LDOE Data Sharing Agreements that Put inBloom’s Agreement to Shame

 

In the last Legislative Session of 2014 two types of data protection and privacy laws were being sponsored.  I testified against one of them submitted by Senator Appel that tried to do double duty, but which was overly complex and was straight from an ALEC template.  The two bills that passed that became Acts were 837 submitted by Schroeder, which restricted the ways in which data could be used, collected and distributed (theoretically) and what I would call an equally important bill, Act 677 submitted by Ivy, that required the department to finally document all the places and reasons they do submit data to external entities and vendors. 

Without act 677 we are dependent on rumors (which may be untrue or incomplete), whistleblowers (which once they’ve blown they are expelled and our oversight ability takes a hit), and blind luck.  Freedom of Information requests are routinely ignored, answered months late, require lawsuits that drag on for years, and often contain very little of the information you have requested  – once John White’s executive LDOE staffers pare out the sensitive or useful information.

Act 677 has corroborated a lot of the stories I have been receiving over the years and jogged some memories of what I had overheard we were doing. 

http://www.louisianabelieves.com/resources/library/data-center/data-sharing-agreements

I haven’t seen any coverage of this resource yet, (theoretically it should have been available as of January) but I think this post will get the ball rolling.

You can see the department’s timeline and summary of privacy issues here:

http://www.louisianabelieves.com/resources/library/data-center/protecting-student-privacy

There are 23 agreements and instances of student level data being routinely distributed to external vendors, including names and SSNs, listed.  I have not had a chance to review them all, but I believe it is important we do so before the legislative session is over. 

File
Download

eScholar – February 2015
Download

ACE – December 2014
Download

ACT – February 2015
Download

Agilix – May 2013
Download

Arete – December 2014
Download

Brookes Pub – December 2014
Download

CAI – December 2014
Download

DRC – December 2014
Download

Harland Clarke – March 2015
Download

iSTEEP – December 2014
Download

JAG – December 2014
Download

LOSFA-GEAR UP – December 2014
Download

LOSFA:STS – December 2014
Download

Louisiana Board of Regents – February 2015
Download

Louisiana Office of State Inspector General (OIG)
Download

MERIL – December 2014
Download

MMCS:CATE – December 2014
Download

MMCS:Acc – December 2014
Download

PacMet – December 2014
Download

Red-eSetGrowDSC – December 2014
Download

TeachingStrategies – December 2014
Download

University of Arkansas – December 2014
Download

University of Oregon-DIBELS – December 2014
Download

I will compare this list to my notes to see if I can identify any that might be missing.  However this is quite a bit of disturbing information.  Let me know what you think, and don’t forget to let your legislators know your thoughts as well. 

My thanks to Representative Barry Ivy for helping to shed a little more light on the darkness that inhabits LDOE.

Use this link to identify your legislators and obtain their contact information.

https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/FindMyLegislators.aspx

This is the only information you will need to identify your legislators.

 

image

Posted in politics | 8 Comments

Crawfish are Real and So are the Problems with Common Core

Common Core started out as an idea.  No one knew if it would work or not. To increase the odds of it “working” (measured by being adopted nationwide) an unprecedented but shrewdly calculated media campaign was launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and numerous other testing and textbook companies and education reform groups.

In Louisiana, 6 months before the standards were even written and finalized, our state Board of Education, known as BESE, adopted the standards illegally by not following proper administrative procedures, without reviewing them, and without allowing the public to see them or review them.

Most of BESE, led by BESE President Chas Roemer of District 6, has lied to the public about the standards ever since.

Common Core State Standards were not developed by “the States”, they were developed by textbook and testing vendors led by Jason Zimba for math and David Coleman for ELA.  Most teachers and academics consulted about the standards during the review process refused to sign off on them, because they were too confusing, not developmentally appropriate, not more rigorous, and contained serious gaps.

The standards were thrown together in about a year by a few people with zero prior experience writing standards, and never thoroughly and impartially reviewed before being implemented.

These are facts, look them up.

