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Paul Thomas decribes the futility of rebranding the Common Core.

He writes: “Careful examination of both adopting Common Core and then the backlash resulting in dropping Common Core reveals that states remain firmly entrenched in the same exact accountability based on standards and high-stakes testing that has overburdened education since the 1980s. “The names and letters change, but not much else—except for throwing more money at a game of wasteful politics labeled “reform.” “Political posturing and public responses to all this Common Core puffery suggest that the next time a hurricane is plowing toward U.S. soil, the Weather Channel can lessen public panic by simply announcing a kitten is off the coast of Florida. “New and different standards and tests—these are jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, rearranging chairs on the Titanic. “We need to abandon ship.” It is time to aim for equity, for equality of opportunity, not a race with winners and losers.

On the second day of the second annual conference of the Network for Public Education’s Conference, I moderated a discussion between the leaders of the NEA and the AFT. Lily Eskelsen represented the NEA, and Randi Weingarten of the AFT.

This is the first video to emerge from the
program. Two very strong women! The video was made by Vibcent Precht.

Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit chain of colleges that has been under federal investigation, closed its doors and apparently is out of business. This is a shame for the 16,000 mostly low-income students who were lured to enroll and promised a good job. But it is good news to see a predatory venture go under.

These must be the remnants of the Corinthian chain, because last December, the U.S. Department of Education allowed the corporation to sell most of their campuses to a debt collection agency with no experience running colleges.

Congress and the U.S. Department of Education should have cracked down on these institutions long ago, but they hire the best lobbyists in town, from both parties and continue to offer a cheap version of “education” that makes money for them and rips off students. When Senator Tom Harkin was in charge of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, he tore into the for-profits, but to no avail.

They make so much money in their business, that they can afford to hire the lobbyists who protect them but not their students.

This is what the New York Times wrote about the industry’s ability to dodge regulatory controls:

The story of how the for-profit colleges survived the threat of a major federal crackdown offers a case study in Washington power brokering. Rattled by the administration’s tough talk, the colleges spent more than $16 million on an all-star list of prominent figures, particularly Democrats with close ties to the White House, to plot strategy, mend their battered image and plead their case.

Anita Dunn, a close friend of President Obama and his former White House communications director, worked with Kaplan University, one of the embattled school networks. Jamie Rubin, a major fund-raising bundler for the president’s re-election campaign, met with administration officials about ATI, a college network based in Dallas, in which Mr. Rubin’s private-equity firm has a stake.

A who’s who of Democratic lobbyists — including Richard A. Gephardt, the former House majority leader; John Breaux, the former Louisiana senator; and Tony Podesta, whose brother, John, ran Mr. Obama’s transition team — were hired to buttonhole officials.

And politically well-connected investors, including Donald E. Graham, chief executive of the Washington Post Company, which owns Kaplan, and John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix and a longtime friend of the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, made impassioned appeals.

In all, industry advocates met more than two dozen times with White House and Education Department officials, including senior officials like Education Secretary Arne Duncan, records show, even as Mr. Obama has vowed to reduce the “outsize” influence of lobbyists and special interests in Washington.

As I wrote just a few weeks ago, “The burgeoning of the for-profit college industry has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, sent many thousands of students out into the world with shoddy educations, and made a few people very rich.” No one is doing the perp walk, unlike the Atlanta educators. When we will see these sleazy operators go to jail for theft of government money and theft of services to students who were cheated of an education?

Randi Weingarten is on her way to speak at the Network for Public Education’s second annual conference in Chicago this weekend.

But she detoured to London to attend the Pearson shareholder meeting. She took the opportunity to tell Pearson to stop spying on children through their social media accounts. And she requested that Pearson stop lobbying and making campaign contributions to politicians for the sake of their testing business.

I am not sure that the folks at Prstson ever heard such straight talk.

This is great news!


Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted and wrote on her Facebook page yesterday that she supports parents who opt out of the PARCC tests. She had previously spoken out of behalf of opting out when participating in a parent-teacher rally at Fort Drum, New York. Yesterday she said that if she were a parent of children in the public schools of New York, she would opt out too.


