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A July 21, 2014, Update on Common Core, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced

On Sunday, July 20, 2014, I took the day off from writing. No book editing; no blogging.

I think I have done so only for one other day since May.

Instead, I read a book for the sheer enjoyment of reading. I chose my all-time favorite, a work of fiction by C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce.

In the preface, Lewis makes the following statement:

A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.

And so it is with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). CCSS was a train wreck waiting to occur from inception (see here, as well). Thus, to borrow Lewis’ math analogy, the CCSS error occurred in the planning stages. To try to “correct” CCSS at any subsequent point is an utter waste.

When 46 governors and state superintendents decided in 2009 to sign their states up for CCSS, not only did they have no idea what the final product would be; they had no clue concerning the public uproar that would ensue nationally over this supposed “state led” CCSS and its associated assessments.

Let us examine the July 21, 2014, condition of said “uproar.”

Common Core Reflux

CCSS is educational digestive upset. For example, consider the battle over control of the senate in New York state: A powerful driving force is public displeasure over CCSS– not CCSS implementation, either– CCSS existence.

And what of the rest of the 45 states plus DC supposedly committed to CCSS?

Indiana: In April 2014, Indiana became the first state to formally pass legislation to drop CCSS and replace it with state standards that some say continue to closely resemble CCSS.

Add to that US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s threat to withdraw Indiana’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver if he does not approve of Indiana’s state standards.

South Carolina: On May 30, 2014, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation to replace CCSS with committee-created state standards. However, CCSS is to remain in place for the 2014-15 school year. We will have to wait to see how this turns out.

Oklahoma: On June 5, 2014, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation repealing CCSS. Until new standards and assessments are in place, Oklahoma will return to its pre-CCSS standards. Duncan– who insists that CCSS is not a federal program– criticized Fallin for the CCSS repeal and hinted at NCLB waiver issues for Oklahoma. Fallin responded to Duncan’s criticism, renaming federal “assistance” as “coercion.”

Louisiana: On June 18, 2014, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal canceled the CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) and pulled Louisiana out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing consortium. He also called for investigation into Louisiana assessment contracts. The state board of education (BESE) and state superintendent, John White, are fighting Jindal on both CCSS and PARCC removal.

Prior to his moving to remove Louisiana from PARCC and CCSS, Jindal hoped that the Louisiana legislature would do so.

It was not to be.

As of June 18, 2014, BESE and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) have their assessment contracts frozen by Louisiana’s Division of Administration (DOA). As of this moment, Louisiana has no assessments for the 2014-15 school year. (Click here for an update of the situation as of July 18, 2014).

Though a BESE majority and White maintain that Louisiana is still in CCSS, the Louisiana register fails to include the specific naming of either CCSS or PARCC as a mandated component of Louisiana K-12 public education.  This failure to include specific language is a major opening for a lawsuit against BESE for improper procedure regarding CCSS adoption.

NOTE: Even as I was drafting this post, such a lawsuit has indeed come to pass. As of July 21, 2014, 17 Louisiana legislators are suing BESE and LDOE for improper adoption of CCSS.  BESE (the majority) and LDOE responded with this memo, in which they appear to conveniently confuse the terms “national standards” with “nationally recognized standards.” The two terms are not the same, even though BESE (the majority) and LDOE would like for them to be.

Three BESE members agree that proper procedure was not followed and therefore support the July 21, 2014, lawsuit against BESE and LDOE.

Lesson leaned:

Being “state led” from the top down gets messy.

Missouri: On July 14, 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon became the first Democratic governor to sign legislation for creation of work groups to write standards in four subjects, including English and math. CCSS will remain in place until 2016– and possibly beyond.

The legislation specifies that “active classroom teachers shall constitute the majority of each work group” and “shall be selected by professional teachers’ organizations of the state.” The state board of education will be allowed to appoint teachers who are not members of Missouri professional teacher organizations.

One of the risks of the rewrite– especially given that CCSS will remain in place for years until it is completed– is that CCSS could be written into the “new” standards.

Another issue with this plan is that the “professional teachers’ organizations” can drive this bus back to CCSS if they so desire based upon their appointment choices.

North Carolina: In a move similar to that of South Carolina, as reported on July 16, 2014, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory agreed to sign into law a compromise bill that leaves CCSS in place while a committee rewrites North Carolina’s state standards:

The bill repeals Common Core for the state’s K-12 standards and directs the State Board of Education to come up with new ones. A new standards advisory commission would be formed to make recommendations to the board. The commission would be made up of 11 members, some appointed by legislative leaders, one by the governor and others by the State Board of Education.

Common Core, which schools began testing two years ago, would remain in place until the new standards are completed.

Wisconsin: On July 17, 2014, in an effort resembling that of Louisiana Governor Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has formally asked the Wisconsin state legislature to remove Wisconsin from CCSS. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Madison — Republican Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he wants Wisconsin to repeal the Common Core education standards it has adopted along with most other states, making his strongest statement on the issue yet.

“Today, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass a bill in early January to repeal Common Core and replace it with standards set by people in Wisconsin,” Walker said in a written statement.

The declaration comes after months of virtually no public debate among Wisconsin lawmakers on the standards; earlier this year, a proposal in the Legislature to undo them went nowhere, with Walker saying little.

As noted above in regards to the NY state senate races, CCSS has become a major political issue– especially for those vying for election or re-election.

The Guvnuhs Just Ain’t So Sure No Mo’

Years ago, the nation’s governors were virtually unified in their promotion of CCSS.

Times, they are a-changin’.

