Congress’s role in governing our republic includes the responsibility to create necessary and proper laws within the authoritative boundaries of constitutional powers. But the current process by which a bill becomes a law desecrates the Founder’s ideals. The “institutional defenses” built into the constitution have been eroded by the malicious use of deception and disregard for ethical principles.
“The most significant danger old republics like ours face is not the sudden assault of an aspiring autocrat but the slow erosion of their cultural and institutional defenses.” The Fall of Rome and the Lessons for America
Here’s How A Recent Data Bill Went Through Congress
“Laws begin as ideas” so they can come from any of us, ideally. But in today’s reality, it’s more likely a special interest group will solicit one of our representatives to move their proposal into law. Enter (in this case) the technology industry — through the Data Summit and the Data Quality Campaign that was launched in 2005.
By 2008, Idaho was the last state in the nation to have a longitudinal data collection system “that provides individual level student data across multiple years from grades K through 12 and into postsecondary education.” (Report to the Idaho Legislature)
With the Great Recession holding the country’s attention, both the Bush and Obama administrations loosened a major privacy law allowing expansion of data collection and its use in “research” on a Human Capital Development Data System.
Acceptance of federal stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, Recovery Act) served as an incentive for completion of the project to collect, share, and link student data between agencies and across states.
FERPA has yet to be changed back to requiring parental notification and consent to share student data.
One strategy used to put these data collection systems in place was to NOT have open discussions or public debates.
State Longitudinal Data Systems Best Practices included “EFFECTIVE” Communications. In this case that means NOT allowing “open forums.” It means communicating the right message.
The “do not engage” practice moved the project along at the state level. Next up was federal legislation, which requires the kind of broad support that only money can buy these days.
The messaging needed to be just right. The “best practice” of not exposing an idea to too many people, or too much scrutiny, was taken to the next level — to both houses of congress with both political parties involved. The adoption of a federal data consolidation bill began by asking for a commission to study the idea. It was approved by a Voice Vote.
They were only asking for a study to be done. … No big deal.
A Voice Vote means there is no record of individual votes.
Three Months Later, The Report Was Released
D.C. Think Tanks and other organizations rejoiced! The public remained uninformed.
It didn’t take long for the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking bill to emerge.
Note: Senator Patty Murray mentioned “federal agencies” — plural. This is no small deal. This is huge!
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill under suspension of rules —by Voice Vote!
That was on November 15, 2017 —2017 pre-holidays —and Twitter lit-up in protest.
Throughout the holiday season education activists watched for movement of the bill in the Senate. Pre-Christmas had become a favored time for education bills to quickly become law. This time nothing happened. Had it died in committee? NOPE!
DECEMBER 19, 2018….2018.…real close to Christmas….and it passed by Unanimous Consent — theSenate’s version of a Voice Vote (no roll call, no individual record).
December 20, 2018 —Back to the House.
DECEMBER 21 —the Friday before Christmas with a Lame Duck Congress at 4:14 PM—the House did a roll call vote TO SUSPEND THE RULES. The bill known as HR4174 (FEPA – Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking) officially passed both houses of congress. But the story doesn’t end. Congress recessed.
The bill did not go immediately to the president’s desk. If it had and he did not sign it within 10 days, this bill would have been killed by what is called a “pocket veto.” But if Congress is in session and the president does not sign the bill within 10 (working?) days, it becomes law.
JANUARY 2, 2019 —FEPA HR4174 (sister to Washington Sen. Murray’s S.2046) went to the president’s desk.
Today is January 14th. My senators are not answering their phones at 4:14 PM. Nor is the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee (the one that slipped this bill out of committee a year after activist had eyes on it).
So, WHAT’S In The BILL? Better question: What is not in the bill?
The public is being told that the recommendations made by the FEPA Commission were followed. They were not. Data privacy recommendations were ignored.
“The Commission’s recommendations for improved data access and strong privacy protections rely heavily on the establishment of the National Secure Data Service [NSDS]. … The Commission envisions that the National Secure Data Service will operate an effective and efficient service that can be held accountable by policymakers and the American public.” The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking
Here is what the public should have heard debated.
“Even where data has been de-identified it is still possible to combine certain data sets with others to determine extensive amounts of personal information.”
“…there are real challenges to ensure that the creation of the NSDS does not create a centralized repository of data on Americans, like the proposed National Data Center which was broadly opposed by the public and led to the enactment of the Privacy Act.” Electronic Privacy Information Center
Please, take a good look at the graphic truth about public education in America.
National leaders and much of the media repeatedly call the system “failed.” That is their version of the graphic truth. They point to test scores as “evidence.” President Trump described the institution as an …
“education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.”