Rather than address the very real problems with Common Core, these companies and their allies have chosen to mock opponents with tinfoil hats, unicorns, straw man arguments and flat out lies.

They do this because they have no facts to defend their claims.  No studies were done, no international benchmarks were taken, and the few academics they grudging included (and ignored) refused to sign off on the standards.  There is widespread evidence that these standards are actually dumbing down our curriculum and making our students less prepared for colleges and careers.  There is also widespread evidence that these standards are causing fear, anger and frustration among thousands of parents and students across our state, and millions across our county.

Many states, like Texas, have chosen to reject Common Core.  Now other states that adopted it are getting out. Tennessee unanimously repealed common Core yesterday.

Yesterday, in a bipartisan vote, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted unanimously (97:0) to repeal Common Core. Today, the Tennessee State Senate followed with a (27:1) vote in favor of repeal.

“This legislation is a template for all states to begin a much needed journey of separation from federally generated standards and an invitation to embrace each states’ own constitutionally delegated authority to serve its citizens at its own will,” said HB1035 chief sponsor Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg). “As our founders and God surely intended.”

 

Indiana and Oklahoma have also repealed Common Core in favor of their own local standards.  To be “State standards” they have to be created by, controlled by and owned by the state.  Common Core standards are not.  They are controlled by testing companies and textbook companies and owned by the NGA and CCSSO.

Don’t believe me?  Try to change the standards and see how far you get.

Are all the legislators in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Indiana to be mocked and ridiculed, as you have us, by aligning yourselves with the folks that mock us with stuffed pink unicorns?Some of our legislators may have felt like they needed to jump on Lane Grigsby’s Pink Unicorn drawn clown wagon by refusing to allow Common Core to be brought to the floor for a vote or for debate last week. Don’t think we didn’t notice.

Legislators: We parents and voters are watching what you do, and what you don’t do now.  You won’t be able to turn your backs on us and ignore us and walk away.  We will come to your town halls.  We will come to your offices.  We will come to your fundraisers, ceremonies, dedications and speeches until your listen.  When we see you on the street and in church we will ask you about them and what you intend to do to fix the mess that adopting these hastily defined standards has caused.

If you continue to cater to those who believe in unicorns and fantasy we will hold you accountable. . .  and not just at election time.

If all it takes is stuffed toys to get you to bow to the will of a few special interest groups with too many dollars and not enough sense, prepare to be dazzled with a healthy dose of reality.

Crawfish are Real.

Crawfish are of Louisiana.

Our standards should be real and of Louisiana too.

Common Core is the fantasy ed-deformers can't wake up from

Crawfish Are Real! (And so are the problems with Common Core)

Do you really think the federal government is the real solution for education, but just not anything else?

Now who’s living in fantasy land?

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Responses to the Pink Common Core Unicorn

For those of you who missed it last week, our local education deformers cowering behind their ABC PAC, placed pink unicorns on each of our legislators desks with a message stating some of the things they had heard about Common Core were as mythical as the unicorn.

I’ll be honest, when I saw the tagline:

“Unicorns are not real. And neither are most of the things you’ve heard about Common Core State Standards.”

I really thought this was an effort by my crowd, the anti-Common Core crowd.  It would have made more sense and been much more appropriate.

You see, we’ve been fighting the lies spun by big business and mainstream media about Common Core for years.  Each lie we debunk is quickly replaced by a new ludicrous and/or unproven claim.  Much of the strategy of the Common Core movement has been to accuse the other side of their weaknesses before we could point them out.  This is where vague statements like “a mile wide and an inch deep” come from when describing our GLEs which where ranked second in the the nation prior to Common Core, and include much of the same material, except staged in developmentally appropriate ways (like requiring kindergarteners to solve word problems before they can read) and without all the bizarre and intentionally misleading word problem gibberish, and inefficient and contrived ways of solving what should be simple math problems.

Another recent, popularly repeated lie (so it must be true), involves stating our old GLE’s (which were ranked second in the nation prior to Common Core) are complete crap, and returning to them would be a giant step backwards and a disaster, according to State Superintendent John White and his fluffy headed sidekick, BESE President Chas Roemer.

