On December 2, 2013, I posted a piece that focused on the governor-business hybrid nonprofit, Achieve, Inc. The post also included information on one of the “lead writers” of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Sue Pimentel.
I followed the post on December 3 with CCSS Validation Committee member Sandra Stotsky’s response to my post.
Based upon my CCSS investigations and resulting writings, I maintain that teacher involvement in CCSS development was both peripheral and cosmetic.
In the early morning on December 4, I had a comment on my initial post to the effect that I was wrong, that teachers were indeed a part of the CCSS developmental process. I ended the exchange with the following comment:
Here’s the true test:
Could teachers vote to not adopt CCSS in the first place?
No. It had been decided. Teachers were not “lead architects” and were not even in the work groups.
Teachers should have had decision-making power to directly shape CCSS from the outset. They did not.
As a result of this comment exchange, I began thinking about how the CCSS developmental process might have appeared had it followed the democratic process.
The results of my imaginary journey I present in this post.
Back to 2008
Initially, I thought that I might use the 2008 Hunt Institute Governors Symposium as the point at which I might begin crafting this post according to the democratic process. However, the primary message of this article is the false panic regarding ”the global demands of the 21st century economy” and being “internationally competitive with those from top-performing countries.”
First, the “21st century economy” appears to be one in which most US jobs require no college degree. Thus, it seems that the governors would do better to focus their attention on an economy that will likely leave numerous college graduates underemployed.
Second, the faulty focus on being “internationally competitive” is really one of getting the highest scores on international tests. Perhaps then the US might earn a place among the “examination hell” countries that “sacrifice everything else for test scores, such as life skills, character building, mental health, and physical health.”
Thus, the focus of this 2008 symposium was already double-dipped in the top-down, “take-charge” pseudo-panic upon which corporate reform thrives.
So, let’s just erase this 2008 punitive, privatizing petri-dish of a meeting in favor of one in which honest support of public education was the declared goal.
Once these governors decided that they wished to improve public education via developing a common set of educational standards, they should have immediately and openly invited teachers to engage in the decision making process.
Democratic “Common Standards” Development
The governors could have arranged for a teachers congress: Communicate to each state superintendent the desire to discuss the possibility of common standards. Use those Gates millions to pay the expenses of two teachers per state to participate in such a congress. Encourage the state superintendent to select teacher participants who have at least ten years of full time classroom experience and who have been in the classroom full time in the last three years.
No edupreneurs allowed.
Teacher congress membership should be openly publicized in both the individual school districts and on a website expressly devoted to the common standards effort.
The first order of business of the teachers congress would be to decide whether developing a common set of standards is a feasible goal. In our current CCSS ramrodding, teachers were never asked if CCSS was a good idea in the first place.
In deciding whether to proceed with common standards, the teachers congress should take a lesson from Al Shanker, who later denounced his idea for charters once he realized that his idea had been hijacked by privatizers.
Thus, the teachers congress could consider what might be done to preserve the promotion of common standards while guarding against their abuse– including the tying of standards to federal funding and high-stakes testing; the adoption of standards based upon only two signatures (as in the case of the CCSS memorandum of understanding signed by only the governor and state superintendent for RTTT funding), and the potential of education corporations to hijack the standards in order to turn a profit.
Once the teachers congress has carefully considered how safeguard against abuse of the common standards (a major task), then the congress should consider the process for developing a common set of standards and what teachers should advise at specific points in the process.
Attempting to devise the full set of standards at once is poor planning.
A set of common standards should be developed and piloted systematically such that the problems associated with the standards for one grade level are sufficiently addressed before attempting to build by adding standards for the next grade level.
In order to do this well, the standards developmental process takes time.
The teachers congress should decide upon which subjects to focus initial development (this could be restricted to one or two subjects) and the timeline for development (including drafting and piloting).
Funding considerations for drafting and piloting should also be addressed. (Sure would be nice if those Gates millions were available for this carefully-planned, democratic endeavor. However, Gates and other philanthropies must agree to surrender the cash while remaining outside of the process.)
The teachers congress could then report back to the respective states in order to publicize their decisions and to compose the teacher work groups who would draft the first standards (for example, one group for kindergarten math, and one, for kindergarten English Language Arts).
Teachers involved in the work groups should have the same teaching experience as was required of the members of the teachers congress. Moreover, work group members should have at least five years of full time teaching experience in the grade level and subject pertinent to the standards they are creating.
Work group membership should be openly publicized in the same manner as the teachers congress.
Standards experts should be available to advise the work groups. However, the teachers should retain final decision-making power regarding the standards.
Districts across the nation could be randomly selected for piloting; those that choose to accept should be presented with clear description of what to expect, including timelines to begin and conclude piloting.
Piloting districts must also retain the freedom to discontinue piloting at any time– especially if implementing the standards is producing detrimental effects.
Piloting results should be publicized in the same manner as work group membership.
Once a given grade level-subject area has its standards established following the writing-piloting-revision-retesting process, states could then be invited to utilize the standards, but only via consent of the individual school districts.
Standards drafts should be openly publicized in the same manner as work group membership.
Districts should not be fiscally coerced into standard adoption. However, the state should offer financial support to assist with standards implementation.
Funding for standards implementation should not be garnered at the expense of other educational programs.
The districts should offer a means for teachers to communicate feedback regarding standards implementation– a website or some other commenting forum that is monitored such that fine-tuning is addressed at the district level.
It is unrealistic to believe that common standards will not require some district- (or even school-) level adjustment.
If there is no standardized test attached to the standards, then such necessary fine-tuning is possible.
Attaching standardized tests to common standards precludes any adjustment. One size must fit all if one grade/subject-level standardized test is given to all students across states.
“One size fits all” is poor educational practice. Doing so in order to serve testing companies is obscene.
A Closing Word
This is my vision for the democratic development of a common set of standards.
It looks nothing like what actually happened in our very non-democratic, top-down, manufactured, edupreneur-favoring, cosmetic-teacher-involvement CCSS development.
Sure would be nice if we could change that.
It is very important to privatizing interests to promote the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). After all, there is a lot of money to be made in attendant curriculum development, and assessments, and data collection.
Of course, those pushing CCSS cannot state as much directly. So, they offer lies, such as CCSS’s preparing students for future employment that will surely require college, or that the entire spectrum of reforms– CCSS included– are necessary “to fully support student learning.”
CCSS proponents are also keen on another vehicle for CCSS promotion: the survey.
The Survey as a CCSS Propaganda Vehicle
Propaganda is necessary in order to promote the image of stakeholder buy-in to CCSS. What better “proof” of CCSS acceptance than a survey demonstrating that an “overwhelming” proportion of teachers embraces CCSS with open arms?
I have examined the results of three such surveys. First was the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) survey and its massaged reporting of “overwhelming” teacher support for CCSS. Then came the National Education Association’s (NEA) similarly slanted massage in proclaiming that its members “strongly support” CCSS. Finally comes the carefully fashioned ”early release” of the Gates/Scholastic survey, which allows for CCSS to “be positive for most students.” Just leave the stragglers behind.
