Why do I think Bobby Jindal is scamming us with faux Common Core lawsuits?

Why do I think Bobby Jindal is scamming us with faux Common Core lawsuits?

To be quite frank, I did not develop this idea on my own. I was asked whether I thought Jindal’s opposition to Common Core was sincere, and my response at first was “I don’t know, but does it matter?” My thinking being: whether or not Bobby Jindal opposed Common Core for the “right” reasons or for political reasons, was irrelevant. What mattered is that we had a former staunch supporter of the standards publicly recanting his position. I actually think this encouraged a lot of folks in the Anti-Common Core camp, and added to the nationwide movement and impetus to roll back or remove the standards across the nation. Which is great for folks outside of Louisiana, but most public school parents know we are still in a bind. At the end of the day, talk is cheap and therapy and tutoring for 700,000 Louisiana school children won’t be.

Jindal made some moves that seemed to indicate he had genuinely thought deeply about this situation (that he had put us in) and had a thoughtful plan for extricating us from it.

  • Jindal held press conferences denouncing Common Core as a Federal takeover of education
  • Jindal took numerous photo ops surrounded by opponents of Common Core
  • Jindal appointed Jane Smith, a staunch Common Core opponent (one of his three appointees)
  • Jindal (though his surrogates at DOA) declared the contract for the PARCC test invalid for not following proper laws and procedures (although DOA had previously reviewed and okayed this same contract.)
  • Jindal sent a letter to PARCC telling them he was pulling Louisiana out of the testing consortium (something he apparently didn’t have the legal standing to do.)
  • Jindal reduced John White’s purchasing power from 20k to 2 k without prior approval. (Meanwhile John White explained he’d actually been functioning under a 50k limit.)
  • Jindal originally refused to allow BESE to hire a lawyer/law firm to being suit against him (but did allow a law firm connected to LDOE, TFA, and Reformers to bring suit against him on constitutional grounds and allowed BESE to sign on as a party to this suit without repercussions for his other two appointed BESE members.)
  • Jindal appointed Jimmy Faircloth (a chief campaign donor who has never won a constitutional education case for the administration) to “defend” him from the lawsuit brought by Common Core supporters to allow Louisiana to purchase the PARCC test.
  • Jindal brought forth a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration over the constitutionality of Race to the Top funding tied to Common Core and PARCC testing in relation to a 17 million dollar grant Louisiana eventually one in the third round of RTTT

     

All of these things sound positive, but the net effect to date has been nothing but jawing on national television, more photo ops and newspaper stories, more lawsuits, and chaos in the classrooms and homes. Common Core is more entrenched in Louisiana than ever.

 

Sadly I have detected a waning in interest in Common Core forums among opponents. I’d diagnose this as a blend of fatigue, resignation, and perhaps a yearning for eventual victory that has sapped the life from folks and the movement locally. Many are waiting to see how this develops. I don’t blame them. I was watching too. I fear this that is exactly what Jindal’s opposition was intended to do. Jindal inserted himself at the head of the angry mob of parents and teachers opposed to Common Core. He took up our banner (but with what appears to be a rubber pitchfork) and has led us in direction after direction; telling us he has a plan; urging us to follow his lead.

 

He is leading us through blind alleys and into dead ends, folks.

 

I was warned something like this was going to happen numerous times by insiders. Here’s an excerpt from one person I received in April.

I’ve watched with interest this whole story about Common Core tests the last few days.  I have been on the inside of the political circle.  I would bet my life on this.  Bobby Jindal, John White, and Chas Roemer came up with this strategy months ago.  Saying Jindal wants out — but White and Roemer have to sign withdrawal allows Jindal to be perceived as far right — less federal oversight, etc. — poising him for his presidential campaign.   But it also keeps Common Core testing alive in Louisiana.

I’ve had numerous other conversations with different folks on the inside, but this one sums the situation up very nicely. Every day I fear more and more that they were right.

This isn’t just some random guy like me speculating . . . this is someone that works with these characters and knows how they work. So let’s examine some of the signals and moves that don’t make sense if you were really trying to eliminate Common Core, and not simply trying to make a lot of noise about eliminating it.

  • If Jindal really wanted out way back in April, when he first started making noise, why didn’t he talk to any of his handpicked and appointed legislators?
  • Why did Jindal wait until after the legislative session was completely over in June to hold his press conference about getting Louisiana out of Common Core?
  • Jindal has folks all over the legislature keeping an eye on bills and people, but anyone with a half hour and a black and white TV set could have seen the hundreds of parents being marginalized day after day while bill after bill to put the brakes on Common Core was shot down. The only indication that he was for any of these bills to remove Common Core were a few random support cards, but no one from his administration chose to speak or make a statement. In fact, even though those opportunities were offered to them they declined.
  • Unless I am mistaken (admittedly it’s been a while since I looked), every BESE member that is for Common Core (except maybe Walter Lee) received maximum contributions from the Jindal campaign in the last BESE election. 2 of Jindal’s 3 BESE appointees are adamantly for it. Why has Jindal not asked them to resign (and appoint two folks that would shift the tide 6 v 5 if swing voter Walter Lee could be brought on board); if he really believes Common Core is an unconstitutional federal takeover of education as he has asserted in his recent lawsuit against the federal government?
  • I think that last point should get two bullets, because. . . Seriously? Is he really keeping his appointees, Judith Muranti and Connie Bradford, onboard to represent his interests when he believes they are actively violating the Constitution of the United States and depriving Louisiana citizens of their Constitutional rights? And he wants to be President or even just a national figure??? You would think removing folks Jindal himself appointed on his state board of education, or even just calling for their resignation, would be a much more efficient and effective move than literally making a federal case out of this. It’s not like that would even be a new thing. Jindal did that before, with former Jindal appointee Tammie McDaniel, when she voted a way he didn’t like on a simple funding issue. But Jindal has said nothing and done nothing to his appointees violating the US Constitution and voting to sue him directly for violating Louisiana’s Constitution stating he has been disruptive and destructive. (He has of course, but his own appointees should not be saying that and retaining their positions if he is at all serious about his opposition to Common Core.) You would also think Jindal would have some influence over all the other members he donated to and brought to power.

