Louisiana Legislators - FIRST, DO NO HARM!

I am using this blog to respond to some disagreement and questions that were expressed regarding an opinion I posted on my Facebook page regarding a bill filed by Rep. Marcus Hunter (D).  I posted a blog written by another person with strong opinions regarding Hunter's HB 708 and added my comment as follows:

Another poorly thought out bill that are amazingly offered up by our Black Caucus that would further set back opportunities for our black students.
Although Rep. Hunter appears to be the sole sponsor of this HB 708, my reference to the Black Caucus reflects the fact that several other questionable bills have been filed by our African American legislators and that the group has taken a position in support of some of the so-called reforms leading to privatization of our public schools. 

My primary objections to HB 708 are based on these proposed additions to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarships:

Proposed law adds a requirement that the student pursue a degree or skill or occupational training that would qualify him for employment in a four or five star job, on a statewide basis, as defined by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Further provides that a student shall remain eligible for an award if all other conditions of present law are met and if after the student enrolls in but before he completes the program of study such job is no longer defined as a four or five star job.


Proposed law provides that for an award recipient first enrolling in an eligible institution for or during the 2015-2016 academic year or thereafter, upon completion of a bachelor's or postgraduate degree, such former recipient of an award shall either reside in La for at least one year for each year of award he received or repay one year of award for each year he fails to meet this residency requirement. Requires any such recipient who loses eligibility to receive awards to repay amounts received.
While I think the use of the words "indentured servants" used in the blog I re-posted is rather strong, it got my attention and caused me to review this proposed legislation. In fact, this proposed legislation is not only harmful African American students, but to ALL students who qualify for the Scholarships but now have to face further obstacles just to take advantage of them.  It is particularly discouraging for those students who struggle academically and with other challenges like poverty, language limitations, learning disabilities or other difficult circumstances. 

This legislation is another example of the direction both K-12 and higher education have been going in reducing the importance of the extensive benefits of an educated society to a single outcome - workforce development.

 It also would seem to eliminate the CHOICE that reform claims to use as its chief marketing tool by narrowing the eligible field of employment to what the Louisiana Workforce Commission rates as four or five-star jobs.

 It also creates a chilling effect for students who might otherwise enthusiastically attempt to achieve some level of higher education but are dissuaded because of the spectre of "failure" in the event a plethora of circumstances could cause them to fall short of the required bachelor's degree or to seek gainful employment outside of the State of Louisiana.

My concerns about the position that the Black Caucus appears to be taking that support certain failing "reforms" that our State Superintendent of Education John White have instituted, with BESE approval, are best expressed in the words of several respected educators that I will quote in the next several blogs. 

Louisiana Business Owners - Do Not Be Misled!

An excellent post by singer-songwriter Ganey Arsement that I hope everyone in Louisiana will share with their friends associated with The Chambers of Commerce and business members who own businesses for which you are a customer.

Attention Business Owners: Your Reputation Is At Stake!

     For most of my life, even as a teenager, I was able to recognize the prestige that accompanied being a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Business owners who wanted to develop a reputation for themselves, build a larger client base and increase their business showed a lot of pride in being a member of their local Chamber.
     The Chamber of Commerce is a national organization with chapters in every state and sub-chapters, under the state chapters, in most larger cities. The Chamber offered benefits to it members that they couldn't possibly secure themselves as a small business such as insurance, group memberships, discount programs, etc. In addition, the Chamber engages in lobbying to help to secure favorable legislation that helps business owners, both small and large, be more successful. Great, right?
     Up until recently, the Chamber represented its members, well, but there is something very disturbing going on, and I don't think the majority of its members are onboard with it. In recent years, the Chamber made an extreme change in direction with its agenda. There is a massive movement in place to ride the Common Core train to prosperity by big business and special interest groups, nationwide. The movement is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. Money is distributed freely to any organization willing to actively support and promote education reform. The Chamber of Commerce is in that movement.
     The Chamber is currently undergoing a re-branding. I believe, for two reasons. First, the general public won't realize that it is the Chamber that is engaged in this movement, and second, its members won't be aware of their activities. The new name for the Chamber is the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry aka LABI. Many of the sub-chapters have already changed their name, as well. The Chamber SWLA is now Alliance SWLA, and the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce is now Alliance CenLA.
     LABI, using its heavy cash flow from the Gates Foundation, operates a political action committee known as the Alliance for Better Classrooms, or ABC. This PAC engages in lobbying and dirty politics to promote the infiltration of our education system by Common Core and special interest groups, and it does this while boasting the full support of LABI, Alliance SWLA, Alliance CenLA, all other sub-chapters AND ALL OF THEIR MEMBERS.
     Now, I find it hard to believe that there are any business owners out there who don't know the level of attention that the Common Core issue has demanded. Never before has there been a resistance of this size from parents, teachers and their communities fighting to rid our schools of this atrocity. I know that our local business owners have children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors who have been affected by Common Core. It is time to stand up.
     Recently, in the current legislative session, ABC handed out stuffed unicorns to all of the legislators saying that "Unicorns are not real and neither is most of the things you've heard about Common Core." This is a blatant attempt to discredit all of the hard-work that we, the resistance, have put in to reveal the Common Core movement for what it is. They are saying that they, the special interest groups, know what is good for our children better than we do.


