Vermont Says NO to John King!


Diane Ravitch's blog

Vermont is the smartest state in the nation. Not because of test scores, but because the officials in charge of education actually care about children and about education. When they look at the state’s children, they see children with names and faces, not just data. When they think about their schools, they see them as places where children should experience the excitement and joy of learning.

Vermont did not apply for a Race to the Top grant, meaning that it never was compelled to adopt Arne Duncan’s ideas about how to reform schools (which he failed to do when he was superintendent in Chicago).

Vermont never enacted charter school legislation. Vermont has its own kind of school choice program. If a district or town does not offer a public elementary or high school, students may receive a voucher to attend a private (non-religious) school. Such vouchers (called “town tuitioning”) are…

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Weren’t the NYS Regents supposed to protect the children? 

Words from a parent and her special needs student, to the Regents. 
“My letter…….. 

Dear Commissioner Elia, Chancellor Rosa, and NYS Board of Regents members,

I attended the meeting on Monday. You may remember me; I wore a T-shirt with my daughter’s picture that said “A Flawed test should not negate the rest! I earned a NYS Diploma”. I spoke to several of you during the course of the day.
I followed the meeting closely in the afternoon as you discussed the CDOS, at length, which I personally considered to be a waste of time, because even though it now can stand in for a regents exam it is still a great deal of extra work and NO DIPLOMA. Students who already work harder to compensate for learning differences, being punished some more. You can paint it as pretty as you like and it is still valueless. But I admit to being heartened by the subsequent conversation about diploma options for students with disabilities. It wasn’t what I know our students need but I saw it as a door opening a crack and thought ok, they are talking about additional work on the pathways, I can get behind that. I felt ok. 
Until today. Today schools all over NYS administered the NYS common core aligned ELA regents and the Global History. By all accounts they are horrendously bad tests. Teachers are saying they were terrible. Children that got extra time sat in some cases for 6 hours for ONE test and did NOT finish! Are these tests in tenacity? In persistence? In resilience? Do our children get extra points for sticking it out without having nervous breakdowns? My daughter (whose own letter is below mine) reported that her classmate sat next to her and cried silently throughout the ELA test. She reports to feeling like crying but she is made of tougher stuff than that. She has been in public schools for 12 years with a learning disability. She has learned well, not to cry. 
This is high school, not a doctorate program or a military test of a person’s nerves to see if they can withstand torture. I am sickened by what happened in our schools today. Disgusted and horrified. I cannot even articulate how anxious I am for our children. This is HIGH SCHOOL!!!!!!! Have you all lost sight of that?
 I have alarmingly been told by several regents that they have NOT even seen this test that they voted is OK to be the deciding factor for a high school diploma. Here is link so you can have the pleasure, perhaps it will make you as nauseous as the hundreds of children that took it today.
And for your additional reading pleasure the global history and geography, which is such a bad test that it is being revised. Why hasn’t it been discontinued pending that revision? Is NYSED in the business of educating children or abusing them? 
I am advising you that Caroline Buckley will be REFUSING all future Regents exams. I charge the education department responsible for the education of millions of children to develop a pathway APPROPRIATE for her “amazing” capabilities. I demand that as she is a student with an IEP she is entitled to an IGP, individual graduation plan. You have left us no options. I will not allow you to PUNISH her any further for being differently abled. And as she so succinctly points out in her letter below. I hope you’re proud of yourselves. I’m beyond disgusted.
Bonnie Buckley
Dear Board of Regents,                                                                                                                       


   I took the ELA Regents today; it was really hard. There were words that I didn’t understand or even know. This test was so unfair to kids with learning disabilities. Some kids wanted to cry, some kids did cry, some kids wanted to tear the test up. You want kids to have futures and be able to do things they want to do, but they can’t, even if they wanted to because of this stupid test standing in their way. Kids with learning disabilities can do things that many people can’t do. They have minds filled with amazing things, they’re creative in many, many ways. They want to be things they dream of but it may not happen because they have to take a test that is really hard. Also a lot of the kids think they’re so stupid because of one test that’s in their way. Because of one test they are unable to be things that are amazing to them but not to you. I hope you’re proud of yourselves. ” 




                                                                                                                    Caroline Buckley

Susan Ochshorn: Please, Mr. Gates, Help the Children!

Not bloody likely. Too many $ in the eye$ of our kid$.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Reactions to the mea culpa of Sue Desmond-Hellman, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, continue to roll in. Sue D-H admitted that “mistakes had been made” in the education arena and promised to listen to teachers. Many who have read the memo think that the foundation still doesn’t understand why its promotion of test-based teacher evaluation is failing or why the Common Core is meeting so much resistance.