Consider the mood at the June 2014, National Governors Association (NGA) convention in Nashville, as noted in the July 11, 2014, Wall Street Journal:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The National Governors Association was one of the founders of Common Core, a set of academic standards aimed at raising student achievement. But as Democratic and Republican governors gathered here for summer meetings, Common Core wasn’t on the official agenda, a sign of how the bipartisan idea has become a political minefield. …

Now, the governors’ group is staying out of the fray as states decide how to implement the Common Core into curriculum and whether to offer tests aligned to the new standards. …

Complicating the issue is that both political parties are internally split over Common Core, making it harder for governors to find safe ground, especially if they are eyeing presidential bids in 2016. [Emphasis added.]

 Ironic how it takes an upcoming presidential election to keep NGA “out of the fray as states decide.”

Recall that it was the upcoming 2008 presidential race that placed NCLB reauthorization “out of the fray.”

When Oklahoma Governor Fallin signed to repeal CCSS, US Secretary of Education Duncan dismissed her decision as “politics.”

When Louisiana Governor Jindal turned against CCSS, BESE President Chas Roemer called Jindal’s decision, “presidential politics.”

Of course it is. Funny how it wasn’t “politics” when 46 states and three territories had signed on with NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in 2009 for an as-of-yet unwritten CCSS (and as-of-yet unwritten, federally-funded, consortia-created CCSS assessments) that was supposedly “state led” and that “just happened” to be connected to an upcoming federal Race to the Top.  It’s all right here in this 2009 NGA symposium report. Here is an excerpt:

At the Symposium, Secretary Duncan made an important announcement regarding these funds: $350 million of the Race to the Top funds has been earmarked to support the development of high-quality common assessments. With 46 states and three territories already signed on to the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association-led initiative to develop a set of common core standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher, this announcement was greeted enthusiastically by Symposium participants. 

Yep. No “politics” then, in June 2009. Just now, in summer 2014.

How about those federally funded consortia, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced (SBAC)? How are they faring as of July 21, 2014?


In September 2010, when Duncan awarded $330 million to PARCC ($170 million) and SBAC ($160 million), according to the USDOE press release, the following states were signed on for each of the two consortia:

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers is a coalition of 26 states including AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC and TN.

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium is a coalition of 31 states including AL, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, IA, ID, KS, KY, ME, MI, MO, MT, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, UT, VT, WA, WI, and WV. 

In 2010, some CCSS states had not yet decided upon a single consortium, and they did not know which consortia USDOE would approve for funding; so, 12 states belonged to both PARCC and SBAC: Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

From the outset, PARCC was at a disadvantage since it started with only 25 states and DC (as compared to SBAC’s 31 states).

Let us fast forward to July 2014, when not only have all overlapping states decided upon a single consortium, but also a time when some states have dropped the consortia altogether.

As of July 2014, PARCC appears to have been hit the hardest.  At the time of its US Department of Education grant award in September 2010, PARCC consisted of 25 states and DC. In order to qualify for the total $186 million ($170 million plus $16 million toward CCSS and PARCC implementation), PARCC must consist of 15 states, five of which must be “governing” states (see page 14 of this 250-page application).

In September 2010, PARCC’s governing states were Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and also DC.

CORRECTION 07-22-14: In July 2014, the PARCC website 14 governing states. However, not all (i.e., Indiana and Louisiana) continue to belong to PARCC.

Even though the PARCC continues to list 14 states and DC as consortium members, it must be doing so to try to fool Uncle Sam.  Of the 14 states plus DC listed, Indiana has dropped out, as has Louisiana. It appears that Pennsylvania has also exited both PARCC and SBAC.

PARCC is below the federal 15-state requirement. Wonder what Arne will do? He loves assessments, and especially consortium assessments, so I’m wondering if he will let PARCC slide by as a means of trying to Save the Point of Having a Common Core.

Politics, eh?

On to SBAC.

USDOE funded SBAC $160 million, plus that additional $16 million for CCSS and PARCC implementation.

In 2010, SBAC started with 31 states, 17 of which were designated as governing states (see page 12 of this 200-page application).  Recall that 12 states also had overlapping membership in PARCC; so, it was expected that SBAC might lose some member states.

As of July 21, 2014, SBAC notes 22 states on its website, plus the US Virgin Islands. SBAC is still including Pennsylvania, but as an “advisory state” even though Pennsylvania appears to have exited. The remaining 21 states are listed as SBAC governing states.

SBAC has not dipped down below the 15-state mark as has PARCC.

I wonder, since the nation has been Racing to the Top of somewhere, are the two consortia in a competition of their own? Sort of a Survivor, Consortium Edition?

We’ll just have to keep watching.

My Exit

I realize that what I have posted above does not cover the continued brewings over CCSS and PARCC/SBAC in some states.  What I have tried to capture were definite or impending repeals of CCSS and exits from the associated consortia. If  I have missed something, please let me know in the comments section of this post.

The “voluntary” cookie is crumbling as truly-forced cookies are wont to do.


cookie crumbles


Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education


An Update on the Continued Constriction of Roemer’s and White’s 2014-15 Assessment Corner

So much has transpired in the situation regarding the state of Louisiana education for 2014-15. For those attempting to keep up with the situation, let me briefly summarize:

On June 18, 2014, Governor Bobby Jindal declared that he wanted Louisiana out of both the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers (PARCC) consortium (the now-nonprofit that is responsible for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) tests) and CCSS itself.

In order to release Louisiana from both PARCC and CCSS, Jindal had the Office of Contractual Renewal (OCR) (part of the Division of Administration–DOA) begin an investigation into the assessment contracts that the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) supposedly had for PARCC tests. OCR froze LDOE spending on assessments at that time.

