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About That Fortune Article on Common Core…

I have been reading Peter Elkind’s January 01, 2016, article in Fortune on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Elkind’s work is a study in foolishness. Basically, he demonstrates the unfounded faith that powerful individuals whose lives only skirt the worlds of whose with children in public schools have placed in a set of rushed, contrived standards to cure all that ails American public education. Whether such ailments are real or contrived becomes irrelevant; CCSS is the needed fix.

Nevertheless, truth regarding CCSS leaks out from among Elkind’s words. Consider this statement in regards to billionaire Bill Gates’ trying to convince billionaire Charles Koch to support CCSS (a failed effort on Gates’ part):

This extraordinary tête-à-tête is just one example of how the war over Common Core has personally engaged—and bedeviled—some of America’s most powerful business leaders. Hugely controversial, it has thrust executives into the uncomfortable intersection of business and politics.

CCSS is hugely controversial, if for no other reason than its rushed-and-hushed creation. And surely one must wonder about the motives behind Gates’ continued push of what is little more than a Gates latest-and-greatest pet project.

Had CCSS been developed and implemented with sense– one grade level at a time, openly, and prior to any formal state adoption– the “hugely controversial” component would have been quelled.

Elkind does not mention this. Instead, he shows that CCSS is very much a corporate tool– a magic tool that is supposed to serve their corporations by contorting the purpose of education into corporate service:

In truth, Common Core might not exist without the corporate community. The nation’s business establishment has been clamoring for more rigorous education standards—ones that would apply across the entire nation—for years. It views them as desperately needed to prepare America’s future workforce and to bolster its global competitiveness. One measure of the deep involvement of corporate leaders: The Common Core standards were drafted by determining the skills that businesses (and colleges) need and then working backward to decide what students should learn.

CCSS: “working backward.” Truer words….

Surely a sensible business community absorbed with serving itself would have required proof that CCSS would deliver on its claim of “college and career readiness.” But no. Business jumped right into selling CCSS– with the likes of Exxon’s Rex Tillerson so enamored with CCSS that he even threatened to not do business with states that did not have CCSS. (As Elkind notes, Tillerson is currently satisfied that CCSS is so embedded in American education that he rescinded his bizarre threat.)

When one is in love, sensibility becomes irrelevant. The CCSS violins in Tillerson’s ears must be proof enough of its faithfulness.

“Businesses say they can’t find enough skilled workers,” reports Elkind.

What board meeting involved any CCSS promoter (David Coleman? Chester Finn?) offering details on exactly how CCSS translates into “enough skilled workers”?

Those pushing CCSS also be required to guarantee its implementation. But they can’t because, well, it is just not that easy.

Elkind mentions the “executive mindset… favors consistency, efficiency, and accountability.” What he also hints at it that the executive mindset assumes that it is right– that it has the right to “insist” on how an issue should be– any issue that captures that executive’s attention. Yes, CCSS has captured that attention, and executives like Tillerson want American education to be accountable to their perceptions of how American education should work– even as such ivory-towered power-wielders overlook the glaring reality that CCSS is, as Elkind points out, a “grand experiment”:

It remains unclear how well this grand experiment will meet its ultimate goal: better preparing kids (and our country) for a challenging future.

You just can’t drop an education reform from the top and expect it to work on the local level as willed by the top. It will be resisted, and it will be gamed. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) offered that lesson. And CCSS will too– even as it is excused for not being “properly implemented.”

And to think that CCSS would work if only America just relaxed about the appendaged CCSS testing is plain ignorant:

A key element of the Common Core effort—common standardized tests to allow honest assessments of progress—remains unfulfilled, swept back by a wave of parental concern about over-testing and teacher anxiety about being judged too harshly too soon.

Elkind, when you can produce for me a major testing company willing to guarantee that its student assessments are able to accurately grade teachers and schools, then you can toss off commentary about “honest assessment” with no beef from me. However, the reality is that students are being over-tested, and much of it has to do with grading teachers and schools– which will never be a valid use of a student achievement test.

So, as a teacher, I will tell you that CCSS and the attendant assessment craze in which it was birthed will only perpetuate opportunities to game a system imposed from the top to smother the bottom into some flaky, cognac-at-the-club-induced illusion of globally-competitive submission.

The likes of CCSS will fail, not because of poor implementation, but because it will collapse under the foolishness of its own ill-conceived weight. Indeed,Fortune magazine is willing to accept the word of Chester Finn– whose Fordham Institution promoted CCSS even though it conceded that standards in some other states were better–regarding the state of CCSS:

“We’re better off than we were before Common Core,” says veteran education scholar Chester Finn, a senior fellow with Stanford’s Hoover Institution. “We’ve got better standards. There’s less lying about the performance of kids and schools. There’s some better curriculum in place. If you were hoping for a 100% gain, today we’re probably looking at a 37% gain. But honestly it’s still early days. The aircraft carrier of an education system turns really slowly.”

