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Can BESE Save White from Jindal? I’m Thinking… No.

John White’s job is on the line, and the primarily-purchased Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) is standing behind its Common Core State Standards (CCSS)- and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)-promoting talking head.

For White’s annual evaluation, BESE gave him a 3 out of 4.

I’m thinking White’s BESE rating will not save him from the now-undeniable divide between White’s support for CCSS and PARCC and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s publicized change of position on the matter.

The April 15, 2014, nola.com article on White’s review notes that only BESE can fire White.

However, that does not mean that Jindal cannot get rid of White.

For starters, Louisiana lawmakers are considering legislation to make the state superintendency an elected position, not appointed by the governor and approved by BESE– and then shielded by BESE. If approved, election for the next superintendent would occur in 2015, effective 2016.

Second, in 2011, the BESE election was purchased in order to get White– who has less than five years of teaching experience– approved as state superintendent.  Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush assisted with this effort. Thus, if money could get White in, money can get him out.

Third– and this is the big one– Jindal does not play well with those who publicly oppose him. The most famous example of this is the 2009 firing of a state worker who publicly criticized Jindal, Melody Teague. From the Teague incident, in which both a husband and wife were fired within 18 months of one another, comes the term “being ‘teagued.’” As Louisiana Voice’s Tom Aswell notes:

The term (teagued) derives its name from Jindal’s propensity to fire employees, especially those who may have the temerity to question or challenge his decisions. It began early in his first administration when Tammie McDaniel, a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, questioned certain budget decisions. Jindal immediately asked for her resignation. She refused at first but eventually resigned.

Then there was William Ankner who was forced out at the Department of Transportation and Development when it was revealed that a $60 million highway contract was awarded not to the low, but the high bidder.

Jim Champagne, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, in a moment of ill-advised level-headedness, disagreed publicly with Jindal’s plan to repeal the state’s motorcycle helmet law. Gone.

Ethics Administrator Richard Sherburne hit the bricks when Jindal gutted the Ethics Board’s adjudicatory authority and gave it to administrative law judges.

But the most high-profile firings, and the namesake of our new terminology, were the dismissals of Department of Social Services grant reviewer Melody Teague in October of 2009 and her husband, Office of Group Benefits (OGB) Director Tommy Teague, 18 months later.

Mrs. Teague testified against Jindal’s government streamlining plan that included calls for massive privatization. It took her six months but she got her job back.

Her husband was not so lucky. He was shown the door when he did not jump on board quickly enough to please the administration when it floated its idea of privatizing OGB.

Thus, the all-too-appropriate term Teagued. [Emphasis added.]

Add to Aswell’s list the 2012 firing of Martha Manuel:

Gov. Bobby Jindal fired the head of the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, Martha Manuel, the day after she criticized his plan to merge the agency into the Department of Health and Hospitals.

Manuel told lawmakers Tuesday she’s afraid the governor’s plan will damage services for the state’s elderly. [Emphasis added.]

And let us not forget the abrupt 2012 resignations of Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges and Board of Regents member Vic Stelly:

On Friday (June 15, 2012) , the Secretary of Revenue, Cynthia Bridges, one of the only people within the Bobby Jindal administration with real institutional knowledge of Louisiana government, abruptly resigned.

That resignation came one day after Governor Jindal reportedly discovered that her department had passed an emergency ruling allowing purchasers of new vehicles meeting certain alternative-fuel requirements to take a hefty state tax credits at the very time the state has been fretting over budget hemorrhaging. (Note: Bridges was just doing her job by expanding the list of vehicles qualifying for alternative tax credits.)

Also, on Friday (June 15, 2012), former lawmaker Vic Stelly, left the Board of Regents. His reason for the sudden resignation was because he did not want to watch the evisceration of higher education as has been the case in recent years. [Emphasis added.]

Now, in regards to John White, it is possible that Jindal has had a genuine change of heart and that he meant what he said on March 22, 2014:

White has been a strong supporter of the (Common Core) standards, but the governor indicated that he and the superintendent are not on the same page.

