader in NY State just said that he and Governor Cuomo "plan to institute a moratorium on implementation of the Common Core standards "for at least 3 years."

It's things like:

“The teacher evaluation system we have in place already, and it's actually negotiated according to each school district,” Klein said, “but, again, I think it's difficult for them to be judged by the standards of Common Core when Common Core wasn't implemented properly.”

No, kidding. You shouldn't hold teachers and students accountable for a under-resourced, under-the-radar rollout of new standards for nearly every state in this country.

"Klein also said leaders want to cut ties with inBloom, Inc., a non-profit company under agreement with the state to build a database of student information."

Mr. Gates, all that money and all that time and your own little House of Cards is starting to crumble. Get out of your echo chamber and actually listen to real people.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, here in Washington, the Common Core were adopted in a legal manner. State law provides the state superintendent the authority to adopt and revise the state content standards. Specifically, RCW 28A.655.071 grants the SPI the authority to adopt the CCSS.

And the other 40+ states who have adopted the CCSS did so under their own state legal authority.

--- swk

mirmac1 said...

And thank goodness some of those same states are legally pulling themselves out or putting on the brakes....

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think the fallout over Common Core speaks for itself.

It's interesting that there's a push poll that shows that the majority of Americans "like" CC - the wording of the question is hilariously vague.

Getting a bit desperate out there.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And Arne Duncan (and his 8 staffers) run off to Hawaii and New Zealand just in time. Another place to say, hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

more CCSS hmmmmm:


A second grader’s answers to a Common Core-aligned math worksheet were marked as incorrect because they weren’t “friendly” enough… even though they were the right answers. (more)


Anonymous said...

Why do common core standards have to be linked to databases of student info or teacher evaluations? Isn't it enough just to have a set of grade level expectations?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Why, because the feds have linked it that way. You couldn't get RttT money without having a longitudinal database. Same with CC. Data is kept on teachers (not just test scores) as well.

More on this to come but yes, good question.

Anonymous said...

Why, Common Core doesn't have to be linked to databases of student information nor teacher evaluation. Common Core IS simply a set of grade level expectations.

States don't have to adopt the CC. States don't have to have longitudinal databases. States don't have to administer the CC assessments. States don't have to link student scores on the CC assessments to teacher evaluation. States can choose to do all of these things, some of these things, or none of these things.

Many people combine the whole of the standards, curriculum, instruction, assessments, and accountability system and call the whole thing the Common Core. But, the Common Core itself is simply a set of grade level expectations.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

SWK, I'll have to put up info on what you said. That is not my understanding at all.

I stand by my contention to get money, states have to have a longitudinal data base.

What follows from Common Core, we can dither on a phrase for that but many people understand the difference between what Common Core it is but that there are actions that flow from it.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, Melissa, I'm not sure to which money you refer. If you're talking about RTTT, that was a competitive grant and Washington didn't win that money. And besides, it was a choice to compete for that money. Given that we were in the middle of the recession, it is true that it wasn't much of a choice.

And, yes, RTTT did require states adopt a state longitudinal data system and OSPI does have one --- it's called CEDARS (Comprehensive Education Data and Research System) but it was in place before Common Core and RTTT. The legislature required they have it as early as 2005.

--- swk

BlueGlass said...

Swk is correct - the CCSS themselves do not require longitudinal database or links to teacher evaluations. It is confusing however, because many states who were seeking RTTT funds to "implement" the CCSS DID have to have such a database.

Not because of CCSS however. Because the Feds made it a requirement of RTTT funds. The US Dept. of ED has made it clear that they'd like more student data.
It's confusing, but these are essentially apples and oranges. Because, and it hasn't been clear in many many places, that the CCSS is in fact a STATE-based initiative and not a Federal one.

The phrase "common core" has become a misused shorthand for what many see as detrimental choices - "teaching to the test", teacher evaluations that depend on test scores etc etc etc.

