Read this story that summarizes some of the same things we’ve been saying about ESSA : http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/01/02/establishment-republicans-anchored-states-common-core/
September 18, 2016
Thank you for signing up to receive alerts about what the Every Student Succeeds Act means for Washington.
The following ESSA workgroups have new materials posted:
- ESSA Consolidated Plan Team Meeting Agenda/Summary (August 24)
- ESSA Accountability System Meeting Agenda/Summary (August 18)
- ESSA Effective Educator Meeting Summary (August 10) and Meeting Agenda (September 16)
- ESSA Federal Programs Team Meeting Agenda (September 22)
- ESSA Report Card Meeting Summary (August 8) and Meeting Agenda/Summary (August 22)
- ESSA School and District Improvement Meeting Summary (August 12)
Looking for more information about the negative impact of ESSA? Click here
This is a link to one of our blog posts reviewing the #3 OSPI Town Hall in Vancouver, WA on June 16th 2016: https://swweducation.org?p=2804
From Thomas Fordham Institute: http://edexcellence.net/articles/draft-essa-regulations-a-mixed-bag-for-educational-excellence?mc_cid=ce6e637e23&mc_eid=6579cb48aa
In the shift from one federal education law to another, we need to know how the CCSS Machine is going to pay our teachers. More specifically, how the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) will reward, or punish, them.
In the picture above, you can see the comparison between the ESSA’s tiers of compensation and the one NC Dept. of Public Instruction’s Superintendent, Dr. June Atkinson, says she created back in 2015. If you live in NC, this is of interest, for sure. If you don’t, it should encourage you to see what your Dept. of Public Instruction has in place, or in mind.
First, the Wedding Cake….to read the rest of the story click the picture and it will take you to the article
An article from CommonCoreDiva titled “ESSA and Digital Overload”
ESSA_Digital_Overload Added Feb 5, 2106
From an article in The Pulse – Dear Moms and Dads: Big Brother is About to Join the Family
An excerpt: “These programs are designed to replace parents, family, church, and other private associations with the suffocating ministrations of all-wise, all-powerful Government.”
This article walks through the ESSA/ESEA changes with some comparisons.
An article titled: Meet Your New Neighbor – The ESSA! Added Jan 4, 2016
No Child Left Behind (NCLB):2002 vs Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):2015
(Thank you Wendy Hart for preparing this and Alyson Williams and Jane Robbins for your assistance) – http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/nclb-2002-vs-essa-2015/
The ESSA has been explained as a significant improvement over NCLB in the areas of federal overreach into education, specifically regarding standards, testing, and accountability measures. In comparing the language between the two bills, this assertion is incorrect. It is true that ESSA gets rid of AYP, but the Secretary of Education and a Peer-Reviewed Committee must approve state plans that may include non-academic and subjective factors that measure ‘student engagement’ or school climate/safety. This summary does not treat the preschool and community learning centers that are also concerns for limited-government conservatives.
In short, this bill purports to fix the problems created under NCLB (some of which were, in fact, created outside of NCLB but incorrectly attributed to it, e.g. Common Core), but there is evidence that it doesn’t, in fact, fix federal overreach, and, in many instances, like in standards and mandated testing, it increases it.
|Statement of Purpose||“fair, equal, high-quality education, reach minimum proficiency on challenging academic standards”||“fair, equitable, high-quality education, close achievement gaps”||Focus changed from equal to equitable and from minimum proficiency in academics to closing achievement gaps|
|Standards||“…State shall not be required to submit such standards to the Secretary [of Education].” p. 1445Challenging standards same for all schools in the state that 1) specify knowledge and skills for students 2) coherent and rigorous content 3) encourage teaching advanced skills 4) coordinate with 6 federal statutes, 5) English, math, science.
Aligned to State standards. Describe 2 levels of high achievement (proficient and advanced). Describe a 3rd level (basic)
Secretary approves plans unless requirements not met. p. 1456
|“State shall not be required to submit any standards… to the Secretary [of Education] for review or approval… Secretary shall not…mandate, direct, control, coerce or exercise any direction or supervision over State…standards.” p. 51Challenging academic content standards: includes requirement for: 1) consultation with Governor, legislature, teachers, etc. 2) coordination with 11 different Federal programs including IDEA, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOWA) 3) same for all schools in the state with exceptions, 4) English, math, science or others 5) “aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in…higher education…and…career and technical education standards.” p. 48
Specification on US Dept of Ed Review Committee for approving state plans.
Details on when the Secretary can disapprove plans. p. 42-3
|Much of the language is similar. . Standards not required to be submitted for approval. Secretary still has discretion to approve or disapprove plans.Standard specifications much more detailed under ESSA.
ESSA requires coordination with 11 federal statutes instead of 6.
ESSA requires standards to align with post-secondary coursework. The only current widely-adopted set of standards that are aligned is Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. This alignment continues to set the stage for national standards (Common Core or similar) that will meet this expectation.
|Testing Schedule||Requires testing as follows:
In English math, and science at least once:
1) grades 3- 5, 2) grades 6-9, and 3) grades 10 -12.
Involves multiple academic measures including “higher-order thinking skills and understanding;” p. 145095% participation rate required of all students and all subgroups.
|Requires testing as follows:
In English and math: 1) in each grade 3 – 8 2) at least once in grades 9-12
In science at least once in 1) grades 3-5, 2) grades 6-9, 3) grades 10 -12.
Any other subject the state deems to requires, on a schedule set by the state.
Involves multiple up-to-date measures, including higher-order thinking skills, may include measures of student growth, partially determined in the form of portfolios, projects. p. 5495% participation rate required of all students and all subgroups.No parental opt-out of testing is allowed that would hold harmless schools or districts with a lower participation rate on required testing. (p.76)Assessment time is limited (p.76)
|Testing has actually increased under ESSA. However, most state plans already include testing of every grade level, starting in 3rd grade at a minimum. But NCLB only requires 3 tests in the 3 different subjects throughout a child’s K-12 experience. ESSA requires 2 tests over 7 years and 1 test over 3 years minimum.ESSA has greater detail given to other measures that ‘may’ be included on assessments.
95% participation rate maintained. Penalties follow for lower participation, effectively nullifying parental opt outs of testing for federal purposes. State laws allowing parental opt out are allowed, but meaningless for district and school accountability.
