Archives for category: Common Core

This is one of the very best poems from Some DamPoet. He/she wrote it after the Gates Foundation admitted that its plans were not working out as well as they hoped, but that they intended to double down on their foundering efforts. The Los Angeles Times reprimanded the Gates Foundation for its hubris. So does Our Poet.

“The Charge of the Gates Brigade” (based on “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Half a wit, half a wit,
Half a wit onward,
All in the Valley of Dumb
Bill and Mel foundered
“Forward, the Gates Brigade!
Charge for the schools!” he said.
Into the Valley of Dumb
Bill and Mel foundered


“Forward, the Gates Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the Coleman knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and lie.
Into the Valley of Dumb
Bill and Mel foundered


Teachers to right of them,
Teachers to left of them,
Teachers in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with fact and stat,
Boldly they tuned out that,
Into the Ravitch jaws,
Into the mouth of cat
Bill and Mel foundered


Flashed all their BS bare,
Dashed was their savoir faire
VAMming the teachers there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered.
Plunged in with mir’s-n-smoke
Valiantly went for broke;
Cluelessly rushin’
Reeled from reality’s stroke
Shattered and sundered.
VAMming attack, for naught,
Bill and Mel foundered


Teachers to right of them,
Teachers to left of them,
Teachers behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with fact and stat,
While Bill and Mel chewed fat
They that had fought the BAT
Came through the Ravitch jaws,
Back from the mouth of cat,
All that was left in end:
Bill and Mel foundered


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Gates Brigade,
Bill and Mel foundered

Reporters at the Washington Post asked both major party candidates what they would do in the area of K-12 education.

Trump gave a brief reply and ignored the questions.

Clinton (or her staff) answered all the questions.

Donald Trump’s answer was, go to my website, and he (or his staff) added this:

“As your president, I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice. I want every single inner city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice. I understand many stale old politicians will resist. But it’s time for our country to start thinking big once again. We spend too much time quibbling over the smallest words, when we should spend our time dreaming about the great adventures that lie ahead.”

Clinton’s answers were ambiguous; she is for testing, but not too much testing. She is for charter schools, but only good charter schools.

She opposes for-profit charter schools, but doesn’t seem to realize that many allegedly nonprofit charters outsource their management to for-profit companies.

Doug Garnett is a communications specialist and a regular reader of the blog. He writes here about reading “Policy Patrons,” by Megan Tomkins-Stange.

Been reading Policy Patrons. And it’s given me a different insight.

We all feel like Gates, Broad and others are “dictating” what happens. It’s hard – because they aren’t. What they’re doing is far more subtle but with similar results.

What they’ve done is create a “walled garden” of groups that are all paid to support their position. The list in this article is an example of creating that walled garden – a range of community organizations, researchers, university credibility, etc…

THEN, with the walled garden created, the foundations themselves never have to “tell the government what to do”. They are able to say “well, I know somebody who deals with that – you should talk with them”. Except the foundations have ensured that this “somebody” is somebody who will give the answer they want.

It’s incredibly deceptive – but politicians and press seem incapable of detecting when they’ve been had in this way. Because the “walled garden” of true “ed reform believers” are the only people they end up talking to. In a sense, Gates, Broad, et. al. deliver answers on a silver platter so that state education departments, school districts, politicians, and press don’t have to work hard.

This informal (but massive) walled garden they’ve build believes in testing as management, believes in CCSS, believes in charter schools, and believes that privatizing government services is always good.

As a result, state education bureaucrats NEVER have to wander outside the garden – so they never have to confront uncomfortable truths. (It’s dangerous outside those walls and that threatens one’s career.)

But this also explains why politicians are so shocked when citizens confront them with dissatisfaction with their policies – they’ve been blissfully living inside the Eden of Reform – unaware that they aren’t in touch with reality. I’ve seen this in Oregon. Our legislators cannot believe it when someone rational challenges what they’ve been doing.

