Common Core Testing Fiasco – More evidence the entire scheme is a failure

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The Corporate Education Reform Industry and its allies like President Obama, Former President George W. Bush, presidential candidate Jeb Bush and governors Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy has repeated claimed that the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme, diverting scarce public funds to charter schools, privatizing public education and evaluating teachers based on the Common Core test results would be good for the nation’s public school students, their parents and the country’s future.

As a result of their ill-conceived policies billions of dollars in public taxpayer funds at the federal level and tens of millions of dollars here in Connecticut are being shifted away from classroom instruction so that corporate education reform companies can continue to make even more money.  Taxpayers, students, parents, teachers and public schools are the losers and the truth about the absurd Common Core testing scam becomes clear every day.

A new independent study authorized by Florida’s legislatures report recently reported that,

“[This year’s Common Core Test] passing scores were not established through a formal standard setting process and therefore do not represent a criterion-based measure of student knowledge and skills”

A statement is a condemnation of a failed testing system that some officials, especially here in Connecticut, continue to defend.

The new Florida report was authored by Alpine Testing Solutions and edCount, LLC and was completed as a result of Florida House Bill 7069 which was signed into law on April 14, 2015.

The Florida law required that, “An Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity of Florida’s 2015 Common Core testing program” be completed and that a reported on the issue be submitted by September 1, 2015 to Florida’s State Senate K-12 Education Committee.

The development of the Common Core testing in Florida is not unlike the situation in Connecticut.

Last year, as a result of growing public pressure, Florida’s Legislature and Governor tried to convince the public that by renaming their Common Core Program they were moving away from the centralized Common Core Standards and Common Core tests that were part of the SBAC and PARCC Common Core operation.  SBAC and PARCC are the two national entities developing and managing the Common Core and Common Cores testing programs.

In the case of Florida, the name was changed to the Florida Standards Assessment, while in Connecticut Governor Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly replaced the term “Common Core” with the softer, gentler term of “The Common Core State Standards in Connecticut.”

But in neither case was the change anything more than cosmetic.

With the 2015 Common Cores testing completed and the results finally being released, it is becoming increasingly clear is that no matter what you call the Common Core and Common Core testing program, the charade behind the testing mania becomes ever clearer.

While Connecticut actually stuck with the centralized Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test (SBAC), Florida publically claimed it was dropping out of the PARCC consortium, but went on to hire the very corporate education resting companies behind PARCC and SBAC.

In Florida’s case, students ended up taking a test that was basically a mirror image of the Common Core test administered in Utah.

Of course, as a result of this gimmick, the new Florida study founded that the test students were given there did not even properly aligned with the so-called Florida standards, let alone with the curriculum being taught in Florida.

However more troubling was the fundamental problems that the independent study discovered with the entire common core testing program.

In addition to reporting that the Common Core passing scores were “not established through a formal standard setting process and therefore do not represent a criterion-based measure of student knowledge and skills,” the independent analysis reported that there were widespread “technology problems” that led to “significant challenges in the administration of the FSA for some students, and as a result, these students were not presented with an opportunity to adequately represent their knowledge and skills on a given test.”

What we already knew was that shifting from a paper-based standardized testing program to a computer based program would discriminate against those who haven’t been sufficiently trained to use computers or don’t have equal access to computers.

Like the Common Core test itself, the entire testing effort discriminates against poorer children, children who aren’t fluent in the English Language and students who are not getting the special education services they need.

But as the independent Florida report discovered, actual technology problems with the implementation of the test made the entire Common Core testing program even more unfair and unusable.

The study highlighted the fact that 94% of school districts indicated that they “experienced some type of technology issue during the administration of the test and that almost half of all districts reported that 20 percent or more of the students in their district were impacted by technology problems.  As the report explains, a total of 4 in 10 districts even noted that “technology difficulties” had a “major impact” on the test results.

Here in Connecticut, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education has pontificated that there were very few technical problems with the Common Core SBAC test in Connecticut, although no independent analysis of the claim has been completed and even the claim that there were “few problems” is suspect considering that in at least two Connecticut School Districts students were given the wrong test and their entire results had to be thrown out.

But in the end, regardless of whether the technical issues were few or far reaching, the new Florida study’s assessment of the actual usefulness of the Common Core test results is what is most troubling.

The study reported that the myriad of problems with the validity of the test meant that the results should not be used for making “individual student decisions.”

The report added, “Test scores should not be used as a sole determinant in decisions such as the prevention of advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, or placement in a remedial course.”

And at best, the study recommended that the Common Core test results could only be appropriately used at that “aggregate level,” which they defined as “the district or state level.”

But of course, a key provision of Governor Malloy’s disastrous education reform” initiative is the mandate that the Common Core test results be used at the classroom level to evaluate Connecticut’s public school teachers.

As we now know, such an effort would be totally unfair and inappropriate considering the classroom level results have are not statistically accurate.

And so here we are, an incredible amount of public money turned over to corporate education reform companies and all we got in return was a Common Core testing scheme that is devoid of value.

You can find the full Florida Report here: and the video of the report’s presentation to the Florida State Senate Education Committee here:

Wendy Lecker’s latest column – The importance of listening to students

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In a commentary piece entitled Heeding the lessons of teenagers, fellow Education Advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker used her latest article in the Stamford Advocate and other Hearst Media Group outlets to remind us that when it comes to the so-called “education reform” agenda it is critically important that student voices be heard above the din of politics and the greed of the corporate education reform industry.

