Archives for category: Common Core

This is the current (and evolving) list of my speaking engagements in connection with the publication of my new book: SLAYING GOLIATH: THE PASSIONATE RESISTANCE TO PRIVATIZATION AND THE FIGHT TO SAVE AMERICA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

I am trying not to wear myself out. Ten years ago, I hopped from city to city like a mountain goat.

But now I am 81 years old, and my knees are worn out. I have to pace myself.

Come out and say hello if you are in one of these cities.

SLAYING GOLIATH is a pro-public education, pro-teacher, pro-social justice, pro-common-good book. It is a book meant to give hope and encouragement to those who stand up to the billionaires and fight the status quo of choice and high-stakes testing. It contains inspiring stories of parents, students, teachers, and civil rights activists who took action against the powerful and won. At some of these events, the bookstore charges a modest fee to cover its expenses. Most are free.

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Hi, Bill and Melinda,

We have never met but I feel that I know you because I am so familiar with your education projects.

I have tried in the past to meet you and have a candid conversation but have never had any luck.

You were always too busy or out of town.

But I am trying again.

I will be in Seattle on February 3-4.

I arrive on the afternoon of the 3rd and am speaking at a public event on February 4 at Town Hall. The wonderful teacher-leader Jesse Hagopian is introducing me.

I have some down time and wondered if we might be able to meet at last.

Are you available to meet in the late afternoon or evening of February 3 or during the day on February 4?

Please let me know if you can make time on your busy schedule.

My partner will be with me.

I hope you can do it!

We have a lot to talk about!

Diane

This is a book you will want to read if you are a parent, a teacher, a teacher educator.

Opting Out: The Story of the Parents’ Grassroots Movement to Achieve Whole-Child Schools is an essential addition to your bookshelf.

It was written by Professor David Hursh of the University of Rochester and parents leaders of the New York Opt Out movement Jeanette Deutermann, Lisa Rudley, and Hursh’s graduate students, Zhe Chen and Sarah McGinnis.

Together they explain the origins and development of the one of the most significant parent-led reactions against high-stakes testing and in favor of education that is devoted to the full development of children as healthy and happy human beings. The media liked to present the Opt Out movement as a “union-led” action, but that was always a false narrative. It was created and led by parent activists who volunteered their time and energy to save their children from test centric classrooms and wanted a “whole-child” education that helped their children become eager and engaged learners.

David Hursh has written and lectured about the assault on public education and the dangers of high-stakes testing.

https://www.waikato.ac.nz/wmier/news-events/prof-david-hursh-on-the-takeover-of-public-education

University of Rochester Meliora Address (2013): High-stakes testing and the decline of teaching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIQu2Hh_YkI

Keynote address: New York State as a cautionary tale (2014). New Zealand union of primary teachers and administrators. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW4vZGsLiL4

The parent co-authors are leaders of the New York State Opt Out movement, primarily through their role in New York State Allies for Public Education, which has organized hundreds of thousands of parents to say no to excessive and pointless testing, whose only beneficiaries are the big testing corporations.

The parents of the Opt Out movement are a stellar example of the Resistance that is bringing an end to this current era of child abuse and test-driven miseducation.

I was happy to endorse the book and am pleased now to recommend it to you.

 

 

In this post, Peter Greene reviews Edspeak and Doubletalk, the glossary co-written by me and Nancy Bailey.

This is the book you need, the scorecard, to identify the players in the fast-moving world of reform propaganda and over-hyped programs.

This resulting book, Edspeak and Doubletalk: A Glossary to Decipher Hypocrisy and Save Public Schooling, is exceptionally useful as a quick-reference resource. If you are a regular reader of this or other education blogs, you know that there is a forest of acronyms, a Grand Canyon’s worth of program names and purposes, and enough different edu-focused organizations to pave a road to the moon and back. This book makes for a quick and easy reference for it all, and more. Chapters are organized by general topic, such as Charter Schools and Choice, English Language Learners, Technology, and Separation of Church and State. There are guides to the various players, both in the chapter on Groups Fighting Corporate “Reform” and School Reform Groups and Terms, or “Money Talks.”

Greene writes:
The book comes with an on-line supplement–an e-book– and the promise of online updates to come. It’s enlightening to browse the book– I’ve already encountered many terms and programs and policies that I had never heard of before (Paideia Program, anyone?)– but I’ve also already used it as a substitute for my usual research assistant (Dr. Google) to look up a couple of terms and organizations. 
 