It’s a HUGE problem for those of us who believe in public schools and believe in the value of researched answers. Because it’s not illegal what they’ve done. They believe it’s entirely moral. And they think they’re being “good people” by doing it. And it spreads blame by breaking it into tiny bits so no single organization can be blamed for much. Kind of a guaranteed “plausible deniability” clause.

Yet the result is entirely immoral – because it’s the future of our children.

Mercedes Schneider reports that Bill Gates is throwing millions into Common Core, making up for the fact that the new federal law bans federal support for Common Core.

Gates recently awarded $18 million to support Common Core implementation. It’s his baby, and he is not letting go in the face of mass opposition.

Nicholas Tampio, a professor of political science at Fordham University in New York, published an essay about national standards in the peer-reviewed “Journal of Politics,” one of the top journals in the field. It should be part of our national discussion about the dominant policy paradigm of the past 35 years: policy makers assumed without question that the way to improve education is to set standards, train teachers to teach the standards, teach the standards, test the standards, then start over?

Tampio says this paradigm is wrong.

He writes:

“This article intervenes in the debate about whether democracies should adopt national education standards. For many democrats, national education standards may promote economic growth, social justice, and a common set of interests. In this article, I reconstruct John Dewey’s warning against oligarchs using standardization to control the schools as well as his argument that democracy requires student, teacher, and community autonomy. The article argues that the Common Core State Standards Initiative has been a top-down policy that aims to prepare children for the economy rather than democracy, and for the foreseeable future, economic elites will tend to dominate efforts to create national education standards. In the conclusion, I make a pragmatic argument for local education control and address objections such as that democracies need national educational standards to ensure racial equity.”

Mercedes Schneider read the 128-page report on the future of the federally funded testing consortium called PARCC. It was launched, along with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, by Arne Duncan, who gave the two $360 million to write Common Core-aligned tests. PARCC has had a hard time, however. It started with 24 member states, and now it is down to six states and D.C.

It put out a call to other testing companies and interested parties, asking for advice. Mercedes read the advice and she shares it here with you.

Will the last state in PARCC remember to turn out the lights when you leave?

New York State just released a draft of its revision of the Common Core standards.

There are different interpretations of how much has changed. Some say more than half of the standards were tweaked. Defenders of the standards insist they were barely changed at all.

We will have to wait until teachers have seen the revisions and offered their comments.

In New York, the Common Core standards have also became part of a larger discussion about other policy reforms, such as the use of state standardized test scores in teacher evaluations. Replacing the standards is the first step in redefining what it means to get an education in New York state, which will include revising assessments, teacher evaluations and how the state rates schools.

The standards will now go out for public comment, which will be open until Nov. 4. The Board of Regents are expected to consider the standards in early 2017 and roll out new assessments based on the standards by the 2018-19 school year.

The standards were revised in response to the success of the Opt Out movement; 20% of children eligible to take the tests–about 200,000–did not take them in 2015. The number rose slightly this past year. Governor Cuomo formed a commission that recommended a thorough review of the standards and the tests.

Here are the draft standards:

and here:

The crucial question will be whether the standards are age-appropriate, especially in the early grades, where complaints have been most intense. Early reviews from teachers suggest that very little if anything has changed in the K-2 grades, where the standards are the worst.

Peter Rawitsch has been teaching early childhood education for 35 years. He was selected by the state of New York to participate on a committee reviewing the state standards. His post was published by the Albany Times Union and reposted on Susan Ochshorn’s blog. I think you will enjoy reading his commentary, and I am reposting it here.

Peter described how the group for Pre-K-grade 12 met and were briefed. Then they broke into sections.

The Common Core State Standards were adopted by the New York State Regents in 2011. Its original group of authors did not include any early childhood experts. If it had, it would have started with kindergarten and progressed forward, instead of starting with 12th grade and mapping backward. It would have acknowledged that children learn and develop at different rates, which is much better reflected by a learning continuum and not inflexible of end-of-year benchmarks. The continuum would have included the physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive areas of child development. It would have stressed the critical role of play-based learning for young children.