I'm not a fan of much of the rhetoric that goes on around those choices, but this is important information needs to be accurately reported.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's your connection with CC:

There’s also the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) that says that states must be moving towards “college/career-ready standards and high quality assessments” but it also says “The state must assure that it will take actions to … establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement.”

Okay, so I'm just going to assume that "college/career-ready standards" are CC and "high quality assessments" are Smarter Balanced and PARCC.

Also to note: the agreement between PARCC and SBAC and DOE says this:

"The grantee must provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the State level to ED (US Education Department)..."

Anonymous said...

Melissa, the SFSF is a good catch. I forgot about this money and the RTTT requirements embedded within the fund. However, this was one-time money and the feds have no mechanism now to enforce the requirements. But your point is well-taken. If states didn't have an longitudinal data system prior to receiving SFSF funds, they probably started building one.

In most instances, "college and career-ready standards" do refer to the CC and "high quality assessments" do refer to Smarter Balanced and PARCC. However, this is not necessarily so. States can adopt their own set of college and career-ready standards and CCR assessments. Alaska, for instance, received SFSF funds and have an NCLB waiver but they have never adopted the CCSS and are not a member of either consortia. They have adopted their own set of CCR standards and will be building their own CCR assessments.

But the point that I'm trying to make and BlueGrass reiterated is that CC and state longitudinal data systems are independent. Here is where we currently stand: The feds have not required CC, they do not now require longitudinal data systems, and they do not require teacher evaluation. They have provided a carrot for states in the past, but they have no mechanism aside from NCLB waivers to require these things.

Let's try to agree on this: Common Core, longitudinal data systems, and teacher evaluation tied to state test scores ARE NOT required, BUT there are definite and strong (and insidious) links between these things and many states and districts have implemented all of them.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did not say anything was "required" but you have to be naive or disingenuous to believe the DOE isn't leaning on states.

You think that the DOE isn't using the stick rather than the carrot on the NCLB waiver? Wait for it. Randy Dorn told me today he thought they would bear down on our state.

I appreciate your last paragraph but it only makes it clear that there are real pressures being brought to bear on states (whether within the law or not).

mirmac1 said...

"...the SFSF is a good catch...", I couldn't say it any better. It's all about what the rest of us can make of a well-financed and orchestrated scheme of innuendo, chaos, and confusion.

What is truly sad is when our "elected representatives", and bureaucrats (on our payroll) shill for those in control with their wishlists.

Connecting the dots can, and has, been done by many reputable sources.

Anonymous said...

Determing cause and effect in NCLB, RTT, CC, and data mining etc. is like trying to catch a moving target.

They are all cousins of each other in the family tree, and sometimes they are kissing cousins.

Trying to disaggregate individual cause and effect is rather futile because then you are missing the forest for the trees, which is this:

Arne Duncan and President Obama have chosen the path of Gates and other oligarchs in determining federal education policy. Many states and individual voters don't like being sold out to the highest donor, which is why we are on the cusp of a widespread rebellion.

Whether Pearson is doing this one, RTT or NCLB is funding that one, this grant funded that one really doesn't matter because states are in the process of taking back their rights and progressives are supporting them.

Washington state is usually at the end of the education train, so it's not surprising that swk, BlueGlass and others are putting more energy into "educating" us about Common Core, etc. rather than being aware of the fact that that ship has sailed. It just might take Washington state to feel the wind of its demise later than other regions.

--enough already

Jan said...

I just want to say thank you for this thread and its contributors -- Melissa, swk, BlueGlass, enough already, and others. Out of the tug of war of (civil) disagreement and debate came a lot of enlightenment for those of us (like me) farther back on the CC/sfsf/RTTT/longitudinal data learning curve.

I always like this blog. But there are times when I REALLY like it -- this is one of those times.


Anonymous said...

What are still termed "state" initiatives are no longer such in spirit when states are awarded by the feds if they comply and are penalized if they don't...with money or withdrawal of funds, of course.

We are going into the realm of Stockholm Syndrome compliance at that point.

--enough already