The Sham and Scam called the Common Core

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The Common Core test is designed to fail the vast majority of public schools students, including up to 9 in 10 students who aren’t proficient in the English Language or require special education help.

School districts have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on textbooks that don’t even align to the Common Core standards (See:  Vallas’ $10m textbook farce means Bridgeport students don’t have Common Core aligned math textbooks and Fairfield + Farmington – Giving CT kids math textbooks that are not aligned to Common Core)

Countless hours have been lost as teachers are pulled away from their instructional duties to “learn” about this expensive, warped, system that isn’t even developmentally appropriate for some younger students.

Fellow education blogger Mercedes Schneider is one of the nation’s leading voices in the effort to reveal the truth about the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and the other aspects of the corporate education reform industry.

Mercedes Schneider also has a new MUST READ book out about the Common Core called Common Core Dilemma – Who Owns Our Schools?

In the following article from her blog, she takes on the new corporate funded “spokesperson” for the Common Core scam.

Campbell Brown Plans to Explain Common Core (By Mercedes Schneider) 

Campbell Brown is going to help America understand what Common Core really is.

So she says as part of her July 28, 2015, interview with Jon Ward of Yahoo! Politics:

What we want to do with Common Core is explain it. Just put honesty and truth back into the debate….

I just published a book on the history, development, and promotion of Common Core, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? (TC Press, June 2015), and I have news for Campbell Brown:

Common Core did not begin in “honesty and truth,” and you cannot “put back” what was not present to begin with.

If Common Core was officially completed in June 2010, why would there be confusion in 2015 over what Common Core actually is?

Simple: Common Core is yet another top-down reform; it started years before it made its 2010 public appearance, and much of the planning and promoting that led to the June 2010 release of Common Core was chiefly orchestrated by relatively few politically-positioned individuals.

That is why there is confusion in 2015 over a Common Core that publicly emerged in 2010.

What is amusing is that Campbell Brown thinks that she and her staff of 12 will produce some pieces focused on Common Core and clear up the issue once and for all. The problem is that Common Core was politically birthed, and much of that “public confusion” is the delayed consequence of governors and state superintendents deciding that they would adopt Common Core in their states before there was even a Common Core product to examine.

In her Yahoo! interview, Brown states that she wants to “restore some of the nuance and thoughtfulness to the debate around Common Core.”

Well, here’s a nuance for Brown: At the June 2009 National Governors Association (NGA) summit, 46 states and 3 territories already signed on for a Common Core yet to be written but already declared to be connected to federally-funded consortia-produced tests.

Common Core was never intended to be separated from high-stakes testing. So, for Brown to say,

To some people, Common Core means what it actually is, which is a set of standards. … Ask other people what they think Common Core is about: It’s a test. You ask them, they will tell you it’s a test. Common Core isn’t a test, but for some people it is, because they don’t like the testing piece of it. 

is an issue that I will give clarification to right here: Common Core was not created to be separated from its tests, and that tests would surely be wed to Common Core was in the plan before there was a Common Core.

When the public reacts to Common Core because of the Common Core tests meant to be an inseparable part of Common Core, the public is reacting to Common Core.

Brown also continues with commentary about the math curriculum associated with Common Core. She thinks that the public is misunderstanding Common Core because the public is reacting negatively to the math curriculum tied to Common Core. However, one of those few Common Core insiders, Phil Daro, intended for Common Core to require math to be taught differently. He intended Common Core math to drive math instruction, and it does.

The same is true for Common Core English: The preference of an individual drives the direction of any associated curriculum and pedagogy. Common Core English “lead writer” David Coleman prefers New Criticism, which treats a text a self-contained and allows no room for the reader to create meaning from the text– and no room for a text to be placed into a context. Thus, Coleman’s preference is now supposed to be every American English teacher’s preference.

Back to math:

In the Yahoo! interview, Brown focuses on Singapore math. Her “the 74″ website includes an article that notes that Singapore math “aligns with the Common Core State Standards.” Brown even speaks of her child learning Singapore math. But here is a “nuance” to note: The Singapore math website states that it has textbooks in which it has aligned its Singapore math to Common Core. Thus, the original Singapore math curriculum was not exactly in line with a Common Core that came later, and Singapore math had to be reworked, at least in part.

So, what effect does this reworking have upon the quality of the Singapore math curriculum? Has anyone bothered to test the effect? No, because Common Core– English and math standards for all of grades K-12– was produced in a very short time (seven months max), and for all of the talk of basing Common Core “on research,” no time was taken to test Common Core in practice on a small scale; no enduring thought was given to rolling it out reasonably, one grade level at a time, and no effort was expended toward investigating the impact that altering curriculum like Singapore math to “fit” Common Core would have upon the quality of the curriculum.

Common Core was thrown together so fast that the fact that the Common Core math anchor standards are missing is even casually explained away on the Common Core website.

