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High Achievement NY: Common Core Must Work Because We Don’t Want to Face Arne

October 28, 2014

Yet another group has established itself as promoters of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and, of course, the group has a catchy, test-driven name: High Achievement New York (HANY).

HANY offered a press release on October 28, 2014. And marvel 0f all marvels, HANY has found that it is best for CCSS to stick around in New York State.

But who is this HANY, you ask?

HANY describes itself as “a broad-based coalition of teachers, parents, school administrators, civil rights advocates, community leaders, and some of NY’s biggest businesses….”

Let’s just stop right there.

In 2014, if “some of New York’s biggest businesses” are involved in advocating for their version of K12 education, then you must have stepped right into a steaming hot pile of corporate reform.

Indeed.

But let me not get ahead of myself.

Here is High Achievement New York’s mission statement, in full:

High Achievement New York is a broad-based coalition of teachers, parents, school administrators, civil rights advocates, community leaders, and some of NY’s biggest businesses who share a common passion for the importance of high quality schools in NY State, and a shared belief that the Common Core standards can help put every child on a path to success.

Education is the key to our children achieving their dreams. But for too many kids across New York State, a quality education is out of reach. Fortunately, the New York State Learning Standards – a rigorous, clear and consistent set educational standards created with input from our teachers, parents, principles and state leaders and adopted by New York State in 2011– will help ensure that every New Yorker can reach their potential, no matter their background.

What Brings Us Together

We share a common passion for the importance of educating New Yorkers by setting high standards and supporting schools, teachers, students and parents as they work to meet those standards. We believe the New York State Standards give all of our children the best chance at success.

Coalition members will work together to help ensure that opportunities for children are protected in New York State, including consistent assessments and a unified curriculum. The coalition acknowledges a great urgency and commitment to enact change and intend to present a targeted, strategic plan to support the New York State Learning Standards in a way that serves children best. [Emphasis added.]

Important to include Code Word: Urgency in this “unified” push for keeping New York saddled with CCSS and its Pearson-serving assessments.

Notice that the above mission lists “teachers, parents, and school administrators” as first on the list of its so-called “broad based coalition.”

Yet its “coalition” membership is business-driven. The HANY site lists 26 organizations as “coalition” members. :

Albany Colonie Chamber of Commerce

America Achieves

American Association of University Women

Association for a Better New York

Buffalo Education Reform

Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Buffalo Urban League

Business Council of New York State

Business Council of Westchester

Center for American Progress

Center for Hispanic Families and Children

Chautaqua Chamber of Commerce

Commerce Chenango

Council for a Strong America

Educators for Excellence (E4E)

Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

National Council of La Raza

New York Urban League

Ostego County Chamber of Commerce

Parent Power Project– Rochester

Partnership for Inner City Education

Printing Industries Alliance

Queens Chamber of Commerce

StudentsFirstNY

Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce

UCOMM Communications

The list includes five chambers of commerce. In November 2013, billionaire Bill Gates paid the US Chamber of Commerce $1.4 million “to lead the effort to engage and educate state and local chambers to support Common Core State Standards.”

In October 2013, Gates paid the Center for American Progress $550,000 “to support Common Core implementation.” (I have written two posts about Center for American Progress’ involvement in pushing both CCSS and CCSS as the new hub around which states are supposed to construct their entire education systems.)

In July 2013, Gates paid Council for a Strong America $1.7 million “to educate and engage stakeholders about the Common Core and teacher development through a range of communications activities.” 

As for StudentsFirstNY, I wrote about how it shares its physical address with two other charter-school promoting organizations– one of which is a hedge-funded PAC. New York charter vixen Eva Moskowitz is all over that arrangement.

So, now let’s return to HUNY’s October 28, 2014, press release promoting CCSS.

The release begins with the statement, “New Analysis: Common Core Repeal May Cost New York State Up to $280 Million.”

Let’s cut to the chase here: The $280 million that a CCSS repeal would supposedly “cost” New York State comes from the fact that New York State was roped into declaring CCSS as a condition of its Race to the Top (RTTT) funding. Yes, I know US Secretary Arne Duncan wants all to believe that RTTT does not require CCSS; however, the RTTT application did require “common standards” and “common assessments,” and the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) just happened to make a CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) available for governors and state superintendents to sign in spring 2009— and Duncan allowed the CCSS MOU as proof of a state’s intent to commit itself to those, ahem, “consortia-developed standards” for which he agreed to fund associated “consortia-developed assessments.”