Now, I offer you a survey specific to Louisiana: The freshly released carefully-shaped Stand for Children (SFC) Louisiana survey on CCSS implementation. However, SFC is careful in its proclamation to not state that Louisiana teachers “overwhelmingly support” CCSS.
What Is “Stand for Children”?
SFC is a well-financed, national organization known for inserting itself into local and state elections in order to support candidates friendly to corporate reform. SFC founder Jonah Edelman actually bragged publicly about his work in attempting to cripple the Chicago Teachers Union. SFC is anti-union. It wishes to strip classroom teachers of their bargaining rights. As education historian Diane Ravitch writes,
No one knows for sure when Stand for Children abandoned its original mission of advocating for public schools and seeking more equitable funding.
But by 2011, Stand for Children had become a handmaiden of the hedge fund managers and super-rich, promoting their agenda of privatization. Its founder, Jonah Edelman, boasted at the Aspen Ideas Festival of how he had outsmarted the teachers’ unions and had bought up the best lobbyists. He worked with like-minded legislators in Illinois to pass legislation to take away teachers’ job protections. The legislation said that the Chicago Teachers Union would need a 75% approval to strike, and Edelman was certain this would never happen.
He sat side by side with an equity investor from Chicago as he boasted of his triumph in crushing the teachers of Illinois, especially those in Chicago.
It cost millions to achieve this “victory,” and he had no trouble raising the millions.
Stand for Children, with no roots in Massachusetts, went there to bully the teachers’ union with the threat of a ballot initiative to strip them of hard-won rights, so the union conceded to avoid an expensive election battle.
Flush with cash from equity investors, Stand is now operating in many states. It still pretends to be “for the children,” but it uses its money to attack their teachers. It still pretends to be a supporter of better education, but cannot explain how to get better education if teachers are treated as at-will employees, lacking any academic freedom or collective voice.
Many of its former supporters now refer to Stand for Children with a different name: They call it Stand On Children.
Since 2005, SFC has taken over $10 million in Gates money. Just over $1 million is specifically earmarked for Louisiana in 2013.
Where there are survey results proclaiming teacher endorsement of CCSS, there also is the Gates wallet.
SFC Survey: Teachers Are Doing Just Fine with CCSS
In publicizing its “favorable” CCSS results, consider what the SFC press release is actually reporting:
Stand for Children Louisiana released a new report this week proving that implementation of Louisiana’s Common Core State Standards is well underway and that teachers overwhelmingly feel prepared to teach the higher standards. More than 600 Louisiana public school teachers participated in a survey conducted by Stand for Children providing information related to their knowledge and use of the standards.
Highlights of the survey include:
- Over 90% of respondents felt like they had some or comprehensive knowledge of the Common Core.
- Ninety-three percent of teachers reported that they had already incorporated the standards into their instruction to some degree.
- Over 70% of respondents believe that the Common Core State Standards are more demanding and raise expectations for students and teachers. [Emphasis added.]
Notice the jump in logic from “overwhelmingly feel prepared to teach” and the evidence that “over 90% of respondents felt like they had some or comprehensive knowledge of the Common Core.” (Lumping “some” and “comprehensive” together is a convenient means of not disclosing exact percentages while allowing for the word “comprehensive” to be associated with the only number reported: 90%.)
In SFC language, “some or comprehensive knowledge” of CCSS must equal ”overwhelmingly feel prepared.”
The fact that many teachers are using CCSS is a no-brainer: We are required to do so. Governor Bobby Jindal and former State Superintendent Paul Pastorek signed a contract in January 2010 with the US Department of Education agreeing that Louisiana teachers would “be state led” and use CCSS– which, by the way, the non-classroom-teacher CCSS inner circle had not yet finished writing.
As for respondents “feeling like they have some knowledge of CCSS”: This, too, is a no-brainer. In fact, State Superintendent John White moved full implementation of CCSS ahead by a year– from 2014-15 to this year, 2013-14. In its resolution for a three-year “hold harmless” period regarding any negative consequences due to CCSS, St. Martin Parish details the rush job White imposed upon districts across the state– and that without sufficient warning of Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) assistance:
WHEREAS, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) initially committed to provide a Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum (LCC) and to fully implement CCSS for the 2014-2015 school year; and
WHEREAS, the members of the St. Martin Parish School Board recognized the phase-in of the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) through a “Transitional Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum” for grades 3-12 for the 2013-2014 school year, and full implementation of CCSS for the 2014-2015 school year; and
WHEREAS, the LDOE made major, significant modifications to the plan by reneging on its commitment to provide a new LCC and by ordering full implementation of CCSS for the 2013-2014 school year; and
WHEREAS, the LDOE failed to adequately communicate these drastic changes to school districts in sufficient time for each district or teacher to write their own curriculum and to prepare for full implementation of CCSS in the 2013-2014 school year; and
WHEREAS, the members of the St. Martin Parish School Board have expressed serious concerns regarding the sudden shift to full implementation of the CCSS from LDOE for the 2013-2014 school year and LDOE’s refusal to provide a new LCC…. [Emphasis added.]
Louisiana teachers know about CCSS because they were blindsided by full implementation a year ahead of schedule– and with virtually no warning.
I found out in July during my school’s English II summer planning meeting. I learned then that our curriculum director was having to throw together a curriculum in a hurry and that teachers would be receiving it piecemeal.
So, yes, SFC: As a classroom teacher, I do have “some knowledge” of CCSS in tailspin fashion.
As for “70% of respondents” believing that CCSS is ”more demanding and raises expectations”: This is not necessarily a positive finding. I can be “more demanding and raise expectations” in a moment with my students. If I do so without carefully (and expertly) considering what constitutes a reasonable demand, I can damage them.
SFC Survey: The Sample
SFC offers a report of select survey findings. The report includes no link to the complete survey results. It does, however, include a link to the LDOE website for more information on CCSS.
In this age of computer ease, there is no (honest) reason for SFC to withhold the comprehensive survey result by not linking to it.
In its 12-04-13 press release, SFC advertises, “More than 600 Louisiana teachers participated….” Not sure if teachers were randomly selected. Given that Louisiana has 64 parishes, a sample of 600 teachers yields an average of fewer than 10 teachers surveyed per parish. Given that CCSS is being differentially implemented in parishes across the state, a sample stratified by parish would have been a more suitable design. However, the SFC CCSS survey misleads readers when it reports “over 600 teachers” as sampled, for SFC conducted its survey in two “phases”: The first was the “online phase” in which 319 teachers participated, and the second, a “phone phase” involving 330 teachers. (The “phone phase” actually occurred first, in October 2013.)
So, to be clear: SFC did not conduct a single survey with 600+ Louisiana teachers. It conducted two surveys of 300+ teachers.
That averages out to five teachers per parish per survey.
Phase One: Online Survey
What SFC offers to readers as “survey results” is nothing more than a colorful brochure of incompletely reported survey information. For example, SFC offers “examples of survey questions” without providing the complete question, including all possible answer choices. This is important to report, as responses can be shaped by the answer choices.
Teachers Like CCSS!
SFC reports that “most educators like the standards themselves.” That “themselves” sure catches my eye, for it is a limiter that indicates some reservation. It sure would be nice to read the actual question, which is proper survey reporting protocol and is ignored in this “survey.”
