Need to Know

In What You Need to Know about the Every Child Achieves Act by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), AFT says “the Bill Is Better than the Current Law, Race to the Top, and Waivers.”………..UPDATE Dec. 5 – the name has been changed to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA still S.1177) and on Dec. 10, it was signed into law. This information is still what people need to know and consider….

“Better” is the standard that leadership has set for this nation?

Build on "better" or just more of the same?

Build on “better” or just more of the same?

I ask you to consider; is it the best we can do for the American public education system and the children in that system? Do we have no higher expectation of congress, after the eight year wait, than to make the law “better” than No Child Left Behind (NCLB)? What about the right thing to do?

The Bill in question is The Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177, previously written as The Every Child College or Career Ready Act slanted for debate on July 7th). IT has many moving parts as does its House counterpart (both obviously written by the education industry representing themselves).

AFT says,It restores the original intent of the groundbreaking 1965 ESEA law.”

DOES IT? (Update now that it is law: it did not.)

AFT says, “the intent was to address poverty and educational inequality. This bill ensures that resources continue to be directed to where they are most needed.”

DOES IT?

This continues the standards-based theory that led to a narrow curriculum...which is devastating TO poor kids.

This continues the standards-based theory that led to a narrow curriculum…which is devastating TO poor kids.

 

 

 

The bill mentions a needs assessment but associates the needs assessment with achievement scores and standards…

….and does not require review by the U.S. Department of Education to assess whether or not the money granted does go towards meeting children’s real needs.

Keep in mind, WE must submit our plan for standards and testing but NOT our needs assessment....please question this logic.

Keep in mind, WE must submit our plan for standards and testing but NOT our needs assessment….please, question this logic.

The original intent in 1965 was to strengthen and improve educational quality and educational opportunity.

The Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177) focuses on standards-based achievement, assessments of achievement, and charter expansion. The focus has not changed from what we had with No Child Left Behind. Have these things strengthened and improved educational quality and opportunity for all children?

AFT says, The Every Child Achieves Act “takes a crucial first step toward smarter assessments and accountability.”

Smarter assessments? In document after document — like Marc Tucker’s “Tough Choices or Tough Times” and the Smart Options (how to spend our Recovery Act dollars) —standards and testing were always seen as a first step where the truly crucial first step is addressing children’s learning needs and opportunity-to-learn resources.

In addition, keeping federal emphasis on testing perpetuates the fallacy that achievement test scores are valuable while the reality is they are an extremely poor and UNETHICAL way to judge the quality of education. We need to do away with that deceptive idea. And the next crucial step would be to define opportunity to learn indicators (which we have but don’t use).

AFT says the Every Child Achieves Act “maintains the current law’s annual testing requirements, but allows assessments to be delivered in the form of portfolios, projects or extended performance tests.

There is actually a BIG “IF” in the law… if states can demonstrate the alternative assessments are valid and reliable AS compared to the standards-based achievement tests. This means not only continuing with the achievement tests but also having the State resources and capability to validate what you are using, or farm it out to the testing industry.

Consider this, students’ grades and the quality of their courses continue to be more reliable than standardized test scores when it comes to trying to predict success in higher education.

AFT says the Every Child Achieves Act “allows accountability systems to include multiple non-test measures.”

“ALLOWS”??? (And the word was used in multiple places)??? If that doesn’t tell you that we have gone from an equal opportunity law to a federally controlled accountability law, I don’t know what does.

BUT, who was held accountable for the devastating effects of No Child Left Behind?

AFT says The Every Child Achieves Act “gives states authority to determine interventions for struggling schools.” 
…..

Sigh…What if you live in a state that lacks the capacity to improve schools? What if schools were identified for 8 and 9 years under NCLB as “In Needs of Improvement”? Then when the NCLB waivers changed terminology to “Focus” and “Priority” schools, what if those same schools went on the lists and your state still never did anything proven effective to help them improve? This true-to-life scenario is why the law existed to begin with. Why think this is a good thing for all states? Are all states offering equal access to quality education? And why do we continue to ignore what works when we could support it through law?

The Every Child Achieves Act is NOT an equal opportunity or educational improvement law reflective of the original intent of ESEA.

AFT says The Every Child Achieves Act “takes the federal government out of teacher evaluations.”

The Every Child Achieves Act requires teachers be labeled and that information goes on the State report card.

The federal government is by no means out of the teacher evaluation business.

The federal government is by no means out of the teacher evaluation business.

AFT says, “The federal government will not be the human resources department for every school district nationwide.”

Did they read the law? The Every Child Achieves Act will incentivize human resource development through the training of leadership to evaluate teachers calling it the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program. They are looking at “human capital.” And it will be controlled through “State plans”.Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 8.31.02 PM….Look at all the components…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Those in the education reform wars can probably name off a slew of "national non-profits" who stand to gain on this one.

Those in the education reform wars can probably name off a slew of “national non-profits” who stand to gain on this one.

Remember, carefully selected things must meet federal approval.

