Do You Believe a Universal Basic Income will Save Society? Think again.

Elysium – “Would You Like To Talk To A Human?”

I can’t help but get a bad feeling whenever a universal basic income is pitched as the next big thing that will fix poverty. Having paid attention to ed-reform, I’ve heard all of this before. Wasn’t No Child Left Behind going to do that? Or Obama’s poverty fighting, opportunity creating tool The Every Student Succeeds Act? We’ve been fed a string of promises from philanthro-capitalists that have failed to deliever. Why would a universal basic income be any different?

With the news that Stockton, California is piloting a universal basic income (UBI) program, I want to take this opportunity to raise an uncomfortable question: Are the philanthro-capitalists using the idea of a universal basic income as a way to save society or themselves?

I can’t help but get a bad feeling whenever a universal basic income is pitched as the next big thing that will fix poverty. Having paid attention to ed-reform, I’ve heard all of this before. Wasn’t No Child Left Behind going to do that? Or Obama’s poverty fighting, opportunity creating tool The Every Student Succeeds Act?

We’ve been fed a string of promises from philanthro-capitalists that have failed to deliever. Why would a universal basic income be any different?

About that Stockton universal basic income pilot, from CNN via MSN news:

The concept of Universal Basic Income has gained traction and support from some Silicon Valley leaders, including Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg. It is seen as a way to possibly reduce poverty and safeguard against the job disruption that comes from automation.

“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,” Zuckerberg said at a Harvard commencement address in May 2017.

The Stockton project has its roots in Silicon Valley, too. Its financial backers include Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes’ organization, the Economic Security Project — a fund to support research and cultural engagement around Universal Basic Income. It contributed $1 million to the Stockton initiative.

Oh, and don’t think for a moment this “free” money doesn’t come with a cost.

The project, expected to launch in 2019, hopes to use data to address the policy questions about UBI. For example, does a guarantee of a basic income affect school attendance and health, or cause people to quit their jobs or start new businesses?

The project is also interested at looking at how the funds impact female empowerment and if it can help pull people out of poverty.

The hidden cost to a universal basic income system will be personal surveillance and data harvesting combined with “nudges” from the state to help citizens make the “right” choices.

If you still don’t get the hint and continue to miss your behavior targets, these nudges will be combined with disciplinary actions.

What exactly is a nudge? I’ll let Wrench in the Gears explain:

Behavioral economics is the study of how psychological, cognitive, emotional, social, and cultural factors influence the economic choices a person makes. It challenges the idea of homo economicus, that people maintain stable preferences and consistently make self-interested choices in relation to market forces. The field was popularized in the United States by Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kaheneman. University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler built upon this work. Thaler won a Nobel Prize in Economics for his research last year.

Thaler worked closely with Cass Sunstein, who headed Obama’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. In 2008, they co-wrote Nudge, a book espousing “libertarian paternalism.” People make “choices,” but systems can be designed and implemented to encourage a preferred “choice,” generally one that prioritizes long-term cost-savings. “Choice architects” create these systems and weave them into public policy. Through strategic application of “nudges,” citizens,  otherwise “irrational actors” in the market, can be guided to conform to economists’ expectations. Through nudges, human behaviors are redirected to fit mathematical equations and forecasts. David Johnson’s 2016 New Republic article Twilight of the Nudges, provides useful background on this technique and the ethical implications of applying nudges to public policy.

Here’s some examples of how nudges could be incorporated into a universal basic income program:

  • –Miss your target monthly steps or blood glucose numbers? Expect a penalty to be deducted from your universal basic income account.
  • –Didn’t buy enough fruits and vegetables to be considered “healthy”?  Penalty.
  • –Your kid has an unacceptable number of tardies or unexcused absences from school. Penalty.

God forbid you get flagged for purchasing what is considered an “unhealthy” amount of booze or spend too much time on Weedmaps or Leafly.

In a solutionist world, getting flagged could land you on an anti-social watchlist. Being flagged as an anti-social actor in the program would carry a significant penalty. If the algorithms administering your account determine you have become a serious threat, expect an unannounced human intervention.

This clip from the movie Elysium illustrates the serious nature of a human interaction with an agent of the surveillance state.

With nudges and total surveillance, a universal basic income has all the makings of a dystopia. Not exactly a world I want my kids to inherit. How about you?

But what if it’s much worst?

Remember after 9/11 when President George W. Bush urged everyone to go shopping? I’m starting to feel like the universal basic income plan is the billionaire prepper equivalent.

What if the super-rich designed a system where the 99% keep the economy running with a universal basic income, while the 1% get to retreat to the safety of their high tech bunkers –away from the destruction they helped unleash on society and the environment.

Besides social control, what if the point of a universal basic income is to keep some sort of currency circulating so the bitcoins, dollars, or hoarded cans of tomato soup – whatever currency the 1% are counting on to keep them secure and comfortable – is still being traded by the masses and by doing so retaining its value.

From Survival of the Richest:

The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.

That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

I encourage you to read all of Survival of the Riches. Afterward, I challenge you to answer this simple question: Do you still believe the predatory philanthro-capitalists have your best interests at heart?

I don’t.

-Carolyn Leith


School Transformation Double Talk Threatens Students and Teachers

Reposted with permission from Nancy Bailey’s Education Website.

college ready

Empowered is a popular word. But in North Dakota they are handing schools over to Knowledgeworks, a foundation that will convert schools to technology.  The only way teachers will be empowered is if they sign on to Knowledgeworks!

It’s easy to be confused by what is said about schools today. We are told one thing, when quite the opposite is taking place.