Later in its reporting, SFC clarifies the “themselves.” Stay tuned.
Another question (or perhaps the same question– who knows?) produced the outcome of “over 50% of respondents agree[ing] with Louisiana’s adoption of Common Core [and] giving a variety of reasons for their support.” First, consider the “over 50%.” How far “over”?
What proportion of that “over 50%” actually teaches English Language Arts (ELA) or math– the two subjects overtaken by CCSS? This is a crucial question, for CCSS chiefly affects teachers of these two subjects. Thus, the opinions of teachers of other subjects are on the CCSS periphery.
The only information SFC offers about subjects taught is this vague statement about their 319 teachers in general:
Over a third of the teachers surveyed teach all subjects, with the rest distributed throughout English Language Arts, math, science, social studies, and specialized electives and programs.
This is incredibly poor survey reporting.
What is this report’s third graph looks like one for a forced-choice item. If it is, there is no way for respondents to disagree. If this graphic is a follow-up question to the “over 50%” of teachers who “agree” with Louisiana’s CCSS adoption, then the percentages are from approximately 160 teachers.
Who really knows?
CCSS for “Most Students”
The statement atop the graph is, “The CCSS benefit most students because they will/are…”
The Gates/Scholastic survey included a question about CCSS benefit to “most students.” Here is my response in that situation. It eerily fits here, as well:
Another “sleight of survey” is on page 5. The problem is with the question:
Do you think the CCSS will be positive for most students, will they not make much of a difference for most students, or will they be negative for most students? [Emphasis added.]
I’m sorry. Are we “leaving children behind” now?
Isn’t the broadcasted CCSS goal to “make all students college and career ready”?
Substituting the word most in place of the CCSS-promoter-declared all is a public admission that CCSS is not suited for all students, after all.
Plus, teachers are a lot less likely to answer positively to this question if asked about “all students” as opposed to “most students.”
As it is, with the term most in the question, just over half (57%) of teachers responded that CCSS would be positive for “most” students.
I wonder: How many teachers who answered “positive” envisioned certain students falling through the CCSS cracks? I know I did in reading this question tonight.
Same game, different survey.
And here is where SFC offers more information regarding teacher support for “the standards themselves”:
In other words, there is support among teachers for the standards themselves but concern about how students will respond to the standards. About one quarter of teachers surveyed are also worried that the standards will not “fit” for students who are behind grade level or otherwise have different educational needs. Despite this, over 78% of teachers believe that their understanding of effective practices to teach the CCSS will help them to differentiate instruction for students based on students’ needs. [Emphasis added.]
Frankly, “differentiating instruction” will not matter if the stated Duncan/governor intention of ultimately preserving the connection between CCSS and assessments is retained– no matter how many years such a connection might be “delayed.” In the end, both teacher and student will be graded by the CCSS assessments.
CCSS and the Feds
Despite the RTTT-CCSS connection, and despite Duncan’s involvement in promoting CCSS (see previous link), the SFC survey offers this obviously-placed “result”:
…75% of teacher respondents recognize that the standards are not a federal initiative.
The word “recognize” shows SFC’s bias in promoting USDOE separation from a reform to which they have already tied federal funding.
Even SFC itself is tied to the White House via its funders.
Now there’s reason for pause.
Trusting LDOE (?)
The fourth graph indicates that approximately 70% of the 319 teachers “trust” the LDOE website for CCSS information.
Trusting LDOE as a CCSS resource is akin to Patty Hearst ”trusting” her kidnappers. She was stuck, and so are Louisiana teachers. As the St. Martin Parish resolution demonstrates, John White has not followed through on the LDOE CCSS timeline, and he has not followed through on providing a curriculum. Furthermore, CCSS materials on the LDOE website are suspect for their content.
We Gotta Do Better on NAEP!
At the end of this first “phase” of the survey, SFC refers to trying to compare “proficient” on iLEAP/LEAP to proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and finding Louisiana wanting.
The term “proficient” on NEAP is A-level work. There is no comparing NAEP “proficiency” with iLEAP/LEAP. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to set CCSS assessment passing cutoff scores in accordance with NAEP. The result was a cruel mess, as Ravitch reports:
Any state that uses NAEP “proficient” as its definition of “grade level” is making a huge mistake; it will set the bar unreasonably high and will mislabel many students and misjudge the quality of many schools.
And that is exactly what happened in the New York testing fiasco.
Let me remind readers once again: The USDOE/NGA intention is to keep CCSS tied to assessment. CCSS assessment “delay” is not CCSS assessment cancellation.
Phase Two: Phone Survey
For this second survey, SFC surveyed 330 teachers by phone. They represented 55 parishes. Again, details are lacking. In this section, SFC refers to a “snapshot” of respondents contacted “a few months” after first survey; 78% of this “snapshot” “felt they were prepared to teach the common core.”
Were these 78% actually going to have to teach CCSS? Were they math or ELA teachers? And how many teachers are in a “snapshot”?
Again, incredibly substandard reporting.
The phone survey includes this graphic regarding CCSS support by grade level. It is a case study in misleading graphs:
This is a graph of teacher CCSS “support.” Not sure what “support” means since neither operationalizing of the term nor specific question details are included. “Support” could include “somewhat support”– support with reservation. This was a reporting issue in both the AFT and NEA CCSS surveys. In this SFC survey, we simply do not know.
If the grade-level categories are “check all that apply” as they were for the first part of the survey, then this graph includes duplicate information, which confounds the results.
But it does lend to the air of confusion that corporate reform tends to intentionally promote in the reporting of numeric results.
Notice that the graph includes two sets of bars. However, one set– the blue set– is longer and therefore more obvious than the shorter red bars. Thus, the graph lends itself to the misleading impression of scores of teachers “liking” CCSS. However, one must remember that this graph represents only 330 Louisiana teachers. Furthermore, one must read the red bars (percentage of teachers surveyed per grade level) in order to put the much-longer blue bars into perspective. For example, 100% of twelfth-grade teachers “support” CCSS. That sure sounds impressive– until one considers that approximately one or two percent of the sample was comprised of twelfth-grade teachers.
Two percent of 330 equals seven teachers.
The result is similar for eighth-grade teachers– long blue bar and really short red bar. So, approximately 62% of eighth-grade teachers “support” CCSS. Not as impressive as 100% of twelfth-grade teachers, but the eighth-grade teacher results still looks impressive for its relatively long blue bar. It is not as effective to read “62% of eighth-grade teachers support CCSS” and even less impressive when one considers that perhaps only 3% of the 330 teachers surveyed reported teaching eighth grade– or ten teachers.
Now take 62% of ten teachers: seven teachers. (Round up when considering people.)
Suddenly, this graph is not so impressive.
CCSS is not such a fantastic sell among Louisiana teachers.
“Suspended” Testing Is Still Testing
In its survey report conclusion, SFC appears to offer a kindness to Louisiana teachers by “suggesting” suspension of VAM consequences and ”gradual raising of the student assessment bar.” How amazing that White already declared his intention to promote these very “concessions”! And his rubber-stamp state board (BESE) approved his suggestion.
The PARCC-COMPASS delay is a temporary concession from those who will not feel the brunt of CCSS or its assessments. I especially enjoyed reading this excerpt on the matter:
But White reiterated “in 2016, we expect our schools to be ready.”