     

But the truth is, even the federal lawsuit he is bringing is weak and destined to fail for three reasons:

  1. His case is weak
  2. His lawyer is weak
  3. His time is short

Plenty has been written about number 2, Jindal’s representation, Jimmy Faircloth. The fact that he produced not expert witnesses and rolled over in his last case on this issue should be documentation enough. (Not to mention he has never won a Constitution education case he’s represented Jindal on – not that that is ordinarily bad thing except here. . .) While Faircloth might not be the best lawyer if you want to actually win a case, no one can say he isn’t generous when it comes to kicking back [legally of course] some of his “earnings” to his favorite employer in the form of campaign contributions. (This is legal in Louisiana as long as no one calls it a “kickback” or demands a kickback and – and it just “happens” organically. . . I guess. . . of their own volition/common sense.)

So instead I will explore the other two items.

It’s not that the argument the Jindal administration is making a federal case out of is not firmly grounded for some states, but at this moment Louisiana is not really one of them. US DOE did unconstitutionally grant itself waiver powers to ignore the legally defined sanctions of NCLB in the form of ESEA waivers. These waivers were put in place by US DOE to supplant NCLB (No Child Left Behind) requirements. These were put in place without Congressional approval and Duncan has required the defacto adoption of Common Core (or a nationally recognized curriculum of which only Common Core qualifies) in exchange for relaxation of the NCLB requirements. The NCLB requirements were designed to be unattainable, requiring 100% proficiency of all students in all subgroups (Limited English, poor, disabled) by 2014. Some threats made by US DOE are that all federal funding would be withheld if the states don’t meet the impossible standards of NCLB, or the sanctions of NCLB (which can be financially crippling) and will be vigorously enforced. So states can choose to weather the NCLB sanctions which no states can avoid, or adopt Common Core and tie those tests to teacher retention policies and also adopt a bunch of other Reform friendly destructive crap.

By “waiving” the sanctions imposed by the NCLB law that Congress did authorize, Duncan removed the incentive and urgency for Congress to fix the problem built into NCLB that all states faced because NCLB was designed to be structurally impossible to achieve by anyone. When Congress chose to turn a blind eye to the constitutionally questionable ESEA waivers, what resulted was a ceding of all powers to set rules and guidelines for federal funding to the Executive branch (Arne Duncan), rather than the legislative branch of government.

This is why many informed opponents of Common Core consider it a federal mandate and takeover.

(When the mainstream media chooses to ignore this direct line of influence and control it feeds into the conspiracy theories and theorists. To tell you the truth, media that refuses to acknowledge this direct connection is really stupid (or thinks we are), willfully ignorant, lazy, or is actually a part of a conspiracy to spread Common Core propaganda.)

So what has resulted from the imposition of unattainable standards and the refusal of Congress to act to remedy the situation is a requirement that states adopt Common Core (nationally recognized standards of which there was only one by definition: Common Core State Standards), or else.

However Duncan’s interference did not end there. He also added this requirement to the billions of dollars allocated to RTTT (Race To The Top) grants. Louisiana would be in a much better position to make the case these standards were imposed upon them unconstitutionally if Louisiana rejected them (as Oklahoma has done) and was subsequently sanctioned by Arne Duncan (as has happened to Oklahoma). However because Louisiana’s state Board of Education (BESE) is endorsing them, and not stating they are doing so because of a concern about funding being yanked, Jindal’s case is weak. He could make it stronger by kicking his own appointees and replacing them with anti-Common Core appointees, and then perhaps working out an “understanding” with the swing vote BESE member, Walter Lee, who is facing multiple indictments for various financial improprieties. I can see an easy win there, and then a strong federal case to be made when Duncan slams some sanctions down on us.

The basis of the case for arguing the RTTT grants are unconstitutional will be tied to the determination of whether the Federal government can define national standards and curriculum, or whether those are sovereign rights left to the states. Some states that received very large grants in the first or second round of RTT (during one of the greatest financial downturns in our nation since the Great Depression might have a case they applied for and agreed to these grants under financial duress.) However the 17 million dollars Jindal complains about in his federal lawsuit is chump change compared to the more than 800 million dollars Louisiana receives from LDOE for agreeing to the waiver conditions set in conjunction with Arne Duncan. The ESEA waiver process is where Arne’s chokehold over education comes from. 17 million dollars is what we find in our couches every year trying to fill the billion dollars shortfalls Jindal “balances” our budgets with every year, but it is an issue for some states that won significantly more than 17 million dollars..

Even so, a Federal lawsuit is not the short-term answer and not one Jindal can follow-through on. Jindal’s term is up in a little more than a year and he can’t run for a third term (thank the Lord). Not one candidate for Governor in the 2015 gubernatorial race supports eliminating Common Core. The front-runner and most well-funded (and diapered) candidate, David Vitter, has changed his position from staunchly opposed to rabidly in favor of Common Core. (I’m assuming he changed positions after he found out who had all the money.) That means this lawsuit will not amount to anything except more money for one of Jindal’s best campaign donors (Jimmy Faircloth) more headlines for him, and more wasted money and hopes for Louisiana taxpayers and parents.