And here is another aside about Campbell Brown’s mentioning in the Yahoo!interview that her own child is learning Singapore math: Brown’s child attends the Heschel School in New York, and the Heschel School does not do Common Core. So, the Singapore math at the Heschel School is not the Common Core-arranged version and the Heschel School had the sense to transition its students into Singapore math a couple grade levels at a time, not foolishly impose upon all grades (K-5) at once.

Moreover, if Brown prefers that her child not learn Singapore math, Brown has the resources and ability to send her child to a different private school.

That is not the case with the general public who has had Common Core and its attendant driven curriculum and high-stakes tests imposed upon it by those who are fiscally and politically positioned– and whose lives are not directly impacted.

And whose kids are not directly impacted.

Bill Gates, who agreed to finance Common Core in 2008, sends his children to Lakeside School in Seattle, which is where he attended.

Lakeside School does not do Common Core.

Chester Finn, former Fordham Institute president and slanted grader of standards,sent his children to Exeter, which is where he and his father attended.

Exeter does not do Common Core.

And then there is US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who not only forcefully cheers for Common Core but who funded the attendant consortium-developed Common Core tests. Duncan’s children attended school in Virginia– a state that did not adopt Common Core. And now that Duncan’s days in the White House are numbered, his family moved back to Chicago, where his children will attend the University of Chicago Lab School, where he attended, and where his wife taught and will resume teaching, and also where President Obama attended.

The University of Chicago Lab School does not do Common Core.

Obama’s children attend Sidwell Friends..

Sidwell Friends does not do Common Core.

So, now we can add to the list of Common Core sympathizers Campbell Brown, whose children are not exposed to Common Core and Common Core tests.

But in her Yahoo! interview, Brown does attempt to leverage her Louisiana heritage in an effort to show that Common Core is working in Louisiana:

I would use Louisiana as a great example. It’s my home state, so I’m a little closer to Louisiana than I am to other places. There’s been a big fight between Bobby Jindal, who’s running for president, and the state superintendent, John White, over Common Core implementation. I think most people would argue that John has done a pretty good job of implementing it, and that Common Core implementation has gone better in Louisiana than it has in a lot of other places. But because Jindal is running for president, it’s been a bigger issue in terms of media coverage and visibility because you have the governor screaming and yelling about it. If you look at what’s going on with teachers and parents, it’s not as much of a blowup as it has been in some other places.

Yes, Brown is from Louisiana– the small town of Ferriday. But Brown is a child of privilege, and that privilege kept her out of public school in Louisiana. (Brown attended private schools in Natchez, Mississippi, and Washington, DC.) So, there’s a disconnect. But there is a greater disconnect in Brown’s narrative of Common Core in Louisiana: In May 2015, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill to overhaul Louisiana’s standards.

If a Common Core is to be “common,” a state cannot alter it.

According to the Common Core memorandum of understanding (MOU) that governors and state superintendents signed in 2009, the Common Core owners, NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), were supposed to direct any revision effort of Common Core.

To revise on the individual state level is to not have, well, a “Common Core.”

And there is more: the Louisiana legislature restricted the proportion of PARCC test items to just under half of any state test. Such a restriction dulls the likelihood that standards revisions will be somehow forced to fit a PARCC test, which is intended to be a Common Core test.

And yes, Jindal has been “running for president” for years, and his break with Common Core could certainly be attributed to his political ambitions. But before that,in May 2009, Jindal blindly signed Louisiana’s entire state education system up for Common Core and its assessments (which were noted as part of the Common Core package in the Common Core MOU).

I suppose that particular Jindal decision was okay since it was pro-Common Core.

I return to school on August 04, 2015, and on August 05, 2015, our entire school faculty will be participating in the freshly-legislated standards review.

Contrast that to five years ago: In 2010, our faculty was told there was a Common Core coming; that it was not yet finished, but that the entire state would be using it, and that it would have assessments to accompany it; that the assessments would be harder, but that they were not yet developed.

There’s another nuance for you, Campbell. In 2010, no intentionally sought, well publicized, stakeholder involvement. Top-down.

Let me offer one final nuance about which Brown might not be so keen but which I find comical:

Brown, who publicly opposes unions, is on the same side as both national teachers unions in her support of Common Core.

Here’s the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) statement of support for Common Core, and here is the National Education Association (NEA) message of support for Common Core.

Brown plans to explain Common Core using flash cards on her “”the 74″ website.

Perhaps she might borrow some Common Core support materials from the unions.

I dunno, though. For me, explaining Common Core was a job way beyond flash cards.

In my case, it took writing a book that has 31 pages of reference citations as well as a five-page glossary of terms.

Ask your local bookstore to order Mercedes Schneider’s new book or at last resort order it via Common Core Dilemma – Who Owns Our Schools?

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Charter School + Corporate Education Reform Industry continue record-breaking spending on lobbying

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With the 2015 session of the Connecticut General Assembly finally over, the corporate education reform industry is celebrating its victories.

More money for charter schools, while Connecticut’s public schools remain significantly underfunded, tops their list.