The Corporate Education Reformers and their allies in the charter school industry are so desperate to hijack the voices of public schools students that they actually create front groups with names like Students For Education Reform.

Calling themselves SFER, the group claims to be a “student run” organization but turns to the power elite for money and guidance.  An early member of the SFER Board of Directors was none other than Connecticut’s own Jonathan Sackler, the man behind the education reform groups ConnCAN, ConnAD, 50-CAN, as well as a key funder in the large charter school chain, Achievement First, Inc.  Sacker is also among the largest funders of Governor Dannel Malloy’s 2014 campaign for re-election.

Present members of SFER’s Board of Directors includes a Chief Growth Officer from the  gigantic KIPP charter school chain, the founder of Rolling Hills Capital, a major hedge fund, the Deputy General Counsel of Unilever, the President of the major education reform consulting company called Mass Insight Education, that got a lucrative contract from the Malloy administration,  and the list goes on.

Although Students For Education Reform has yet to file their IRS forms for this past tax year, in their first three years of business the group collected at least $6 million from corporate education reform groups, including a major start up grant form Democrats For Education Reform, an anti-union, anti-teacher, pro-charter group that have run attack ads against the Chicago Teachers Union and other groups speaking out for the rights of teachers and students.

Claiming to have chapters on 100 college campuses, SFER is among the organizations that joined in the record breaking lobbying campaign in support of Governor Dannel Malloy’s education reform agenda.

In 2012 the group dropped $15,000 in support of a pro-Malloy student rally.  However, following an ethics complaint it was later revealed that the money appeared to actually come from StudentsFirst, a national corporate education reform group that was headed, at the time, by Michelle Rhee.

By comparison there are the very real and very genuine voices of students, students who aren’t being paid to parrot the phrases of corporate executives like Jonathan Sackler.

And when you listen to real students, you hear a very different set of opinions and concerns.

As Wendy Lecker writes;

Although reformers and pundits like to pretend the interests of teachers are at odds with children’s best interests, those who know understand that their interests are aligned. Teachers know teaching conditions are learning conditions. In 2012, Chicago teachers went on strike for, among other things, smaller class size, art, music and wraparound services for children. In their recent victorious strike, Seattle teachers won mandatory recess for elementary school children.

Students also know that they and teachers want the same things. A fine example is the recent, unprecedented filing by Houston high school students of an amicus brief in the Texas school funding case now on appeal to that state’s Supreme Court.

In researching their brief, written entirely by them, the students visited schools across Houston, and spoke to students, teachers and administrators. They also drew on their own experience. As they point out, by the time they graduate, they will have spent 16,000 hours in public school. These kids are the experts.

Their research and experience led them to the same conclusions that courts across the country found: Schools need certain essential resources for kids to succeed, including: small class size, teacher training and support, extra-curricular activities and a rich curriculum.

The students stressed the need for small class size to help English Language Learners (“ELL”), a large population in Texas. The authors point out that individualized attention is necessary because for these students, “every class is a language class.”

Small class size is vital for all students. The authors remark that in large classes, teachers cannot provide feedback that is essential so students learn from their mistakes. As one student said, “it’s demotivating for us to spend hours on an assignment knowing that the teacher can only afford to spend a few minutes (if even that) checking for completion before putting a grade on it. It’s also demotivating for teachers to spend hours grading assignments that don’t require any of their expertise.”

Small class size is also essential to develop a personal bond with a teacher. This need is especially strong for disadvantaged students who face trauma in their daily lives. The personal connection prevents “children from falling through the cracks.”

The students note that private schools advertise their small classes. “This factor is a selling point for well-off parents who want the best for their kids, but isn’t available for those less fortunate.”

The authors stress that they need trained teachers, not novices. They show how teacher training is vital to help ELL teachers navigate the different cultures they encounter, and how the lack of funds for training hurts students and teachers alike.

Enrichment activities are often the first resources to be cut in a budget crunch, as they are viewed as extra. The authors here provide real-life examples of how these “extras” provided a vital outlet for students experiencing personal crises, enabling them to stay in school and focus on their studies.

The students’ authentic voice shines through in their writing. They confess:

“Most of us do not wake up in the morning excited to attend school and learn math. Many of us attend school because we look forward to ROTC, band, or orchestra, and while we’re there, we might as well learn math too. That mindset is useful to understand arts education as a pragmatic method of retaining students, boosting grades, and improving education for all.”

The students recognize how the absence of support services affects the futures of disadvantaged children. They note that the lack of guidance counselors deprives impoverished students of information about “four-year residential colleges, two-year associates degree programs, or even summer internships and academic camps.”

These students illustrate with real-life examples how teaching and learning are complex human endeavors that cannot be reduced to one data point. Thus, schools need comprehensive services and programs.

The authors do not blame teachers. They know that school personnel care about them. Rather, they call out the state, which communicates to children that it does not care by ignoring the severe lack of resources in schools.

The brief is also remarkable for what it omits. These students do not ask for choice. They do not want teachers to be rated on their standardized test scores, or replaced by untrained recent college graduates, a la Teach for America. Current fashionable education reforms are irrelevant to these real students.

Politicians would do well to heed the wisdom of these teenage experts, who know what’s best for them and their teachers.