“… it’s true that the United States spends quite a bit, relatively speaking, on education, and test results are fairly disappointing.”
But let’s dig deeper into the Trump/DeVos “facts.”
Look closer at the Graphic Truth About Spending and OutcomesTotal costs DID rise dramatically. So did employees. But why?Blame the teacher’s union? Not so fast.Look closer at “The OtherHalf.”
“America now spends a greater percentage of its education funding on non-teachers than any other country in the world besides Denmark.” CBS News
And the Graphic Truth About Our Education “Outcomes”?
In the news article previously referenced, the reporter states that…
“…tests that try to measure how American students stack up to their peers show that the US is far from No. 1. On the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). … American 15-year-olds scored as average in science and reading and were below average in math.”
Below average in math is what makes the headlines. But to this reporter’s credit, she also stated that…
“Another test with different methodology found American students fared better but still scored below Singapore, Japan, Korea, and Russia.”
That other “test” she referred to is TIMSS (Trends in Math and Science Study). It is a study with test results being ONLY one portion of the study —the only portion that makes the news.How about progress on our own national test (NAEP – National Assessment of Educational Progress)?
We made huge progress — until we stalled.
And now, the public education system must defend itself against its current education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who sees traditional public schools as “a dead end.” She, and our other political leaders, need to see the graphic truth about our national progress in a broader historic perspective.
Dead end? Hardly.
Ending illiteracy was a primary reason for developing the public education system. Progress was most definitely made …. until it wasn’t!
This graph was made to help justify No Child Left Behind. NOW, it should be used to demonstrate WHY NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND WAS SUCH A COSTLY FAILURE.
*The following is a MUST KNOW Small but Essential Piece of Education Reform History*
During the 60’s, the nation began making universal efforts (through the force of law) to offer educational opportunity to ALL of America’s children.
To help monitor our progress towards that goal, NAEP was designed to provide a randomized sample of education-related information. NAEP provided statistics for researchers to monitor and help guide the nation’s schools towards equal access to quality education. It was not a tool for ENFORCING accountability where it matters most. Unfortunately, the scores have become a weapon.
So if you look back at the colored NAEP charts, you can see that the country was indeed showing MARKED improvement in basic reading and mathematics skills for groups of children that typically were being under-served (disadvantaged groups). And we were making this progress without detriment to the majority group. That was exactly what we wanted to be doing.
Given what was happening in schools and society at the time, a “flat-line” in the early years of NAEP was perfectly acceptable. But yes, we believe it isn’t good enough to remain educationally stagnant especially with such dramatically increasing costs. However, that is why the public needs to understand a bit more of the politics behind the statistics.
Where Congress Took A Wrong Turn
In 1976, Congress began the policy change FROM federal funding focused on meeting the needs of disadvantaged children TO funding achievement in “basic academic subjects.” That took the public’s focus off indicators of educational equity and quality and put it on the simplistic measure of higher test scores.
By 1992, standards-based (outcome-focused) education had taken over the states. Education reform plans were “built solely around achievement tests.”
And it didn’t take long for the money-making predators in the education industry to see where profits were to be made. The public was told the restructuring of schools was for our own good — to remain economically competitive internationally. The reality: those selling “education products” benefited most.
The quest for higher “scores” in basic subjects cost the nation in multiple ways.
Truth Be Told: Education is more than a score!Before the takeover of educational improvement by political and corporate leaders, we led the world in higher educational attainment.
This Graphic Truth was provided by Sandia National Researchers in 1991.
And after the federalization (NCLB) of Outcome-Based Education Reform???? Look at the graphic truth. From 2000 to 2016, we went FROM being second only to Canada (36% to their 40%) TO having four other countries surpass us.
We were TOLD we needed “higher standards” and they must be “benchmarked” internationally (Common Core).
Yet, we had cultivated educational excellence in our best and brightest —in this country— without common national standards.
This Graphic Truth is provided by Dr. David Berliner.
So why would we want to “benchmark” basic academic standards to these other countries? … ?
We are a productive people.
This Graphic Truth is provided by Dr. David Berliner.
And before No Child Left Behind (2001) and Common Core (2010) wreaked tyranny upon the local control of education, most PARENTS were satisfied with their local public schools.
Politicians and other leaders —with political and monetary agendas— disrupted our educational progress, upset parents and teachers, and decreased the quality of education for many children. They restructured our schools into a standardized, outcome-focused gutted version of what was a great system.
That is what we have allowed.