We are told that with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), education will involve local decision making. Simultaneously, the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation is giving $44 million to affect state school decisions.

A citizen may have suggestions for their local school board, but who’s going to listen when that school district is taking money and doing what the Gates Foundation wants them to do?

Another example is North Dakota. Superintendent Kirsten Baesler did a podcast six months ago discussing “innovation” and “customization” of learning. She was trying to get teachers and citizens to support ND 2186, a bill that passed there to transform schools to technology.

The discussion involves double talk. These same buzz words and claims can be found in school districts across the country.

Claim: Teachers will be “empowered.”

The Reality:

Empowered is a popular word. But in North Dakota they are handing schools over to Knowledgeworks, a foundation that will convert schools to technology.

The only way teachers will be empowered is if they sign on to Knowledgeworks!

Claim: We are moving away from No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The Reality:

NCLB was all about destroying public schools with strict accountability.

Total technology without teachers is the NCLB frosting on the cake!

Claim: Teacher creativity is important.


The State of North Dakota has partnered with Ted Dintersmith, who wrote a book about what schools should be like. But he is not an educator.

Ted’s professional experience includes two decades in venture capital, including being ranked by Business 2.0 as the top-performing U.S. venture capitalist for 1995-1999. He served on the Board of the National Venture Capital Association, chairing its Public Policy Committee. From 1981 to 1987, he ran a business at Analog Devices that helped enable the digital revolution.

Where’s the teacher creativity in this?

Dintersmith uses the same line as Betsy DeVos and other corporate school reformers. In a Forbes interview he says, Schools still use a 125-year-old model, put in place to train people for industrial jobs, which lives with us to this day. 

He has also worked with Tony Wagner who once worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Claim: Customized learning is innovation.


Customized learning is also called personalized, competency-based, proficiency-based, digital, and online learning. It means children will rely on screens for instruction and nonstop testing. Much data will be collected about them.

Teachers will become secondary to the computer as facilitators, or they could be out of a job.

Brick-and-mortar schools are also jeopardized. Students might learn at home or in libraries, museums, or charter schools.

Claim: Teachers will get authority because they are trusted.


If this is true, why has North Dakota partnered with Dintersmith, and turned schools over to Knowledgeworks? Are teachers being used to spread the customized learning message? Will their jobs be intact in a few years?

Claim: Loosening regulations and laws will help students.


This is dangerous. We hear it echoed by Betsy DeVos. Think about laws that protect students.

For example, if it weren’t for IDEA,  schools would not have to work with students with disabilities.

Other federal laws include Section 504, FERPA, and Protection of Pupil Rights.

North Dakota State laws can be found here. 

ND 2186 permits these changes, found on the Knowledgeworks website.

  • Awarding credit for learning that takes place outside normal school hours
  • Awarding credit for learning that takes place away from school premises
  • Allowing flexibility regarding instructional hours, school days, and school years
  • Allowing any other appropriate flexibility necessary to implement the pilot program effectively

How will we know what students learn? You can see here how brick-and-mortar schools could be on their way out.

Claim: We are doing what’s right for children.

Reality: There is no proof that this is true. An OECD study in 2015 found that students did better with less technology!


This is just some of the double talk out there. Check out my list of state superintendents and compare what they say with other state leaders.

Tune in to the language. It isn’t always what it seems.

Note. Knowledgeworks will be working with North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina (and Indiana?). Will they be coming to your state?

All of the changes in North Dakota were across party lines.


Here is a well-researched and more detailed explanation of North Dakota’s situation. “They’ve Got Trouble, up there in North Dakota.” Wrench in the Gears.  

-Nancy Bailey

Biocapitalism, Corporate Colonialism & Education Policy

Reposted with permission from Educationalchemy.


To learn more about how biocapitalism controls bodies and minds of children via public education policy read Clayton Pierce –Education in the Age of Biocapitalism: Optimizing educational life for a flat world. Pierce explores how generations of “extractive schooling” (of which standardized testing has been a part since the birth of the Eugenics movement in the early 1900’s) and how this has begun to transform itself through “technologies of control” of which the increasing push toward computer learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence as the mode of education delivery for all children. He concludes, “education life is ever more becoming the target of an expanding range of sophisticated technologies of control (p. 142) … calling for greater and greater degrees of regulation and discipline over the body of the students” (p. 143). This makes me wonder even more about Class Dojo and other uses of privately owned technologies to monitor the student body and mind. And the purpose of them becomes yet more evident.

In the last few years a lot of debate has been had over promise and perils of ESSA. Many education advocates argued we must embrace ESSA because it promised to reduce federal choke hold of high stakes standardized testing that was wielded starting with NCLB and ramped up further under Race to the Top. The promise of EESA seemed too good to be true. Why would the same people who devoted decades to dismantling public schools, creating avenues for defacto segregation, and privatizing a public system suddenly want to turn around and “do the right thing?” ESSA authors (Lamar Alexander) claimed that testing would take a “back seat” And it has. The argument in support of ESSA was “to restore responsibility to state and local leaders what to do about educational decisions. If a state decides to move away from Common Core, they don’t have to call Washington and ask permission—they can just do it.”

And so many supporters of democratic public education “bought in” to the hype. Exactly what ARE states deciding to do instead? Those are the details we need to examine, and it’s vital (if we are really to reclaim public spaces and democracy) that we understand that there is a global paradigmatic shift occurring beyond the scope of what we already think we know or can anticipate. We must broaden our understanding of the end-game.

In unwritten or loosely defined ways, ESSA also ushers in a host of opportunities for corporations and private entities to avail themselves of every child’s most private funds of data. See Emily Talmage. The data surveillance tactics have found their ways into what otherwise might have been meaningful community and classroom practices.