Wendy Lecker is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and is senior attorney at the Education Law Center.  You can read and comment on her full piece via:

More on the Big Changes with the SAT and why juniors should take the old SAT at least once before March 2016


As reported in yesterday’s Wait, What? Post,

“Current 11th graders are strongly encouraged to take the CURRENT SAT before the NEW SAT comes out in March.  Colleges will continue to accept SAT scores earned prior to the NEW SAT rollout.  In this way, students may also take the NEW SAT and compare scores, submitting the set of scores that is more favorable.  This option (using the current SAT scores) will not be available to younger students.  In other words, students in the Class of 2017 will be the last to have the option of using scores earned on the current SAT.”  (Recommendation from the Guidance Department of E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, CT.)

Starting in March 2016 the College Board, which owns the lucrative PSAT and SAT testing systems, will be rolling out a NEW SAT which it claims is aligned to the “Common Core Standards”

The “primary author” of those Common Core Standards – a system that is causing so much controversy – took over as President of the College Board and immediately announced that he would do for the SAT what he did for the nation’s education standards.

And many of the same problems and issues that have arisen with the Common Core SBAC and Common Core PARCC tests are likely to appear with the new SAT.

Remember that the Common Core testing scheme was designed to fail the vast majority of public school students, and it did, because the tests included a significant amount of content that students had not learned prior to taking the tests.

In Connecticut, for example, the Common Core SBAC testing scam proclaimed that that only 30% of high school students were “proficient” in Math, while the Connecticut Mastery Test had been reporting that that 78% – 82% of all high students had been scoring at a proficient level in Math for decades.

How did the education reform’s testing industry engineer a system in which Connecticut’s high school students suddenly got stupid, dropping from 80% proficient to 30% proficient?

The answer lies in the fact that students were tested on Math content they had not been given the opportunity to learn… a sure why of “proving” that students were “failing.”

And now the NEW SAT is going to do the same thing.

Based on the recent Common Core SBAC test results, Students facing challenges will likely be hit the hardest by the shift to the NEW SAT

In Connecticut, the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory SBAC test determined that only 16.4 percent of poor children where “proficient” in Math, only 8.2 percent of students with special education needs scored at the “proficient” level and only 7 percent of English Language Leaners (those not fluent in the English Language) scored at a “proficient” level.

And now those students will be required to take the NEW SAT.

But the unfair assault on Connecticut’s public school students should come as no surprise considering the NEW SAT is just another piece of the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s agenda to undermine public education.

While this year’s high school juniors can take the old SAT and submit it with their college applications, as long as they take it before March, the State of Connecticut is one of the state’s that have signed a deal with the College Board to “require” that every high school junior take the NEW SAT next spring.  The requirement was passed by the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Malloy earlier this year.

As for the elements of the NEW SAT, the College Board is reporting that the NEW PSAT, a standardized test that many high school juniors are taking this fall, is similar in scope to the NEW SAT that will be forthcoming.  However, since the NEW SAT has not be used or validated, students will flying blind when taking the NEW SAT starting in March.

According to the propaganda coming from the College Board, the NEW SAT will be made up of 4 parts; Math, Reading, Writing/Language Arts and a new optional SAT Essay that is taking the place of the required essay that has been the cornerstone of the old SAT testing system.

Apparently some of the biggest differences with the NEW SAT will show up in the Math section which will focus, as they put it, on the following:

However the NEW SAT Math test will also contain what the College Board is calling “Additional Topics in Math,” which will include “trigonometry.”

The inclusion of “advanced” and “additional” topics in math will mean that the NEW SAT will include content that most high school juniors will not have been taught.

While some students who are particularly proficient in math may actually do better with the NEW SAT system, the vast majority of students will probably face greater problems as a result of the “enhancement” to the SAT.

AS for the “optional SAT essay,” the College Board reports that the essays will be scored “using a carefully designed process” in which, “Two different people will read and score your essay, Each scorer awards 1–4 points for each dimension: reading, analysis, and writing, The two scores for each dimension are added” and “You’ll receive three scores for the SAT Essay — one for each dimension — ranging from 2–8 points.”

The magical scoring rubric can be found via the following link:

In summary two key points rise to the surface.

First, “current 11th graders are strongly encouraged to take the CURRENT SAT before the NEW SAT comes out in March.  Colleges will continue to accept SAT scores earned prior to the NEW SAT rollout.  In this way, students may also take the NEW SAT and compare scores, submitting the set of scores that is more favorable.”  This option (using the current SAT scores) will not be available to younger students.  In other words, students in the Class of 2017 will be the last to have the option of using scores earned on the current SAT.”

Second, why Governor Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly would mandate that all Connecticut 11th graders take the NEW SAT is a sad commentary on their on-going failure to stand up for Connecticut’s students and parents.  The NEW SAT, like the Common Core SBAC test is designed to fail students, especially students who are already face challenges when it comes to getting into college.

WARNING – Parents of High School Students – Especially Juniors – Beware!


Starting in March 2016, students taking the SAT College Admission Exam will be given the NEW Common Core aligned SAT test rather than the version that students have been taking over the years.

David Coleman, who was the primary “author” of the Common Core, is now the President of the College Board, the organization that develops and overseas the SAT.  Last Spring, Coleman announced that a new SAT would be introduced in 2016.  According to Coleman and the College Board,

“The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are designed to assess your academic readiness for college. These exams provide a path to opportunities, financial support, and scholarships, in a way that’s fair to all students. The SAT and SAT Subject Tests keep pace with what colleges are looking for today, measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century.”

In other words, according to this gigantic standardized testing company that collects hundreds of millions of dollars a year from students, parents, schools, school districts and state and local governments, getting a high score on the SAT is the key to getting into and paying for college.