“I’m not trying to create division with John,” Jindal said in response to questions about a possible rift between them. “He’s an independent actor who works for BESE. I don’t always agree with what he does.”

He said BESE members and White “know where we stand on these issues,” and “during this debate we’re going to talk for ourselves.” He added, “I may not always agree with him on every issue, but that’s OK.” [Emphasis added.]

Perhaps Jindal has changed, and perhaps White really is “acting independently.”

Nevetheless…

…compare Jindal’s uncharacteristic, “John White thinks for himself” response to White’s October 2012 complaints about being “bounced around” in his trying to please Shreveport, LA Representative Alan Seabaugh, BESE President Chas Roemer, and– of course– Jindal– as regards the “fixing” of three “embarrassing VAM scores” for three teachers at a magnet elementary school in Seabaugh’s district. Again, Tom Aswell reports in regards to a recorded telephone conversation between Seabaugh and White:

White apparently attempted to accommodate the lawmaker (Seabaugh) [with fixing the three VAM scores] even as he complained to him in that telephone conversation that he felt like a “ping pong ball” being bounced between the governor’s office, Seabaugh and Chas Roemer, President of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. [Emphasis added.]

So, to recap: Jindal has an established history of removing workers (including those he is not directly able to fire) who do not publicly agree with him. Jindal is on opposite sides of White on the CCSS and PARCC issues, but Jindal says that’s okay because White makes his decisions independently.  However, White has admitted in a recorded phone conversation that even though Roemer is technically his “boss,” he still accommodates Jindal.

Of course he does. Or has. Until now.

If White thinks he can save himself by hiding behind Roemer, I think he is in for a rude awakening… good BESE grade notwithstanding.

Grades aren’t everything.

 

Jindal to Dump PARCC?

An April 14, 2014, nola.com article has Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal publicly saying he is “willing” to leave the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers (PARCC)– and even the Common Core State Standards (CCSS):

Gov. Bobby Jindal has said he is willing to withdraw Louisiana from a consortium of states developing the assessment associated with the Common Core academic standards if the Louisiana Legislature doesn’t choose to do so on its own.

Eight legislators sent a letter to Jindal Monday afternoon asking him to nix a years-old agreement that has Louisiana residents and policy makers helping craft the  Partnership of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. The governor, who once supported PARCC, said he was in favor of the state’s withdrawal from the assessment group and indicated that he hopes the anti-Common Core efforts currently brewing in some corners of the Legislature succeed.

“We share the concerns of these [anti-Common Core] legislators and also of parents across Louisiana. We’re hopeful that legislation will move through the process this session that will address the concerns of parents or delay implementation until these concerns can be addressed. We think this course of action outlined in the legislators’ letter remains a very viable option if the Legislature does not act,” said Jindal in a statement. [Emphasis added.]

Anyone familiar with Jindal should know that any decision to move against PARCC or CCSS is prompted by Jindal’s own political ambitions.

It is highly likely that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will vie for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, and Bush is over-the-top CCSS.

Jindal appears to be positioning himself as the “anti-CCSS Republican 2016 presidential contender.”

If Jindal is serious about dumping CCSS (and by extension, the CCSS appendage, PARCC), he is able to act alone. Only two signatures signed Louisiana onto CCSS: that of Jindal and former State Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek.

Pastorek is gone. Only Jindal remains. He need only send formal word to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Louisiana could be rid of both CCSS and PARCC.

As the nola.com article notes, this is “a developing story.”

We’ll see what Jindal does. He might be hoping to unload responsibility for PARCC (and perhaps CCSS) onto the legislature. That way, he can take credit when it serves his purposes and distance himself from the decision when it serves his purposes.

On April 2, 2014, a bill to delay and investigate CCSS in Louisiana was voted down in the House Education Committee. The vote was 12 to 7, with the Black Caucus levying the final blow. However, I learned today that the chair of the Black Caucus, Rep. Katrina Jackson, is seeking input regarding CCSS.

Individuals in Rep. Jackson’s district should contact her and let her know her constituency’s thoughts on CCSS.

And then there is the question of State Education Superintendent John White’s future.

