Posts Tagged ‘Common Core State Standards’

Unaccountable

November 16, 2014

Un
With the possible exception of “compliance,” I’d reckon that there are no words that American teachers have heard more times in the past 10 years than the word “accountable.”
Everyone, we are told, and told, and told again for good measure, must be held accountable. I know no teacher who would mind such an admonition if, in fact, the system of accountability was fair and reasonable and if it were even remotely true that all people were held accountable.

Alas.

Take former New York City Chancellor Joel Klein, for example. Here’s a fella who not only championed a $95 million dollar technological boondoggle that is now to be dismantled because of its uselessness, but used his status and knowledge as former chancellor to profit from the project after instantly teaming up with Rupert Murdoch after he left the school system.

Conflict of interest ?

Not a chance.

Where is the accountability there?

At any rate, because of the distance I have noticed between what it held for one group or class of people and utterly excused from another, it was with more than a little curiosity that I noted during a visit to my local public library the following title: Unaccountable/ How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom and Security by one Janine R. Wedel.

I understood from the subtitle that the work would focus largely on the monsters manipulating our financial system but, sandwiched there in between the words “Finance “ and “security” was “freedom, ” so I was hopeful some dots might be connected that had to do with my world.
As one who has been forced to watch and react as insanely wealthy private citizens such as Eli Broad and the Walton family and especially Bill Gates, do what ever it is they want to do to the public trust known as the public school system and all who work within it, with exactly zero right to do so and exactly zero accountability, I was curious to see if Wedel’s altogether noble work would include these spectacular examples of complete and utter unaccountability. I was hopeful, that is, that her work would at least mention the insidious efforts of the mega rich to undermine the legislative process in order to privitze the nation’s school system and bust the last union of size while they’re at it. After all, here was a handful of people somehow allowed to force one radical unproven experiment after another — breaking up schools, value added measures for teachers, standardized test after standardized tests, and the greatest scam of all, the deceitfully named Common Core State Standards — upon America’s kids and teachers on nothing more than their own limitless hubris and bank accounts.

Sadly, and incredibly given the immense upheavals of the past decade, education is not even mentioned in the book. Moreover, the only Gates who merits an appearance is former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
As for Bill Gates and his legions…not a word. If I were to search high and low for a quote signifying complete unaccountability, I doubt I could do better than the following by an embarrassingly ineloquent
Bill Gates: “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”
There you have it.

And what if “our education stuff “ fails ?
Well…so what? Bill and Eli and the Walton’s and their kind will doubtless find some other vital institution to remake in their own one dimensional image.
Besides, when it fails — and it is failing — you can simply blame teachers and employ an eager corporate media to echo your lies.
It’s been working so far.
Why is the reality of the hijacking of a public institution of immeasurable importance and influence missing from this book or books like it ? This is a serious work by a credible author who does not seem to me to be ideologically bound. How is it the immense liberties taken by Bill Gates and company that deal with billions of dollars of public money not seem to be worthy of even a mention in a book dealing with the scandalous and horrific absence of accountability in American life ? Why is it that the complete undermining of the legislative process not only not considered a criminal act but not even deemed worthy of reporting? Not merely by Janine Wedel but by anybody? Where’s Bernie Sanders ? Where’s Michael Moore? Where’s Ralph Nader? Where is anybody? How is this happening before our very eyes ? What has happened to us ?

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Why Does the NY Times Pay So Much Attention to An Accused Teacher and So Little to the Common Core ?

October 10, 2014

Over the past several years the New York Times, the paper of record and all that, has published article after article, editorial after editorial praising the wonders of the privately owned experiment on American children deceptively called the Common Core State Standards and painting all who opposed the instantly sacred writ as little more than right wing nut jobs. The paper has done all it can do to hide the fact that the Common Core exists solely because a private citizen, one Bill Gates, has decided that it is his right to undermine democratic process and dictate public policy even as our spineless politicians have helped him every step of the way. The information about the genesis and financing of the Common Core, though obscured and hidden, has been flushed out and is available to those who seek it. See especially the work of Mercedes Schneider. Apparently the New York Times does not seek it.

With this in mind, I read with astonishment the almost granular description and psychological profile of the life of one Sean Shaynak, a high school teacher arrested for multiple counts of sexual misconduct with his students.
The story is disturbing and disgusting and, yes, newsworthy but I have to ask myself: why does the horrific behavior of a single teacher merit such research and scrutiny while the imposition of a radical experiment, increasingly loathed by American parents, students and teachers, and created by an unelected, unaccountable monopolist given what results in a free pass by the paper of record?

Consider simply the level of research — research reminiscent of a NY Times profile of a presidential candidate — that went into the ridiculous citing of Shaynak’s favorite Pretenders song as he rode down the highway of life toward ignominy and worse. Try to find an a commensurate example of research in any NY Times article on the provenance of the Common Core or any of its principal creators and you will search in vain.