The limitation on assessment language has the effect of increasing federally-incentivized testing (under this Act) and reducing local or state testing. Since this is federal law, the federally-required tests will be given. Should additional testing exceed the limit under this part, the state and local assessments will be dropped. It is an increase in federal testing, in practice.
|Waivers||The term ‘waiver’ applies to the section it is in. It is to be initiated by the LEA or State Education Agency and could be granted for things such as financial hardship, natural disaster, or if the state could find a better way to meet a given objective.The Secretary has no power to establish new terms. p. 1972||Illegal NCLB Waivers from letter dated Sep. 23, 2011 terminated after Aug. 1, 2016. p. 7-8
The term ‘waiver’ applies to the section it is in. It is to be initiated by the LEA or State Education Agency and could be granted for things such as financial hardship, natural disaster, or if the state could find a better way to meet a given objective.The Secretary has no power to establish new terms. p. 819 – 822
|ESSA modifications of language are more administrative than substantive.In 2011, the Secretary of Education granted waivers from penalties under NCLB in exchange for new terms, including, for all practical purposes, using the Common Core standards. NCLB contains no provision for this, and scholarly articles, such as Vanderbilt Law Review, April 2015 (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2485407) call the use of this power unconstitutional. “This Article demonstrates that this exercise of power was beyond the scope of the Secretary’s statutory or constitutional authority. “ In short, the Secretary violated NCLB. There is no recourse for the states under either NCLB or ESSA to prohibit similar action from occurring.|
|Common Core||Nothing||State retains the right to enter in to voluntary partnerships with other states. Zeldin amendment added in the House. Prohibits penalties should states choose to exit Common Core.||Since NCLB didn’t require Common Core, only the unconstitutional waiver process, there is no practical effect to this legislation. It’s a nice ‘Sense of Congress’, but the required alignment of standards to credit-bearing coursework and career (see above) will enshrine Common Core and nationally ‘certified’ programs and processes to meet this requirement.|
|Accountability||Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP):
State establishes a measure of proficiency and standards for that proficiency, as well as a
timeline for AYP that leads to 100% proficiency in 12 years (2014) . Measures of different subgroups defined. Interim goals that require minimum proficiency requirements toward the 100% proficiency by 2014. Indicators of proficiency must be valid and reliable. pp. 1446-8
|AYP is replaced with Long-term goals:
1) improved academic proficiency on annual assessments (see above)
2) high-school graduation rates
3) terms of goals are the same for all students and subgroups
4) may include student growth measures
5) another statewide valid and reliable indicator
6) indicator(s) of school quality, may include: student engagement, educator engagement, access and completion of advanced coursework, postsecondary readiness, school climate and safety, any other measure chosen by the state. pp. 80-85
|AYP proficiency requirements on state-determined tests and standards are now removed. They are replaced with state-determined measures of improvement on state-determined standards and tests. As noted above, the state-determined standards and tests have greater requirements in federal legislation under ESSA than under NCLB.Additionally, the measures of improvement include much more than academic achievement, and cause concern for parents that the state will requirement assessment of things outside their purview. What does the state’s assessment of student engagement or school safety look like? How is this to be objectively measured?|
|Prohibitions on Federal Government||Sec. 9527 “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act.” p.1983||Sec. 8527 “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act.” p. 844||Identical or similar language in both prohibitions sections. ESSA includes more detail “including via grant, cooperative agreement, …” But legally, they cover the same ground.|
This is a repost from a blog. The writer spent 3 days reading the entire 1000+ pages and offers their thoughts with details:
What is actually contained in the Every Student Succeeds Act, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act?
I wanted to know.
So I spent three days straight reading EVERY SINGLE WORD the 1061 page bill which is set to go to the Senate for a vote tomorrow. I ask all congressmen to read the bill, especially the more concerning portions outlined below.
Know what you are voting on is not an end to common core or a return to local control. It is an expansion of “the secretary’s” duties and Federal control.
ESSA outlines data collection, competency based pay for teachers, pipeline services from birth to age 20, new federally monitored “promise” neighborhoods, an expansion of data driven computer adaptive testing, and in-school mental health services which will not be protected by HIPPA privacy protection laws. It is an erosion of local control and the continuation of a data driven model which corporate interests will benefit from.
Do me a favor, count how many times you read the words “the secretary.”
‘‘(7) FAILURE TO MEET REQUIREMENTS.—If a 21 State fails to meet any of the requirements of this section, the Secretary may withhold funds for State administration under this part until the Secretary determines that the State has fulfilled those requirements.
‘‘(viii) Information submitted by the State educational agency and each local educational agency in the State, in accordance with data collection conducted pursu- ant to section 203(c)(1) of the Department of Education Organization Act (20 U.S.C. 3413(c)(1)), on—
‘‘(I) measures of school quality, climate, and safety, including rates of in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, school-related arrests, referrals to law enforcement, chronic absenteeism (including both excused and unexcused absences), incidences of violence, including bullying and harassment; and
‘‘(II) For purposes of subclause (I),the State may include measures of— ‘‘(III) student engagement;‘‘(IV) educator engagement;‘‘(V) student access to and completion of advanced coursework;‘‘(VI) postsecondary readiness;‘‘(VII) school climate and safety; and‘‘(VIII) ANY OTHER INDICATOR the State chooses that meets the requirements of this clause
Does the Government also intend to regulate private schools? See pages 186-187, 833-840
11 SEC. 1011. PARTICIPATION OF CHILDREN ENROLLED IN
12 PRIVATE SCHOOLS.
13 Section 1117, as redesignated by section 1000(3), is
15 (1) in subsection (a)—
16 (A) by striking paragraph (1) and insert-
17 ing the following:
18 ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—To the extent consistent
19 with the number of eligible children identified under
20 section 1115(c) in the school district served by a
21 local educational agency who are enrolled in private
22 elementary schools and secondary schools, a local
23 educational agency shall—
24 ‘‘(A) after timely and meaningful consulta-
25 tion with appropriate private school officials,
1 provide such children, on an equitable basis and
2 individually or in combination, as requested by
3 the officials to best meet the needs of such chil-
4 dren, special educational services, instructional
5 services (including evaluations to determine the
6 progress being made in meeting such students’
7 academic needs), counseling, mentoring, one-on-
8 one tutoring, or other benefits under this part
9 (such as dual or concurrent enrollment, edu-
10 cational radio and television, computer equip-
11 ment and materials, other technology, and mo-
12 bile educational services and equipment) that
13 address their needs; and
14 ‘‘(B) ensure that teachers and families of
15 the children participate, on an equitable basis,
16 in services and activities developed pursuant to
17 section 1116.’’;
18 (B) by striking paragraph (3) and insert-
19 ing the following:
20 ‘‘(3) EQUITY.—
21 ‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—Educational services
22 and other benefits for such private school chil-
23 dren shall be equitable in comparison to serv-
24 ices and other benefits for public school chil
1 dren participating under this part, and shall be
2 provided in a timely manner.