Bobby Jindal appears to be purposely (and publicly) distancing himself from both White and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Chas Roemer. As nola.com notes:

Jindal’s willingness to scratch PARCC is another blow for those who have championed Common Core, including Department of Education Superintendent John White, Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education president Chas Roemer and several state lawmakers.  [Emphasis added.]

On April 8, 2014, White told the House Appropriations Committee (comprised of some of the same individuals who want to delay/end CCSS, including Pope and Schroder) that the education budget was short $55 million, with $20 million involved in a “cash flow issue.”

A colleague who attended the House Appropriations meeting with White in the hot seat, Lee Barrios, said that when asked about the cost of PARCC, White provided told the committee that the cost of PARCC would carry “a net cost of zero” compared to the cost of the Louisiana Education Assessment Program (LEAP) test.

From Barrios’ partial transcript of White’s House Appropriations meeting:

[Rep.] Geymann asked why there was no fiscal note associated with PARCC. 

White:”I would assume because there will  be savings associated with PARCC.  ” 

Wrong answer.

I estimated that one year of PARCC for only half of Louisiana’s students would cost $10.7 million.

And White has gone over 2014 budget $55 million without having the added expense of a standardized test to be annually administered to all grades K-12.

Of course, the fine irony here is that White just told the House Appropriations Committee that the Louisiana Department of Education is over its annual budget by $55 million at the same time that he is trying to peddle the multi-million-dollar PARCC as having “savings associated” with it.

Geymann closed the meeting with a request for a legal statement as to whether Jindal would be able to remove Louisiana from the PARCC contract.

Uh, oh, Johnny. You’re embarrassing Jindal, who is already shaking off his shoes from playing in your CCSS/PARCC sandbox.

The question is what will Jindal dump first– PARCC– CCSS– or John White?

vox.com: PARCC Tests Are “Working”!

On April 11, 2014, vox.com, a supposedly “data-driven news site started this month (April 2014) by Ezra Klein, ” posted this propagandastic wonder regarding Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC) field testing.

Note that field testing does not begin to touch the magnitude of actual PARCC testing designed for grades K-12 (see here and  here and here), quite the profit-garnering arm of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The piece is entitled, Common Core Tests Are in Classrooms– And They’re Actually Working.

That depends upon what one considers “working” to be.

If “working” is the cutting of non-tested (and therefore, less valued) school courses, programs and staff in order to feed the testing monster, then yes, the “tests are working.” I teach high school English. For the past three years, at the end of the year, I have heard my administration say, “We’re going to lose another teacher,” meaning another full-time English position was to be cut. I heard that statement again several weeks ago when an administrator explained to me why my Teaching Academy course– a statewide program created over a decade ago to spark interest among high school students in teaching as a career– would be cut next year.

The day that I received the news, I saw shipments of new computers arriving in our library. It turns out that our district was required to purchase these computers from “state approved sources” in an arrangement out state board of education made with some fortunate technology company.

Each computer cost the district $1100. Our school alone has seven computer labs. Each lab seats approximately 20 to 30 students. Three are classroom labs, and all did not require new computers, but some did. (I learned on 04-14-14 that classroom computers are paid for with Perkins funds.)

Gotta be “PARCC ready.”

Big money– all spent on shiny new computers required for PARCC testing.

Three years ago, our school library that served 1800 students lost two of its three librarians.

That library was closed for three days last week in order to accommodate standardized testing.

A school of 1800 students without library access for three days.

For a number of my students needing to conduct research online, I “became” the library and used my classroom computer to assist flustered students without library access with their research.

A teacher’s ability to accommodate students in the moment in an effort to overcome a lack of resources appears on no teacher evaluation rubric that I know. Yet I find myself working to “do more with less” as so-called education reform demands ever more of classroom teachers.

PARCC is a major part of the school system money bleed.

However, according to vox.com, those PARCC tests are “working.”

There is another component of the money-bleed “working” that concerns the cost of the PARCC tests. Last I priced them, each was $29.50 per student. No new price has been calculated given that some states have dropped PARCC. The price cited above had PARCC membership at 20 states. As of February 2014, PARCC was down to 17 states and DC.

