trickle down (2)

Much is going on in the wide world of education. Every time I’m ready to wrap up this post, something new comes across the wires so let’s get started.

First up:

Thanks to our state legislators who understand the negative ramifications of tying test scores to teacher evaluations, the bill that would have brought new meaning to the term “high stakes testing” was shot down even after Arne Duncan had a special meeting with our Governor explaining to him the importance of the Federal government determining local education policy.

It will behoove all of us to remember the members of our state Congress who voted this bill down. They will need our support in upcoming elections. Big money was behind this bill and they are not likely to go away after this defeat.

From Diane Ravitch:

BREAKING NEWS: Duncan Withdraws NCLB Waiver from Washington State

The Education Department is pulling Washington state’s No Child Left Behind waiver because the state has not met the department’s timeline for tying teacher evaluations to student performance metrics.

Washington is the first state to lose its waiver. The loss will give local districts less flexibility in using federal funds.

For instance, they may now be required to spend millions on private tutoring services for at-risk students. The waiver revocation could also result in nearly every school across the state being labeled as failing under NCLB.

Washington had pledged in its waiver application to make student growth a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluations by the 2014-15 school year. But the state Legislature refused to pass a bill mandating that student performance on statewide assessments be included in teacher evaluations. The department placed the state on “high-risk” status in August. Arizona, Kansas and Oregon are also at risk of losing their waivers. (Politico)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan handed out numerous waivers to states to avoid the 2014 deadline in the No Child Left Behind law.

Under the law, every state must assure that every single child in grades 3-8 is proficient on state tests of reading and mathematics.

No state met the deadline. If the law remains in effect (it was supposed to be reauthorized in 2007, but gets extended year after year), every state would be declared a failed state, and virtually every public school in the United States would be closed or privatized or suffer some other sanction for failing to meet an impossible goal. It bears pointing out that no nation in the world can claim that 100% of its students are proficient in reading and math.

But Duncan didn’t hand out waivers wholesale. Instead, he made the waiver conditional on the state agreeing to accept his conditions, which were similar to the conditions in Race to the Top. In effect, states are now following Race to the Top requirements but without the prize money.

One of the central conditions of the waiver, like Race to the Top, was that states must agree to evaluate their teachers and principals based to a significant degree on the test scores of their students.

Washington State has failed to create such a system. Today Arne Duncan withdrew Washington State’s NCLB waiver to punish it for failing to do as he demanded.

Perhaps legislators in Washington State noticed that this method of evaluating teachers and principals has failed wherever it was tried.

Perhaps they read the joint report of the National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association, which cautioned that “value-added measurement” was inaccurate and unstable, and that it measures who is in the classroom rather than teacher quality. The legislators probably did not have a chance to read the recent report of the American Statistical Association, which also cautioned on the use of VAM, because of its imprecision and its unintended effects. But they may have read Stanford Professor Edward Haertel’s advice that states should not set numerical percentages for the use of test scores to evaluate teachers. All of these reports reach the same conclusion: that Duncan’s favorite solution to raising teacher quality does not have evidence to support it.

Let’s hope that Washington State says no to the illegitimate demands of the Secretary of Education. Duncan is overreaching. He is not the nation’s superintendent of schools. He should learn about federalism and about the limited role of the federal government in the area of education.

Meanwhile, I hope that the state of Washington sues the Secretary of Education and helps him learn about federalism and about the importance of evidence in policymaking.

Here is Duncan’s official letter to Washington State, notifying them that they are being punished for defying his orders.


I was just about to put this post to bed when I read this on Diane Ravitch’s Blog:

Tennessee Legislature Rolls Back Test-Based Teacher Evaluation Law

In a stunning reversal, the Tennessee Legislature overwhelmingly repealed a law to evaluate teachers by test scores, and the law was swiftly signed by Governor Haslam. On a day when Arne Duncan withdrew Washington State’s failure to enact test-based teacher valuation system, this is a remarkable turn of events.
Joey Garrison of The Tennessean reports:

“Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law a bill that will prevent student growth on tests from being used to revoke or not renew a teacher’s license — undoing a controversial education policy his administration had advanced just last summer.

“The governor’s signature, which came Tuesday, follows the Tennessee General Assembly’s overwhelming approval this month of House Bill 1375 / Senate Bill 2240, sponsored by Republicans Rep. John Forgety and Sen. Jim Tracy, which cleared the House by a unanimous 88-0 vote and the Senate by a 26-6 vote.

“That marked a major repudiation of a policy the Tennessee Board of Education in August adopted — at Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman’s recommendation — that would have linked license renewal and advancement to a teacher’s composite evaluation score as well as data collected from the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, which measures the learning gains of students.