Companies and government agencies still have access to students test scores (via online daily competency based education data), despite claims of reducing end-of-year testing. ESSA may in fact be reducing the role that HST testing does play in education policy and practice. But don’t be fooled. It is not because those of us in the opt out movement “won” the battle. The powers-that-be manufactured that move as a distraction. The formulators of ESSA have created the illusion that these new policies will be what we want. The opposite is true. The new avenues of data collection formulated for ESSA, in addition to academic (test) data,  include social emotional data, measuring such things a “grit and tenacity.”  They evaluate “mindfulness.” Some might be asking the question “why?”—what is to be gained from this data collection? The answer is: A great deal if you are keeping up with the research. You know this answer– at least in part.

In part, it is because in the traditional neoliberal framework, any data means money. For example, “Silicon Valley is going all out to own America’s school computer-and-software market, projected to reach $21 billion in sales by 2020.”

Data also means knowing how to anticipate outcomes through predicative analytics, how to sort and track students as future consumers, workers, or prisoners (using 3rd grade data to build prisons goes back decades). But wait….there’s more. We need to understand what this “more” is, and why HST (as insidious as it is/was) PALES in comparison to the new data collection mechanisms and forms of data being mined, and the ways in which this data will significantly erode global democracy and human rights. This is because “a mechanism that is at the heart of biocapitalism in its ever-expanding attempts to commodify all aspects of life.” (Haraway).

The capitalist/consumer paradigm is shifting beneath our feet. With the growing capacities of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the push for Big Data (McKinsey),  we have seen in the last few decades the development of education policies mirroring something more (i.e. Common Core becomes CBE which becomes online learning which means more and more uses for AI and tracking student behavior because now the computers must monitor the children once the teachers are all gone)…. See a summary here. The growing technological advances are slowly forming a new relationship between human and capital. It’s called biocapitalism. And the education policies underway, invited in through the gates of ESSA and other tactics such as social impact bonds, are the way forward for biocapitalism to successfully engender us unto it. Those “innovative assessments” being developed for ESSA are a vehicle by which corporations can build a new biocapital world for all of us. In a biocapital reality, data becomes surveillance becomes total control.

Biocapitalism transforms the interdependent systems of capital and labor (as external phenomena) into a capitalist system that utilizes more abstract form of labor that are internal and intangible. The relationship between man and machine is far more enmeshed in a biocapital relationship.

One website describes it as follows:

“(T)he concept of biocapitalism refers to the production of wealth by means of knowledge and human experience, through the use of those activities, both intellectual and corporeal, that are implicit in existence itself. We might add that every process of production reflects not only material realities, but also social contexts. Thus, relations of production not only characterize different modes of production, but also societal forms. Gradually, the process of production turns into a process of production and reproduction of itself, which is the fundamental activity of a living organism. Although this basic idea is shared by all social forms of life, it becomes absolutely central in biocapitalism.”

As this article Harpers from 1997 clearly describes, “Scratch the surface of information and biotech revolutions ….and what one discovers underneath is a ‘control revolution’….a massive transfer of power from beauracries to individuals and corporations. In an unregulated control revolution free markets and consumer choice become even more dominant forces and in virtually every arena social regulation gives way to economic incentive. …even such social intangibles as privacy become commodified.”

To learn more about how biocapitalism controls bodies and minds of children via public education policy read Clayton Pierce –Education in the Age of Biocapitalism: Optimizing educational life for a flat world. Pierce explores how generations of “extractive schooling” (of which standardized testing has been a part since the birth of the Eugenics movement in the early 1900’s) and how this has begun to transform itself through “technologies of control” of which the increasing push toward computer learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence as the mode of education delivery for all children. He concludes, “education life is ever more becoming the target of an expanding range of sophisticated technologies of control (p. 142) … calling for greater and greater degrees of regulation and discipline over the body of the students” (p. 143). This makes me wonder even more about Class Dojo and other uses of privately owned technologies to monitor the student body and mind. And the purpose of them becomes yet more evident.

So as we continue to fight yesterday’s battle, i.e for a reduction in standardized testing and believe that that’s a “win” while also ignoring the profound destruction these other education policies (see McDowell) being quietly floated under our noses are having, the effort to control the next generation (our children) will be complete. We cannot become distracted by a bait-and -switch set of tactics.  Look for the forest, not the trees. We have to see the picture for these corporate reformers is much bigger than most parents and teachers and citizens can even imagine. It explains why global billionaires and tech giants like Bill Gates and Google have such a vested interest in “disrupting” education and taking education over with “21st century technology.” Biocapitalism relies on “the use of the relational, emotional and cognitive faculties of human beings.” LINK. In a biocapitalist framework of which 21st century education is a necessary part, “what is exchanged in the labour market is no longer abstract labour (measurable in homogeneous working time), but rather subjectivity itself, in its experiential, relational, creative dimensions. To sum up, what is exchanged is the ‘potentiality’ of the subject. Whereas in the Fordist model it was easy to calculate the value of labour according to the average output and professional skills based on workers’ education and experience, in bio-capitalism the value of labour loses almost any concrete definitional criterion.” LINK

The goal is not merely to sell us all iPads or market education materials and services. The scope is greater than that, and personal data (to be gathered via educational systems sold out to private interests) will use our children’s data not simply to sort and track them by test scores, not simply to close schools in black and brown neighborhoods to profit Wall Street charter schools)….sure all of that is true….but that’s not the end game. We cannot continue to fight yesterday’s demons and expect to reclaim the rights to our schools, our children’s futures, or our democracy. First, we have to see and understand the nature of biocapitalism as an all encompassing and global phenomena and the clear pathways between the new ESSA assessments and education delivery systems and the mechanisms of control being constructed.  We have to construct systemic avenues of wholesale resistance instead piece meal compromises. We cannot afford distractions or avoidance.