What Coleman and the Education Reform Industry is not telling parents is that the NEW Common Core aligned SAT, like the Common Core Smarter Balanced Consortium SBAC test and other Common Core Testing schemes will include content that most students have not been taught.

The truth is that many students who take the NEW SAT may be stunned when they receive SAT scores that are far lower than they would have otherwise expected.

The impact could be will be especially significant and unfair for this year’s high school juniors who are taking the SAT’s this spring as part of their college application process.


Hopefully parents of this year’s high school juniors have already heard the news from their high school’s guidance department, but according to the guidance counselors at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, Connecticut;

“Current 11th graders are strongly encouraged to take the CURRENT SAT before the NEW SAT comes out in March.  Colleges will continue to accept SAT scores earned prior to the NEW SAT rollout.  In this way, students may also take the NEW SAT and compare scores, submitting the set of scores that is more favorable.  This option (using the current SAT scores) will not be available to younger students.  In other words, students in the Class of 2017 will be the last to have the option of using scores earned on the current SAT.”

While the existing SAT has more than its share of problems, experts are reporting that by aligning the NEW SAT to the so-called Common Core standards, students will need to have successfully completed Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, as well as Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry or Probability and Statistics in order to get a co-called “college ready” score on the math portion of the new SAT standardized test.

However, as noted, many, if not most, high school juniors will not have taken the “advanced courses” that are needed in order to get a higher school on the NEW SAT.

While some high students are provided the opportunity to take advanced math course, the State of Connecticut requirement that students even have four years of math doesn’t take effect until the graduating class of 2018, ensuring that many students who graduate in 2016 and 2017 don’t have the necessary background to “succeed” on the NEW SAT and those graduating in 2018 and beyond may have four years of math, but may not have been taught the concepts needed to successfully take the NEW SAT.

The rush to a Test and Punish system of public education is putting today’s students at risk and policymakers in Connecticut and across the country are making things far worse, not better, as the Corporate Education Reform Industry laughs all the way to the bank.

In states like Florida and Texas, once proponents of the Common Core, governors and legislatures are actually moving in exactly the opposite direction by eliminating the requirement that students even have to take Algebra 2, let alone study more advanced math courses, in order meet graduate requirements.

While Connecticut is moving toward the requirement that students take four years of math, Governor Dannel Malloy’s uncompromising support for the Common Core and Common Core Testing scheme is actually undermining public schools students who are caught during the “transition” to the higher standards.

Just yesterday Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education and a handful of key legislators held a press conference at a West Hartford High School to congratulate themselves on promoting a testing system that will actually hurt many Connecticut students.

Governor Malloy’s press release read;

“Governor Dannel P. Malloy today joined State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell, State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford), and State Representative Andy Fleischmann (D-West Hartford) at Conard High School in West Hartford, where they highlighted the state’s plan to replace the 11th Grade Smarter Balance Assessment – or SBAC exam – with the SAT later this school year.  This plan represents an important milestone in Governor Malloy’s commitment to reduce the amount of standardized testing for public high school students and ensure that all students are prepared to succeed in college and careers.”

The notion that Dannel Malloy, a champion of the Common Core and the Common Core testing scheme is committed to reducing the amount of standardized testing for public school students is utterly absurd.

But equally distressing is the fact Malloy and his State Department of Education, along with the help of the Connecticut General Assembly are seeking to force all Connecticut 11th graders to take the NEW, untested and unproven SAT that, like the SBAC Test, is designed to fail huge numbers of Connecticut students.

What isn’t clear is whether their headlong rush to mandate the use of the NEW SAT is due to their ignorance, their desire to divert scarce public funds to massive education testing and corporate education reform companies or their complete unwillingness to understand how to help, not hurt, Connecticut’s students and parents.

While the NEW SAT will make its appearance in all of Connecticut’s high schools in March, the truly unsettling reality is that the Connecticut General Assembly passed and Governor Malloy signed into law a requirement that every high school junior take the NEW SAT next spring and that those students be judged by a test that is being redesigned and aligned to the Common Core, that no one has seen and that will almost certainly test students on content that they haven’t even learned.

Furthermore, as result of Governor Malloy’s “education reform” initiative, high school teachers in Connecticut will then be “evaluated” on how well their students do on this NEW Common Core aligned SAT.

Early this year, the Atlantic Monthly Magazine highlighted some of the problems with the “NEW” SAT in an article entitled New SAT, New ProblemsThe piece focused on the fact that the “NEW” SAT’s math section would likely put many students at a significant disadvantage when it comes to getting into college.

Why?  Because, as the magazine reported, the NEW SAT will include a significant amount of content that many students have not learned.

As the Atlantic Monthly reported,

“[I]t’s the revision of the math section that could have particularly egregious consequences

The new SAT will focus on fewer types of math than the current version does, sacrificing breadth for depth and testing students on the material the College Board believes to be most essential to “college and career success.” That might sound like good idea. But with this change in focus comes a change in question style. And that’s problematic.

The new version includes fewer questions that deal simply with ‘figures and equations’ and far more with topics that many, even most, students have not been properly prepared for.”

But despite the very real and extremely serious issues with the NEW SAT, Governor Malloy and his allies celebrated Connecticut’s decision to mandate that every student take the NEW SAT and that students and teacher be judged by the results of that test.