3 ‘‘(B) OMBUDSMAN.—To help ensure such
4 equity for such private school children, teach-
5 ers, and other educational personnel, the State
6 educational agency involved shall designate an
7 ombudsman to monitor and enforce the require-
8 ments of this part.’’;
(b) ASSISTANCE TO OUTLYING AREAS.—5 ‘‘(1) FUNDS RESERVED.—From the amount made available for any fiscal year under subsection7 (a)(1), the Secretary shall—8 ‘‘(A) first reserve $1,000,000 for the Republic of Palau, until Palau enters into an agreement for extension of United States educational assistance under the Compact of FreeAssociation, and subject to such terms and conditions as the Secretary may establish, except that Public Law 95–134, permitting the consolidation of grants, shall not apply;
States are gathering data and reporting to “the Secretary”
‘(ix) gather data, solicit regular feed- back from teachers, principals, other school leaders, and parents, and assess the results of each year of the program of demonstration authority under this section, and respond by making needed changes to the innovative assessment system; and
‘‘(x) report data from the innovative assessment system annually to the Secretary, including—
19 ‘‘(i) a description of the local educational agencies within the State educational agency that will participate, including what criteria the State has for approving any additional local educational agencies to participate during the demonstration authority period;
‘‘(h) NONCOMPLIANCE.—The Secretary may, after
- 15 providing notice and an opportunity for a hearing (includ-
- 16 ing the opportunity to provide supporting evidence as pro-
- 17 vided for in subsection (i)), terminate a local flexibility
- 18 demonstration agreement under this section if there is evi-
- 19 dence that the local educational agency has failed to com-
- 20 ply with the terms of the agreement and the requirements
- 21 under subsections (d) and (e).
to improve within-district equity in the distribution of teachers, consistent with sec- tion 1111(g)(1)(B), such as initiatives that pro- vide—
‘‘(i) expert help in screening can- didates and enabling early hiring;
‘‘(ii) differential and incentive pay for teachers, principals, or other school leaders in high-need academic subject areas and specialty areas, which may include per- formance-based pay systems;
‘‘(iii) teacher, paraprofessional, prin- cipal, or other school leader advancement and professional growth, and an emphasis on leadership opportunities, multiple career paths, and pay differentiation
P348 Human capital
- (2) to study and review performance-based
- 9 compensation systems or human capital manage-
- 10 ment systems for teachers, principals, or other
- 11 school leaders to evaluate the effectiveness, fairness,
- 12 quality, consistency, and reliability of the systems
3) HUMAN CAPITAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.— The term ‘human capital management system’ means a system—
‘‘(A) by which a local educational agency makes and implements human capital decisions, such as decisions on preparation, recruitment, hiring, placement, retention, dismissal, compensation, professional development, tenure, and promotion; and
‘‘(B) that includes a performance-based compensation system.
‘‘(4) PERFORMANCE-BASED COMPENSATION SYSTEM.—The term ‘performance-based compensation system’ means a system of compensation for teachers, principals, or other school leaders”
Are our students Human Capital or are they children?
Teachers and Administrators See pages p350-359!
1 ‘‘SEC. 2212. TEACHER AND SCHOOL LEADER INCENTIVE 2 FUND GRANTS. 3 ‘‘(a) GRANTS AUTHORIZED.—From the amounts reserved by the Secretary under section 2201(1), the Secretary shall award grants, on a competitive basis, to eligible entities to enable the eligible entities to develop, implement, improve, or expand performance-based compensation systems or human capital management systems, in schools served by the eligible entity.
‘‘(B) use evidence-based screening assessments for early identification of such students beginning not later than kindergarten;
23 ‘‘(6) SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES PROVIDER.—The term ‘school-based mental 25 health services provider’ includes a State-licensed or State-certified school counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, or other State licensed or certified mental health professional qualified underState law to provide mental health services to children and adolescents
Pages 599-618 are in my opinion the scariest section of the bill. They prescribe expanded learning time, pipeline services, full-service community schools, neighborhoods of promise and ‘‘(B) A needs assessment that identifies the academic, physical, nonacademic, health, mental health, and other needs of students, families, and community residents. This is federal intrusion into the home, the neighborhood and the health records of students.
Also see p 617.
Expanded learning time
‘‘(ii) ensuring appropriate diagnostic assessments and referrals for children with disabilities and children aged 3 through 9 experiencing developmental delays, con- sistent with the Individuals with Disabil- ities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), where applicable.
‘‘(B) Supporting, enhancing, operating, or expanding rigorous, comprehensive, effective educational improvements, which may include high-quality academic programs, expanded learning time, and programs and activities to prepare students for postsecondary education admissions and success.
Needs assessment for pipeline services
‘‘(B) A needs assessment that identifies
the academic, physical, nonacademic, health, mental health, and other needs of students, families, and community residents
13 ‘‘(22) EXPANDED LEARNING TIME.—The term
14 ‘expanded learning time’ means using a longer
15 school day, week, or year schedule to significantly
16 increase the total number of school hours, in order
17 to include additional time for—‘‘(A) activities and instruction for enrich- ment as part of a well-rounded education; and ‘‘(B) instructional and support staff to col- laborate, plan, and engage in professional devel- opment (including professional development on family and community engagement) within and
across grades and subjects. P 783
PROGRAMS NOT PROVIDING CREDIT.—Except as provided in subparagraph (A)(ii)(I)(bb), a student who is retained in grade or who is enrolled in a program leading to a general equivalency diploma, or other alternative educational program that does not issue or provide credit toward the issuance of a regular high school diploma, shall not be considered transferred out and shall remain in the adjusted cohort.
SEC. 9206. POSTHUMOUS PARDON.14 (a) FINDINGS.
—Congress finds the following:15 (1) John Arthur ‘‘Jack’’ Johnson was a flamboyant, defiant, and controversial figure in the history of the United States who challenged racial biases.19 (2) Jack Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878 to parents who were former slaves.21 (3) Jack Johnson became a professional boxer and traveled throughout the United States, fighting White and African-American heavyweights.24 (4) After being denied (on purely racial grounds) the opportunity to fight…
It goes on until page 918
Why is a posthumous pardon of a boxer in an education bill?
Why do we need 1061 pages of bill released two days before the House vote to repeal No Child Left Behind? Let teachers teach. Let local LEA’s govern their own schools. Let parents be the primary entity in charge of their child’s education. The family is the central unit of our society. Not the school. Not the federal government.
This is just the tip of the iceburg.
Dig in and read ESSA for yourself.
Tell me what you think after 50 pages.
U.S. lawmakers always have reasons for what they do, so there must be one for why they didn’t make public the 1,059-page rewrite of the 2002 No Child Left Behind until a few days before Congress began voting on the compromise legislation last week. Could it be that they didn’t want critics to take too close a look?
The Every Student Succeeds Act is now expected to replace NCLB as the newest version of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, an overarching law that defines federal involvement in K-12 education. The House passed it last week and the Senate is expected to pass it this week, with President Obama promising to sign it.
Finally, the No Child Left Behind era — which in fact left many children behind — will be over, and its successor is being hailed by some in the worlds of education, business, and public policy as a big step toward increasing educational opportunities for the nation’s students.
But anybody expecting the Every Student Succeeds Act to be a fix-all will be disappointed.
There are major problems with this legislation; anybody who thinks federal dictates have disappeared are in for a surprise, and anybody who would like to see the federal government exercise its power to fix systemic school funding problems and seriously broaden the scope of reform are in for a letdown, too.