In addition, of course, there is the incredible and unethical defeat of the legislation that would have required Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate classroom and education experience.

All together the various corporate funded “education reform” groups dropped another $1.4 million, over the last six months, to promote and lobby on behalf of Governor Dannel Malloy’s anti-teacher, education reform initiatives that included diverting even more scarce public funds to privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

According to the June reports filed with the Connecticut Office of State Ethics, Charter Schools and Corporate Education Reform groups have spent the following so far this year;

Corporate Education Reform Organization Amount Spent on Lobbying
   
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN) $84,100
   
Achievement First, Inc. (Dacia Toll/Stefan Pryor) $5,700
   
Connecticut Council for Education Reform  (CCER) $40,000
   
North East Charter School Network $109,700
   
Families for Excellent Schools Inc./Coalition for Every Child $1,123,300
Bronx Charter School for Excellence $13,100
   
Other Corporate Education Front Groups include FaithActs for Education, Educators 4 Excellence, Connecticut School Finance Project, Achieve Hartford, Excel Bridgeport…  
TOTAL LOBBYING EXPENDITURES BY CHARTER SCHOOL INDUSTRYJanuary 1, 2015 – May 31, 2015 $1,375,900

 

Not surprising, a number of individuals associated with Malloy have collected huge amounts of money in lobbying and public relations fees to help promote his “education reform” agenda.

Consultants and lobbyists who made money this year from the corporate education reform industry included;

Corporate Education Reform Group Consultants and Lobbyists
Families for Excellent Schools Andrew Doba (Malloy’s former spokesman)
Roy Occhiogroso (Malloy’s chief advisor)
ConnCAN: Gaffney, Bennett & Associates
Connecticut Council for Education Reform: Reynolds Strategy Group
NE Charter School Network: Depino, Nunez & Biggs

 

Since the corporate education reform industry began ramping up their lobbying efforts as part of Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative of 2012, the various charter school advocates and education reform groups have spent a record breaking $8.4 million on behalf of their pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing, anti-teacher agenda.

CT Mirror recently took a look at lobbying expenditures in an article entitled Digging into spending on lobbying in ConnecticutAlthough they noted the massive expenditure by the lead education reform group, Families for Excellent Schools, which is based in New York, they didn’t total all of the funds being spent by the corporate funded education reform advocacy group.

However, no matter how you calculate it, the education reform industry has become the biggest “player” when it comes to lobbying Connecticut State Government.

Better school libraries, not more Common Core testing, is a real Civil Rights issue

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The Corporate Education Reform Industry and its allies have been spending a lot of energy claiming that requiring more Common Core standardized testing is a “Civil Rights” issue because it serves as the mechanism to determine which public schools are failing.  How else, they assert, will we ever be able to determine where to invest public dollars in order to provide children of color with the support they need and deserve to become college and career ready?

Of course, the entire claim is nothing but a scam considering the fact that standardized test scores are driven by poverty, English language barriers and unmet special education needs, all of which are  factors that can be identified without turning classrooms into little more than standardized testing factories.

But truth has never been a concern to those who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars promoting the notion that privatization, charter schools, the Common Core and the Common Core testing scheme are the solutions to reducing the nation’s achievement gap.

Calling for more testing, rather than recognizing the fundamental challenges associated with poverty and language barriers, has become the overarching strategy of the education reformers.

Their education philosophy is driven by the notion that when it comes to ensuring academic achievement, test prep and a curriculum focused on math and English language arts trumps a comprehensive school experience in which children are given the full range of courses, programs and services they need in order to learn and prosper.

In this era of scarce resources, the fact that more money is being spent on more testing, while important educational assets like school libraries are allowed to disintegrate, is a quintessential example of the stupidity surrounding the education reform agenda and a reflection of the real Civil Rights issues that are facing poorer school districts.

In Connecticut, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and his General Assembly recently adopted a budget that devotes more than $50 million over the next two years for the SBAC Common Core testing program, while doing nothing to address the very real Civil Rights violations associated with the fact that that tens of thousands of black and brown public school children don’t even have access to a quality school library.

Walk into any one of Farmington Connecticut’s elementary schools and you’ll find a vibrant school library with an average of 60 books per child and trained library professionals to help students learn how to fully utilize libraries and the portal to information and knowledge that library’s provide.

A visit to a Fairfield elementary school will reveal a center of learning with at least 50 library books per child and Greenwich is not far behind with 45 books per child.

By comparison, there are 17 elementary schools in Bridgeport with so-called “School libraries” that have less than 15 books per child, and a growing number of schools that have no school library at all. Library professionals are just as scarce.

And not surprisingly, considering the State of Connecticut’s historic underfunding of its public schools, Bridgeport is not alone.

While the State of Connecticut and its school districts can find the money for the technology required to institute the Common Core testing program, some can’t or refuse to come up with the funds necessary to provide students with a quality school library.