A Call To Action is Overdue
If this country now wishes to stop the destruction of public schools, we have to take action. The current leadership has no intention of preserving and improving public schools.
“Options” are taking away money … harming the children left behind. Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP Source: Clarion Ledger
To save this system from the current destructive forces of federal law and those administering their wrath upon this nation’s public schools, a wide-reaching Congressional Oversight Hearing concerning the actions of Secretary DeVos are warranted and necessary as a first step.
Then Congress needs to go back to the drawing board on federal education law and MAKE IT RIGHT this time. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) did not fix what was wrong with No Child Left Behind.
“Pay for Success” sounds good. And the argument for Pay for Success is made more inviting because federal, state, and local governments are cash-strapped. The public will only have to pay for programs that are successful — as determined by metrics and independent reviewers. Pay for Success appears viable and inviting.
These financial transactions are basically “Social Impact Bonds.” Those with large sums of money invest in “social innovation.”
But with BIG MONEY betting on making money from “innovative” education reforms, with early childhood education being the flavor of the year, what impact can we anticipate?
What unintended negative consequences are foreseeable?
HERE’S THE PROBLEM INVESTORS INTEND TO SOLVE: Head Start programs can’t accommodate demand for their services. Funding was cut in 2013, restored (?) in 2015, but damage was done. (I know my state still has a waiting list — demand is high, good market.)
HERE’S THE PROBLEM TAXPAYERS SHOULD CONSIDER: The same “investors” both created the problem and plan to solve it. Instead of lawmakers expanding, strengthening, and improving Head Start as the economy improved, private investors are taking the lead on early childhood education —eventually using our money.
Click to enlarge and TAKE NOTE: The First Five Years Fund ( FFYF ) focuses on increasing FEDERAL investments in early childhood education through “messaging”(????) etc.
“…investment banks pay for public services to be contracted out to private providers and stand to earn much more money than the cost of the service…The Every Student Succeeds Act [ESSA] of 2016, the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, directs federal dollars toincentivize these for-profit educational endeavors significantly legitimizing and institutionalizing them.”
Hum. Make the scheme legal and cement profiting, for Wall Street banks and other investors, into the inner workings of the institution of public education.
Doesn’t it seem like this combination of millionaires and billionaires could outright provide preschool services if they wanted to? Make no mistake; this is about investments. Will this group be pocketing Pay for Success money? We have to wait and see. But by the time the deal is done, it is done. Chances are we won’t know much about the full deal — until it’s too late.
But we do know the messages being spread. Pay for Success functions as an “accountability” mechanism. Accountability? Just like under No Child Left Behind?
“In theory,… the government only pays the funder if the program meets the metrics. If the program exceeds the metrics, then the investor can receive bonus money making the program much more expensive for the public and highly lucrative for the banks.”
Who sets the metrics?
Recall the cheating scandals over test scores — the “metric” central to No Child Left Behind (NCLB now ESSA)?
We learned a lesson. Didn’t we?
But supposedly, Pay for Success is a better way for us to go forward because…
“it creates a ‘market incentive’ for a bank or investor to fund a social program when allegedly there is not the political will to support the expansion of public services.”
What? When? We don’t want to pay for public services?
Now their marketing says we do support investing in early childhood education. What a difference three years makes! Survey says….We have a unifying issue! Invest now!Legitimate surveys have always shown we support a PUBLIC school system.
“People pay their taxes(and expect corporations to do so as well) in part because they want the government to deliver good services to the people who need them.”
This really is another example of Us versus Them — Main Street versus Wall Street. And Wall Street is running a new game. We pay; they play.
“[Pay for Success] Contracts are so convoluted and complicated that what normally would take a month to do takes two years and with financial arrangements so complicated that a university professor in financial management ‘still needed help understanding the financing.’”
Shades of “credit default swaps” — those Wall Street “innovative financial instruments” of Main Street destruction.
If you read Saltman’s whole article, be forewarned. The facts about their propaganda centered on early childhood education services is enough to make a person gag … Suddenly Wall Street cares about Main Street? Right. They are for Us.
Is Pay for Success promising better education at a lower price than what we now pay? Sounds too good to be true?
Their game is going to be tough to follow. Please try.
ESSA gives authority to Pay for Success through the Secretary of Education (Betsy DeVos). It also gives her a funding stream for start-up costs for new charter preschools. In addition, there is a focus on rural schools. And ESSA provides transportation costs for the first year of those charters. After that, you will pay out of your state and local pockets of public cash for increasing transportation costs. That in-turn will create a market for more online rural schools. The quality of education?
Remember, this portion of their game started back during the recession.