The BP oil spill happened in 2010. We know who was responsible and BP has acknowledged their responsibility. We know who was damaged. That tragedy happened at end of Bobby Jindal’s first term; 4 years ago, but we still do not have a final settlement for the State or lawsuit brought to trial for Louisiana. What are the chances this lawsuit concerning our very US Constitution will have any meaningful results in the next year?

Will we wait 4 years for this to be resolved? How many Louisiana Governors will be have to go through before a settlement is reached?

That is what Common Core supporters (whom I must now re-include Bobby Jindal as) want. They want a full generation of our children to experiment on to see if Common Core works (even though the early results show abysmal failure.) But don’t worry, parents. I’m sure the next big education plan will be right around the corner for your kids’ kids. Maybe they will be more successful at taming the Educational Industrial Complex than we were?

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Standardized Lying

Standardized Lying

Student performance in Louisiana is dropping rapidly. The decline started just about the time John White became superintendent of Education and has accelerated rapidly with the introduction of Common Core in Louisiana schools. Based on a sample analysis of the very meager data LDOE finally released under threat of lawsuit it is clear that not only is student performance not increasing or staying steady, it Is in fact declining, and being masked by a lowering of the number of correct answers required to pass LEAP and iLEAP tests. Please refer to this post by Mike Deshotels and the analysis provided by Herb Bassett for the details. Below is an excerpt from Mike’s blog.

Here is the table supplied by the LDOE as a result of my public records request:

    scores

Notice that for 4th grade ELA, 4th grade Math, and 8th grade Math, there was a significant lowering of the percentage of correct answers needed to get a rating of basic. The Science and Social Studies percentages were changed very little from 2013 to 2014.

Would you like to know why such a high percentage of our students (64%) were able to reach the level of Basic this year on a more difficult 8th grade Math test? Herb Bassett calculates that using the same method of guessing described above, 8th grade students this year on the average would need to know only 20.2% of the math material on the test to reach the level of Basic.


 

What this means is simple terms is that Louisiana students are about 18% less prepared now in 4th grade in English Language Arts, and 28% percent less prepared in Math by the time the reach 8th grade than they were before John White and Common Core started being used in Louisiana schools. 8th grade ELA seems to be about the same. (My guess is this ability evened out as children read more books outside of school. That’s actually how I acquired my skills.) 4th Grade Math takes about a 10% hit in 4th grade, and children’s abilities seem to deteriorate going forward based on the 8th grade results.

This data actually matches up with information being supplied by teachers and parents. I can see why John White would have been so reticent to release this information except under court order and legal proceeding. This is not a local phenomenon. New York has discovered the same subterfuge in their state.

I don’t have magical powers, but I can confidently predict this is something you will find and see happening across the nation, especially in education Reformer infested territories. There is nothing standardized about the testing of Common Core, the only standardization comes in in the form of lying about it.

Proponents of Common Core, and the High Stakes testing required by it, have claimed the comparability of test scores across states will make for meaningful comparisons. To have this meaningful comparison, all states must teach the same curriculum and all must administer identical tests from one of the two federally funded consortiums (Smarter Balanced and PARCC). However neither consortium controls the cut scores; those are entirely in the control of the states. These scores can go up or down as local politics require.

Let me spell this out for you. If you want to show progress in your state you can artificially inflate the scores to show improvement. If you need to make a case for more charter schools and school closures simply lower the scores and take them over and then raise the score back to show that reform worked. That is exactly what Louisiana has done and no doubt other reform markets as well. The actual data shows the Reforms, including Common Core, have had the exact opposite effect, and a very dramatic one.

Even though the proposed tests are identical, even though the curriculum is identical, the actual scores and their meanings are left up to individual states to determine. That fact nullifies the argument for identical standardized tests and even the need for a standardized curriculum. Our scores, our levels of achievement, will not be and are not comparable to scores in other states. These tests are actually the opposite of comparable. NAEP and DEIBELS are national tests that are comparable, and neither of them requires a standardized curriculum nor extensive, expensive, technology intensive, obsessive testing, like Common Core does.

Most people won’t understand why that’s important. Even if some people do understand this shell game, most states will do whatever they can to prevent the public from learning about this practice in a timely manner (as Louisiana and John White has done). This is really a pretty important finding. It confirms anecdotal evidence many parents and teachers have experienced in school and in their homes. This finding drives a stake through the heart of the educational vampire known as Common Core.

Unfortunately Common Core vampires are very real. The corporately funded, Reformer and National teacher union embraced propaganda promoting Standardized Tests linked to Common Core as the cure-all for educational inequality and systemic and endemic poverty is the myth. Really, when you think about it, which is really the more believable reality?

CCVampireneed CC please help

The Violence and Hatred of Common Core Fanatics

The Violence and Hatred of Common Core Fanatics

It may come as no surprise to those of you/us who have been trying to point out the deficiencies of Common Core, that our input is often met with derision, hatred, venom and now even threats of violence. When I first wrote an article about my experience in with Common Core about a year ago I admit I did not fully understand what was going on, and that I was perplexed and confused by the homework at times. Many of us were. I understand Engage NY Curriculum is not the same as the Common Core standards, but it is derived from them and entirely related and relevant to discussions of Common Core. Moreover, in Louisiana the only State approved Tier 1 resource that LDOE endorses is Eureka, which is the “paid” version of Engage NY. From what I’ve seen this year the only difference between the two is that districts have to pay for Eureka products, and the branding at the bottom of the resource worksheets.