The devil is in the details.

The devil is in the data.

-Morna McDermott

How exactly did the Department of Defense end up in my child’s classroom?


You cannot fully understand what is happening with Future Ready school redesign, 1:1 device programs, embedded assessments, gamification, classroom management apps, and the push for students in neighborhood schools to supplement instruction with online courses until you grasp the role the federal government and the Department of Defense more specifically have played in bringing us to where we are today.

In 1999, just as cloud-based computing was coming onto the scene, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13111 and created the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative or ADL.

Section 5 of that order set up “The Advisory Committee on Expanding Training Opportunities” to advise the president on what should be done to make technology-based education a reality for the ENTIRE country. The intent was not only to prioritize technology for “lifelong learning,” but also shift the focus to developing human capital and in doing so bind education to the needs of industry and the economy.

Representatives of Cisco Systems and Jobs for the Future co-chaired the committee. Others around the table included the e-learning industry, student loan financiers, educational testing companies, human resource managers, labor market analysts, universities, community colleges, chambers of commerce, city government, and a futurist. George Bush incorporated Clinton’s work into Executive Order 13218, the 21st Century Work Force Initiative, the following year giving the effort a bipartisan stamp of approval. The Obama administration continued this push for online learning in the National Broadband Plan, which contained an entire chapter on digital education, as well as through a variety of 21st century school redesign efforts like ConnectEd, Future Ready Schools, and Digital Promise.

ADL began as an electronic classroom for the National Guard and later expanded to serve the entire Defense Department. In 1998 the government decided to use it for ALL federal employee training. And by leveraging its influence over federal contracting the government successfully pushed for standards that enabled wide adoption of cloud-based instructional technology.

As the Department of Defense worked on e learning for the military in the mid 1990s, the Department of Education put together the nation’s first educational technology plan, which was completed in 1996. A tremendous infusion of federal funds was released into schools to support technology purchases and expand Internet access. The FCC’s E-Rate program was established that year.

At the same time IMS Global began to advance implementation of e-learning systems. This non-profit began as a higher education trade group and now has over 150 contributing members, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Pearson, and hundreds upon hundreds of affiliated companies and institutions that use its open source specifications. The Gates Foundation is a platinum level sponsor of four major IMS Global initiatives.

Over twenty years IMS Global members shared research and resources, and built up an industry now valued at $255 billion annually. So if you still wonder why they won’t give education back to human teachers, you simply need to take a close look at the many politically connected interests that are counting on digital education becoming the new paradigm.

IMS Global and ADL teamed up to establish common standards for meta data and content packaging of so-called learning objects. In the world of 21st century education reformers anticipate school will become largely about children interacting with these online learning objects-a playlist education if you will where based on your past performance algorithms will serve up what they think you need to know next. For folks like Reed Hastings, Jeff Bezos, or Mark Zuckerberg, such an education where students consume pre-determined content seems the ultimate in efficiency. Gamified experiences and online simulations being developed through ADL and DARPA in partnership with many universities and non-profits, will also provides a structure for to capture students’ soft skills and shape their behavior.

The first product ADL and IMS Global came up with was called SCORMor Shared Content Object Reference Model. SCORM provided pathways for the bits and pieces of e-learning content to get to a particular learning management system, like Dreambox, accessed by a particular student. It tracked elements like course completion, pages viewed, and test scores.

By 2008, there was a desire to track a student’s interaction with devices OUTSIDE of fixed learning management systems. New devices and games often did not work within the SCORM framework. Ed-tech proponents wanted students to be able to interact with online content in new ways, so they could record interactions taking place on mobile platforms, directly through browser searches, or via Internet of Things sensors.

ADL commissioned a new specification that could track activity streams as students interacted with online media. The result was xAPI or Tin Can API, which debuted in 2011. Now all sorts of data can be monitored, tracked, and put into data lockers or learning record stores. LRS’s can store information about what videos you watched, what online quizzes you took and the results, what websites you visited, what books you purchased, what games you played, what articles you read or annotated. It can also capture data gathered via sensors, RFID chips, and biometric monitors. LRSs collect data about all sorts of so-called “informal” learning experiences. The MacArthur Foundation has been funding considerable research in digital media learning (or DML) in informal settings for youth.

With the development of xAPI, the Ed Reform 2.0 vision of “anytime, any place” learning, learning where human teachers and school buildings are no longer required, could proceed more quickly. IMS Global is now supporting Mozilla’s open badge initiative. xAPI meta data could eventually be combined with badge programs and Blockchain/Bitcoin technology to create e-portfolios (online credential systems). And if automatic credential verification and micro-payment systems come to fruition, a virtual wallet voucher system could devastate already precarious public education funding.

The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative is a major player in the development of mobile, game-based, and virtual learning environments. They also conduct extensive research and development on online “personal learning assistants” and with the aim of creating digital personal tutors for all of us. Their research is carried out at four Cooperative Laboratories or co-labs, which are located in Madison, WisconsinAlexandria, Virginia; Memphis Tennessee; and Orlando, Florida. Each lab supports partnerships with private sector interests and institutions of higher education.