“The bill to reject the policy had been pushed chiefly by the Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ organization, which engineered a petition drive to encourage Haslam to sign the legislation despite it passing with large bipartisan support.

“Huge, huge win for teachers,” the TEA wrote on its Twitter page, thanking both bill sponsors as well as Haslam for “treating teachers as professionals.”

“Eyeing a 2015 implementation, the state board in January had agreed to back down from using student learning gains as the sole and overriding reason to revoke a license. Composite evaluation scores, in which 35 percent is influenced by value-added data, were to centerpiece.”

Two interesting points here: one, Duncan has been hailing Tennessee as a demonstration of the “success” of Race to the Top, in which test-based evaluation of teachers is key. What happens now?

Second, state Commissioner Kevin Huffman is so unpopular that anything he supports is likely to be rejected. His enemies hope he doesn’t leave Tennessee because whatever he recommends generates opposition, even among his allies.

Also this week, inBloom, the data machine that was to suck up every piece of information about students, stick it into a computer for every snake oil salesman to use in selling everything from soda, snacks, books, software, magazines and lord knows what else to our children is DOWN. That’s right folks, it looks like Bill Gates brainchild to data mine every bit of information about a student just went a little too far. Advocates like Parents Across America Founder Leonie Haimson have been fighting to secure student privacy in New York for several years and they won. That means that all nine states that were to use inBloom have backed out and the door is now closed on this monstrosity.

That’s a big victory and should set a precedence for all other states, such as the State of Washington, to not allow personal student information to get into the hands of third party business interests.

For more on data privacy in Seattle or the lack thereof, see CCER, the Road Map Project and the loss of student privacy.

corporate reform

Now moving on to Common Core Standards:

School Board Members Are Freaked Out About Common Core Tests No money for Common Core in Seattle

Here’s yet more fuel for critics of the Obama administration’s Common Core teaching curricula and the standardized tests that come with them—including Seattle-area teachers who plan to boycott the tests when they’re rolled out here next fall.

The Oregonian reports:

Despite clashing opinions on a group of controversial state standards, six Portland School Board members appeared united on at least one issue: They all had concerns about the rollout of new state exams aligned with the Common Core state standards.

When the school board traded opinions on the new standards on Monday, even the most supportive of the Common Core voiced worries about the tests aligned with the new learning requirements…

Melissa Goff, the executive director of the office of teaching and learning, admits the transition will be “rocky” because of limited resources, but says the main goal is to make sure that doesn’t affect student learning.

Some critics, like board member Steve Buel, have railed generally against the standards, calling them detrimental to student learning. Others, like board member Ruth Adkins, support the Common Core, but worry teachers haven’t gotten the proper support to deal with the new tests associated with the standards.

Washington’s been condemned by its own Supreme Court for failing to adequately fund education. Is there any reason to expect things to go more smoothly here next fall, or is this an unfunded mandate?

“No, we’re not ready,” Seattle School Board Vice-President Betty Patu tells me by phone this morning. “I think every board director is worried, but I’m speaking for about four of us.” That’s a majority—there are seven board members. “We’ve discussed this, and it has been a concern. We want this to be successful, but the only way that will happen is if we have the tools in place and the funds…so [the teachers] can work the best they can with the kids so they can pass these tests.”

“There is no funding for Common Core from the state,” Patu says. “I think it should be delayed until we have funding.” But she says the district can’t make that decision without losing what little state funding it’s currently receiving. Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Frankly, I don’t’ know any district that can afford the rollout of the Common Core Standards. It requires replacing text books, buying lesson plans and homework sheets, it will require online support and teacher seminars to explain the standards and then there is the testing with the testing analysis that goes with the test data. The testing occurs on computers so there needs to be an adequate number of computers in a specified location, and hopefully not a library, with IT support and not just librarians or teachers trying to fix computer glitches during the testing period.

Unfortunately legislators rather than educators decided the Common Core Standards were what our students needed without understanding what it would cost to implement or whether the new standards were of any value compared to the curriculum that was already in place.

common-core1There are Facebook pages popping up everywhere in resistance to the Common Core Standards.

Here are a few:

Washington State Against Common Core State Standards

Pierce-Thurston County Common Core Concerned Citizens

Stop Common Core in Oregon

Stop Common Core in New York State

Stop Common Core in Louisiana

Stop Common Core in Illinois

And now for more testing insanity, just when you thought your kindergartner was safe:

The ACT for kids
ACT for kids

Kindergarten Career Test In The Works By ACT

A new digital tool to test academic and behavioral skills will target students starting in kindergarten.