This is peculiar since most of Louisiana’s GLE’s mapped to Common Core content, but Common Core ditched a lot of our material, like cursive writing, learning multiplication tables, and preparing students to take Algebra before High School so they can take Calculus before college.  85% of the content within Common Core mapped to our GLE’s. However our GLE’s actually contained more material introduced in more developmentally appropriate ways.

A little known fact is that LDOE actually spent 1.6 million dollars with WestEd to compare the two and build a crosswalk table to help with the transition from our GLE’s to Common Core, but then decided to move the adoption schedule up a year and ditched all the information they just spent 1.6 million dollars acquiring. The reality is the exact opposite of what Common Core supporters tell you.  Common Core is taking us backwards and lowering our standards.  Common Core proponents promised us the world with their “internationally benchmarked” standards, but all we got was a lousy unicorn and a hefty recurring bill for disposable worksheets.

So Common Core supporters want to have it both ways.  They want to complain that our old standards were crappier than Common Core (even though they covered more advanced material and more material) and at the same time they want to say they had too much, that they were “a mile wide and an inch deep.”  Which is it?  It doesn’t matter.  No matter what anyone says they simply argue whatever is most advantageous at any given point in time, with any given person or group, and their drones regurgitate their talking points verbatim, without really understanding what they are saying, and without any proof or evidence to back up their statements.

This is actually a good example of what is wrong with Common Core.  It was never proven to be effective, nor to be more advanced in any way.  The available evidence actually indicates the opposite is true.  Rather than actually try to back up their statements or provide evidence for their assertions, they resort to fluffy pink unicorns, because really, that’s all the evidence they have to offer.  It’s about as substantial as everything else they claim, which is to say pure fantasy.

So now these folks are creating more of the same lies and gibberish, but somehow believe prancing around delivering pink unicorns to legislators will win them some allies.  I hope that wasn’t their thinking, because from what I read online, some legislators were none too pleased with this prank.

State Representative Brett Geymann had this to say about the unicorn stunt on his Facebook Page:

Is this what they want to teach our children?

The ruling class elitists placed a unicorn on our desk to mock the parents who want to rid our state of Common Core. This is offensive and disgusting and every person and every group that is listed as a supporter of this PAC should resign immediately. This includes any member of LABI and the Chamber in SWLA. Your money is being used to promote Common Core and to mock the parents who are fighting for their children. I will not sit by and watch these elitists do this. The line in the sand has been crossed. To those of you who are fighting so hard to get Common Core out of our state, please know we are all in and will fight to the last day in this session. Big business has lied to the people about Common Core for their own self-interest. I have never witnessed anything so offensive as this in politics.

A teacher with 37 years of experience named Candyce Watsey had this to say to Community Coffee after reading they were a staunch supporter of Common Core:

Dear Customer Service Representative:

I know that you do the best that you can do; so do I. So I would like to begin by making it clear that I do not hold you responsible for the misguided position on Common Core that Community Coffee has adopted.

My family on my mother’s side is from New Iberia. I remember as a child that my grandmother and great aunt brewed demitasse in an enamel drip coffee pot on the top of the stove, painstakingly adding very hot water by the teaspoon to… the coffee grounds until a beautiful, rich brew was ready, served in demitasse cups with only sugar as an accompaniment. For me, my great aunt heated rich milk and poured it with just a bit of the demitasse into a large mug, sweetening it into a perfect coffee milk. To this day, and I am 60 years old, that is the best coffee of my life.

The coffee? Community.

Why is this venerable company tying its fate to a flawed, federal initiative that will only weaken the Louisiana flavor of our schools?

This is my 37th year as a teacher in Louisiana, and I am staunchly opposed to common core.

So, if I don’t tell you how to make your coffee, could you please refrain from telling me how to teach school?

You know your business; I know mine.

Sincerely,

Candyce Watsey
Covington, Louisiana

Note: The website where Mrs. Watsey and other saw Community Coffee listed as a supporter of Common Core has since been taken down.