In short, HANY opens its press release trying to convince New York State to hold fast to CCSS because if New York decides to be “state led” away from CCSS at this point, it will be federally docked.

Notice that the question of CCSS appropriateness is not in the forefront of this business-heavy-CCSS-pushing HANY press release. Money is– specifically, the loss of federal funding if New York “state” standards are not CCSS-faithful.

The fear-coated sales job continues. HANY then brings Oklahoma into the situation: If New York were to forsake CCSS, it must be willing to not only wrangle with Duncan over RTTT funds; New York must be ready to also have its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver revoked, as well.

In 2011, President Obama bypassed Congress and introduced the NCLB waiver– and its shady CCSS-byline condition:

Under the new policy, only those states that have adopted new academic standards that the administration calls “college and career ready” will be eligible to receive the waivers, according to White House documents distributed on Thursday (09-22-11).

Yep. New York is roped into CCSS by the federal government twice— via both RTTT and the NCLN waiver– except that HANY does not use the term “NCLB waiver” even to refer to what what happened to Oklahoma following its June 2014 repeal of CCSS. Instead, HANY ignores Duncan’s overreach and lies by writing that Oklahoma “reverted to lower standards.”

Not if the reform-minded HANY values the also-reform-minded Fordham Institute– which in July 2010 graded Oklahoma’s standards as “too close to call” in comparison to CCSS.

Here are the words from the HANY press release:

…If Common Core is repealed, New York State could be at risk of having to return up to $280 million of the $700 million the Federal Government granted the state as part of its “Race to the Top” initiative. The forfeited resources could place New York on the path of other states, such as Oklahoma, where many schools will be labeled as “failing” because the state has reverted to lower standards.

Oklahoma’s schools are “labeled as failing” as a condition of not meeting the ridiculous “100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014” stipulated in NCLB– a policy that Duncan referred to in August 2011 as a “slow-motion train wreck.”

It seems that in 2014, the wreckage is paying off for Duncan. He wants CCSS, and he wants to prevent states from any “state led” exit. And the Gates-supported, business-heavy HANY is here to help.

HANY continues its press release with some tricky language to disguise the fact that the CCSS MOU centers upon Achieve, ACT, and College Board for CCSS development– not current classroom teachers.

HANY doesn’t contradict CCSS’s Achieve-ACT-College Board (and undeclared, Student Achievement Partners presence– read a bit about SAP here). HANY simply twists words into that which might convey more than what is actually written.

Regarding teacher involvement in CCSS, here is what HANY writes:

…Despite the rhetoric, the Common Core standards were developed with local teachers and parents, and its implementation relies on local control by educators, principals, superintendents and school boards. [Emphasis added.]

CCSS was developed with teachers. That settles it for me– not. Teachers were in charge as much as my traveling in a car with another person guarantees I am the one driving.

Nice try, though.

Teacher practitioners were the CCSS window dressing. Read about it here. As for CCSS’ being developed “with” parents, that might mean the obscure public comment period that was soo widely recognized that even CCSS-promoting American Enterprise Institute (AEI) acknowledged on October 22, 2014, that the public is still pretty much in the dark when it comes to CCSS.

Near the end of its press release, HANY even references a teacher survey in which CCSS wins with high teacher support. It seems that this information comes from “statewide polling results over the last five years.” I do not have the actual report, so that ends that– and it also dulls the credibility of the press release results.

The last poll I saw on CCSS in New York was related to the September 9, 2014 Intelligence Squared CCSS debate. The public poll showed over 43,000 respondents, with 89% voting against CCSS. Of course, not all respondents were from New York. But that result, I did see–unlike the HANY-referenced CCSS teacher support.

And now, for that overused work-o-scapegoating to save CCSS:

Implementation.

HANY appears to try to lay the CCSS implementation mess on the “local” level, where CCSS implementation *must* happen. And according to HANY, CCSS implementation in New York must be doing well since “test scores are up” on the CCSS tests, with their capriciously-set cut scores.

HANY proudly showcases that New York has “raised the bar” to a whopping 35.8% “proficiency” rate– up from 31.2% in 2013. However, all that proves is that this Pearson CCSS test is useless for informing instruction.