The Wisconsin co-lab works specifically on academic projects, many involving the Florida Virtual School with whom they have a long-standing relationship. The co-lab’s focus is on competency-based education. They’ve partnered with the Educational Psychology department at the University of Wisconsin Madison to create educational gaming platforms and maintain over 60 other partnerships to research and refine game-based online instruction. Another focus has been on developing MASLO or “Mobile Access to Supplemental Learning Objects,” which is enabled by xAPI technology. The Tennessee co lab has been doing research on an intelligent tutoring system that even recognizes human emotion in the person using a given device and tries to counteract negative emotion.

DARPA-the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is also in the business of developing gaming simulations and intelligent tutoring systems. They work closely with the office of the Navy. Their “Engage” program was set up in 2012 and through partnerships with Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M, UCLA, and the University of Denver, created numerous games for K12 students based on Alternate Reality Teaching “Our Space” in virtual environments. Instruction in Social Emotional learning was built into the games. Their Full Spectrum Learning project aims to create an online platform that can monitor students and identify their strengths and weaknesses and revise the experience adaptively based on the data generated.

The arrival of ADL, changed public education in a very fundamental way. It is no coincidence that the destructive No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in the year after it was created. Over the next fifteen years, with bipartisan support, education incrementally gave way to training, creativity to compliance, serendipity to standards, and human connection to digital isolation. As the curriculum became narrower and narrower, emphasizing standardized test scores and demonstrations of skill, education became a hollowed out exercise, something could be digitized and outsourced to corporations.

Data-driven, standards-based tactics have been intentionally employed to regiment the very human process of teaching and learning. During ADL’s first decade, the imperative was to get technology and Internet into schools. Once that infrastructure was in place, they could concentrate on restructuring the curriculum making screen-based education central and pushing the teacher into a secondary role on the sidelines.

Common Core State Standards were a big part of that process. The National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers created the standards in 2009. Not as many people know about the Common Education Data Standards that were established at the same time. CEDS enabled the collection and sharing of vast amounts of data across sectors from Pre-K through Community College.

The Learning Registry is another important piece of the puzzle. It was created in 2011 as a partnership between the US Department of Education and once again the Department of Defense. It is an open source distribution network of learning resources that holds meta data and para data. It is important to understand that learning objects can be tagged in many ways, including adding tags for a variety of standards. For that reason even if we get rid of Common Core State Standards, it wouldn’t necessarily make a dent in slowing down the rollout of adaptive, digital curriculum.

In addition to meta data, which is data that describes individual education resources, the Learning Registry also collects para datathrough the use of emitters that can be mounted on smart boards in classrooms.

Para data describes how online learning resources are used:

  • Who’s doing the searches?
  • What students are in the room with the person doing the searches?
  • A history of searches conducted
  • What is being viewed, downloaded and shared?
  • What is favorited or embedded?
  • To which standards is the selected content aligned?
  • What tags have been added to content?
  • How is it being incorporated into the curriculum?
  • What grade is it being used in?
  • Where is it being used?
  • What is the audience is for the item?
  • What the instructional setting is.
  • What is the experience level of the class and the teacher?

The devices in our children’s classrooms are largely there because a specific set of government policies have prioritized technology over human educators for the past fifteen years. These devices are watching us as much as we are watching them. And we should be aware that many of the programs in use are direct outgrowths of work done by the Department of Defense in partnership with private sector interests and institutions of higher education. Technology can be used for good, but not if it is given an unconditional pass in our classrooms. Shine a light on educational surveillance. Ask questions. Talk to others and organize!

-Alison McDowell

Save the Date.

Alison McDowell will be speaking in Seattle on March 25th, from 10AM-1PM at the Lake City Branch of the Seattle Public Library (12501 28th Ave. N.E. Seattle, WA 98125 ).

Her talk Personalization or Profiling: Childhood in the Ed-Tech Era Ed Reform 2.0 is free and open to the public. 


ALEC is Excited About the New Testing Provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), so is iNACOL



Personally, whenever a bill in Washington D.C. is praised for its bipartisan nature – I get worried. The common ground discovered by Democrats and Republicans, usually comes at our expense.

The Every Student Succeeds Act  of 2015 (ESSA) is being sold to educators, parents, and the public as being somehow better than No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

You may remember NCLB as the law which declared every student in the United States would be proficient in math and reading by the year 2014 – because ridiculous mandates make things happen.

To the surprise of no one, 2014 came and went and proficiency wasn’t achieved.

In short, the ESSA is better than the last federal education law that was an absolute failure. But why let some inconvenient facts get in the way of a perfectly good marketing strategy?

This may explain why the rollout of the ESSA was so short on specifics, but all about celebrating the historic bipartisanship which went into its passage.

Peak bipartisanship was reached this summer when the NEA made Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander co-recipients of their friend of public education award for getting the ESSA job done. Similar bills had failed in 2007, 2011, and 2013.

Personally, whenever a bill in Washington D.C. is praised for its bipartisan nature – I get worried. The common ground discovered by Democrats and Republicans, usually comes at our expense.

Let’s take a look at the ESSA and see if my theory holds.

We know the ESSA continues the grade span testing of NCLB and also maintains the 95% participation requirement for these tests.

The ESSA also preserves the “failing schools” rhetoric of NCLB and the stipulation for intervention to turn these “failures” around.

For charter schools, the ESSA is a dream come true.

There’s dedicated federal funds and state grants for the expansion of charters, required timely allotment of Title 1 funds, plus minimum accountability for the first 2 years of a new charter school’s existence. (I wonder why Patty Murray didn’t talk about charters during her friend of public education acceptance speech before the NEA?  The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools saw passage of the ESSA as a “big win” for charter schools.)

If that’s not enough, here’s a huge ESSA red flag to consider:

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is very excited about the passage of the ESSA.