So let’s go back to that Wall Street induced Great Recession. It was tighten-your-belt time. Crisis. Definitely. Budgets had to be cut? Absolutely. What’s the first to go? The big-ticket state item — education. But every time this happens, local people step up. Most of us willingly fund education. In most states preschools are funded for at least the most needy. Only six states don’t support Head Start or other early childhood education.
Do we need more access to quality preschools? Probably. But is Pay for Success the best investment for taxpayers?
“New Profit—a ‘venture philanthropy fund’ with a board that boasts Bain Capital executives and other investment leaders—launched an advocacy arm in 2007, innocuously named America Forward. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the grouprecommended that his transition team establish a ‘social innovation fund.'”
President Obama went for it. He even established “the first-ever White House Office of Social Innovation.” Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, now leads that office. Kushner’s plans? To remodel our workforce training programs….OUR public programs.
President Obama’s Social Innovation Fund is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Who knew?
“…three foundations have played particularly significant roles: the Rockefeller Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation…. all three foundations have funded the Government Performance Lab at Harvard, established in 2011, that helps implement and expand Pay for Success initiatives. Jeffrey Liebman, who served in the Obama administration as the deputy director for policy at the OMB, runs the Harvard center.”
To be clear, we have a privately-funded private school performance lab reviewing the metrics for Pay for Success. Remember, it is private investors who will be paid for “success.” How independent will the reviews be?
And in case you didn’t catch this fact, the law began under Obama’s administration and the person heading the lab worked for the Obama administration. …. My head is spinning faster than a revolving door!
Disruptive “innovation”? A cycle in need of stopping.
The people coming up with these schemes have so much money they don’t know what to do with it. What these people know is that they don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes. So through OUR lawmakers, they set-up tax credits, loopholes, and under-the-radar innovative financial instruments to be legal tax-dodgers ….. The result: we can’t fund quality social services, our way. That’s how they create problems — for us.
And Ms. Cohen goes on to point out…
“…at its worst, Pay for Success can leave taxpayers paying substantially more than if their governments had just funded programs directly….”
What are the chances they can demonstrate real success? Well, investors are hedging their bets. By choosing to invest in already successful programs (the ones we already know work), their risk becomes minimal. And there is nothing innovative about their “new products” other than the funding mechanism and a new name for some old programs we previously had to cut.
So let’s remember, this plan unfolding before us is about the public service of educating young, very impressionable children. It isn’t just money at risk. Childhood is.
With Pay for Success funding early childhood education programs, we are putting our trust in a financial scheme headed by the same investors who caused the Great Recession — Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, da, da-da, da. Think they have changed their ways? They would like you to think so.
What I don’t understand is the country discarding a successful education system that was the envy of the world for almost 200 years— until the education oligarchy took over.
We need to stop this lopsided deal for expanding public-private partnerships. It is taking total control over educating all our youngest citizens and placing them into a workforce/military development system. And with funders now teaming up with the charter alliance, this has gone too far! It’s a double whammy!
With only 17% of charters shown to outperform public schools, coupling of the First Five Years group with the Charter Alliance is risky….for children and taxpayers alike.
The game is rigged. The cards are stacked against us. We know that.
“…the model is appropriate only for a narrow cohort of nonprofits that meet two related criteria: they must be able to effectively deliver and measure their social impact; and they must be able to translate that impact into financial benefits or cost savings that are traceable to the budgets of one or more institutions or government departments.
Although the potentialsocial benefits of PFS [Pay for Success] appear to be real, one cannot ignore the likelihood of unintended negative consequences….”
Haven’t we subjected our country’s children to enough “unintended negative consequences”?
It is time to knockdown the house of cards.
Pay for Success is only one item that is wrong with The Every Student Succeeds Act. Demand congress repeal ESSA before the trump card is played.
Cartoon provided by Ben Garrison. Visit his site at GrrrGraphics!
Still waiting on leaders to fix health care? And how many decades have we listened to talk about fixing the education system? But, did you know that both these systems are suffering from the same problem?
“Make America great again”? We can’t do that without understanding what changed America. Until then, we spin our wheels, dig ourselves in deeper, and allow the expanding swamp to be refilled.
The problem? We switched drivers — from leaders believing in progress to those driven by outcome-based data, money, and their own arrogance. Our drivers own the world and dictate the rules.
We the People? We don’t know which way to turn. But even if we did, we can’t move forward because we’re stuck in the muck.
Health care, social security, the justice system, the environment, education, on and on — all the major social problems are being kicked down the road. And we are stuck in debt up to our eyeballs while our social safety net develops ever-widening holes.
