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Transforming Education Beyond Common Core: Arne Duncan’s “Classroom of the Future”

Last month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described his “vision for the classroom of the future” in what he hoped would be the first of many posts on the site called Bright (at medium.com), which is funded by the New Venture Fund, a non-profit that supports public interest projects in education, global issues, public health, and other issues.

The classroom of the future, wrote Duncan, would involve the “digital revolution,” as he presented reasons quasi-syllogistically: “In the United States, education is meant to be the great equalizer.  Technology has the potential to bridge gaps for those who have the least.  Simply put, technology can be a powerful tool for equality as well.”

Of course, many would differ with him about the major premise: that education is meant to be the great equalizer, at least in the way that Duncan and this administration think of it – as ending the achievement gap, with that duty falling to the federal government.  Other departmental missives have promoted the same goals.  Duncan has put pressure on states for “equitable funding” of school districts to overcome racial disparities, and has called for increased federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to overcome disparities of the “tax base” in communities.

Similarly, the Department recently cast the opting-out of Common Core tests as a lack of concern about “underserved populations,” recalling the comment made by Duncan in 2013 about Common Core opponents being “white suburban moms.”

The Department has been redefining education, emphasizing behavior and attitudes over academics, and even casting awareness about racial and ethnic identity as overlooked evidence of intelligence.  Education is no longer about teachers imparting knowledge to their students.  Linda Darling-Hammond, leader of Obama’s education transition team and developer of one of the two Common Core national assessments, has repeatedly disparaged traditional assessments that objectively test students’ knowledge as skill and drill.  In this she follows progressive and radical educators who see their roles as developing agents of social change, agents who do not learn in the traditional Eurocentric linear and logical way, but emotively and tactilely.

Replacing our traditional ways of learning, through reading, writing, and study—contemplative and solitary activities—are the communal and hands-on activities promoted in Common Core and now digital learning.  Both Common Core and digital learning serve to obscure a large part of the reason for the achievement gap: reading ability.  Students who are poor readers lag in other subjects.  To cover up this inability, Common Core emphasizes “speaking and listening skills,” (with points given for behavior and attitudes, such as the ability to work with “diverse” groups) and group work, where lagging students are coached along by others as they do “close readings” of short passages.  This ensures that all students have mastered the same (minimal) level of knowledge. Similarly, games offer an opportunity to hide differences in ability.  Information is delivered through images and sound, not words on a page, and at a pace that the student directs.  Duncan writes that technology is “helping teachers to use their time and talents more effectively to personalize learning for students — tailoring the pace, approach, and context of the learning experience to students’ individual needs and interests.”

Additionally, technology alters the relationship between teachers and students, leveling the relationship even further than the currently fashionable one of teacher as “facilitator.”  The student presumably gains the information on his own and applies that knowledge to “real-world” problems.  Duncan writes:

Until recently, the main function of public education has been to convey knowledge in one direction, from teachers to students. But with the growth of the Internet and mobile technology, our relationship to knowledge has fundamentally changed. To succeed in today’s world, our students need to be adept at not only recalling information, but using their knowledge to conceive, create, and employ solutions to real-world problems.

Duncan then employs the much-used strategy of reductively stereotyping traditional education, as he writes, “Students aren’t vessels to be filled with facts. And educators aren’t simply transmitters of information.”

In this schema, little attention is paid to “recalling information”—or the acquirement of knowledge. Emphasis is placed on the ability to – through the wonders of technology – find information.  (Of course with little concern about the ability to discern among the sources of information.)

In Duncan’s estimation, technology is the great liberator, unleashing children’s creativity and natural ability to solve problems.  It’s the ultimate instantiation of the progressive idea that students simply “discover” knowledge through their own creativity and curiosity – a theory which has time and again been disproven by the data, as Jeanne Chall and her student Sandra Stotsky have shown.

Aside from the logical impossibility of doing “real-world” problem-solving outside the real world, i.e., in a classroom and with children, such a focus away from objective measurements to hypothetical problems and solutions is another way to ensure equality of outcomes.