I wrote an entry on my blog to explain how many parents were feeling and because no one in power was listening to the complaints and concerns of parents. Many of us felt marginalized and maligned rather than engaged or listened too. Many folks who embrace the standards, like this teacher that recently posted on my blog talked to us this way when we expressed our concerns:

Sarah Berry, teacher (and provider of Common Core Teaching materials?)

Are all you people Fin crazy? Not a one of you know what the hell you are talking about. If parents can’t add their doubles then we have a bigger problem than we realize. As for the author of the original article; spend more time doing research than criticizing curriculum that you have no idea about. You have no degree in curriculum development (that is obvious) nor do you have a degree in education, your expertise is that you have a child. Just like you have a background in mathematics; that’s right, you had math in school and you learned just fine. Again, obviously not if you don’t know the benefits of doubles. What addition facts give most first graders difficulty? Oh that’s right, you don’t know your doubles so how in the hell would you know 6+7 or 8+9 or 5+7 Doubles helps student make sense of new problems by using their prior knowledge, something you have obviously lost! 6+7 can be seen as 6+6+1 more and is called a doubles plus one. Or you 6+7 could be seen as 7+7-1 and is called doubles minus one. But since your head is so far up your ass and you can only see how “you” were taught, not the benefits of teaching kids the “mathematics” vs. the short cut. When you get your teaching degree, earn your masters in curriculum design, spend time actually in the classroom teaching students, work as an administrator along side professional teachers, then you can write a blog regarding Engage NY math curriculum. And please do all the teachers in your area a favor, don’t have another child just because you can!

I had reports of many parents across various school districts being addressed this way by their teacher and other Common Core proponents. Perhaps Sarah does have all the credentials she implies she has, but what she does not have is people skills or the ability to work well with others. She may not want me to have any more children, but I don’t want her to be “teaching” any more children or engaging with any more parents. Based on this comment I would judge her as a disgrace to her profession. Fortunately not all teachers feel the same way Sarah does or I would be waging a war on teachers the way Reformers do. I actually try to support teachers and engage them constructively and I don’t think they should be evaluated just on a test score tied to a student tied to Common Core, like most, if not all, Common Core supporters do.

As victories are being made across the country against Common Core, it is clear that the strategy of marginalized and mocking parents and making children cry as a measure of rigor is not working. Amazingly this type of antagonistic attack below does more to enflame passions and solidify positions, but I’m sure it made the poster of this comment feel superior for a little while.

Chris Jenson (parent?)

And there are alleged teachers who completely agree with you in the comments. Amazing. I feel forced to point out that, as an adult who went through the old educational system, your clear lack of cognitive ability and problem solving skills, and most horrifyingly the “teachers” who agree with you, are the most telling examples of why we needed education reform in the first place.

I have seen and endured (and sometimes deleted) many of the comments because of racists, classist, and bizarre defenses that included call me and other parents [Expletive] Libertards, an ignorant hillbilly, nazi [expletive], redneck Teabilly/bagger, educational knuckle dragger, etc. I’m sure many parents have endured these insults also. At meetings I’ve attended or others have attended we endured hour upon hour of insults at the hand of Common Core supporters from LABI, Stand For Children, the Louisiana Charter Association, APEL, TFA, Chas Roemer [BESE President) talking to his sister Caroline Roemer Shirley (head of Louisiana Charter Association), as well as representatives from Exxon. We don’t all wear badges to identify who we support and oppose, Senate Education Chair Senator Apel, and these folks were quite brutal and obnoxious in their assessment of our intelligence, possible inbreeding, and sincerity of our tears being shed. We do listen quietly, and nod, and the report back. You have shown your true colors and made us enemies, probably permanently.

This situation is really unfortunate. I have come to meet some teachers that I believe really believe (it appears largely faith based) that these standards will help children. These teachers literally preach the gospel of Common Core, as they tell us in 10 to 12 years we will begin to see the fruits of our labor. I do not have the background in teacher, nor do I have your faith in a system that is fundamentally overly bureaucratic and flawed and that refuses to admit to its shortcomings. I cannot have faith in something that was sold under false pretenses to the American Public and which continues to be sold with lies by proven liars, Reformers.

It may be that Common Core, developed slowly and truly collaboratively, introduced gradually and with forethought and consideration of all stakeholders could have been successful.

If Common Core had not been tied to High Stakes tests for grading teachers it might be easier for people to buy this is for children and not corporations that seek to privatize education.

If concerns had been addressed thoughtfully and respectfully and if there was some local autonomy in the adoption, and possible changes to areas that even the developers of Common Core have realized they had to make it might have been more palatable to folks.

If Arne Duncan had not forced this upon states through Race to the Top Grants and ESEA waivers to free states of impossible No Child Left Behind standards it would have had less of a Federal Takeover feel.

If the messengers of Common Core were not many times proven liars about charter schools, Value Added assessments of teachers, virtual schools, massive school closings of poor children’s schools, and purveyors of temp teachers over experienced and more expensive ones it would have been met with less immediate skepticism.

If Common Core had not been adopted sight unseen in many(most) states, like Louisiana, and a true discussion had taken place, it would have been hard to say this was done clandestinely. Lying about this situation and telling parents the standards were around for 4 years ignores the fact that many parents had not been exposed to it until recently. It was your job, as education leaders, to reach out to parents and engage them before this blew up in your faces. You failed to do that and now you have a mess. Parents immediately objected when they were exposed to it for the first time, but you (officials and official channels) ignored them and forced them to create a grassroots movement bound by social media to spread the word and oppose you. No matter how many times Will Sentell from the Advocate prints that it was around for 4 years (since 2010) without objection or controversy, it does not alter the fact that most parents and children were not exposed to it, and when they did they immediately freaked out and were completely marginalized, ignored and disparaged by even the Secretary of the Us Department of education.

