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Video: My Six-minute WWL-TV Appearance Against Common Core

August 28, 2014

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, I participated in a six-minute WWL-TV Eyewitness Morning News segment on the controversy surrounding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Louisiana. The link to the segment can be found at the end of this post.

The segment was scheduled to precede the Tuesday’s pro-CCSS “forum.”

I was the only individual against CCSS out of three.

The other two participants want to keep CCSS in Louisiana. One is State Representative Walt Leger.

The other, Kenneth Campbell, is president of the national group financing the pro-CCSS lawsuit: the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO).

I wrote about BAEO in my book detailing individuals and organizations exploiting public education, A Chronicle of EchoesYou will want to read about this supposed “choice” group bankrolling Louisiana’s pro-CCSS lawsuit. In this July 2014 post, I offer readers the opportunity to read my chapter on BAEO for free.

As an enticement, let me offer a brief word on BAEO here:

BAEO was started via millions from white conservatives, including one foundation that years before paid to have a book written declaring blacks as genetically inferior.

National Alliance of Black School Educators President Andre Hornsby once described BAEO as “being used by conservatives to put a black face on a white movement.”

BAEO pushes “school choice”– charters, vouchers– and now, the “choice” to lock states into CCSS– in the name of “moving forward.”

Ironic, isn’t it– a purported “choice” organization for people of color spending millions derived from white conservatives to promote the single “choice” of CCSS?

But CCSS is not the first *deficient education solution* peddled by BAEO.

It was once wholly behind test-driven, punitive No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as The Solution.

Like CCSS, NCLB was also going to be the gap-closing wonder.

Between 2002 and 2004, BAEO accepted over one million dollars from the US Department of Education to sell NCLB to people of color as an educational solution via a multi-level media campaign (direct contact, radio, newspaper, internet).

By 2007, NCLB, with its “100 percent proficiency in English and math by 2014,” was already declared a failure.

So much for NCLB.

But BAEO has fresh millions and a new, gap-closing mission.

It’s 2014, and CCSS is going to do what is statistically impossible: make all states high ranking.

Thats right. Louisiana needs more rigor. Mortis.


…I have my fact-based doubts, which I expressed in short order on Saturday morning, August 23rd.

Click here to watch that six-minute WWL-TV video segment.




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


  1. Sara Wood permalink

    These people are NOT conservatives! I can promise you that!

  2. Hannah permalink

    ARRRRG! They need to do a much longer show & let you let loose a can of whoop*** … or perhaps I should say Bad*** with more than 50,000 teachers who DISAGREE with common core behind you!!!!

  3. Sent to Wesley Bishop who was very clear in his position at the BAEO sponsored forum that black children were left behind because teachers didn’t think they were as capable as white – racism. I hope to have a longer talk with him about HOW African American students are being exploited under choice and standardization.

  4. Jan Kasal permalink

    The legislator didn’t want to be in the studio.

  5. Way to hold your own Mercedes! I agree, the legislator did a whole lot of bla bla bla and the BAEO was just a talking head whose very words lacked believability.

  6. dolphin permalink

    Reblogged this on Dolphin and commented:
    An important post by Mercedes–she touched on something I suspected–that there was a race issue involved. It does not surprise me that $$$ white conservatives are behind it…playing on their emotions with the promise of ending racism. Makes me sick.

  7. Kenneth Campbell permalink

    Wow…very interesting comments about our organization — BAEO — a lot of wrong assumptions.

    First, we don’t think there is any one solution to solving the education crisis that our children are facing. We advocate for a 3-sector strategy, which means we believe we need strong traditional public schools, strong charter schools, and strong community-based private schools for our children. We will always fight to support all of the above. We will not be forced into either-or decisions, because our children always loose in that sort of debate

    Second, we support parental choice for low-income families because we don’t believe we should not live in an America where only people with money get to choose where and how their children are educated. If that means we need to open some high-performing charter schools along the way, that makes sense to us. If that means that we can have a program that allows low-income parents to get a voucher so that their children can go to a private school that might be safer or a better fit, that makes sense also. We don’t think private schools are better than public schools. We have high-performing and low-performing schools in both places. We should be trying to strengthen both.

    We formed BAEO because in most places in America, the Black community is misinformed and uninformed about education reform. Unfortunately we live in a country where the messenger and the message matters. So, we are a group of Black people who strive to remain knowledgable about education reform so that we can keep our community engaged and informed, and to fight for the kinds of policies that can benefit children.

    At the same time, we know that we have to work across racial and political lines in order to address the needs of our children. We also know that there are no black solutions or white solutions. The programs we advocate for will help children in poverty, regardless of race.