As it turns out, LDOE has no direct and properly-procured contract for PARCC tests for 2014-15. So, the Division of Administration (DOA) began an investigation into LDOE assessment contracts.

Meanwhile, on July 1, 2014, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) held a special meeting, the apparent goal of which was to “explore” suing the governor for interfering in the BESE business of PARCC and CCSS.

Not all BESE members wanted to turn attention to suing Jindal. One of the outcomes of the July 1, 2014, meeting was a resolution by BESE member Jane Smith that Louisiana State Superintendent John White and Governor Jindal meet prior to any decision to file suit and that White report back to the full board. Her resolution passed. Smith suggested that the meeting be on July 18, 2014. The meeting was scheduled for July 17, 2014.

BESE member James Garvey also proposed that BESE investigate legal action. His resolution passed.

On July 2, 2014, DOA Commissioner Kristy Nichol supported a decision by OCR Interim Director Pamela Barfay Rice to restrict any non-OCR-approved BESE contracts or LDOE contracts to $2000.

The pressure is on the BESE majority and White.

On July 10, 2014, three BESE members (President Chas Roemer, VP James Garvey, and Secretary Holly Boffy) decided to “offer” Jindal the 2014-15 assessment option of using “free” PARCC questions as part of Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) tests for 2014-15. The trio wrote that in order to do so, DOA/OCR would have to unfreeze LDOE spending on assessments.

Within hours, Jindal said no to that “offer.”

On July 16, 2014, the same three BESE members– Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy– offered a second plan to Jindal, this time agreeing to undergo new procurement for the 2014-15 assessments. DOA Commissioner Nichol made it clear that any solicitation for Louisiana assessments would be done via a “team” to oversee the procurement process.

In the Roemer-Garvey-Boffy July 16 letter, Roemer tries to invite himself to the meeting between White and Jindal.

Roemer was not allowed to attend.

Also on July 16, 2014, DOA released its Preliminary Review findings regarding LDOE testing contracts. The findings highlight numerous issues, including LDOE’s not being forthcoming with requested documentation.

On July 17, 2014, three more BESE members– Smith, Lottie Beebe, and Carolyn Hill– publicly objected to Roemer, Garvey, and Boffy’s making the governor “offers” in a manner that makes it appear that the entire BESE board approves– and that without scheduling special meetings to discuss the issue prior to sending “offers” on letters using BESE letterhead.

The meeting between White and Jindal also transpired as planned on July 17, 2014. No agreement came from their meeting.  Regarding the meeting, White stated that “we (the BESE majority and White) need legal clarity” (yep he used that word).

Regarding the July 17, 2014, meeting between, Jindal and White, Jindal’s  Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin noted that Jindal told White of the history of Louisiana corruption in politics and that the law would be followed regarding assessment contracts.

In other words, White (with apparent BESE majority support) really did a number with rigging assessment contracts, and all involved know as much whether all involved want to publicly admit it.

It seems that White also spoke briefly before the cameras on July 17. No clarity here. (Heh, heh, heh….)

Here is White’s 07-18-14  memo to BESE regarding his meeting with Jindal.

Also worthy of note: This week, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell approved BESE’s request to seek outside counsel regarding suing the governor. However, as Will Sentell of the Advocate reports, DOA might still need to approve:

BESE President Chas Roemer, who lives in Baton Rouge, said earlier this week that Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office has approved Preis Gordon APLC, in Baton Rouge, to do the work without charge.

However, the hiring may require the approval of Jindal’s Division of Administration.

ADDENDUM 07-19: Excellent debriefing article on given BESE member positions following the White/Jindal meeting.

Whether or not Jindal’s DOA will approve to have Jindal sued remains to be seen. However, what is clear is that if  BESE sues Jindal, White better be prepared to fork over any subpoenaed documents that he is currently withholding.

White being forced by court order to surrender documents….

That might just make a lawsuit both worthwhile and fun to watch.


Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education


Kathleen Carroll Soars on the Wings of Research Blunder; Jim Horn Hitches a Ride

On July 15, 2014, California attorney Kathleen Carroll posted a piece on the City Watch LA blog entitled, When Did Teacher Unions Decide to “Turn”… Against Collective Bargaining Rights? Based upon emails I have received referencing this same piece, it appears that Carroll first publicized this piece on July 12, 2012 (though possibly before).

Also on July 15, 2014, the Carroll post was featured on Cambridge College professor Jim Horn’s blog, Schools Matter. In his posting, Horn introduces the Carroll post with a refocusing of attention on educational historian Diane Ravitch, as evidenced in his title, Ravitch Lashes Out at Union Misleadership Critique.

Both posts purport to address issues of corruption related to teacher union officials. While some of their argument is valid, much of it is distorted and strays notably from solid research and reporting procedure.

In this post, I will address issues with both the Carroll and Horn posts, of which there are a number in total. I will begin with the the Carroll post.

Carroll’s Link-lacking TURN Post

The first issue I notice with the Carroll post is an amazing lack of linked evidence to support the numerous points she attempts to demonstrate. Indeed, the entire 1,600-word post includes only a single link. Carroll claims to offer readers evidence of corruption, yet she stops short of providing the bedrock upon which she supposedly established her arguments.

Not only is this unacceptable– it is a red flag waving to anyone with research experience.

Thus, any linking I include in my post discussing Carroll’s assertions I had to locate on my own.

Let us begin with what appears to be the thesis of Carroll’s post:

…What is missing from the debate is the fact that teacher union officials themselves are active participants in the scheme to monetize and profit from the public education system.

Carroll is concerned about corruption among teacher union leadership.