Among the concerns that have been raised:
- Use of federal funds for “Pay for Success” programs allow wealthy investors to make profits from education investments, an issue that has concerned some special education advocates.
- States will be required to fund “equitable services” for children in private and religious schools who are deemed eligible, and they must appoint an “ombudsman” to make sure the schools get their money.
- Provisions in the legislation for the establishment of teacher preparation academies are written to primarily support non-traditional, non-university programs such as those funded by venture philanthropists, and they lower standards for teacher education programs that prepare teachers for high-poverty schools.
- The federal government still will have a say in some areas, such as mandating standardized tests and requiring states to intercede in schools where student test scores are in the lowest 5 percent and then approving the state plans for academic progress.
The ESSA is a compromise bill among Republicans and Democrats who were intent on ending not just No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of former president George W. Bush, but also the Obama administration’s micro-managing of education policymaking. Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, made that evident when he said, as quoted by my colleague Lyndsey Layton:
“Now, let me be clear: This is not a perfect bill. To make progress, you find common ground. But make no mistake: We compromised on the details, and we did not compromise our principles.”
Local education decisions traditionally have been the provenance of states and local districts, but Bush led the way for more federal involvement — requiring students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school to take standardized tests for school “accountability” purposes. The tests were only in math and reading, leading schools to focus on those subjects and giving short shrift to history, science, physical education and the arts.
Many Obama supporters thought he would de-emphasize test scores, but instead his administration made them even more important for “accountability” purposes, and teachers found themselves in the crosshairs of unreasonable evaluation systems, sometimes being assessed by the scores of students they didn’t have and/or subjects they didn’t teach. (Really.)
Obama’s Education Department used its federal power to coerce states to adopt the Common Core State Standards, expand charter schools and use student test scores to evaluate teachers, an assessment method that experts warned against. The department was accused of being a “national school board,” and, finally, eight years after NCLB was supposed to be rewritten, it has been — with some of it a direct rebuke to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, as seen in legislative language such as this:
The new legislation was crafted over months through efforts led by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, as well as Kline. A chief concern among the negotiators was to walk a line between those constituencies that wanted to continue a federal mandate on standardized testing for “accountability” purposes and those that didn’t want any federal involvement in local education decisions.
Indeed, some people involved in the negotiations said that a key reason the compromise legislation wasn’t made public until shortly before the House voted was to appease conservatives in the House who might have staged a revolt over continued federal involvement and persuaded some moderates to go along with them in a bid to torpedo the new law. The idea was to keep the bill from being finalized until the very end so that all legislators could feel that they had been heard.
The tactic worked, and new House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, claimed a victory with the vote last week. But as more folks now get a look at the details, big concerns are emerging on various fronts.
The new law is more expansive than NCLB, providing for broader curriculum and early childhood education, for example, though the Preschool Development Grants program would reside not in the Education Department but in the Department of Health and Human Services. It also renders moot a series of controversial waivers from the most burdensome parts of NCLB awarded by the U.S. Education Department to states that promised to enact specific reforms favored by the administration.
And it sends back to the states and local districts major policy-making authority on issues such as standards and teacher evaluation. This has been hailed as a major achievement of the new legislation, but, as education activist Jeff Bryant noted: “It’s a sign of dysfunction, rather than a triumph of bipartisanship, to see officials in Washington, D.C. celebrating legislation that significantly curtails the influence of officials in Washington, D.C.”
But all federal power is not gone in education policy-making. The new legislation maintains the NCLB mandate that standardized tests in math and reading be given annually in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, and, in an effort to make other subjects as important, science tests three times between grades 3 and 12. Now, though, the states — not the federal government — can decide what to do with schools that consistently have the lowest scores. The data on test scores, by subgroup, still must be turned over to the federal government.
The legislation also, as Layton reported, “require states to intervene with ‘evidence-based’ programs in schools where student test scores are in the lowest 5 percent, where achievement gaps are greatest, and in high schools where fewer than two-thirds of students graduate on time.” States would determine which actions to take in those struggling schools but the U.S. Education Department would have to approve the plans.
This might be seen as good news for those who worry that some states will — based on their history — do nothing to create meaningful accountability systems to raise the performance of minorities.
Other concerns that have been raised include:
- The legislation provides for the use of federal funds by states and districts for a program known as “Pay for Success” in which investors put money into programs and make profits when a specific goal is reached. Special education activist Beverely Holden Johns says this could be disastrous for the special education community given the track record of Pay for Success programs. For example, she cites a Pay for Success program in Utah funded by Goldman Sachs. The global investment banking makes a profit for every student who goes through an early childhood program who is not — repeat not — referred for special education. According to the New York Times: “Goldman said its investment had helped almost 99 percent of the Utah children it was tracking avoid special education in kindergarten. The bank received a payment for each of those children.” But the Times said that a number of early childhood education experts who reviewed the program questioned its metrics.
- Kenneth Zeichner, a professor of teacher education at the University of Washington at Seattle, wrote in this post arguing that provisions in the legislation for the establishment of teacher preparation academies are written primarily to support non-traditional, non-university programs such as those funded by venture philanthropists. He also wrote that the legislation “oversteps the authority of the federal government” in several ways, including by declaring that “the completion of a program in an academy run by an organization other than a university results in a certificate of completion that may be recognized by states as ‘at least the equivalent of a master’s degree in education for the purpose of hiring, retention, compensation, and promotion in the state.’” He also wrote that the new education act seeks to mandate definitions of the content of teacher education programs and methods of program approval that are state responsibilities. It ends up, he wrote, lowering “standards for teacher education programs that prepare teachers for high-poverty schools … by exempting teacher preparation academies from what are referred to as ‘unnecessary restrictions on the methods of the academy.’ ”
- States will now be required to fund “equitable services” for children in private and religious schools who are deemed eligible, and they must must appoint an “ombudsman” to make sure the schools get their money in “a timely manner.” In many places states don’t adequately fund services to eligible students in public schools — and now they will have to spend public money on students in private and religious schools.
NCLB supporters argue that the law had its virtues: Its insistence on looking at how all subgroups of students performed on standardized tests forced schools to pay attention to minorities and other groups of students traditionally ignored. And some credit NCLB with rising high school graduation rates.
What is missing from these arguments is that the scores of the tests that students were given were very narrow measures of what kids could do, and imbuing them with such importance is an insult to authentic assessment. As for rising graduation rates, school reform supporters, of course, credit NCLB and Obama’s initiatives, though an NRP investigation this year revealed that the current high school graduation rate of 81 percent — a historic high — “should be taken with a big grain of salt.” Why? “Some are mislabeling students or finding ways of moving them off the books,” and in some places, such as in Detroit and Camden, N.J., districts are making it easier to get a diploma at the very same time officials talk about making school more rigorous.
In high-poverty areas where progress has been made in closing achievement gaps, such as in Union City, N.J., and Clarke County, Ga., it wasn’t a focus on standardized testing that worked. It was a focus on kids’ actual needs, strong relationships among the teachers and administration and slow, high expectations and a realization that real progress is slow.
