NEA Passes Resolution Asking for Arne Duncan's RESIGNATION

Just how out of touch with parents, teachers and teachers' unions is Arne Duncan, promoting his controversial education agenda?

"Delegates to the National Education Association's annual convention passed a new business item July 4 calling for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to resign.

"The surprising move comes on the heels of union anger over moves across the United States to revise due-process protections, tenure, and seniority—some of which have been supported by Democrats, including the Obama administration."

 

The NEA Representative Assembly joins other educators and parents in calling for the resignation of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for the Department’s failed education agenda focused on more high-stakes testing, grading and pitting public school children against each other based on test scores and for continuing to promote policies and decisions that undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching profession, education professionals and education unions. 

Rationale: Secretary Duncan once again showed his lack of understanding of education law and policy, his disregard of the true challenges facing our students and schools, and his disrespect for the hard-working educators in our schools and colleges across the country when he tweeted, “Today’s court decision is a mandate to fix these problems.” immediately following the flawed verdict in Vergara v. State of California, striking down laws protecting teachers from arbitrary firings, supporting due process rights and providing transparency in layoff decisions. While educators recognize the administration’s focus on bringing more resources to public education, the policies of Secretary Duncan from Race to the Top, to NCLB waivers, to teacher evaluation have been more top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates focused on high-stakes testing and using test scores to punish students, educators and schools. Since the beginning, Duncan’s department has been led by graduates of the Broad Academy, Education Trust-West and other organizations determined to scapegoat teachers and their unions. Most recently, some of these former Obama administration staffers announced a national campaign attacking educators’ rights. Authentic education change only comes when all stakeholders – teachers, parents, administrators and the community – work together to best meet the needs of the students in their school or college. Teachers are not the problem. Teachers are part of the solution. And it’s time we have a Secretary of Education who understands and believes that.

 

Arne Duncan should have taken notice of a previous warning by the NEA, teachers' union.

On July 3, 2011 the National Education Association's legislative body  adopted the following resolution:

The NEA Representative Assembly directs the NEA President to communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that NEA is appalled with Secretary Duncan’s practice of:

1. Weighing in on local hiring decisions of school and school district personnel.

2. Supporting local decisions to fire all school staff indiscriminately, such as his comments regarding the planned firings in Central Falls, RI.

3. Supporting inappropriate use of high-stakes standardized test scores for both student achievement and teacher evaluation, all while acknowledging that the currently available tests are not good.

4. Failing to recognize the shortcomings of offering to support struggling schools or states, but only in exchange for unsustainable state ‘reform’ policy.

5. Focusing too heavily on competitive grants that by design leave most students behind-particularly those in poor neighborhoods, rural areas, and struggling schools-instead of foundational formula funding designed to help all the students who need the most support.

6. Not adequately addressing the unrealistic Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements that brand thriving or improving schools as failures.

7. Forcing local school districts to choose from a pre-determined menu of school improvement models that are unproven and have been shown to be ineffective and bear little resemblance to the actual needs of the school that is struggling.

8. Focusing so heavily on charter schools that viable and proven innovative school models (such as magnet schools) have been overlooked, and simultaneously failing to highlight with the same enthusiasm the innovation in our non-charter public schools.

9. Failing to recognize both the danger inherent in overreliance on a single measurement and the need for multiple indicators when addressing and analyzing student achievement and educators’ evaluations.

10. Failing to recognize the need for systemic change that helps ALL students and relies on shared responsibility by all stakeholders, rather than competitive grant programs that spur bad, inappropriate, and short-sighted state policy.

11. Failing to recognize the complexities of school districts that do not have the resources to compete for funding, particularly in rural America, and failing to provide targeted and effective support for those schools and school districts.

12. Failing to respect and honor the professionalism of educators across this country, including but not limited to holding public education roundtables and meetings without inviting state and local representatives of the teachers, education support professionals, and faculty and staff; promoting programs that lower the standards for entry into the profession; focusing so singularly on teachers in the schools that the other critical staff members and higher education faculty and staff have been overlooked in the plans for improving student learning throughout their educational careers.

