Washington – First mandate annual testing, then allocate $9 Million to reduce the “Assessment Burden.”

Call it the American Way!

President Obama and a bi-partisan coalition of Republican and Democratic members of Congress used the Every Child Succeeds Act to mandated that no child go untested each and every year, despite the overwhelming evidence that the Common Core standardized testing scheme is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory, not to mention a waste of hundreds of millions of dollars.

But now, in a yet another blatant effort to be as two-faced as possible, the Obama administration has announced a new $9 million “Enhanced Assessment Instruments Grant program” to assist states in efforts to “reduce the assessment burden.”

Mandate everyone gets tested, then allocate a few dollars to promote alternatives…

The school technology publication called, The Journal, reports that,

The Enhanced Assessment Instruments Grant program is the next step in the president’s action plan to improve the quality of academic assessments.”

The article adds;

The grant program builds on President Obama’s Testing Action Plan released last year. The plan aims to reform redundant standardized tests that are administered too frequently and fail to effectively measure student outcomes. As the next step in the plan, the Enhanced Assessment Instruments grant program, also called the Enhanced Assessment Grants (EAG) program, offers financial support for states to develop and use more effective assessments.

“The President’s Testing Action Plan encourages thoughtful approaches to assessments that will help to restore the balance on testing in America’s classrooms by reducing unnecessary assessments while promoting equity and innovation,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. in a news release. “This grant competition is the next step as part of that plan, and will help states and districts improve tests to allow for better depiction of student and school progress so that parents, teachers and communities have the vital information they need on academic achievement.”

The press release goes on to inform State education agencies and state education consortiums that;

Applicants that address these program objectives “by producing significant research methodologies products or tools, regarding assessment systems, or assessments,” will be chosen to receive funding for their projects, according to the department’s website.

Applications are available on Aug. 8. Applicants must submit proposals for the EAG competition by Sept. 22 and winners will be announced in January.

Chauk one more up for the greed and deceptiveness of the education testing industry and their corporate education reform allies in and of government.

The Election Year epiphany syndrome

Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States….

President Obama will fly to Connecticut today as part of his campaign to promote a $10.10 minimum wage.  Glued to his side will be Governor Dannel Malloy, whom the President will call a champion in the effort to promote a fairer minimum wage.

This is the same Governor Malloy who failed to support a modest increase in the minimum wage just two years ago.

In January 2012, key Democratic members of the Connecticut Legislature, with strong support from Connecticut’s unions, proposed raising the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 an hour on July 1, 2013 and then to a rate of $9.75 on July 1, 2014.

Governor Malloy was quick to throw cold water on the plan telling reporters,  “I’m not slamming any doors. I’m not saying ‘No’ but I’ll watch the debate and perhaps reach a conclusion subsequently.”

Malloy’s pronouncement that he would “reach a  conclusion subsequently” was a death sentence for the legislation and without the Governor’s support the business community, with the help of the Republicans and some Democrats, easily killed the proposal.

A year later, in February 2013, Legislators tried again to push legislation increasing the minimum wage and again Governor Malloy failed to step forward to support the proposal.  However this time, late in the legislative session when it was clear that Democrats would pass the bill away, Malloy did a 180 and announced that he would support a “compromise” on a minimum wage increase.

With the 2014 election year in sight, Malloy’s transformation on the issue was nearly complete.

On the last day of December 2013,  Malloy held a State Capitol press conference to brag about the extraordinarily positive impact Connecticut’s new minimum wage law would  have when it takes effect at midnight that night.

Malloy said,

“As the clock strikes 12 in this state, many people … will actually lift themselves out of poverty,” Malloy said during a press event and rally.

Malloy was referring to the mandated .45 cent an hour increase in the State’s minimum wage that will be taking effect.

However, as some may know, the federal poverty level for a family of three in Connecticut is about $18,400.  For the 70,000 to 90,000 Connecticut residents living on minimum wage, a full-time job only brings in $17,160 per year.

Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman joined Malloy in “celebrating” the raise in the minimum wage.  It would, according to Wyman, mean Connecticut’s minimum wage workers would make an extra $18 hours a week as long as they don’t miss a single hour of work.

That increase translates into an extra $936 a year — leaving most minimum wage families still living below the poverty line.

But many politicians believe that electoral success can be achieved through rhetoric and hyperbole…

And the President of the United States is coming to Connecticut to try to bolster Malloy’s political re-election dreams.

You can read more about Malloy’s transformation on the minimum wage in these two Wait, What? blog posts,

It’s an election year and Governor Malloy is now for raising the minimum wage

Governor Malloy: Blessed are the Poor

Wendy Lecker – “Common Core using children as guinea pigs”

Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, Barak Obama, Arne Duncan and the entire Corporate Education Reform Industry is busy selling the American people on the notion that without the full and complete adoption of the Common Core Standards, Common Core Curriculum and Common Core Testing Scheme, America’s best days are behind us.