Remember, carefully selected things must meet federal approval.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFT says, The Every Child Achieves Act “expands collective bargaining protections to include both school improvement initiatives and teacher quality provisions.” WHERE???????

Do you call this expanded protection?

Do you call this expanded protection?

 

 

And what AFT doesn’t talk about that is in the bill are huge expansions for charter schools and other modes of privatization including the specifics of pre-schools……WOW!!!! Do we have a budding industry there!

What’s missing from the bill? Plenty! Gone is the whole sense of community-led improvement that was embodied in the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act….How can anyone say we have nothing better to offer in replacing No Child Left Behind? Where’s the suggestion box?

Or are those in power afraid of competing ideas?

Tell Congress NO on this one. Better than NCLB isn’t good enough for American education.

Leadership & ESEA Reauthorization

For the quickest path to educational improvement — or to dismantling of the public education system — look no further than leadership.

If we want to improve schools, we need skilled leadership educated and experienced in school improvement processes. The question is, do the American people want those leaders trained by outside sources or developed within our own public education system? If we choose to go private, do we know what the leaders will be trained to do and how?

Joanne Barkin covered the private philanthropic efforts in leadership training quite well in “Got Dough: How Billionaires Rule Our Schools.”

Barkin explains “their vision” is “market-based.” Market-based education reform means seeing education as a commodity so reforms are based on demand, supply, and pricing. The vision was sold to us based on the assumption that higher test scores mean better education. The theory relies on parental and public demand for better “outcomes” as driven by high-stakes standardized testing.

The demand for higher scores has pushed the perceived need for charters, vouchers, higher standards, better tests, and longitudinal data systems to track every student and teacher. And when these pseudo-reforms fail to improve our lowest-performing schools, closure of schools and redistribution of students into the marketplace is now a reform. And leaders have been privately trained in these pseudo-reform methods. There is a school closure manual to follow!

The biggest private providers of leadership training?

“They” include Marc Tucker and his National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) and Eli Broad (pronunciation rhymes with road) with his Broad Center programs. But as Barkin put it, “both the Broad Academy and Residency are not mere programs: they are ‘pipelines’.”

Ken Libby and Stan Karp explain, “The [Broad] Academy’s revised program of study will aim to prepare leaders for positions beyond the superintendency of districts to include leaders of charter management organizations and state education departments.”

Libby and Karp quote from a memo they obtained boasting,

“We have filled more superintendent positions than any other national training program, and remain the only organization recruiting management talent from outside of education.”

Working from “inside” of education is Marc Tucker’s for-profit NISL. Tucker is a former Carnegie Corporation employee and current president of the D.C. think-tank the “National” Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

As scholar John M. Perella documented in “A Critical Study of the National Institute for School Leadership in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,

NISL launched with “$11 million in research and development grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Broad Foundation, the New Schools Venture Fund, the Stupski Foundation and NCEE”  (p 4).

“From 2001-2004, The Broad Foundation “kicked in 3.5 million’”and NISL began to put together teams of ‘the best and brightest’ for the purposes of creating a curriculum for NISL (p107).

Dr. Perella described his NISL training as an impressive combination of applying “militaryJohn-W.-Gardner-Quotes-2 and business strategies to educational issues.” But he questioned the foundational philosophy of the institution and looked for answers. His findings revealed “strong elements of both privatization efforts and neoliberalism within the NISL program.”

“From a critical perspective, the most alarming issue with NISL is in regards to the voice of the program. With voice comes power. Whose voice does NISL accentuate? Whose view of how public education should operate is expressed through NISL? Specifically, it is important to ask whose voice is not being heard.” (p137)

This particular “pipeline” has been working towards producing “leaders” for the market-based systemic privatization of public education since 1999. This for-profit has been granted your federal dollars.

The newest twist is having the House adopt “Pay for Success” as part of their grand scheme for ESEA reauthorization (Elementary and Secondary Education Act/ No Child Left Behind). This section of H.R. 5 is written to put taxpayer dollars into private teacher and leadership development programs. With the creator of the outcome-based theory leading the pack in leadership development, Tucker’s NISL has their documented success already on their website. But is this how WE want to judge “success” in education  – based on arbitrarily set “cut scores”?

Shouldn’t our leaders vision for schools represent OUR vision?

People NEED TO KNOW that much of what they see happening in public education – now – is a result of leaders that have been churned out through the Broad Superintendents Academy, the Broad Residency, and NISL. We have no way of knowing how many graduates of this neoliberal, privatization philosophy we have working within our public institutions up to and including our own U.S. Department of Education.

The alternative?

Here is its foundational philosophy:

A “principal’s leadership and attention to the quality of instruction” along with “teacher behaviors that convey the expectation that all students are expected to obtain at least minimal mastery” are two correlates of Effective Schools. “Effective Schools” are high achieving schools with a high percentage of their students from low-income families and a high percentage being children of a color other than white. Leadership matters in matters of instruction.