ACT, the organization that developed the ACT college-entrance exam, will start testing the tool in the fall. It will be available to schools starting in 2014.The tool tracks students’ career interests, academic performance and progress toward goals. It’s designed to follow students from kindergarten through high school.

Jon Erickson, president of ACT’s education division, said the goal is to identify and address gaps in skills needed for college and the workforce. The assessment combines traditional testing with teacher-led projects to generate an instant, digital score.

To read this article in full, go to the Huffington Post.

gravy train

In that same vein, in the “Just how much can we suck out of public education funds” category:

From Politico:


Hundreds of ed tech investors and entrepreneurs will rendezvous in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week for the Education Innovation Summit. The massive meet-and-greet will surely be lively, as business is booming. The ed tech market has been on a sustained boom the past several years, with no signs of a slowdown: Capital flows into companies serving the K-12 and higher education markets jumped to $650 million last year – nearly double the $331 million invested in those spheres in 2009.

–“You’re seeing people who can invest money anywhere” turn to ed tech, said Michael Moe, co-founder of GSV Capital, a sister company to GSV Advisors. The rapid growth of companies such as Coursera, Edmodo and Knewton “attracts the big players,” Moe said, who see an opportunity for big profit. And the Common Core is helping the cause: The standards are making ed tech more attractive because entrepreneurs can now tailor their product to a single set of academic guidelines. Several notable investment deals have closed in the past month alone.

And as Diane Ravitch puts it:

Education’s Gold Rush Is On!

Starting today, the nation’s leading entrepreneurs will gather for their annual conference at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, to exchange ideas about the ongoing monetization, privatization, innovation, and profits in the education “industry.” This summit was originally organized by Michael Moe, who has for years predicted that the education sector could be monetized. He was right. His company—GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley–says on its website: “Our founders have spent the past two decades focused on the Megatrends that are disrupting the $4 trillion global education market along with the innovators who are transforming the industry.”

Some of the sponsors: Pearson, the Gates Foundation, Microsoft, McGraw-Hill, Cengage, amazon, Scholastic, etc.
The speakers’ list reads like a who’s who of the privatization movement, which it is.

Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, billionaire heiress to the Hyatt fortune, former member of the board of Chicago public schools; Jeb Bush, Chris Cerf, Cami Anderson, Reed Hastings, Margaret Spellings, Tom Vander Ark, Kaya Henderson, James Shelton, Jonathan Hage, and many more in the business of education reform.

Now onto Creationism in our public schools. I tell you, the fun never ends.


This is what happens when the 1% have so much money they don’t know what to do with it. When you don’t pay taxes, you have discretionary funds.

Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green launches a new project: a public school Bible curriculum

The Mustang, Okla., school board voted Monday (April 14) to adopt a Bible course developed by Steve Green, clearing the way for the Hobby Lobby president, whose suit against the Affordable Care Act is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, to enter another charged arena at the borderline of church and state.

The board, whose district is practically in Hobby Lobby’s Oklahoma City backyard, agreed to beta-test the first year of the Museum of the Bible Curriculum, an ambitious four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact of the Good Book.

For at least the first semester of the 2014-15 year, Mustang alone will employ the program, said Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative, which is overseeing its development. In September 2016, he hopes to place it in at least 100 high schools; by the following year, “thousands.
 If successful, Green, whose family’s wealth is estimated at upward of $3 billion, would galvanize the movement to teach the Bible academically in public schools, a movement born after the Supreme Court banned school-sanctioned devotion in the 1960s but whose steady progress in the last decades has been somewhat hampered.

The Green curriculum “is like nothing we’ve seen before,” said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and editor of a booklet sent out to all schools by the U.S. Department of Education in 2000 on teaching religion in public schools. “It’s unique in its ambition and its scope and its use of the latest technologies. I think school districts far from Oklahoma will take note.”

So will civil libertarians.

To read this article in full, go to the Washington Post.

And more on Creationism, thanks to school vouchers:

Special report: Taxpayers fund creationism in the classroom

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies. Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way in 26 states from Alaska to New York – a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.

Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.

Public debate about science education tends to center on bills like one in Missouri, which would allow public school parents to pull their kids from science class whenever the topic of evolution comes up. But the more striking shift in public policy has flown largely under the radar, as a well-funded political campaign has pushed to open the spigot for tax dollars to flow to private schools. Among them are Bible-based schools that train students to reject and rebut the cornerstones of modern science.

To read this article in full, go to Politico.


Also on Politico:

– A POLITICO review of hundreds of pages of course outlines, textbooks and school websites found that many faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact. Their course materials nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists. That disturbs some advocates of strong science education. But proponents of the voucher programs say they’re accountable to parents – who wouldn’t enroll their kids if they didn’t believe they were getting a good education. Stephanie Simon has the in-depth look.