Business owners, members of the Chamber and Alliance, you have to let your voice be heard. 

1. Contact your chapter. Let them know that you do not support them. 
2. Visit the website below and ask them to remove any reference to your business. 
3. Contact the legislators below and inform them that you are a member of that organization and you do not support Common Core. 
4. Make a public statement on your website and all social media that you do not support Common Core.



  • Chairman Conrad Appel, Louisiana Senate Education
  • Ryan Aument, Pennsylvania State Representative 
  • Haley Barbour, Former Governor of Mississippi
  • Bill Bennett, Former U.S. Secretary of Education to President Ronald Reagan
  • Terry Branstad, Iowa Governor 
  • Jan Brewer, Former Governor Arizona
  • Jeb Bush, Former Governor of Florida
  • Steve Carter, Louisiana House Education Chairman
  • Carlos Curbelo, Miami-Dade School Board Member
  • Mitch Daniels, Amercian Academic Administrator & Former Governor of Indiana
  • Nathan Deal, Georgia Governor
  • John Engler, Former Governor of Michigan
  • Bill Frist, Former U.S. Senator
  • Dolores Gresham, Tennessee Senate Education Committee Chairman & Tennessee State Senator
  • F. Phillip Handy, President of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Bill Haslam, Tennessee Governor 
  • Mike Huckabee, Former Governor of Arkansas
  • Toni Jennings, Former Lt. Governor of Florida 
  • John Kasich, Ohio Governor 
  • John Legg, Florida Senate Education Chairman 
  • Tom Luna, Former Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction 
  • Susana Martinez, New Mexico Governor 
  • Matt Mead, Wyoming Governor 
  • Butch Otter, Idaho Governor 
  • Sonny Perdue, Former Governor of Georgia
  • Kraig Powell, Utah State Representative 
  • Condoleezza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State 
  • Bob Riley, Former Governor of Alabama 
  • Chas Roemer, BESE President 
  • Brian Sandoval, Nevada Governor 
  • Rick Scott, Florida Governor 
  • Rick Snyder, Michigan Governor 
  • Gerald Stebelton, Former Ohio House Education Committee Chairman 
  • Rick Snyder, Michigan Governor 
  • John White, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education


  • Albemarle
  • Alliance for Education
  • Baton Rouge Area Chamber
  • Black Alliance for Educational Options
  • Blueprint Louisiana
  • Bollinger Shipyards, Inc.
  • Bossier Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region
  • Cajun Industries, LLC
  • Cajun Maritime, LLC
  • Center for Development and Learning
  • CenturyLink
  • Chamber Southwest Louisiana
  • Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans
  • Committee of 100 Louisiana
  • Committee of 100 Shreveport-Bossier
  • Contech Engineered Solutions
  • Council for a Better Louisiana
  • Democrats for Education Reform
  • Dupre Logistics, LLC
  • Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools
  • Educate Now!
  • Education's Next Horizon
  • ExxonMobil
  • Fenstermaker
  • Fleur de Lis New Orleans Cuisine
  • Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater New Orleans, Inc.
  • Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce
  • Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce
  • ISC Constructors, LLC
  • Jefferson Business Council
  • Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
  • LA Association of Science Leaders
  • La Coste Consulting, LLC
  • Lincoln Builders, INC
  • Louisiana Association of Business & Industry
  • Louisiana Association of Independent Schools
  • Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools
  • Louisiana Association of School Librarians
  • Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics
  • Louisiana Core Advocates Teachers
  • Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association
  • Louisiana Oil & Gas Association
  • Louisiana Science Teachers Association
  • Military Child Education Coalition
  • Monroe Chamber of Commerce
  • National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section
  • New Orleans Chamber
  • New Schools for Baton Rouge
  • New Schools for New Orleans
  • Noesis Data, LLC
  • Public Affairs Research Council
  • Red Stick Robotics
  • River Region Chamber of Commerce
  • Robert Evans, Con-Tech International
  • Roy O. Martin
  • Shell Oil Company
  • Shreveport-Bossier Business Alliance for Higher Education
  • South Louisiana Economic Council 
  • Sparkhound
  • Stand for Children Louisiana
  • Stirling Properties
  • Teach for America
  • The Achievement Network
  • The Brylski Company
  • The Cain Center for STEM Literacy
  • The New Teacher Project
  • TTD
  • United Way of Acadiana
  • United Way of Southeast Louisiana
  • Urban League of Greater New Orleans


  • Craig Barrett, Former Chairman & CEO, Intel Corporation
  • Chester E. Finn, Jr. President, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Education
  • Bill Gates, Co-founder, Microsoft
  • Michael J. Petrilli, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • Michelle A. Rhee, Founder, StudentsFirst; Former Chancellor, District of Columbia public schools
  • Edward B. Rust, Jr., Chairman of the Board & CEO, State Farm Insurance Companies

Has Public Education Become a War!

