Archives for category: U.S. Department of Education

For years, Democrats wanted a larger role for the federal government in education for two reasons: equitable resources and civil rights.

Arne Duncan has managed to sour many Democrats on an expanded role for the federal government by abandoning those two goals and instead pushing an agenda of federal control over curriculum, instruction, testing, and teacher evaluation. Functions that once belonged to states and districts have been taken over by Arne’s wishes, not even by federal law. States lose Arne’s waiver from NCLB’s impossible mandate for 100% proficiency if they don’t do what Arne wants. His preference for charter schools and TFA and high-stakes testing is clear. His dictatorial style has ignored equity and civil rights.

John Kline, leader of the House Education Committee, said in an interview that his top priority was revising NCLB and reducing the federal role. Ten years ago, Democrats and educators would have objected. No more.

The following email was sent to me by a Washington, D.C. insider who has been part of the Beltway scene for many years:

“Turnover at ED may be at a record high.

“One former ED staffer told me this week, “Morale at the Department is very, very low. Arne has made so many enemies among teachers and administrators and Chiefs and Congress that it has become painful [for a Dept. staff person] to be on the line supporting his policies to our (ED) constituencies in the field. The Administration has only two years, and everyone knows that if they wait until the last year, finding another job will be more difficult because of the rush, so they consider themselves ahead of the game if they bail now.” I asked about new appointments, and she said, “There should be no shortage because having a Department job with a good title for less than two years is a pretty good gig: you add the title to your resume while knowing that you won’t have to put up with the bureaucratic B.S. for very long.” And, she added: “Since Obama isn’t going to get his nominees confirmed, appointees can, instead, take a Department ‘advisory’ job, make the same pay, and avoid having to go through hearings by a hostile Senate.”

My confidant added:

“At the same time Ted Mitchell was nominated (November 2013), Obama/Duncan nominated Ericka Miller, chief administrator at Ed Trust, to be Asst Sec for Higher Ed.

“Mitchell got confirmed last spring but Miller did not.

“I heard that the higher ed community told Senators that they weren’t happy with Miller. Her higher ed experience is limited to a few semesters teaching English at tiny Mills College in Oakland. (When you were at OERI, Ericka was Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey’s LA for ed.)

“News about Miller’s nomination a year ago:

http://www.careercollegecentral.com/news/obama-nominate-education-trust-official-key-higher-education-post

“So she has been cooling her heels at Ed Trust, I gather, waiting for the Senate to act. Oddly, friends on the Hill say that Arne et al have done virtually nothing to work the Senate HELP committee to confirm her (unlike their extensive work on behalf of Ted). Now they’ve given up. No way, if the Senate Dems wouldn’t confirm her, that the GOP Senate will.

“Rumor has it that Miller, like King, will now go to ED in January as an unconfirmed Sr. Advisor to Arne (in her case on higher ed.). I haven’t seen any formal announcement … just internal Dept correspondence. Will she then be doing the work of a confirmed Asst Sec?! Who knows? This Administration is good at finding ways to bypass Congress…often understandably.

“In the last 2 yrs of the Obama Administration one will see policy (all Depts, not just at ED) overseen by “Advisors.” In Miller’s case for Higher Ed; in King’s case Shelton’s portfolio I guess.

“What is the Ed Trust-like Higher Ed approach? Ratings of Ed schools based on the achievement scores of students of teacher graduates of the school? That seems to be Arne’s philosophy; whether Miller subscribes to it I don’t know. But Ed Trust was an NCLB advocate … and one can see some similarities in the “reform” belief/approach, i.e., teach/assess/rank instructors.

“Arne’s not going away…Obama loves him. Now most of his top staff will all be technical “Advisors.” As one DC-based wag put it this week, “Don’t expect much action from ED in the next 2 years.”

The Néw York State Badass Teachers Association expressed their delight that John King is leaving as State Commissioner.

In a press release, they said:

“The New York Badass Teachers Association (BATs), an activist organization of 2250 educators, voices its joy that Commissioner John King has resigned. During his tenure as New York State Commissioner of Education, King ignored the voices of experienced educators, parents, and children, even dismissing parents as “special interests.” He was the puppet for moneyed interests in New York State who seek to privatize, and profit from, our public education system. Many New York Superintendents and Principals indicated that they had no confidence in his ability to lead the education system in New York State. “

The Néw York Times reports that John King will be “senior advisor” to Arne Duncan and the second highest ranking official in the Department. Wrong. His position does not require Senate confirmation. He is outranked by the Undersecretary and possibly by various Assistant Secretaries who were confirmed by the Senate.