In the April 2014 vox.com article, the number of PARCC states is noted as 14.

Fewer members –> higher cost per test.

I learned the above economic truth in a traditional public school classroom absent any high-stakes standardized testing.

And now, watch this public school graduate do some more “real life” math:

$29.50 per test x 1800 students = $53,100. And that is for my school alone.

In 2014, Louisiana had over 727,000 students enrolled in public school.

The cost to administer PARCC to even half of those students (363,500) at $29.50 per test is $10.7 million dollars.

That sum could pay my current annual salary ($58,000) for almost 185 years.

In Maryland, the number of PARCC test takers is estimated to rise from 301,036 to 1,144,448.

1,144,448 x $29.50 = $33,761,216.

$33.76 million is enough to pay my annual salary to 582 teachersfive times the faculty and staff at my high school of 1800 students– yet that is the estimated cost of PARCC exams for a single state.

We haven’t even broached the cost of technology upgrades such as bandwidth requirements– which a single county in Maryland estimated to cost $3 million.

Another Maryland county estimated that the infrastructure upgrades would take over two years to accomplish.

All for an overpriced test.

Maryland’s total estimated cost to prepare for PARCC by 2015 is $100 million.

Maryland’s estimated cost in classroom instructional time lost to PARCC testing is also steep:

Total time (in minutes) devoted to [Maryland] state standardized testing will increase with the PARCC exams by:

– Grade 3:    73 percent (277 vs 480)
– Grade 4:   102 percent (276 vs 560)
– Grade 5:   90 percent (297 vs 565)
– Grade 6:   95 percent (289 vs 565)
– Grade 7:   84 percent (306 vs 565)
– Grade 8:   83 percent (308 vs 565)

So yes, PARCC is “working”– for mega-companies like Pearson and Educational Testing Service (ETS), the companies awarded PARCC contracts for item development.

For students and teachers who value actual time in the classroom teaching and learning– not so much.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the two CCSS copyright owners, has a CEO whose background is not in classroom teaching but in assessment– and who has connections to Pearson. His name is Chris Minnich, and based on the vox.com article, Minnich believes that PARCC is “working.”

According to Minnich:

Even in states where we’re having some conversations about the standards, these tests are going on and teachers are teaching to these new standards.

Needless to say, Minnich’s CCSSO is really pushing CCSS.

After all, PARCC “works” for Pearson.

Not only has Pearson paid financial support to CCSSO; Pearson is involved in all aspects of CCSS– including the development of student standardized assessments and assessments for teachers in training.

Which brings us to vox.com’s happy point that PARCC will be used for teacher evaluations– but vox.com’s list of potential problems with using student test scores to evaluate teachers is short and fails profoundly to note the utter failure of such “value-added modeling” (VAM) in supposedly determining teacher contribution to student “outcomes.”

Why bother with the reality of a damaging VAM?

If the profit margin is obese, one can easily compose a CCSS- and PARCC -friendly piece of propaganda; post it with a picture of three children at computers, and declare that PARCC Is Working.

A note to vox.com’s Ezra Klein:

Ezra.

Your piece on PARCC “working” is so bad that I wanted to scrape it off of the bottom of my shoe before stepping on my carpet.

In order to write a factual piece, one must use facts. I know, I know, you made Pearson et al. happy with this drivel, but do try to offer your readers something that demonstrates that you aren’t yet another who tells the corporate reform set to just leave the money on the nightstand.

 

 

 

 

Exiting the Common Core Memorandum of Understanding

In October 2013, I wrote a post examining the details of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) memorandum of understanding (MOU), the agreement that state governors and state education superintendents signed with the US Department of Education (USDOE) in which “states” agreed to be “state led” in developing “common standards” according to the criteria set forth in this legal document composed as an appendix to accompany a state’s Race to the Top (RTTT) application in each state’s bid for RTTT money.

So much for “state led.”