Reblogged from : http://thewarreportonpubliced.com/2015/03/29/how-did-anti-public-school-corporate-reformers-become-the-dominant-force-in-education-reform/

The War Report on Public Education

Dr. James Avington Miller Jr

We here at War Report encourage our audience to listen to the series, read this synopsis, and respond in the comments section. We will have a new blog post from Deborah each week, a live internet radio show, and a podcast. We will address questions from our audience and we urge listeners and readers to please call in, respond to the blog post, and then listen and read ahead in preparation for next weeks show on the Common Core and the Corporate Ed Reform Agenda.
by Dr. Deborah Owens
How did anti-public school corporate reformers become the dominant force in education reform?  Here’s what I learned in researching and writing my book:
  • The campaign to end public education has been a decades long venture.  There have been forces that for at least the last 80 years have been engaged in an assault on the institution of public schools, claiming that they are socialist institutions and actively seeking to label public schools as “government” schools.  Vouchers are not a new idea — they were born in an era of Cold War mentality, anti- New Deal rhetoric, and Jim Crow resistance to integration.  Charter schools are nothing more than an extension of this idea and we are seeing the ramifications of this misguided so-called reform effort now.
  • The book, The Origins of the Common Core: How the Free Market Became Public Education Policy, and the series, is one of unity around the preservation of the institution of public schools.  The goal is for the public and the education community to cast aside any political or ideological beliefs that distract from an ultimate goal.
    That goal is the preservation of the public school system and local control of this systemwithin each community.
  • How can we accomplish this goal?  First of all, acknowledge that there are differing ideological views about education in the U.S.  Very importantly, we must acknowledge that many are militantly against the CCSS for various reasons; most are against high-stakes testing and the data mining that has resulted from the testing movement; and others are equally opposed to charter schools.  But what unites us?
  • Underlying all of this is the reality that corporations are dominating education policy decisions in a new environment of corporate and governmental mutualism that is out to usurp locally controlled public schools and that envisions children merely as a source of profit.  We must unite to stop this corporate assault. Do you want to defeat the Common Core? Stop the profit machine associated with these national standards.  Do you want to put an end to Draconian high stakes tests that are sucking the life out of education?  Stop the profit machine associated with high-stakes tests.  Do you want to reclaim public schools and end the incursion of the charter school movement?  Stop the profit machine associated with charter schools.
  • If we are able to accomplish this, we will reclaim the sacred ground of public education for all children, for all families, and for all communities.  Holding teachers accountable for the test scores of their children will become history.  We will realize that true societal transformation begins with the communities in which children and families live and that the schools within those communities are a part of a larger societal system.  Make it known to every federal, state, and locally elected official that they will lose their elected offices if they do not listen to the UNITED pro-public school forces.  
Author Bio:
Deborah Duncan Owens Elmira, New York
I am a product of public schools. My father’s career in the Coast Guard provided me with the opportunity to live in different states and communities within the U.S. Armed with the education I received in the various public schools I attended, I was able to earn a teaching degree at Mississippi State University and serve as a public school teacher for several years before earning a Ph.D. and joining the ranks of teacher educators — first at Arkansas State University and currently at Elmira College in upstate New York. Deborah Duncan Owens, Associate Professor of Literacy Education Elmira College
To learn more and read a complete Bio about Dr. Owens, please visit her website Public Schools Central for up-to-date information on the Common Core and the Corporate Ed Reform Agenda. Here is the link for the BBS Live Radio Show and Former and Future Podcasts: The War Report on Public Education Here is the link to The War Report Facebook Page: The War Report on Public Education Facebook Group Twitter: @WarRepPubEd
Here is the podcast link from today’s show: How did Anti-public School Corporate Reformers become the Dominant Force in Education Reform? Hosted by Dr. James Avington Miller, Jr and Special Guest Dr. Deborah Owens. This is the first in a three or four part series based on Dr. Owen’s book. If you missed today’s show please listen to the podcast, read the summary from the blog, and then leave feedback in the blog comments section.
Also, hot off the press! United Opt Out has an activist handbook that is now available for purchase: An Activist Handbook for the Education Revolution
Thank you UOO and Test Resisters everywhere. You are true heroes battling against the War On Public Education.
In Solidarity,
Team War

Greater Lessons To Learn From Opting Out

Posted on Facebook by Louisiana teacher Vincent P. Barras -

On April 3, the Advertiser published a cartoon concerning the Opt-out movement. Calling it insensitive and insulting doesn't scratch the surface.