Leslie Jacobs, a former state and local school board member who is considered the mother of the state’s school accountability system, said she wasn’t surprised by White’s announcement. [Link inserted.]
The testing is not gone, folks. SFC and White are both engaged in a game of strategy: Let the teachers think that they have gained something. White still plans to administer PARCC– which means the test developers still get their money– a hefty price tag at $29.50 per assessment. Furthermore, when Act 1 goes back to court (last I heard was December 20), White can appear to be negotiating– he has agreed to suspend COMPASS consequences.
You better believe White will have other onerous plans to substitute for both COMPASS and PARCC suspension.
As for PARCC and COMPASS: The high-stakes consequences are not gone. They are only delayed.
The Timeliness of the SFC Survey
CCSS unrest is evident in Louisiana. My district, St. Tammany Parish, drafted the state’s first district anti-CCSS resolution. Washington Parish followed suit. St. Martin Parish called out White for his reneging on the proposed CCSS timeline. Finally, Republican Representative Cameron Henry plans to file anti-CCSS legislation for the 2014 legislative session.
Time for some “Louisiana teachers like CCSS” propaganda.
Never mind that the well-financed SFC agenda is anti-teacher.
Never mind that its goal is to remove teacher job security and transform the teaching profession into “at will” employment.
And if promoting CCSS serves to line the pockets of the “top-downers” outside of the public school classroom, why, that’s right up SFC’s alley.
On December 2, 2013, I wrote a post about the role of the governor- and business-run nonprofit, Achieve, Inc., in the creation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In my post I also discuss Achieve connections to (now designated) “founding partner” of Student Achievement Partners, Sue Pimentel, and I refer to the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) for English Language Arts (ELA) and math– the supposed “anchors” of CCSS.
My Achieve post includes much information that has received little publicity on the manufacture of CCSS.
CCSS ELA Validation Committee member Sandra Stotsky read my post and and added the following information in the comments. Since this additional information has also received next to no publicity, I wish to post Stotsky’s comment as its own post, for all to easily read.
Deutsch29 has produced an excellent piece of work. Let me add a few more details and areas for further inquiry. First, during 2007-2008, Sue Pimentel and I worked together in producing the TX 2008 ELA standards. At the time, she was working under a contract for Barbara Davidson of StandardsWork, the organization that held the contract with the TX BoE (as I understood it). I received a consulting fee from StandardsWork (I no longer recall for how much) for working with Sue, who had insisted she could not do the job without my help. I had been part of the ELA advisory committee working on Achieve’s high school exit standards for ELA in 2003-2004. She more or less moderated the group. I would not refer to her as the author. I was among the chief contributors to this set of standards (Mark Bauerlein was on this committee, too, by the way, as was Sheila Byrd (Carmichael)). I continued helping with the final editing until the very end. Sue was very limited in what she could do since she had no teaching experience in K-12 and to this day has never taught literature (a lack of experience similarly plaguing David Coleman, who also doesn’t understand the K-12 ELA curriculum or the reading research for K-6).
In order to understand why CCSSI couldn’t rely on Achieve’s math standards (and put Zimba, McCallum, and Daro in charge of writing up a different version through the grades), one needs to look at its Algebra II test standards developed several years later. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel (2008) looked at the content of this test, comparing it to several other sets of high school algebra standards/objectives. This comparison can be seen in the Task Group Report on Conceptual Knowledge and Skills, still on the USED website. (Go to NMAP report first.) These Algebra II test standards were a reasonably tough core and about 13 states at the time piloted them. Most kids who took it flunked. CCSSI wasn’t interested in a real Algebra II set of standards. Read Milgram’s account for what happened after he saw, in 2009 (as a member of the Validation Committee) the first draft of the grade-level math standards–ending up with about Algebra I as the end of high school math (plus some electives).
In my opinion, Achieve was bought out by Gates (and given a big role in the CCSSI) because there were other forces (allied to Gates–bring in Marc Tucker here, possibly) who didn’t want a real Algebra II set of assessment standards or any preparation for STEM in the CCSSI standards. That story has yet to be flushed out.
Let the “flushing” continue.
AN ADDITIONAL COMMENT FROM STOTSKY (12-03):
Here is the link to that National Mathematics Advisory Panel task group report.
See pp. 26 on to understand why Achieve’s Algebra II test standards/topics were
not wanted by the forces that took control behind the scenes of Common Core’s
math standards. The latter wanted nothing to do with what the NMAP had
indicated were the major topics of high school algebra. The two math standards
writers with Ph.D.s went along, it seems, even though they obviously knew
The professional/ethical issue is not putting standards for these topics for
advanced math coursework leading to STEM in a document purporting to be a set of
math standards for K-12. The two Ph.D.s had to have known they were crippling
not only advanced math courses in high school, but also advanced science
courses. Why did they willingly go along and let their names be used for a set
of K-12 math standards that crippled preparation for a STEM career?
I hesitate to publicly confess that I find reading tax forms interesting, but it is true– especially as concerns the many nonprofits that are imposing their wills upon the American classroom. The IRS 990 offers much information on a nonprofit in a concise format, not the least of which are a nonprofit’s salaried individuals, board members, primary expenses, donors, and solvency.
I have written a number of posts related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In this post, I examine a key organization in the creation of CCSS: Achieve, Inc. Whereas my reading Achieve’s tax documents served as the launch for this post, it certainly did not stop there.
Allow me to show you.
According to its website, Achieve, Inc., was founded in 1996 “by leading governors and business leaders.” The effort was well financed, with Achieve registering $2 million in total assets in 1997. By 2001, Achieve’s total assets increased to $9.4 million.
Note that the presence of “leading governors” on the Achieve, Inc., board allows one to call Achieve a “state-led” organization.
By the same token, one might also call Achieve a “business-led” organization since its board is also comprised of “business leaders.” However, calling Achieve “business-led” is not as effective a term as “state-led” for the promotion of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
In 2001, the Achieve board of directors included six governors and CEOs of six corporations.
All six corporations were connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group now known for its model legislation in favor of the privatization of public education and its decision to reverse its anti-CCSS stance.
Yep. It certainly serves pro-CCSS purposes to conceal the “business-led” element of the governor-CEO, Achieve hybrid.
Why, Achieve is nothing more than a little ALEC: Half electeds, half privatizers with the money to influence electeds.
Furthermore, “state led” is a manufactured term designed to falsely connote the “grass roots emergence” of CCSS.
CCSS is anything but.
Achieve and Its “Common Benchmarks”
In 1998, Achieve began benchmarking standards; in 2001, it joined Education Trust, the Fordham Institute, and National Alliance of Business to launch the American Diploma Project (ADP) referenced in the Common Core Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governors and state superintendents signed as part of the Race to the Top (RTTT) application.
According to the Achieve, Inc., website, the purpose of ADP was “to identify the ‘must-have’ knowledge and skills most demanded by higher education and employers.”