“All of a sudden, their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought … and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said at the event Friday.

Do these folks really not get it, or do they think they can simply bully and bulldoze their way over parents like they have been doing to our children and teachers for years?

Now that parents have former their own channels of passing information and started to rack up some victories in various states, some supporters of Common Core are getting scared, and getting angry. People like Michael Mulgrew, Head of the United Federation of Teachers, are directing their anger at the wrong people.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/michael-mulgrew-defends-common-core-punch-face-tools-article-1.1895301

Teachers union honcho Michael Mulgrew unleashed a venomous screed directed at anyone who would dare threaten his beloved Common Core agenda.

 “If someone takes something from me, I’m going to grab it right back out of their cold, twisted, sick hands and say it is mine! You do not take what is mine!” the head of the United Federation of Teachers shouted in a speech at a convention last month in Los Angeles.

The rant was posted Thursday to the Ed Notes Online blog.

“And I’m going to punch you in the face and push you in the dirt because this is the teachers’!” added Mulgrew.

Punching parents in the face might seem like a good idea to Common Core supporters, since their lies have failed to convince parents, maybe fear and anger will force them to back down? I kind of doubt it though. What it has done for me is to settle into a state of resignation. I can see you guys don’t want to talk. When you did talk you lied, and we caught you. Then you lied some more and we caught you again. Then you ignored us and shoved this down our throats and mocked us. You told us no one gives a shit what we think or feel like David Coleman, architect of Common Core, because that’s really how you see the world and our place in it.

(You can see the Coleman clip in the link below)

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/tag/people-really-dont-give-a-shit-how-you-feel/

Now Common Core proponents are using strong-arm tactics and threats of violence and telling us we are too stupid to have any children for you to teach. I admit, I do not want you teaching my children either. Many parents have been pulling their children out of public schools to homeschool them to escape teachers like you. That will work for a time, but I know corporations are forcing Common Core in private schools and homeschool legislation is next. In fact, in order for parents to be allowed to continue to homeschool their kids, they must still teach them some Common Core to pass the required tests. This is why you will find many parents that are now homeschooling their children continuing the fight against Common Core.

Will we simply wait 12 years for things to work out? I doubt we would have to wait that long for these to change, but not because of the needs of students. Now that textbook and testing corporations are so intimately involved with these “Standards” and the textbooks and supplemental materials that go with them, we can be sure they will be changing pretty quickly in ways that force the previous textbooks and materials into planned obsolesce so they can sell more, more frequently.

I am tired of trying to convince people by showing them an example here or a lie there. This becomes a never-ending cycle of lies and examples and counter-examples. I will even concede that some of the content and standards appear fine or even good in some cases. When we redesign our own curriculum I hope to keep the good, discard the bad, but most importantly retain local control of what and how we teach without regard for High Stakes Testing, just High Quality Learning. What is clear is that this was done poorly and that those that support this initiative failed to address the concerns of all stakeholders, and have switched to even more aggressive tactics which have permanently poisoned the well of public support.

 

 

Peter Greene: Why So Many Teachers Turned Against Common Core

Posts don’t get much better than this. Check out Peter Greene’s post (from Curmudgication) on why teachers (like him) turned on and rejected Common Core. I’m not a teacher but many of his reasons for rejecting it are 100% reflections of my own. Read Diane Ravitch’s summary of course, but the full post is really worth the effort to click through to get. Peter will remind you of many of the reasons you’ve been alarmed and have been fighting. It’s always nice to read when someone else really “gets it.”
Thanks Peter.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The conservative journal “Education Next” reported a poll showing that support for Common Core plummeted among teachers from 76% to 46%. Conservative supporters of Common Core think that teachers are afraid of accountability but that doesn’t explain why 76% thought it was a good idea last year.

Peter Greene explains the teachers’ change of mind, which he is well-qualified to do since he is a teacher.

Here are a few of the reasons:

First, writes Greene, was the lying.

“Remember how supporters of the Core used to tell us all the time that these standards were written by teachers? All. The. Time. Do you know why they’ve stopped saying that? Because it’s a lie, and at this point, most everybody knows it’s a lie. The “significant” teacher input, the basis in solid research– all lies. When someone is trying to sell you medicine and they tell you that it was…

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So LDOE’s website went down, how did that go down?

On Monday the 18th the LDOE website, Louisianabelieves.com went down for a few hours in the middle of the day. This was immediately tweeted about by Will Sentell and covered in the Advocate and KATC-TV 3 and nefarious reasons were given for this brief outage. The implications of the articles covering this story were that this was somehow related to the Jindal administration’s ongoing pseudo-fight over Common Core. In a quote in Sentell’s article, John White correctly stated that the site went down because of the failure of DOA (the executive agency that reports directly to Jindal) to pay a 280$ bill. While technically accurate, this statement was surrounded by ominous sounding implications and was written to be intentionally misleading. For instance, it was further implied that the timing was fishy since this happened just before a ruling was expected in the legal case brought by some random teachers and parents, a corporately funded astroturf organization (BAEO) and a charter school operator over Jindal’s executive order to halt the funding of an improperly executed contract that was to be used to purchase Common Core specific high stakes tests. The Jindal administration’s spokesperson, Meghan Parrish, claimed that this was unintentional and that it was paid immediately.