The following chart reveals just the tip of the iceberg;

School Districts with libraries that have less than 15 books per child # of Elementary Schools
Bridgeport 17
Hartford 9
New Haven 3
Meriden 3
West Haven 3

 

Other towns with elementary schools that have libraries with less than 15 books per child include Ansonia, East Hartford, Griswold, Naugatuck, New Britain, Rocky Hill and Shelton.

And although it is the 21st Century and Connecticut has the highest per capita income in the nation, there are elementary schools in Connecticut that don’t have any school libraries at all.  That list includes schools in East Hartford, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven and elsewhere.

Oh, and what about those magical “charter schools” that the education reformers claim will “save” the poor and minority children?

According to the official school profile reports filed with the Connecticut State Department of Education, Achievement First Bridgeport Charter School, Achievement First Hartford Charter School, Achievement First Elm City Charter School and Side by Side Charter School in Norwalk have no school library at all.

Meanwhile, Highville Charter School (Hamden) has a library with only 12 books per child and the infamous Capital Prep (Hartford) has a library with 13 books per child, but as reported previously, students aren’t allowed to take books out of that library.

The charter school and corporate education reform industry lobby groups have spent nearly $1.4 million so far this year promoting Governor Malloy’s education reform agenda.

Just imagine what they could be doing with those funds if they were actually serious about helping poor children succeed in school.

Fellow Education advocate and columnist Sarah Darer Littman has written extensively about the school library issue in Connecticut.  Start by reading her piece in CTNewsjunkie entitled, College, Career and Democracy ready? Not without a trained librarian

CT Republicans step up for students, parents and teachers as Democrats run away and hide

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Watching the way Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy has sought to undermine public education while denigrating, insulting and bullying public school teachers, one is left with the inevitable conclusion that Connecticut’s chief elected official is driven by some personal problem he has with educators.

But seeing the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly roll-over in support of Malloy’s corporate education reform initiatives and flee from the Democratic Party’s historic role as advocates for teachers, the teaching profession and public education suggests that the legislators elected under the Democratic Party Banner simply don’t feel a sense of appreciation, duty or obligation to support teachers or the students, parents and public schools of their districts.

The Decision to forgo even holding a vote on Governor Malloy’s veto of a bill to require Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate educational experience has become a prime example of the Democratic Party’s apparent unwillingness to actually stand up and be counted on behalf of public education.

Of the 108 Democrat legislators in the Connecticut General Assembly, not one voted against the bill requiring the commissioner of education to have appropriate educational experience, but these same Democrats have now refused to even hold a vote on whether to sustain or override Malloy’s veto.

Political insiders dismiss the issue as nothing more than the realities associated with power politics.  While such politics is hardly new to Connecticut or the country, the underlying problem cannot be explained away so easily.

See: Malloy, Executive Power and the Politics of Appeasement (Wait, What? 7/18/15)

The harsh reality is that Governor Malloy, along with a variety of other Democratic leaders including Governor Cuomo of New York, Mayor Emanuel of Chicago and President Obama, have been engaged in an unprecedented assault on public education.

The utter failure of Democratic legislators, at the federal and state level, to stand up to that assault reflects a problem that has become so serious that proponents of public education are being forced to come to grips with the fact that the Democratic Party appears to be simply walking away from what may very well be the single most important issue in a democratic, egalitarian society.

While many Republicans across the country have acted no better, the Republican Party in Connecticut has taken an increasingly strong stand on behalf of public education.

While some would say their gesture is primarily political, the uncomfortable truth is that it is the Democrats who have repeatedly shown voters that politics trumps policy when it comes to these critically important education issues.

While Connecticut’s Democratic legislators have refused to even vote on whether to override Malloy’s veto, the response from Republican leaders have been clear, concise and absolutely on the side of students, parents, teachers and the value of public education to our future.

Democratic legislators may be gripped by fear when it comes potentially “embarrassing” Governor Malloy by overriding his veto, but people in the real world would rather see Connecticut’s Legislature Branch overcome their self-induced level of terror and actually perform their Constitutional responsibility.

As the Bristol Press put it in editorial this weekend entitled, OUR VIEW: Legislators must remember who it is they represent;

On Monday, the General Assembly will come together in special session, one that is technically is required, to decide whether members want to override any of the governor’s vetoes from the 2015 regular session.

But members won’t have the opportunity to restore any of the bills Gov. Dannel P. Malloy rejected, thanks to a decision by the Democratic leadership in the Legislature.

“The general consensus among our members, and in light of some of the governor’s concerns, is that these issues would be best re-looked at during the next regular session. Therefore we will not be scheduling any override votes,” House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, wrote Friday.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, were not happy to hear the news.

“Failing to challenge the governor on his vetoes is putting politics before policy,” they said in a statement. “The legislature has overridden past governors, including Rell and Weicker. But Democrat lawmakers have never overridden a single Malloy veto ever. Simply accepting the governor’s vetoes is failing to represent and protect our constituents. We have a constitutional duty to the public to reassess these bills.”