    We take money from just about anyone who supports our agenda. We have turned down money from people who have wanted us to do what they want us to do or who want to dictate how we work. When we reach the point where we can’t get resources for our agenda, we’re ready to go out of business. We’ve gotten funds from folks as conservative as the Bradley Foundation and as liberal as George Soros.

    We did not wholly support NCLB. Our work in support of NCLB was actually on one small portion — to make sure that low-income parents knew about the parental choice options in the bill (supplementary services, the right to switch out of chronically low-performing schools). So yes, we did work to spread the word about those provisions, because know one else was going to tell them. Separately, we thought the sub-group reporting requirements made sense so that poor academic performance of certain children could not be hidden in overall school or system results. Otherwise, we didn’t go out and advocate for or against NCLB in any way.

    We think tests are important but that they should not be the only measure for how children are doing or how a school is rated. However, meaningful, smart assessments give us great information and at some point, adults have to have some accountability. It would be great if educators would engage in a real, meaningful debate about how to do this instead of automatically rejecting any proposal.

    As far as CCSS is concerned, we support higher, smarter standards for children. We looked at the data, and it’s clear to us that in too many states, standards were too low and our assessments too simplistic. I’ve reviewed the Louisiana standards pre-CCSS and with CCSS…think CCSS is better…fewer standards and requires a deeper level of thinking…would love to know what specific parts of the standards people disagree with.

    Finally, we fight for low-income parents and children. They come first. We don’t think we have all the answers…we just know that we should be open to all solutions for our children and that we should not take potential solutions off the table for purely ideological reasons.

    Thanks for writing about us, although most of it was wrong.

    Ken Campbell

    • CCSS is unproven. It is a product owned by NGA and CCSSO, and yet you peddle it as a solution– not a “potential” soution, but as the single “option” for all Louisiana schools. Vouchers and charters are also a failure here, as shown by the state’s own imposed letter grade system.

      CCSS is not “higher” and “smarter.” It is only being sold to the public as such. ZERO EVIDENCE is behind this claim.

      You do not “fight” for lower income children. You try to sell them ideas that you wish to promote via million-dollar media blitzes. When you did so for NCLB, you did not even include the disclaimer that the money came from USDOE.

      You are not “grass roots.” You are heavily funded by white upper-class foundation money– the same folks whose kids do not utilize the public schools.

      You peddle a test-driven, privatizer-benefiting, corporate reform agenda. This benefits no children– and it is being used to close schools nationwide– especially in areas with high concentrations of children of color.

      I have documented BAEO history in my chapter linked above. You are definitely in the business of education privatization, and CCSS certainly feeds education company profits.

    • Ken,

      “As far as CCSS is concerned, we support higher, smarter standards for children. We looked at the data, and it’s clear to us that in too many states, standards were too low and our assessments too simplistic. I’ve reviewed the Louisiana standards pre-CCSS and with CCSS…think CCSS is better…fewer standards and requires a deeper level of thinking…would love to know what specific parts of the standards people disagree with.”

      If I may attempt to bring you and your organization to “a deeper level of thinking”, one perhaps you don’t even know exists (don’t worry that’s how most folks are). That “deeper level of thinking” is the work of Noel Wilson explaining all the errors in epistemological and ontological underpinnings of educational standards, CCSS included, and standardized testing that render the whole process completely illogical and invalid and any results gleaned from said malpractices are not only “vain and illusory” as Wilson states but also unethical and immoral.

      Please read and understand his never refuted nor rebutted 1997 dissertation “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” found at:

      Brief outline of Wilson’s “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” and some comments of mine. (updated 6/24/13 per Wilson email)

      1. A description of a quality can only be partially quantified. Quantity is almost always a very small aspect of quality. It is illogical to judge/assess a whole category only by a part of the whole. The assessment is, by definition, lacking in the sense that “assessments are always of multidimensional qualities. To quantify them as unidimensional quantities (numbers or grades) is to perpetuate a fundamental logical error” (per Wilson). The teaching and learning process falls in the logical realm of aesthetics/qualities of human interactions. In attempting to quantify educational standards and standardized testing the descriptive information about said interactions is inadequate, insufficient and inferior to the point of invalidity and unacceptability.

      2. A major epistemological mistake is that we attach, with great importance, the “score” of the student, not only onto the student but also, by extension, the teacher, school and district. Any description of a testing event is only a description of an interaction, that of the student and the testing device at a given time and place. The only correct logical thing that we can attempt to do is to describe that interaction (how accurately or not is a whole other story). That description cannot, by logical thought, be “assigned/attached” to the student as it cannot be a description of the student but the interaction. And this error is probably one of the most egregious “errors” that occur with standardized testing (and even the “grading” of students by a teacher).