Another correlate is “a pervasive and broadly understood instructional focus”; this requires a leader that can communicate.

And effective schools do use “measures of pupil achievement as the basis for program evaluation,” which was the annual requirement in the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965.

We don’t have to reinvent any wheels.

The “National Education Leadership Academy Act” is written for us.

Written by Gary Ratner, Director of Citizens for Effective Schools

Written by Gary Ratner, Director of Citizens for Effective Schools

Many citizens and education policy leaders, particularly civil rights leaders, continue to hold on to the failed test-based practices of No Child Left Behind. But what they don’t seem to realize is that if we are to improve the learning opportunities for those students being left behind, we have to have capable, responsive, responsible school leadership in all our schools.

This draft is a detailed plan to develop school leadership aimed at strengthening and improving the public education system while addressing one root of the existing problem of unequal access to quality education – state and local leadership “capacity.” Developing leadership capacity is a responsibility that must be met.

We identified the states that have demonstrated over the last 13 years that they can’t adequately and consistently improve the schools most in need of help. I know; I live in one.

We have identified the same districts and schools over and over since my kids started school here in Idaho in 1992. It never mattered which standards, which tests, which label, or which accountability system we used, the same schools keep coming back on the list – if they ever leave it (which was usually when we changed accounting or moved kids around). Some states lack the capacity to improve themselves.

The larger institution of public education is capable of training quality leadership. But it lacks the capacity to meet our current needs because our lawmakers have been an instrument of privatization – our public dollars creating a steady stream of capital into private pockets. What now?

The country is in a position to build leadership capacity. With ESEA reauthorization moving forward in Congress, we have the opportunity to choose an alternative to the direction we have been going for the last 30 years.

Do we have legislative and executive leadership that will do the right thing? If our leaders will be guided by the People – which way will the People direct them?

Privatize the system or remain public; America’s Choice.

Accountability for School Quality

Judge schools by the extent to which they satisfactorily meet the needs of all pupils…” Cooperative Study of Secondary School Standards (1939)

Looking at an array of “indicators” helps avoid the pitfall, as seen by the School Standards study, of using testing as “a sole method of accreditation or for similar widespread comparison” because testing tends to make “instruction point definitely to success in examinations,” cultivates “a uniformity that is deadening to instruction,” can “thwart the initiative of instructors,” and can “destroy the flexibility and individuality of an institution.”

Excessive testing takes time away from learning.

Excessive testing takes time away from learning.

Assessing our schools has a long history of research behind it. The Cooperative Study of Secondary School Standards laid out in great detail their methodology and the tools they used to evaluate the quality of schools. They concluded there are six elements within the school that should be used to judge quality of the learning experience: 1) Curriculum, 2) Pupil activities, 3) Library, 4) Guidance, 5) Instruction, and 6) Outcomes.

Accreditation in the United States http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1731/Accreditation-in-United-States.html

Accreditation in the United States http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1731/Accreditation-in-United-States.html

The school improvement process that was the focus of the original study was based on:

  • Ÿwhat the characteristics of a good school are,
  • Ÿhow you evaluate schools effectiveness in relation to its objectives,
  • Ÿhow a good school becomes better, and
  • Ÿhow to stimulate schools to continue to strive to become better.

The process is nothing new and it is being taught in some public institutions. An accreditation certification program at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) Extension System is one example. If you take a moment to glance through the list of topics covered, you’ll find it includes a multitude of ways to assess quality on everything from disaggregation of student data to analyzing community profiles.

To sustain an improvement process takes knowledgeable leadership. If we were serious about improving our public schools, we would quit handing over leadership training to private non-profits like the Broad Foundation’s Leadership Academy or Marc Tucker‘s “National” Institute for School Leadership. We would set standards for leadership training that included the best practices of school improvement processes. We would put quality control back in the public realm. We have no idea what these private philanthropic endeavors are teaching, but the country’s education system certainly is suffering under their leadership especially in the large urban school districts that they have taken over (last full paragraph is telling).

So to meet students’ needs a school improvement process must begin with a “needs assessment.” Various survey tools exist. We don’t need to reinvent any wheels to move forward.

From the Federation for Community Schools

From the Federation for Community Schools

Approximately 30 years after the Cooperative Study of Secondary School Standards, Effective Schools Research began to emerge. It gives us another framework by which we can approach school improvement. The Effective Schools Correlates are:

1) The principal’s leadership and attention to the quality of instruction;

2) A pervasive and broadly understood instructional focus;

3) An orderly, safe climate conducive to teaching and learning;

4) Teacher behaviors that convey the expectation that all students are expected to obtain at least minimal mastery; and

5) The use of measures of pupil achievement as the basis for program evaluation.

Approximately 30 more years passed and we now have Robert Marzano’s indicator framework developed around the Effective Schools Correlates with a bit more of a standards-aligned (standards-referenced) twist to the indicator system. The system is arranged in “levels” but should be worked on simultaneously.