New York Commissioner John King willl resign and join the staff of the U.S. Department of Education. Early reports said he would be Deputy Secretary of Education, but Stephanie Sumin of politico.com tweeted that he would be a “senior advisor” to Duncan. Thus, he would not require Senate confirmation.

Like Duncan, King is a strong advocate for Common Core, high-stakes testing, and value-added-modeling (judging teachers by student test scores).

Stephanie Simon (@StephanieSimon_)
12/10/14, 6:11 PM
.@JohnKingNYSED to get Jim Shelton’s portfolio at @usedgov but not the title of deputy secretary; he will be “senior advisor” to Duncan

The rumor in Néw York is that Cuomo pushed out King.

New York State Commissioner of Education John King is stepping down to take a position with the U.S. Department of Education.

King encountered strong opposition from parents and educators for his strong advocacy of Common Core, high-stakes testing, and test-based evaluations of teachers and principals.

King’s own children attend a private Montessori school which does not believe in standardized testing.

Although news reports say he will take the #2 job at the U.S. Department of Education, that position is already filled by Ted Mitchell, Undersecretary of Education, who was recently confirmed.

One of the nation’s largest for-profit providers of college degrees has been sold, according to Inside Higher Ed, to a debt-collection agency.

 

The ECMC Group, a nonprofit organization that runs one of the largest student-loan guaranty agencies, announced Thursday that it will purchase 56 campuses from Corinthian Colleges, a crumbling, controversial for-profit chain.
ECMC will create a nonprofit subsidiary, called the Zenith Education Group, to run the campuses, which enroll more than 39,000 students. The sale price is $24 million, according to a corporate filing from Corinthian. After having absorbed more than half of Corinthian’s enrollment and assets, Zenith will operate the nation’s largest chain of nonprofit career-oriented campuses.
Corinthian’s Everest, Heald and Wyotech chains include 107 campuses, which in July enrolled 72,000 students and employed 12,000. The company has been attempting to sell 85 U.S. and 10 Canadian locations, while gradually closing 12 campuses.
The sale announced Thursday includes 53 Everest College and three WyoTech campuses (click here for list).
Corinthian had been teetering even before a 21-day freeze on federal aid payments pushed it over the edge earlier this year. The company, which is one of the sector’s largest, had been hit hard by slumping enrollment and revenue, as well as investigations, lawsuits and bad publicity.

 

The for-profit higher education industry has long been under investigation for defrauding students, but it survives nonetheless because it hires the top lobbyists in both parties to protect it against regulation. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa (who just retired) issued a scathing report on the industry in 2012 that unfortunately went nowhere. This story appeared in the New York Times:

 

“According to the [Harkin] report, which was posted online in advance, taxpayers spent $32 billion in the most recent year on companies that operate for-profit colleges, but the majority of students they enroll leave without a degree, half of those within four months.

 

“In this report, you will find overwhelming documentation of exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and pocketed as profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation,” Mr. Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement on Sunday. “These practices are not the exception — they are the norm. They are systemic throughout the industry, with very few individual exceptions….

 

Over the last 15 years, enrollment and profits have skyrocketed in the industry. Until the 1990s, the sector was made up of small independent schools offering training in fields like air-conditioning repair and cosmetology. But from 1998 to 2008, enrollment more than tripled, to about 2.4 million students. Three-quarters are at colleges owned by huge publicly traded companies — and, more recently, private equity firms — offering a wide variety of programs.

 

Enrolling students, and getting their federal financial aid, is the heart of the business, and in 2010, the report found, the colleges studied had a total of 32,496 recruiters, compared with 3,512 career-services staff members.

 

Among the 30 companies, an average of 22.4 percent of revenue went to marketing and recruiting, 19.4 percent to profits and 17.7 percent to instruction.

 

Their chief executive officers were paid an average of $7.3 million, although Robert S. Silberman, the chief executive of Strayer Education, made $41 million in 2009, including stock options.