If you want to see some lying in the form of pro-CCSS marketing, read Finn’s July 2010 review of state standards and CCSS. Finn proves that creative writing is very much alive in association with CCSS.

As for that “37 percent gain”– I wonder if any of the CCSS corporate pushers will finally decide to follow through on their supposed mindset of accountability and ask for the hard proof behind Finn’s marshmallow stat– and whether they will pin him down on exactly how long that aircraft carrier takes to turn.

EDITORS NOTE: The author has written A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education. She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. If you don’t care to buy from Amazon you may purchase her books directly from Powell’s City of Books. The featured image is courtesy of Fortune Magazine.

Florida Tenth Amendment Center launches petition to stop Common Core

There is a growing movement at the state level to stop Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative. There is a new twist to the movement. The Florida Tenth Amendment Center (FLTAC) has launched county-level e-campaigns for local resolutions to stop CCSS.

FLTAC campaign links are listed by county at the bottom of this article.

FLTAC’s intent is to pressure all of Florida’s 67 county commissions to pass non binding resolutions against CCSS. One of the petitions was launched in Sarasota County, Florida.

According to the FLTAC website,  “This campaign is launched to demand a strong stand, however non binding and symbolic that might be, by the Sarasota county government in passing a resolution to stop Common Core Standards. Common Core is the latest effort by Washington to eliminate local control, i.e., parents and local government from exerting their rightful role over the education of the County’s public school children.”

The non binding Resolution reads as follows:

RESOLUTION OPPOSING “NATIONALIZED” COMMON CORE STANDARDS

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution reserves the control of education to the States and the people; and is not an enumerated power delegated to the General government in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, Florida Executive Branch officials committed this state to adopting common standards with a consortium of states through the Race to the Top grant created by the federal Executive Branch; and

WHEREAS, this participation required the State of Florida to adopt common standards in K-12 English language arts and mathematics (now known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative) and to commit to implementing the aligned assessments developed by a consortium of states with federal money, all without the consent of the people exercised through their Legislative Branch despite the fact that the people fund K-12 education with over $1 billion in state and local taxes each year; and

WHEREAS, adoption of Common Core obliterates Florida’s constitutional autonomy over the educational standards for Florida’s children in English language arts and mathematics because 100 percent of the Common Core standards must be delivered through Florida’s curriculum, yet the standards belong to unaccountable private interests in Washington, D.C.
which have copyright authority and do not allow any standards to be deleted or changed, but only allow Florida to add 15 percent to those standards; and

WHEREAS, this push to nationalize standards will inevitably lead to more centralization of education in violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments; removing education of Florida’s children from the government closest to them to unelected and unaccountable officials outside of Florida;

WHEREAS, both the Common Core standards and the PARCC tests will create new tax burdens to pay for enormous unfunded mandates on our state and our local school districts; and

WHEREAS, the Race to the Top grant conditions require the collection and sharing of massive amounts of student-level data through the PARCC agreement which violates student privacy;

THEREFORE, the County/City/Township of ___________ resolves that the legislature of the State of Florida should:

Withdraw Florida from the Common Core State Standards Initiative; Withdraw Florida from the PARCC consortium and its planned assessments for Florida’s students, and any other testing aligned with the Common Core standards;

Prohibit all state officials from entering into any agreements that cede any measure of control over Florida education to entities outside the state and ensure that all content standards as well as curriculum decisions supporting those standards are adopted through a transparent statewide and/or local process fully accountable to the citizens in every school district of Florida; and

Prohibit the collection, tracking, and sharing of personally identifiable student and teacher data except with schools or educational agencies within the state.

Be it further resolved that the Board of County Commissioners, County of SARASOTA, State of Florida, declare that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Governor of the State of Florida, the President of the Florida Senate, the Speaker of the Florida House and the sitting State representative(s) and State senator(s) who represent the people of SARASOTA County.

ABOUT THE FLORIDA TENTH AMENDMENT CENTER:

The Florida Tenth Amendment Center is not affiliated with any political party. FLTAC does not subscribe to any ideology but the Constitution as intended by the Framers and Ratifiers. This is the standard by which we measure all holders of public office, regardless of that person’s party affiliation. We believe very simply in the following: The Constitution. Every Issue, Every Time. No Exceptions, No Excuses.