– See excerpts from curricular materials some of these schools use.

class war
And for more good news…

noun \ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē, ˈō-\

: a country, business, etc., that is controlled by a small group of people

: the people that control a country, business, etc.

: government or control by a small group of people

-Merriam Webster Dictionary

corporate capitolism

We have seen the Oligarchy rule in the area of public education with the Walton’s, Bill Gates, Eli Broad and other wealthy individuals who have tried to cut off public discourse to push their own ideas and agendas and to basically experiment on our children so there is no surprise to anyone who has been watching the takeover of our public schools by the wealthy few that the 1% are also overtaking other aspects of American life.

Study: US Is Not A Democracy

In America, money talks… and democracy dies under its crushing weight.

study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.

The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:

Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.

Nonetheless, this is the first-ever scientific study of the question of whether the U.S. is a democracy. “Until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions [that U.S. policymaking operates as a democracy, versus as an oligarchy, versus as some mixture of the two] against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.” That’s an enormous number of policy-issues studied.

What the authors are able to find, despite the deficiencies of the data, is important: the first-ever scientific analysis of whether the U.S. is a democracy, or is instead an oligarchy, or some combination of the two. The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media). The U.S., in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious “electoral” “democratic” countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now. Today, after this exhaustive analysis of the data, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” That’s it, in a nutshell.

And the Middle Class?

Wealth of US middle class now lower than Canada’s

American workers who previously made up the wealthiest middle class in the world have lost that distinction, according to new research that attributes the economic stagnation on rising income inequality in the US.

Economic growth in the US continues to be as strong if not stronger than other developed nations, although fewer Americans are reaping the benefit of their hard work. An analysis of income and spending numbers published Tuesday by the New York Times indicated that the wealthiest tax brackets are enjoying more financial growth, while the lower and middle income tiers are now lagging behind their counterparts throughout the world.
Median income in Canada tied with median income in the US in 2010 and has likely surpassed that number since, according to the Times.

When I was visiting Canada about three years ago, I was impressed by the amount of construction that was going on in Canada. Building projects in Seattle had come to a standstill after the crash of 2008 caused by banking fraud and the greed of a few. The difference was that Canada did not deregulate their banks as the US had done. People were working, there were no homeless on the streets asking for change, and there were cranes everywhere. Not so in the United States where countless people were unemployed with no hope in sight.

There are many reasons for the disparity that the majority of people feel in the United States and we will get to that towards the end of this update. Just know that if you feel crushed by the lack of money and other resources, it’s not your fault. Don’t feel guilty. We as a nation have worked harder than ever before with even greater rates of productivity. We have been and continue to be a hardworking and proud people, honest, caring for our neighbors and friends and looking towards the future with great hopes for our children. Events have occurred as we kept marching on, and we were deceived.

Let’s continue to look at how a wealthy few continue to try and manipulate the education of our children.

Eli Broad, with the assistance of a few wealthy individuals in Seattle, attempted to take over the Seattle Public School system six years ago. Many of us researched, analyzed and fought back. It worked. See The Battle for Seattle, The True Legacy of Seattle’s Fired (Broad Academy) Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and The Broad Foundation for additional information.

After the Broad superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, was fired and her Broad resident, Brad Bernatek, slinked away, we were done with that dark part of our history. Unfortunately, Eli Broad has resurfaced in Oregon, our neighbor to the south.

Gov. John Kitzhaber picks up $25,000 for re-election campaign from Eli Broad

Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad has given a sizable chunk to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s re-election campaign — $25,000, or 25 large as they say down there.

The gift is among the biggest the Democratic contender has gotten this year, and it brings his campaign cash supply to nearly half a million dollars. Kitzhaber is running for what could be a history-making fourth term.

Does Oregon know what they’re in for? Does Kitzhaber have a clue? Will Oregonians have to learn the hard way as we did?

We shall see, although, some of us will try and give a heads up to those who are willing to listen.

Speaking of the wealthy few, let’s compare the salaries of CEO’s at charter schools with principals of public schools.

Deborah Kenny, Seth Andrews and Eva Moskowitz

Check out Nice Work If U Can Get It at edushyster for more details.

What is happening in public education is happening in all aspects of our lives.

I will end this post with Bill Moyers discussing the rule of corporate capitalism in our country and the resulting inequality.

First, What the 1% Don’t Want You to Know.

Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against.

Last year, Bill Moyers interviewed Robert Reich and discussed his documentary Inequality for All. The documentary can be viewed on Netflix streaming.