TURN History

Next, Carroll offers some history on unions (to which her only link in the post refers), including the establishing of the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN). Here is the TURN mission statement as it was recorded on November 9, 2005:

Mission Statement

 Teacher unions must provide leadership for the collective voice of their members. Teacher unions have a responsibility to students, their families, and to the broader society. Teacher unions are committed to public education as a vital element of our democracy. What unites these responsibilities is our commitment to help all children learn.

We affirm the union’s responsibility to collaborate with other stakeholders in public education and to seek consistently higher levels of student achievement by:

  • Improving continuously the quality of teaching.

  • Promoting in public education and in the union democratic dynamics, fairness, and due process for all.

  • Seeking to expand the scope of collective bargaining to include instructional and professional issues.

  • Improving on an ongoing basis the terms and conditions under which both adults and children work and learn.

It is the same mission statement as as recorded on the TURN website today.

In his 2010 “brief history” of unions and school reform, Dale Mezzacappa writes the following about TURN:

1996 A group of NEA and AFT locals formed the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) with the goal of promoting education reform to the top of the union agenda.

Though was the mid-1990s and the term “education reform” did not have the same overt privatization bent that it does in 2014, it is clear from reading other information in Mezzacappa’s post that TURN was intended to promote so-called “education reforms” such as basing teacher evaluations upon student “performance” and replacing seniority-based pay with “pay for performance.”

Some Recent TURN Donors–via CEC

Carroll calls TURN a “nonprofit”; however, there is no record of TURN as ever registering as a nonprofit. It is a network. On its 2011 990, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 identifies itself as “founding members” of TURN– the network.

On the Gates grants search engine site, a search for “teacher union reform network” yields the result of two nebulously-worded grants totaling $3.5 million paid to the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC), a nonprofit established in February 1999.

Consortium for Educational Change

Date: October 2011 
Purpose: to work with regional Teacher Union Reform Networks to collaboratively engage teachers, their unions, and school and district administrators in issues that impact teaching and learning 
Amount: $2,025,622 

Consortium for Educational Change

Date: October 2013 
Purpose: to support the regional Teacher Union Reform Networks (TURN) in advancing teaching and learning through labor-management collaboration 
Amount: $1,501,900 

Based upon the Gates grant wording, it appears that much of the TURN work happens regionally.

If the wording of the Gates grants was nebulous, the mission statement on CEC’s 2012 990 is even cloudier:

Facilitation of training programs with school districts to develop their capabilities.

According to the CEC 2012 990, CEC’s end of year (July 2011 to June 2012) assets were $3 million. It has a board of eight individuals working either 10 or 20 hours a week– yet no one is drawing a dime in compensation.

For a listing of CEC staff, click here.

Carroll notes that TURN is led by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) VP Adam Urbanski. Urbanski is not a member of the CEC board, and it is the CEC that directly received the Gates funding for regional TURN. This, teasing out the funding web is a bit challenging.

Other CEC funders include the Joyce Foundation ($200,000 in FY2012) and the GE Foundation ($855,452 in 2012).  The Walton Family Foundation’s 2012 990 indicates no payments to CEC, or to “teacher union reform network” or “TURN,” nor does the Broad Foundation’s 2012 990.

I used 2012 990s because these are the most recent that are publicly accessible.  If one wants a sense of the current corporate reform dollars influencing TURN via CEC, what I have above appears to be the story.

TURN definitely has a corporate-reform bent. I am glad to see no current Walton money paid to TURN; the Waltons are a forceful anti-union family. (I discuss this in chapter 23 of my book, A Chronicle of Echoes.)

National TURN Convention Speakers

Carroll next turns (pardon the pun) her attention to Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis for Lewis’ speaking at TURN in 2012. Both Lewis and visiting Harvard professor Pasi Sahlberg spoke in October 2012 at the national TURN meeting. They compared education in Chicago and Finland.

I asked Lewis if she was paid an honorarium for speaking at TURN. She wrote that she did not think so, that she recalled having her hotel and flight paid for. She is on vacation in Hawaii and has no internet access except her iPhone. Here is what Lewis offers:

If I got one, it was between 500-1000. I usually give those to the student assistance fund. We provide eyeglasses, hearing aids, and a small clothing stipend.

I also asked for a copy of her speech. She responded as follows in a Facebook message to me on July 16, 2014:

I don’t usually write speeches. I read the room then speak from the heart. Pasi Sahlberg spoke that date. If you have to take a swipe at me, it’s OK.

I assured her that I did not plan to “take a swipe.” But Lewis knows how being in the public eye works; she was willing to take the hit in light of her having no detailed evidence to provide for me.

Carroll takes issue with Lewis’ speaking at TURN. I do not.

Carroll also takes issue with Ravitch, teacher and author Deborah Meier, and Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond for their speaking at the national TURN convention in 2013. Though Carroll purports to focus on issues related to “union leadership,” none of these three are union leaders. However, she does use the leapfrog logic that since the AFT President Randi Weingarten had ties to the Broad Foundation in 2009, and that since Broad utilizes “union busting tactics,” that Ravitch’s speaking at TURN in 2013 was suspect.

This is the point at which Carroll does indeed “smear” Ravitch via utter speculation about Ravitch’s taking “privatizer money” to speak at the 2013 TURN convention:

This type of merit based, union busting tactic [as promoted by Broad] has been criticized by Diane Ravitch on her blog and in her books.  So, why is Ravitch speaking at TURN’s national convention?  And was she paid to do so? If paid, was she paid by the very same privatizers she had so vehemently exposed in her published books “Reign of Error” and “Death and Life of the Great American School System”?  What a strange TURN of events. [Emphasis added.]