Most of the holes were created by us and what we don’t know.
“The physicians say the increased use of quality metrics to assess provider performance is having a negative impact on quality of care. Far fewer (22 percent) see quality metrics as having a positive impact on quality.
Nearly half (47 percent) of physicians and just over a quarter (27 percent) of nurse practitioners and physician assistants say the recent trends in healthcare are leading them to consider an earlier retirement.”
Source: NPR Suicides are up. Tracking outcomes isn’t what these people needed us to do.
Physicians and teachers are facing the same problems.
Where we once had community hospitals (schools), we now have health care (charter) management organizations. They control a data-driven system with an eye towards cost-cutting through technology. The technology industry and health treatment (education market) industries are flourishing.
If we can’t gain control of our own local school systems, what hope do we have of solving our other more complex problems?
When leaders put Standards Based Reforms (SBR) in federal education law, we were trapped in the education metrics of outcome-based reforms.
Once we drop the fallacy that Standards-Based Reforms are a silver bullet, true education reform will be possible.
Statistics now prove what many believe. Standards don’t ensure student achievement. The focus on monitoring outcomes ignores the problems created by separate and unequal schools.
The misconception is that setting “higher, better” standards improves schools. It doesn’t.
Do you know why No Child Left Behind (NCLB) didn’t improve schools? SBR. And the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) perpetuates the same problem. SBR.
“Now we risk setting national curriculum standards instead of recognizing that children need us to identify their individual strengths and weaknesses and work with them to attain a level of mastery of the classroom curriculum as outlined in a locally agreed upon instructional framework.
This isn’t a philosophy that gets away from being held accountable to a standard; it’s one that is responsible for meeting the needs of the individual student along with educational standards.” The Crucial Voice of the People
That is a description of standards-referenced education, not standards-based (NOT the Outcome-Based Theory).
But the country is stuck because our tax dollars for education continue to be spent on SBR, not invested in us.
“We’re stuck because our focus, our funding priorities, and our personal beliefs and attitudes are failing to serve our country.
We are stuck in the standardization of children ditch because we set test scores as our goal—in law and in the minds of Americans.” The Crucial Voice of the People
Metrics rule. Plus, we have not listened to people with a passion for teaching and compassion for children.
“In the last several years, with the continuing emphasis on using data to drive instruction, I find myself increasingly skeptical about what we do to ‘benefit’ students. …
Data seems to be the driver of much educational policy today, even when it means we force students into increased time with their weakest subjects, and excluding content that might intrigue them. We marvel at the lack of engagement while we simultaneously impose rigid interventions…
I’m very concerned that our fixation on data has become more important than the engagement of students in topics that might lead them to important self-realizations of competency… It often feels like teachers are working in a system designed for disengagement, while at the same time being evaluated on their skill at maintaining engagement! …
Regardless of my knowledge or enthusiasm, I’m still expected to march as a good soldier with what I see as an archaic system…
Our current models mean we–teachers, administrators, and students–fixate more on ‘grades’ than learning. I can no longer grow as an educator when I feel confined by parameters that fail to prioritize self-discovery and lifelong learning–for all of us.” — Cindy McDonald (A Now Retired Teacher)
We are losing compassionate and passionate public servants. Our public services are trapped in the metrics of Outcome-Based Reforms because we aren’t controlling how our money is spent.
The more automated our human services become, the less service we are providing to humans. People are getting frustrated and blaming the government.
But consider this. The government is not run by people representative of us. Our government is run by the rich, ultra-rich, and the greedy who are willing to look the other way when it comes to using our lawmaking process for their own benefit. Palms are being greased. The “grease” keeps the swamp slimy.
And it is the arrogance of these ultra-rich people, telling us what is best for us, that we should no longer tolerate.
We’re the ones that need to roll up our sleeves and drain the swamp.
To clean House, we need an election revolution every two years until we’re no longer stuck but rather making real progress again.
In writing about the House of Representatives, James Madison said, “They in a word hold the purse” (Federalist No. 58).
The Constitution: Article I SECTION. 7 “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives…”
“The greater the power is, the shorter ought to be its duration” (Federalist No. 52: Madison). Thus, Article I SECTION. 2 “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People…”
“As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power” (Federalist No. 49: Madison), we are central to our own progress as a nation. And to restrain the House requires “above all the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it (Federalist No. 57: Madison).”
Call it an electoral revolt or call it an election revolution. Call it what you will. It is what our nation’s fathers directed us to do. It will nourish progress.
We filled the swamp; we can drain it. And we can refill it with representatives that will invest in the human side of both health care and education….or we drain it again…in two years time.