The first-round RTTT applications and accompanying appendices for 40 states and DC can be found here. The CCSS MOU is three- to four-pages long and can be found approximately halfway through each appendix file.

What is important to note is that the CCSS MOU includes no provision for exiting CCSS. 

It also includes no wording in which states are bound to CCSS if the original signators no longer hold the positions of governor and state education superintendent.

This second point is important to states wishing to be rid of CCSS. The point in USDOE’s requiring only two signators was to bypass the “messiness” of the legislative process and bind states to CCSS via only two signatures in “top-down” fashion.

Legislators can certainly continue to promote anti-CCSS legislation; however, there are other ways to pressure non-signator governors and state superintendents (and even the original signators) to bow to public pressure and exit CCSS.

This “ease” in the USDOE’s binding states to CCSS via two signatures inadvertently offers states “ease” in exiting.

This is a very important point. I’ll return to it.

For now, allow me to offer a third point regarding language absent from the CCSS MOU:

Since the CCSS MOU fails to include language binding states to CCSS if such states receive RTTT money (no doubt excluded so that USDOE might maintain it is not “forcing” states to accept CCSS in order to receive RTTT money), then even states that received RTTT money are able to exit CCSS and challenge any USDOE pressure to return RTTT money. If CCSS is truly not federally forced, then it will not pursue states choosing to be “state led” right out of CCSS.

For USDOE to pursue states exiting CCSS for some RTTT “breach of contract” only underscores USDOE’s violation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, Subpart Two, Section 9527(c)(1):

(c) PROHIBITION ON REQUIRING FEDERAL APPROVAL OR CERTIFICATION OF STANDARDS-

(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act. [Emphasis added.]

Back to those two signatures on each state’s CCSS MOU:

If both signators no longer hold the positions of governor and state superintendent, then the MOU cannot bind each state. 

There is no need for legislative action to dispose of CCSS. In such cases, the current governor or state superintendent can formally declare a state’s exit from CCSS. USDOE has no legal recourse, and neither does a non-signator governor nor non-signator superintendent who might push to keep CCSS.

If the current governor or state superintendent fail to admit no binding agreement for CCSS, then agencies can challenge them in court for supporting a contract created by those no longer in office.

Such is the case in New York. Former Governor David Paterson and former Education Commissioner Richard Mills sign the state on for CCSS. Neither is currently in office; so, the CCSS MOU is dead.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan can praise current New York Education Commissioner John King all that he likes for sticking by the Core. King’s name is not on the CCSS MOU; so, the situation is ripe for a lawsuit against King for attempting to uphold a dead contract.

In states in which one signator is currently in office, such as Louisiana’s case with Governor Bobby Jindal, both the public and elected officials can pressure Jindal and call his “anti-CCSS ‘green card’ bluff”.

Even if both signators are still currently in office (I learned that this is the case in Idaho), both the public and elected officials can pressure the two signators to write USDOE and declare a reversed, “state led” decision.

Remind Arne Duncan of his words on April 8, 2014, to the House Appropriations Subcommittee:

“I’m just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they’re common or not is secondary,” he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues. [Emphasis added.]

If Duncan refuses to comply, sue USDOE. Yes, it is time-, money-, and energy-consuming, but we need to continue to fight with fervor against this twisting of the democratic process into a federally-enabled, mega-corporate feeding trough for education profiteers.

A final word: If the CCSS MOU is dead, then its testing-consortium appendages, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers (PARCC), lose their justification for existing. Thus, states that shed the CCSS MOU have no reason to follow through on SBAC or PARCC.

Challenge the CCSS MOU.

The Three La. Common Core Development “Teachers” Work for LDOE

This is the story of two press releases and three Louisiana “mystery” teachers involved in “developing” CCSS.

The first is the July 2009 National Governors Association (NGA) press release for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics work groups– the “inner circle” that is the only group identified as “developing” CCSS based upon the language in the CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding).

This first press release does not clearly identify any Louisiana classroom teachers.

As it turns out, both NGA and its CCSS copyright owner, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released another document dated September 2013 on the Louisiana Regents website, supposedly listing the same information: CCSS ELA and math work group membership.