 

With the Department of Education seeking new regulations to ensure that for-profit programs provide training for “gainful employment,” the companies examined spent $8 million on lobbying in 2010, and another $8 million in the first nine months of 2011.

 

The bulk of the for-profit colleges’ revenue, more than 80 percent in most cases, comes from taxpayers. The report found that many for-profit colleges are working desperately to find new strategies to comply with the federal regulation that at least 10 percent of revenue must come from sources other than the Department of Education. Because veterans’ benefits count toward that 10 percent even though they come from the federal government, aggressive recruiting of students from the military has become the norm.

 

The amount of available federal student aid is large and growing. The Apollo Group, which operates the University of Phoenix, the largest for-profit college, got $1.2 billion in Pell grants in 2010-11, up from $24 million a decade earlier. Apollo got $210 million more in benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. And yet two-thirds of Apollo’s associate-degree students leave before earning their degree….

 

On average, the Harkin report found, associate-degree and certificate programs at for-profit colleges cost about four times as much as those at community colleges and public universities.

 

And tuition decisions seem to be driven more by profit-seeking than instructional costs. An internal memo from the finance director of a Kaplan nursing program in Sacramento, for example, recommended an 8 percent increase in fees, saying that “with the new pricing, we can lose two students and still make the same profit.” Similarly, the chief financial officer at National American University wrote in an e-mail to executives that the university had not met its profit expectation for the summer quarter, so “as a result” it would need a midyear tuition increase.

 

Advocates for the for-profit higher education industry complained that their institutions were under attack solely for partisan reasons.

 

Given this background, one might expect that the U.S. Department of Education would vigorously oppose these for-profit institutions that cost so much and deliver so little to students. But, no, when Corinthian Colleges teetered close to bankruptcy, the U.S. DOE gave it a bridge loan to help the chain stay in business until a buyer for the distressed corporation emerged. More than half of the Corinthian chain of for-profit colleges has been purchased at a bargain basement price of $24 million by a debt-collection agency called ECMC (the Educational Credit Management Corporation). Corinthian was once valued at $3.4 billion. The negotiations were handled by Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell, who previously was CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund (which funds charter schools, charter chains, and education technology startups). Consumer advocates were upset that ECMC was taking over a chain of colleges, in light of the fact that it has no experience running educational institutions:

 

“A chorus of consumer and student advocacy groups said they had serious concerns about the sale. They expressed concern that the campuses would be run by an organization that has not previously managed academic institutions.
“ECMC has no experience running a college, let alone one of this scale, and is instead known for ruthless and abusive student loan operations,” the Institute for College Access and Success, known as TICAS, said in a statement. “With so many other colleges offering lower price, higher quality career education programs, it’s unclear why this agreement is in the interests of either students or taxpayers.”
Higher Ed Not Debt, a coalition of progressive organizations and unions that focuses on student loan issues, similarly took issue with ECMC’s “storied history of harshly preventing the discharge of students’ loans in bankruptcy.”
“While bailing out 56 schools, the sale treats the more than 30,000 students like financial assets,” Maggie Thompson, the group’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “All students should have the opportunity to opt-out of the sale and receive full refunds including full loan discharges of both federal and private loans.”
Durbin, the top-ranking Democratic Senator, has relentlessly criticized Corinthian in recent months. He did not directly praise or criticize Thursday’s agreement, saying only that the sale of the campuses “should focus on sparing the students who have been victimized and the taxpayers who continue to be on the hook.” 

 

This was an opportunity for the U.S. Department of Education to close down some of the lowest-performing colleges in the nation. This was an opportunity to take a stand against the entire for-profit sector. But the Department of Education structured a deal to save what should have been closed. A lost opportunity. But it does refute those critics from the for-profit sector who claim that their online institutions are unfairly targeted by Democrats.

This essay was written by Horace Meister, a young untenured scholar who cannot use his own name for fear of retribution. Read it and judge it by the evidence.

 

This is what happens when policy is based on ideology, not evidence.

 

He writes:

 

The power and reach of the federal Department of Education (DOE) has grown dramatically since 2009. The DOE has used Race to the Top and the controversial granting of waivers from the legal mandates of No Child Left Behind to force states to implement very specific policies. These policies include increasing the number of charter schools, evaluating teachers through value-added measures, and implementing the Common Core Standards and associated assessments. The DOE has also attempted to improve the “lowest-achieving schools” by closing them, turning them over to private operators, or firing the principal and/or the staff.