Some background is needed. The cartoon arrives from Buffalo, New York, where the Common Core battles are raging furiously. That state has given the PARCC test for three years now, with huge failure rates for its first two years (70% and 67% respectively.) These poorly-designed tests are confusingly written usually at a reading level two grades above the students. Parents have been justifiably outraged against this intrusion into their children's lives and have reacted in the only way they have: opting their children out of the test.

And now a cartoon that implies parents are selfishly teaching their children horrible lessons. One cartoonist seems to think himself/herself the expert on parenthood and the inappropriate lessons we might teach children.

Well, here's my alternative. Here's what students might learn from opting out.

A. That learning is AWESOME, when it's not driven by a test. When the rest is all important, one gets eleven Atlanta educators convicted for a cheating scandal, because legislators at the federal and state level have made student scores on tests more important than the students themselves. These tests are being used for three proposes: see how a student has scored; rate the teacher on how much the students have scored; and rate the school on those same scores. The last two are not a valid way of gauging a teacher's or school's effectiveness, but it's part of the latest bandwagon of education reformers. They blindly ignore the effect of poverty on children, but choose to saddle the school and the teacher with all the blame. So much for putting the student first.

B. The power on conviction. Long before the Founding Fathers, English citizens had a healthy regard for their rights. American colonists rebelled against attempts to rule them without their input. Ever since declaring our independence, Americans have a long history of standing up against injustice: women's movement; abolitionists; progressive movement; civil rights movements, and more. Now comes a test too difficult for the students who are taking it, and the "people in charge" respond to questions by saying disparaging things like your kids are not as smart as you think and soccer moms should just shut up. No they won't. Civil disobedience allows parents to stand up against the injustice of these tests, and no one, not even a cartoonist will diminish that right.

C. That students will have to learn how to judge bias. Newspapers are no longer the fountain of important--and impartial--information. One must research who is behind the articles or cartoons because the day of the truly independent journalist is long past. It's disheartening to say that parents must infuse their children with a healthy dose of skepticism, to not just accept what is presented to them as fast incarnate. Newspaper are a business and must depend on revenue. The supporters of Common Core and PARCC have the deepest pockets in the universe, from the Waltons to Bill Gates to numerous other billionaires, and we must not allow their money to drown the valid concerns of parents.

D. Tests are limited in their ability to judge. If properly designed, a test question might ascertain if a student has learned a skill, but not completely. How can the test know if a student had no clue and simply guessed randomly? It can't. A test provides a snapshot of one day in the life of a child. It can't adequately judge creativity or empathy or a handful of other skills way more important to a child's future.

E. All of the above.

Just a follow-up note to show how connected the world has become. I discovered this cartoon thanks to Facebook, even though I am presently in New York City on vacation. The carton spurred me to write a response, which I will post everywhere and anywhere. I composed this in the shadow of the 9/11 Memorial, a symbol of US resolve and determination. When you believe enough in something--
your country, faith, family, friends, beliefs--you take action to defend it. I defend my students against what I perceive to be an unjust series of tests designed to meet an inept set of standards written by people with no experience doing so. Thanks to this country and the millions who have sacrificed their
lives, I have this right to protest. As Winston Churchill once said, I will fight on the beaches, in the trenches, everywhere I can in defense of my students, in defense of liberty.


John White Misrepresents Eureka Math?

How can we believe anything John White says when he has misrepresented so much.  

John White is NOT telling the truth about Eureka Math -the Common Core aligned math curriculum he has chosen for Louisiana.  Why has he said publicly on several occasions that Eureka Math was developed by LSU?  Is it because he wants the public to believe that the Common Core Standards, its curriculum and its standardized test are products of Louisiana teachers?  White connects the Cain Center in this story but there is no mention of the Cain Center in development of Eureka Math.  

The last slide of this PowerPt presentation by John White says that Eureka Math was developed by LSU.  White continues to say that.  

The non-profit, Common Core (CommonCore.org),  announced on June 24, 2013, that John White has recommended Eureka Math as its state math curriculum. 

" WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2013) — The State of Louisiana and its Office of the State Superintendent of Education recently announced that the P-12 mathematics curriculum developed by the nonprofit Common Core is a recommended resource for Louisiana math teachers. The state praised the curriculum for its rigor and alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The CCSS-based math curriculum was developed by Common Core, a Washington, D.C. based organization that creates curriculum tools and promotes programs, policies, and initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Common Core developed the math curriculum in partnership with the New York State Education Department (NYSED)." 
Common Core simply gives this bit of attribution to an LSU professor:
"Common Core has been working with master teachers and math scholars for more than two years to craft a comprehensive pre-kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics curriculum. The design for the curriculum is based on work pioneered by Louisiana State University mathematician Scott Baldridge, who holds that mathematics is most effectively taught as a logical, engaging story."
John White says Eureka Math was created by LSU.  It was NOT.  See below.  Is he saying this to make it appear to be locally created? There were several LSU employees who were part of the project led by CommonCore.org and the Project Director is co-director of the Gordon Cain Center in Baton Rouge.  
Eureka Math was created by CommonCore .org for New York Department of Education first.  Their website says that EngageNY math was created and is maintained by New York Department of Education. It also implies that New York teachers are creating their curriculum.  They are not. 
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is engaging teachers, administrators, and education experts across the State and nation in the creation of curriculum resources, instructional materials, professional development materials,samples of test questions, test specifications, and other test-related materials that will help with the transition to the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).