      3. Wilson identifies four “frames of reference” each with distinct assumptions (epistemological basis) about the assessment process from which the “assessor” views the interactions of the teaching and learning process: the Judge (think college professor who “knows” the students capabilities and grades them accordingly), the General Frame-think standardized testing that claims to have a “scientific” basis, the Specific Frame-think of learning by objective like computer based learning, getting a correct answer before moving on to the next screen, and the Responsive Frame-think of an apprenticeship in a trade or a medical residency program where the learner interacts with the “teacher” with constant feedback. Each category has its own sources of error and more error in the process is caused when the assessor confuses and conflates the categories.

      4. Wilson elucidates the notion of “error”: “Error is predicated on a notion of perfection; to allocate error is to imply what is without error; to know error it is necessary to determine what is true. And what is true is determined by what we define as true, theoretically by the assumptions of our epistemology, practically by the events and non-events, the discourses and silences, the world of surfaces and their interactions and interpretations; in short, the practices that permeate the field. . . Error is the uncertainty dimension of the statement; error is the band within which chaos reigns, in which anything can happen. Error comprises all of those eventful circumstances which make the assessment statement less than perfectly precise, the measure less than perfectly accurate, the rank order less than perfectly stable, the standard and its measurement less than absolute, and the communication of its truth less than impeccable.”

      In other word all the logical errors involved in the process render any conclusions invalid.

      5. The test makers/psychometricians, through all sorts of mathematical machinations attempt to “prove” that these tests (based on standards) are valid-errorless or supposedly at least with minimal error [they aren’t]. Wilson turns the concept of validity on its head and focuses on just how invalid the machinations and the test and results are. He is an advocate for the test taker not the test maker. In doing so he identifies thirteen sources of “error”, any one of which renders the test making/giving/disseminating of results invalid. And a basic logical premise is that once something is shown to be invalid it is just that, invalid, and no amount of “fudging” by the psychometricians/test makers can alleviate that invalidity.

      6. Having shown the invalidity, and therefore the unreliability, of the whole process Wilson concludes, rightly so, that any result/information gleaned from the process is “vain and illusory”. In other words start with an invalidity, end with an invalidity (except by sheer chance every once in a while, like a blind and anosmic squirrel who finds the occasional acorn, a result may be “true”) or to put in more mundane terms crap in-crap out.

      7. And so what does this all mean? I’ll let Wilson have the second to last word: “So what does a test measure in our world? It measures what the person with the power to pay for the test says it measures. And the person who sets the test will name the test what the person who pays for the test wants the test to be named.”

      In other words it attempts to measure “’something’ and we can specify some of the ‘errors’ in that ‘something’ but still don’t know [precisely] what the ‘something’ is.” The whole process harms many students as the social rewards for some are not available to others who “don’t make the grade (sic)” Should American public education have the function of sorting and separating students so that some may receive greater benefits than others, especially considering that the sorting and separating devices, educational standards and standardized testing, are so flawed not only in concept but in execution?

      My answer is NO!!!!!

      One final note with Wilson channeling Foucault and his concept of subjectivization:

      “So the mark [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true; true because the society in which you live legitimates this authority; true because your cultural habitus makes it difficult for you to perceive, conceive and integrate those aspects of your experience that contradict the story; true because in acting out your story, which now includes the mark and its meaning, the social truth that created it is confirmed; true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you; true because if your mark is low your voice becomes muted and confirms your lower position in the social hierarchy; true finally because that success or failure confirms that mark that implicitly predicted the now self evident consequences. And so the circle is complete.”

      In other words students “internalize” what those “marks” (grades/test scores) mean, and since the vast majority of the students have not developed the mental skills to counteract what the “authorities” say, they accept as “natural and normal” that “story/description” of them. Although paradoxical in a sense, the “I’m an “A” student” is almost as harmful as “I’m an ‘F’ student” in hindering students becoming independent, critical and free thinkers. And having independent, critical and free thinkers is a threat to the current socio-economic structure of society.

  8. Debbie Sachs permalink

    “We formed BAEO because in most places in America, the Black community is misinformed and uninformed about education reform”……………………….

    So please be honorable and inform them:

  9. Where’s your power suit and tie!?!?!?

  10. Your video link is broken

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  1. Mercedes Schneider Debates Common Core with Two Advocates | Diane Ravitch's blog

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