Monday, April 28, 2014

Is Common Core MEANT to Blow Up the American Educational System?

It is no secret that, for years, public education has suffered poor outcomes.  It is also no real secret as to why, yet this is rarely ever written about.

Let's start by examining ACT scores.  It is easy to see that verbal scores began to plummet during the early 1970's and never recovered.
It's also easy to see the lack of substantial gains in reading during a similar time period according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) -
Let's think.  What was happening during the early 1970's other than bell bottoms and muttonchops?  Most probably, the falloff of something that happened in 1965 when the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law by LBJ.

Because government never shrinks, the ESEA of 1965 that took up only about 30 pages in a typewritten journal and contained 'only' 605 sections, has increased to literally hundreds of electronic web pages and over 9,601 sections today.

What does this situation have to do with education 'reform'?  According to "Federal Compliance Works Against Education Policy Goals"
"...fiscal and administrative requirements often lead to expensive and time-consuming compliance processes that are not related to improving student achievement or school success."
Lindsay Burke reports in "The Dead Hand of Education Reform", that,
"...while the feds provided just 7% of education funding, they accounted for 41% of the paperwork burden imposed on the states..."  
In fact, according to a personal communication from Representative Scott Martin, the House Appropriations and Budget Chair, Oklahoma's federal Title 1 funding amounts to the figures below.
Program Title                                    FY-14 Federal Award
Title I                                                     $148,119,558
Migrant Education                                        13,204
Migrant Education                                  1,507,155
Neglected and Delinquent                      334,901
Migrant Consortium                                    60,000
Title I School Improvement                    247,691
              Total                                                      $150,282,509

And these are just dollars that go to satisfying compliance with ESEA.  What about federal funding applied for and accepted by our State Department of Education (OSDE) for various federal grants and programs - money that grows the OSDE but does not put money into classrooms?  Well, since the State Department of Education is not in compliance with the State's Sunshine Law, it is hard to report a verifiable amount, however I wrote this last year:
The day the A-F rules disapproval passed the Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee, Governor Fallin issued a press release supporting the rules and the SDE touted their receipt of nearly 7 million dollars in School Improvement Grants (SIG) to be used for "turning around" schools graded as 'failing' under the NCLB Waiver-prescribed A-F grading system.
Did that money go into the classroom?  No, it went to satisfy the mechanics of a program (SIG) demanded by the Obama Administration in the Waiver - one of the Four Pillars of Education reform we have outlined before.  In addition, Dr. Barresi also applied for and accepted a State Longitudinal Database grant in order to satisfy another of the Pillars.

Obviously, our state (like many in the nation) spent a lot of time writing and administrating federal grants to help subscribe to the federal government's notion of what state education should be.  So heavy handed has the federal government become in Education, that U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander recently lamented,
...the United States Department of Education has become so congested with federal mandates that it has actually become, in effect, a national school board.  States must come to Washington for approval of their plans to educate their students.
Part of this phenomena is simply 'big government creep', however, I have begun to believe this is more serious.

Though many do not like to compare Health Care Reform with Education Reform, there are several parallels:
  • Health Care Reform was a completely top down, univited usurpation of one's individual right to choose how best to medically care for themselves via a federal law full of moving parts.
  • Education Reform (Common Core, School Turnaround, Teacher-Leader Effectiveness, State Longitudinal Database System) was a completely top down usurpation of parental rights to choose the education best for their children via state-invited federal interventions such as No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind Waivers and State Fiscal Stabilization grants.
  • Health Care Reform requires lots and lots and lots of data.
  • Education Reform requires lots and lots and lots of data.
That said, there are those who believe "ObamaCare" was made to be so difficult to navigate in an effort to crash America's current health care system.  The thought here is that if it becomes too hard to get health insurance, the public will clamor for SINGLE PAYER and just let the government handle the whole ball of wax - none of these silly exchanges - no, we'll just move America over to the same side of the abacus as England and Canada and nationalize health care.  After all, we're of socialist stock (eye roll).

I believe this is exactly what is happening to public education in America today when I look at the recent history of education 'reform'.
  • First; you claim America education is failing.
  • Second; from the start, you act as the hand of benevolence by reaching out to states in their time of monetary need with 'free' money to keep education programs running (State Fiscal Stabilization Funds) where you hook states into a four pillared education reform system that includes national standards and state longitudinal databases.
  • Third; you play on America's competitive spirit by offering states a grant where you can Race to the Top of education accountability and results, providing money through a program that continues to perpetuate the four pillars of education reform.
  • Fourth; you do NOT re-authorize the existing ESEA, but instead, go around Congress completely to create waivers for the worst parts of the law (such as the part where ALL children must be 'proficient' in English/LA and Math by 2014).  This, in essences creates your own ala cart law menu that keeps states hooked into the all-important four pillars, but also adds something called "accountability measures" for schools such as Third Grade Reading Retention programs, A-F grading scales and teacher accountability measures.
  • Fifth; you spend 6 years selling the plan to legislators while managing the whole scheme from behind the curtain of private, non-profit organizations within which taxpayers have no representation, propping up the system with huge infusions of cash from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and big business such as Exxon/Mobile and 'happy to help' players such as the US Chamber of Commerce.
  • Sixth; after you have states on their nationalized educational track through your promoted "pillars", you scare states into keeping all their 'accountability' measures by threatening their Title 1 funding.  Though states/districts have no idea what will really happen to them if they don't go along, states take the waivers and in exacting the instructions, districts self-destruct trying to figure out how to keep pressing the bar for their money like a lab rat for its pellet. *Teachers are afraid of having test scores held against them to the point of losing their jobs so they turn on administration.  *Administrators turn on parents who are told they must implement 'reform' measures and that they can't opt out of state tests the A-F grading system utilizes scores to create school grades (page 9) without forcing complete ruination of their school; 
  • Schools are expected to test 100 percent of eligible students enrolled in that school during the testing window for every OSTP exam for which they are eligible, regardless of FAY status. 
  • Schools that do not test a sufficient percentage of eligible students will be penalized as follows (all percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number): 
  • The school’s Overall Letter Grade will be reduced by one whole letter grade if fewer than 95 percent of all eligible test records have valid scores. 
  • The school’s Overall Letter Grade will automatically be reduced to an “F” if fewer than 90 percent of all eligible test records have valid scores.

  • Seventh; you collect lots and lots of data by digitizing the Common Core State Standards states had to take to get an RTT or Waiver, then, you pay two testing "consortia" to create digital online test questions that will align so perfectly that everyone who looks at the scores will be able to tell which standard the students got right and wrong on their exam.  Since we so admire the European system of everything including schooling, can't you believe this will imagine an end result that sounds like, "Sorry Johnny, you can't be an engineer because you missed several math-related test questions indicating you are not engineer material."  You also collect all kinds of miscellaneous data for federal programming such as the "Safe and Drug Free Schools" that includes very detailed information on discipline incidents (that, by the way, don't just fall off the internet when your child needs a clean record for college and career applications!).  You then use this information against schools when they decide they are dumb enough to come crawling back for more money and or 'waivers' from existing unconstitutional federal education laws to further put the screws on them to get what you want.
Unfortunately, we are now so fully entrenched in the idea that the federal Department of Education has power over the states that the Secretary of Education seems to believe it too - pulling Washington state's NCLB waiver as though he had the power to create a waiver from existing law in the first place - as though he wasn't somehow picking and choosing among states to beat first with his government stick.  

Until enough participants in the House and Senate decide they've had enough of unconstitutional government, this won't change soon.  Maybe that's why homeschool is growing by leaps and bounds.