I suppose the implication Sentell and others are trying to make is that this lawsuit was timed to coincide with expiration date of the domain name registration that was purchased 2 years ago and that somehow their cause is advanced by having the site down for a few hours before a lawsuit verdict is rendered in the case? I suppose if the site was down for more than a day, and that all news on the planet was acquired and distributed through the LouisianaBelieves.com website, that might make sense on some level, to someone. However the truth is actually much less sinister and much more interesting and newsworthy. Back in March of this year DOA consolidated all IT shops into one under the DOA umbrella. All IT expenses must be paid through DOA now. During this vast undertaking some licenses and registrations got lost, overlooked or never made it to the right people to keep track of them. The domain for LDOE’s website was one of those things. You can see the details on the IT Consolidation Plan/project here.

The Office of Information Technology with support from Deloitte Consulting initiated the process of creating a roadmap for transforming Louisiana’s IT environment into a consolidated model for service delivery in November 2013. The process included interviewing departmental/agency CIOs, business leaders, and staff, as well as examining the existing infrastructure, services and organizational structures of current IT operations. The IT Consolidation Plan was completed in March 2014, and 21 actionable deliverables were produced.

It’s a shame we don’t have folks that actually try to investigate and report the news, and prefer to report rumors and innuendo. Just who is the trusted news source, and who is the blogger here, anyway?!?!

The IT Consolidation Plan resulted in many agencies losing their employees on paper, while the employees remained in their current roles and offices at their respective agencies. I wonder how much all of this is costing or saving the state? Is this is resulting in better or worse IT service and responsiveness? I wonder how many more glitches like this are out there we don’t even know about? It would seem like someone should be investigating and reporting on that rather than choosing to make a big deal about a 5 hour outage because someone forgot to mail a check.

Is it any wonder bloggers like me exist?

Common Core Chaos, Loss and Betrayal

Common Core Chaos, Loss and Betrayal

Recently I was interviewed by WAFB about the latest developments in Louisiana’s Common Core lawsuit saga and the recent court loss. You can see the full story here: http://www.wafb.com/story/26328975/common-core-debate-continues

On a personal note, I was amused that this was a story I’d watched earlier in the day while working out, but without sound. I remember wondering what the folks were saying, but figured it was just a bunch of face saving and sparring . . . and that I’d probably never know. I wasn’t far off of my analysis, but I was wrong about not seeing it again. A few hours later I was weighing in on the situation myself and ended up appended to the same video. Lol. That’s a strange feeling to be sure. Earlier in the week I was contacted by Motoko Rich at the New York Times to provide some background and commentary. I actually didn’t know I would end up being quoted, I’ve been contacted by reporters at various times and outlets to provide background info from a local perspective and I usually try to point reporters to other folks if I can. Tonight I was contacted by a producer from Al Jazeera, America to explain some of the complex issues and nuances in our Common Core battle. I’ve gotten some feedback that this contact makes people a little uneasy, but I try to keep an open mind. Maybe that’s my strength (or my Achilles Heel)? I prefer to think of it as the former.

Ultimately I can’t control what any of these folks do with the info I provide them, but I feel it is important to provide a counterpoint to the corporately funded Reform line on so many issues important to our community. Mainstream coverage is important and my blogging helps me break into that market. For instance, without mainstream media coverage by folks like Stephanie Simon at Reuters, I have little doubt that inBloom would still be in business selling out children’s data to not just the highest bidder, but any bidder.

Once this information gets out there, it’s going to be abused. There’s no doubt in my mind,” said Jason France, a father of two in Louisiana.

In case you were wondering, I think the above linked article by Stephanie Simon was perhaps the most important story in terms of raising national awareness of this issue as an issue that we should all be concerned about. We can’t know who our next Stephanie Simon will be ahead of time though.

I’ve provided info and interviews to folks at the Advocate, Reuters, LPB, Monroe News star, NPR, Louisiana Anthology, WBOK, Al Jazeera, Channel 2, Channel 9, and various New York Times folks on numerous occasions, researchers, documentary makers and many, many blogs. Sometimes it’s been flattering coverage, sometimes not so much. (You’d think I’d be better at it by now too, but hey, we can’t all be reality stars.) I’m still (not so secretly) hoping I get a call from the Daily Show or Colbert Report to do a segment or to even just be an audience member. (They had Michele Rhee on, and she’s a fraud who recently resigned her position at Student’s First in disgrace, so why not me, right?)

But wow, that was a digression, wasn’t it?

Let me bring this back in.

What I can control is the content of my blog.

Let me state up front: I did not initially flag Common Core as a problem. I was concerned with charters, virtual schools, data, VAM, privacy, RSD, school based corporal punishment, accountability, dropout rates, shadow schools, massive layoffs, excessive discipline rates, data quality, TFA taking over LDOE, vouchers, MFP funding, Special Education and 504 issues, poor teacher evaluation systems, and so forth. You’d think that would be enough! J

It took some researching, numerous discussions and investigations and real world experiences for me to see the harm it posed and the great corporate specter behind its creation and implementation. When I looked at my daughter’s homework assignments, Math especially, I became very alarmed and disturbed and wrote about my experiences. A lot of people identified with my raw post, which also contained details about how Common Core was secretly (basically since no one really knew what they heck it was) adopted in Louisiana before the Standards were even published or finalized. But the story didn’t end there.

