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Obama Admin Says It Won’t Support Senate ESEA Draft; Higher Ed Wants Those “Higher Standards”

July 7, 2015

There is a lot of info in this post. I could not capture it all in the title. All quotes are from Politico’s Morning Education for July 07, 2015, which has much more to it than I highlight in this post.

Diving in:

In Politico on July 06, 2015, US Secretary of Ed Arne Duncan continued with the narrative of being pleased with the Senate ESEA draft, which seriously limits the power of the US secretary of ed. Looks like the White House tune is a-changing:

The White House weighs in: The Obama administration said Monday it’s not supporting the Senate bill — but White House officials stopped short of saying they’d issue a veto threat, as they did over the House bill. More:

Then comes the whole “civil rights issue”: For some groups, the federal strong arm and annual testing are a must to ensure “civil rights”; for others, those overbearing tests are a civil punishment, not a “right”:

CIVIL RIGHTS BATTLE COMES TO CAPITOL HILL: A debate is raging in the states over what civil rights means in modern schools — and it’s on a collision course with Capitol Hill, where both the House and the Senate will move on their rewrites of No Child Left Behind today. The problem: Factions can’t agree on what a good civil rights bill looks like. Many Democrats and education reformers embrace the strong federal education system at NCLB’s core, saying it helps protect minority children. But others argue that approach has led to a “test-and-punish” atmosphere in schools, effectively holding minority students back while drowning them in hours of testing each year. Meanwhile, Republicans including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argue that school choice is crucial for helping minority students.

Ted Cruz needs to study up on school choice as a means of incredible fiscal scandal, if nothing else. Financial scams only serve the scammers. (See this link for a telling report on charter school scandals.)


Continuing with testing and “civil rights”:

The rift over testing and accountability is shredding ties between groups that are typically allies. “Politically, it’s cannibalism,” said Charles Barone, director of policy for Democrats for Education Reform, which supports annual testing. The Senate bill, which has support from many Democrats who consider themselves strong proponents on civil rights, has lost the support of the county’s largest civil rights coalition, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The group wants changes to the bill in the form of amendments, which are being hashed out behind closed doors by Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Warren and others are clear — they want stronger language requiring states to track performance of poor and minority students and do something to improve schools that are falling down on the job. But they may have to wait until conference — if the Senate and House both pass their NCLB bills — to see those changes. More from Maggie Severns:

And then comes the whole “higher standards” issue– a known euphemism for Common Core. Apparently some featured folk in higher ed believe with their whole hearts in the testing that accompanies hurriedly-written-and-untested Common Core:

HIGHER ED GROUPS: STICK WITH HIGHER STANDARDS: A trio of higher education groups today will urge states to press ahead with higher academic standards, although upcoming results on new, more rigorous exams might be lackluster. “The tests are simply providing a more accurate assessment of our students’ readiness for the demands of postsecondary life,” the groups will say in a joint statement []. The statement, from Higher Ed for Higher Standards, the National Association of System Heads and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, doesn’t explicitly say those standards are the Common Core. The three groups speak to more than 100 state and system higher ed officials at today’s joint meeting of NASH and SHEEO.

“We owe it to our students to maintain these higher expectations and do what it takes to help them succeed,” the statement says, noting the “large and persistent” college and career preparation gap between U.S. and international students. K-12 and postsecondary officials should collaborate on opportunities for high school students, the groups will say, like 12th grade bridge courses, dual enrollment and courses aligned to career pathways. Colleges’ placement policies should also adapt to new standards and assessments and ensure freshman entry courses “are part of clear pathways that build from the new K-12 standards and lead to meaningful degrees and credentials.”

The groups are also unveiling a new readiness toolkit to help higher ed officials adapt. “The entire country’s interest is to build on access, but to make sure that access leads to completion and job success … it’s really a three-step process,” NASH Board Chair Nancy Zimpher said. Business Roundtable President and former Michigan Gov. John Engler will also participate in the announcement. “We’re pretty much the recipients of all the graduates of the K-12 programs in America, so we’re in a pretty good position to look at where we are and how we can improve,” Engler said. “We need to stop, maybe, celebrating the admission, and focus on the completion.”

“Nothing can prepare students for college as well as an actual college experience,” the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy argues in a new report. Dual enrollment and other early college programs lead to a smoother postsecondary transitions and higher persistence rates, the paper says, because students face more rigorous requirements early on and can remediate skills gaps before tuition bills pile up:

Speaking of higher standards, an Oklahoma panel charged with writing new academic standards after the state dumped the Common Core last year has unveiled a public draft:

There’s a whole lot to this particular Politico’s Morning Education, including news of Hillary Clinton’s first national TV interview tonight on CNN (8 p.m. EST).