 

Unfortunately, not a single one of these policies has any supporting evidence. As a sector charter schools do not have better student outcomes than public schools.[i] Value-added metrics are unreliable measures of teacher quality.[ii] The adoption of standards has no effect on student learning.[iii] The “lowest-achieving schools” are statistically schools that work with a more challenging student body, not schools with failing teachers and principals.[iv]

 

It is bewildering to see an entire department of the federal government taken over by what can only be described as mass hysteria. With no evidence backing their policies, we are left with ideology and the power of special interests as explanations for what is happening. This refusal to use evidence in evaluating educational policies is apparent in the work of Arne Duncan’s chief speechwriter, David Whitman. In 2008 he wrote a book, Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism.[v] The book profiles six “no excuses” schools and argues that they show the way to a radically improved education system in the United States. But let’s see if the evidence actually supports this claim.

 

The first school profiled in the book is the American Indian Charter School in Oakland, California. Whitman forgot to mention that “half the 6th grade students performing poorly in 2007 had left the school before graduation, and only 39 of the 51 students who started in 2006 completed their middle school years with AIPCS[vi].” He also forgot to mention that “Chavis [the principal] routinely abused his students verbally, humiliating them in front of their classmates, to force them [to] score higher on tests or quit the school altogether… At minimum, Chavis’ schools appear to be nothing more than a rigged system in which mostly high-scoring students apply to get in, are accepted, and then continue to score well on tests.[vii]” Another story noted that “there’s evidence to suggest that the school’s high scores aren’t the result of an unusually high caliber of teaching or organization, but rather the educational equivalent of bringing in ringers… the school appears to be asking parents to submit test scores as part of their student’s applications.[viii]” Strangely enough Whitman claimed on page 80 of his book that the school was “hardly an example of selective recruiting or creaming from the top of the local academic ” It appears that he didn’t dig deep enough.

 

Moving on to the second school profiled in the book– Amistad Academy, an Achievement First school in New Haven, Connecticut. Here is what’s really going on at Amistad “Data show that for nearly one of them [i.e. graduating seniors] who walked across the stage Wednesday, another was “lost” along the way. Students “lost” to Amistad include one senior who withdrew in March to attend adult education…Of the 64 students who entered Amistad High in 2009 as freshmen, plus two who joined the group after freshman year, 25 are graduating this year and heading to college; seven were retained and plan to graduate high school next year; and 34 withdrew from the school.[ix]” Whitman notes (on pages 119-120) that every Achievement First school “is expected to keep student attrition to less than 5 percent a year.” He somehow forgot to mention that Amistad fails to meet this expectation.

 

Another aspect of the Amistad “model” is captured by this parent comment “the middle school is a stressful, mentally abusive, black children being degraded mess! I have never seen a kid get so many DEDUCTIONS, OSS, ISS in my life. If you are so much about kids getting their education, why are you so quick to kick them out of class and/or suspended them?[x]

 

 

The third school profiled is Cristo Ray Jesuit High School in Chicago, Illinois—a school that requires all students to work one full weekday a week to pay off tuition costs. An interview with G.R. Kearney who wrote More Than a Dream: The Cristo Rey Story: How One School’s Vision Is Changing the World noted that “Almost half of the student who enroll in Cristo Rey fail to graduate from Cristo Rey.” To which the Kearney added “Cristo Rey has a fairly rigorous application process, though there is no entrance exam. The school goes to great pains to ensure that the students selected to attend are capable of graduating and attending college. In theory, those students who would be true negative influences are screened out in the application process.[xi]” The interviewer also mentioned that the descriptions of disciplinary issues at the two schools dramatically differ between the two books “Whitman seemed to describe it as a place where discipline problems almost magically ceased to exist while Kearney provides a slightly different picture.” This raises some questions about whether or not Whitman’s descriptions of the schools he profiles mirror reality.