It appears that the CCSS skeleton– the ADP benchmarking– was created in 2004, the direct result of a “groundbreaking report” from ADP:
2004: The American Diploma Project releases “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts.” This groundbreaking report – the result of over two years of research – identifies a common core of English and mathematics academic knowledge and skills, or “benchmarks,” that American high school graduates need for success in college and the workforce. Education Week later named “Ready or Not” one of the most 12 influential research studies. [Emphasis added.]
“Over two years of research” might be sufficient to determine a set of benchmarked outcomes for high school graduates; however, such paltry research would be little more than a thrown-together, drive-thru empirical effort upon which to base a comprehensive set of K-12 English and math standards.
Perhaps this is why CCSS Validation Committee Member Sandra Stotsky never could seem to get anyone to produce the “research” upon which CCSS English Language Arts (ELA) is supposedly based. Perhaps the only “research” is that which is connected to ADP.
A methodical research effort for a set of K-12 standards should at least follow a cohort of students through the set of standards in question.
At least thirteen years is needed. Otherwise, one might argue that the research was hastily conducted in order to advance another agenda– such as the ASAP privatization of public education.
So, in 2004, Achieve, Inc., already had a set of ”common expected outcomes for high school graduates.” The CCSS MOU refers to Achieve’s ADP. Thus, the framework for the ”common standards” had already been determined.
Achieve would also be principally involved in translating ADP benchmarks into CCSS standards.
Classroom teachers were not included among those principally involved in the development of ADP benchmarks.
Neither would classroom teachers be among those at the CCSS development table.
Tim Pawlenty: “Leading” Both NGA and Achieve
In June 2008, National Governors Association (NGA) Chair and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty led the National Governors Symposium in North Carolina with former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt. Among its determinations, the Symposium produced the following:
High, rigorous standards are the foundation of a strong education system. Content standards specify the knowledge and skills that students need at each grade level. These standards must be supported by an aligned and clearly articulated system of curriculum, assessments, teacher preparation and professional development, textbook selection and appropriate supports for students.
Also in 2009, Achieve received $20.9 million from the Gates Foundation; $2 million from the Carnegie Foundation, and a combined $2.6 million from five ALEC corporations (GE, Prudential, Nationwide, Lumina, and State Farm).
Pawlenty represents a connection between both NGA and Achieve in this well-financed, “state-led” push for “common standards.” The Achieve website refers to “leading governors.” Pawlenty is apparently one of these.
How few governors does it take to “lead” a democracy right out of its own democratic processes?
The CCSS MOU actually tells the two signators– the governor and state superintendent– that by signing, they are “agreeing to be state led.” Thus, “state led” means, “You will follow the lead of the ‘leading governors and business leaders.’”
And why are these governors and state superintendents signing this CCSS agreement?
For RTTT money– and not nearly enough to implement CCSS.
The Real CCSS Workers vs. The Window Dressing
According to Stotsky, NGA was reluctant to reveal the members of the Standards Work Groups. In July 2009, it did so. The members of the “work” groups chiefly represented three agencies: Achieve, ACT, and College Board:
The initiative is being jointly led by the NGA Center and CCSSO [Council of State School Officers] in partnership with Achieve, Inc, ACT and the College Board. It builds directly on recent efforts of leading organizations and states that have focused on developing college-and career-ready standards and ensures that these standards can be internationally benchmarked to top-performing countries around the world. [Emphasis added.]
CCSS is not a set of standards that were negotiated by stakeholders. CCSS is the modular home of standards; its frame was prefabricated in 2004 by Achieve. The resulting “work groups” add two testing companies to the mix in order to “develop” standards based upon the ADP frame. Thus, CCSS development was chiefly a corporate enterprise. No wonder the reluctance to publicize work group membership.
The July 2009 NGA announcement also includes information on the feedback group membership, and it mentions the validation committee. These two groups are little more than window dressing. In short, it “looks good” for NGA and CCSSO to “involve experts.” However, the “experts” did not develop standards:
The final step in the development of these standards is the creation of an expert Validation Committee comprised of national and international experts on standards. This group will review the process and substance of the common core state standards to ensure they are research and evidence-based and will validate state adoption on the common core standards. Members of the committee will be selected by governors and chiefs of the participating states; nominations are forthcoming. [Emphasis added.]
Recall that Stotsky asked for the ELA research and never received it.
However, she did get the runaround.
An interesting member of the CCSS English Language Arts (ELA) work group is Sue Pimentel. In 2006 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011, Achieve paid Pimentel’s company, Sue Pimentel, Inc., Hanover, NH 03755, for “consulting.” Pimentel’s presence on the CCSS ELA committee and her close relationship with Achieve raise questions about the exact process for selecting work group members (and who did the selecting). Given that Achieve has an established set of “common benchmarks” for framing CCSS dating back to 2004, and given the presence of those “leading governors” on Achieve’s board, one can conclude that there was no objective (much less publicized) means of selecting CCSS work groups.
Pimentel is considered “a chief architect” of Achieve’s ADP benchmarks.
Pimentel’s CCSS presence also provides a bridge between Achieve and the unidentified “partner” on the CCSS work groups: David Coleman’s Student Achievement Partners (SAP).
In this brief Education Nation speech (http://vimeo.com/76725406) on the supposed development of CCSS, Pimentel is introduced as a “founding partner” of SAP, the national-standards-writing company founded by David Coleman and Jason Zimba. Pimentel’s introduction as an SAA ”founding partner” contradicts the information released by the NGA on its work group composition. In that 2009 release, Coleman is identified as SAP “founder,” and Zimba, as SAP “co-founder.” However, Pimentel is identified as being “co-founder” of StudentWorks and associated with Achieve.
The SAP website has recently rewritten its history to include Pimentel and to even overtly state that the three were “lead writers” in CCSS:
Student Achievement Partners was founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core State Standards.
SAP cannot rewrite all of its history and insert Pimentel. Consider this 2011 announcement of a CCSS presentation by Coleman:
David Coleman is founder and CEO of Student Achievement Partners, LLC, an organization that assembles leading thinkers and researchers to design actions to substantially improve student achievement. Most recently, David and Jason Zimba of Student Achievement Partners played a lead role in developing the Common Core State Standards in math and literacy. [Emphasis added.]
No mention of “founding partner” Pimentel, though she was present for CCSS, and in a “lead role” as a CCSS ELA work group member– with her affiliation listed is as “co-founder” of StandardsWork and as an ELA consultant with Achieve.
The Pimentel-SAP connection is also absent from this 2011 GE Foundation bio:
…Susan now works closely with fellow authors of the Common Core Standards David Coleman and Jason Zimba of Student Achievement Partners in supporting the faithful implementation of the Common Core.
Before her work as a lead writer of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy, Susan was a chief architect of the American Diploma Project Benchmarks designed to close the gap between high school demands and postsecondary expectations. Since 2007, Susan has served on the National Assessment Governing Board, an independent, bipartisan board that sets policy for the national assessment. In addition to several articles, Susan is co-author with Denis P. Doyle of the best-selling book and CD-ROM, Raising the Standard: An Eight-Step Action Guide For Schools and Communities. [Emphasis added.]
Again, no mention of Pimentel as a 2007 founding partner of SSP.
However, as previously noted, she was a “chief architect” of the ADP benchmarks– yet another place where classroom teachers were not.