Susan Ochshorn hopes that the Gates Foundation will listen to early childhood education professionals.

At the bottom of the totem pole of influence are early childhood teachers. None of these stewards of America’s human capital weighed in on the design of the Common Core standards. They were back-mapped, reaching new heights of absurdity, including history, economic concepts, and civics and government as foundations for two-year-olds’ emergent knowledge.

Most importantly, the standards make a mockery of early childhood’s robust evidence base. Young children…

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Children as a commodity. 

New York Educator Denis Ian shares his take on how our children have become a commodity. 

“Going once … Going twice … Gone!… to the highest bidder!
Fess up! Who’s really surprised that schools are the next gold-mine for drooling hedge-funders and tech magnates? Big Banks, Big Pharma, and Big Oil … move on over. It’s Big Education’s turn. 
The lure of charter schools … with the ever-repeating money stream via taxes … was just too, too lucrative to ignore. And now the sharks are just fattening their odds and slimming their risks by ruining the long-standing public school system.
These charters are ostensible saviors of the last resort for children stuck in failing, inner-city educational mills. But the inner cities are the starting blocks. They see education in an entirely new structure and with an outcome never before considered … profit. 
To cull some schools from the system … a few at a time for now … sets the pattern. Profiteers hard-sell the “success” story and entice others to sign on … and the money siphoned from public schools further cripples already crippled schools. It’s a classic business “build and destroy” mission. 
Combined screecher resources and skewered assessment results … think Common Core! … and more and more schools become ripe for take-over. Charter operators bully their way into new situations … which, in turn, allow others to come forward to reap profits from arming these new schools swimming in redirected taxpayer monies. Everyone is in on the action. … from software providers to textbook pushers. Even the tutoring industry gets a booster shot.
So the spigots are open and the tax monies now drain into the pockets of entrepreneurs who are more about flash than about substance. Classroom performance is now superseded by the bottom line.
Charter schools will come to dominate the scene. And in true entrepreneurial form, schools will become more and more like race cars … covered with product logos and insignias of all sorts.
Expect sport scoreboards with product info flashing all game long. Campuses will be decorated by signage that speaks to the generosity of business X and Y. We might not get a Whopper High School, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get something called the MicroSoft Magnet School for Technology. You know … something extra sexy that would awe the ordinary taxpayer into a state of silly gratefulness.
Sports’ uniforms will look like those patchy outfits race car drivers wear … with logos all over the place. Cafeteria foods will be franchised out … even transportation will be “Uberized” in some fashion because … well … if there’s money to be made, they’ll make it. 
Teachers will be properly orientated company men and women … and students will be the product. The goal is to spit and polish the product just well enough to get by quality control and then … then it’s off to the bank.
Older teachers will run to retirement hills, and those too young to retire will simply quit because they will not have the intestines for what is unfolding.
So, there you have it. Schools will have new ownership, but the same funding … your tax dollars. The faculties will have been rinsed free of old blood and new, conforming teacher-bots will read from the curriculum scripts exactly as they are written … and nod their heads like bobblehead dolls.
Phony civic-minded entities that wish to maximize their exposure in order to maximize their advertising clout will pay for the privilege to be associated with the scam-school. And politicians will share in the looting of the public schools by getting loot from the looters. I’m sure you can follow that. 
Taxpaying parents will have zero control over their tax dollars, and their children will be short-changed not for a few years … but for as long as they might live. 
That’s the future. More and more control by fewer and fewer powerful people who control powerful mechanisms to become more powerful every day. Sounds like a tongue-twister, but it ain’t. It’s real. Real real.”
Going … Going …
Denis Ian

Charter Schools 25 Years Later—and What to Expect in the Future

Gates is wrong. 

The oligarchs of this nation have bought our schools.  “Stakeholders” have become obsolete. Money speaks louder than ethics. New York educator John Sheffield submits evidence for those who have forced their law upon us.  What these people are doing is wrong. Wrong in intent, wrong in theory, wrong in practice. 

John Sheffield shares: 

“So here is yet another great irony for Mr. Gates to ponder. He is so enamored with data…or at least he claims to be. Let’s take a gander at some data:
1) Start with the “Nation at Risk” report that is still cited by reformers: That report reached a false conclusion based on flawed data. “Systems scientists there produced a study consisting almost entirely of charts, tables, and graphs, plus brief analyses of what the numbers signified, which amounted to a major “Oops!”  