Malloy press release yesterday added,

“All children deserve a chance to pursue their dreams, go to college, and compete for the best jobs in a global economy. We are no doubt raising a new bar – graduation rates are at record highs while we’re preparing children for the future like never before,” Governor Malloy said.  “But we also believe in testing smartly, and mitigating stress among students and parents. That’s why we’ve taken this step, and I would like to thank Senator Bye, Representative Fleischmann, and all those who worked in the House and Senate on this issue.

Beyond the benefits of reducing duplicative testing, the move has an added benefit of leveling the playing field by ensuring those who otherwise might not be able to afford the SAT – the costs for which typically run more than $50 – will not be precluded from taking the exam, which is often requisite for admission to higher education institutions.

“Our job is to make sure all of our students in Connecticut have access to a top-quality education that prepares them for success in college and career.  Tests are an important tool for gauging where we are as a state and where students need additional help to succeed,” Commissioner Wentzell said.

“Replacing the Smarter Balanced assessment with the SAT for 11th graders cuts down on the amount of time students spend taking exams and allows high schools to focus on delivering rigorous academic instruction and preparing young people for college.  We thank Governor Malloy, our legislators and educational partners for their leadership and support on this important issue.”

“I’ve heard complaints from many parents and students over the past few years about lost learning time and the impact of too much student testing, especially for 11th-graders, who have some of the heaviest testing burdens with the SBAC, SAT and Advanced Placement exams,” Senator Bye said.  “I believe the changes we have instituted will reduce student stress while still providing them with a proven and valuable college-preparation tool.”

“Federal requirements created a bottleneck of testing for high school juniors that we are now fixing,” State Representative Fleischmann, House co-chair of the Education Committee, said.  “By replacing the 11th Grade SBAC with the new SAT, we not only get rid of a test many students weren’t taking seriously – we also make a college entrance exam free for all families.  Students who might not have considered college before will start to do so – while their parents get a break on ever-rising test fees.”

As the saying goes, with “friends” like these, Connecticut’s public schools students, parents and teachers certainly don’t need enemies …. They already have them and they are running Connecticut’s State Government.

Cuomo and Malloy – Deaf, Dumb and Blind about the Common Core Testing Opt-Out Movement


When it comes to the Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry, Democrat Governors Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy are twins separated at birth.  Proponents of charter schools, the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and its associated anti-parent, anti-teacher agenda, both Cuomo and Malloy have spent the last few years praying at the Alter of the Public School Privatization Movement.

And both Cuomo and Malloy have eagerly reaped the benefits of their actions by hauling in unprecedented amounts of campaign cash from the corporate executives, hedge fund owners and other wealthy elite who fund the charter school and education reform advocacy groups that lobby elected officials.

Perhaps the most offensive fact of all is that not only are Cuomo and Malloy diverting tens of millions of dollars in public funds to charter schools and turning public schools into little more than testing factories, but that they are using state government agencies and officials to inappropriately – and illegally – stomp on the fundamental rights of parents to protect their children from the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scam.

When it comes to recognizing, let alone protecting the rights of public school parents and students, Malloy and Cuomo have been nothing short of Deaf, Dumb and Blind.

As reported yesterday in the Wait, What? article entitled  Look Out Parents – Malloy’s State Department of Education is ramping up Pro-Common Core Testing Campaign, Governor Malloy’s State Department of Education trooped off to little Sherman, Connecticut last week to berate the community for its high opt-out numbers, while the Deputy Commissioner of Education told school superintendents that “correction action plans” will be implemented in towns where too many parents opted their children out of the tests and that the Malloy administration would be mobilizing to “help educate” parents and communities where parents had the gall to stand up against the SBAC testing program.

As the nation’s leading public school advocate, Diane Ravitch reports today, in actions similar to those of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is equally unwilling to recognize that in a representative democracy, parents have a right to be heard. In a civil society parents also have a fundamental right to opt their children out of the destructive Common Core testing program.

Diane Ravitch reports,

Governor Cuomo announced his commission to revise the Common Core standards and it includes not a single parent leader of the opt out movement. The reason for the commission was to respond to the opt out movement, but no one on the commission speaks for the parents and guardians of the 220,000 students who did not take the test.

If you look at the members of the commission, you will see MaryEllen Elia, the state commissioner, plus the chair of the Senate Education Committee and the House Education Committee. The commission will be chaired by Richard Parsons, a respected banker. The commission includes some educators, but they all have day jobs.

Read the responsibilities of the commission. It is supposed to review the standards and the tests, among many other assignments. Here is the title of the press release:

Task Force to Perform Comprehensive Review of Learning Standards, Instructional Guidance and Curricula, and Tests to Improve Implementation and Reduce Testing Anxiety

Does anyone seriously believe that this commission has the expertise or the time to do what they are supposed to do?

Can anyone explain why there is no one on the commission to speak for the parents who opted their children out of the state testing?

In Connecticut, as in New York, the state’s chief elected official continues to display an extraordinarily level of arrogance and disdain for the hard-working parents who are striving to ensure their children get a good education and that our public schools and public school teachers aren’t undermined by the corporate education reform industry and the carrion birds that travel with it.

Connecticut Ed Reform Leader urges business leaders to say something when poor have too many children


“Speak your mind, if you think that it is not okay for a parent to have a fifth child when they are struggling to support one through four – right –speak it …”

 – Paul Diego Holzer, Executive Director of Achieve Hartford! Achieve Hartford! is the leading corporate education reform and charter school advocacy group in Connecticut’s capital city.

The well-paid spokespeople for the Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry are usually pretty good at staying on “message.”  Surrounded by public relations staff and consultants and aided by “media training” sessions, the proponents of charter schools, the Common Core, the Common Core Testing scam and various anti-teacher initiatives exude the aura of well-prepared snake oil salesman.