13. Perpetuating the myth that there are proven, top-down prescribed ‘silver bullet’ solutions and models that actually will address the real problems that face public education today, rather than recognizing that what schools need is a visionary Secretary of Education that sets broad goals and tasks states, local schools districts, schools, educators, and communities with meeting those goals.

Further, the NEA Representative Assembly directs the NEA Executive Committee to develop and implement an aggressive action plan in collaboration with state and local leaders that will address the issues above.

Claiming "White Privilege" Racially Divides Communities and is Being Used as an Excuse to Destroy Public Education


Claiming “white privilege" is designed to provoke guilt and divide the community against itself.

Advocates against "white privilege" want to narrow the achievement gap in schools by eliminating leveling.  However, eliminating leveling in middle school and high school will not help anyone.  There is absolutely no evidence that de-leveling closes any academic gaps.  None. This is an age old education reform fad that was previously tried and failed.

Eliminating levels will result in lowered expectations for the entire student body.  Mixed ability level classes demand the use of “differentiated instruction,” a teaching method which requires intensive ongoing training and smaller class sizes to be effective.

De-leveling is far more likely to discourage both highly motivated students and under motivated students alike. Neither will be able to get the instruction they need given the disparity in the classroom.  Teachers will not be able to provide the challenges that some students want, while also providing the support and remediation that others need.  Everyone: students, teachers and parents alike will be discouraged and disappointed with the outcome of de-leveling.  

At the recent Common Core forum in St. Anselm, one panelist argued that he had unearned "white privilege." 

"The reason why I helped write the standards and the reason why I am here today, is that as a white male in society, I was given a lot of privilege that I didn't earn."  Common Core Debate, May 19, 2014 at St. Anselms College, NH Institute of Politics, Manchester, NH -- Min. 1:52:00

Supposedly this is why he helped write the Common Core ELA standards.  Never mind the fact that he’s a history teacher writing English standards, this protestation of "white privilege" does not ring true.

If Dr. David Pook had any genuine regret over his "white privileged" upbringing -- or any real interest in helping the disadvantaged students of color, -- he'd immediately resign his position at the elite Derryfield school and get to work in an urban inner city public school.  Pook refuses to do that.

Bemoaning "white privilege" doesn't help anyone. It is cheap trick which is being used nationwide to further a radical political agenda.  It exploits the suffering of one group of society and pits them against another group.

Basing education philosophy upon "white privilege" does not improve education, nor will it build our sense of community.  In fact, it is designed to further damage those it pretends to help.

 

 

In Chicago the federal government has approved a No Child Left Behind Waiver that provides for a radical approach to rating public schools.  Illinois students of different racial backgrounds no longer will be held to the same standards Latinos and blacks, low-income children and other groups will have lower targets than whites and Asians for passing state exams. Creation of these racial groups and variable standards is the subject of much criticism.

Seems that education reformers not only want lower standards for minority students, but also to prevent students with "white privilege" from moving ahead of their peers.

 

Check out what this Michigan Elementary School did to "build self-esteem" and prevent "white privilege":

The need for ability will be kept to a minimum.

"Since we believe that all of our children are winners, the need for athletic ability and the competitive “urge to win” will be kept to a minimum."

 

"Were our Governors and Supes Duped?"

Were our Governors and Supes Duped?

by Alyson Williams


The current approach to education reform in the U.S. reminds me of a famous scene in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. Tom needs to whitewash an entire fence before he can get on with what he’d really like to be doing. Not able to get the job done on his own he comes up with a clever plan and one by one gets the neighborhood boys to take over his work by making the job look really appealing, by convincing them it is something that want to do of their own accord, and with the flattery that only certain people were capable of doing it. After all, Aunt Polly was “awful particular” and didn’t trust Jim, or Sid with the job. (A little bribery might have come into play as well.)

I find in the dialog between Tom and his first dupe an especially uncanny metaphor for the adoption process of Common Core and the other Stimulus-driven education reforms.