True educational equity comes from comprehensive school reform, which incorporates academic improvements along with health care, housing policy, funding changes, family support and other policies that allow students to go to class safely and actually focus on their work, and that provides teachers with a work environment and enough support to operate creatively, not like infantilized robots. The act does provide for community schools, which provide full services to students and their families, but not in a truly significant way.
Ultimately, the question is whether the Every Student Succeeds Act is an improvement over No Child Left Behind. (Where do they get these names?) As Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote:
“The Every Student Succeeds Act, the intended successor to the No Child Left Behind Act, is better than the law it would replace. That is what many analysts are saying as they hail the legislation as a good step in the right direction. But let’s be honest: you couldn’t set a bar much lower than NCLB.”
Analysis of the conference report on ESSA
US Parents Involved in Education (USPIE)
Text of Bill
Christel Swasey’s Analysis
National Coalition (including Mike/Karen/Breann)
INITIAL NOTES*Competency model and testing is mentioned on pages 209 and 221,This is a rebirth of School to Work stuff from the 90’sI did see this on TAE“First, as it relates to Common Core, this bill is like slamming the barn door shut after the horses have already run out. The damage has been done.
Second, the bill still requires state plans and gives the Secretary of Education enormous authority to approve or disapprove them which in reality negates the claims that this bill do anything to help states get rid of Common Core.
Third, this bill expands early childhood funding and thus federal strings into pre-school. The bill’s language still reflects a change in No Child Left Behind’s application to “all public elementary school and secondary school students” with “all public school students.”
Fourth, this bill still contains a testing mandate and the opt-out amendment that was added to the original House bill has been stripped out.-Literacy program grants for BIRTH through grade 12. Pages 367-382.
-New wording added throughout.“Local educational agencies, (new addition) educational service agencies, and schools”p 918 line 19-22, 919 line 14-16 and it continues. What is an educational service agency?-Community schools are mentioned on pages 491-492-Data privacy language is under the heading of “sense of Congress” which I learned upon looking it up means it’s like a nonbinding resolution.-Page 734, line 13, we have Secretary of Education, Secretary of Interior, and Secretary of Health and Human services all working together….**********************************Christel’s article:
Here, the feds dictate (page 24) what percentage of funds the state will use and for what purpose. (7 percent for this, not less than 95 percent for that, 3 percent for this… on and on through page 32).
The feds dictate that the states then must turn around and inflict fed-like micromanagement on localities; they must be “monitoring and evaluating the use of funds by local education agencies” (page 26) and must give out monies to localities only if they “demonstrate the strongest commitment to using funds…[as feds see fit] and states must“align other Federal, State and local resources“.
(There’s that word “align” that we have read ten billion times in the past four years as we read official documents implementing Common Core and Common Data Standards. The word pops up again on page 33: “coursework that is aligned with the challenging State academic standards“. They’ve now dropped references to Common Core State Standards as well as any reference to College and Career Ready Standards. But the word “aligned” they have not dropped. It’s in the document 72 times, and, notably, the word “standards” is in the document 269 times and “challenging state academic standards” is repeated 24 times; just not “Common Core” labeled anymore. To me, “align” in ed reform now means to superglue to a global sameness; it means forget about scholastic creativity or imagination; it means forget about originality or home-grown ideas and powers. It means that you are not represented; you are assimilated. But I am off on a tangent.)
Pages 34 and 35 repeat the mantra that funds must be prioritized to low-achievers. (First of all, how dare you tell a state how to prioritize its funds? Secondly, how are the feds so sure that mid and high achievers won’t mind losing funding for their misdeed of having achieved? Are mid or high achievers’ needs not all that important, anyway?) Harrison Bergeron comes to mind; this is the Handicapper General at work.
Page 36 promises “a sufficient number of options to provide a meaningful choice for parents” which is a lie, of course; think about it. Federal laws and conditional monies mean using federally approved standards and tests and CURRICULUM in every school receiving federal funds. This is far from meaningful and it represents an extremely narrowed and controlled set of choices. Meaningful does not happen in an atmosphere of standardized everything, just as wonderous meals do not bloom in the kitchens of McDonald’s.
Page 37 dictates that American tax dollars may only “provide instruction and content that is secular“. This is old news. But it is not old news that federal funds are increasingly being offered to private schools. Does this mean that the feds are softening and will share taxpayers’ dollars with those who choose to attend private religious schools? No. It means that private schools are being coerced to secularize their core curricula and services so that they may receive federal money.
Page 38 is Section 1111: STATE PLANS.
We’ll rename this one “Mother May I?” (Thanks, Wendy Hart.)
States say: “Mother, May I adopt these standards?” Secretary of Education or his appointees say “no”. Rinse and repeat until states eventually ask to adopt what the Secretary has already settled upon. Here’s how it works:
Page 38: “…State educational agency shall file will the Secretary a plan” which must meet, among other things, “Secretarial Approval” (page 39 line 23) and must be approved by a review team appointed by the federal Secretary of Education. (page 39-40) That team (page 42) will have the authority to disapprove a state plan. The state may revise its plan, appeal for a hearing (page 43) but ultimately, the process will “promote effective implementation of the challenging State academic standards [aka Common Core]” (page 43).
If ANYONE tries to tell you that this bill gives power to the States, point to these pages. With such huge veto-wielding power, and review team appointing power, the Secretary becomes king over anything any state wants to do. This is not good. You can stop here. That’s enough ammo. VOTE NO.
I have to point out some sickening hypocrisy on page 44. The review team must provide “objective feedback to the States” with “respect for State and local judgments with the goal of supporting State and local-led innovation“. If your goal is to support State innovation, why not return to the Constitution which gives exactly ZERO authority to the feds in anything relating to education, tests, standards, or teachers!?
More hypocrisy on the same page: “Neither the Secretary nor the political appointees of the Department may attempt to participate in or influence the peer review process”.
On page 45: “If a state makes significant changes to its plan at any time, such as the adoption of new challenging State academic standards or new academic assessments or changes to its accountability system… such information shall be submitted to the Secretary…”
Same page: “If a State fails to meet any of the requirements of this section, the Secretary may withhold funds…” MICROMANAGEMENT HEAVEN.
A bit of a toothless joke on page 47: “The State, in the plan it files… shall provide an assurance that public comments were taken into account”.
Page 47 also gives us this sobering mouthful: “Each state, in the plan it files… shall provide an assurance that the State has adopted challenging academic content standards and aligned academic achievement standards (referred to in this Act as ‘challenging State academic standards’), which achievement standards shall include not less than 3 levels of achievement…” If you have studied how children are assessed, tracked and predestined to relegated top, middle, or bottom schools and careers in nations shackled by communism and socialism, this will make you very unhappy.
Page 48 says the state MUST align its standards to colleges and to tech-ed schools.