But from time to time, they drop their guard and their true opinions, philosophies, arrogance and ignorance come shining through loud and clear.

One of the most recent examples occurred last week, on September 17, 2015, when the Hartford Metro Alliance, which serves as the Hartford region’s major chamber of commerce, held their annual “Hartford Metro Rising Star Education Breakfast.”

The event was moderated by Oz Griebel, a one-time gubernatorial candidate and the President & CEO of the Hartford Metro Alliance.  The event featured a presentation by Hartford Superintendent of Schools Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, followed by a discussion with the superintendent and Paul Diego Holzer, the Executive Director of Achieve Hartford!, the Connecticut‘s Capital City’s leading corporate funded education reform advocacy group.

As Paul Diego Holzer addressed the status of Hartford’s public schools he began by complimenting Superintendent Schiavino-Narvaez, decried and then mislead the audience about value of the recent Common Core SBAC results and then turned his attention to the issue of poverty.  A partial transcript of the comments follows, the full video can been seen via the link below;

On the problem of poverty, Paul Diego Holzer explained;

I think there is a question that comes up often about poverty which is are we really going to fix this if you know the situations at home are what they are and I challenge us to think about our own expectations of families in poverty


If you don’t speak your mind on to this issue of poverty and on families and where responsibility lies –right – you’re not helping.

Speak your mind – right – if you think that it is not okay for a parent to have a fifth child when they are struggling to support 1 through four – right –speak it – we have to come together on this issue, but also at the same time think about what we are going to do for that family…

Putting aside the reality that the actual number of poor parents with four or five children in the school system is extremely low, the stunningly ignorant and disturbing approach to “doing something” about the crippling impact of poverty in Hartford is a stark reflection about how out-of-touch many in the Corporate Education Reform Industry actually approach the real issues that are limiting educational achievement in Hartford and other poor communities across Connecticut and the nation.

We know one overriding truth – poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs are what limit educational achievement.

Anyone who would suggest that the problem is that people need to speak up, “if you think that it is not okay for a parent to have a fifth child when they are struggling to support one through four,” should not be part of any discussion about public education, poverty, children and American society.

Additional Background;

Achieve Hartford! is the corporate funded charter school and Corporate Education Reform Industry advocacy group that spends more than $1 million a year lobbying and advocating for more charter schools and the implementation of Governor Dannel Malloy’s “education reforms” in Hartford.

Achieve Hartford! even has a Chief Branding Officer.

The organization’s Executive Director Paul Diego Holzer collects upwards towards $150,000 to coordinate the organization’s activities. Holzer and Achieve Hartford! have been among the most vocal proponents of diverting scarce public taxpayer funds to Achievement First, Inc, the large charter school management company, to former charter school operator Dr.” Michael Sharpe and his disgraced FUSE charter school chain and Steve Perry, the controversial anti-teacher former Hartford school administrator and  self-described “most trusted educator in America,” who, thanks to Governor Malloy is opening his own privately owned but publicly funded “boutique” charter school company.

With an MBA in Education Management from Yale, Paul Diego Holzer, served as Achieve Hartford!’s Director of Education Programs where he managed the organization’s research and community engagement programs, before becoming the organization’s Executive Director.  Holzer was a founding board member of the YouthBuild Public Charter School in Washington DC

Achieve Hartford!’s Board of Directors is made up of corporate executives and business leaders heralding from the biggest corporations in the greater Hartford area including Travelers, New York Life Retirement Services, Hartford Healthcare, Prudential, Webster Bank, The Hartford Financial Services Group, MetroHartford Alliance, UnitedHealthcare, and others.

As stunningly disgusting and inappropriate as Holzer’s comments were, equally telling is that neither Oz Griebel, the moderator, nor Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez made any attempt to challenge Holzer’s outrageous comment or even sought to set the record straight about the poor families or that telling poor women not to have “too many” children is not a useful, meaningful or appropriate way to go about dealing with Hartford’s extraordinary poverty problem.

You can see Achieve Hartford!’s Executive Director Paul Diego Holzer’s comments via the following YouTube link –  The Achieve Hartford! portion begins about 47 minutes into the video.

The Problem:  Some believe what isn’t true and others refuse to believe what is…


And then there are those people who do both.

As we contemplate how it is possible that elected officials like Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy remain steadfastly committed to his anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-Common Core testing and pro-charter school corporate education reform initiatives we might do well to remember the words of the great Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, who observed that fools are those who “believe what isn’t true [and/or] refuse to believe what is true.”

The damage that Malloy and his cadre of “reformers” have done to public education in Connecticut, and continue to do, has been significantly exacerbated by the utter failure of the Democrat controlled Connecticut General Assembly to stand up to Malloy’s bullying.

Incredibly, the majority of State Senators and State Representatives have abdicated their responsibility when it comes to promoting public education.

Rather that step forward and fulfill their constitutional and moral duty as participants in our representative democracy, they have relegated themselves, doing little more than rubber stamping the very policies that are hurting Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, public schools and taxpayers of their districts.

With little to no support from the Legislative Branch of Government, the role of the Judicial Branch becomes all the more important.

Public education advocate and commentator Wendy Lecker had another MUST READ column in this past weekend’s Stamford Advocate.

In her column, Wendy Lecker alerts us to the fact that we’ve apparently and unfortunately reached the point where the courts must step in and guide our elected officials toward policies that help, not hurt, public education in Connecticut.