ALEC sees the new law as an opportunity to introduce its own student-centered accountability systems through the state control provision of assessment in the ESSA.

If you aren’t familiar with ALEC, they’re a neoliberal organization bent on privatizing public institutions and solving societal problems through market-based solutions.

Some legislative success for ALEC is Right to Work Laws and Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground Law.

Here’s  the relevant excerpt from ALEC’s draft of model resolution on July 28, 2016.


NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Legislative Exchange Council recommends that states, utilizing their properly restored authority under the ESSA, consider the creation and implementation of STUDENT CENTERED ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEMS designed around the following general principles:

  • Timely Provision of Student-Level Data
  • Measure Student-Specific Progress and Restore the Focus of “High-Stakes” Testing to be on Advancing Individual Student Instruction and Growth
  • Develop Important Individualized Measures Beyond Sole Reliance on “High-Stakes” Tests, Including Engagement, Teacher Input and Assessments, and Satisfaction
  • Account for Mobility in Graduation Calculations and any other Aggregate Data Indicators
  • Recognize and Respect Parental Intent
  • Do Not Devalue Parental Choice by Treating Schools of Choice Differently
  • Support and Protect Students Succeeding in Schools of Choice

ALEC’s push for “market based solutions” in public education is nothing new. Choice has always been code for charter schools and/or vouchers.

What’s interesting is their embrace of “student centered accountability systems” and “individual student instruction and growth” which most likely is a reference to “personalized learning“, also termed “blended learning”, when a student is in front of a computer most of the school day rather than interacting with a teacher and their peers in a typical classroom setting.

Why is this important?

Six days after the signing of the ESSA, iNACOL release a webinar where the speakers gushed over the prospect of states introducing personalized learning through the innovative assessment clause of the ESSA.

In fact, slide #9 specifically lists NCLB as a barrier to the introduction of personalized learning. See bullet point #3.



Who’s iNACOL?

They’re the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). A non-profit who’s mission “is to catalyze the transformation of K-12 education policy and practice to advance powerful, personalized, learner-centered experiences through competency-based, blended and online learning.”

What Does It All Mean?

The short answer: We’ve been had.

Not only does the ESSA preserve most of the negatives of NCLB, it also opens the door to a tsunami of charter schools AND the introduction of personalized learning — where the online curriculum is also the test.

This is going to be really hard to fight on a state by state basis. It’s bureaucratic divide and conquer. I have a hunch those who drafted, lobbied, and pushed for the ESSA’s passage had this exact difficulty in mind.

-Carolyn Leith

For more on ALEC, see the Center for American Democracy.

Chris Reykdal’s Statement on Opting Out

We asked all of the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) candidates their position on opting out of the SBAC.

Four of the candidates responded to our query and we are publishing their answers today.

OSPI Superintendent candidate Chris Reykdal

Opting your child out of a standardized test is a parent’s right.  Parents have always had the right to opt their child out of particular courses or content areas.  It is not the role of the federal or state government to question the motivations of parents; they are parents and a standardized test mandate does not supersede a parental rights.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is better than No Child Left Behind (NCLB), but a few glaring faults remain.  The contradiction of a 95% test requirement while simultaneously acknowledging a parent’s right to opt out their child is still the cause of great confusion.  States are now assigned the task of compliance to 95%, and the sanctions, if any, for districts that don’t comply.  And yet the U.S. Department of Education still claims the power to withhold certain funds from states. This is where our State has to take a stand!

To address this contradiction of policy we must do five things:

1) Delink standardized tests as a high school graduation requirement;

2) Defend the right of parents to opt out their child;

3) Clearly define alternatives for students to show proficiency if they chose not to participate in federally-mandated testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school.

4) Do not require a student to test and fail first before utlizing alternative demonstrations of proficiency; and

5) Use assessment results to create intentional strategies to improve districts, schools, and where applicable, targeted interventions for students.

I believe very few parents would opt their child out of assessments if they believed the tests would be used to help their child improve AND they were confident the test would be used for  system accountability only and not to penalize or stigmatize.

Professional educators should determine a student’s grade promotion and ultimate graduation – not a test.  Incredibly, the research continues to tell us that high school GPA in combination with transcript evaluation is the better predictor of college success – not standardized tests.  Colleges and universities across the country, and the world, are reducing the weight of SAT and ACT in college admissions; for some they don’t require any tests as part of admissions.  Instead, they are seeking multiple measures – GPA, course evaluations, writing samples, community engagement, and so many other factors that are far more predictive of student persistence and success.  Clearly,  48 diverse teacher grades (4 years X 2 semesters X 6 classes per semester) are more  valid and reliable than one single measure in time.

Standardized assessments do have a role to play– to measure state, district, and when statistically significant, school building progress toward closing the achievement gaps.  But, no single test should ever be used as a high stakes factor in grade promotion or graduation and they should never be used as a hammer. 

Ultimately, educators should decide the best diagnostic tools to propel students to greater cognitive and social/emotional growth. It’s time to put the teaching and learning process back in the hands of educators!

-Chris Reykdal, Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Chris Reykdal for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Erin Jones’ Statement on Opting Out

We asked all of the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) candidates their position on opting out of the SBAC.

Four of the candidates responded to our query and we are publishing their answers today.

OSPI Candidate Erin Jones

The bullying tactic being used by OSPI regarding SBA is unacceptable. Parents are the primary educators of their children and should be allowed to opt their children from testing. The fact that so many families have decided to opt children out should be a clear message to the state about the impact of testing. Until this year, opting out did not have consequences, beyond the occasional angry interaction with an administrator claiming that avoiding the test could put the school or district in danger of losing Title I funds (not yet happened). This year, however, the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) is a graduation requirement. Parents of elementary and middle school students may have to endure the ire of an administrator or classroom teacher, but do not believe the lie that your student will not move to the next grade level if s/he does not take the test.