 

We are halfway through the list of schools that Arne Duncan’s chief speechwriter believes should serve as the model for transforming the entire American education system. So far we haven’t seen anything at all compelling. What comes next? The forth school profiled is KIPP Academy in Bronx, New York. Much space in Whitman’s chapter is devoted to describing the orchestra in which every student participates. When describing the school’s academic outcomes Whitman acknowledges (pages 176-78) that KIPP Academy serves students with higher incoming academic performance than the district average, many fewer English Language Learners (who score poorly on standardized exams), and many more female students (who in aggregate do better on standardized exams than male students). He nonetheless insists (page 175) that “the usual demographic suspects fail to explain the superior performance of KIPP students.” It is clear that Whitman has not done his research and neglects to mention lots of relevant data. “On their math tests in the fourth grade (the year before they arrived at KIPP), KIPP students in the Bronx scored well above the average for the district, and on their fourth-grade reading tests they often scored above the average for the entire city.[xii]” “KIPP Academy had one of the highest suspension rates among New York City charter schools.[xiii] Despite Whitman’s claim that “like their peers at comparison schools, KIPP students are likely to live in poverty (page 175)” the data actually show that KIPP schools in New York City have dramatically fewer free lunch students than local public schools.[xiv] KIPP schools in New York City serve many fewer high need special education students.[xv] And KIPP Academy has a 20% cohort attrition rate in middle school.[xvi]

 

Ironically, KIPP schools in New York City have done rather poorly on the policies that Whitman writes speeches for Duncan defending. Reporting on the Common Core test results Politico noted “the highly touted KIPP network also stumbled, with proficiency rates well below the city average for several grades and subjects.[xvii]” KIPP teachers also receive lower value-add scores than teachers at comparable schools.[xviii]

 

The fifth school profiled by Whitman is SEED, a boarding school in Washington D.C. The sky-high attrition rates at this school make it anything but a model for nationwide reforms. One analysis noted that of students who began 7th grade at SEED “most of their cohort was gone by the time graduation rolled around.[xix]” The SEED high school alone has attrition rates of over 50%, although Whitman only acknowledges attrition as an issue in the middle school.[xx] The New York Times describes “The incoming class of 70 students slowly dissipated each year so that by senior year, the remaining students barely filled a gym bleacher. The high attrition made the school’s much-lauded college acceptance rate less impressive: If a class of 70 seventh graders fell to 20 students by the time of graduation, those remaining 20 students were arguably among the best — at least in terms of self-discipline and a willingness to stick it out — of the original class.[xxi]

 

We now come to the final school model, University Park Campus School, in Worcester, Massachusetts. This is the only public school profiled by Whitman and it has a number of interesting characteristics. Unlike the other schools in the book, which focus on lecture-centered pedagogy, University Park Campus School’s focus is on group work. This is more aligned to the teaching style used in schools that serve America’s middle and upper class students than the militaristic methods focused on obedience all too common in “no excuses” schools serving America’s lower class students.

 

Whitman mentions some demographic differences, such as more students coming from “intact families” than the district average. He forgets to mention a lot of others– including half the number of African-American students and three times the number of Asian students as the district average.[xxii] He also forgets to mention that the school serves half as many English Language Learners and half as many special education students as the district average.[xxiii] Whitman claims (page 244) that “its attrition rate is effectively zero” but the data show that the attrition rate is actually 8% a year and five times higher among African-American and Hispanic students than White and Asian students.[xxiv] English Language Learners attrite at a rate 4% higher than the student average.

 

Whitman’s claim (on pages 243-44) that “unlike the two other high schools profiled… University Park has succeeded not only in eliminating the college attendance gap but the achievement test gap as well” is demonstrably false. According to the data the school has a 15% AP exam pass rate, well below the national average.[xxv]

 

So where does this all leave us? It is no fun to debunk the work that schools, principals, and teachers across America are doing. Each and every one of the schools discussed here has dedicated leaders and teachers doing amazing work with students every single day. In the current political climate claims about the performance of some schools are used by our Secretary of Education to bludgeon and demean the rest.[xxvi] That is not OK and the misrepresentations must be addressed. Hopefully, there will be a shift in policies at the federal level to reflect evidence and data.

 

We all want great teachers for every student. So let’s provide the training and on-the-job professional development that teaches teachers how to be great teachers.[xxvii]

 

We all want teachers to be held accountable for doing a great job with students. So let’s increase the use of peer-to-peer observation, feedback, intervention, and dismissal when appropriate.[xxviii]

 

We all want great schools for our students, especially students living in poor neighborhoods. So let’s build community schools that provide wraparound services for students.[xxix] And yes, let’s acknowledge that without addressing underlying issues of poverty, racism, and social inequality in neighborhoods and homes we will never close the achievement gap.