When I visited the unicorn website I was treated to more lies, fabrications, straw man arguments, and truth twistings that would impress a twizzler addict.  Common Core really is a pink unicorn, but what Louisiana needs is a break from the false promises and fantasy of Common Core was promised to be, but clearly wasn’t for thousands of children and parents across our state.

What we need is a healthy dose of reality.  I hope we can find a way to deliver this message to our legislators before it is too late.

Posted in education, politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

LDOE’s Graduation and College Enrollment Statistics in Context

Fortunately tonight I was sent a blog post from a new anonymous Louisiana education blogger  (at least new to me) named ULYankee.   I will reference some of the material contained in this entity’s blog post, because they seem to know what they are talking about, but I will build off of what they have written.

According to LDOE our grad numbers are going up and up and into the stratosphere.  What’s more, our students enrolling in colleges is going up too!  However, John White is the Prince of Education Deception and these press releases are mostly BS.

First let me explain how this all works.  There are several data systems these numbers come from. 

The Student Information System (SIS) collects basic data on enrollments, and exit codes (including exit code 04 (which gets updated to a “Y” on a statistical aggregation file) which means the student graduated – theoretically.)  The information from SIS gets used to generate the cohort graduation and dropout rates as well as the graduate counts.

Calculations used below were based on the following criteria: 1) Total Graduates were calculated based on LDOE Student Information System (SIS) End-of-Year data where "GraduateFlg" = "Y"; 2) Number enrolled 1st Fall after graduation was based on Enrollment Beginning Date <= 10/31/2014.

The Student Transcript System (STS) collects actual class info, grades, Carnegie Units earned, and can determine if a student has met all the class related requirements to graduate.

In the past, when I worked there, we would check the numbers and differences between these systems.  There should not be a large discrepancy.  STS is probably the more reliable, but SIS is easier to use for calculations and more timely in some cases and easier to update.  In the times when we cared about data accuracy, LDOE would audit the use of codes to determine if they were being used correctly.  In a recent small audit of RSD, LDOE determined that 100% of the codes they used were not used correctly and not documented.  One RSD school in New Orleans reported as much as 50% of their student cohort transferred out of the country. (If those students were really dropouts – which is likely -  by transferring them out of the country on paper they boosted they graduation rate and lowered their dropout rate by removing them from the equation.)  LDOE did nothing with their findings and did not later their figures for the years they audited.  LDOE started incorporating the Graduates in the School Performance Score calculation about 4 years ago.  Immediately after doing this the graduation rate jumped 4%. 

Yippie! 

The magic of expectations works here just as it did in Atlanta and DC. 

The increase in 2010 was not real.  It was not real in the sense that 4% more students suddenly decided to graduate because they knew it was important to their school’s performance score. 

image

This increase was due to better data.  It was largely due to school districts entering data correctly for the first time because it impacted their school performance scores, and we gave them several opportunities to fix their data they did not have in years past.  It was certainly not due to staying the course on Common Core and more rigor – which had not been introduced yet.  (It might also have been related to switching over easier to pass End of Course testing instead of the pervious Graduate Exit Exam.)

Now our grad rate is creeping up every year and we have a large discrepancy between STS and SIS LDOE does nothing about.

So, according to yesterday’s 2014 college going report, 38,785 students graduated from Louisiana’s public schools last year. But according to the Regents’ STS Core 4 report, there are 38,326 public school graduates. Hmm, that’s a difference of 459 students, or a little over 1%. Not a huge number, but they should match. There’s even more of a problem with last year’s data – LDoE reported 37,655, where I only see 36,424 public grads in the Regents’ report, for a difference of 1231 students or a 3.3% difference.

So over the past two years graduate counts may be overstated by over 1600 students.  LDOE did not tie their numbers to the Student Transcript System.  We are showing quite a few more graduates in SIS (which only requires LEA’s to submit a single value of 04 on an exit record to identify a student as a graduate.)  Like the miracle workers before John White in Atlanta and Washington DC, LDOE does not audit or verify numbers they want to see increasing.  They don’t care how schools get those increases, as long as they get them so they have the pleasing numbers to back their Reform initiatives. 