Nothing solid. Just an “if” leading to a triumphant “aha!”

The rush to accuse is a problem. However, the greater problem is in Carroll’s neglecting to correct the error. Ravitch made it clear to Carroll that she was not compensated to speak at TURN, yet Carroll has not modified this unfounded, reputation-damaging section of her post.

No “strange TURN of events” here, Carroll. Just a directly-refuted, uncorrected factual blunder.

I asked Diane Ravitch how many times she has spoken for free in 2012-13.

Here is her email response to me on July 16, 2014:

I have to guess how many times I spoke for free as that requires I look at my calendars and they are in Brooklyn. Guesstimate: 2012-13: 40 times. To PTAs, book clubs, neighborhood groups, etc. Might have been more.

I then asked Ravitch for a copy of her speech at 2013 TURN. She said that she spoke from notes and offered this summary of her remarks:

This is what I said to TURN:

We live in the most perilous time ever in the history of public education. 

Powerful forces are arrayed together in a concerted effort to privatize our schools and to dismantle the teaching profession. 

Among those forces are some of the nation’s biggest philanthropies, including The Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Gates Foundation. They have the active support of the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Arne Duncan. 

The philanthropies and the Department together are promoting policies that will privatize the schools, like charter schools, and they are promoting programs to turn teaching into a competition for dollars and test scores. 

None of their preferred policies work. Not only do charter schools take money away from democratically controlled public schools, they don’t get better results. 

Merit pay has been tried for 100 years and it has never worked. 

Evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students–a key element of Race to the Top–encourages narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, cheating, and gaining the system. 

The centerpiece of today’s alleged reforms is high-stakes testing–carrots and sticks. This does not encourage good teaching or deep learning. The nature of tests is that they are normed on a bell curve. Poor and minority children tend to cluster in the bottom half because they have lacked the opportunity to learn, and affluent kids clip user in the top half because they have had the advantages of economic security, well-resourced schools, educated parents, and the advantages that money can buy. 

None of the current reforms work. None will ever work. 

True reform means reducing poverty and segregation and helping children and families get a fair chance and a decent life. True reform means well-prepared and well-compensated teachers. True reform means schools where professionals work together and have the support of the Community. True reform means schools that have the resources to meet the needs of their students. 

These are not the words of a corporate reformer.

Ravitch was not bought; her words were not bought, and it is time for Carroll to TURN the insinuation in the text of her post into an update that reflects these truths.

Moving on.

A Word on Weingarten

Next, Carroll continues with details about Weingarten. I have not fact-checked the information Carroll posted regarding Weingarten; however, I have fact-checked my own writings on Weingarten– a number of which have appeared on Diane Ravitch’s blog (see here, and here, and here, and here)– and I concur that Weingarten has made and continues to make decisions that are detrimental to the teachers she is supposed to represent.

Two Green Dots

After some words about income inequity, Carroll makes another factual blunder:

It should be noted that Green Dot Public Schools is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. This means if they are to see profits, they must expand, which in TURN means more traditional public schools must close, so more lost jobs. 

I have written about the history of Green Dot Schools in my book (part of chapter 20). Green Dot Public Schools is registered as a nonprofit. Nonprofits differ from publicly traded companies.  Nonprofits are not traded. The publicly-traded company for which Carroll confused Green Dot Public Schools, Green Dot Corporation, deals in prepaid credit cards and other “personal banking for the masses.”

That was sloppy, Carroll, and it shows just how hair-triggered you are to assign union-corruption blame.

Unsuccessful IRS Form 990 Interpretation

The sloppiness continues in the next section with Carroll’s misreading and misinterpreting of IRS forms 990s. Here is an excerpt:

The unions have formed and partnered with many illicit non-profits, with union busters buying off union officials, e.g., California Teacher Association’s Institute for Teaching (IFT).   

Dean Vogel, a school counselor, is both president of CTA and CEO of CTA’s non-profit IFT.  Dean Vogel was paid $174,000 (according to 990 form filed June 2012 with IRS), and received an additional $85,000 reportable income from related organizations … asserting only one hour of work per week on this 990 filing.  

Yes, read that again: Dean Vogel makes $174, 000 plus $85,000 for one hour per week just at the non-profit.  


I will use the most recent 990s to illustrate Carroll’s “one hour” error.

Here is the 2012 990 (09-01-11 to 08-31-12– filed July 17, 2013) for the California Teachers Association (CTA) Institute for Teaching (IFT). On page 8 (Part VII– Compensation), Dean Vogel is listed as president of CTA IFT and works a reported one hour per week for CTA IFT for zero compensation (see column D, reportable compensation). The $176,864 is listed in the column E, reported compensation from related organizations.  The “related organization” is the CTA, for which Vogel is listed on page 32 (Part VII– Compensation) as working 40 hours per week and to which his $176,864 salary plus the $88,116 in “other compensation” (see page 22) are associated. (CTA 2012 990– 09-01-11 to 08-31-12)

Nonprofits often operate in conjunction with other nonprofits under the same “parent.” In this case, CTA is the “direct controlling entity” of five other CTA-related nonprofits– including CTA IFT (see page 27 of the CTA 2012 990, Part II– Identification of Related Tax Exempt Organizations).

Carroll Flunks “Fact Checking 101″

Sloppy, sloppy. Carroll, if you want to fight union corruption, you really need to work on getting your facts right. Otherwise, your own incompetence will undermine your efforts and provide fodder for your opponents to discredit you handsomely.

Take my word for it– I just ginsu-ed you.

Moving on to Jim Horn.