 Level 1: A Safe and Orderly Environment That Supports Cooperation and Collaboration

Level 2: An Instructional Framework That Develops and Maintains Effective Instruction in Every Classroom

Level 3: A Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum Focused on Enhancing Student Learning

Level 4: A Standards-Referenced System of Reporting Student Progress

Level 5: A Competency-Based System That Ensures Student Mastery of Content

If you glance through the system of indicators, you’ll find that many of the “assessments” are simple low-cost surveys. But keep in mind; school evaluations need to be tailored to the schools needs. No one-size –fits-all mandate will suffice. “Stakeholder” participation in planning makes success more likely.

And as we know, schools don’t improve and then just stay that way. Students, parents, teachers, and leaders come and go; things change. Schools must see improvement as a continuous process, always striving to be better.

But, we do need oversight. So another “accountability” piece, that goes by various names (Quality Review, Inspection, Success, or Support Teams), is teams of “outside” evaluators. The long-standing recommendation is that a visit every five years is sufficient. If schools are having difficulties, more frequent visits are recommended.

These review teams could be established within state’s departments of education (once leaders are trained in sufficient numbers). State inspections could encompass such things as assessment of the curriculum assuring that it is broad and engaging, appraisal of teachers’ continuing education ensuring quality and sufficient learning opportunities are being offered, evaluation of the level of parental and family engagement opportunities and communications, and that there is satisfactory evidence that the school is conscientiously working towards improving rather than just complying with paperwork.

 Summary of Accountability Measures for Ensuring School Quality include,

  • An assessment of school needs (students, teachers, partners),
  • Establishment of indicators for improvement based on the needs assessment,
  • Continuous self-assessments of schools and classrooms,
  • Monitoring of student progress,
  • Monitoring of school progress based on the school’s indicators of quality, and
  • Evaluations by a Quality Review Team every 5 years or 1-2 years if needed.

“Common sense dictates that in order for students to achieve they must have appropriate opportunities to learn.” Wendy Schwartz – Opportunity To Learn Standards 

Opportunity to Learn (OTL) Assessments are “a range of measurable indicators that covered both classroom experience and the overall school environment.”… “The National Council on Education Standards and Testing (NCEST, 1992) asserted that OTL standards are necessary to help close the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students.”

We have ignored establishing opportunity-to-learn standards but I believe they are incorporated into a school accountability system such as what is described here.

Currently, there are multiple versions of these ideas. I have read at least eight “new” plans from eight different organizations. Terminology varies but the major ideas remain the same. What we do know with certainty is….

“…accountability should be geared towards continuous improvement.”

—Joseph Bishop, Opportunity to Learn Campaign

Fixing the National Accountability System: Based on Fact?

Part 3: Is the Marc Tucker Plan “a Fact-Based way forward”?

“Fact” according to Tucker: One of the most important conditions necessary to provide for professionals “is the design of the accountability system.” ?????? Who knew?

From my perspective as a professional, I never knew I needed to be concerned about an “accountability system.” And as many know, “In Finland, that word isn’t part of the education lexicon.”

But Mr. Tucker is an acknowledged “systems thinker” and an international expert whose opinion holds weight in D.C.. Surely he knows the truth about the country that has led the world in reforming their education system.

“The two most important factors explaining the success of the Finnish education system are: education has been a national priority for decades, and the system operates on trust.”

Truth is, the public trust in the U.S. public education system has been systematically eroded by political agendas and the propaganda to match it.

But on to another Tucker fact which actually has a broad base of agreement: The test-based accountability system
 we have in the United States—resulted in “very low teacher morale” and “has narrowed the curriculum for millions of students to a handful of subjects…” Tucker even went on to say:

“If we want broad improvement in student performance and we want to close the gap between disadvantaged students and the majority of our
students, then we will abandon test-based accountability and teacher evaluation as key drivers of our education reform program.”

It is great those facts were acknowledged, but the Tucker Plan DOES NOT abandon test-based accountability at all. It promises “tests would be much higher quality tests”… “And these high quality tests would cover the whole
 core curriculum, so subjects like history, literature, science, social studies, music and the arts would not be slighted.”

…Would not be slighted from being tested???!?!… This is “fixing” the problem?

More “facts” according to Mr. Tucker:

“When the ESEA [Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now called No Child left Behind] was first passed in 1965, the Congress assumed that, if they voted additional money that could only be used to aid in the education of poor and minority students, educators would know how to use that money effectively and the result would be improved student performance. ….In other words, if the students were not learning, the fault lay in the background of the students, not in any lack of competence or commitment in their teachers, and if more funds could be provided to teachers to cope with the students’ cultural disadvantages, then they would learn.”

Having studied the 1965 ESEA in much detail with information from a variety of sources, I can say this with certainty – NOT TRUE!