FLTAC petition links listed by county:

Alachua County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e418e8-e7a0-470b-877a-434032741282
Baker County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a20b-4da0-4bb9-a89e-60b332741282
Bay County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a32a-d588-450e-9b2e-6b8432741282
Bradford County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a43a-974c-468c-b4bd-654632741282
Brevard County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a5ae-ce9c-46a1-bccc-6ba532741282
Broward County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a6fc-37c8-4299-bb21-6c0e32741282
Calhoun County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6a9af-f11c-428c-87f1-6c2a32741282
Charlotte County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6abbb-f7d8-469d-a711-6c9632741282
Citrus County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6acd2-e324-4c35-b91c-6cc832741282
Clay County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6af5e-f87c-4d66-81e2-6cfb32741282
Collier County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6b071-bf94-49da-97c3-6cc632741282
Columbia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6b209-95dc-4172-97c8-6d7c32741282
DeSoto http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6bb55-ef24-4db2-b9df-6f1b32741282
Dixie County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6bce7-7754-422c-822e-6f1e32741282
Duval County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6be18-0954-41c8-93a1-6f6b32741282
Escambia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6beb8-31dc-4a6b-9241-6f1e32741282
Flagler County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6cf23-a984-4973-bacd-704232741282
Franklin County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d045-b914-4d32-b2c0-724532741282
Gadsden County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d101-91ec-427c-ae26-718532741282
Gilchrist County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d246-05e8-4dce-be4d-726332741282
Glades County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6d51f-ae60-42d5-b95f-72a532741282
Gulf County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f237-5e90-4c9b-baae-73c432741282
Hamilton County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f307-fe70-484a-b798-759a32741282
Hardee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f5bb-a264-41d9-aff4-75fa32741282
Hendry County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f669-1240-443c-919c-761632741282
Hernando County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f716-709c-465e-adc3-762f32741282
Highlands County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f7cd-e394-4e6b-8714-765332741282
Hillsborough County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f87d-0018-4a54-a05d-765332741282
Holmes County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6f933-91d8-4136-abee-76a632741282
Indian River County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fa71-59b4-4dd0-9989-762732741282
Jackson County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fb37-ca7c-48f2-9370-72a532741282
Jefferson County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fc18-faf4-4278-b7d6-773332741282
Lafayette County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fcb2-8fc8-4300-ad42-776c32741282
Lake County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fd39-01c4-4966-b68c-769e32741282
Lee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e6fe9a-b340-478a-b655-77e932741282
Leon County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71554-4170-42fa-9da2-795b32741282
Levy County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e715ef-02e8-4b55-89c8-7ab832741282
Liberty County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7167f-adfc-4364-9594-7acd32741282
Madison County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71731-8210-493b-bd83-7aeb32741282
Manatee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e717e8-3418-4991-acf0-7b2632741282
Marion County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71881-be9c-4267-b169-7ad532741282
Martin County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7190d-20c4-43e4-97dc-7ad532741282
Miami-Dade County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71a62-b48c-4453-8e07-7af832741282
Monroe County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71b3d-38d8-4d63-b3b2-7b9632741282
Nassau County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71c0a-ae20-41c9-aad1-7b8632741282
Okaloosa County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71cd8-3e3c-4b1d-8d73-7b8632741282
Okeechobee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e71f5a-6950-4023-aa05-7be732741282
Orange County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e72010-f780-4e78-8a51-7c6632741282
Osceola County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75c54-48e8-48e2-a4ee-016732741282
Palm Beach County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75d42-cc88-464b-be63-024332741282
Pasco County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75df8-8fc8-40bd-a4dc-024032741282
Pinellas County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75ec4-bd24-4222-8439-02d832741282
Polk County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75f5d-ae84-4cbf-8872-027c32741282
Putnam County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e75fee-36b0-423a-a870-02d832741282
Santa Rosa County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7608c-8718-4237-85e0-023e32741282
Sarasota County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76127-7584-4b06-8424-025032741282
Seminole County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e761a9-cda0-4f95-8905-03ad32741282
St Johns County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7622f-69fc-491f-ac52-041532741282
St Lucie County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e762ca-c650-458e-a7db-041b32741282
Sumter County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e763f2-d3c8-45a6-aa78-049032741282
Suwannee County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7648c-3fe4-47af-a4c2-04b232741282
Taylor County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76608-a710-437b-b154-04e232741282
Union County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76750-2e5c-47b7-ba40-04e132741282
Volusia County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7685b-70b0-43a5-a2f6-04e232741282
Wakulla County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e7699b-af14-4044-8d43-04e132741282
Walton County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76a76-b410-40f1-b085-058332741282
Washington County http://www.libertyactioncenter.com/campaign/51e76b64-3210-4520-b289-05b532741282