As their puzzled preface put it, “To our surprise, on nearly every measure, we found steady or slightly improving trends.”
One section, for example, analyzed SAT scores between the late 1970s and 1990, a period when those scores slipped markedly. (“A Nation at Risk” spotlighted the decline of scores from 1963 to 1980 as dead-bang evidence of failing schools.) The Sandia report, however, broke the scores down by various subgroups, and something astonishing emerged. Nearly every subgroup — ethnic minorities, rich kids, poor kids, middle class kids, top students, average students, low-ranked students — held steady or improved during those years. Yet overall scores dropped. How could that be?
Simple — statisticians call it Simpson’s paradox” More info here
2) The PISA scores which more recently have been used as the reformer weapon of choice are also not a valid measure of a nation’s education system and even in its own manual clearly states that it should NOT be used as such. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University provides a great breakdown which can be found here-
3) Even Mr. Gates will have trouble rebuking the “data” presented here…. regarding Common Core birth and agenda
4) Regarding the teacher evaluation methodology that he pushed onto teachers and public eduaction; In 2013 Gates’ company microsoft did away with this in his own company. In November 2013 Microsoft abandoned the “hated” system.

“On November 12, all Microsoft employees received a memo from Lisa Brummel, executive vice-president for human resources, announcing the company will be adopting “a fundamentally new approach to performance and development designed to promote new levels of teamwork and agility for breakthrough business impact.”
Brummel listed four key elements in the company’s new policy.
* More emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.

* More emphasis on employee growth and development.

* No more use of a Bell curve for evaluating employees.

* No more ratings of employees.
Sue Altman at EduShyster vividly sums up the frustration of a nation of educators at this new development. “So let me get this straight. The big business method of evaluation that now rules our schools is no longer the big business method of evaluation? And collaboration and teamwork, which have been abandoned by our schools in favor of the big business method of evaluation, is in?” 
BUT- it is still being used in public schools.
By the way Mr. Gates, maybe you should be fighting against the use of VAM if you believe in data so much. 

Read here on the court findings. 

VAM UPDATE: NYS court case re VAM finds it to be “Arbitrary” and “Capricious”.
5) Common Core itself underwent no vetting process, NO accepted and reliable prcedures to even see if it would work…NO DATA EXISTS TO SUPPORT IT.

6) CC is widening the achievement gap NOT narrowing it. 

7) You, yourself, Mr. Gates, claim to want a world class education for every child…..yet neither your children, President Obama’s children, form SecEd Duncan’s children, current SecEd King’s children….NONE of them ever attended a school that uses CC or its practices…or any of the practices you (and they) have forced upon the nation’s public schools. That means either you are a liar or a person that doesn’t want their OWN children to have a world class education like all the other kids (in which case you are unfit parent).

8) The actions of you, and the people mentioned in item 7 seem to indicate you are unfamiliar with the Federal Dept of Ed tenets set forth in 1979 by the Carter administration, so here they are for you:

Click to access Sheffield_-_Six_Main_Tenets_Behind_the_Founding_of_FedEd.pdf

9) It also seems as if your grasp on the past 30 to 40 years of history is lacking,  so please  read this synopsis: 

Click to access Sheffield_-_Common_Core_A_30_Year_Journey_of_Purposeful_Government__Lies_Deceit_and_Flawed_Data.pdf

10a) Recently Mr. Gates, you have started to blame teachers and even students for the Common Core failure; 

It is the typical “out” used by politicians and education reformers for years. Take a closer look please: Teachers, especially since the year 2000 and NCLB, have been systematically removed from the process of educational decisions; the very people with proper (and ongoing) training and experience in the fields of child development & education were removed from the process! Please tell me what data there is that says that that even makes sense?! The bottom line sir, is that educators in this country have always tried to do what they have been told by the policy makers and superiors…but the decision makers themselves are NEVER held accountable. Now, with Common Core, parents and educators alike are making their voices heard and the status quo (which includes you) is making the conscious decision to ignore these voices and continue with a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” attitude. 
10b) Please read:
11) Perhaps Mr. Gates you should look at the problem and not the symptoms, start here: 

Or here 

Or here 

Or here or here
Mr. Gates, I submit to you that your drive for data has added to the problem. YOUR reliance on technology has placed blinders on you. I understand, you and many like you, make more money the more reliant society as a whole becomes more like you. It is no secret that many hedge fund managers and reformers and testing companies are in it for their piece of educational money pie; what is best for the kids is taking a backseat.
I submit to you that an educational system that becomes over reliant upon technology and focusses upon breaking our children down to nothing more than a collection of data points in order to “serve them” better, misses the point. It misses the point because education- true education, is to make the human being better….not make the human being perform better on a test. It is about inspiring, it is about the lifting of not just academics but more importantly the human spirit. It is about stoking the fires of desire to learn and unleashing an individual’s potential. It is about freedom. It is about humanity. 
When a test on a computer overrides the input of the people involved with a child each and every day regarding decisions about a child’s education…about a child’s life…then we have given over too much power to technology in the name of standardization. We have indeed removed the humanity from humanity….
…..and that day has come. 