Tucker misrepresents the original law and then goes on to blame Congress for being mad about a lack of results when he says himself – in this paper – “data showed that the ESEA had indeed led to major gains for disadvantaged students.” (Koretz, Dan. “Educational Achievement: Explanations and Implications of Recent Trends”, Congress of the United States, Congressional Budget Office, August 1987)

Real facts about ESEA: The money did not go directly to teachers for them to spend as they saw fit. And the money was not only for “poor and minority” students. It was to address the needs of low-income students knowing that they tend to be concentrated in poorer communities, poorer states, and tended to be minority students.

There were five interconnected pieces supported through federal funding to the county and involved agencies:

  • Title I – financial assistance to local education agencies (schools) in support of children from low-income families,
  • Title 2 – money for school library resources, textbooks, and other instructional materials to provide access for all students in the State,
  •  Title 3 – supplementary educational centers and services to be made available to the entire community to provide services not currently offered in underserved areas but deemed vital to having kids ready to learn,
  •  Title 4 – The Cooperative Research Act to support educational research and training targeted at improving the quality of teaching, counseling, advising, and parental and community engagement practices to improve student achievement, and dissemination of that information,
  • Title 5 – State Departments of Education funding through this title is “to stimulate and assist in strengthening the leadership resources of State educational agencies” to assist states in identifying “educational problems, issues, and needs in the State.

(More details available here)

If Congress was led to believe that money went to teachers to use as they wished and it didn’t “work,” then the policy advisers in D.C. were ignorant or disingenuous and the history of the law distorted beyond recognition or understanding. I’m truly surprised that Mr. Tucker doesn’t know the history of ESEA any better than what he stated in this newest diatribe of his. His rendition was simplistic and erroneous.

So this topic of “national accountability” comes back to the fact that there is no reason for a test-based national/federal education accountability law. That is not what ESEA was – and in my humble and unheard opinion, nor should it ever be. We need to do away with the very idea that we can hold students and teachers “accountable” through high-stakes standardized testing dictated from above…..but let’s continue considering “facts.”

Another “FACT” as stated by Tucker is that;

education is a monopoly, so we need other ways of ensuring that the people delivering the service have strong incentives to work hard and deliver high quality at a reasonable cost.”

Monopoly means “the exclusive possession or control of something.” Who has had exclusive control over public education? There has never been a single person or entity possessing “exclusive control.” There are multiple “controllers”; some good, some bad. But public education has never been a true monopoly. The word “monopoly” has been used as a propaganda tool.

davekoller.com

davekoller.com

Currently, it is the powerful and their lobbyists that are controlling education policy.

And we are coming dangerously close to allowing the public education system to be controlled by a handful of individuals — a private monopoly by way of the international giant in education, Pearson Inc. with their cozy relationship to Mr. Tucker.

At this point, I’d like to know a fact or two myself (but I’m not really expecting answers); who made Marc Tucker King of Education Reform? How many share the throne with him? And why would we allow a non-representative of the People to direct education policy?

That is “Education without Representation.”

In a system that should operate on trust, we should NOT give power to the untrustworthy. All of those who have pushed the test-based accountability scheme should be dethroned.

To move forward based on facts, truth requires that we abandon our test-based federal accountability system, NOT fix it.

THE END

Fixing Our National Accountability System

Part 2: Propaganda With a Purpose?

Like all the official Marc Tucker position papers I’ve read, “Fixing Our National Accountability System” begins with testimonials.

This round of accolades begins with former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, David Driscoll, who is urging us to “stay the course” with Common Core without being clear about any good reason for the yearly testing associated with it. But there is no doubt that his opinion continues to be revered based on his former position even though Massachusetts winning standards were developed before his reign and he left that job before Common Core came into play there.

In endorsing Common Core, Driscoll seems to have changed his tune a bit from the time when he thought testing in 4th, 8th, and 10th grade was enough AND that it was important that everyone be able to see the tests (2001).

“We released the entire test so that everybody can see the test….And we think this is enormously important.

Why?

The Parents know what’s expected of kids. Teachers know. Schools know. There are no secrets. You can look at the questions. You can debate them.”

Driscoll clearly supports test-based accountability and supports Tucker’s positions. Is he unaware that teachers are not allowed to see the Common Core tests? Has he not thought about the “adaptive” nature of the online testing system limiting the ability for any adult to know for sure what the testing companies have decided to ask?

But Driscoll speaks in favor of Tucker’s plan by calling it a “fact-based way forward” on accountability. Jump aboard the bandwagon! Time for action!

The theme of “Fixing” is based on taking teachers from being treated like “blue-collar workers” to a “professional system of accountability.” But neither of Tucker’s analogies resonates with me. Actually, they struck a sour note.

I was raised in blue-collar country and I’m now a professional. Tucker missed the mark on understanding the essence of either of these groups of people but his words do have that certain “plain folks” appeal when read superficially.

For me, his words are condescending and insulting. My “blue-collar” friends are hard-working honest people that know what its like to put in a good days work. I’m glad I was brought up with those values. Tucker seems to think hard workers need to be “held accountable.” He seems to lack any comprehension of how productive American workers are in general. Rarely must they suffer “consequences” for their actions.