Back to Pimentel and SAP:
Why alter history to include Pimentel as an SAP “founding partner”? Why not just state that she was with Achieve and later joined SAP?
I believe it is to give a female face a founding leadership role to a predominately-male-led CCSS effort. I think that declaring Pimentel as being associated with SAP is an effort to legitimize SAP’s (NGA-undeclared) place at the CCSS table. Pimentel is a female speaking to an audience from a profession that is primarily female, and that is good public relations for selling the CCSS product.
2011, Sue Pimentel, and Student Achievement Partners
In examining Pimentel’s consulting history with Achieve, I noticed that Pimentel is not listed as a consultant on Achieve’s 2010 990 (classed by the IRS as 2011 for tax year 07-01-10 to 06-30-11).
That same year, SAP “became” a nonprofit and filed a 990– in order to process a $4 million grant from the GE Foundation– the purpose of which is (of course) the advancement of CCSS:
Student Achievement Partners work is designed to ensure successful implementation of the Common Core Standards in classrooms across the country. Student Achievement Partners will work closely with teachers to develop tools that will help them be more effective. Student Achievement Partners will make all resources available at no cost to educators at our website: achievethecore.org.
“Tools” and “resources” are carefully chosen words. Sure sounds like SAP is offering the only missing piece in the standards–>curriculum–>assessment process that the NGA declared to be its full intention in June 2008: curriculum “assistance.”
And GE is willing to foot the bill so that SAP can offer this “help” for free.
(In 2011, SAP actually filed the 990 twice: Once on 01/17/13, with Amy Briggs listed as COO, and a second time, on 02/01/13, with Celeste Hogan listed as CFO. It appears that the second filing was necessary since Briggs neglected to sign the last page of the return.)
Pimentel’s Education Nation Speech
Throughout her Education Nation speech (http://vimeo.com/76725406), Pimentel refers to a standards-writing ”we” whom she defines as six individuals, three in ELA and three in math. She continues by saying that these six individuals had advisory groups and that in the end, 48 states had “state teams of teachers” involved in CCSS. Pimentel attempts to paint a picture of teachers nationwide coming together and exercising meaningful influence over CCSS development, but this directly contradicts the CCSS MOU and the designation of Coleman, Zimba, and Pimentel as CCSS “lead writers.”
Pimentel insists that teachers were consulted and heard in the development of CCSS. However, any teachers involved in CCSS were clearly on the fringes of the CCSS process. Teachers could form state groups and advise all that they wanted. So what? Is this “48-state teacher ‘involvement’” supposed to somehow offset the inner-circle influence of NGA, Achieve, SAP, College Board, and ACT upon CCSS?
Coleman, Zimba, and Pimentel are clearly three of the six CCSS ”chief architects.” All three are supposedly “founding partners” of a national-standards-writing company offering a set of inflexible standards licensed by NGA and CCSSO and tied to corporately-created, high-stakes tests.
Whatever Happened to Those CCSS Math “Anchors”?
In her Education Nation speech, Pimentel refers to a deadline of November 2009 to produce standards, and she notes that these standards were poorly received. Based upon this timeline, she must have been referring to the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS)– a smaller set of standards supposed to “anchor” the larger CCSS.
The anchors were supposed to precede CCSS– in order to “anchor” CCSS. However, CCSS math has no anchors on the CCSS website.
It’s as though CCRS for math never happened.
In contrast, the CCSS website does include ELA anchors. However, the ELA anchors were not offered to the public for review.
So. The CCRS (anchors) for math were publicized and found wanting. Therefore, they were simply abandoned. End of discussion and lesson learned by the CCSS “lead architects”: No public comments allowed for the ELA anchors. Just post them.
Bringing It to a Close
The contents of this post reinforce the reality that CCSS is the result of a few attempting to impose a manufactured standardization onto the American classroom. At the heart of CCSS are a handful of governors, millions in philanthropic and corporate dollars, and a few well-positioned education entrepreneurs handed the impressive title of “lead architect.” The democratic process is allowed entrance into this exclusive club, but only for show. The place for democracy in CCSS development is standing room only, and that near the exit.
Fortunately, democracy gets edgy when relegated to the cheap seats. Achieve, NGA, Pimentel, Pawlenty, and other CCSS peddlers might deliver their best sales pitches; however, the truth is that CCSS is in trouble in statehouses and boardrooms across the country.
Future generations of educators will study CCSS as a colossal education blunder.
Names like Achieve, NGA, and SAP will be forever connected to the CCSS humiliation.
Since 2006, Eva Moskowitz has been running a small charter empire that has at least $50 million in government per-pupil funding, at least $30.9 million in total, end-of-year assets, and the support of hedge fund millionaires. Why is it, then, that her Success Academies have never paid a dime in rent for the public school space occupied by her charter schools?
Recently-elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to put an end to the rent-free usage of public school space by charter schools.
She closed her 22 schools on October 8, 2013, so that her students could “volunteer” to protest.
Public schools do not close in order to have public school students engage in protests– and this protest coincided with the political agenda of Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota, who just happened to attend.
Moskowitz is playing both sides of the public-private hybrid that is the Success Academy charter school. Her schools are “public” when it benefits her schools to be so, and they are “privately managed charters” when that is title is convenient (as in her closing school in order to have her students “protest” in favor of a mayoral candidate).
Not only does Moskowitz believe that she has a right to squat rent-free in the very buildings of schools she intends to replace; Moskowitz also believes that she is above having to undergo a state audit– an audit that would likely reveal additional details in support of the obscenity that is the Success Academy Rent-free Ride.
In July 2013, Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz sued New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and his office for DiNapoli’s attempts to audit Moskowitz’s charter network. Moskowitz believes that submitting annual reports to the New York State Board of Regents is enough.
Back to that “over $50 million”: In 2011, nine of Moskowitz’s schools received a total of over $50.5 million in per-pupil, public funding.
Wonder what else a state audit of the Success Academy empire would reveal.
It is beyond time for Moskowitz’s rent-free ride to be over. To that end, I would like to highlight certain information from Success Academy (SA) tax documents. The most recent filings were completed in May 2013, in the form of several 2011 990s. I also include discussion of other 990s of note.
I am not the New York State comptroller; however, this much is true:
“Free-ride” Moskowitz can certainly afford to pay rent.
And now, for an illuminating journey into the world of SA’s tax forms.
Harlem Success Academies 1 - 5
Harlem Success Academy (HSA) was Moskowitz’s first charter. Tax information for HSA is available from 2006 to 2012 (filed for 2005 to 2011). Interestingly, the IRS reported contact for Harlem Success Academy is the hedge fund, Luxor Capital Group.
On its most recent 990 (for 2011, filed 05-23-13), HSA reports total assets of over $6.7 million. Included is “gov’t per pupil revenue” of $10,995,165 for “approximately 733″ K-6 students– which equals $15,000 per student. HSA also received $328,534 in “government grants.”
Conspicuously absent from among its expenditures is any disbursement for land or buildings. Also, HSA included no report of the value of any “donated services or use of facilities.” HSA did report the book value for “lease improvements, equipment, and other” as a mere $501,449. (HSA seriously depreciated its equipment, from the cost of $771,175, to the depreciated, “book value” of $135,794). Also, in a convenient arrangement for Moskowitz, HSA paid Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc., $901,931 for “management.”