Welcome to EngageNY!

EngageNY.org is created and maintained by the New York State Education Department

Watch Commissioner King's welcome message

  White continues to say our teachers were/are writing this stuff and creating the sample PARCC questions.  This is not true.  They are taken directly off the PARCC.org website and the logo is replaced with Louisiana Believes!  Is this an effort to justify where the $7 million Gates grant that was supposed to be spent for CCSS transition?  He needs to produce a spreadsheet of expenditures showing where that money was spent -or NOT spent. 

Excerpts from : 
Then, in 2012, CC won three contracts from the New York State Education Department to create a comprehensive PreK–12 mathematics curriculum, and to conduct associated professional development. From that effort we have created Eureka Math, a state-of-the-art online curriculum that meets the needs of the teacher, the trainer, and the student. (This is EngageNY).  
The research and development upon which Eureka Math is based was made possible through a partnership with the New York State Education Department, for whom this work was originally created. Their expert review team, including renowned mathematicians who helped write the CCSS, progressions, and the much-touted “Publisher’s Criteria,” strengthened an already rigorous development process. We are proud to now provide Eureka Math, an extended version of that work, to teachers both within and beyond New York.
Common Core is a Washington, DC-based non-profit 501(c)3 organization, founded in 2007.


Director of Eureka Math

Jill spent 10 years in industry before returning full time to her love of mathematics education. She has taught 6th grade math, Algebra I, Algebra II, College Algebra, and Developmental Math in addition to Computer Science, AP Computer Science, Pre Calculus, Calculus, Statistics, and AP Statistics. She has received extensive training in mathematics education including many hour of deep study of Singapore's mathematics program. She has presented at local and state level conferences and provided training to local elementary schools in Florida. Ms. Diniz earned her master's degree in Mathematics in 1995.


Lead Writer, Math PreK-5

Robin leads the curriculum writing team and works to ensure articulation of the PK-5 curriculum with what is being developed for grades 6-8. She worked within one of the largest urban school districts in the country as a math teacher for ten years, and then served as math coach at another site for an additional ten years. A project she led beginning in 2005 gained international recognition because of the tremendous results experienced after implementing an Asian curriculum initially under the guidance of mathematician Dr. Yoram Sagher. Ms. Ramos is known across the country for her work as a coach and trainer, supporting and empowering schools to create dynamic, effective, mathematically correct programs.

Common Core (non-profit that created Eureka Math) was contracted to create it for New York.  New York called it EngageNY and claim THEY created it.  

Expert advisors to the project, all nationally recognized mathematics scholars and educators of great distinction, include: Francis “Skip” Fennell, professor at McDaniel College and Past President of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; Kenneth Gross, Director of the Vermont Mathematics Initiative; Roger Howe, Yale University; Hung-Hsi Wu, University of California, Berkeley; Frank Neubrander, Louisiana State University; and Ralph Raimi, University of Rochester. This renowned group of leading mathematics experts will serve as thought partners, editors, and special advisors throughout the development and execution of the project.
Ordering materials:

Welcome to Common Core's Student Edition Ordering Website for Eureka Math

Common Core is dedicated to meeting the needs of teachers as they make the transition to using Eureka Math, our math curriculum found at commoncore.organd at engageny.org.
Common Core is partnering with Emprint/Moran Printing to provide quality Student Editions for each module of the Eureka Math Curriculum, starting with Module 3. These editions contain all of a single module's problem sets and homework, and are available as individual sheets or a bound book with perforated pages. Both are three-hole punched. You can also buy a Sprints and Assessment Packet that has individual, collated sheets to make for easy in-class handling.
Common Core and Emprint/Moran Printing are committed to delivering your Student Editions when you need them. Please consult the chart below and order with your academic calendar in mind.

Production and Shipping Information

Eureka MathSY 2014-2015

Eureka Math is currently in production and as modules are completed the student-facing materials will become available for purchase through this website. To learn more about Eureka Math and what it can do for your classroom, visit commoncore.org.
For more information on SY 2014-2015 Eureka Math student-facing materials, please contact us.

Need to set up Emprint/Moran Printing as a vendor?

If you need to set up Emprint/Moran Printing in your system to order from this website, please click here to visit the customer service page and get our company information to do so.