As the week went on, we were able to tackle these larger issues, but we didn’t reach a consensus. A concern for some members of our group was how teachers would know what to teach without standards. My response is that we observe, listen and get to know our students so we can determine what they know, what they are ready to learn and how we can best support their learning.

Our work is not done. When our draft is finished in August, the state education department will review the whole P-12 document to ensure there is consistency in the language and a progression of skills. Then there will be a public comment period, followed by still more editing and revisions. Finally, it will be presented to the Regents for their review.

It will be interesting to see how our original work evolves through this process. Ideally, the state would put a moratorium on the current Common Core ELA and math standards until the standards can address all of the developmental areas. The unintended consequences of rolling out only the ELA and math standards have been: a narrowing of the curriculum, almost to the exclusion of science and social studies; devaluing of play, the primary mode of learning at the P-2 level; and over-testing. These have all been harmful to young learners.

New York parents and teachers will have an opportunity to be heard. Let’s let the Education Department know that childhood cannot be standardized.

Sean Cavanaugh writes in Education Week about the soul-searching and market-sifting of PARCC, the federally funded testing consortium that is on the verge of collapse.

Arne Duncan plunked down $360 million to enable the creation of PARCC and SBAC. Both were designed to align with the Common Core State Standards.

PARCC started with 24 states and D.C. signed up as sites that wanted its tests (the vendor is Pearson).

However, PARCC is now down to 6 states and D.C.

One of the suggestions is that PARCC and SBAC merge, to minimize the cost of producing millions of tests.

What happens in the business world when no one wants what you are selling?

Who will be held accountable for this dud?

Eric Shininger is a principal in New Jersey. He comes from a family of educators. He is appalled by Governor Chris Christie’s continual attacks on educators who have dedicated their lives to children. He explains he essentials of Christie’s agenda to destroy public education in the Garden State.

He writes:

“Let’s look at some of the ridiculous decisions Governor Christie has made to derail a great education system:

“Reduced state funding for schools over the years to pay for tax cuts for his rich friends. His latest wisdom is articulated in this article: Chris Christie’s Education Plan Is Shocking: He Wants to Give to the Rich and Take From the Poor.

“Eliminated cost of living adjustments (COLA) for all retired educators who gave their all for kids

“Vetoed a mandatory school recess bill, even though research had shown how important it is to student learning.

“Pushed forward a few unfunded mandates (Common Core, PARCC) that have taken away precious funds from improving what really matters. Schools had to front the money for quality professional development, curriculum revision, and technology to support these mandates. Years later many states have backed away from PARCC. The once strong 26-member consortium has now dwindled to 7. For all the hoopla, PARCC has told us nothing we didn’t already know from previous assessments. To make matters worse, NJ has been the only state to make this a graduation requirement in the near future.

“Imposed superintendent caps to drive out some of our best leaders. Many states have welcomed them with open arms and pocket books as good leaders are often worth every penny

“Followed through with a value-added system for evaluating educators, which by the way has no supporting research. He doubled down on this recently by increasing Student Growth Percentile (SGP) scores to 30% of an educator’s overall evaluation. This latest change was pushed out on Wednesday, August 31, just days before schools welcomed back students. On Monday, a few days later, Education Commissioner David Hespe resigned. A bit shady, huh? In all, the new regulations completely give up on quality teaching and simply shoot for compliance. This was most likely done because people were overburdened with paperwork, but no consideration was given as to the effect of the regulations. The entire SGP issue is a nightmare as in some cases they rely on arbitrary numbers

“Refused to fully fund the public pension system that he committed to in 2012 while pushing all the blame for the state’s economic woes on teachers, policemen, firemen, and other public sectors committed to the well being of all.”

Christie leaves the education system of his state worse than he found it. His bullying of educators is inexplicable.