They continued, “this is not a decision for only the majority leaders to make. Under our constitution it is up to the legislative body’s majority vote to consider an override of a governor’s veto. As such, there should be an opportunity for the assembly as a whole to voice its opinion. To gavel in and out without any reconsideration and without hearing input from all lawmakers violates our constitutional duty and therefore our obligations as elected representatives.”

We agree. Whatever their party, our elected representatives in the House and Senate are supposed to be the people’s voice at the Capitol. We understand that the leadership doesn’t want to put the rank and file in a position where they must choose between voting against the head of their party or against their constituents — if that’s what their conscience and the voters request — but  failing to do so leaves the people of Connecticut without representation. It also increases the arbitrary power of the governor’s office, suggesting that, even if a majority of the members of the Legislature disagree with him — and we have no reason to believe that they do — he shouldn’t or can’t be challenged.

Our view: Let the democratic process — small D — unfold!

Yes, the message to Democrats in Hartford is “let the democratic process – small D – unfold!”

But for those who belong to the Democratic Party or who tend to vote for the Democratic candidates, a parallel question is whether the Democrats’ continuing failure to stand up for public education invalidates their right to serve as the majority party in Connecticut.

Jesse “The Walking Man” Turner is a hero and deserves our help

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Jesse “The Walking Man Turner” is walking from Connecticut to Washington DC this summer to protest the education malpractice that is demoralizing parents, teachers, and turning our children into human capital.

Jesse is successfully raising awareness and support for students, teachers and our nation’s public schools.

He is walking to Washington DC to tell our nation’s “leaders” that it is time to put “public” back into the debate about our public schools.

The Corporate Education Reform Industry has then corporate executives and hundreds of millions of dollars “influence” the political and policy making system by “investing” in electing candidates who will do their bidding.

We have Jesse Turner and tens of thousands of other public school advocates, activists and supporters.

Calling Connecticut home, Jesse Turner is a professor of literacy at Central Connecticut State University with a Ph.D. in Language, Reading, and Culture.  He know what is going on in our public school classrooms, knows the challenges children and teachers face and he is continually using his talent, time and energy to make a difference.

As he notes on is web page he walks because Moses walked, because the Cherokee walked, because the Navajo walked, because Martin Luther King Jr. walked, and because Cesar Chavez walked.

Jesse Turners says that walking may just be the most potent weapon human beings have against oppression.

And he walks because childhood matters, because children come first and we have to tell our nation’s leaders that our children, their teachers and local public schools are more than test scores.

Please take a moment to read up about Jesse and his walk to Washington and help this important cause by making a contribution, not matter how large or small.

Go to:   http://www.gofundme.com/JesseWalkingToDC

AFT, NEA and the Corporate Education Reform oriented DGA

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Perhaps we should simply call it a symptom of the corporatization of the modern American labor movement.

Or perhaps we call it a product of the centrifuge that is sucking mainstream American politics into the control of the corporate elite.

But whatever we call it, the premature decision by the American Federation of Teachers to endorse Hillary Clinton for President is yet another example of how the unions representing teachers have been gravitating toward backing those who are perceived to be more acceptable to corporate interests, display a track record of supporting policies that are less than supportive of teachers and the nation’s public schools and/or are defined as the “only” choice because the Republican alternative would be “even worse.”

Truth be told, the issue isn’t even really about Hillary Clinton.  As the presidential nominating process moves forward Hillary Clinton may very well be the “best” choice for the Democrats and the electorate, but the AFT leadership’s decision to endorse her now is an stark indicator of just how far the teacher unions have gone to become part of the get-a-long, go-along status quo.

Rather than requiring that any candidate seeking political support from teachers have a solid progressive record on public education and articulate clear-cut policies and positions that are diametrically opposed to the corporate education reform industry, there is a growing acceptance of candidates who have thrown their support behind the charter school industry and the broader education reform agenda.

Above all else, one thing is certain and that is that the American Federation of Teachers, and for that matter, the National Education Association, has consistently backed Democratic candidates whose records and positions are closely aligned with the so-called “education reformers.”

No where is that clearer than with the massive financial support that the AFT and NEA have given to the Democratic Governors Association, despite the DGA’s outspoken and on-going support for President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s education reform agenda, the Common Core, the associated Common Core testing scheme and the inappropriate requirement that standardized test scores be used as part of the teacher evaluation process.

Over the past five election cycles, the American Federation of Teachers has handed the Democratic Governors Association more than $5.5 million in money that was earned by America’s teachers and given to their union with the intention that the funds would be used to support candidates and promote policies that support teachers and enhance public schools.  The National Education Association has donated $4.8 million more.

But despite teacher unions giving more than $10 million dollars to the DGA over the past decade, the organization whose role it is to elect Democratic governors has remained committed to an education reform agenda that is actively and intentionally undermining teachers, the teaching profession and the nation’s public education system.

Just last summer, as opposition to the Common Core and its associated unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme grew, along with the resulting opt-out movement, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who was Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association at the time, dismissed the legitimate concerns that were being raised as nothing more than the work of right-wing nuts.