The increase in college enrollments is a function of a new, more complete, matching system LDOE was planning to implement right after I left and right after John White arrived.  In previous years we identified fist time freshman based on students we found at the Board of Regents (our State College Board.)  We called this our First Time Freshman or FTF Report.  The Board of Regents only had data on instate colleges and universities – and not even all of them.  The new method is using  the National Student Clearing House.

College enrollment data is provided by the National Student Clearinghouse which includes more than 3,600 colleges and universities, enrolling 98% of all students in public and private U.S. institutions. For more information, see http://www.studentclearinghouse.org/about/

The increase in first time college enrolling students is not Common Core.  It is not rigor, or charter schools, or higher expectations, or magic pixie dust.  The increase from years past  is entirely due to including the rest of the students from Louisiana that Board of Regents did not have, using a better source file, and including the out of state student records we never had access to.  These are not apples to apples comparisons. 

This is more smoke and mirrors.  This is John White claiming credit for doing something that is quite likely entirely a factor of using a more expansive and inclusive matching method. 

 

 

 

 

Posted in politics | 5 Comments

Good News, Transparency: Louisiana CREDO Data No Longer Exclusive to CREDO

crazycrawfish:

This is a great addendum by Dr Mercedes Schneider to my recent post on CREDO data and LDOE schenanigans, and one of the best quick summaries of CREDO, its funders, and its founders that I’ve seen.

I’m not quite sure Mercedes is human, folks. Ijust published my piece around 4 or 5 today and she already has this update out a few hours later, and it’s crazy good.

I have some more updates on CREDO and their studies coming up, but before that I plan to tackle a few other recent disturbing revelations.

Originally posted on deutsch29:

According to Louisiana-based Research on Reforms (ROR), between 2010 and March 2015, the Stanford-University-based, Hoover-Institute-run Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) was the only research body allowed access to decoded student data on Louisiana students.

Prior to 2010, from 2005 to 2009, the Louisiana State Department of Education (LDOE) also sent the same decoded data to ROR. However, ROR findings regarding the state-run Recovery School District (RSD) often did not support the state’s own findings on its state-run district (a conflict of interest, no?). So, according to ROR, beginning in 2010, LDOE stopped sending ROR decoded student data but continued to send such data to CREDO.

In short, CREDO remained the favored research outfit in shaping an image for New Orleans RSD.

Given CREDO’s favor with a pro-privatizing LDOE, one might wonder: Who funds CREDO?

Well, you won’t find a list of CREDO funders on the CREDO website. However…

View original 983 more words

Posted in politics | 2 Comments

LDOE Lays an Egg: Violates FERPA and Their Own MOU Providing Data to CREDO

I know its reaching, but I thought I’d give everyone a little Easter reference with this surprise post.  Smile

Before I left LDOE 3 years ago I was asked to help assemble some de-identified data for a research outfit named CREDO.  At the time most of my colleagues didn’t know who CREDO was or what they were all about.  (It turns out they are a pro-charter funded propaganda machine masquerading as legitimate researchers.)   We had a standing policy not to provide this type of data to anyone. . . except a few local research universities like ULL we had established contracts with – to provide analysis services to LODE for specific grants.

Then came John White and CREDO.  We’d been telling CREDO “No” for years because the amount of data they wanted was excessive and the time involved with compiling it was also going to be pretty steep.  John White was not the State Superintendent when he started giving orders through Erin Bendilly, a Jindal appointee.  This request was one of those, and it was coordinated, reviewed, and delivered by Kim Nesmith, the “Data Quality Director” and department’s FERPA enforcer.  (The fact that this request was  being forced through quickly on John White’s behalf was confirmed by both Kim and Devora Davis, head CREDO researcher, in a conference call.)

happy Easter

FERPA tidbit:

US DOE requires State agencies to select a number between 1 and 10 to mask all their student level data to conform to FERPA. Kim actually required the department go one step further.  She insisted we mask by using less than (<) and greater than (>) symbols in the ones digits in most numbers reported.  (We can still derive the specific numbers from the percentages and enrollment numbers but I won’t tell if you won’t)

image

(You can Download the full report example if you’d like.)