A lot of parents had problems across the spectrum of Common Core assignments and curriculum. Some parents in some settings had minimal issues, or didn’t care. Organizations like LaBAEO and Louisiana Stand For Children came out strongly in support of Common Core. Most folks didn’t realize these organizations are headed by former senior staffers from the Louisiana Department of Education, Kenneth Campbell and Rayne Martin. I’m not sure of Kenneth’s situation, but I know Rayne is not an educator nor a parent. She is highly compensated by out of state funders and supporters of Common Core. She is a “reformer” that was living in Chicago until former RSD superintendent, the nomadic and politically connected Paul Vallas (former Illinois Governor candidate currently running for Illinois Lieutenant Governor after being chased out of his Connecticut superintendent position he was determined by their court system to be illegally placed in) brought Rayne here a half dozen years ago, and now she runs an organization called Louisiana Stand for Children (of which she has none.)

I showed up to BESE meetings where cadres of redshirted Exxon “Common Core cheerleaders” showed up for a few minutes and testified en masse about how awesome high standards were for STEM careers (ahead of all the parents who had been waiting all day to speak) and then filed out immediately after – after cheering each other on.

I attended meetings and heard stories from parents who had tried to meet with officials from the Louisiana Department of Ed, their BESE members, or in some cases their local school boards, where instead of listening to their concerns, they were lectured. . . for hours, and commanded to sit passively and just listen. At the end these folks giving presentations, like BESE members James Garvey, Holly Boffy and regional leaders like Gayle Sloan could not answer questions and did not register, acknowledge or report parents’ concerns, after wasting so much of parents’ time and patience.

This went on for more than a year into the implementation, and goes on today. The implementation of Common Core in Louisiana was also likely sabotaged by John White on purpose, with dueling implementation dates, conflicting messages, and what looked like (to me) as intentionally mixed signals. It is not even a widely disputed fact that the Louisiana implementation and rollout was terrible, uneven and completely bungled in many cases. Rather than acknowledge the failings, address parents’ concerns, and address or acknowledge widely agreed upon shortcomings in the initial rollout and gaps in the standards, LDOE and so many groups inside and outside the state closed ranks and closed their eyes to the chaos swirling around them; that they created. Rather than address the deficiencies head-on and honestly they chose to ignore them, to point to deficiencies in the old curriculum (in a never ending circular he-said/she-said finger pointing contest), or point to their lofty goals which for which they had no evidence their Common Core standards and curriculum could achieve – even if the goal was something everyone wanted to achieve.

Look! It’s magic, and 100% evidence and fact free!

Parents had and have real problems and questions with Common Core, and all they get are fluff PR pieces like this willfully ignorant infographic. Many of those opposed to Common Core are professionals, Engineers, Programmers, Writers, Doctors, Lawyers, PHd’s, Teachers, University Professors, Scientists. We understand what the STEM careers demand, because we work in them, and we are not buying what the Common Core folks are selling.

I understand this was a very ambitious project. I understand the goals on Common Core (I just happen to not agree with them.) I don’t think the sole purpose of public education is preparing students for community colleges and introductory careers they are never able to grow out of. There may be a place for those, but our current education system allows (or allowed) students to acquire educations in a broad range of subjects, to become informed and responsible citizens and to hopefully learn to enjoy learning for its own sake, and not just for test score or accolade. The US has never been leader in test scores that the Reform movement implies we were; or should aspire to be. We got where we are in the world based on our freedom of thought and creativity, neither of which are quantifiable or test well. Some of our greatest minds were not that scholastically adept or persistent. Bill Gates, who is pushing the college and career ready curriculum dropped out of college to found one of the most important tech companies of the last century (Microsoft) and became the wealthiest person on the planet in doing so.

Add to that list these innovative college dropout billionaires:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_college_dropout_billionaires

Many of who are pushing the Reform agenda and urgent need for increasing test scores. I have to wonder if we’d even have computers (at least to the extent we have today) now if these guys:

  • Michael Del (Dell)
  • Steve Jobs (Apple)
  • Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
  • Larry Ellison (Oracle)
  • Bill Gates (Microsoft)

had been subjected to Common Core instead of being able to experiment in their electronics garage hobbies and electives and exercise their imaginations.

I’m not suggesting college is unimportant or that everyone should dropout and try their hand at creating a tech startup. I am explaining why it is hypocritical for folks like Bill Gates to demand this as the only path for everyone and I am suggesting if we forsake education for the sake of test scores we are doing ourselves a vast disservice. This is the ultimate tail wagging the dog situation. Tests were meant to give us a baseline to judge student performance. Tests were never meant to be the end all be all for education. That move is beyond just foolish, it is destructive and ridiculous. But to understand why these successful and smart folks think they know more than you do, in fields they’ve never experienced success but which their vast fortunes allows them access to alter the landscape in fundamental ways. You must understand these folks think in data points. If something is not measurable it is not valued. Many things in life are important but not measurable. Faith. Love. Spirit. Freedom. Imagination. Creativity. Education is one of those immeasurable things too. We can roughly measure how many words you know, or math problems you can solve, but we can’t measure everything you know or might think. Education is not just about numbers and words, not just about what we know, but what we can create with our minds and what we can learn in the future. Once we leave schools, we no longer take tests, but we must always learn to live, to grow in our relationships with each other, to take care of our children, neighbors, family and country, and to master the skills of the various jobs we will hold throughout our lifetime. After formal schooling I’ve learned numerous computer languages, software applications, reporting tools and even picked up an avocation or two that required a great deal of self-study, motivation and very little in the way of formalized recognition and rewards. The latter is learning and education for its own sake. What I have described will be the majority of life for everyone but eternal academics. Preparing students for endless Common Core testing (so we adults can feel better about providing measurably identical “educations”) is not preparing students for life – quite the opposite.