As reported in an AP story in June 2014, Democrat Shumlin dismissed the opponents of the Common Core as “crazy” conservatives adding, “The fact that the tea party sees that as a conspiracy is a symptom of their larger problems.”

But of course, opposition to the corporate education reform agenda is not a “right-wing issue,” nor is the push back against the heavy-handed and faulty implementation of the Common Core and the Common Core testing scam.

In fact, it is real world it is a broad spectrum of liberal, moderate and conservative parents, teachers and public school advocates who are leading the effort, all across the United States, to turn back the corporate funded public school privatization and education reform effort.

Although the NEA and AFT were two of the DGA’s four largest donors during recent 2014 election cycle, one would think the DGA went out of its way to remind teachers that while their money was useful, their opinions were not.

Not only did the DGA spend more than $3.8 million to promote the re-election of corporate education reform aficionado Democrat Dannel Malloy to serve a second term as  Connecticut’s governor, but the members of the DGA went on to elect Malloy to serve as the next Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Malloy, who in 2012 became the first sitting Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest schools districts is such an eager charter school advocate that he threatened Connecticut’s Democratic controlled General Assembly that at the same time he was proposing to cut funding for public schools, he would not sign any budget bill that did not expand the number of charter schools in the Constitution State.

And the Democrats in the legislature acquiesced to Malloy’s threats.

Malloy also vetoed a bill, passed with bi-partisan support, to require that anyone who serves as Connecticut’s commissioner of education must have appropriate classroom teaching experience.  Malloy whined that requiring the state’s education commissioner to have education experience would cramp his appointment decisions.

Although Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy rivals New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo when it comes to anti-teacher rhetoric and policies, the harsh reality is that Malloy is nothing more than a continuation of the DGA’s effort to support Democratic governors who are wedded to the corporate education reform agenda.

Teachers, students, parents and public school advocates deserve better from the Democrats and from the unions representing teachers, the very same unions that are pouring millions of dollars into the Democratic Party.

Fairfield + Farmington – Giving CT kids math textbooks that are not aligned to Common Core

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It is becoming increasingly clear that if your child took the Common Core SBAC Math test this year a significant amount of the material that they were tested on was not included in the math textbook they had been provided with.

Fairfield and Farmington are two more Connecticut towns that have been providing their students with math textbooks that are not correctly aligned to the Common Core, but are still testing and labeling students based on how well they did on the Common Core Math test.

Of course, making matters worse, not only are Connecticut’s public school students being labeled on the basis of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC test, but thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly, teachers will be evaluated on how well their students do on the Common Core SBAC test.

Highlighting the absurdity of the whole situation is that it is becoming increasingly clear that the textbooks that many towns have purchased with taxpayer funds don’t even contain the material students are being “required” to know for the Common Core SBAC tests.

In an article entitled Vallas’ $10m textbook farce means Bridgeport students don’t have Common Core aligned math textbooks, Wait What? reported last week that students in one of Connecticut’s poorest school districts are being tested on Common Core topics that aren’t covered in the textbooks they are given.

But it turns out that students in some of Connecticut’s wealthier communities are being equally shortchanged.

Fairfield and Farmington must now be added to the list of school districts that are holding students and teachers accountable to the Common Core standards despite the fact that they are failing to provide students with textbooks cover the appropriate Common Core materials.

In Fairfield, students are provided with textbooks that are part of the Big Ideas in Math series published by Big Ideas Learning; Farmington uses the Math in Focus textbooks published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

According to Edreports, a Gates Foundation funded organization that was created to review whether public school textbooks are properly aligned to the Common Core, Big Ideas in Math and the Math in Focus textbooks fail to adequately cover the Common Core Math standards that are included on the Common Core SBAC tests.

Edreports explains that Big Ideas in Math series,

DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS ON ALIGNMENT

DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS ON FOCUS

DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS COHERENCE

The Common Core reviewers add,

“The materials do not consistently give students of varying abilities extensive work with grade-level problems.”

As to the Math in Focus textbooks that are used in the Farmington Schools, Edreports notes, Farmington explaining,

DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS ON ALIGNMENT

DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS ON FOCUS

DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS COHERENCE

Edreports reviewers conclude,

“Overall, the materials do not provide a focus on the major work nor are the materials coherent.”

Neither Fairfield nor Farmington school websites notify parents that the textbooks their children are given are not aligned to the Common Core.

Not only does Farmington Schools fails to inform parents of the fact that their textbooks are not aligned to the Common Core, but the school system actually brags,

“Math in Focus is the program we use in mathematics from Kindergarten up to middle school.  The curriculum in Math in Focus was one of the main models used to write the Common Core.  Math in Focus is the U.S. version of the most widely used curriculum in Singapore.  For many years, Singapore has been among the top-performing countries in international assessments.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit bearing entry courses in two or four year college programs or enter the workforce. The standards are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics in school.

In school, students have a textbook and workbook.  Students use both at school and often the workbook is used for homework.