The Self-undermining Indignation that is Jim Horn

When Horn read Carroll’s post and realized it provided an opening for him to attack Diane Ravitch, I wonder if he wet himself from glee. He launches right into Ravitch and her being paid by Pearson to speak at the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) convention in 2012 and of her receiving “her hefty speaking fee” as though Ravitch had been bought by Pearson. Horn assumes as much since he was unable to locate Ravitch’s speech online (his only link in his post other than a quote from The Hunger Games).

Horn really did not want Ravitch to be paid by Pearson to speak. But she was, and she admitted it and added that she was “thrilled to be paid by Pearson to tell thousands of psychologists how lousy the standardized tests are.”

Sounds fine to me. You see, I read Ravitch’s speech.

The tone of Horn’s writing is such that one knows he wants Ravitch to be guilty of something. Surely her accepting “a fat payout” from Pearson to speak at NASP is evidence of the corruption he just knows is at her core, right?

The problem is, Ravitch’s 2012 NASP speech– the one Horn could not locate online and therefore assumed Ravitch had hidden for its ability to convict her in the Court of Horn– offers nothing in it’s 20 pages to justify his accusatory tone for her accepting payment from Pearson to deliver it.

Go ahead. Read the speech and find the lines that give ueber-testing a nod of encouragement and approval. It isn’t there.

What is there is the repeated disapproval of test-driven reform and damage it does to children, the over-dependence upon standardized testing, the fallacies of value-added modeling, the failure of merit pay, the pipe-dream of under-regulated charter schools as siphons for community school funding, the failure of vouchers, the ignored impact of poverty upon schools, and the overall punitive nature of privatizing reform– twenty pages worth.

Moving along.

Here is how Horn introduces the Carroll post:

Below is a piece by Kathleen Carroll that set Diane off. The only inaccuracy that Diane could find in this piece is that she was not actually paid to speak at TURN….

Let me pause right here for a moment. The Carroll post was 1,600 words with only a single link, yet Horn is fine with this.

I am not.

As I have already established, the Carroll post has major errors that can only make her look foolish to those who know what they are reading. Indeed, her credibility suffered from the outset due to her lack of linked evidence.

Continuing with Horn:

[Ravitch] states, “I spoke at TURN and did not ask who gives them money. I was not paid.”

What kind of response is this? Is this really a suggestion that Ravitch does not know who funds TURN?

Another pause: Carroll offered no substantiated evidence on recent TURN funding. She also offered no correction in her post regarding her insinuation that Ravitch accepted money to speak at TURN. In his pursuit of Ravitch, Horn excuses Carroll.

The ramble continues. I will not post all. Horn goes on about Ravitch “not knowing who funds TURN” and makes comments about her “being bosom buddies with Rhonda.”

Sometimes, Horn, people just don’t know a thing– like that nonprofits cannot be publicly traded– or that nonprofits often have “related” nonprofits.

As to the “bosom buddies” comment: I realize that Carroll and Horn want to convict Ravitch for her association with Weingarten. But here’s how it works: Carroll and Horn might not like it, but Ravitch operates as a private citizen. Thus, Ravitch is exempt from answering to angry union members. Weingarten is not. And I know Ravitch well enough to state that trying to corner her into an all-out war on Weingarten will not work. It just won’t. Carroll (and others) can get angry over this; they can write endless posts and emails on the matter, but in the end, it is Diane Ravitch who will decide what she posts about Weingarten, and how, and when, and how she approaches Weingarten on so-called “ed reform” issues.

And Ravitch does post pointed words toward Weingarten. I know this because she has posted some of mine. But again, it’s on her terms. I never presume to demand.

Keep banging your heads against the entitlement wall if you like. You will only end up with headaches.

Returning to the lack of research-supported quality in both the Carroll and Horn posts:

If Carroll, or Horn, or anyone really wants to confront corruption in the unions, the way not to accomplish such a goal is to offer error-ridden posts like Carroll’s enveloped in an uncritically-swallowed, Ravitch-anger-sandwich that is Horn’s.


Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education


Former United Federation of Teachers VP Leo Casey Tries to Twitter-slam Me

I have been asked numerous times to join Twitter. The response I offer to this request: I haven’t the time to keep up with Twitter.

That doesn’t mean that I do not occasionally become the topic of a Twitter exchange, however.

Apparently such an exchange began on July 10, 2014, between New York City teacher Arthur Goldstein and former United Federation of Teachers VP Leo Casey.  The exchange also includes Kathleen Casey, Leo’s sister.

According to Leo Casey, I “spin conspiracy theories” and that “anyone who disagrees with me” is “in league with the devil.”

Below is the Goldstein-Casey exchange, apparently over my post about American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten’s July 8, 2014, reluctant admission that she is a member of the secretive Democracy Alliance.


[Leo Casey] Why stop here? There’s always the illuminati to expose.
<-PAXP-deijE.gif> Randi Weingarten, Twitter, and ‘Secret Society’ Membership


[Quote] I wonder exactly what “progressive agenda advancing” organizations Weingarten and her sidekick Ringuette have decided to “invest” in on behalf of AFT members. Just don’t ask her about those investment specifics….

LikeLike · · @LeoECasey on Twitter ·
Share Kathleen Casey likes this.

Kathleen Casey Who is Mercedes Schneider? 10 July at 19:02 ·


Leo Casey She spins conspiracy theories about progressives on the theory that anyone who disagrees with her is in league with the devil.