Page 49 says that only a small percentage of special education students– those with “the most significant cognitive disabilities” may be excused, and may use alternate standards, and only then if those alternate standards are “aligned with the challenging State academic content standards”. On page 50 it adds that that severely disabled person must be “on track to pursue postsecondary education or employment” whether they want to or not. The feds are not kind to special education students. And they won’t let states determine these matters anymore. Sadly, we already knew all of this was coming.
Page 51 offers us another blistering contradiction: “The Secretary shall not have the authority to mandate, direct, control, coerce, or exercise any direction or supervision over any of the challenging State academic standards…” Tell me how that works with page 45. He can withhold funds and disapprove plans if the state files a plan that he doesn’t like for a slew of reasons that could include using curriculum, tests or standards that aren’t aligned to his vision of fed ed and he can mandate that the state has to use the exact same standards in every one of its schools (page 52 line 21) — but he in no way supervises the State’s standards?
Page 52 deals with “Academic Assessments”. Feds dictate to states that the tests shall be the same in every school in the state (line 23) and that they will be “administered to all public elementary and secondary school students in the State” (page 53). Does this end –or aim to end– the parental right to opt out of testing? (See page 76 below)
Page 53 is an admission. The bill says that the tests may not be used to “publically disclose personally identifiable information”. They can’t disclose it publicly, but they can sure store it indefinitely.
Subtly, page 53 forces Common Educational Data Standards because the feds dictate that state tests must be: “consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical testing standards”.
Next, the dictators tell states when and how much to test children:
page 54: in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 (every year) for math and language arts
in grades 9, 10, 11, 12 (at least once)
in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 for science (at least three times in those years)
On page 55, the dictators bring down the hammer: “the participation in such assessments of all students”. ALL.
On page 58 we see the racism and other -isms of the Department of Education: States are told that they must disaggregate test data by ethnicity, race, economics, disability, English proficiency, gender, and migrant status.
On page 59 we see the toxic term “universal design for learning“. Tests are to be developed using IMS Global education standards. This means not just state or national, but global sameness and tracking. Is that a good idea or a bad one? Is that something that we ought to have Congress think about for more than one day prior to a vote?
On page 61 the feds are dictating to states that no more than one percent of students may be considered so disabled that they may take alternate-standards-based tests. “The total number of students assessed… using alternate assessments does not exceed 1 percent of the total number of all students in the State”. Later, on page 65, the bill says that there is no cap; but that schools must submit information “justifying the need to exceed such a cap”. It also notes that the State shall provide “oversight” of any school required to submit justifying information. In other words, States must show that they are monitoring schools’ decision making.
How would the federal government ever know whether a state happened to have fewer, or a greater number of students who needed and deserved something other than what the highest achieving students can and should do? On what basis does it dictate one percent? What if my child is severely disabled and is forced to take the common tests and to be taught to common standards inappropriate for him or her, because of the high number of students with disabilties? How does that bless my child?
On page 62 they’re dictating “universal design for learning” again; this time, for severely disabled special education testing.
Page 66 is literally jaw-dropping to me. It says that if the state “provides evidence which is satisfactory to the Secretary that neither the State Educational Agency nor any other State government official… has sufficient authority under State law to adopt challenging State academic standards and academic assessments aligned with such standards [aka Common Core standards and tests] which will be applicable to all students enrolled in the State’s public elementary schools and secondary schools, then the State educational agency may meet the requirements…” by aligning unofficially anyway, bymeeting “all of the criteria…and any regulations… that the Secretary may publish”. (page 67) If your state law doesn’t allow for one size fits all, then adopt and implement policies that ensure that you are aligned anyway, or lose funding. Talk about kicking Constitutional rights in the teeth. This is dictatorship.
On page 69, states are told to dictate to schools again. They must filter tests through the filter of “already been approved” (line 18) or they must “conduct a review of the assessment to determine if such assessment meets or exceeds the technical criteria” that has to be “established” (line 9) by the state. This sounds to me like more herding of everybody into IMS Global’s universal design for learning.
On page 73, it almost sounds good until you finish the sentence. It begins, “a State retains the right to develop and administer computer adaptive assessments, provided that….” and then we lose all the rights again, because they have to be aligned, aligned, aligned.
On page 76, it says that States can still decide whether or not to allow parents to opt out of testing but limits that concept to one paragraph: “nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preempting State” law. So, in the rest of the over-1000-page bill, something might. This is not making me feel better.
Reposted from Exceptional Delaware
Embedded in the latest Elementary/Secondary Education Act reauthorization are initiatives and agendas that will transform education as we know it. This is not a good thing. Nothing in Delaware currently going on (WEIC, Student Success 2025, Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities) is original. This is happening across the country. The result: students plugged in to computers all the time who will only advance once they have gained proficiency in the Common Core-infused personalized learning technology. The benefits will not be for the students. They come in the form of financial benefits which will belong to the corporate education reformers, hedge fund managers, and investors. Tech-stock will go through the roof if the current ESEA reauthorization passes, and companies like Schoology, Great Schools and 2Revolutions Inc. will become billionaires over-night. Meanwhile, our children will indeed become slaves to the system. The future is here!
The ESEA reauthorization has morphed into the classic quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars movie: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” If you actually think this latest round of ESEA legislation that will come to a vote next Wednesday will reduce testing, you have been sucked down the rabbit hole!
Who is Schoology? I’ve heard their name countless times in the past year. I figured it was long past time I dove into this company that is essentially invading every single school district and charter in the First State. Especially given the information regarding the upcoming ESEA reauthorization vote coming on 12/2.
Schoology offers a cloud service for personalized and blended learning. For those who aren’t aware, personalized learning is defined by a Great Schools sponsored company as the following:
Personalized learning is generally seen as an alternative to so-called “one-size-fits-all” approaches to schooling in which teachers may, for example, provide all students in a given course with the same type of instruction, the same assignments, and the same assessments with little variation or modification from student to student.
But this is what it really is: a cash-cow bonanza for corporate education reform companies, especially those on the tech side who are pushing their internet-based modules out faster than you realize. Schoology opened shop in Delaware with the BRINC partnership between the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial school districts. These four districts used Schoology as the base for their personalized learning partnership, and the Caesar Rodney and Appoquinimink districts have joined as well. The News Journal wrote a huge article on Schoology last March, and reporter Matthew Albright wrote:
Schools must figure out how to create the right infrastructure, providing enough bandwidth and wireless network capacity. They have to settle on the right computers or tablets and find ways to pay for them, configure them, and teach students how to use them.
And, while many teachers have taken their own initiative to find new educational tools, schools and districts have to find ways to train teachers in using these systems and make sure all educators are on the same page.
In Delaware, a group of districts has banded together to work out the best way to deal with those challenges.
The consortium is called BRINC, after the four school districts that originally participated: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial. The group added two more districts, Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney, this year.