For those teachers who agree to promote such pedagogies, the Department of Education has many awards and ambassadorships to bestow.

EDITORS NOTE: The next installment will discuss the latest effort by the Department to promote digital learning, as described enthusiastically by a teacher and a U.S. Department of Education “Teaching Ambassador Fellow.”

The Common Core Fight: What Went Wrong, What Went Right, What To Do Next

The Washington Post reported that within two years of an organizational meeting at Bill Gates’ Seattle headquarters, 45 states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Common Core State Standards. President Obama, whose administration was “populated by former Gates Foundation staffers and associates,” was “a major booster.” 

After legislative battles this year, 42 states and the District of Columbia remain in the vise of Common Core, the federal education dictates.

One of these states, Georgia, illustrates the incredible hurdles citizen-activists face in their fight against the united forces of big government and big business.  Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick) was blocked in his efforts to pass a Common Core withdrawal bill by the Republican governor and Republican-dominated House.

Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles in Action, which supported Ligon’s bill, comments, “During the last hearing on the bill, we saw dozens of corporate and other well-funded lobbyists parade up to the podium to explain why their interests should trump those of Georgia families.”

I observed this parade, and the smear-campaign against citizen-activists concerned about educational quality and government overreach.  While teachers and parents spoke about developmentally inappropriate assignments, mind-boggling busy-work math, and ideological curricula, the pro-Common Core lobbyists, legislators, superintendents, principals, and teachers seemed to follow a script.  I heard the same phrases repeated – “state-led,” “critical thinking skills,” “locally controlled,” “standards, not curriculum,” and on.

And then I learned that they were following a script.

Dts_news_bill_gates_wikipedia

Bill Gates. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The script was linked in the June 7 Washington Post front-page article, “How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution” – published after legislatures had recessed.  These were “Talking Points” developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the supposedly independent organization behind Common Core.  CCSSO received over $11 million from the Gates Foundation in 2013.

That Bill Gates was “de facto organizer,” influencing states through donations to teachers unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was hardly a revelation.  In August 2013, blogger Mercedes Schneider reported, “the four organizations primarily responsible for CCSS–[National Governors Association], CCSSO, Achieve, and Student Achievement Partners – have taken $147.9 million from Bill Gates.”  Jane Robbins and others also made the charge long before the Washington Post’s exposé.

The Post reported that within two years of an organizational meeting at Gates’ Seattle headquarters, 45 states and the District of Columbia had adopted the standards. President Obama, whose administration was “populated by former Gates Foundation staffers and associates,” was “a major booster.”

In the Post interview, Gates denied that he had any self-interest, but the article noted, “In February, [Gates’ company] Microsoft announced that it was joining Pearson, the world’s largest educational publisher, to load Pearson’s Common Core classroom materials on Microsoft’s tablet, the Surface.”  This allowed Microsoft to compete for school district spending with rival company Apple, whose iPad dominates in classrooms.

According to a tape released by Glenn Beck last September, in 2009 Gates told the National Conference of State Legislators that he anticipated a “large uniform base of [Common Core] customers.”

More recently, Microsoft’s website warned schools to migrate to the new Microsoft Windows operating system.  Opponents had predicted that computer-administered Common Core tests would require expensive upgrades.

Still, Common Core promotional sites, such as the Georgia pro-Chamber of Commerce Republican blog, Peach Pundit, mocked the notion of “Obamacore” and called Gates’ profit-motive a “conspiracy theory.”

Editor-in-Chief Charlie Harper testified against the Common Core withdrawal bill, while directing the smear campaign through posts and comments. He also is executive director of the non-profit PolicyBEST.

In February, PolicyBEST Policy & Research Director – and Peach Pundit blogger – “Eric the Younger” called a rally in support of Ligon’s bill a “train wreck,” filled with “crazy talk”: “It’s [sic] attendees included Jane Robins [sic], Sen. Judson Hill, Sen. William Ligon, Ralph Hudgens’ wife, “and a few of the other usual suspects.”