So when Bobby Jindal seemed to come to our rescue in the anti-Common Core camp, I admit I was overly trusting. I had been assured this move was coming for months ahead of time. Bobby Jindal seemed to speak passionately and say the right things (for the most part.) I tried to explain away the warnings I received from numerous sources claiming this was a carefully orchestrated ruse. I really didn’t give him enough credit to pull that kind of ruse off, but I had been told this was a ploy to take the heat off Jindal from the conservative groups, Tea Party groups, and to give Jindal a stance and platform to differentiate himself from other potential Republican presidential candidates. Victories have been few and far between but I liked to think that wasn’t influencing my hopeful thoughts. . . but the pieces weren’t adding up. Jindal donated and channeled massive amounts of funding to candidates that put John White in place. Surely that would give him some pull with some of those folks? But every one of those folks he helped elect not only refused to consider his demand to end Common Core, they voted to sue him. . . personally. . . claiming he was violating the state’s constitution. Not a light matter. But that wasn’t all. Jindal appoints three members to BESE’s 11 member Board. He recently appointed Jane Smith, knowing she was opposed to Common Core, which seemed like a positive move. But she only had two allies on BESE to give them a 3 to 8 voting bloc. Jane has been a valiant fighter, but she’s not enough to alter the basic power equation. Jindal’s other two appointees also ignored their boss who appointed them and also voted (or allowed the others to vote at times) to sue the Governor who has appointed them as his representative voice. I can understand having minor disagreements, but this is a major, big time, enormous departure! Jindal has never been shy about seeking revenge on those who cross him, including a previous BESE member named Tammie McDaniel who Jindal demanded resign after she voted a way he didn’t like on a single issue. Tammie was replaced by Connie Bradford, who remains untouched for her seeming brazen defiance. That was a head scratcher. For a list of some of the other folks Jindal has sacked for even minor offenses look here. So that doesn’t add up one bit. If they were really defying the governor they could be “Tegued” as the term Tom Aswell from Louisiana Voice has coined to describe the consistent (until now) phenomenon of how Jindal handles anyone who disagrees with him to even the slightest degree in public.

But the final and ridiculous last straw is how Jimmy Faircloth, Jindal’s “defense” attorney chose not to defend Jindal’s executive orders to prevent LDOE from purchasing PARCC tests in a partial ploy to exert pressure on John White and LDOE to reconsider remaining in PARCC and Common Core. For the ruling refer to this and pay attention to page 4. I’ve copied the relevant section below, but here’s the gist. Jindal’s team did not present any witnesses, like Kristy Nichols, to explain how the contract procedures are supposed to work. Kristy was available for media statements afterwards and did testify at BESE, just not under oath. Jindal’s team did not explain or refute the claim that the damage irreparable. It was illusory, certainly not irreparable, and any “perceived” damage could be easily remedied numerous ways. Jindal’s team did not even make the correct argument to judge Hernandez, the one that they explained outside of court. Jindal’s team threw this fight. Their argument and approach wasn’t the strongest to begin with, but this loss is not just inexcusable, it’s ridiculous and intentional. I would much rather have an enemy I know, than an enemy masquerading as a friend, that betrays you at the last minute after you had placed your hopes with them. The chaos we are experiencing was intentionally fomented by John White, Chas Roemer and Bobby Jindal to distract people and wear them out. This betrayal was planned.

Sadly, this is just another ruse perpetrated by those in power to avoid listening to parents’ real problems, and another reason parents are right to fear and fight Common Core. I expect this distraction to last until Jindal leaves office. John White and Chas Roemer were correct when they stated Jindal’s opposition to Common Core was politically motivated. The irony is that they were quite likely complicit in the deception from the get-go; to increase all of their profiles. That ploy has worked. Now we get to decide if their profiles are ultimately positively or negatively impacted by this fiasco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why the Jindal Loss Was Expected Regarding La.’s PARCC Injunction

What Dr. Schneider explains is exactly what I was afraid would happen. I was one if the first folks to publicly support and thank Jindal for his seeming change of heart on Common Core. Many folks told me this was all a carefully choreographed ruse. One of the first moves Jindal did was invite a score of Common Core opponents/leaders over for a photo op. (For some reason I was not invited. 🙂 ) I wondered at the time if that was what this was all about. I was encouraged by his seeming vigor and persistence. However, this feeble attempt makes me second guess my earlier support. Common Core is still being taught in all our schools. The PARCC tests will be bought and administered. Jindal has allowed his own BESE appointees to vote to sue him without any form of reprisals (unlike Tammy Mcdaniel, a previous Jindal appointee to BESE who voted against Jindal’s will once (not even to sue him personally) and he demanded her resignation.)

Jindal could have acted before the legislative session was over, and chose not to. All he has done is sew chaos in our education system. That is all Jindal has ever done since he first came to power. I suppose it was naive of me to think his latest moves would be any different.

A pity.

A shame.

Another tragedy for Louisiana.

deutsch29

On August 19, 2014, District Judge Todd Hernandez ruled that the Jindal administration’s suspension of the Louisiana state testing contract was to be temporarily lifted until the pro-Common Core (CCSS) full case against Jindal and his administration goes to court. (For backstory, click here.)

I was surprised at the judge’s ruling because the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) spliced the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment into an already-existing “sole source” testing contract with Data Recognition Corp (DRC).

Pearson has been awarded the PARCC assessment contract, not DRC.

It is possible that Pearson could hire DRC as a PARCC subcontractor. As it is, DRC has been hired as part of a team to develop assessments for the other federally-funded consortium, Smarter Balanced. However, there is no way that DRC is the sole source for PARCC.

This means that Louisiana will fund an extra…

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