Moskowitz also has Harlem Success Academies 2 through 5. Eighteen 990s for these four schools can be found here. These include five for HSA 2 (2008-2012); five for HSA 3 (2008-2012); five for HSA 4 (2008-2012), and three for HSA 5 (2010-2012).
The primary IRS contact for HSA 2, 4 and 5 is the Success Charter Network. However, the primary IRS contact for HSA 3 is Eva Moskowitz.
As indicated in the most recent filings for HSA 2 through 5 (2012, filed for 2011), the combined total assets for these four schools is $16.8 million. The four schools serve approximately 1864 students.
According to 2011 IRS 990s, these four HSA schools paid Moskowitz’s charter management company over $2.2 million. Add to that the 2011 IRS 990 reported fee from the first HSA, and Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc., and the total rises to over $3.1 million.
None of the five schools own land or buildings. None of the five schools pay rent.
For a summary of select 2011 990 details on HSA 1 through 5, including links to the individual tax documents, click here.
Bronx Success Academies 1 – 3
Moskowitz also has three schools in the Bronx. The third just opened in 2013, so it has no tax information yet available. The remaining two, Bronx 1 and 2, each have three 990s for 2010 -2012 (for 2009 through 2011). The two schools have combined total assets just shy of $4.8 million and serve approximately 491 students.
In 2012, Bronx 1 and 2 paid a combined total of $517,075 in management fees to Moskowitz’s charter management company. And just like the five HSA schools, these two Bronx schools paid nothing for the property on which they operate.
For a summary of select 2011 990 details on Bronx 1 and 2, including links to the individual tax documents, click here.
The Brooklyn Success Academies
The SA website lists eight of its charters as being located in Brooklyn. Two do not yet exist (Bensonhurst and Bergen Beach). Three opened in 2013 (Crown Heights, Fort Greene, and Prospect Heights); so, 990s on these schools have not yet been filed. Of the remaining four SA Brooklyn schools, three opened in 2012 (Bed-Stuy 2, Cobble Hill, and Williamsburg) which means that these schools were not in operation when the 2011 990s were filed. Thus, there is no information on the 2011 990s regarding per pupil funding (and no management charges) since the schools were inoperative.
Only one Brooklyn SA school was in full operation in 2011: Bed-Stuy 1, with total assets of $754,656 and government per pupil revenue of $2,441,480 for 169 students ($14,447 per student). Bed-Stuy 1 paid Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc. $122,078 in management fees.
Even though three of the four Brooklyn SA schools with 2011 990s were not in full operation, they did exist, and none of the four is on property owned or rented by Moskowitz. Furthermore, all of the schools have the same address listed on the 990s: 310 Lenox Avenue– same as that “management company” to which the schools pay fees– Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc.
For a summary of select 2011 990 details on Brooklyn 1 through 4, including links to the individual tax documents, click here.
The Remaining Manhattan Schools
Aside from the five HSA schools previously examined, Moskowitz lists eight additional schools on the SA website. One does not yet exist (City Hall); five opened in 2013 and therefore have no filed tax forms (Hell’s Kitchen, Union Square, Harlem Central, Harlem East, and Harlem North Central). That leaves Upper West, with tax information available for 2010 and 2011, and Harlem West.
I could locate no 990s for Harlem West. The school opened in 2012 as a full middle school (grades 5 through 8), unusual for a Moskowitz charter (she tends to build her schools one year at a time).
As for Upper West: It opened in 2011 and has total assets of $543,395 based on its 2011 990. Upper West has approximately 162 students and reports government per pupil funding at $2,314,821, or $14,289 funding per student. In 2011 the school also received an additional $511,910 in government grants. Success Academies Charter Schools, Inc., collected $113,234 in management fees from Upper West in 2011.
Of course, Moskowitz owns neither land nor building for Upper West. She pays no rent. The book value of her contribution to Upper West (lease improvements, equipment, and “other”) was $335,324.
In an unusual turn, Moskowitz acknowledges on the 2011 Upper West 990 that “donated services and use of facilities” should be accounted for. In the case of Upper West in 2011, the determined sum was $804,194.
What is suspect is that the sum of $804,194 as “donated services and use of facilities” is recorded in both the “revenue” and “expense” sections on page 23 of the 2011 990. Is Upper West using donated facilities and then “re-donating” them?
Additional Information Worthy of Note
The 2011 Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc., 990 notes that Success Charter Network, Inc., is the former name for Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc.– the charter management organization of which Moskowitz is CEO.
Based upon the twelve 2011 SA 990s I examined in writing this post, all operative SA schools pay charter management fees to Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc. (As CEO, Moskowitz drew ”compensation” just shy of half a million in 2011: $487,708.)
The chair of Moskowitz’s charter management nonprofit, Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc., is Joel Greenblatt, a hedge fund manager. Co-chair John Petry is also a hedge fund manager; both he an Greenblatt are partners at Gotham Capital. Vice-chair Gideon Stein founded a company that sells a “Common-Core-aligned, tablet-based literacy solution for K-12.” Trustee Richard Pzena is a hedge fund manager. Trustee David Greenspan is a hedge fund manager. Trustee Jim Peyser is a managing partner for New Schools Venture Fund. Trustee Yen Liow is “a former hedge fund sector head.”
And it isn’t just this board. Hedge fund managers are present on the boards of Moskowitz’s schools. Here are a few examples: Petry chairs the board of HSA. Greenblatt co-chairs the board of HSA 3, and Stein sits on the board of HSA 5. Furthermore, hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb is listed as board chairman of Brooklyn SA schools 2, 3, and 4. Finally, recall that Luxor Capital is the contact for Moskowitz’s first charter, HSA.
There’s more: Over half ($258,750) of Eva Moskowitz’s 2011 487,703 compensation was paid by the MRM Foundation, which happens to be run by Success Academies Charter Schools, Inc., chair and hedge fund manager Joel Greenblatt. An explanation on the Success 2011 990 states,
Officer Eva Moskowitz was compensated $258,750 by MRM Foundation, Inc. for services rendered within her capacity as an officer of Success Academy Charter Schools.
On that same Success 2011 990, Moskowitz is identified as the CEO and as working 60 hours per week.
Oddly enough, the MRM 2011 990 actually reports that Moskowitz worked 40 hours per week as “admin” and was compensated $367,500.
So… Moskowitz worked 100 hours per week in 2011? Was the $258,750 counted as part of Moskowitz’s Success salary also part of the MRM reported $367,500, or in addition to this amount?
Sounds like Eva could use a good outside audit, after all.
It should come as no surprise that the “substantial contributors” to MRM include Greenblatt, Loeb, and Greenspan.
One of many current corporate reform trademarks: Nonprofit incest.
A Few Concluding Thoughts
Moskowitz and her hedge-fund (and other business) associates are in the business of education.
Moskowitz is known to spend millions on marketing.
The focus is on turning handsome profits.
According to the 2011 990 information examined in this post, the nine Success Academy schools in operation in 2011 have combined total assets of $29.6 million. (When the three unopened Brooklyn charters are added, total assets rise to $30.9 million.)