Over a year ago, I was distracted away from this by a company called 2Revolutions Inc. After their appearance at the annual Vision Coalition conference, I looked into 2Revolutions and did not like what I was seeing. My eye was on 2Revolutions coming into Delaware as a vendor, and I completely missed Schoology who was already here. Meanwhile, 2Revolutions invaded the New Hampshire education landscape. Schoology is not much different. But they don’t just provide a cloud service in Delaware. According to the minutes from the Senate Concurrent Resolution #22 Educational Technology Task Force in Delaware, Schoology has also integrated with e-School and IEP Plus. In a press release from Schoology on 5/20/14, the company announced they were integrating with SunGard K-12 Education (the creators of e-school and IEP Plus):
SunGard K-12 Education’s eSchoolPLUS, an industry-recognized student information system, helps educational stakeholders—students, school administrators, district staff, teachers, parents, and board members—easily manage and immediately access the summary and detailed student information they need, when they need it.
While this seems like a good thing, it is a tremendous amount of data which is now in Schoology’s hands. Schoology is also branching out like crazy all over the country. They just announced a contract with L.A. Unified School District, as well as Seattle Public School District and Boulder Valley School District. In terms of financing, they just secured their fourth round of financing with JMI Investments to the tune of $32 million dollars. This brings their total financing amount to $57 million over the past couple years from investment firms. The trick to all of this is in the surface benefits: the cloud-based service where teachers can share instruction is free. But where it goes from there is unchartered territory, according to Tech-Crunch:
On the other side, there is an enterprise-grade product meant for school districts and universities, that gives richer functionality to administrators to hook into back-end student information systems, build out campuses and building maps, and far more. Schoology said that the price (which is per student, per year) is scaled down for larger clients, but he wouldn’t share the general price range for Schoology Enterprise.
Schoology also provides “assistive technology” services for professional development, according to more minutes from the SCR #22 Task Force:
The creation of comprehensive online professional development using the Schoology platform for both Delaware and Assistive Technology Guidelines documents.
The task force is also going to recommend the following:
Provide district/charters the opportunity to buy-into using Schoology with K-12 students at minimal cost. Increase funding to support growth of the use of Schoology that will drive the per student cost down.
Support the use of Resources within Schoology for sharing teacher-created content and OER.
The SCR #22 Educational Technology Task Force was brought forth by Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend, and sponsored by Senator David Sokola, State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Rep. Trey Paradee, and co-sponsored by Senator Colin Bonini. While this task force is going on, there is another task force called the Student Data Privacy Task Force, which came from an amendment to Senate Bill 79, sponsored by Senator Sokola. Sokola and Jaques also sponsored the current Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Task Force. I firmly believe every single one of these task forces, aside from having very similar legislators behind the scenes, will also serve to bring about the complete immersion of Delaware into personalized learning. I wrote last month about the clear and present danger behind the data collection occurring with Delaware students. But it doesn’t just stop at personalized learning because at a state and national level there is a big push for “competency-based education”, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Competency-Based Education, also called Proficiency Based Learning, is a process where students do not advance until they have mastered the material. Instead of a once a year standardized assessment, students will be tested at the end of a unit, on a computer. Think Smarter Balanced Assessment broken up into numerous chunks throughout the year. This “stealth” testing will effectively “reduce the amount of testing” but would also give the exact same tests but at a micro-level. This is also an opt-out killer as parents would have no way of knowing how often their child is being tested, nor would they likely have access to the actual questions on the mini-assessments. Meanwhile, as President Obama and soon-to-be-former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan mirror Delaware’s Senate Joint Resolution #2, parents and educators are saying “Yes, yes, yes!” but bloggers like myself are saying “No, no, no!”
Save Maine Schools, a blog written by a teacher from Maine named Emily Talmage, has delved into this digital nightmare in great length. Talmage bought the product these companies were selling until she wisely began to question the motives behind it all. Maine, along with New Hampshire, Alaska, and Delaware, is one of the state guinea pigs where the experiment of Personalized Learning and Competency-Based Education is at the forefront. All four of these states have smaller populations and are led by reform-style education leaders. Talmage recently wrote about what has been going on while we were testing:
The fact is, the state-led testing consortia , which promised to use our tax money to bring us high quality tests that would get our kids “college and career ready”, were actually business consortia, strategically formed to collaborate on “interoperability frameworks” – or, to use simpler terms, ways of passing data and testing content from one locale to the next (from Pearson to Questar, for example, or from your local town to the feds).
Just as the Common Core State Standards were intended to unleash a common market, so, too, was the effort to create a common digital “architecture” that would allow companies like Questar and Pearson and Measured Progress and all the rest to operate in a “plug in play” fashion. (Think of Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation, and all the rest teaming up to make a super-video-game console.)
The upcoming ESEA reauthorization, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act”, is filled with easter eggs and cash prizes for companies like Schoology, as seen in the below document from EdWeek.
That is a ton of federal money going out to schools from legislation designed on the surface to halt federal interference in education. It sounds like Race To The Top all over again, but on a much bigger scale. The tentacles from the feds reach deep into the states with this latest ESEA reauthorization, and behind the US DOE are all the companies that will feast on tax-payer funds.
The bill also allows for further charter school expansion and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recently said:
The National Alliance congratulates the conference committee for taking another step forward in the bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While we have not yet seen the full text of the conference agreement, we are pleased to learn the proposal would modernize the Charter Schools Program, supporting the growth and expansion of high-quality charter schools to better meet parental demand.
When the opt-out movement grew in huge numbers earlier this year, many civil rights groups protested opt-out as a means of putting minority children further behind their peers. What they don’t realize is the current ESEA reauthorization will ensure this happens! Even the two largest teacher union organizations are jumping on this version of ESEA. The American Federation of Teachers wrote a letter urging ESEA to pass as soon as possible. National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia wrote:
We look forward to working with the congressional conference committee members to ensure that we produce a bill that, when signed by the president, gives every student the opportunity, support, tools, and time to learn.
How much do these civil rights groups and leaders of teacher unions really know about what is inside this bill? Do they understand the danger of rushing this ESEA version to a vote and what it will mean for the future of education and children? Don’t the teacher unions realize this will be the death knell for the future of teachers in America? Once personalized learning is embraced by all public schools in America, teachers will become moderators or facilitators of the personalized learning modules. The demand for “old-school” teachers will greatly diminish, and teacher qualifications will simply become how to review and program these digital instructional items. The vast amount of money and resources will pour into technology and only the school leaders will be the ones with high salaries. The current teacher salary models in each state will become a thing of the past. With the charter school protections written in this bill, more and more charters will open up that will drain away local dollars. With each state able to come up with their own accountability systems, the schools with the highest-needs students will slowly give way to charters. Rinse, wash, repeat. If I were a public school teacher that is in a union, I would seriously question why the national leaders are endorsing this.
Even American Institutes for Research (AIR), the testing vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware and holds numerous other contracts with other states and the US Department of Education is in on this new “digital age”:
As part of the Future Ready initiative, President Obama hosted more than 100 school superintendents at the White House during a November 19, 2014 “ConnectED to the Future” summit. Superintendents signed the Future Ready District Pledge indicating their commitment to work with educators, families and communities to develop broadband infrastructures; make high-quality digital materials and devices more accessible; and support professional development programs for educators, schools and districts as they transition to digital learning.
