Duncan Flunks the “State led” Test with His Indiana NCLB Waiver Warning
Corporate reformers love tests.
It seems that now, the test is on them.
Is the federal government usurping state authority over public education?
Consider the protestations that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are not a federal mandate, as noted on the corestandards.org website:
Fact: The Common Core is a state‐led effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind or any other federal initiative. … State adoption of the standards is in no way mandatory. …This work is being driven by the needs of the states, not the federal government. [Emphasis added.]
Based on the above, it would seem that a state deciding to forego CCSS would face no federal sanctions associated with the never-reauthorized No Child Left Behind (NCLB), that the two concepts– CCSS and NCLB– would not even be related in any federal funding discussion, much less a punitive mandate that any state “prove” to the federal government that its “state-led” education standards must be CCSS, “or else.”
In a hearing before a House appropriations subcommittee Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the competitive grants built into his fiscal 2015 budget request, gave no substantive details about a proposed Race to the Top for equity contest, and continued to distance himself from the Common Core State Standards.
“I’m just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they’re common or not is secondary,” he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues.
Duncan also maintained that there are “zero” federal grants tied to the common core, after being pressed by members…. [Emphasis added.]
Duncan contradicts his own Race to the Top (RTTT) scoring rubric, which clearly indicates that to receive federal funding via RTTT, states are expected to have “common standards.”
Only weeks prior to Duncan’s misleading testimony, on March 25, 2014, Indiana became the first state to sign a bill into law to drop CCSS.
What Indiana decided to do next is a curiosity.
Rather than return to its former standards that were “graded” by the pro-CCSS Fordham Institute as equal or superior to CCSS.
In January 2013, Fordham’s Mike Petrilli even admitted as much in testimony before the Indiana State Senate Education and Career Development Committee:
As some of my friends on the earlier panel mentioned, we at Fordham have been examining state standards for fifteen years, and we found Indiana’s to be some of the very best. We also found the Common Core standards to be very good, but Indiana’s standards were great.
Note that I do not lend credence to Fordham’s self-appointed grading of standards. However, Petrilli admits that he believes Indiana’s state standards “great” as compared to CCSS’ “good.”
Nevertheless, Petrilli wants Indiana (and all states) to keep CCSS. Why, you ask?
For the sake of nationwide standardization of public education, not for promoting “great” standards:
…If you decide to opt out of the Common Core, you will be opting Indiana’s teachers and students out of an opportunity to participate in the incredible wave of innovation that these standards are unleashing. It’s as if the whole world is moving to smart phones and tablets while you’re sticking with a rotary. [Emphasis added.]
What a sales pitch: “If you decide to drop the untested but declared ‘good’ CCSS, Indiana, you miss the opportunity to be ‘good’ with all other CCSS states in order to be “great” by yourself.”
Not sure how Petrilli equates “good” CCSS with Smartphones and “great” Indiana state standards with “rotary.”
As it turns out, Indiana did formally drop CCSS but chose not to return to its “great” standards.
One issue CCSS and the “new” Indiana standards share: Both will make the classrooms that use them into one grand experiment.
Note that CCSS is a national experiment since CCSS has not been tested.
The only “evidence” (a term I use loosely here) for CCSS is the Fordham Institute comparison that rated CCSS as at best a lateral move for Indiana.
Yet Duncan wants to keep the control that he insists he does not have over Indiana education.
On May 5, 2014, Indiana was put “on notice” by Duncan’s people if Indiana cannot prove that their “new” standards are “high.” As Chalkbeat reports:
On Thursday, Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz received a letter from Deb Delisle, assistant U.S. secretary of education, spelling out concerns about “significant issues” with Indiana’s adherence to an agreement it made in with the federal government in 2012 that released the state from some NCLB rules.
The agreement included a promise to have high standards for all students, and federal authorities want proof that the standards the state recently adopted are as challenging as the ones they replaced, known as the Common Core. [Emphasis added.]
Know that “test” I mentioned at the outset of this post?
Duncan just failed it.
The federal government is usurping state authority over public education.
The fantastic hypocrisy here is that Duncan encouraged states to sign onto a spectrum of reforms including CCSS in 2009— before CCSS existed.
Neither Duncan nor the CCSS copyright holders, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), has provided any “evidence” that CCSS delivers on its promise to “prepare America’s students for success.”
On the contrary, the standards-grading Fordham Institute has demonstrated that there isn’t even a logical connection between its grading of state standards and scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).
Then what is it that the likes of Duncan and Finn want, anyway?
Complete standardization of American public education.
Fordham Institute President Chester Finn admits as much when he places the blame for the connection between California’s “high” standards and “lousy academic results” on a failure to “infuse” standards into the entire education process:
Implementation is a boring topic but here (as with most bold reforms of complex, sluggish institutions) it’s crucial. The past quarter century offers sad examples of states with praiseworthy standards and lousy academic results, with California being the woeful poster child. This breakdown is due to the plain fact that the state never infused its own standards into tests, requirements for promotion and graduation, teacher certification and evaluations, school ratings, college admissions, or much else. [Emphasis added.]
Note that Finn states “implementation” was a problem prior to CCSS. Yet no great effort was expended pre-CCSS to “save” state standards and “properly implement” them.
The issue is in “implementing” sameness. “School choice” for charters and vouchers– where such “choice” benefits privatization– and “sameness” when it comes to standards– where such “sameness” benefits privatization.
Duncan wants Indiana fettered to CCSS, make no mistake. He wants Indiana to prove to him that its “new” standards are CCSS– that way, the same “infusing” of the entire education process can happen to Indiana as to all CCSS states.
And you better believe Duncan has his eye on “convincing” the five states that never signed onto CCSS (Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Virginia, and Alaska) to enter the fold. (Though Alaska has not adopted CCSS, it has joined one of the two CCSS assessment consortia, Smarter Balanced— a foot in the CCSS door.)
It is fine with Duncan for states to be “state led” so long as such states travel the path that he approves– one towards national “sameness.”
Keep in mind that this “sameness” is the goal billionaire-CCSS-funder Bill Gates has for American public education in order to “unleash powerful market forces” such as incompetent, monopolizing Pearson.
Keep in mind also that Gates is “helping” the US Department of Education to “innovate” itself via a Gates-funded assistance.
As for Indiana: Had it returned to its pre-CCSS standards, it could have submitted Fordham’s own 2010 report and Petrilli’s testimony to Duncan as “”proof” that Indiana state standards were equal to or better than CCSS.
It’s not too late, Indiana.
I challenge you to return to your former standards and use Fordham’s 2010 standards-grading report and Petrilli’s testimony about CCSS-“good” versus Indiana state standards-“great” to force “state led” Duncan into a corner at least as embarrassing as that produced by his his November 2013 comment that “white suburban moms” oppose CCSS because they are discovering that their children “aren’t brilliant.”
Duncan just flunked his own “I’m just a big proponent of high standards” test.
Guess who has shown America once again he is “not brilliant”?