He promoted a new coalition that included PolicyBEST, “Better Standards For A Better Georgia.”  The “diverse group . . . brought together through the Georgia Chamber” includes 100 Black Men, Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, Georgia school board and school superintendents associations, Technical College System of Georgia, and the University System of Georgia.  In 2013, 100 Black Men received $583,531 from the Gates Foundation; Georgia Association of Educational Leaders received $179,015 in 2012.

Eric the Younger’s creativity only extends to name-calling, however.

Consider the CCSS “talking point”: “This has always been, and continues to be, a state-led and driven initiative. States voluntarily adopted and are currently implementing the standards. . .  .  These standards are in no way federally-mandated. . . .”

Eric the Younger dutifully wrote, “The Origins of the Common Core State Standards are here in Georgia with our former governor Sonny Perdue and State School Superintendent. . . .”

Elders, like “youngers,” also recited CCSSO’s script.  The U.S. Chamber’s President and CEO Thomas Donahue wrote in the Washington Post, “Common Core is a not curriculum, a federal program or a federal mandate.”

Peach Pundit continued its campaign of smearing and repeating with a February 10 Courier-Herald column.  After charging Common Core opponents with “a campaign of misinformation that at times borders on hysteria,” the writer essentially repeated a talking point: “Common Core is not a curriculum,” but “a set of benchmarks. . . .  The curriculum – what is taught and how – remains up to states and local school systems…”

Cited also was a June 2, 2010, press release announcing then-Governor Sonny Perdue’s release of Common Core state standards that featured a panel discussion with the CEO of the PTA and Leah Luke, 2010 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year.

Where did this idea come from?

The CCSSO toolkit recommends as key spokespeople “State Teachers of the Year,” “Award-winning school leaders and principals,” and “Heads of local PTAs.”

Nothing was left to chance in CCSSO’s well-orchestrated campaign that included strategies for “engaging” teachers, “stakeholders,” elected officials, etc. Provided were fill-in-the-blank “Scene-setting Op-ed,” “Letters to the Editor,” “Local Op-ed and Blog,” and “Teacher Communication Preferences Survey.” There were tips for pitching stories and providing background information to reporters.

Most reporters, indeed, repeated CCSSO’s “talking points.” Now an NBC reporter is on Gates’ payroll.

In spite of overwhelming odds, a couple states rejected Common Core this year, following changing public sentiment.  Pitfalls lie ahead, though.  What these are and tips for fighting them will be discussed next time in Part II.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the Selous Foundation.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

North Carolina Governor Signs Bill to Revise Common Core
Common Core in Louisiana: Two Days, Two Lawsuits
A July 21, 2014, Update on Common Core, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced
American Federation of Teachers: “Remediating” Duncan and Retaining the “Corrupted” Common Core

Arne Duncan Plays the Common Core Distancing Game

On April 2, 2014, Louisiana has witnessed the lame demonstration of “Common Core distancing” from the governor (Bobby Jindal) who signed the state onto “the standards” (CCSS) in 2009– before they were written.

In 2010, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan accepted Louisiana’s CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) despite the majority of Louisiana school districts rejecting the idea.

Like Jindal, Duncan has begun playing the CCSS Distancing Game. He first did so when when Indiana appeared to be the first state to drop CCSS, in March 2014.

On March 15, 2014, Duncan publicly stated that “states are free to completely discard Common Core.”

This is the same Duncan who told newspaper editors in June 2013 how to favorably report on CCSS.

This is the same Duncan who insulted “White suburban mothers” and blamed them for CCSS resistance in November 2013, then offered no apology.

Now, on April 8, 2014, Duncan has told the House Appropriations Subcommittee that he “just likes high standards”:

“I’m just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they’re common or not is secondary,” he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues. [Emphasis added.]

And at this point, Duncan falls back on the “or other common standards” clause included in the Race to the Top (RTTT) application. You see, the House Appropriations Committee questioned Duncan on the apparent requirement that states agree to CCSS in order to compete for RTTT money.

Duncan states that “zero” federal grant money is contingent upon CCSS since states could have chosen to form their own “common standards.”