Wendy Lecker’s piece, entitled, “Do courts need to guide Malloy about education?” was first published in the Stamford Advocate and can be found at:

Wendy Lecker Writes;

Charter schools want it both ways. To get taxpayer dollars, they want to call themselves public schools. However, they do not want to educate the same children as public schools, or be subject to the same rules. Courts are beginning to challenge this duplicity. In Texas and Arizona, courts have ruled that charters are not entitled to the same funding as public schools. Now, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that charter schools not public schools at all and it is unconstitutional to divert any money intended for public schools to them.

Central to the Washington court’s decision was the connection between public schools and local democracy. The court noted that local control is the “most important feature” of a public school because it vests in local voters the power, through their elected agents, to run the schools that educate their children.

Charters in Washington are authorized by state agencies and governed by unelected boards. The court concluded that charter schools are not true public schools because they are “devoid of local control from their inception to their daily operation.”

This ruling follows another major decision by Washington’s Supreme Court, holding the legislature in contempt for failing to adequately fund its public schools, and fining it $100,000 a day.

The refusal to fund public schools and simultaneous willingness to divert money to privately run charter schools has parallels to Connecticut.

In January, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will have to defend the state’s failure to fund our public schools as the CCJEF school funding trial he has failed to thwart finally begins.

While spending millions of taxpayer dollars trying to prevent children in underfunded school districts from having their day in court, the Malloy administration has aggressively expanded privately run charter schools and funded them at levels higher than schools in our poorest districts receive. Charter schools receive $11,000 per pupil annually from the state, while children in Bridgeport public schools, for example, receive less than $9,000 per pupil annually in ECS funding. New Britain Schools receive less than $8,000 per pupil. Connecticut charter schools also tend to serve less needy, therefore less expensive-to-educate, students than their district counterparts.

Moreover, the state, in violation of its own laws, concentrates charters in a few districts, forcing those financially strapped districts to pay additional millions to the charter schools for special education and transportation.

The Malloy administration applies a double standard to charters on one hand and underfunded public schools on the other. As I have documented, the State Board of Education routinely reauthorizes charter schools despite their failures, while poor districts are subject to state takeover despite the state acknowledging that the districts’ troubles are financial . The SBE even blindly handed over tens of millions of dollars to a convicted embezzler/charter operator, Michael Sharpe.

Furthermore, despite strong Connecticut legal precedent barring school segregation, the state does nothing to stop rampant charter segregation. Ironically, the state recently claimed stellar progress on desegregation and asked to be released from court oversight in the Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation case.

Like Washington, Connecticut has a long tradition of local control over its public schools. In 2012, our Supreme Court voided the illegal state takeover of the Bridgeport board of education. The decision highlighted the importance of local control over education. The court stressed that Connecticut law has long recognized need to protect the democratic will of the people who elect their local boards of education. The court noted that local boards are most responsive to the needs of the local district and the will of the local population. The court further emphasized that local control “fosters a beneficial and symbiotic relationship between the parents, students and local school administrators, a relationship that should not be lightly disregarded.”

Yet in its zeal to expand and dole out taxpayer dollars to privately-run charters, the state has run roughshod over local control. Connecticut’s State Board of Education authorizes charter schools, which often appoint outsiders to their unelected boards. SBE steamrolls the will of the people. Last year, the SBE authorized new charter schools in Bridgeport and Stamford, disregarding the vociferous opposition of the elected school board in each city.

While the Malloy administration fights fair funding and desegregation of public schools, it has nearly doubled financial support for privately run, segregated charters.

Perhaps it is time for our courts to step in, like they did in Washington, and remind the governor of the true nature of public schools: Schools that serve every child and are accountable to the voters in every district.

Wendy Lecker is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and is senior attorney at the Education Law Center.

Sarah Darer Littman’s latest MUST READ PIECE – Connecticut Legislators Take Note, West Coast Rulings Are Going Against Charter Schools

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Fellow education advocate and CT Newsjunkie columnist Sarah Darer Littman has written another Must Read article about charter schools and Corporate Education Reform Industry’s unrelenting assault on public education.

In her latest piece, Littman challenges Connecticut legislators to pay “close attention to several interesting legal developments on the West Coast, which could have significant implications here in the Nutmeg State.”

Sarah Darer Littman writes,

The first came Sept. 5, when the state Supreme Court in Washington ruled 6-3 that charter schools don’t qualify as “common” schools under the state’s constitution, and therefore can’t receive public funding intended for traditional public schools.

“Our inquiry is not concerned with the merits or demerits of charter schools,” Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote in the majority opinion. “Whether charter schools would enhance our state’s public school system or appropriately address perceived shortcomings of that system are issues for the legislature and the voters. The issue for this court is what are the requirements of the constitution.”

Charter schools have always tried to play the public/private issue both ways. The acts of calling themselves “public” when it comes to claiming funds from the public purse, yet immediately claiming to be private entities the minute accountability and FOIA matters are raised, have created several interesting conundrums, as we have observed right here in our own backyard. (See FUSE, ConnCAN)

In the Washington State case this play it both ways strategy finally went pear-shaped:

“The words ‘common school’ must measure up to every requirement of the constitution . . . and whenever by any subterfuge it is sought to qualify or enlarge their meaning beyond the intent and spirit of the constitution, the attempt must fail . . . Bryan established the rule that a common school, within the meaning of our constitution, is one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to and under the control of the qualified voters of the school district. The complete control of the schools is a most important feature, for it carries with it the right of the voters, through their chosen agents, to select qualified teachers, with powers to discharge them if they are incompetent.”