Opting out is not about helping the teachers’ union or opposing accountability. It is a message to governors and legislators, to Congress and the Obama administration that testing is out of control. Testing is not teaching. Since the passage of NCLB in 2001-02, billions of dollars have been spent on test prep and testing. In the case of the Common Core tests, the results are not reported for 4-6 months, the teacher is not allowed to see what students got right or wrong. The tests have no diagnostic value. None. They are used solely to rank and rate students, teachers, principals, and schools. Furthermore, they are designed to fail the majority of students because of the absurd “cut scores” (passing mark) pegged to NAEP’s proficient level. We are the most over tested nation in the world. Enough!


Any politician who advocates for the tests should do one simple thing: Take the eighth grade math test and publish your score.


Thank you, Randi, for personally endorsing opt out! Encourage your members across the nation to join those who are defending their students and their profession. It is hard to stand up alone; in unity there is strength.



She wrote on her Facebook page:



I have been in NY alot fighting shoulder to shoulder with educators and parents against Cuomo’s wrongheaded actions. I was asked the question abt opt out today and this is what I tweeted out.


We believe parents have right to opt-out & tchrs shld be able to advise parents how. We’ve said it repeatedly, are fighting for it in ESEA.


@lacetothetop et al have asked what I’d do if I had kids in NYPS—based on what I’ve seen, if I had kids, I’d opt them out of the PEARSON (PAARC) tests this yr


It’s crazy what’s happening in NY, w/ Cuomo leading the misuse of testing. We understand why @NYSUT and parents are calling for an opt-out

Fresno’s ACEL Charter School will close immediately, due to financial problems. The charter school is $300,000 in debt and can’t get a loan, so it is shutting its doors. It started in 2008.

Students are upset and bewildered. Seniors are two months away from graduation and wondering how they will get a diploma.

“Many of the cash problems are being blamed on the unnamed company the board contracted to monitor its finances. Recently, the massive funding deficit was revealed.”

Charter schools come and go, like other businesses.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, takes issue with Secretary Duncan in reauthorization of NCLB. Duncan said last week that annual testing was “a line in the sand,” that is, non-negotiable. This, of course, ignores the views if educators and parents, who SES how the testing obsession has harmed teaching and learning and narrowed the curriculum.

Randi on Secretary Duncan’s ESEA Reauthorization Remarks

WASHINGTON— Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s speech regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“As I’ve said before, any law that doesn’t address our biggest challenges—funding inequity, segregation, the effects of poverty—will fail to make the sweeping transformation our kids and our schools need. Today, it was promising to hear Secretary Duncan make a call for equity, stressing, as we did through the Equity and Excellence Commission, the importance of early childhood education and engaging curriculum. It was encouraging to hear him laud the hard work of educators, who have had to overcome polarization and deep cuts after a harsh recession. And it was heartening to hear him acknowledge the progress our schools have made. However, the robust progress we saw in the first 40 years after the passage of ESEA has slowed over the last 10 years.

“On testing, we are glad the secretary has acknowledged that ‘there are too many tests that take up too much time’ and that ‘we need to take action to support a better balance.’ However, current federal educational policy—No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and waivers—has enshrined a focus on testing, not learning, especially high-stakes testing and the consequences and sanctions that flow from it. That’s wrong, and that’s why there is a clarion call for change. The waiver strategy and Race to the Top exacerbated the test-fixation that was put in place with NCLB, allowing sanctions and consequences to eclipse all else. From his words today, it seems the secretary may want to justify and enshrine that status quo and that’s worrisome.

“Yes, we need to get parents, educators and communities the information they need. And all of us must be accountable and responsible for helping all children succeed. That’s why we have suggested some new interventions, like community schools and wraparound services; project-based learning; service internships; and individual plans for over-age students, under-credited students and those who are not reading at grade level by third grade.

“If one test per year can cause an entire school to be shuttered or all the teachers fired, something is wrong with the way that test is being used. Even in the District of Columbia, where the secretary spoke from today, the school district has pulled back from the consequential nature of these tests.