Math Modules

The following links will direct parents and students to the public version of Eureka Math for each grade level, hosted on the New York education site called Engage New York:
KindergartenThird GradeSixth Grade
First GradeFourth GradeSeventh Grade
Second GradeFifth GradeEighth Grade

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edward-frenkel-/common-core-standards-for_1_b_4079831.html.      10/19/2013

It is possible and necessary to create mathematics textbooks that do better than Textbook School Mathematics. One such effort by commoncore.org holds promise: its Eureka Math series will make online courses in K-12 math available at a modest cost. The series will be completed sometime in 2014. [Full disclosure: one of us is an author of the 8th grade textbook in that series.]

Johnathan Kozol on Common Core "Travesty"

Reposted from Mike Deshotel's blog - http://bit.ly/1OByt17

Louisiana Educator

Posted: 26 Mar 2015 10:55 AM PDT
Johnathan Kozol has been recognized for years as one of the most influential educators of North America. Now the most highly honored educator in the world, the winner of the million dollar Global Teacher prize, Nancie Atwell, joins Kozol in exposing the Basic flaws in the Common Core standards.

In this Education Week article Nancie Atwell points out that the Common Core and the hyper-accountability, hyper-testing climate in public education today may be contributing to the exodus of top talent from the teaching profession. It is ironic that proponents of these so called education reforms had claimed that these efforts along with VAM based teacher evaluations and merit pay would elevate the teaching profession and attract the best talent to the teaching profession. Atwell is recommending that the most talented young people shy away from public school teaching at this time because of the repressive "straight jacket" restraints now being placed on teachers by Common Core and the related testing.

Here is the result of a poll of Education Week readers concerning recommending teaching as a profession to young people today. Many of the readers of Education Week are knowledgeable about education issues. This is definitely not an endorsement of the direction of education reform in our country.
Would you recommend teaching as a profession
to young people today?

In another article featuring Johnathan Kozol, Common Core is blasted as stealth plan to privatize and monetize public education. Kozol makes this stunning assertion:

"Our children, our families, our neighborhoods, our public schools, and our democracy itself have become pawns in a vast and inter-connected scheme to undermine public institutions for private profit. The vehicle for this travesty in the arena of education is the Common Core State (sic) (Stealth) Standards and their accompanying high-stakes standardized testing—PARCC or SBAC. This incessant testing, orchestrated to be taken on computers, intensifies the myth that 21st century teaching depends on the innovation of software programs that “personalize” education for each child. Nothing could be further from the truth. The entrenched belief that accounting/accountability, i.e. data collection, is the answer to lagging scores on standardized tests as compared to other nations is a travesty."

Kozol also points out that a fatal flaw in the Common Core was the selection of the writers of the Core from a select group of testing and academic elitists who have no understanding of early childhood education or the realities of K-12 education.

"Consider the stealthy way the drafters of the Common Core State (sic) Standards were selected. Why were primarily representatives from the college testing industry included (SAT and ACT), when k-12 classroom teachers, specialists in early childhood education, teachers of special needs students, and authorities on students learning English as a second language were excluded? These standards and accompanying curricula have been developed with blinders on. They reflect a narrow, technocratic vision of teaching and learning, which is at odds with decades of authentic research into children’s cognitive development, first and second language development, and literacy development. They ignore all aspects of education that promote healthy psychosocial development, and even physical health. They ignore or downplay the significance of the humanities—history, literature, drama, music, art, dance, philosophy—all of the attributes that contribute to a humane society."

Here in Louisiana, we have attempted through legislation to protect the privacy of our student information. Kosol however explains that as long as our K-12 curriculum is based in some way to the Common Core standards, the testing companies and the education privatization industry dominated by the likes of Pearson and the Rupert Murdock conglomerate will be monitoring every keystroke by our students who are forced to used their pre-packaged programs to prepared our students for the obsessive testing tied to the Core.

"Why has a monolithic curriculum in English Language Arts and Math been created to align with these ill-begotten standards, to then be aligned with the incessant testing that accompanies them? Why have state departments of education been essentially bribed by Race to the Top money and then waivers to the failed NCLB law to swallow these poorly constructed standards, curricula, and tests? Who will benefit from the massive amounts of personal student data being collected not only from the testing process, but from every keystroke of every student on every Chrome book stocked with every poor quality but snazzy program, adjusted by algorithm to the individual student’s responses?
These are questions that are serious in the extreme. They must be confronted by all segments of our society. Instead, school administrators and teachers are asked to sign security agreements that hearken back to the McCarthy era under the guise of test security and “fairness.” Teachers, under pain of losing their jobs and even their teaching licenses, are being intimidated into not expressing their concerns about the inappropriateness of the Common Core to the parents of the children in their classrooms. This is unacceptable and must be challenged."
I could not have said it better than Kozol and Atwell.

Who Is Keeping PEARSON Testing In Business?