HANY fails to consider information from the technical reports on New York’s CCSS tests. Those “achievement gaps” test-driven ed reformers like to say they will close widened on New York’s CCSS tests. It seems that the Pearson CCSS assessments might test ability to follow detailed procedures in answering questions rather than student mastery of content. Moreover, the math tests are reading comprehension-dependent– so students must master both reading and math in order to fare well in math.

However, the most important CCSS test has yet to be performed– a test of CCSS itself. Like all other CCSS pushers, HANY assumes that the very-high-stakes CCSS will work, and that any questioning of an untested CCSS is “status quo.”

In its “because we said so” vein, HANY also assumes that CCSS will raise graduation rates. Yessiree. HANY states that by 2020, most New York jobs will require a college degree, and that CCSS will surely work, just because HANY declares CCSS will work:

By 2020, nearly 70% of jobs in NY State will require a college degree, which the Common Core is designed to prepare students for. [Emphasis added.]

I envision a crazed HANY member stating these words and wanting to be correct because the alternative means that the State of New York must wrest its state autonomy over its education matters from the federal-fund-clutching grasp of Arne Duncan twice over– via both RTTT and NCLB waiver tentacles.

 

____________________________________________________________

Schneider is also author of the ed reform whistleblower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education

previti chronicle pic

 

12 Comments
  1. Thanks for doing the work to expose the men operating the levers behind the curtain. Is anyone surprised that many of the groups funding HANY are also groups that take an anti-union stance in the public discourse?

  2. Laura chapman permalink

    This sounds like it is part of a national campaign to position parents as the people who will demand the CCSS as essential for judging a high quality school plus the only way to get cost effective schools.. Really sad to see so many who very likely have not read the CCSS or know about it sign on to this. Good that you pointed out this is about money.

  3. Excellent work! I believe op-ed from 2/12/14 in USA Today (which was penned by Bill Gates) accurately pinpoints why “businesses” love CCSS so much: “When every state had its own standards, innovators making new educational software or cutting-edge lesson plans had to make many versions to reach all students. Now, consistent standards will allow more competition and innovation to help teachers do their best work.” Translation: “Software developers love standardization. It makes their job easier, because they don’t have to write their own code–just re-use and publish! For the businesses who employ those developers, that means they can hire lower wage workers and dramatically increase production & profits. And of course, all this new standardized software will make a great replacement for actual teaching, so more public money will go into private hands–a win-win for publicly elected officials and the businesses who buy them off!”

  4. Reblogged this on Crazy Normal – the Classroom Exposé and commented:
    The message is clear. The business community in New York State fears the loss of millions in federal dollars from the DOE to the state if New York doesn’t implement the Machiavellian and draconian so-called Common Core State Standards by standing up for its Constitutional rights to be in charge of public education in New York state.

    In Germany when the Nazis made all the decisions from the top down for everyone, most of the people shouted Heil Hitler. This time it is Heil Duncan.

    • Andrea Lancer permalink

      Let’s not get carried away. The evil that was the Third Reich was not top-down decision-making. Duncan, for all his flaws, is not Hitler.

  5. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Thank you so much once again for your investigative work into the Money and Politics that we should all be aware of. I have shared this with my Facebook friends.

  6. Linda permalink

    The American Association of University Women should be embarrassed to be part of this.

  7. Just heard one of their ads on fake-news-radio-88 WBCS 880 am NYC. Any time you hear an ad from a group with a name like this, be suspicious. Thanks for listing members — no surprise.

    It’s like the ‘Rent Stabilization Association’ in NYC: the name makes it sound like they’re a group dedicated to rent affordability. I was involved in the NYC tenants movement in the 1980s and I know it’s a front group for landlord interests, like higher rents even when costs don’t go up, and they portray small owners who apparently just cant make it with tenants being protected, but those owners never seem to sell their properties and get out from under bad investments, so the script must not be true. I’m not sure what a radio listener is expected to do after hearing it though.

    The group ALEC is no different: it writes pro-industry law (like stand-your-ground laws and pro-fossil-fuel laws) and literally gives the text to lawmakers who do their bidding – the mission statement has even been mistakenly included in the laws, check it out.

    Fortunately, with Common core, people aren’t listening to the school and *industry* propaganda and see thru the phony messages because of the unreasonable pressure put on our kids. When the federal funds are lost, the solution will be to elect new federal legislators who will do what WE want, not what the “private/pfofitized education industry” wants.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Chamber Watch: High Achievement NY Coalition | Lady Liberty 1885
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  4. We Will Be Opting Out, Again! - LA Progressive

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