Duncan is drawing on a clause in the 2010 Blueprint for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization:

States may either choose to upgrade their existing standards, working with their 4-year public university system to certify that mastery of the standards ensures that a student will not need to take remedial coursework upon admission to a postsecondary institution in the system, or work with other states to create state-developed common standards that build toward college- and career-readiness. 

Never mind that the federal government would still be controlling state standards by ultimately deciding if the evidence offered is “good enough” for state receipt of federal money.

The author of the April 8, 2014, EdWeek article, Michele McNeil, isn’t convinced of Duncan’s “zero” response:

But when it comes to competitive grants, the answer is more complicated than “zero.”The administration’s original $4 billion Race to the Top program awarded 40 points to states for developing and adopting common standards. All 12 of those winners have adopted the standards, and have not backed off. What’s more, a separate, $360 million Race to the Top contest to fund common tests was based on the premise that states needed help developing such assessments based on the common standards. But technically, aligning to the common core wasn’t required (you just probably weren’t going to win without it).

Duncan’s testimony, which didn’t contain such nuances, illustrates the fine line the department continues to walk between supporting states as they implement the common core, and not giving critics ammunition to cry “federal overreach.” [Emphasis added.]

Duncan (and Obama) will be crossing that “fine line” should they make CCSS a definitive component of the FY2015 ESEA reauthorization blueprint, a direction that the Cato Institute believes the Obama administration plans to follow.

Proponents of CCSS are fond of saying that “federal overreach” is an unsubstantiated complaint.

Not so, according to ESEA Subpart Two,Section 9527(c)(1):

(c) PROHIBITION ON REQUIRING FEDERAL APPROVAL OR CERTIFICATION OF STANDARDS-

(1) IN GENERAL- 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. [Emphasis added.]

However, given the Obama/Duncan love of education privatization, I don’t think the ultimate goal is federal control of American “common,” public education.

I think the ultimate Obama/Duncan goal is for-profit education company control of American education– but no longer public.

For-profit control of American education can only lead to the end game of not educating all American children– just the “common” ones who might be exploited for profit.

The children of privilege– Obama’s children and Duncan’s children– will be exempt from “common” privatization betrayal.

Common Core: What’s behind Arne Duncan’s Race Card?

A stated goal of Common Core has been closing “the achievement gap” that exists largely between inner-city and suburban schools, and white and minority students. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan let slip a key aim: equalizing educational outcomes by redefining proficiency. Objective measurements as traditional letter grades A through F are also being abandoned.

During a November speech, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claimed that opposition to the “Common Core State Standards” was coming from “white, suburban moms” upset because their children were no longer as “brilliant” and their schools no longer as “good” as they thought they were.

Duncan’s statement increased pushback to Common Core and its unconstitutional mandated “standards” for math and English Language Arts, national testing, and data tracking of students and teachers. Michelle Malkin, calling herself a “brown, suburban mom,” swung back in a column. A group called MAD, Moms against Duncan, gathered 2,000 members in two days.

The Secretary of Education was blaming their children for being confused by math assignments that involve byzantine drawings and narratives, complicating straightforward math problems. Students who mastered the math got no or only partial credit, but those who had only a partial grasp could get credit for explanations and drawings. Algebra has moved from eighth grade to ninth. Conversely, younger students are asked to do developmentally inappropriate tasks, like “collaborate.” And “informational texts” replace much of the literary reading.

Duncan’s “apology,” issued the following Monday as a blog post titled, “High standards for All Schools and Students, Everywhere,” only admitted that he had used “some clumsy phrasing.” In fact, Duncan doubled down on his original point. He again attributed the drops in scores to “a result of a more realistic assessment of students’ knowledge and skills”—in other words, to students’ shortcomings that earlier tests were incapable of discerning. He redeployed the sales pitches of “higher standards,” widely supported by teachers (through unspecified “surveys”) and “leaders from both sides of the aisle.”

Claiming “Other countries are rapidly passing us by in preparing their students,” Duncan disingenuously turned his original statement around by saying, “we want more for all students.