Arthur Goldstein Mercedes is a public school teacher, a former college professor, a thinker and a writer who’s regularly acknowledged and published byDiane Ravitch. She recently published a book. I’ve spent time with her. She’s quick-witted and soft-spoken. It’s disappointing to see ad hominem attacks against her containing no evidence whatsoever to refute her arguments. It’s further disappointing to see absurd notions planted in her mouth.

Yesterday at 07:56 · Like


Leo Casey All you need to do is read the latest missive, attached to the original post, with her latest conspiracy theory attack on Randi Weingarten, to know where the truth lies. If it was the first time, you could write it off as aberration and a lapse of judgment. Instead, it is a well-established pattern. Yesterday at 10:36 · Like


Arthur Goldstein On the other hand, that’s a straw man. An argument is a demonstration something she says is incorrect. Yesterday at 11:50 · Like


Kathleen Casey It’s a pity that an organization working hard to help teachers (and students and schools) is been attacked this way. What is the motivation of those mounting these personal attacks? Yesterday at 12:09 · Like

American Federation of Teachers: “Remediating” Duncan and Retaining the “Corrupted” Common Core

I’m wondering what of substance was accomplished thus far at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention in Los Angeles July 11-14, 2014.

On July 13, 2014, AFT was supposed to consider asking for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s resignation. The National Education Association (NEA) passed a resolution on July 4, 2014, asking Duncan to resign. However, as education historian Diane Ravitch points out, Duncan is only following the orders of President Obama:

I can personally vouch for the fact that Duncan is doing exactly what Obama wants. In the fall of 2009, I had a private meeting with Secretary Duncan, just the two of us, no staff. It was very pleasant. He was charming, pleasant, and took notes. I asked him, “Why are you traveling the country to sell Race to the Top accompanied by Reverend Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich? Why Gingrich?” His answer: “because the President asked me to.”

Thus, asking Duncan to resign– while a refreshing thought– is no solution. Obama would just fill the slot with another yes-man.

It sure would be nice if a national union would aggressively confront the pro-privatization education agenda emanating from the Oval Office.

But no. AFT decided upon a watered-down version of the NEA resolution: AFT resolved to ask Obama to put Duncan on a remediation plan:

The American Federation of Teachers approved a resolution this afternoon calling for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign if he does not improve under a plan to be implemented by President Barack Obama.

The “improvement plan” would include the requirement that Duncan enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Equity Commission’s “Each and Every Child” report; change the No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top “test-and-punish” accountability system to a “support-and-improve” model; and “promote rather than question” teachers and school staff.

Duncan is following Obama’s education plan, and AFT wants Obama to remediate Duncan.


On to another Wonderlandish AFT outcome: It is no surprise to anyone familiar with the pull of New York’s Unity Caucus (and familiar with the national-level version, the Progressive Caucus) that after 40 minutes of open floor debate on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), AFT delegates voted by two-thirds majority to continue to support CCSS– even though now, AFT maintains CCSS has been “corrupted”:

The AFT will also consider a resolution — drafted by its executive council — asserting that the promise of the Common Core has been corrupted by political manipulation, administrative bungling, corporate profiteering and an invalid scoring system designed to ensure huge numbers of kids fail the new math and language arts exams that will be rolled out next spring. 

So what is the AFT decision? Keep the corrupted CCSS and offer “grants” to pacify teachers into believing they have influence over what the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) own.

AFT has no leverage to negotiate any altering of the CCSS completed in 2010.

Regarding the AFT five-years-too-late “grant plan,” CCSSO offered no comment upon Politico’s request.

CCSS was completed four years ago, in June 2010Now, in July 2014, AFT admits CCSS has problems– but it still wants to remain married to CCSS.


In March 2014, Weingarten told CCSSO that she planned to support CCSS no matter the AFT member pushback in July:

Weingarten added that she expects that many of her members would call for outright opposition to the standards during the AFT’s summer convention, even though both the AFT and NEA support the standards and Weingarten said she wouldn’t back away from the common core. [Emphasis added.]

Weingarten will promote a resolution stating that CCSS is “corrupted,” and she will support grants for teachers to rewrite a CCSS that was finished in 2010 and over which she has no direct control regarding revision. And never mind the fixed nature of CCSS, which purposely makes it ever-suited to national marketing (including potential, nationwide standardized testing). But she will not forsake CCSS, nothing doing.


She kept her word to CCSSO. That must be worth something in her world.

In my world, it’s just another pensive facial expression and tilt of my head.


Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education


Sacramento Journalist Seth Sandronsky Reviews A Chronicle of Echoes

BOOK REVIEW/Seth Sandronsky

Education Reformers’ Playbook


Want names of and motives for public school reformers? Read A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education by Mercedes K. Schneider.

The author has skin in this game. She is a public school teacher against the corporate conquest of community-based public education. Schneider opens with a chapter on Joel Klein, former head of New York City’s Department of Education, now on the payroll of Rupert Murdoch, a billionaire media owner. In an era of growing income inequality, such corporatists and reformers are two sides of the same coin, according to Schneider.

Her evidence for this assertion is compelling. The implications are chilling.

Klein is not a former teacher. On his watch, the Big Apple’s public schools fell prey to reforms that benefit private interests, a trend that runs a red line throughout Schneider’s whistleblowing book.

She follows the pattern of reformers’ high-minded words and profit-driven deeds doggedly. Not trained as an investigative journalist, Schneider shines bright lights on the acquisitive structure of the deception and misrepresentation that is today’s reform of public education.

What accounts for the reformers’ success is not actual facts but copious greenbacks from wealthy interests. Schneider tracks these dollars that buy political influence, with 88 pages of Endnotes.