“At the end of the day, the most important part of the debate shouldn’t happen in big speeches. It should happen in real conversations with parents, students and teachers, who are closest to the classroom. Communities understand the huge positive effect ESEA had for impoverished and at-risk communities 50 years ago. Those communities are saying loudly and clearly that they want more supports for students and schools, and data used to inform and improve, not sanction. It’s my hope that, in the coming weeks, leaders in Congress and the administration will listen to these voices and shape a law that reflects the needs of all our kids.”

Postscript: An advanced copy of Secretary Duncan’s remarks today included a quote from Albert Shanker, former president of the AFT, on accountability. To this, Weingarten responded, “If the secretary wants to invoke Shanker on accountability, then invoke him on his proposals for grade-span over annual testing. Shanker once called for ‘an immediate end to standardized tests as they are now,’ instead favoring testing over five-year intervals.”


Randi Weingarten

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

During the Christmas holidays, the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School in Philadelphia announced that it was closing, due to financial problems. The School Reform Commission had already initiated action to close it for poor academic performance. The Philadelphia school district said that the charter school had claimed $1.5 million more than it was entitled to, and the school could not find the money to repay the debt. Why is this kind of turmoil and instability called “reform”?


Citing insurmountable financial obstacles, the Palmer charter sent letters to families and staff on Friday informing them that the school would close permanently Wednesday.
The move sent teachers on quests for new jobs and information about filing for unemployment, and left families of the school’s 675 students in kindergarten through eighth grade scrambling for new schools.

Randi Weingarten just posted this statement.

The difficult choices New Yorkers face at the polls

As I head back home to vote on Nov. 4, I’ll be casting my vote for the candidates endorsed by NYSUT, my statewide union, starting with Eric Schneiderman for attorney general, Thomas DiNapoli for comptroller, Tim Bishop for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a strong pro-public education, pro-worker majority in the state Senate and Assembly. And I’ll be voting on the Working Families Party line. If I lived in another state, I’d be starting with the governor—but not in New York.

It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening in New York, especially after campaigning across the country for gubernatorial candidates who unequivocally support public education, respect teachers and will fight for the investment our schools need.

But in New York, the decision is painful. I am deeply disappointed and appalled by Gov. Cuomo’s recent statement that public education is a “monopoly” that needs to be busted up. (Frankly, it’s only hedge fund millionaires, right-wing privatizers and tea partiers who would use that terminology.) Public education is a public good and an anchor of democracy that is enshrined in our state constitution. Public education needs to be nurtured and reclaimed.

At the same time, the other major candidate, Rob Astorino, would be no day at the beach for New York’s students, educators and working families. His letter was a needed salve to teachers, but his embrace of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s politics of destruction, public education funding cuts and attacks on workers’ voices is not a model for New York.

Whichever candidate is elected governor on Nov. 4 needs to know that I (and so many others) will hold his feet to the fire to strengthen public education. Our public schools and our students are a sacred responsibility, and our educators are national treasures. It’s well past time to fund our schools, care for our children, support our teachers, and stand up for workers and working families everywhere in our state.

Randi Weingarten

– See more at:

Lyndsey Layton reports in the Washington Post that Richard Berman of the Center for Union Facts has sent out 125,000 letters attacking Randi Weingarten for ruining American education.

Berman’s usual stock in trade is defending tobacco companies against allegations that smoking causes cancer. He is a hired gun who says whatever corporations want said. As the article says, he has rented billboards in NYC’s Times Square and taken out a full-page ad in the Néw York Times to slander Randi.

Of course, it is not Randi his corporate masters hate: it is unions. They think teachers should be like fast food workers, paid minimum wage.

I once wrote in a post on this blog that I had a personal encounter with Berman. He boasted about his campaign to defame the Néw Jersey NEA for driving up the cost of education. Billboards, ads, etc. I asked him if he knew that the highest performing states were unionized and the lowest performing states were not. He did not know, and he mumbled that he was a PR man, not an education researcher. He was right. He is a mouthpiece for some corporate paymaster. The Koch brothers? ALEC? Some other rightwing zealot? There ought to be a law requiring disclosure of who pays for slander.


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