My data: I witnessed this happen, and sadly, do so every day. 
That is why I fight. I do not have your money Mr. Gates, nor do any of my peers who fight against what you are trying to do. We are not the enemy, we are fighting for our children, the children we are with every day, the children we know and love. While we do not have your money sir we more than make up for in things that often defy measurement. The immeasurables so important to humanity: compassion, passion, perseverance, empathy, and an indomitable human spirit. To put it terms YOU may understand: we have grit and tenacity, and our kids don’t need you or FedEd to teach our children that…they see it in us every day.
It is not too late for you, Bill. You just have been fighting the wrong fight.
Once again I extend you this invitation via the technology at hand: 

Respectfully submitted,
John D. Sheffield

Also see: 

Readers React to L.A. Times’ Critique of Gates’ Meddling in Education

Diane Ravitch's blog

Here are letters to the editor printed in the Los Angeles Times in reaction to its editorial criticizing the Gates Foundation and other wealthy philanthropists for trying to control the nation’s education agenda.

The theme of the letters is: why don’t people listen to teachers? If Gates had, he would have spent his $3 billion wisely and well. But instead, he squandered it on his own faulty ideas.

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Los Angeles Times to Bill Gates: Stop Trying to Run the Nation’s Schools!

T h i s.

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is a remarkable editorial that appears in the Los Angeles Times, of all places. The headline tells a story we did not expect to read on this newspaper’s editorial page:

Gates Foundation failures show philanthropists shouldn’t be setting America’s public school agenda

Read that again. Slowly.

The editorial recaps the serial failures of the Gates Foundation in education: Small high schools (abandoned); evaluating teachers by test scores (not yet abandoned but clearly a failure, as witnessed by the disasterous, costly experience in Hillsborough County, Florida); Common Core (not abandoned, but facing a massive public rejection).

But it’s not all bad, says the editorial:

It was a remarkable admission for a foundation that had often acted as though it did have all the answers. Today, the Gates Foundation is clearly rethinking its bust-the-walls-down strategy on education — as it should. And so should the politicians and policymakers, from the federal…

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US Secretary of Education King Hopes to Crush Opt Out Movement

Diane Ravitch's blog

Valerie Strauss reports that Secretary of Education John King is utilizing the drafting of regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act to try to snuff out the opt out movement. The new regulations demand a 95% participation rate on state tests. Schools that can’t reach that target will be subject to sanctions.

Critics say he is engaging in the same federal overreach that ESSA was supposed to curtail.

Will Senator Lamar Alexander let King get away with this disregard of Congressional intent?

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Jack Hassard: Why Bill Gates Defends the Common Core

Diane Ravitch's blog

We have long known on this site that Bill Gates’  foundation underwrote every aspect of the Common Core standards. Mercedes Schneider has documented nearly $200 million in grants specifically for the writing, evaluation, review, implementation, and advocacy for the Common Core standards.

Jack Hassard, a retired professor of science education, has scoured the Gates search engine and concluded that the investment of the Gates Foundation in the Common Core is actually $2.3 billion.

Hassard notes:

Why is Bill Gates so concerned about those that have taken on Achieve’s Common Core State Standards?

The answer is that the Gates Foundation has invested about $2.3 billion into the Common Standards and related efforts.  Please read ahead.

In public speeches, Gates has called out those who try to interfere with the implementation of the Common Standards.   When Gates first used his billions to reach out to eduction, there was some glimmer of…

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NonProfit Quarterly: The Gates Foundation Has Not Learned from Its Failures

Diane Ravitch's blog

Martin Levine, writing in NonProfit Quarterly, reviews the latest statement by the President of the Gates Foundation, Sue Desmond-Hellman, and concludes that the foundation is unwilling to learn from its mistakes.

After Bill Gates had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in creating small schools, he abruptly abandoned that idea and moved on, with little reflection.

“The foundation’s lessons learned from this experience did not result in any questioning of their core belief that the answer to building a more equitable society would be found within our public schools. They just shifted their focus to increasing the number of charter schools, creating test-based teacher evaluation systems, improving school and student data management, and setting universal standards through the common core curriculum. Each has struggled, and none appear to have been effective.

“In 2014, the BMGF supported InBloom, an effort to create a national educational data management system, shut down after…

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