The court listed all the ways charters fail to meet these qualifications. Namely, they are:

1) “governed by a charter school board,” which is “appointed or selected . . . to manage and operate the charter school.”

2) The charter school board has the power to hire and discharge charter school employees and may contract with nonprofit organizations to manage the charter school.

3) They are “free from many regulations” that govern other schools.

4) Charter schools are “exempt from all school district policies,” as well as “all . . . state statutes and rules applicable to school districts” except those listed in I-1240 section 204(2) and those made applicable in the school’s charter contract.

In other words the Washington state court finally issued a ruling confirming what many of us here in Connecticut have been saying for years: charters are siphoning off taxpayer money from the public school system without sufficient (if any) accountability. Calling them “public schools” is merely convenient political fiction.

Sarah Darer Littman goes on to raise attention on the appeal of Vergara v. State of California and the education reformers attempt to force school districts to use test scores to evaluate teachers in yet another lawsuit.

Anyone concerned about threat to public education posed by the corporate education reformers and its allies like Governor Dannel Malloy should read Littman’s latest piece which can be found in its entirety at:

Adequate resources, not more testing, is the way to improve public schools

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The challenges associated with poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs are the factors leading to the educational achievement gap between the haves and have nots.  The Corporate Education Reform Industry, with the help of elected officials likes of Dannel Malloy, Andrew Cuomo, Jeb Bush and others, have used the problems facing public schools in poorer communities to institute an agenda of more standardized testing, inappropriate teacher evaluation programs and the privatization of public education through the creation of privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

In yet another powerful commentary piece, Wendy Lecker goes to the root of the problem with the Common Core SBAC testing scheme and strategies being foisted on public school children, parents and teachers.

Wendy Lecker writes;

The SBAC results are out. With them will come recriminations about how our students, teachers and public schools are failing. Those who make these accusations hope the public has a short memory. They do not want us to remember that the SBAC has not been externally validated and therefore, according to the Vermont State Board of Education, does “not support valid and reliable inferences about student performance.” They hope we forget that the arbitrary SBAC proficiency levels set in Washington, D.C., guaranteed ahead of time that the majority of Connecticut students would fail.

Standardized tests are universally recognized to be unreliable and unhelpful in determining how well students learn. Experts routinely caution to therefore never use test results for any consequential decisions about schools, teachers or students.

Decades of testing evidence show that the only stable correlation that exists, whether it is the CMTs or the SATs and likely the SBACs, is between test scores and wealth. Researchers such as Sean Reardon at Stanford note that wealthy parents not only can provide basic stability, nutrition and health care for their children, but also tutoring and enrichment that gives affluent children an edge over poorer children.

The wealth advantage extends beyond test scores. Two studies, by St. Louis Federal Reserve and by the Boston Federal Reserve, demonstrate that family wealth is a determining factor in life success. The St. Louis report, published in August, revealed a racial wealth gap among college graduates. A college degree does not protect African-Americans and Latinos from economic crises as it does for whites and Asians. Employment discrimination figures into the disparity, but a major role is played by family wealth. Without a safety net of family assets, graduates of color must make more risky loan and other financial decisions. Last year’s Boston Fed study noted that wealthy high school drop-outs stay in the top economic rung as often as poor college graduates remain in the bottom economic rung. As a Washington Post article put it, rich kids who do everything wrong are better off than poor kids who do everything right. These reports, coupled with the fact that most job openings in the United States are for low-skilled workers, expose the uncomfortable truth that education is not the great equalizer.

These truths should inform education policy. To attempt to level the playing field, we should at least be equipping schools to provide supports to needy children that affluent parents provide their children.

Instead we spend billions on testing that tells us what we already know — rich kids are better off than poor kids; without addressing that inequality. Education reformers deflect attention from the supports poor kids need and tell us that all kids have to do is develop some “grit” to succeed. In his best-selling book, “How Children Succeed,” Paul Tough claims there is “no antipoverty tool we can provide for disadvantaged young people that will be more valuable than the character strengths” like grit. Connecticut policy makers are trying to develop tests to measure the degree of “grit” our kids have. We are even told that if students have enough “grit” to get high test scores, our economy will be more competitive.

This is American individualism taken to its absurd extreme. Not only are children supposed to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, they have to bootstrap the entire national economy. The Fed studies show us that grit does not determine success in today’s highly stratified society — privilege does. And our nation’s economic health — surprise! — does not depend on test scores. The United States has remained competitive while our international tests scores have always been middling. Moreover, former U.S. Department of Education analyst Keith Baker compared 40 years’ worth of nations’ per capita gross domestic product and international test scores and found that test scores actually dropped as the rate of economic growth improved.

Those who push this false narrative of individualism also fight efforts to fund schools in order to give poor kids the support they need. Last month, the Washington Supreme Court held the state’s legislature in contempt, fining it $100,000 a day, for failing to adequately fund the state’s schools. Interestingly Microsoft, whose chief Bill Gates is a major player in test-based education reform, lobbied heavily against state taxes that would have helped finance the public schools.

Robber-baron education reformers such as Gates fight to protect their wealth to pass on their success to their children. For other people’s children their message is clear, as teacher/blogger Joe Bower remarked: “Let ’em eat grit.”

Wendy Lecker is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and is senior attorney at the Education Law Center.  Her complete commentary piece can be found at:

The Sham and Scam called the Common Core


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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