So Farmington claims that, “The curriculum in Math in Focus was one of the main models used to write the Common Core,” they just fail to note that their textbooks aren’t aligned to those standards!

It is particularly ironic that both Fairfield and Farmington fail to provide their students with Common Core aligned textbooks since both towns were among the districts that were most abusive to students and parents who sought to opt out of the Common Core SBAC testing this year.

Rather than treat parents and students in a respectful, honest and professional manner, Fairfield, Superintendent of Schools David Title wrote the following to parents;

“Please understand that every student attending school during the administration of the state mastery test (all components of SBAC and Science CMT and CAPT) will be expected to participate in these tests.  Students who choose not to participate will be marked present and will be required to remain with their class in the test room.  There will be no alternate instructional activity provided for students assigned to the test session who refuse to participate.”

And in Farmington, Superintendent Kathleen Greider reportedly told the Farmington Board of Education that,

Any high school junior who was opted out of the SBAC test would be punished by being forced to the back of the line when it came to selecting AP, Honors or other advanced courses for their senior year.

If the Fairfield and Farmington Boards of Education were really committed to representing the interest of their students, parents, teachers and taxpayers, they’d be demanding an investigation about why their superintendents are failing to provide their community’s students with Common Core aligned textbooks and bullying and harassing students and parents who sought to opt out of the unfair and destructive testing scheme.

For more about the how these textbooks fail to provide students with the appropriate materials go to: http://www.edreports.org/reports/series/index.html

Is your bank or insurance company helping to undermine your child’s education?

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Yesterday we learned that the CT School Finance Project is nothing more than a front for another group called the Connecticut Council for Education Reform.  (See Wait, What? post CT School Finance Project – Here we again – Another education reform front group.)

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform Inc. (CCER) is a corporate funded “education reform” advocacy group that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, anti-teacher initiatives.

In fact, no one, other than Governor Dannel Malloy, has been a bigger cheerleader for the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing system than CCER.

The Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is rigged to fail up to 70 percent of all public school children and up to 90 percent of children who have special education needs or face English Language barriers.

As a result of the inappropriately designed SBAC test, approximately 3 in every 4 African-American and Latino children will be labeled failures this year.

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) purports to be a non-partisan, 501(c) (3) (non-profit) organization, but their agenda is extremely political and their funds are being used to undermine Connecticut’s public schools and unfairly label Connecticut’s public school students and teachers.

You can read some of the absurd things CCER and its allies have written via the following articles;

CT Mirror– Op-Ed: Test data matters for Connecticut. Education is a science

Demystifying Student Assessment

For Parents, Testing is an Opportunity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Education is a Data-Driven Science

And where does this corporate funded group get their money?  According to their own reports CCER’s biggest donors include;

Webster Bank

Bank of America

Wells Fargo

First Niagara Foundation

Ion Bank Foundation

Other major funders include The Hartford and the Travelers Foundation

If you bank with these organizations or buy policies through these companies you are actually helping to fund an organization that is actively undermining our public schools and the children who attend them.

And just how far will they go to contaminate the debate around public education?

The Chairman of CCER’s Board of Directors is Steve J. Simmons.  The Greenwich cable company executive is not only a major funder of the charter school industry, but just last week he co-hosted a fundraiser for none-other-than Education Reform Groupie Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch has consistently failed to fund Bridgeport’s public schools while diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to privately owned but publicly funded charter schools.  However, Mayor Finch’s anti-public education efforts didn’t stop Steve Simmons and other “Education Reformers” from asking their friends to hand over up to $1,000 a person for Finch’s re-election campaign.

It is bad enough that CCER is misleading the public and is lobbying on behalf of an agenda that is hurting students, parents, teachers and public schools, but it is even worse they are doing it with money that belonged to Connecticut consumers.

If you bank with Webster Bank, Bank of America or any of the other corporations that are pushing Governor Dannel Malloy’s corporate education reform industry agenda, the next time you go to the bank, speak with your insurance company or communicate with one of CCER’s funders, ask them why they are using the money that they take from us to undermine our public schools and label our children as failures.

CT School Finance Project – Here we again – Another education reform front group

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Like some type of gigantic octopus, the pro-charter school, pro-common core, pro-SBAC testing scheme and anti-teacher corporate education reform industry has set up multiple front groups while dumping more than $7.9 million dollars into their lobbying effort on behalf of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s “education reform” initiatives.

By now you’d think these hedge-fund managers and corporate executives would have created enough different groups to create the impression that they are more than what they seem.

But that’s just not the way it works…

Connecticut’s education policy arena is being honored with the presence of yet another “reform” front group.

And as with their earlier pronouncements, the charter school and education reform industry is claiming that their latest front group is an “independent source of accurate data and information that transcends special interests.”

The newest corporate funded education reform group to invade Connecticut’s education policy debate is called the Connecticut School Finance Project and according to its PR;

“Founded in 2015, the nonprofit Connecticut School Finance Project strives to be a trusted, nonpartisan, and independent source of accurate data and information that transcends special interests.”