Far too much pressure is involved in the current testing process. Creating better and broader tests does not improve learning. My husband, who is a teacher, uses this analogy about testing -” we are just weighing the same pig with a different scale, without consideration for how and what we are feeding the pig.” We must focus our attentions for students, particularly those who have been most negatively impacted by high-stakes testing, on meeting social-emotional and physical needs, on student learning and support – feeding the pig – not on testing.

There is value in assessing students throughout the year to determine where they are growing and where they need additional supports. Although there are still requirements at the federal level for statewide testing, most assessment decisions must be made locally, with a focus on moderation and allowing educators to do most assessment in their own classrooms. We must provide teachers with smaller classes, so they can make effective daily decisions about student growth. With regard to state testing, we should be partnering with educators (including ELL and SPED teachers) and community-based organizations (including those who serve families), as well as testing experts, untied to a particular test company, to determine a better process that will help us garner the kinds of results and experiences that will lead to increased learning for students.

As we enter the “test season,” there will be thousands of families considering whether or not to opt out a child, carefully weighing the impact of the consequences and whether they are willing to advocate at the state level for a child whose graduation is called into question. Other families, often those whose students are most negatively impacted by high-stakes testing, will not even know opting out is possible or will not have the same ability to advocate for their child’s needs. As state superintendent, I will not be strong-armed by the federal government but will advocate for a better, more effective assessment process that considers the needs of ALL students and educators, that puts instruction and student support at the center of public education once again.

Erin Jones, Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Friends of Erin Jones

Larry Seaquist’s Statement on Opting Out

We asked all of the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) candidates their position on opting out of the SBAC.

Four of the candidates responded to our query and we are publishing their answers today.

01w Larry Seaquist
Larry Seaquist

LIBERATE LEARNING. It is time for us to opt out of Federally mandated, high stakes testing.  The whole state. Right now. It is time to return the management of teaching and assessment to our educators, time to stop wasting a river of money on test vendors who deliver meaningless “data,” time to restore trust in our system of public education.  Above all, it is time to let our students love learning, to enjoy school. Our schools should be as free of toxic testing as they are of cigarette smoke.

DECLARE INDEPENDENCE.  How to do it? State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn – Chief Schools Officer in Federal-speak – can sign a letter to our schools and send a copy to the Feds. He’s an independently elected state-wide official.  If he’d like political cover, a quick series of public hearings around the state would doubtless generate a groundswell of support. 

PUSH BACK HARD. We’d need to preempt a Federal response. Acting on Mr. Dorn’s behalf, our Attorney General might lodge two actions in Federal District Court.   The first would seek an injunction against Federal retaliation. We’re already familiar with the retaliatory redirection of Title One funds intended to support the education of our low income students – students who are still here and still poor.  The second would sue the Feds to do what they promised to do in the new ESSA.  With deep thanks to Senator Patty Murray for the miracles she worked to get this far, we challenge the new Federal education law – the Every Student Succeeds act – as internally inconsistent.   The new law restores the principle of state and local control of public schools.  But ignoring its own precept, the ESSA renews the Federal requirement for pervasive high stakes testing and continues to insist that 95% of all students participate.  Our case to the court: the new ESSA is self-contradictory and interferes with the state’s historic right of local control.

FULLY FUND FULLY FUNCTIONAL SCHOOLS.   Removing high stakes testing will immediately improve teaching and learning in our schools and save many $millions. It will eliminate one of the several factors that bias our schools against success by low income and minority students.  But we’ll still need to fully fund our schools to the “McCleary” standards. Perhaps our Seattle Ed hosts could next ask us SPI candidates how we propose to fully fund McCleary.

CORRECT OSPI’S ROLE AND TONE.  One more step:  This writing assignment is triggered by an imperious letter from an unelected Ass’t. SPI who reaches inside a local school district to command remedial action at the level of individual schools. Those actions will certainly disrupt already insufficient budgets, damage student learning, and accelerate our teacher crisis. That’s just as wrong as meddling by the Feds. Constitutional Job One of the SPI and their staff must be to support and protect our school districts, our educators and above all, our students.  I ask SPI to rescind the letter and to revisit our state’s Constitution and values.

-Larry Seaquist, Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Larry Seaquist for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Patty Murray’s ESEA Re-Write Leaves No Assessment Behind



Being somewhat naive, I had hoped No Child Left Behind (NCLB) would die quietly, without notice.

Regrettably, a few somebodies were paying attention. After all, way too much money was on the line to let this colossal failure slip gently into the night. So, like so many bad federal policies backed by powerful lobbyists–NCLB could not die.

Of course, the first hurdle to reauthorization was the name. No Child Left Behind has become so toxic and synonymous with failed education policy, something had to be done.

The difficult route would have been to rewrite the bill and put as many federal dollars as possible directly into the classroom.

Dollars to fund things like: smaller class size, librarians, counselors, nurses, art, music, an aid for every student with an IEP, money to build new schools, an aid for every English Language learner, competitive teacher salaries, money for full school days, paper, pencils, band instruments, full time PE teachers, tutors for struggling students, money to rebuild crumbling schools, full time cafeteria workers, recess monitors, after school enrichment programs, (add your school’s need here).

Patty Murray’s solution: a radical rebranding –which tones down the rhetoric of failure, and adds a just a hint of smaller class size.