Explanations are short, clear, and to the point, which is half the battle, since eduspeak relies on a cloud of smoke and fuzz to obscure what’s really going on. Well, Bailey and Ravitch know what’s really going on in debates that have become “highly politicized.” This book will be useful to the general reader, but I’d recommend it for every teacher. Keep a copy in your desk drawer and every time a communique comes across your desk that makes you think, “What the heck is this? Who are these people anyway, and what the heck are they talking about?” just pull out your copy and start translating. 

Angie Sullivan teaches in a Title 1 elementary school in Carson County, Nevada. She teaches the children who were left behind.

She sent this post to every legislator in Nevada:

A small group of vocal teachers, parents, and activists have been publicly concerned about national public school privatization for two decades.  
 
Diane Ravitch is the leader of that pack.  
 
Her new book is coming out soon.  
 
Her last books included characters who are national culprits in destroying American Public Schools.  Some have come from my state of Nevada.  
 
Reform was meant to change a system of education that needed to change.  Still needs change. Admittedly we need to improve.  No one argues against that.  Teachers have always been willing to improve.  
 
This reform was not ever meant to improve.  
 
Change came.   The wrong kind.  
 
Big bad horrific and public school destroying change came.   
 
It was bad change bought by corporations who do not love children, will not love children, and seek money even if harm comes to children. 
 
Wrecking ball.  
 
National level well funded and crushing. 
 
Reformers will not use the data – they supposedly worshipped – to admit – they were wrong. 
 
Devastatingly wrong. 
 
Wrong in ways that were really destructive over two generations.   Destroying the central fabric of America – attacking our local public schools.  Kids were warehoused in experiments.  Kids without teachers.   Kids hooked up to innovations that made money but did not educated.  
Billions spent on reforms:  disruption, return on investment, testing, take over, turnaround, triggering, attacking teachers, standardization, score chasing has barely moved American Students on the NAEP Assessments.  
 
The data is back. 
Business reformers failed.   Return on investment was zero.  
 
Reform has been successful at systematically privatizing huge amounts of education cash.  It has segregated.  It has devastated.  It has destroyed public school communities.  And disenfranchised students are further behind than ever before. 
 
The teachers were crushed and millions left. 
 
This expensive business-type reform did not improve education.  
 
Unfortunately, the folks driving reform were not teachers – nor were they interested in authentic education.   Billionaires who were successful in business took over.  They bought the top levels of government and spread cash from the top down.  Both parties.   Anyone with power.   And policy makers and leadership sold out hard. Money taken from public schools to be spent on scams and fads. 
Billions wasted.   
 
Money and people who chase dollars should never be in charge of education policy.  Neoliberals and corporations who hide from liability will never create the synergy, caring, and community building that teachers can do in a school building. 
 
Now the billionaires know – public school teachers will fight.  Activists will engage.  Those who love children will activate. 
 
Take that Goliath.
 
A band of loud people who care – will fight with any small stone we can find. 
We are not scared – because we are right.  
 
Time for policy makers and leadership to buy a book.  
 
O God hear the words of my mouth – hold us in Your Hand because we are small against those seeking to harm kids.  
 
The Teacher,
Angie Sullivan. 

 

Perhaps you have been confused by the proliferation of organizations that claim to be all about fixing schools and teachers. Perhaps you can’t figure out who is who in the galaxy of billionaire-funded world of fake reformers.

Buy this reference book! It names names! It is the glossary you have been waiting for!

EDSPEAK AND DOUBLETALK: A Glossary to Decipher Hypocrisy and Save Public Schooling.

It was written by Nancy Bailey and me. It is published by Teachers College Press. Not only does it have a definitive deconstruction of reform blarney and baloney, but it will be continuously updated online as the billionaires spin out new AstroTurf groups and impose new fads and terrible ideas on the schools and the teaching profession.

Confession: Nancy and I have never met face to face. We met by reading each other’s commentaries about the fraudulent language now current in education. We emailed. I invited her to help me rewrite “Edspeak,” a now dated and obsolete glossary that I had published in 2006. She threw herself and her deep classroom experience into the task. I was the beneficiary of her wisdom and her keen eye for phoniness.

All of the royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to the Network for Public Education. Nancy and I look forward to meeting at the NPE conference in Philadelphia in late March.

Thomas Ultican, retired teacher of advanced mathematics and physics in California, has written the first review of my new book SLAYING GOLIATH: THE PASSIONATE RESISTANCE TO PRIVATIZATION AND THE FIGHT TO SAVE AMERICA’S SCHOOLS.

He liked it!

He calls it “spiritually uplifting” and describes it (accurately) as a “fight to save the commons.”

Enjoy!