A stated goal of Common Core has been closing “the achievement gap” that exists largely between inner-city and suburban schools, and white and minority students. Duncan let slip a key aim: equalizing educational outcomes by redefining proficiency.

Academic measurements through assessments and grades are being changed. Eliminating competition through objective standards has been the career goal of radical educators, the most famous perhaps, Bill Ayers.

Bill Ayers does not have an official post in the Department of Education, but his close colleague, Stanford Education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, does. After serving as head of Obama’s education transition team, she was put in charge of developing one of the two national Common Core tests.

While Ayers rails wildly against testing, recalling the school-as-prison metaphor from his Weatherman days, Darling-Hammond is more circumspect. In journal articles she has expressed goals that align with the stated goal of “closing the achievement gap” posted on the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign site. In the Summer 2009Harvard Educational Review, she heralded the Obama administration’s “opportunity to transform our nation’s schools.” What drew her to the Obama campaign, she wrote, was, “a sincerity and a depth of commitment to education, a genuine concern for improving the quality of teaching and learning, an intolerance of a status quo that promotes inequality, and a drive to move our education system into the twenty-first century—not only in math, science, and technology but also in developing creativity, critical thinking skills, and the capacity to innovate—a much needed change from the narrow views of the last eight years” (emphases added).

She reasserted her commitment to such “creative” attributes in the April 28, 2010, issue of Education Week, promising that her new “balanced assessment system” would go “beyond recall of facts and show students’ abilities to evaluate evidence, problem solve and understand contexts.” Importantly, this new testing would serve to end “inequality.”

Darling-Hammond’s definition of “inequality” is radical: it means outcomes, not just opportunity. In a December 2008 Phi Delta Kappan article, “Assessment for Learning Around the World,” she wrote, “The integration of curriculum, assessment, and instruction in a well-developed teaching and learning system creates the foundation for much more equitable and productive outcomes.”

The questions released by Darling-Hammond’s group, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, attempt to assess the elusive “creativity, critical thinking skills, and the capacity to innovate” that she named in her Harvard Education Review article. The sample questions were empty of content and provided much opportunity forsubjective grading.

Darling-Hammond’s model follows those of five California high schools that she and Diane Friedlander described in an article for the May 2008 issue of Educational Leadership, “Creating Excellent and Equitable Schools.” In it, Darling-Hammond castigates high schools that track and place students on academic scales as based on “the 20th-century factory model.” In contrast, the June Jordan School for Equity employs “a project-based college preparatory curriculum infused with social-justice and civic-engagement themes,” relying on community-service internships and work portfolios. Leadership High School similarly “focuses on creating community leaders”; portfolios and projects ensure “equitable outcomes for all students.”

In a 2010 article liberally citing Ayers heroes, John Dewey, Maxine Greene, and Paulo Freire, “Documentation and Democratic Education,” co-written with Beverly Falk, Darling-Hammond promoted similar “documentary practices” that help “students to understand themselves and each other, both as learners and as members of a collective community” (Theory Into Practice). Invoking Marxist Paulo Freire’s “pedagogy for empowerment,” described in Teachers as cultural workers, Darling-Hammond and Falk urge teachers to “truly see students” by learning “to look and listen carefully and non-judgmentally. . . .”

Under this model, the teacher is a “facilitator” helping students to develop and answer their own questions, and “ultimately, manage and guide their own learning” based on everyday events. This kind of teaching emphasizes “looking and listening rather than quizzing and telling.” Such “documentary” assessments require teachers to record students’ bursts of creativity, insights, or problems.

But the results of such alternative assessments have been disastrous, when measured by current standards. The 2010 statistics for the June Jordan School for Social Equity, one of the five schools noted in Darling-Hammond’s Educational Leadership article, are damning. The enrollment stood at only 194, but the city-data.com school rating for test scores gave it a 7, out of a possible 100 in 2010. That year, the school did even not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress Report and had not met AYP since 2005. The “equitable outcomes” have been across the bottom.