Consider that the admittedly sordid allegations against this one individual, horrible that they are, affected a tiny proportion of one school yet merited the front page of the most important paper in America while the stealth creation of a radical privately owned imposition that is currently upending almost every school in the country is scarcely worth a mention.

Something is wrong. Very, very wrong.
What is really going on here ?

A Chronicle of Echoes by Mercedes Schneider Reviewed by Patrick Walsh

September 19, 2014

http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/a_chronicle_of_echoes_20140919

A Busy Day for Billionaire Backed Front Groups

April 10, 2014

Yesterday was a busy beaver of a day for billionaire backed front Groups. Someone, somewhere, deep in the bowels of the New York wing of the billionaire based campaign to privatize the public school system, must have recently given the order: Get out the word. Now! Some people are beginning to understand what’s really going on.

How else can one explain not one but two volleys from two billionaire financed front groups ( and one newly minted at that ! ) on a single day ?
Early yesterday afternoon I received word of the advent of Higher Achievement New York, yet another deceitfully created billionaire backed front group passing itself off as “grass roots ” and roping in just enough innocent faces to fool those who don’t know any better.

“Higher Achievement New York described itself as “an organized platform” dedicated to higher standards that will explain what the new standards mean for children, and how they offer better preparation for college and careers, through social media advertising and lobbying.
“Our goal is to foster positive conversation that hasn’t existed around these standards,” said the group’s executive director Frank Thomas, who previously worked in communications for the city’s Department of Education and Bill Thompson’s mayoral campaign.”

In plain English, Higher Achievement New York is a public relations project disguised as an education advocacy group.

As the standards belong to the Common Core and the Common Core is an untested experiment in progress, there is no legitimate way to explain how the Common Core can prepare anyone for anything at all. No one has any idea what, if any, effect it will have on students. And explain to whom, by the way ? The parents who have reacted to the experiment on their kids with volcanic rage at what it is doing to their children? To the teachers and administrators who have twisted themselves into pretzels attempting to implement the unholy mess ?

Perhaps they’ll find an audience in the fish and other sea creatures dwelling in New York Harbor. After all, they’re paid and doubtless paid well, to “ foster positive conversation” and they have a better chance these days with sea life than they do with most people not on their pay roll.

As Higher Achievement New York is comprised of more established and experienced fronts such as the Gates Foundation’s Educators4Excellence and Mike Bloomberg’s Students First NY, one should expect an extraordinarily high level of obfuscation, distortion, and shill like behavior.

Many have, in fact, seen a preview of their act. The two aforementioned fronts did their best to dominate the two New York City hearings of Commissioner John King, the first in Brooklyn where Students FirstNew York members were allowed to enter the hall early and hog up no less than 44 of the 45 speaker slots so as to create an impression of wild enthusiasm for the loathed Common Core utterly unrelated to reality outside the world of public relations. At the same time they shamelessly injected the issue of race into the mix, somehow insinuating that the privately owned, secretly created product of the Gates Foundation called Common Core was nothing less than a civil right. The following night when King appeared in lower Manhattan the two fronts showed up in tandem and one heard silly testimonial after silly testimonial from one 24 year old “ex teacher” (currently employed to “raise expectations” by StudentsFirstNY ) after another about how Common Core is the answer to just about every problem in the known universe, bizarre statements by E4E teachers of the almost supernatural power of the Common Core, and, most cynically, insinuations that rejection of the Common Core was merely disguised racism.

Well, with the coming of Higher Achievement New York, you can bet you’ll hear a whole lot more of that kind of stuff.
By the way, does the name Higher Achievement New York portend a Higher Achievement New Jersey? A Higher Achievement Connecticut, and on and on until all fifty states are achieving higher ?

A few hours after reading about Higher Achievement I arrived home to find a foot long glossy post card, not dissimilar in style from the one my then five-year-old daughter received in her name from Success Academy some years back, festooned with smiling and beautiful African American children, so beloved by the titans of Wall Street. Yesterday’s card bore my name and address and a dramatic shot of Andrew Cuomo giving a speech in front of a ChartersWork sign and came from something called Families For Excellent Schools.
The Families kindly sent the card to implore me to call up “education champion” Andrew Cuomo and thank him for the wondrous job he was doing with our schools. Part of Cuomo’s wonderful work was helping to pass laws that gave charter schools rights that public schools don’t have, such as the right for charter school entrepreneurs like Eva Moskowitz not merely not to pay rent, but to dictate the terms of whatever she wants when it comes to expanding her publically funded empire into already existing schools. In essence, what Cuomo did in terms of education was to give Mike Bloomberg a forth term as mayor. And then some.

CARD 1 G

The card made me sick just to look at it. And needless to say, it must have cost a fortune to create and another to do a mass mailing of the thing. This from the folks who can’t afford to pay rent.

CARD 2

As a teacher in PS 149, one of the schools that Cuomo essentially gave to Eva Moskowitz, the homage to the Tough Guy governor’s giveaway goes right to the gut. The giant post card seemed like a sick joke: a sick joke played on the neediest and most disadvantaged school kids in all of New York; a joke played on those who would be jettisoned for the comfort of Ms. Moskowitz’s charter children.