Another provision of FERPA calls for agencies to restrict access to data – keep it private from those that don’t need that access to perform their specific role or function.  While I dealt with the student data of all students, I did not need to have access to their medical records or diagnoses, or their specific Special Education classifications.  This role was handled by the folks that worked directly with this data and these students in our SER system or those folks who produced necessary reports to the Finance department.  For the nine years I worked there, I did not have access to that data.

New Orleans based, Research on Reforms filed a lawsuit to discover just what data LDOE had released to CREDO.  When ROR eventually prevailed I learned what else LDOE had provided to CREDO.  (LDOE first denied the existence of this MOU until I agreed to testify for Research on Reforms.  Then LDOE argued that they could choose whomever they wanted to evaluate their programs and did not need to provide equal access to anyone else to cross examine the claims.  The first judge agreed, but the appeals court overturned this ruling.)

It turns out LDOE violated their own very expansive MOU.  What follows is a description of a few things that should not have been sent.

For instance, it turns out that LDOE sent quite a bit of detailed data on non-public students, their DOB’s, their teachers, their special education conditions, schools, etc.  Non-Public schools were not part of the research project and not part of the MOU.

CREDO MOU

Here’s a snapshot of some of the NPB (Non-Public School) records.  Hundreds of non-public schools’ data was disclosed – without their knowledge I would imagine.

image

And here is some of the specific data elements they handed over on nonpublic and public students – some of which is specifically prohibited and some of which should have been because it was outside the scope of the study.  This shows the full Date of birth (not just month and year) as well as any section 504 classifications and also identifies one student as blind and another one as deaf.  (Note: these records are from completely different sections and do not match up to any of the schools shown above.)

image

Of course if that’s not enough, they also included the specific teacher and the course they took with that teacher for each student. (Note: each snap shot is from different records to prevent identification of students.  Something LDOE might have considered.)

image

To make sure researchers could identify and use all these codes, LDOE created a decode file with useful tables like this one for Special Education classifications.

image

You will note in the study, none of this info is necessary, and if you look at the final CREDO reports none of it was used – but it was provided unnecessarily.

LDOE also can’t make the claim they did not know what they were providing or that they were unaware that to provide it was a violation of FERPA.  Most of the files, like the one containing Special Education data, carry a pretty convincing warning.

This report contains personally identifiable information or information that when combined withother reports and/or information a student’s identity might be revealed.  Personally identifiable studentinformation must be kept confidential pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)codified at 20 U.S.C. 1232g.  Information in this report cannot be disclosed to any other person,except for employees of a student’s school or school system who must have access to that information in order to perform their official duties and for those other persons and entitiesspecified in 20 U.S.C. 1232g.

image

In this case, LDOE provided this information without any masking for every school in the state (including Non-Publics).  They provided a file that contains the school, school year, grade, age, ethnicity, disabilities, gender.  They provided this information for counts as low as one single student.

You would think a Student Privacy Director and Data Quality Director would know better, wouldn’t you?

According to the MOU, here is the scope of the study:

image

 

image

The dubious nature of the decision to provide all the data they agreed to provide aside, I don’t see any reason to provide private school data, let alone disabled student data.  Do you?

This is an example of why LDOE needs to be fully transparent and properly overseen.  There is no telling how many other data sharing agreements LDOE has entered into that most of us are completely unaware of.  LDOE is apparently incapable of even adhering to their own internal privacy decisions and their own MOU’s.  This is not an example of a rogue department providing data accidentally.  This is an example of LDOE’s top privacy guru, the Student Privacy and Data Quality Director reviewing and assembling the data, personally, before handing it over to strangers in California.

image

It’s only a combination of chance and persistence that I stumbled across the details of this agreement and am able to share my findings with you.  How many more agreements like this are out there that are unknown to us?  How poorly have they been reviewed?  I can’t actually say.  Someone outside of LDOE needs to review these types of disclosures (All of them)  – before they happen.  It is important for the public to have an accounting of both what was promised, but also what was actually delivered.  Frankly, if LDOE doesn’t understand their own data, they shouldn’t be providing it to others.  I also question whether they should be collecting it all or storing it for decades in the first place.