 

We all want our children to have rich and engaging curricula. So let’s ensure that our school districts are providing their schools with such curricula that teachers can modify and adapt for their students.[xxx]

 

We all want to know how are students are doing in school. So let’s let teachers create assessments that make sense for their classes and students. As has been done throughout history teachers will share the assessments and student progress in a transparent fashion with students and parents. A high-quality standardized exam given to a sample of students every other year will suffice to serve as a standardized measuring stick to norm across schools.

 

We all want to know the truth and create an education system that works for all students. So let’s stop perpetuating myths and falsehoods for ideological reasons.[xxxi]

 

 

[i] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/09/24/the-bottom-line-on-charter-school-studies/

[ii] https://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf

[iii] http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/pb-options-2-commcore-final.pdf

[iv] http://shankerblog.org/?p=8664

[v] A pdf of the book can be found here http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED502972.pdf

[vi] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Indian_Public_Charter_School

[vii] http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2012/06/18/its-time-to-close-the-american-indian-public-charter-schools

[viii] http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/are-american-indian-public-charter-schools-test-scores-inflated/Content?oid=3233632

[ix] http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/amistad_signing_ceremony/

[x] http://www.greatschools.org/connecticut/new-haven/1440-Amistad-Academy/reviews/ typos have been corrected.

[xi] http://www.edpolicythoughts.com/2009_09_01_archive.html

[xii] http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/magazine/26tough.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

[xiii] http://school-stories.org/2012/05/pushed-out-charter-schools-contribute-to-the-citys-growing-suspension-rates/

[xiv] http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/zip-it-charters-and-economic-status-by-zip-code-in-ny-and-nj/

[xv] https://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/20/inflated-claims-of-charter-success-in-nyc/

[xvi] http://miracleschools.wikispaces.com/KIPP+Academy+New+York

[xvii] http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/new-york-fails-common-core-tests-95304_Page2.html

[xviii] http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/what-do-the-available-data-tell-us-about-nyc-charter-school-teachers-their-jobs/

[xix] http://shankerblog.org/?p=1078

[xx] http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2011/07/charter-school-attrition-exposes-bs-of.html

[xxi] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/magazine/27Boarding-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[xxii] http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=03480285&orgtypecode=6&leftNavId=300&

[xxiii] http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=03480285&orgtypecode=6&leftNavId=305&

[xxiv] http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/attrition/default.aspx?orgcode=03480285&fycode=2014&orgtypecode=6&

[xxv] http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/massachusetts/districts/worcester-public-schools/university-pk-campus-school-9570/test-scores

[xxvi] http://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/arne-debunkin/

[xxvii] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/magazine/why-do-americans-stink-at-math.html

[xxviii] http://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/spring-2014/one-piece-whole

[xxix] http://www.communityschools.org/assets/1/Page/CCSFullReport.pdf

[xxx] http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2009/10/14-curriculum-whitehurst

[xxxi] http://www.amazon.com/Myths-Threaten-Americas-Public-Schools/dp/0807755249

SomeDAM Poet (Devalue Added) writes poems on current issues with frequency:

“The Perfect Reform Storm”

When education reform
Becomes a perfect storm
The stakes align
Like fronts in time
And chaos is the norm

Andy Sher, a reporter in Tennessee, thought he would trip up Lamar Alexander by saying that he supported national standards when he was U.S. Secretary of Education in 1991-92, and is thus hypocritical now when he criticizes Common Core.

Senator Alexander explained that he supported voluntary national standards then and now.

Senator Alexander is right. I was there. I administered the award of grants to professional groups of teachers and scholars to write voluntary national standards. We made awards to develop standards in science, history (U.S. and world), English, the arts, civics, economics, physical education, foreign languages, and geography. We made no awards to secret committees headed by entrepreneurs, only to professionals in the field.

As Senator Alexander says, we made clear that the standards were strictly voluntary. It was up to states to use them or not, to revise them as they saw fit. There were no tests of the standards. That was left to the states too.

The goal was to inspire states, not compel them. One thing I admired about Lamar. He never thought he had all the best ideas. He respected federalism.

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