Tom expresses doubt that his friend Ben can be trusted with such the important task at hand saying, “If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it …”

Ben assures Tom that he’ll be careful and offers, “Say – I’ll give you the core of my apple.” And then as he sees Tom hesitate, he adds, “I’ll give you ALL of it.”

“Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart… the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash.”

The narrator observes of Tom, “He had a nice, good, idle time all the while – plenty of company – and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.”

The vignette concludes by pointing out that Tom “had discovered a great law of human action… that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do” but that people would happily work at doing something if it was voluntary.

Oh, the irony of new ELA standards that trade to the info-text vocabulary of the 21st-century, global workforce the time once spent feasting on classic stories. Stories that, like this one, would serve as a cautionary tale to Governors and Superintendents racing to support common education standards for our nation when they would likely never had been such enthusiastic participants if the proposition had been assigned or decreed. But, when deftly positioned as a voluntary “state-led” initiative, and presented along with the ego-stroking idea of themselves as the only leaders who could be entrusted with such an important task, the Common Core State Standards Initiative swept Governors and Superintendents into bids of what they each might offer (in the form of Race to the Top grant applications and often the entirety of the cost of such commitments when the grant was not awarded) for the honor of participating.

As chief reformer, Education Secretary Arne Duncan later bragged to an international audience at UNESCO of the success of this strategy, “… today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.” http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/vision-education-reform-united-states-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-united-nations-ed

As a result, the fence standing between reformers who would centralize key aspects of public education and their goal of getting on to more mischief with our local schools was whitewashed in record time. The dupes gave up the whole apple and more, and just like Aunt Polly, the unsuspecting citizen accepted the trickery as a praiseworthy achievement.

In the engaging tale of an American boy, Twain gives insight into what motivates people (think of it as leadership training 101) but also alerts would-be dupes against such schemes as the one currently enabling a concentration of power over the education of the rising generation. In recognizing this, we begin to see the power of a good story to develop both literacy and wisdom regardless of the century or the economy. It might also lead one wonder if we really want students to spend more time dissecting excerpts of everyday informational text (falsely characterized as "critical thinking") or whether we all would be better off with a little more Tom Sawyer or other classic works that have outlived the educational and political fads by masterfully capturing human interactions in language that speaks to our hearts and souls, motivates us to learn more, and gifts us timeless ideas and ideals to think critically about.  

 

NH's Statewide Longitudinal Data System

The US Department of Education has developed a uniform "Statewide Longitudinal Data System" to collect student information in each state.  This data is being collected to create a nationwide data base to "transform education."

Intrusive Data Tracking

Federal grants were used by states to build expensive these high-tech data systems that track student performance and other personal data and provide that information directly to the federal government.

“Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career.” – U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, from a June 8, 2009 speech

In 2011, the NH Department of Education applied for a federal grant to develop its statewide longitudinal data system. 

In order to obtain these federal funds, states was required to detail its effort to institute rigorous teacher and principal evaluation systems, data systems that specifically connect individual teachers with individual students, and data systems that compile student-level data from preschool through higher education.

This data system is being used to collect up to 400 data points per student. This private student and teacher information is being transferred to the federal government.

According to the minutes of the NH Board of Education, New Hampshire's statwide longitudinal data system went operational in New Hampshire in April 2012.

Here is the grant application New Hampshire Department of Education submitted to acquire the federal funds for its data system:

Application for Grant under the Statewide, Longitudinal Data Systems

On page 75 of this grant application, the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee details NH's commitment to institute rigorous teacher and principal evaluation systems:

 

Notice that Sen. Nancy Stiles mentioned 2011 SB 196 which created "a teacher evaluation process."

RSA 189:14-a (b) School boards shall have a teacher performance evaluation policy.

 

However, that was not sufficient. Two years later the US Department of Education made additional mandates that resulted in more legislation.  This time the mandates were to meet the requirements of NH's No Child Left Behind or ESEA Waiver application.  In order to obtain the waiver three pieces of legislation was required, one of which was 2013 HB 142, which included the following:

RSA 189:1-a III. School boards shall adopt a teacher performance evaluation system, with the involvement of teachers and principals, for use in the school district. A school board may consider any resources it deems reasonable and appropriate, including any resources that may be provided by the state department of education. In this paragraph, “teacher” shall have the same meaning as in RSA 189:14-a, V.