Posted in charter school, education, louisiana, politics | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

LDOE is So Corrupted By Vendors Like Eureka Math, Employees Have Trouble Telling Right From Wrong Anymore

I have too many small stories that need to be stitched together before I can show you the big picture.  I could write a single gigantic post of everything I’ve been learning over the last few months, but no one would read it I fear.  The problem is, I want to write a few concise summary pieces, but I also want to provide the backup documents to support what I’m saying.  This is the first of a number of small disclosures that I will stitch together in later pieces.

Many folks don’t understand or realize that LDOE has been taken over by outside interests.  Everything from curriculum choice, to policies, to tests, training sites and employees are influenced by vendors and organizations seeking to use Louisiana and our children as test tube for their agenda.  Here’s a description of what it’s like to work at LDOE now:

Oh, and I’m so jaded I don’t know what’s a big deal anymore, esp. since corporate media show little interest in bad government, and the few stories that make it don’t stick for long, but this big Teacher leader conference in June currently has over 50–a majority–of sessions provided by vendors incl. of course Eureka math. strikes me as interesting that the taxpayers are paying a fortune to get several thousand teachers and admins to a conference that the vendors aren’t paying for but get to heavily push their products and agenda. So far roughly half are actually to be conducted by public ed staff-dept of ed, teachers etc.

One of the vendors I will focus on for this piece is Eureka Math.  Many outsiders were perplexed by LDOE’s decision to select Eureka Math as the only Tier One math product for Louisiana.  (Louisiana is not known for being a leader in education so it’s not surprising no one else has chosen Eureka as something special except a study paid for by the Gates foundation.)  It turns out that LDOE made a deal last year to do this in return for free professional development and other unknown  perks and promises.  Eureka Math is being heavily promoted again this year on the state’s dime.  It goes by many names.  Sometimes Eureka Math is referred to as EngageNY.  It was sometimes referred to as just Common Core, after the website it created for itself.  To make things even more confusing it has recently changed its name again, to Great Minds.

This change happened on January 8th, 2105

Common Core, Inc. changes its name to Great Minds.

January 8, 2015

On January 8th, 2015, Common Core, Inc. changed its name to Great Minds.

Magically – Great Minds/Eureka/EngageNY/Common Core managed to go back in time and rewrite their press releases and news articles to say things that are impossible.

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education recommends Common Core Math Curriculum

WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2013) — The State of Louisiana and its Office of the State Superintendent of Education recently announced that the P-12 mathematics curriculum developed by the nonprofit Great Minds is a recommended resource for Louisiana math teachers. The state praised the curriculum for its rigor and alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The CCSS-based math curriculum was developed by Great Minds, a Washington, D.C. based organization that creates curriculum tools and promotes programs, policies, and initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Great Minds developed the math curriculum in partnership with the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

“Great Minds is proud to provide Louisiana educators with a curriculum that supports their efforts to implement the CCSS,” said Lynne Munson, Great Minds president and executive director. “It is imperative that educators are given the curriculum and tools necessary to get every student college and career ready. Great Minds’s educator-developed curriculum helps offer teachers the instructional paths they need for success.”

Last week, Louisiana’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education announced new math curriculum guidance for all of the state’s public schools. The guidance recommended the Great Minds-developed math curriculum to guide unit and lesson instruction, noting “These materials are rigorous, include formative assessments and are aligned to Great Minds [State Standards]. All materials are free and available for students as well. Teachers can pull and then adjust sets of lessons to fit the bundling in Louisiana’s year-long scope and sequence.”

This is probably the 5th rewrite of this press release.   It looks like they even replaced “Common Core” with “Great Minds” State Standards.  What’s even more cool is they rewrote a press release quote from the state of Louisiana to align with their new name.  Compare the highlighted section from 2014 above, with the nearly identical press release from 2013 below.