And to have Tucker go on to talk about how other countries “manage” their professionals? WOW! He has not deviated from his view that we are all just human capital ready to be molded to suit the needs of “the economy.” Oh Dear Hillary, some things never change!

It is repugnant to think that this country — this government — would follow the idea that “they” –  the government of the People – must “hold professionals accountable.”

Professionals hold themselves to a professional standard of practice. It is an internal human trait that the selection process, education and training, and continuing education of a profession are designed to identify, firmly establish, and foster. Rarely is government needed. The “bad apples” are the exceptions and the professions have their mechanisms in place to address those relatively rare issues.

Missing ?

Missing ?

Mr. Tucker obviously doesn’t understand good old fashion work ethics — blue-collar or “professional.”

And this Tucker paper did not start off looking like a “fact-based” plan. It reads like it was meant to give the impression that Tucker is against test-based accountability. The stage is set by bad-mouthing No Child Left Behind (not that it doesn’t deserve it). Tuckers’ words flow with the prevailing winds and if people don’t know any better, it reads as if Mr. Tucker himself had nothing to do with any of this. It is patronizing.

“It is particularly ironic that we are holding our teachers accountable, considering
 that it was not the teachers, but rather the public, school boards and the Congress that maintained for years a schools policy based on the use of cheap teachers, a policy that placed little value on teachers’ skills or mastery of subject matter, and deprived teachers of any hope of a real professional career in teaching and of any chance of gaining the kind of status enjoyed by high status professionals in the United States.

We got what we deserved.”

No! Children did not get what they deserved. Testing tests and taking tests limits their precious instructional time. Mr. Tucker pushed the outcome-based theory and pushes for “better” testing. So what is truly ironic is to see him now blame everyone else. Ironic, pathetic, or just a ploy?

This reeks of propaganda with a purpose. I hope people will see through the new soft sell PR for Common Core and test-based (outcome-based) accountability.

But to give Driscoll the benefit of the doubt about this being “fact-based,” I’ll dig further into the “facts” behind “Fixing Our National Accountability System”…. another day, soon.

 

Fixing Our National Accountability System: Part 1

The latest Marc Tucker publication from the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) is titled “Fixing Our National Accountability System.” I have so many issues with the title alone that it didn’t take long to decide that my responses would obviously require more than one blog.

First the words “Our National.” National means affecting the nation as a whole.

That IS the problem with our current U.S. education accountability law – No Child Left Behind (NCLB). That law put in place a test-based system that affected the whole nation in a negative way – no doubt about it.

Did it then go further and become a “federal” accountability mechanism? “Federal” means a union of states in which members agree to designate a central authority. Did NCLB do that? You bet it did! Our congressmen and women acted – and gave authority to the U.S. Department of Education to execute their law. NCLB is the federal education law of the land controlling the use of high-stakes standardized tests for “accountability” purposes.

And what about the word “accountability.” Mr. Tucker chose to use this definition; “Accountability: The obligation to bear the consequences for failure to perform.”

According to Mr. Tucker, “both Democrats and Republicans were angry with the nations teachers.” That’s how we got NCLB? That was America’s plan?

Teachers were always the target? I don’t think so; there is a much bigger target in “the plan” – but back to defining what Tucker is now talking about (or skirting around).

“Bear the consequences for failure”? To that I’d say, “you first Congress.” Congress should have corrected NCLB in 2007. Congress failed to perform. And it isn’t like there was a shortage of good suggestions that they were urged to act upon – since 2005.

And Mr. Tucker and his entourage have been pulling the strings for years by urging America to make a choice and threatening that it is tough choices or tough times. Consequences? There never will be consequences for all the big thinkers, planners, and propagandists. No responsibility; no consequences; no accountability.

"Mad Woman" found at http://fiftyfourandahalf.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/mad-woman.jpg and in homes across the country!

“Mad Woman” found at http://fiftyfourandahalf.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/mad-woman.jpg and in homes across the country!

As far as blogging about “Fixing” this mess created by Congress and the real movers and shakers in D.C., well, it will have to keep for another day. The steam coming out of my ears is fogging up my glasses.

Tough Choices or Tough Times

Tough choices? Not for our lawmakers. They never entertained the alternative to the Tucker plan so they had no real choices to make. Tough times? Yes, especially for those of us that had kids in impoverished districts while this cow manure came down on us.

http://www.lawyer-jokes.mytwotails.com/

http://www.lawyer-jokes.mytwotails.com/

Susan Ohanian can tell you all about the High-Powered Panel that put together and endorsed the 2006 release of another creation from Marc Tucker’s think tank, National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). This one was labeled – Tough Choices or Tough Times. Same theory, same plan, new wording.

In “Tough Choices,” a dozen or so problems were identified. Then, the Tucker gang offered 10 steps necessary to development of their system. I’ll just use the first one to demonstrate the problem I see with “the think” coming out of this tank.

Step 1: Assume that we will do the job right the first time.

That is a great statement. Totally agree. Details?