The names on the two documents do not exactly match. In fact, the 2013 Louisiana Regents document– publicized three years after CCSS was completed– includes what appears as an effort to show that “teachers” were involved in “developing” CCSS.

Most of the additions have either university or state department of education affiliations.

It seems that these additions fulfill the the following statement from the 2009 release:

The Standards Development Work Group is currently engaged in determining and writing the college and career readiness standards in English-language arts and mathematics. This group is composed of content experts from Achieve, Inc., ACT, and the College Board. This group will be expanded later in the year to include additional experts to develop the standards for grades K-12 in English language arts and mathematics. [Emphasis added.]

Let us consider the “additional experts,” especially those from Louisiana.

Two Louisiana “Teachers” on the Math Work Group

Only four members of the 50-member CCSS math work group are listed as classroom teachers.

Three are from Louisiana. Two are certified Louisiana teachers:

Nancy Beben, director, curriculum standards, Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).

Beben holds a Louisiana teaching certificate in math education, grades 6 thru 12.

James Madden, professor of mathematics, Louisiana State University.

Madden holds no Louisiana teaching certificate.

Carolyn Sessions, standards and curriculum projects coordinator, LDOE.

UPDATE 04-11-14: “Alice Carolyn Smith Sessions” holds a Louisiana teaching certificate which includes mathematics. Sessions left the classroom in 2002; from 2008-2012, she coordinated the development of “all state standards in Louisiana’s comprehensive curriculum.”

Sessions is also a “Louisiana representative on the PARCC work group.”

The curiosity here is that Louisiana is dumping its state standards because they are supposedly inferior to CCSS, yet LDOE placed the Louisiana standards coordinator on the CCSS work group.

Note that I do not believe Louisiana’s former standards were inferior. However, if former Louisiana State Superintendent Paul Pastorek discarded Louisiana’s standards in favor of CCSS, why include the “inferior” standards coordinator as part of the CCSS work group?

If the purpose in including Sessions as part of the CCSS work group is to say that she has experience writing standards, why not keep the Louisiana standards developed under Sessions’ supervision?

However, the best curiosity is this: According to Sessions’ linkedin bio, there is no mention of her CCSS work group participation. The only mention is of the CCSS math implementation in Louisiana, dated September 2012.

Up until her September 2012 role in CCSS math implementation, Sessions’ linkedin bio lists her professional activities with “coordinat[ing] the development of all state standards and the Louisiana’s Comprehensive Curriculum.”

Sessions includes no accounting for active participation in “developing” CCSS math standards during the time that such were being developed, between June 2009 and June 2010.

A whole lot more evidence that replacing Louisiana’s former standards with CCSS is little more than a political game.

One Louisiana “Teacher” on the ELA Work Group

Only three of the 48 CCSS ELA work group members identify themselves as classroom teachers.

Only one ELA work group member is from Louisiana:

Jan Freeland, middle and secondary English Language Arts (ELA) coordinator, LDOE.

Freeland holds a Louisiana teaching certificate in English (appears to be for grades 6 thru 12).

The Short of It

Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member Holly Boffy’s inability to name the three Louisiana “teachers” who “developed” CCSS during her appearance before the Louisiana House Education Committee in April 2014 is rather remarkable given that all three work for LDOE and one (Carolyn Sessions) also served on the PARCC operational work group– the group Boffy purportedly could name when asked by Rep. Dee Richard. 

None is currently a classroom teacher.

All seem to have been selected in a last-minute attempt to make “teacher development” of CCSS appear true in this suspicious, 2013 “publicizing” of “teacher” involvement on the CCSS ELA and math work groups.

Given the sneaky manipulations of both BESE and LDOE, none of the three might even know that each is supposed to represent “teachers” in CCSS development.

There is only one word for this shoddy effort to “include” Louisiana teachers in CCSS development:

Lame.

 

 

Arne Duncan Plays the Common Core Distancing Game

On April 2, 2014, Louisiana has witnessed the lame demonstration of “Common Core distancing” from the governor (Bobby Jindal) who signed the state onto “the standards” (CCSS) in 2009– before they were written.