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education recommends the Common Core, Inc. Math Curriculum

June 24, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2013) — The State of Louisiana and its Office of the State Superintendent of Education recently announced that the P-12 mathematics curriculum developed by the nonprofit Common Core, Inc. is a recommended resource for Louisiana math teachers. The state praised the curriculum for its rigor and alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The CCSS-based math curriculum was developed by Common Core, Inc., a Washington, D.C. based organization that creates curriculum tools and promotes programs, policies, and initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Common Core, Inc. developed the math curriculum in partnership with the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

“Common Core, Inc. is proud to provide Louisiana educators with a curriculum that supports their efforts to implement the CCSS,” said Lynne Munson, Common Core, Inc. president and executive director. “It is imperative that educators are given the curriculum and tools necessary to get every student college and career ready. Common Core, Inc.’s educator-developed curriculum helps offer teachers the instructional paths they need for success.”

Last week, Louisiana’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education announced new math curriculum guidance for all of the state’s public schools. The guidance recommended the Common Core, Inc.-developed math curriculum to guide unit and lesson instruction, noting “These materials are rigorous, include formative assessments and are aligned to Common Core [State Standards]. All materials are free and available for students as well. Teachers can pull and then adjust sets of lessons to fit the bundling in Louisiana’s year-long scope and sequence.”

The formal announcement from the Office of the State Superintendent did not approve any specific textbooks because “none were sufficiently aligned to the Common Core State Standards.”

Common Core, Inc. has been working with master teachers and math scholars for more than two years to craft a comprehensive pre-kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics curriculum. The design for the curriculum is based on work pioneered by Louisiana State University mathematician Scott Baldridge, who holds that mathematics is most effectively taught as a logical, engaging story.

Common Core, Inc.’s mathematics curriculum is available at Common Core, Inc.’s website (commoncore.org) and at NYSED’s website (engageny.org). Additionally, the Common Core, Inc. mathematics curriculum will be available in a print version for teachers and school districts through publisher Jossey-Bass starting in August 2013.

Eureka/EngageNY/CommonCore/Great Minds (which I shall now call EECG to keep track of all their names) is just as careless and sloppy with their press releases and subterfuge as they are will their actual worksheets and materials.  This behavior is typical of the Common Core initiative.  Key participants provide misleading information, and back up their claims with Gate’s sponsored biased research.  They then rely on newspaper articles and opinion columns requested by local Chamber’s of Commerce or in return for Gates foundation “donations” and endowments.

In the EECG case, these entities are all related, but much of the press around their products, except from Louisiana, has been bad.  Rather than try and improve their products they simply keep changing their name. . . just about every year.  They are trying to outrun the bad news while dragging along the positive and smacking their new label on old news. They want it both ways, all of the good (which there is amusingly very little of) and none of the bad.

It’s not a coincidence that Louisiana is the only state to select EECG as the only tier one math curriculum product from among all the states.  LDOE, John White and EECG have a financial relationship and part of that relationship involves Louisiana pushing EECG to all the parishes in the state.  These are the ways LDOE has promoted and coerced EECG adoption:

  • Providing professional development to districts only if they adopt EECG.
  • Holding Conferences in New Orleans centered around EECG
  • Privately threatening parishes with sanctions if they choose another curriculum
  • Promoting EECG in numerous Press Releases
  • Promoting EECG in News Letters
  • Promoting EECG and links to EECG products on their official (LouisianaBelieves) department website
  • Sending LDOE teacher leaders and LDOE department staff to local school board meetings to promote and defend EECG.

John White has turned the Louisiana Department of Education into little more than the shill in a Home Shopping Network ad that is amazed and impressed by every claim made by the hawker.  Is this being done for some future promised benefit to John White and his staff?  John White has no roots here and can’t stay here forever.  After the Governor and BESE elections this fall John White and much of his staff may find themselves out of jobs. . .in Louisiana.  With all the vendor deals and relationships White and his staff strike, while on our dime, they will have plenty of places to go. . . and we will be left holding whatever EECG names itself in the future, while they reap the rewards of their cozy vendor relationships.

Posted in politics | 18 Comments