The Tucker Plan: Create a set of Board Examinations based on a set of standards set at the “expectations” that are “no lower than the standards for entering community colleges in the state without remediation.”tough-times-ahead

Common Core Controversy followers; does that sound familiar?

Just a Parent’s Plan (mine): Let’s assume “we must do things right the first time; let’s call it the ‘R rule.’

We must be wiser in choosing how we educate. We are obliged to consider the potential effect our decisions have on children before we put them into action in the classroom. And we have got to receive feedback and take it seriously. It’s time to acknowledge that what we do in first grade sets the stage for the reading, writing, and math skills children need for the rest of their lives. Our actions need to speak to that fact. Mistakes can be devastating” (The Crucial Voice, page 12).

“First grade must be a successful experience for all children. The only way to ensure success ‘happens’ for all is with proper guidance and personalized attention to the learning and developmental needs of the child. That will only be accomplished through exceptional, specially trained teachers in small classes” (page 90).

Tough Choice? For parents, I don’t think so.

What I hope is that our toughest times in education reform are now behind us.

America’s Choice: High Skills or Low Wages

Is America’s choice the Marc Tucker plan? High skills or low wages are the only choices being offered? Care to look at the details of this plan?

For those unfamiliar with Mr. Tucker, Lynn M. Stuter describes him as “an avid supporter of and advocate for systems education, known also by a plethora of names. Most notably, it is outcome-based education. Other names include performance-based education (PBE), competency-based education (CBE), outcomes driven developmental model (ODDM), and outcomes-driven education (ODE).”

The Tucker plan is explained by the Eagle Forum as being “designed on the German system, the Tucker plan is to train children in specific jobs to serve the workforce and the global economy…” And the Forum goes on to outline the policies that have supported the plan thus far.

The Tucker plan centers on national standards, assessments, and certifications for “mastery”; it is the outcome-based theory taken to an extreme and tied securely to the labor force through data systems.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/09/24/05summit.h34.html

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/09/24/05summit.h34.html

The history is sometimes hard to follow because the “organizations” and their “projects” change names on a regular basis. But many agree that a pivotal point in “the plan” moving forward was “a two-day summit at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Sept. 27-28, 1989.

What began at Charlottesville was a long march of a bipartisan [movement] to fundamentally change the system,” said Mr. Tucker, who served as an unofficial consultant to the cadre of officials involved in developing the goals [America 2000]. “It had good results and bad, but it survived changes in administration in a way that few things did. It was not A Nation at Risk that did that. It was Charlottesville.”

For us, this is one more demonstration of “the influential” pushing policy forward. From New York where “Rochester schools were the designated laboratories for an experiment in nationalizing education,” the Tucker plan quickly spread to D.C.

HEADLINE NEWS: New American Schools Development Corporation (page 75) The National Alliance for Restructuring Education “has as its 
goal a Total Quality Management (TQM), output-driven, performance-oriented system of education with students meeting high national achievement standards.”

Based on the perception (one later disproved by the Sandia Report) that a “strong general education” was lacking in our country, the Tucker plan gained steam with the publication of America’s Choice: High Skills or Low Wages.

Over and over the same words were used, the same reasoning given, and the same plan explained. As Ira Magaziner and Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated:

“We grow by having every American worker produce more…

A new educational performance standard should be set for all students, to be met at or around 16. This standard should be established nationally and benchmarked to the highest in the world….”

The vision is based on “a national examination system” like the “New Standards Project.” When students pass the test, they are awarded a “Certificate of Initial Mastery.” Technical and professional training “would be offered across the entire range of services and manufacturing occupations” because training by employers was seen as “lacking” so the government would take over through the new public school system and “public technical assistance” – according to the Tucker plan.

This is a “total system” of school to work. Dropouts? No. “Children should not be permitted to work before the age of 18 unless they have a Certificate of Initial Mastery or are enrolled in a program to obtain it (America’s Choice, page 6).

The Tucker plan was further clarified in his personal Letter to Hillary Clinton where he shares what his ideal system would look like.

Dear Hillary

…We think the great opportunity you have is to remold the entire American system for human resources development…

…We have a national system of education in which curriculum, pedagogy, examinations, and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards…

…We have a system that rewards students who meet the national standards with further education and good jobs, providing them a strong incentive to work hard in school…

…All students are guaranteed that they will have a fair shot at reaching the standards: that is, that whether they make it or not depends on the effort they are willing to make, and nothing else…

The letter is very detailed leaving no doubt that the vision is for one system to be “regulated on the basis of outcomes that providers produce for their clients, not inputs into the system.”

Giving children “a fair shot”?

Add to this the plan to have  “All available front-line jobs — whether public or private — must be listed in it [The Labor Market System] by law.”

This is a vision for developing a totalitarian education/labor system. “The State” (my quotation marks here) will hold total authority over standards, testing, certification, and job placement – of America’s children. This is America’s choice?

With access to quality education still left up to luck and location, this is “a fair shot’? Really?