Reprinted from NYC Public School Parents -

Monday, March 16, 2015

Surveillance, free speech, student privacy and the Pineapple: Pearson gives parents more reasons to opt out

On Saturday night the news exploded through the Twittersphere via Bob Braun’s blog that Pearson was monitoring student social media.  Pearson had sent a warning to the NJ State Education Department, who in turn had contacted the Superintendent of Warren, saying that a student enrolled in the district had posted a picture of one of the PARCC questions on Twitter during the exam.  

That turned out to be incorrect, according to the Superintendent.  Apparently, the student had just commented on the question after taking the test, and deleted his tweet after being contacted by the district.  The most disturbing aspect of the incident was not merely Pearson’s error in reporting this to the State Education Department,  (how did they get this wrong?) but also their suggestion that the student should be disciplined for this behavior – when it’s not at all clear  that he did anything wrong.  But parents and others were understandably alarmed that Pearson is monitoring student social media at all.

I don’t mean to minimize the creepiness of this, but I am not surprised.  Clearly, Pearson has good reason  to defend  against its test items being disclosed in advance of students elsewhere taking the PARCC exams, and will use whatever tools at its disposal to do so.  But it is somewhat implausible that anyone could imagine that they will be able to achieve this. Given the widespread use of social media and the speed and ease of communication, it is near crazy to imagine that questions given to over five million students in 11 states over the period of several weeks will remain secret for any length of time – or even just during the testing window. According to the PARCC website, since February 16, over two million students have now taken these exams  in Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey and New Mexico, with Louisiana, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to start testing soon.

The PARCC/Pearson consortium has also said they refuse to release all of the questions on these exams, a position that is difficult to justify for any assessments in which the stakes for students, teachers and schools are so high.   But then those in power always want to maintain maximum secrecy for themselves, and protect what they see is their own privacy rights, whether personal or commercial – while having little or no respect for the privacy of others.  Witness how technology CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg maximize their own privacy by asking all their employees and  household contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements, while making billions from exploiting the personal information of their customers.  

See how Hillary Clinton has kept her State Department emails on a private server, and NYS officials have apparently been in in the habit of destroying their official emails after three months.  The NSA has refused to disclose how they have been sweeping up the public’s private emails and conversations for years. What should be public is kept private, and vice versa, because information is power – and the less information corporations and governmental officials provide about their own behavior, and the more they gather up about the actions of ordinary people, the more power they can maintain over the rest of us. 

For many years, Pearson has had good reason to try to protect the contents of its exams that transcend security.  The corporation has a terrible record of producing  terribly flawed and inadequate exams– and by refusing to release these exams they have not only saved money by being able to recycle faulty questions over again, but they have also been able to shield the shoddy quality of their product. BY monitoring social media and attempting to suppress any discussion or debate of these questions – which may have occurred in this instance – they are also likely protecting not just the actual content of their exams, but their reputation as well.

In 2012, we first found out about the ridiculously flawed Pineapple items from a comment on our blog on the same afternoon the ELA exams were given in NY State.  A commenter wrote: “Apparently the New York State 8th Graders thought the story about "The Hare and the Pineapple" was so ridiculous that they have started a Facebook page about it.  (I later found out the FB page was started in 2010.) 8th Graders from across NY State are weighing in with comments.”  Someone else posted the link to a website from 2007 (now defunct) that had a facsimile of the passage and the questions, while questioning the rationality of anyone who would put these questions on an important exam. 

I was lucky enough to have an 8th grader living in my home who could confirm that a very confusing passage about a race between a Pineapple and a Hare was on his exam. You can see the actual text and the questions here. Then in a manner of minutes, I discovered not only found a facsimile of the passage and the questions, but that the same items  had been included in Pearson exams in numerous other states over seven years, causing huge confusion each time.   

Literally, hundreds of thousands of students had been subjected to this reading passage and questions, and many had become understandably upset.  Yet that hadn’t stopped Pearson from re-using the questions over and over.  It was only because reporters read my blog and the Daily News carried the story the next day that the story became viral and broke into the national media – and the NYS Education Commissioner was finally forced to pull the Pineapple questions out of the exam once and for all.  

At that point, Pearson was prevented from reusing these defective passages and subjecting thousands more students to having their achievement scores and transcripts affected by the results.  
Even then, however, Pearson refused to accept what was obvious and claimed in an even more absurd memo addressed to the NY State Education Department and “leaked” to Time magazine via its (possibly lone)  defender Andrew Rotherham, explaining in technobabble jargon how the Pineapple passage and questions were  just fine, including that “the owl declares that “Pineapples don’t have sleeves,” …is a factually accurate statement. This statement is also presented as the moral of the story, allowing a careful reader to infer that the owl is the wisest animal.” 