But it doesn’t stop there, because AIR wants districts to invest heavily in all this technology:
Effectively using technology is an essential skill in today’s workforce but also critical to advancing teaching and learning. Today’s students aren’t just digital natives: they increasingly use digital devices to complete school assignments, stay informed, and network with peers around the world. A tipping point for technology and schooling may be in store soon: instead of merely enhancing teaching and learning, technology may transform both by better accommodating individual learning styles and facilitating collaboration. Whether through the deeper learning, personalized learning, or blended learning approaches districts are exploring and investing heavily in now, technology could finally help your state unlock instruction—educational policy’s “black box”—and ultimately close achievement gaps.
It all comes back to closing those damn achievement gaps, based on the very same state standards and standardized testing that are creating those very same achievement gaps. This is something AIR excels at, creating the “need” and then selling the “fix”. Some have theorized, but been unable to prove due to an inability to get into AIR’s contracts and financial records, that companies like WestEd, Questar, Data Recognition Corp. (the “human scorer” company for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware), and Measurement Inc. are merely shell companies for AIR. AIR seems to be controlling so much of what is in education. So much so, it is hard to tell the difference between AIR and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Which brings us back to Delaware Governor Jack Markell.
This is a man who has been involved in corporate education reform for well over ten years, possibly longer. He worked at McKinsey and Associates in the 90’s as a consultant, and after coining Nextel, he became the State Treasurer for Delaware, a role he served from 2001-2009. Since then, he has served as the Governor of Delaware and been behind every single education reform movement that has swept the country. When Markell served as the President of the National Governor’s Association in 2013, he attended some very big events. Including the Milken Institute Global Conference. While in attendance, he served on several panels that were not open to the public and were considered private “by invitation only”. Why would an elected official, sworn to uphold the best interests of his state, serve on private panels for huge investment firms? The panels Markell served on at the Milken conference were “Global Capital Markets Advisory Council” (along with Tony Blair, Michael Milken, Eric Cantor and Rupert Murdoch) and “K-12 Education Private Lunch”. Those were the only two panels Markell talked on, both private, and both closed to the public.
Jack Markell, the great violator of parental rights, who vetoed opt-out legislation in Delaware that overwhelmingly passed the Delaware House and Senate, is one of the key political figures and puppet masters behind all of this. With close ties to Achieve, McKinsey, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, New America, and the Center for American Progress, Markell is a very dangerous man in education. Markell’s ambitions are not for the good of the citizens of Delaware. His constituents are the very same companies behind the latest ESEA reauthorization, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the public shaming of educators everywhere unless they happen to belong to a charter school. He was even involved in the creation of Common Core:
He has also served for three years as Chair of the National Board of Directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates, co-chair of the Common Core Standards Initiative and chair of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.
The last of those groups is a civil rights organization in Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington. When Markell first announced his “original” idea of assessment inventory, he was joined in the press conference by the head of that organization at the time.
In Delaware, we are led by a tyrant who leads the charge in education reform and allows the money-sucking vampires like Schoology to come in and pocket funds that allow bloated classrooms. Companies like Schoology will make damn sure students with disabilities, children from poverty, and at-risk youth are always behind their peers. This is what their services thrive on, the constant demand to fix education. As our US Congress votes on the ESEA reauthorization, keep this in mind: it is not meant for every student to succeed. It is all about the money. Follow it, and you too will see the path to success.
What can parents and teachers do? Aside from following the money, which is a mammoth task and all too frequently a lesson in humility, look at your local, state and national leaders.
Look at legislation and regulations.
What initiatives and plans are your district boards, charter boards, and state boards of education voting on?
For charter school parents, do you ever question why the boards of charters are appointed rather than elected?
Do you ever look at “task forces”, “working groups” and “committees” in your state and wonder who is on them and why there were appointed?
Does your state sell the term “stakeholders” in determining policies but many of the same people serve on these groups?
Which of your state legislators are introducing legislation that seems harmless on the surface but has caveats and loopholes deeply embedded into it?
Which legislators are up for re-election and could be easily swayed for promises of future power?
Which legislators are running for higher office?
What policies and laws are your state Congress representatives voting on?
What is your Governor up to? Do you see news blips about them speaking at private organizations but it is not on their public schedule?
Do you see action by legislators that seems to defy the beliefs of their individual political party?
Do you see education leaders and legislators comingling with lobbyists in your state Capital?
For teachers, where does your local union and state union stand on these issues? Your national?
Parents: if your school has a PTA or PTO, what are their collective stances on these critical issues?
Do you know if your State Board of Education is elected or appointed?
Find out who your state lobbyists are. Read. Search. Discover. Question everything. Email your state legislators and Congress representatives when you don’t agree with something you believe will have no direct benefit for your individual child. Vote for those who you think will stand against this bi-partisan regime of education vampires. Question those who sit on the sidelines and do nothing. Push them. Make your voice heard. . Look into initiatives going on in your state, or research groups looking into school funding or redistricting. Part of the ESEA reauthorization has states looking at “weighted funding”, whereby funds would pour into more high-needs schools. As well, the reauthorization would allow more Title I dollars to go into the “bottom” schools than they currently do. When I say “bottom”, these are schools usually with the most high-needs students who do not do well on the standardized tests. In many states, these schools become charter schools. Once again, rinse, wash, repeat.
One thing to keep in mind is the corporate education reform movement is everywhere. Like a secret society, they have embedded themselves and they are hiding in plain sight. In every single one of the groups mentioned above. Some of the people I am asking people to look into may not even realize they are a part of these agendas. Some may just think they are doing the right thing. For folks like myself, Diane Ravitch, Mercedes Schneider, Emily Talmage and countless others, our job is to expose and name them. We discover the lies and call them out. We are the last line of defense before your child’s worthwhile education is completely gone, lost in the shadows and truckloads of money behind those who would dare to steal your child’s benefit for their own future. Unless you are part of the wealthy and elite, your child’s fate is being decided on next week during the vote for the ESEA reauthorization. Most of you don’t even realize this. Many that do have been duped and fooled into believing this is the right thing. Many of us have been fighting the evil standardized test and opting out, and the whole time they have been plotting and scheming in closed-door meetings with companies to bring about the last phase of corporate education reform: the complete and utter brainwashing of your child wired into a never-ending state of constant assessment and proficiency based on the curriculum that they wrote. They fooled the bloggers as well. But we are the resistance, and we will not stop the defense of our children. We will protect our schools and our communities from the corporate raiders. We will keep opting out and fighting for the rights of others to do so as well. We will not be bought or sold into the devious and intrinsic methodologies they seek to perpetuate on our society. We will fight, not because we gain personal reward or acclaim, but because it is the right thing to do.