[RSA 189:14-a, V. “Teacher” means any professional employee of any school district whose position requires certification as a professional engaged in teaching. The term “teacher” shall also include principals, assistant principals, librarians, and guidance counselors.

 

No doubt, with the renewal, which is actually a one year extension, of NH's two year No Child Left Behind waiver, more legislation will be required to meet the federal government's ever increasing demands.

 

 

Common Core Violates 3 Federal Laws

 

Common Core as currently implemented directly violates or comes to the very edge of the line of these three federal laws. Particularly the last one below is in process of being violated as states are required to incur costs of this implementation that are not funded by the federal government (with taxpayer money).

From the General Education Provisions Act (20 USC § 1232a)

“No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, or to require the assignment or transportation of students or teachers in order to overcome racial imbalance.”

From the Department of Education Organization Act (20 USC § 3403(b))

“No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law.”

From the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (20 USC 7907(a))

“Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State and local resources, or mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act.

How a School Board can Slow Down or Stop the Implementation of Common Core

Disclosure: no lawyer has said the following is not legal.

How can a district deal with Common Core state standards? 

A locally-elected school board can vote to reject the Common Core state standards that the state board adopted unless there is a state statute that explicitly requires local districts to adopt state board-adopted/created standards.  This is the situation in perhaps only one state, but not the case in New Hampshire.  Local districts can and have rejected Common Core State Standards in New Hampshire. Alton and Wakefield school districts voted to reject Common Core. Manchester school district voted to create and adopt their own academic standards.

Next a locally-elected school board can instruct its superintendent to require district teachers to import or create its own academic standards in ELA and math/science and then formally adopt these.  It then can vote to tell the local superintendent to eliminate any traces of a curriculum designed to teach to the state board-adopted /created standards, and to teach to the new,  local standards.  The locally-elected school board should then formally vote to adopt the curriculum their own teachers developed.  Local parents and higher education experts should be asked to testify to their academic rigor.

How can a school district deal with Common Core aligned assessments, such as Smarter Balanced (or PARCC)?

When the state Department of Education state Commissioner of Education tells the local district to give tests based on the state board-adopted standards, the locally-elected school board can say that these state-adopted tests, such as Smarter Balanced assessments, are not compatible with its legally adopted local standards and curriculum.  Tests based on state board-adopted standards cannot accurately assess local board-adopted local standards and curriculum. If the state commissioner of education objects, she can take the district to court and pay the bills.

What about Title I money or, state legislature-appropriated money?

Neither can be withheld from the local district unless Congress or the state legislature explicitly vote to require withholding of Title I or state-appropriated money from school districts that refuse to give their students tests based on state board-adopted/created standards.

New Hampshire districts may be required to admininster a statewide assessment under state law, but there are no explicit penalties apportioned to districts which refuse to do so.

How to deal with Student Data-Mining?

Finally,  school boards may adopt their own database policies that require Parents to Opt-In to allow their child to participate in the state longitudinal database, giving parents a wide matrix of options such that: their child's data is not to be stored; or their child's data is to be collected for school use only, or district use only, or state use only, or shared more broadly. 
 

Chicago Teachers Union joins growing national opposition to deeply flawed Common Core Standards

Chicago Teachers Union joins growing national opposition to deeply flawed Common Core Standards

by ctu communications  |  05/07/2014

CHICAGO – Today, members of the House of Delegates (HOD) of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) passed the following resolution that enjoins the city’s educators to growing national opposition to the Common Core State Standards, saying the assessments disrupt student learning and consume tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration.

Now that the resolution has passed, the CTU will lobby the Illinois Board of Education to eliminate the use of the Common Core for teaching and assessment; and be it further and will work to organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to the law that increases the expansion of nationwide controls over educational issues.

Common Core’s origins can be traced to the 2009 Stimulus Bill which gave $4.35 billion to the federal Department of Education which created the “Race to the Top” competition between states. In order to qualify for funding, the states needed to adopt Common Core  with the added incentive that participating states would be exempted from many of the more onerous provisions of George Bush’s “No child left behind” program.