25 years after the Charlottesville, Virginia meeting, is it possible that these people, that are paid to think, put all our chips on the wrong vision for America? Did they ever stop to think about that?

Our "chips"; our plan?

Our “chips”; our plan?

But, we should not hang Marc Tucker out to dry alone; he had plenty of support in his efforts…too numerous to mention today.

The big question is, what does America think of the Tucker plan? And do we see its similarities to The Common Core?

Time to make a choice, America.

Quit gambling, or keep betting on the same outcome-based theory that has a 30 year history of no returns on investment.

Keeping US Divided

Follow the leaders!

Follow the leaders!

News from the frontlines of the education reform war!

News! Dateline April 21, 2014: Resistance to Common Core Mounts!

Criticism comes from the right and left, “from tea partyers to union leaders” but, meanwhile, “high-profile friends of the common core are manning the barricades to defend the standards against the ongoing pushback and open new fronts in the battle for public attention.”

So as we united for a cause…. more breaking news…

News! Dateline June 10,2014: Judge Rejects Teacher Tenure in California!

The result we should all be concerned about is the expectation for “the case to generate more like it in cities and states around the country.”

Ten days later, we have something other than Common Core for people to talk about and it just happens to be a hot button, extremely divisive topic that has ordinary citizens turning into vial-mouthed lunatics spewing hatred at each other on social media.

The media set the stage for battle; anti-teacher’s union crowd versus pro-union.

Where does that leave those of us that want to see improvement in teaching conditions and learning climates? …

The think tank groups and policy experts like Marc Tucker think, “War appears to be imminent.”

Tucker needs to get out more. The union versus anti-union fight has been billed as part of education reform for years! The “well funded coalition” has continued their work in a style that can only be bought.

How unions got to be “the single most important obstacle to real education reform,” I confess, I do not know … and I have written extensively about the problems in public schools, experienced numerous issues both firsthand as a student and secondhand as a parent, searched the research and country for solutions, and did my best to put the problems into the context of solutions in my writing. But this one escaped me. In all the years that I tried to improve my local schools, it was never a union standing in my way. Nor were they helpful, but, they were not the barriers to improvement that I encountered.

Update 7/23/19: I do know how unions became the target of the political ed reform charlatans —Lamar Alexander created the campaign.

A RIDDLE IN A PLAID SHIRT by David Jackson, CHICAGO TRIBUNE 3/9/96

Meanwhile, and for a very, very long time, the majority opinion – documented by public opinion poll after poll – is that improving teacher education should be the highest priority when it comes to school improvement…It is the long ignored national priority. Why don’t we focus on it?

Enter: The law of political diversion!

Will we let ourselves be fooled again? Distracted and divided?

“Just” Standards

“These standards are just that—they are standards.” These are the words used by Luci Willits of Idaho State Department of Education, Chief of Staff to Tom Luna, as she introduced Common Core to our Senate Education Committee (1/19/11). And you will hear that sentiment parroted by others;

“The standards are just that: standards.” Bill Gates (2/12/14)

But when you look further, you can find the claim that,

“When the grant [Race to the Top] was put forth, the State Department of Education went to the colleges to ensure that any student who passes these standards will be able to go to any college without the need of remedial training.”

Standards DON’T “ensure” student success. Somehow, these standards became magical standards. And all of Idaho’s major colleges and universities stood with arms locked in testimony to the Core.

Standards are “just” guides. But these standards —The Common Core Standards — are much, much more. They are the Trojan Horse of systemic transformation.

But Idaho’s department of education went even further in claiming…

“There is also tremendous cost-savings associated with these standards; Idaho will be able to get the test it has always wanted but never been able to pay for.”

Who will pay? The same magician sprinkling fairy dust, or, will we all be paying the pied piper?

Lawmakers across the country are being asked to judge whether this is the change that is best for children, families, and communities. How will they make the call when the horse is so attractive?

Expose what is in the belly of the beast. The foundational principles, or the assumptions that are made by those in power, are what is important to understand.

Look inside!

Look inside!

  • The State will decide what education outcomes are important based on economic data.
  • Local control is a barrier that can be gotten around by training school board members properly (decided by the Broad Foundation?).
  • Lay-citizen participation in governance of schools should be weakened “in favor of control by politicians, especially governors, elected positions in general government.” (Marc Tucker, Governing American Education, page 44)

Real school improvement involves “lay-citizens.” But that is not how it is seen from above.

I know many people believe that private industry can do a better job than public institutions. But please think about what happens when private associations and organizations are using the law to their benefit – monetarily or for political power – what will be the true cost to taxpayers?

In Idaho, as it would seem to be the case across the country, the seemingly innocent policy of strategic planning and training of school boards is being put into law. It is putting the governing of schools at the local level in jeopardy.

Strategic planning is not necessarily a school improvement process; it all depends on who does the “training” and what “curriculum” they are using. What will those in control be “leveraging” our board members to do?

Close the gate (so to speak). Keep the Trojan Horse out!

Decide how schools will be governed. It matters!