The recent downward spiral with Common Core assessments, especially in New York State, seems to indicate a trend in the same direction. Secretary Duncan claimed that plummeting scores were an indication of “a more realistic assessment of students’ knowledge and skills.” But what does Duncan mean by “realistic assessments”?

On April 30, at the annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting (with Darling-Hammond and Bill Ayers listed as participants), Duncan promised that the new assessments would diagnose problems and would measure “non-cognitive skills.” In other words, students’ attitudes and behaviors would be monitored. The measurement of such “soft skills” through psychologically invasive means has raised alarms.

Objective measurements as traditional letter grades A through F are also being abandoned.

Joan Tornow, Ph.D., a “Federal Way-based curriculum specialist” in a blog post announced that “As we adapt to the Common Core, our traditional grading system of A-F is on the chopping block, and rightfully so.” Defying logic – or standard word definitions – she writes, “Our A-F grading system has been built on the assumption that it is natural for only a certain percentage of students to excel.” For Tornow, it seems that all students should excel, and they will under Common Core’s “Standards-based education (SBE).”

According to Tornow, with SBE, “students are not ranked against their classmates—or sorted like so many potatoes or apples. Rather, students are evaluated in terms of progress towards objective standards.” The word “objective” too is redefined – to mean having each student “achieve his or her potential.” Tornow calls standards-based education “part of a national vision in which education is more democratic and effective.”

In an interview on NPR recently, Alissa Peltzman, vice president for state policy for Achieve, the well-connected nonprofit that put together Common Core, noted that many districts across the country were moving to standards-based grading. Brian Stack, a New Hampshire principal, described the new system at his high school as consisting of E, M, IP, LP, NM, NYC (not yet competent), and IWC (insufficient work shown).

At a New Hampshire elementary school, a four-point scale is used, with numbers being assigned for various abilities like skills, homework, participation, and paying attention. The principal maintains that the new system has the advantage of being able to point out a bad work ethic, even when the student is getting a good grade.

One thinks back to Duncan’s promise to measure “non-cognitive skills.” Is this a way to help ease grade disparities, to award points for behavior?

Indeed, the Common Core standards themselves reward behavior – but conformist behavior. “Literacy” skills require students grades 3 through 8 to: “Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on [appropriate grade] topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.” The criteria are similar for high school.

Reward for such collective behavior is part of the new assessment strategy. Bill Ayers complains about schools “sorting” students, and so do less notorious educators working in and with the Obama administration’s Department of Education. Ensuring “equality of outcome,” however, is not the answer.

RELATED COLUMN: Obama DOJ’s Message To Schools: Singling Out Blacks For Poor Behavior Is ‘Racist’

Common Core scandal: Medical and disciplinary reports on children hacked

As the Florida Department of Education, Governor Rick Scott, former Governor Jeb Bush and key Florida legislators move forward to implement Common Core State Standards in the sunshine state a database in Long Island’s Sachem School District is compromised.

Nancy Smith from Sunshine State News reports, “On Long Island earlier this month a hacker apparently was able to access records in the Sachem School District and leak personal student data to a web forum. The records included medical and disciplinary reports.” According to The Journal News, in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam counties, N.Y., the database uploads to Web Cloud run by inBloom, a nonprofit group funded by the Gates Foundation and supported by Amazon.

“Surprisingly, the breach didn’t come as a great shock to the community. Even before it transpired, parents and teachers were concerned about data collection and the potential of sharing it or stealing it,” writes Smith.  Also reported in The Journal News, “More than 20 districts in the Lower Hudson Valley have pulled out of New York’s participation in the federal Race to the Top initiative, hoping that doing so will allow them to withhold certain data. Since the state has said that this strategy will not work, districts are now writing to inBloom directly and requesting that their student records be deleted.”

Governor Scott has raised concerns about the data mining portion of Common Core but has not supported legislation to either delay or stop its implementation in Florida. Florida Representative Debbie Mayfield (R-FL District 54) has introduced HB 25 to delay implementation until the costs and impact of Common Core can be determined.

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch.