Moreover, how did these creepy people get my name and address ? Who gave it to them ? They got it the same way, I suspect, that other creepy people got my daughter’s name and address a few years back. And that way points to the public trust called the Department of Education and the manipulation thereof.

Disturbing stuff.

I decided to look up Families For Excellent Schools curious, when most families I know are scrapping to get by, as to what manner of families have this kind of money to spend on such gratuitous gestures to such odious figures as Andrew Cuomo. This is how they described themselves on their website: “Founded in 2011 by public school parents, Families for Excellent Schools is a community organization that fights for every child’s
right to an excellent education. Through organizing and political
work, we work to amplify the voices of families over the din of
electioneering and special interest campaigning. Rather than speak on
behalf of public school parents, Families for Excellent Schools
empowers parents to speak for themselves.”

Parents speaking for themselves! How touching!

I looked a little further still and found one of the families for excellent schools was none other than Walton family of Wal-Mart fame, not widely known for being particularly fond of people speaking for themselves.

I looked further and found out that Families for Excellent Schools shares an address with the New York division of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst.

A question: Weren’t front groups, for excellent reasons, once generally regarded as sleazy, unethical and even sinister enterprises?

What has been left almost entirely unexamined in the privatization campaign is, not only the extreme proliferation of billionaire-backed fronts, but their strange, silent metamorphosis from something to be shunned to something to be accepted and even celebrated.
Is not the purpose of a front to deceive? To trick? To pass yourself off as something you are not so as to scam credulous people of good will ? Are fronts not a con job?

Of course, they are. Fronts are bad faith incorporated.

And yet, multiplying like malignant cells, the massive money behind “education reform” has produced more fronts than one can keep up with. Higher Achievement New York is merely the latest. And none seem to betray their utter amorality.

There will be more, to be sure. We are dealing with souls to whom millions are meaningless and whose ruthlessness, sense of entitlement, and narcissism knows no bounds. The only thing they know how to do is to dominate by any means they can. And they believe it is their right to do so.

They are, after all, unimaginably rich and like the charter schools they hold so dear, they have rights that people like you and I do not.

Duncan To Marry Common Core Standards

March 13, 2014
Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stunned much of official Washington today when he announced that he plans to legally marry the Common Core State Standards “sometime in the very near future.” Mr. Duncan made his announcement at a press conference in the Rose Garden, surrounded by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and new Under Secretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, former CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund.

Reporters appeared to be momentarily silenced by what many considered the strangeness of the statement but quickly recovered and questioned both the timing of Duncan’s announcement and the authenticity of Duncan’s motives, as well as the legality of the act itself.
Duncan denied that the wedding was a symbolic gesture or a publicity stunt designed
to draw attention away from the volcanic parental rejection of the CCSS across
the country, especially in New York State.

“This is about love, said Duncan, his voice at times cracking with emotion and his eyes appearing to tear. “True and abiding love. And there’s no doubt in my
mind that the love I feel for the Core, the Core
feels for all the children of America, every last one of
them and especially those we want to help close the achievement gap.”

Duncan acknowledged that there are legal challenges in the unprecedented mating of man and document but, with Attorney General Eric Holder’s blessing, is determined to “ break new ground in the civil rights issue of our time.” Duncan links the proposed union to the larger struggle. “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times,
education is the civil rights issue of our age. Our marriage is just another Rosa Parks’ moment on our way to helping all of our children become college and career ready.” Duncan, still legally married to Karen Luann Duncan, acknowledged that before the marriage to the Common Core could take place he had to first divorce his current wife. Holder is said to be personally involved in this process which he is prepared to expedite.

Duncan would neither deny nor confirm the rumor that Andrew Cuomo offered the use of the Governors mansion in Albany New York for the ceremony but did acknowledge that Cuomo would be a guest at the wedding.
A press release from the Department of Education revealed that the ceremony would be a gala and star-studded event with guests including Mark Zuckerberg, Wendy Kopp, Randi Weingarten, Oprah Winfrey, Mike Bloomberg, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Bill and Melinda Gates, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Bono, Eli Broad, David Coleman, Rupert Murdoch, John Legend, Jeb Bush, Thomas Friedman, Kid Rock, Bill Keller, Corey Booker, Whitney Tilson, Caroline Kennedy, as well as President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The ceremony will be presided over by President Obama. David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core Standards, will give away the bride. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Educators Association will serve as best man while American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten has agreed to be the maid of honor.

The event will take place in an undisclosed location and will be funded in its entirety by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Note: This post is dedicated to the pea-heads in both the DOE and the NYPD who thought it a good idea to throw my courageous friend and colleague Francesco Portelos in jail for 33 hours for writing a piece as silly as this. Good thinking fellas! These are strange and terrifying times in which we dwell and we need more than ever to look after each other.