Among rightwing think tanks, none has more intellectual firepower than the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, due to its leading thinker Chester E. Finn Jr., who has an Ed.D. from Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked in the administrations of Reagan and Nixon, as well as working for Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Lamar Alexander.

The Institute, formerly a foundation, is based in Washington, D.C., where it has a large voice in Republican politics, but its actual (if not physical) home is Ohio, because the money came from a Mr. Thomas B. Fordham, who lived in Ohio.

TBF is very influential in Ohio, where it recently wrote the state’s academic standards. TBF has been a loud cheerleader for the Common Core standards, having received millions from the Gates Foundation both to evaluate them and advocate for them.

Fordham looms large as an advocate for charters, vouchers, high-stakes testing, and punitive policies towards teachers and principals. I was an original member of the TBF board, when it was launched, and resigned in 2009, when I realized that my views were no longer aligned with those of TBF. One of the projects I disliked intensely was a “manifesto” funded by Eli Broad, which argued that one did not need to be an educator to be a school principal. I disagreed. I also disagreed with the TBF decision to accept Gates’ funding, since it would hamstring TBF’s role as an independent think tank and put it in the debt of Gates. It was also unnecessary, since TBF had $40 million in the assets at the time. Since I left TBF, it has accepted many, many millions from Gates, Broad, Walton and other external funders.

Who was Thomas B. Fordham? How did his fortune become the founder of a rightwing think tank?

Mercedes Schneider here reviews an analysis of the origins of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, based on a paper by Richard Phelps. 

As I have often stated, I was an original member of the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. I objected to two major policy positions: one, the decision to become an authorizer of charter schools in Ohio, which I believed was not the role of an independent think tank. I lost that vote. As I recall, almost every one of the charters authorized by TBF either closed or failed or both. I also objected to accepting money from the Gates Foundation, as it would impair our independence and make it impossible to criticize Gates when it was wrong. And TBF didn’t need the money, it had assets of $40 million. I lost that vote too. I left the board in 2009, since I no longer supported either choice or the TBF vision of accountability. I later heard that “my seat” (the girl) was awarded to the CEO of a Gulen charter chain in Los Angeles. So there.

Nancy Bailey explains here that if you are dissatisfied with your public school, blame the Disruption Machine, the ones who call themselves “reformers,” like Betsy DeVos.

They have run public schools into the ground for the decades.

They have imposed their malevolent ideas and policies on public schools, with no accountability for their mistakes.

She writes:

Frustrated by public schools? Look no further than the corporate education reformers and what they have done to public education.

Education Secretary DeVos and her corporate billionaire friends have been chipping away at the fabric of democratic public schools for over thirty years!

The problems we see in public schools today are largely a result of what they did to schools, the high-stakes testing and school closures, intentional defunding, ugly treatment of teachers, lack of support staff, segregated charter schools, vouchers that benefit the wealthy, Common Core State Standards, intrusive online data collection, and diminishing special education services.

Big business waged a battle on teachers and their schools years ago. The drive was to create a business model to profit from tax dollars. Now they want to blame teachers for their corporate-misguided blunders! It’s part of their plan to make schools so unpleasant, parents will have no choice but to leave….

I student taught in an elementary school in Detroit, in 1973. Schools were certainly not perfect, but my modest school did a good job.

The third-grade teachers were excellent reading teachers. They organized rotating small groups of students based on their skill needs decoding letters and words. There were no data walls. No child appeared to compare themselves unfavorably to other children.

Students were encouraged to read, did free reading, lots of writing, and had access to plenty of books. The school had a nice library with a librarian who often read beautiful and funny stories to the class. They spent time studying social studies, science, and art and music. Teachers worked closely with the PTA and reached out to parents.

There was no testing obsession. Students didn’t fear failing third grade. They were continually learning, and most liked school. There were twenty-two students in the class.

Teachers did their own assessment, and they discussed the results with each other at their grade level meetings. The school had a counselor and I believe a nurse stationed at the school. We worried about the students and addressed concerns about issues like why some showed up without mittens in the cold weather.

Students did class projects to help remember what they learned in their subjects. For science, we created a rocket out of a huge cardboard box. We painted it and spent time studying the solar system. Children took turns sitting in the rocket pretending they were astronauts.

This school had an excellent Learning Center where teachers could share materials to cut down on costs. They had a nice collection of resources for every subject.

My supervising teacher was kind, well-prepared, and tough. She expected daily written lesson plans which she reviewed with me before I taught. She was an excellent mentor!

Where’s that school today? I wish I could go back and visit, but it closed years ago, razed and turned into a housing development. It was shuttered like 225 other public schools in Detroit!