Jeb Bush Defends Common Core At ALEC Meeting and Jeb Bush defends Common Core and Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush warn Michigan legislators against abandoning Common Core standards and JEB BUSH AND JOEL KLEIN:  The Case for Common Educational Standards and Arne Duncan tells newspaper editors how to report on Common Core and Arne Duncan: Beating Up on Common Core Is ‘Political Silliness’ and Arne Duncan Defends Common Core, Ridicules Critics and Obama quietly implements Common Core.

Their message seems to come down to the false rhetoric and hyperbole that the choice facing American education is the adoption of “The Common Core Standards” or nothing.

They’d have us believe that one path would lead our nation and its children to success, the other to ruin and failure.

It is almost as if they take great pride in the fact that the simplistic arguments have no academic basis in fact.

The truth is that these corporate education reformers have become the living, breathing example of those who live by the creed, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Well the facts are exactly what pro-public education advocate and fellow blogger, Wendy Lecker, has been bringing to the discussion over and over again.

In here latest column, entitled “Common Core using children as guinea pigs” uses the truth to condemn the incredible lies the corporate reformers are trying to force upon public education in America.

As usual, Wendy Lecker’s latest piece published in the Stamford Advocate and other Hearst Media Group newspapers is a “Must Read.”

Common Core using children as guinea pigs (By Wendy Lecker)

The nationwide rollout of the Common Core standards is an experiment on our children that violates all standards of human subject research.

The Common Core was rushed into schools before the curricula were developed and aligned to the standards, and before the tests were finalized and aligned to the curricula. Alignment is independent verification that a curriculum addresses standards, and that tests assess what the curriculum teaches; and is particularly necessary when high stakes are attached to tests. Those who insist that test scores should determine teacher effectiveness, school quality and whether a student is ready to graduate have a responsibility to guarantee that the tests actually measure what teachers teach and students learn.

The Common Core is being implemented not only before the curricula and tests are independently deemed valid. The curriculum in many cases is not even written. New York’s Education Commissioner admitted that the Common Core curriculum modules are being written as the school year unfolds. A curriculum not yet written cannot be aligned. Likewise, the Common Core tests are not finalized. The tests are being developed independently of the states and school districts; by contractors hired by two multi-state consortia. It is impossible that these unfinished tests are aligned to curricula now being taught.

This type of experimentation would never be allowed in research. Human subject research must adhere to three basic principles: (1) respect for individuals; respecting their autonomy; (2) beneficence; doing no harm and maximizing possible benefits while minimizing risks; and (3) justice; taking special care not to exploit vulnerable groups.

Ethics requires that subjects participate in an experiment knowingly and voluntarily. A recent poll revealed that the majority of Americans know nothing about the Common Core. Moreover, parents, children and teachers had no choice but to comply with the standards and tests.

The most glaring ethical violation concerns the prohibition against doing harm. The focal point of the Common Core is high-stakes standardized testing. We now know that education based on high-stakes tests not only fails to raise achievement but also harms learning, by narrowing the curriculum, increasing anxiety and diverting resources from methods that actually improve achievement. Officials imposing the Common Core knowingly embarked on a course that hurts students. At public hearings, parent after parent told New York’s Education Commissioner King that their children now hate school, and children testified about their anxiety and despair. A Greenwich, Connecticut official acknowledged that Common Core testing in 11th grade, when students take AP tests, SATs, SAT subject tests and ACTs, will cause undue stress. Parents and teachers report that the Common Core makes no adjustments for children learning English or students with disabilities.

In rolling out this untested program, officials jeopardize valuable learning time. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that even 10 days of lost learning is a significant deprivation. The Common Core tests are much longer than previous tests. The high stakes attached pressure school districts to spend inordinate amounts of time on test prep. If it turns out that these standards were not a success, our children will be unable to recapture the years lost to an ineffective testing regime.

The Common Core requires massive investments in textbooks, tests, training, and technology. Money is spent on the Common Core experiment at the expense of strategies with a long track record of success, such as high-quality preschool, small class size, wraparound services and extra help for at-risk children.

The benefits of the Common Core are speculative at best. A New York comparison of the 2013 Common Core tests, the previous standards and college completion rates, revealed that the previous standards were better predictors of college readiness. Moreover, the evidence is clear that neither tests nor standards raise achievement. Countries with national standards fare no better than those without, and states with higher standards do no better than states with lower ones. In states with consistent standards, achievement varies widely. The difference in achievement lies in those resources that states are now foregoing to pay for the Common Core.

As for justice, schools serving our most vulnerable students suffer most from a narrow test-based curriculum. A new report in New York reveals that poor children and children of color are least likely to be in schools with libraries, art and music rooms, science, and AP classes. Expanded Common Core testing will disproportionately harm our neediest children.

It is time to ask policy-makers why they made our children guinea pigs in the rush to impose the not-ready-for-prime-time Common Core.

You can read Wendy Lecker’s full column at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Common-Core-using-children-as-guinea-pigs-4907921.php