In 2010, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan accepted Louisiana’s CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) despite the majority of Louisiana school districts rejecting the idea.

Like Jindal, Duncan has begun playing the CCSS Distancing Game. He first did so when when Indiana appeared to be the first state to drop CCSS, in March 2014.

On March 15, 2014, Duncan publicly stated that “states are free to completely discard Common Core.”

This is the same Duncan who told newspaper editors in June 2013 how to favorably report on CCSS.

This is the same Duncan who insulted “White suburban mothers” and blamed them for CCSS resistance in November 2013, then offered no apology.

Now, on April 8, 2014, Duncan has told the House Appropriations Subcommittee that he “just likes high standards”:

“I’m just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they’re common or not is secondary,” he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues. [Emphasis added.]

And at this point, Duncan falls back on the “or other common standards” clause included in the Race to the Top (RTTT) application. You see, the House Appropriations Committee questioned Duncan on the apparent requirement that states agree to CCSS in order to compete for RTTT money.

Duncan states that “zero” federal grant money is contingent upon CCSS since states could have chosen to form their own “common standards.”

Duncan is drawing on a clause in the 2010 Blueprint for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization:

States may either choose to upgrade their existing standards, working with their 4-year public university system to certify that mastery of the standards ensures that a student will not need to take remedial coursework upon admission to a postsecondary institution in the system, or work with other states to create state-developed common standards that build toward college- and career-readiness. 

Never mind that the federal government would still be controlling state standards by ultimately deciding if the evidence offered is “good enough” for state receipt of federal money.

The author of the April 8, 2014, EdWeek article, Michele McNeil, isn’t convinced of Duncan’s “zero” response:

But when it comes to competitive grants, the answer is more complicated than “zero.” The administration’s original $4 billion Race to the Top program awarded 40 points to states for developing and adopting common standards. All 12 of those winners have adopted the standards, and have not backed off. What’s more, a separate, $360 million Race to the Top contest to fund common tests was based on the premise that states needed help developing such assessments based on the common standards. But technically, aligning to the common core wasn’t required (you just probably weren’t going to win without it).

Duncan’s testimony, which didn’t contain such nuances, illustrates the fine line the department continues to walk between supporting states as they implement the common core, and not giving critics ammunition to cry “federal overreach.” [Emphasis added.]

Duncan (and Obama) will be crossing that “fine line” should they make CCSS a definitive component of the FY2015 ESEA reauthorization blueprint, a direction that the Cato Institute believes the Obama administration plans to follow.

Proponents of CCSS are fond of saying that “federal overreach” is an unsubstantiated complaint.

Not so, according to ESEA Subpart Two,Section 9527(c)(1):

(c) PROHIBITION ON REQUIRING FEDERAL APPROVAL OR CERTIFICATION OF STANDARDS-

(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act. [Emphasis added.]

However, given the Obama/Duncan love of education privatization, I don’t think the ultimate goal is federal control of American “common,” public education.

I think the ultimate Obama/Duncan goal is for-profit education company control of American education– but no longer public.

For-profit control of American education can only lead to the end game of not educating all American children– just the “common” ones who might be exploited for profit.

The children of privilege– Obama’s children and Duncan’s children– will be exempt from “common” privatization betrayal.

 

Video: Which Louisiana Teachers Wrote Common Core?

When I debated Stephanie Deselle of the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) in November 2013, she mentioned “three Louisiana teachers” who were involved in writing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Never mind that “three” is an embarrassingly low number.

Deselle provided no names.

During April 2014 testimony on the writing of CCSS and its test, the Partnership for Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC) test, Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member Holly Boffy is unable to readily provide the names of Louisiana teachers who participated in writing CCSS to Louisiana State Representative Jerome “Dee” Richard.

Here is a powerful one-minute video on Boffy’s failure to answer:

 

Note that Boffy has a clear conflict of interest from her financial connection to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the CCSS license owners.

If it is only three teachers, as Deselle stated in November 2013, why is it so difficult for Boffy to offer specific names??

 

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