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post interviewed Bill Gates in 2014 and told the full story of the origin of the Common Core “State” Standards.

In case the Washington Post is behind a paywall, the full text of the Layton article is here.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other friends of the CCSS insisted that the standards were developed by governors, state superintendents, education experts, and teachers. No, they were developed by David Coleman, formerly of McKinsey, now CEO of the College Board, and a committee whose members included no working teachers but a full complement of testing experts from ACT and SAT. Google David Coleman and “architect” and you will see that he is widely credited with shepherding the CCSS to completion.

It would not have happened without the enthusiastic support and funding of Bill Gates.

Layton writes:

On a summer day in 2008, Gene Wilhoit, director of a national group of state school chiefs, and David Coleman, an emerging evangelist for the standards movement, spent hours in Bill Gates’s sleek headquarters near Seattle, trying to persuade him and his wife, Melinda, to turn their idea into reality.

Coleman and Wilhoit told the Gateses that academic standards varied so wildly between states that high school diplomas had lost all meaning, that as many as 40 percent of college freshmen needed remedial classes and that U.S. students were falling behind their foreign competitors.

The pair also argued that a fragmented education system stifled innovation because textbook publishers and software developers were catering to a large number of small markets instead of exploring breakthrough products. That seemed to resonate with the man who led the creation of the world’s dominant computer operating system.

“Can you do this?” Wilhoit recalled being asked. “Is there any proof that states are serious about this, because they haven’t been in the past?”

Wilhoit responded that he and Coleman could make no guarantees but that “we were going to give it the best shot we could.”

After the meeting, weeks passed with no word. Then Wilhoit got a call: Gates was in.

What followed was one of the swiftest and most remarkable shifts in education policy in U.S. history.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.

Bill Gates was de facto organizer, providing the money and structure for states to work together on common standards in a way that avoided the usual collision between states’ rights and national interests that had undercut every previous effort, dating from the Eisenhower administration.

The Gates Foundation spread money across the political spectrum, to entities including the big teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — groups that have clashed in the past but became vocal backers of the standards.

Money flowed to policy groups on the right and left, funding research by scholars of varying political persuasions who promoted the idea of common standards. Liberals at the Center for American Progress and conservatives affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council who routinely disagree on nearly every issue accepted Gates money and found common ground on the Common Core.

One 2009 study, conducted by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute with a $959,116 Gates grant, described the proposed standards as being “very, very strong” and “clearly superior” to many existing state standards.

Gates money went to state and local groups, as well, to help influence policymakers and civic leaders. And the idea found a major booster in President Obama, whose new administration was populated by former Gates Foundation staffers and associates. The administration designed a special contest using economic stimulus funds to reward states that accepted the standards.

The result was astounding: Within just two years of the 2008 Seattle meeting, 45 states and the District of Columbia had fully adopted the Common Core State Standards.

Even Massachusetts, the state with the highest academic performance in the nation, replaced its excellent standards with CCSS and won a federal grant for doing so.

Some states adopted Common Core before it was publicly released. The state chief in Texas, Robert Scott, refused to adopt the CCSS sight unseen, but he was a rarity.

Without Gates’ money, there would be no Common Core.

Opposition came from Tea Party groups, then from independent teacher groups like the BadAss Teachers Association.

The promise of the Common Core was that it would lift student test scores across the board and at the same time, would close achievement gaps.

The Common Core was rolled out in 2010 and adopted widely in 2011 and 2012.

Districts and states spent billions of dollars on new textbooks, new tests, new software and hardware, new professional development, all aligned to the CCSS.

This was money that the districts and states did not spend to reduce class sizes or to raise teachers’ salaries.

Test scores on NAEP and on international tests have been stagnant since the rollout of the Common Core.

Teacher morale down. New entries into teaching down. Test scores flat. Achievement gaps larger.

Edu-entrepreneurs enriched. Testing industry happy. Tech industry satisfied.

Disruption achieved.

If you want to read more about the origins of the Common Core, read Mercedes Schneider’s Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? and Nicholas Tampio’s https://www.amazon.com/Common-Core-Nicholas-Tampio-ebook/dp/B079S2627M/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=nicholas+campion+common+core&qid=1575909356&s=books&sr=1-1-fkmr0Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Our Democracy.

Bottom line: What the Gates’ billions spent on Common Core proved was that the basic problem in American education is not the lack of common standards and common tests, but the growing numbers of children who live in poverty,  who come to school (or miss school) ill-nourished and lacking regular medical care and a decent standard of living.

He spent more than $4 billion on failed experiments in education over the past 20 years. Wouldn’t it be great if he invested in children, families, and communities and improved their standard of living?