Independent?

Transcends special interests?

File this one under – There is truly no lie that is too big for the charter school industry and its corporate education reform associates.

Earlier this year, the so-called “independent” Connecticut School Finance Project posted an advertisement that it was hiring a “Communications Manager.” Applicants were instructed to send their resume and cover letter to Katie Roy at [email protected].

At the time Katie Roy was actually serving as the Chief Operating Officer for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, one of the leading entities lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s anti-public education policies.

According to CCER,

“Katie Roy is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations, finance, and human resources.  She also works on organizational strategy and leads CCER’s education finance work.”

Now with their own website, the self-described, non-profit, “independent” Connecticut School Finance Project has three employees, although it is yet to reveal where it is getting is money.

Katie Roy (Director & Founder) is the former COO of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

Patrick Gibson (Data & Policy Analyst) is a former employee of CCER, who, the site claims, “worked in close collaboration with Education Resource Strategies and three Connecticut public school districts to improve student learning outcomes and better align allocated resources with district strategy through an understanding of people, time, and money utilization”

Michael Morton – the new Communications Manager who recently transferred from Texas to take on the task of explaining to Connecticut voters why charter schools, privatization and Malloy’s damaging education reform strategies are what Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public schools need to ensure a better future.

CT School Finance Project asserts,

“The goal of the Connecticut School Finance Project is to collaborate with everyone who is impacted by this problem to find solutions that are fair to kids and taxpayers, and work better for schools, towns and cities.”

And yet, although they claim to be engaged in addressing Connecticut’s education funding issues, they fail to make any mention of the critically important CCJEF v. Rell School Funding lawsuit, a case that will go to trial this fall… A case that is finally forcing the State of Connecticut and the Malloy administration to address that fact that Connecticut’s school funding formula is not only unfair, discriminatory and hurts Connecticut’s students and property tax payers, but is blatantly unconstitutional.

Connecticut School Finance Project states that, “The way that Connecticut funds its schools is broken. It’s unfair to kids and taxpayers, and it doesn’t work for many schools, towns and cities.”

Yet this corporate education reform front group FAILS to even mention the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit.

They fail to mention that their hero, Dannel Malloy, was an initial sponsor and plaintiff  of the CCJEF lawsuit when he was Mayor of Stamford but turned tail when he became governor and actually had chance to do something about the way Connecticut’s public schools are funded.

They fail to mention that Connecticut’s Attorney General George Jepsen, a former state representative and state senator from Stamford, is fully aware of the problems with Connecticut’s school funding formula and yet is spending massive amounts of public funds and staff time in an immoral and unethical fight against the interests of Connecticut’s children and property taxpayers.

Proving just how much of a farce this new Connecticut School Finance Project is, the group doesn’t even address the State of Connecticut’s historic under-funding of Connecticut’s schools or the battle to dramatically increase the amount of state funding for public schools as the only fair and constitutional method for reduce the unfair burden on local property taxpayers while ensuring all Connecticut’s public schools students get the support they need and deserve.

But that is because the Connecticut School Finance Project is most definitely not a “trusted, nonpartisan, and independent source of accurate data and information that transcends special interests.”

One need only look at its origin and its employees to know that the corporate education reform industry has rolled out yet another front group in their effort to undermine Connecticut’s public schools.

When it comes to the “NEW” Connecticut School Finance Project, remember the wise words of Matthew who warned;

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening and ferocious wolves.”

CT Educator Terry Marselle writes a “MUST READ” compendium on the Common Core

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Fellow education advocate and Connecticut high school teacher, Terry Marselle, has published an extremely important book on the Common Core and you can get it on Kindle this week for free!

Diane Ravitch and other leading academics and public education activists across the country agree that Terry Marselle has done a great job researching the fundamental issues and problems associated with the Common Core and the way it is being rolled-out by the corporate education reform industry and its allies.

As the publisher explains,

“Not to be confused with the Common Core itself – which has no science behind it – this book screams research. If one is looking for a go-to, desk-check reference for literally every topic beneath the Common Core umbrella, this book comes close.

While some school reform critics engage in sweeping generalizations, the author, Terry Marselle, does the opposite.

[…]

Marselle meticulously documents how the Common Core’s authors and supporters have a fundamental non-understanding of how students of various ages think and learn.

Of particular interest is the scholarly manner in which the author lays out the alarming developmental inappropriateness the Common Core in grades K-3.

For example, under the Common Core, play-based Kindergarten has disappeared and formal instruction, which used to start in Grade One, has taken its place. This is despite the fact that in the earliest of years, compelling research points toward play-based education as not being a soft option.

If you act fast, you can get this valuable book for free on Kindle.  Otherwise it is a bargain at only $4.95.

To order the book on Kindle (free this week) go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y7BM2OA

For more about the book go to: http://www.commoncorenot.com/

For anyone and everyone engaged in the battle to re-take control of public education, the book will be an enormously helpful companion.

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