Corporate reform loves opaque communications. Never call a thing what it is. Use catchy lingo that disguises (and often contradicts) the reality behind a so-called reform. If this does not work, rebrand. Rename.
Or drop the naming altogether. Anything to obscure the privatizer-benefiting true intent. This way, a disgruntled public might be fooled into believing that the reform in question has simply disappeared.
Such is Louisiana Superintendent John White’s game with both the highly-controversial Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its exploitative and lucrative sidekick, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
Since February 17, 2014, White has been emailing a “2014-15 Sample Test Question of the Day.”
Here is the explanation that accompanies each sample test question of the day:
In order to ensure Louisiana students are prepared for college and Louisiana’s economy, our state is moving to higher standards and new assessments. The Louisiana Department of Education will highlight one sample question each day to help Louisiana educators and families preview Louisiana’s new 2014-15 assessments. These new assessments were developed with significant input from Louisiana educators who have served as key partners in identifying content for the test, developing the specific items, and guiding the technology specifications.
Notice what is missing from this description:
The terms PARCC or Common Core.
In place of Common Core, White offers the generic (and misleading) higher standards, and in place of PARCC, he misleadingly substitutes Louisiana’s new 2014-15 assessments.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is self-servingly silent on the issue of CCSS and, by extension, PARCC. After all, if CCSS isn’t spoken, there is certainly no need to mention its assessment.
Thus, White is playing Jindal toadie and by not overtly using the terms PARCC and Common Core in promoting both via his daily test item nonsense.
It is a sad day when so-called public education leadership is proud to showcase a daily test item.
The altar is has been built. The idol is proudly displayed.
Just don’t call it an idol. Lie and tell the public these unnamed “standards” and associated “new assessments” will prepare students for–of all things– Louisiana’s Jindal-exploited, starved economy.
But don’t write the term PARCC. And don’t write Common Core.
Whereas White’s test-question email does not overtly name the PARCC test, it does include this link to the PARCC site, so a parent following the link could see that calling PARCC “Louisiana’s new assessments” omits the now-controversial information that PARCC is a testing consortium– a group of states (once 22 states plus DC)– that has declined in popularity of late as its membership is now only 17 states.
The purpose of having a test common to several states is to compare state scores and declare some states– and their schools, teachers, and students– as “losers” in an effort to hand schools over to for-profit education companies– and to make millions in the process.
This is what John White and Bobby Jindal want for Louisiana’s children.
One can see “PARCC” written in the top right corner of the sample item link as provided in White’s test-question email. However, what is more obvious is the Louisiana Department of Education brand at the left-top of the sample item link.
White is trying to sell these PARCC items as “Louisiana” items.
Nevertheless, PARCC is not unique to Louisiana. Calling PARCC Louisiana’s new 2014-15 assessments without using the term PARCC in the original email is a manipulation, not an honest effort to inform the public.
That manipulation found its way into my classroom this week.
One of my sections of sophomore English has been “selected” to “participate” in the March 2014 PARCC pilot test.
Of course, parents need to be notified.
On Monday, I had several copies of a letter in my school mailbox. The letter had a note attached in which I was told to “give this handout” to one of my English II classes. The note also stated, “This directive came from the district office.”
It was as though the latter statement served as a disclaimer for the content of the letter.
Below I have reproduced the body of the letter.
Notice what it says– and what it does not:
Dear Parents and Caregivers:
I want to make you aware that the state Department of Education has chosen your child’s class to participate in online field-testing. This is a trial run of online state testing. Your child will not be scored on the test, and it will not affect students’ grades. Thirty-four schools in our district have been chosen to participate, and selected classes in each of these schools will be taking these tests.
At our school, the online tests will be given to selected courses. The tests will be administered in computer labs through Dr. Schneider’s class and will take place on March 25, 2014. These online tests will consist of either math or English language arts. Your child will be taking the English II portion.
If you have any questions about the testing, please contact [administrator] at school at [phone number]. I appreciate your continuing support of [school].
The letter was signed by my principal.
I have been teaching at my current school for the past seven years.
Never before have I seen our district send home a letter about an upcoming test and not once mention the name of the test.
Never until now, under the direction of state “superintendent” who clouds and obscures, who twists and deforms, who digs the grave of public education and denies he does so even as he holds the dirty shovel in his hands.
This manipulative, parental “snow job” of a letter drips of the White-style “directive” to not mention PARCC or Common Core under the deceptive guise of “informing parents.”
Signature John White, channeled through my district.
I dare White to contradict me on this.
Had this letter been an assignment in my class, I would have graded it an F for failure to include pertinent information.
If the true purpose of the letter were to inform parents, the letter should have included not only the name of the test, but also a brief description of the test and its purpose– to test CCSS. Also, parents should have been made aware that taking this pilot test could indeed “affect students’ grades” in that students will miss more than just my English II class in order to take this pilot. Finally, parents should have been apprised of their rights regarding opting out– including the right to have their children to attend class as usual.
As it stands, neglecting to name the test while including my name in the letter reminds me of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ploy of using familiar names on their controversial model legislation in order to deceive the public into a forged sense of trust (see page 35–Special Needs Scholarship).
I resent having my name used as a vehicle to endorse unnamed PARCC.
Do not be deceived, parents. Dr. Schneider does not endorse the PARCC pilot test. That is why she has chosen to write this post.
I suspect that generic parent letters have been disbursed statewide (and possibly in all PARCC pilot states) in order to con parents into allowing their children to serve as PARCC guinea pigs.
Louisiana parents: If your child has been “selected” for the PARCC pilot and you wish for your children to attend regular classes instead, contact your child’s school and let the administration know.
If a letter to parents about a test omits the name of the test, then reform itself proves “parental choice” a lie.
Parents: Don’t allow yourselves to be deceived.