The memo really has to be read to be believed – full of gobbledegook that sounds as though it comes from a Monty Python skit or an Ionesco play.   The author of the memo, Jon S. Twing, (who is still amazingly Executive Vice President & Chief Measurement Officer at Pearson) confirmed that these items had been used since 2004 in six other states and three large districts, and then made the most indefensible claim of all, given the ubiquity online of complaints from students, parents and teachers: “Until the events of this past week, we did not have any prior knowledge that the passage entitled “The Hare and the Pineapple” had any controversy associated with it from any prior use.”

In reality, Pearson has been continuously plagued with scandal through faulty tests, scoring errors and the like for over a decade.  If there were any accountability for corporations – instead of for the students and teachers who are judged on the results – the company would have lost all its contracts in recent years rather than awarded the biggest one ever – the PARCC contract, worth billions. 
Which is a rather long-winded way to explain that Pearson has good reasons to monitor social media, to suppress not just the specific content of PARCC exams but also any discussion of their substandard quality. 

What has also been ignored in the commentary about Pearson’s monitoring of students so far are the extremely porous privacy policies of PARCC/Pearson, including how they claim their right to collect, share and use student data for many purposes:
  • to analyze test results to assist member states and their local education agencies for purposes of accountability, including promotion and graduation decisions for individual students; teacher and school leader evaluations; school accountability determinations; determinations of principal and teacher professional development and support needs; and teaching, learning, and program improvement; and 
  •  to carry out studies designed to improve instruction on behalf of participating states and their local education agencies, pursuant to separate agreements with the member states and/or their local education agencies. 
In essence, PARCC and its major subcontractor, Pearson, can hand off the personally identifiable information it has gathered directly from students or  that schools have provided them to an unlimited number of third parties, or use it themselves for a wide variety of purposes, as long as the state or district allows.  This includes decisions about whether a student should be held back, how a teacher should be evaluated, or a school should be rated.  Huge amounts of personal student data can also be handed off to researchers or think tanks or anyone doing a “study,” with no security or privacy restrictions, and without parental notification or consent required – as long it is for the vaguely defined purpose of “improving instruction.”  

The other major testing consortium, Smarter Balanced, has no publicly available privacy policy at all – though parents in several states have asked for it without success. 

What information do these companies have about your child through PARCC or its other exams?  This may differ from state to state, but concerned parents and privacy advocates in Colorado asked their state this specific question, as their students started taking the PARCC last week and will again later in the year.

According to the briefing given by the Colorado State Education department last week,  Pearson/PARCC has been supplied with a wealth of personal data, including students’ race/ethnicity, economic status, 504 plan (health conditions that can impact student performance, like allergies or epilepsy), whether they have migrant or immigrant status, disabilities, homelessness, language proficiency, how long they have lived in the state or attended school in the district,  and whether they have ever been expelled.  All of this is quite disturbing and is similar to what we discovered about inBloom. 

 In addition, Pearson/PARCC has access to if a student is using testing modifications, along with their names, unique identifier numbers, etc. Beyond sensitive student information, Pearson also collects everything a student types into the keyboard during the test including words or sentences that were typed and then deleted. Pearson knows whether or not the student views a test item, how long it takes him/her to answer a specific question, and it tracks the student's clicks as he/she navigates the test. This seemingly harmless data, when paired with sensitive information about an individual student, creates a very complex learning and behavioral profile of the child.  

So this is yet another reason to opt your child out of these standardized exams – which every parent should seriously consider. Both Utah and California specifically give parents to opt out of standardized tests if they so choose. So does the NYC Department of Education, writing:“If, after 
consulting with the principal, the parents still want to opt their child out of the exams, the principal should respect the parents' decision and let them know that the school will work to the best of their ability to provide the child.”
Also contrary to what you may have read or heard, schools cannot have their funding cut, even if large numbers of students opt out – there is simply no provision in state or federal law for this to happen.  The “worst” that can happen is the federal government might restrict a school’s flexibility with use of Title One funds, including requiring more  tutoring, which many parents might actually prefer.  (For more on this, see FairTest).

As a matter of fact, more than 60,000 students opted out of the NY state exams last year, and nothing happened to these schools. In a statewide survey of NY districts, more than 35 percent of superintendents estimated test refusals last year at 5 percent of students or more, and 23 percent reported student refusals at 10 percent or more.  Fully eight percent of superintendents estimated that more than 20 percent of their students in grades 3-8 refused to participate in at least one of the state Common Core exams. Not a single NY school or district has faced ANY consequences as a result
It would be great to see those numbers grow yet larger again this year.

Opt out and deny them your child’s personal and test score data. Opt out and save your child from the stress of what are unpiloted, and likely flawed exams. Opt out and deny the authorities the ability to use your children’s data in unfair and punitive way, to hurt them, their teachers or their schools.  Opt out to fight for an end to the mechanistic depersonalized insanity that is devouring public education.  Opt out to fight back against the privateers’ attempt to prove that public schools are failing, in order to benefit the interests of the hedge funders, the ed tech companies and the testing companies. Opt out!