Call this class war. And according to billionaire investor Warren Buffet, his class is winning. Funding this conflict are venture philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli and Edythe Broad, and the Walton Family foundation. They fund Democratic and GOP lawmakers, think tanks (Fordham Institute) and advocacy groups (National Council on Teacher Quality), a partial list of recipients.

These three billionaire funders are powerful interests. In a capitalist society, they have the dollars to get what they want and want what they get.

To read the rest of Sandronsky’s review as it will appear on the August 1, 2014, in the Progressive Populistclick here.

Seth Sandronsky is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Race and Class, Review of Radical Political Economics, Sacramento News & Review and Z Magazine, among other publications. He lives and writes in Sacramento, Calif., and can be reached at

The Problem with the AFT Offer for Teachers to “Rewrite” the Common Core

A very good thing will happen on Sunday, July 13, 2014, at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention in Los Angeles: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be debated on the floor.

No behind-closed-doors killing of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) resolution opposing CCSS. As Politico states:

Weingarten, for instance, has repeatedly said she supports Common Core, but she also made a deliberate decision to allow a long public debate — which will be livestreamed online — on the standards. She has said the AFT is a democracy and will adopt policies favored by a majority of members, even if that means a dizzying about-face on the Common Core.

I spoke with CTU President Karen Lewis on July 10, 2014, about my concern that CTU’s anti-CCSS resolution would be somehow stifled. I learned that Lewis was instrumental in pushing for an open debate on CCSS.

There is another AFT resolution in support of CCSS. The supporting resolution assumes that CCSS is good, if only it were properly implemented. Sound familiar? As Politico notes:

The AFT will also consider a resolution — drafted by its executive council — asserting that the promise of the Common Core has been corrupted by political manipulation, administrative bungling, corporate profiteering and an invalid scoring system designed to ensure huge numbers of kids fail the new math and language arts exams that will be rolled out next spring. An even more pointed resolution flat out opposing the standards will also likely come up for a vote.

In order to preserve CCSS, AFT members are being offered a financial enticement to “rewrite” CCSS:

The American Federation of Teachers will open its annual convention Friday morning with a startling announcement: After years of strongly backing the Common Core, the union now plans to give its members grants to critique the academic standards — or to write replacement standards from scratch. …

The grant program does not need a vote from the membership to take effect. Union officials say they expect to begin distributing grants worth about $20,000 to $30,000 this fall. Local and state affiliates are eligible for the grants; AFT officials are encouraging applicants to build coalitions with parents and civic leaders, though teachers are supposed to lead the work.

Ironically, the grant money will come from the AFT Innovation Fund formerly financed by Gates to the tune of $4.4 million and doing exactly what he financed: “to work on… the Common Core State Standards.”

Aside from the Gates intention being fulfilled, however, there is a much greater problem with teachers’ “rewriting” CCSS. CCSS is a product owned by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Thus, any content labeled “CCSS” belongs to these two organizations that control the CCSS license. Furthermore, any content in CCSS becomes static– one-size-fits-all, inflexible, unable to be adjusted– except by permission of the CCSS license owners.

And never forget: CCSS must be static because it was created to serve as the nucleus for punitive, test-driven “reform.” That was the plan since 2008 and NGA’s early press release on the issue.

Consider Louisa Moats, teacher, research, who was one of the actual “insiders” of CCSS development and who defended CCSS until she realized her work was intended as a rigid vehicle to drive test-based outcomes. What is noteworthy is that Moats was on the “inside” of CCSS development and was still kept in the dark regarding NGA’s and CCSSO’s intent to use her work as a foundation for inflexible, test-driven reform. Moats spoke about her “naïveté” in a January 2014 interview published in Huffington Post:

Marilyn Adams and I were the team of writers, recruited in 2009 by David Coleman and Sue Pimentel, who drafted the Foundational Reading Skills section of the CCSS and closely reviewed the whole ELA section for K-5. We drafted sections on Language and Writing Foundations that were not incorporated into the document as originally drafted. I am the author of the Reading Foundational Skills section of Appendix A. …

I never imagined when we were drafting standards in 2010 that major financial support would be funneled immediately into the development of standards-related tests. How naïve I was. The CCSS represent lofty aspirational goals for students aiming for four year, highly selective colleges. Realistically, at least half, if not the majority, of students are not going to meet those standards as written, although the students deserve to be well prepared for career and work through meaningful and rigorous education.

Our lofty standards are appropriate for the most academically able, but what are we going to do for the huge numbers of kids that are going to “fail” the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test? We need to create a wide range of educational choices and pathways to high school graduation, employment and citizenship. The Europeans got this right a long time ago.

If I could take all the money going to the testing companies and reinvest it, I’d focus on the teaching profession — recruitment, pay, work conditions, rigorous and on-going training.  [Emphasis added.]

So, to those teachers who are tempted to take AFT money in order to “”make CCSS better,” let me caution you that your work will become part of the CCSS that is ultimately locked into place and handed over to the likes of Pearson for nationwide marketing purposes.  Pearson plans to make itself indispensable and benefit handsomely from CCSS by offering assessments, curriculum to accompany those assessments, teacher development, and “data driven adaptive learning.”

Imagine how much better it will be for Pearson to be able to advertise that CCSS was “rewritten by teachers.”  That is a phenomenal selling point, not only for Pearson, but also for any influential, pro-CCSS individual taking to the cameras.

In closing, I implore my teacher practitioner colleagues nationwide: Do not allow yourselves to be in the position of Louisa Moats, who years later came to the conclusion, “I was so naive.”

We need to utterly do away with CCSS. It is my hope that one of the celebrated gains from the AFT national convention is the death of CCSS.

My best to CTU members and others who are fighting to kill CCSS.


Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education



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