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch and a co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, and Randy Osborne, Director of Education for Heartland Research and the Florida Eagle Forum, did a Policy Analysis of Common Core in Florida. Effrem and Osborne state, “The Common Core standards, along with the aligned curriculum and the mining of nearly 400 data points reveal that the goal of the standards is not simply to improve academic achievement but also to instill federally determined attitudes and mindsets in students including political and religious beliefs. According to the US Department of Education, this will be carefully regulated through the extensive data-mining of both students and teachers using devices such as ‘facial expression cameras,’ ‘posture analysis seats,’ ‘a pressure mouse,’ and ‘wireless skin conductance sensors’ as well as the use of the actual assessments. The federal government asserts that to secure their definition of improving the quality of education, a student’s right to privacy may be sacrificed.”

Commenting on the Sachem School District data compromise Effrem states, “A number of standards will be used for the psychological training of children starting at a young age … One of the main goals for uniform national assessments is for the federal government to have access to highly personal individual student data. It isn’t just teachers and school officials who can request and get students’ records. It’s also ‘a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions … Common Core completely strips the child of privacy.”

Dr. Effrem writes, “The utter failure of proponents of Common Core to make rational arguments about this imposed system of inferior, psychosocial workforce training standards, national tests and data collection has stimulated them to lash out to mock and marginalize anyone who opposes it. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has joined former Governor Jeb Bush and Senate President Don Gaetz in now bipartisan sneering derision of parental and citizen concerns. Duncan created a firestorm on Friday (11/15) with his mocking, racist attack on mothers that oppose Common Core: ‘It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary. You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.'” Duncan has since issued an apology for his remarks.

A new Facebook group, Moms Against Duncan (MAD), has almost 1600 members since then and the comments on Twitter have been overwhelmingly critical. Conservative columnists and liberal moms have joined together in righteous anger against these thoughtless remarks.

History tells us the larger the Common Core database becomes the more likely it will be target by those who would do children harm. Will Governor Scott and the proponents of Common Core listen to moms and take heed? Time will tell.

RELATED DOCUMENTS:

Comments on the Psychological and Developmental Aspects of the Florida’s Common Core Standards by Dr. Karen Effrem – Download PDF

Comments on Florida ELA Common Core Standards by Dr. Sandra Stotsky – Download PDF

Comments on FL Math Common Core Standards by Ze’ev Wurman – Download PDF

Second Florida hotel cancels anti-Common Core conference

Laura Zorc, SE State Coordinator for Florida Parents Against Common Core, in an email states that the Rosen Hotel, Orlando has cancelled the contract for an anti-Common Core conference. This comes on the heels of the Ritz Carlton/Marriott cancellation.

Billy Hallowell from TheBlaze reported on June 19th, “The Common Core State Standards Initiative has created a fair bit of angst among critics who view it as a poor — or even dangerous — plan to amend the nation’s educational schema. Considering this dynamic, it’s no surprise that some concerned Florida parents are planning to protest a national Common Core conference that is slated to be hosted later this month by The Center for College & Career Readiness.”

“But when FreedomWorks, a non-profit organization, agreed to help these parents by providing a grassroots training to accompany their protest, the conservative organization charges that a hotel abruptly canceled its reservations. The hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, however, is denying these claims, stating that the anti-Common Core initiative’s goals had nothing at all to do with the decision — and that the decision was based on crowd-control concerns,” writes Hallowell.

Whitney Neal, director of grassroots initiatives at FreedomWorks, told TheBlaze that the Ritz, a hotel nearby the venue that is hosting the national Common Core conference (the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Resort and Spa), cancelled the conservative group’s reservations — and after the group had already paid for and booked the space.”

Both the anti-Common Core training and protest of the National Conference on College and Career Readiness and Common Core State Standards will take place on June 28-29, 2013 as planned according to Zore.

Zore states in an email to supporters, “[This] Protest is a legal protest Thank you to a commissioner from Orange county. We have insurance, permit, and police depart has been notified.   The Ritz cannot stop us from being on public property. Since we are in the spotlight now we really need all the parents we can get to come out for this 2 hour protest [against] this National CC conference.”