Also, NewSchools Venture Fund, a fund for establishing and promoting charter schools, is promoting a five-year funding called “Catapult” in which it wants to “partner with educators to redesign existing schools or open new schools that embrace personalized learning and a student-centered approach to learning.” But this initiative is not aimed at traditional, board-run schools: “NSVF would like to see NewSchools Catapult schools run by early-stage charter school networks.” If traditional board-run schools want in, the school board has to agree to largely cut the school loose from board accountability: “Otherwise, traditional district-operated schools should be granted significant autonomy.”

Autonomy = fresh opportunity for even more charter school scandals.

One more tidbit, about the House version of the ESEA reauthorization, the Student Success Act. Note that SSA includes the “portability of student funding” mess in which “money would follow the child”:

Speaking of the House: The House Rules Committee will meet today on the chamber’s NCLB rewrite, called the Student Success Act. Hill watchers expect the committee to approve a handful of fresh amendments that could appease the chamber’s most conservative members — then it’s on to the floor. The committee meets at 5 p.m. ET in the Capitol.

That’s it for me. I am writing my third book this summer, on school choice, and it is time for me to go and do so.

one smiley face


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, newly published on June 12, 2015.

both books

  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    The campaign to enlist many more colleges and universities to accept the Common Core and associated tests is underway with a messaging campaign funded by the National Governor’s Association. Among the recent spokespersons, are Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor, State University of New York; Harold G. Levine is the dean of the school of education at the University of California, Davis; and Michael W. Kirst, president of the California state board of education and emeritus professor of education at Stanford University.
    The campaign is not brand new. In July, 2014, the Association of American Colleges and Universities announced that it has joined “Higher Ed for Higher Standards” a project of a much larger coalition of groups organized to keep up the drumbeat for the Common Core and associated tests of college-and career-readiness. Also on board as an approver of the Common Core is the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, The larger coalition that sponsors Higher Ed for Higher Standards is the Collaborative for Student Success with about 30 groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
    The Collaborative publishes surveys and news intended to shore up the Common Core and associated tests. The Collaborative for Student Success and Higher Ed For Higher standards are among many publicity machines for the Common Core.
    The new “portrait” being painted of the Common Core and tests is build around exaggerated praise for the on-line skill sets that students must learn for testing, the virtue of close readings of text, and the wondrous “breakthrough” on standards that emphasize critical thinking and solving of real world problems. The myth that these standards are a state-led, a grassroots effort is sustained, but laced with swipes at failing schools as if that caricature applies to all public schools, also some references to the opt-out, “refuse the test” movement as misguided.
    I find not one ounce of concern among higher education “messengers,” most of these the senior administrator of a campus or system for higher education, about the loss of academic freedom engulfing their institutions. Their easy acceptance of this agenda is a case of jumping on a bandwagon without due diligence. Also troubling is a certain “matter-of-factness” about the right of administrators of to pre-empt faculty study, discussion, debate, and decisions about the merit of the CCSS and tests.
    I may be wrong, but I doubt that the college and university administrators who have signed on as marketers of the CCSS and tests have any deep knowledge of their origin, history, who paid for them, why, and the consequences of foisting them on thousands of students in public schools. Their ignorance of detail and substance is an occupational hazard and that is why faculty voice is vital, and noteworthy when it is absent.

  2. I had a look at the Oklahoma draft math program – much better than Common Core (up to grade 2 anyway, that’s as far as I got).

  3. “Ted Cruz needs to study up on school choice as a means of incredible fiscal scandal, if nothing else. Financial scams only serve the scammers. (See this link for a telling report on charter school scandals.)”

    Yes, there are some charters which have produced questionable and ill results financially. The vast majority have not and parent continue to look for the exit from public schools.

    The other side of that coin is that the public school system is the mother of giant fiscal scandals with districts in every single state running amok due to zero transparency requirements. Take my own county — Wake. They just asked for a $1.5 BILLION dollar budget; 14% increase from last year yet enrollment hasn’t significantly increased.

    Every single line item, in every single budget for every single public school down to the classroom should be viewable by the public.

    • As it in my NJ municipality. The public gets a line-by-line preview, & there are many open hearings. NJ political history is of course rife with corruption (public schools included). But we have a legal net in place which is capable of catching, publicizing, punishing lawbreakers, whether it happens or not. We’re talking policy here, not comparing good guys to bad guys. If taxpayers allow their money to be spent by private enterprise without the protection of procurement laws applicable to state contractors, we can expect a much higher degree of corruption. We’re asking for it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider Sums Up Federal Interventions | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Mercedes Schneider Sums Up Federal Interventions | Richmondpeace236 Blog
  3. Mercedes Schneider Sums Up Federal Interventions | GorgeousRicmond
  4. Ed News, Friday, July 10, 2015 Edition | tigersteach

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