These nine operational schools paid Moskowitz’s charter management company almost $3.9 million in fees in 2011.
Under New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, none of these nine schools paid rent.
There’s a new mayor in town.
Time for Eva’s free ride to end.
On October 3, 1789, at the urging of both the House and Senate, President George Washington officially declared Thursday, November 26, 1789, to be “a day of publick thanksgiving and prayer”:
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:’
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation….
To read the full proclamation and view a photo of the original, click this link: George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation
The word “thank” is a transitive verb; that is, it requires a direct object. When I “thank,” I thank someone for some purposive action from which I have benefitted.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I find myself asking Him to keep me mindful to be thankful– to both Him and to the scores of people in my life who show me numerous kindnesses. The quality of my life– my inner life– directly depends upon the thankful attitude of my heart.
Let me underscore this idea: The quality of my life is not determined by externals– by what I own, or who I know, or even by my public reputation. Yes, externals have their place, but they can be gone in a moment. However, the condition of my heart– my attitudes and motives– that is where my real “living” happens– regardless of what or who comes and goes in my life.
My prayer is to be steady, consistent, and reliable– to walk daily in that very love that Christ showed to me in his death on the cross for my sin– to truly value other human beings regardless of their behavior and regardless of their acceptance of me.
As I write my blog entries, I am able to forcefully confront behavior while respecting the humanity of my foes.
I cannot do so in my own strength.
My thankful heart, grounded in Christ’s love for me, enables me to also accomplish remarkable output while releasing myself from any responsibility for outcomes out of my control.
This is how I wake each day ready to continue fight for reform.
Many are fighting reform in the public arena, whether through blogging, or speaking, or formally protesting, or contacting legislators, or other means I have not mentioned. Yet we all have personal lives replete with myriad responsibilities and challenging issues, including those of physical health.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I would like to open my personal world to my readers in a manner that is out of character for me on this blog.
I would like to walk you through an experience I had this spring. To read it, click here: My Thanksgiving Story
Let me close this post by thanking you for reading my blog. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for emailing your concerns and information.
Thank you for your many involvements on behalf of American public education.
Thank you for being in this fight with me.
God bless you.
I teach. I blog. I speak publicly. I advocate. I advise. I counsel.
Not much time left for reading for pleasure.
However, from the very opening paragraphs of John Owens’ firsthand account of the contemporary, reform-beaten American classroom, Confessions of a Bad Teacher, I was hooked:
After we read the section of Homer’s The Odyssey where Odysseus and his men confront the Cyclops, we watched a movie clip of how the clever Greek hero blinded that wine-swilling, man-eating, one-eyed monster and escaped. We discussed the story for a while, and then I asked my eighth-grade class to break up into groups and write down various plot points. After about ten minutes, we reviewed the points out loud.
The kids loved the blood, bellowing, running around, and sailing away. But there was a lot of confusion about who was who and what was going on. In other words, a lot of the students were having a tough time figuring out the story. So I set to work helping them figure it out. After all, its hard to understand the significance of a story if you don’t understand the story itself.
The assistant principal, who was observing the class, later scolded me for the lesson’s “lack of academic rigor.”…
I could immediately identify with the reform-promoted, administrative disconnect between the classroom realities (and the teacher’s use of his or her own critical thinking and experience on how best to promote learning by identifying where students are and working upward from that point) and the ignorant-yet-demanding push to make students and teachers conform to some inflexible ideal “student achievement.”
I was sold on Owens’ book right then and there.
Corporate reform is designed to destroy the web of collaborative relationships indispensable to the public school learning process. Teachers must be valued for their ability to informally identify student academic needs. Dedicated, career teachers do not desire to frustrate their students. They delight in seeing their students learn. Dedicated administrators who were once classroom teachers themselves understand the teacher-student dynamic and desire to support both teachers and students in the learning process. They do not see themselves as critical, punitive evaluators.
Corporate reform values and rewards the administrator-as-punitive-evaluator. Just look at how successful former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee continues to be.
John Owens is not a career teacher. He is a writer, editor, and publisher. However, he decided a couple years ago that he wished to “give back” to the world. So, Owens enrolled in a teacher certification program in order to become a classroom teacher in New York.
In that short-lived role– Owens did not make it through one school year– he learned that he was a “bad” teacher– and that he was far from alone. As Owens observes:
America’s public school teachers are being loudly and unfairly blamed for the failure of or nation’s public schools. From Bill Gates, to hedge-fund-enriched charter school backers, to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to an endless stream of reports in the media, everyone “knows” that we must fix the Bad Teacher problem.
If only teachers were better… smarter… more committed to their students. If only they had a longer workday and a longer school year. If only they didn’t have tenure. If only they didn’t have such powerful unions. If only they didn’t stand in the way of progress.
Today, all teachers seem to be considered bad until proven otherwise.
Again, I can identify with Owens’ writing. The Common Core standards for English II (my subject) require that my students read “complex” texts “independently and proficiently.” Thus, if I teach– if I attempt to bridge their knowledge and skills using my own expertise in order to connect struggling student to difficult text– then I am not “meeting the standard.” As for Louisiana’s COMPASS teacher evaluation: In order for me to be rated “highly effective,” the students must assume the initiative to learn on their own– without me. I am to be a “facilitator”– on the fringes of the learning process.
If my students can proceed without me– or with minimal assistance from me– then I am a great teacher in the eyes of corporate reform.
These people need to be in the classroom and demonstrate.
I assure you, they will not.
And so, to those removed from the process, public school teaching is “easy,” and most teachers “fail” their students through either incompetence or laziness.
In Confessions, Owens clearly dispels this convenient, blame-game myth.
Owens tried to be a supportive teacher. He faithfully pushed his cart around the halls of Latinate, going from classroom to classroom, struggling for a timely entrance into classrooms for which he had no key. He was mindful to have pens and paper for students who lacked supplies. He prepared lessons late into the night. And he attempted as best he could to meet the demands of Latinate’s principal, Ms. P:
…Ms. P was not just an imperial figure; she had a serious case of Crazy Boss syndrome. As someone who has been a boss and been subject to all manner of bosses, I know the problem well. Ms. PO was demanding–that’s fine. But she was delusional about what could be absorbed and achieved. …
There wasn’t an aspect of Latinate life that Ms. P didn’t have covered with a demand, edict, or what she called an “expectation.” From what I could see, what she practiced wasn’t so much management, or even micromanagement, as bizarre stagecraft with moment-by-moment choreography of our day.
Read about Owens’ attempts to meet Ms. P’s demands and avoid the dreaded “U” (“unsatisfactory” rating) while managing to actually teach his “wild eighth graders” and headstrong tenth graders in a school short on facilities (Latinate shared facilities with the undeniably-favored “Blue school”) and high on burnout-promoting unreality.
Read about Owens’ students, as well, whom he presents in such careful detail that the reader cannot help but be drawn into a compassionate– and often frustrating– relationship with them.
And be sure to read his final two chapters, in which he offers what he learned from his brief teaching experience as well as information on becoming involved in genuine school reform.
Read Owens’ Confessions of a Bad Teacher.
After 240 pages in Owens’ undeniably challenging public school world, you will want to rename the book.