“I agree with educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy,” said CTU President Karen Lewis, a nationally board certified teacher.  “Common Core eliminates creativity in the classroom and impedes collaboration. We also know that high-stakes standardized testing is designed to rank and sort our children and it contributes significantly to racial discrimination and the achievement gap among students in America’s schools.”

The official text of the resolution follows:

Resolution to Oppose the Common Core State Standards

WHEREAS, the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives, not solely preparation for college and career; and

WHEREAS, instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

WHEREAS, the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice; and

WHEREAS, high quality education requires adequate resources to provide a rich and varied course of instruction, individual and small group attention, and wrap-around services for students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were developed by non-practitioners, such as test and curriculum publishers, as well as education reform foundations, such as the Gates and Broad Foundations, and as a result the CCSS better reflect the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers than the best interests and priorities of teachers and students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were piloted incorrectly, have been implemented too quickly, and as a result have produced numerous developmentally inappropriate expectations that do not reflect the learning needs of many students; and

WHEREAS, imposition of the Common Core State Standards adversely impacts students of highest need, including students of color, impoverished students, English language learners, and students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards emphasize pedagogical techniques, such as close reading, out of proportion to the actual value of these methods – and as a result distort instruction and remove instructional materials from their social context; and

WHEREAS, despite the efforts of our union to provide support to teachers, the significant time, effort, and expense associated with modifying curricula to the Common Core State Standards interferes and takes resources away from work developing appropriate and engaging courses of study; and

WHEREAS, the assessments that accompany the Common Core State Standards (PARCC and Smarter Balance) are not transparent in that --teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available given the nature of computer adaptive tests; and

WHEREAS, Common Core assessments disrupt student learning, consuming tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration; and

WHEREAS, the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards – including the political manipulation of test scores – are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union opposes the Common Core State Standards (and the aligned tests) as a framework for teaching and learning; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union advocates for an engaged and socially relevant curriculum that is student-based and supported by research, as well as for supports such as those described in the Chicago Teachers Union report, The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will embark on internal discussions to educate and seek feedback from members regarding the Common Core and its impact on our students; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will lobby the Illinois Board of Education to eliminate the use of the Common Core State Standards for teaching and assessment; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to the Common Core State Standards; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Illinois State Board of Education, the Chicago Board of Education, the Governor of Illinois, and all members of the Illinois legislative branch; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that should this resolution be passed by the CTU House of Delegates, an appropriate version will be submitted to the American Federation of Teachers for consideration at the 2014 Convention.

 

George Will on Common Core: a Wedge of Federal Power

George Will’s comments on May 5 during his appearance on “Special Report with Brett Baier”: 

“The advocates of the Common Core say, ‘If you like local control over your schools, you can keep it. Period. If you like your local curriculum, you can keep it. Period.’

“And people don’t believe them, for very good reasons.

“This is a thin end of an enormous wedge of federal power that will be wielded for the constant progressive purpose of concentrating power in Washington, so that it can impose continental solutions to problems nationwide.

“(Common Core supporters) say it’s voluntary. It has been driven by the (federal government’s) use of bribes and coercion – in the form of waivers from No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top money – to buy the compliance of these 45 states, two of which – Indiana, and I believe, Oklahoma – have already backed out, and they will not be the last.

“Watch the verb ‘align’ in this argument. (Common Core supporters) are going to align the SAT and the ACT tests with the curriculum. They’re going to align the textbooks with the tests. And sooner or later, you inevitably have a national curriculum that disregards the creativity of federalism.

 

“What are the chances … that we’re going to have five or six creative governors experimenting with different curricula, or one creative, constant, permanent Washington bureaucracy overlooking our education?

We’ve had 50 years now of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – 50 years of federal involvement that has coincided with stagnation in test scores across the country.”

 

Common Core -- War Against Children -- Cognitive Abuse

Common Core Standards are not developmentally appropriate.

Jean Piaget formulated the four stages of cognitive development in the 1920's.