Now NCLB has been renamed the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. To make it even more confusing, the reauthorization is referred to as the ESEA, going back to the original bill — the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

The ESEA is being sold as somehow “fixing” the problems of NCLB.

Sorry, I just don’t see it.

Sure, the idiotic 100% proficiency clause for reading and math is gone — which, after Washington State lost its NCLB waiver, labeled almost every school in our state a failure.

Let’s not forget: this epic fail of federal policy ALSO provided many parents an emperor has no clothes moment regarding high stakes testing AND added fuel to this year’s unprecedented number of statewide opt outs of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Patty Murray’s ESEA still sticks with grants –reinforcing the faulty assumption that public schools should forever be on notice and competing for scarce resources. Not to be forgotten, these grants always come with a number of strings attached, especially for poorer schools.

Here’s a thought: why not cut out all of the non-profits and other education middle men and simply fund schools based on need. Imagine, under this type of allotment system, schools like Dearborn Park could have a counselor AND printer paper.

The supposed big victory, however, is that states will regain local control. Mind you, George W. Bush also sold NCLB as an instrument of local control. Really.

The philosophy behind the law is pretty straightforward: Local schools remain under local control. In exchange for federal dollars, however, we expect results. We’re spending money on schools, and shouldn’t we determine whether or not the money we’re spending is yielding the results society expects?

I actually believe schools should be under local control, but allow me to play the devil’s advocate on the transformative power of the ESEA’s local control.

Arne Duncan has already put in place the common core standards and the associated high stakes assessments. Removing control from the federal level and shifting it to the states does little to change what amounts to a national curriculum tied to the Smarter Balanced and PARCC tests. That structure is already in place, thanks to the DOE.

Yes, the ESEA changes “failing” schools to “identified” and specifies intervention at the state, rather than federal level.

Now Randy Dorn –who has no qualms issuing dire warning against opting out, and Washington State’s unelected State Board, will get to call the shots, instead of Duncan. Is this an improvement? I don’t thinks so.

Then there’s the deal breaker: ESEA keeps the grade span standardized tests.


NCLB introduced the idea that standardized testing should be the ultimate measure of school performance. These scores would be used to rank and sort students, teachers, and schools across districts -and now states – thanks to common core. This creates two categories: winners and losers. Of course, winners should be rewarded and losers punished.

I’ll let George W. Bush explain:

Measuring results allows us to focus resources on children who need extra help. And measuring gives parents something to compare other schools with. You oftentimes hear, oh, gosh, I wish parents were more involved. Well, one way to get parental involvement is to post results. Nothing will get a parent’s attention more than if he or she sees that the school her child goes to isn’t performing as well as the school around the corner.

Measurement is essential to success. When schools fall short of standards year after year, something has to happen. In other words, there has to be a consequence in order for there to be effective reforms. And one such thing that can happen is parents can enroll their children in another school. It’s — to me, measurement is the gateway to true reform, and measurement is the best way to ensure parental involvement.

By the way, school choice was only open to rich people up until No Child Left Behind. It’s hard for a lot of parents to be able to afford to go to any other kind of school but their neighborhood school. Now, under this system, if your public school is failing, you’ll have the option of transferring to another public school or charter school. And it’s — I view that as liberation. I view that as empowerment.

High stakes testing is THE tool used to punish and close public schools. Struggling schools need extra resources, not more pressure on students, teachers, and administrators.

High stakes testing also puts the responsibility of accountability on the shoulders of children, who have to take these tests – rather than the politicians and educrats who create disastrous education policies. This is a perversion of the word accountability.

Word has it President Obama threatened to veto the ESEA, if annual testing was removed. From nprEd:

In a speech Monday at an elementary school in Washington, D.C., Education Secretary Arne Duncan laid out the president’s position on the nation’s largest federal education law, even as debate unfolds over the law’s re-authorization.

Duncan called No Child Left Behind “tired” and “prescriptive.” Nevertheless, he declared that the law’s central requirement should stand: annual, mandated statewide assessments from third grade through eighth, plus one test in high school.

Some Republicans in Congress have been discussing the idea of reducing or eliminating those testing requirements.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Patty Murray dusted off her 30 year old PTA and school board credentials in order to sell her NCLB rewrite. Patty Murray in the Washington Post:

“But M. President, that doesn’t mean we should roll back standards or accountability for schools to provide a quality education. We need to make sure we establish expectations for our students that put them on a path to competing in the 21st century global economy.

“And let me be clear on assessments. First, we know that if we don’t have ways to measure students’ progress, and if we don’t hold states accountable, the victims will invariably be the kids from poor neighborhoods, children of color, and students with disabilities. These are the students who, too often, fall through the cracks. And that’s just not fair.

“True accountability makes sure we’re holding our schools up to our nation’s promise of equality and justice. This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple.

“Another reason assessments are important is they help parents monitor their child’s progress. And if a school is consistently failing to provide a quality education year after year, parents deserve to know.

“And third, we shouldn’t forget that this law provides the nation’s largest federal investment in K through 12 education. It would be irresponsible to ask taxpayers to spend billions of dollars on education without knowing if it’s making a difference in students’ lives.

Wow, Patty Murray sure sounds like George W. Bush. The love-fest for high stakes testing really is a bipartisan affair. And then there’s this:

“M. President, we need to make sure that these assessments don’t lead to unintended consequences. But I would be very concerned about any proposal that rolls back this key student and taxpayer protection and accountability tool.

Here’s another interesting part of accountability: it never applies to the corporations, non-profits, and other organizations which create, administer, or collect the data from these standardized assessments.

The cost and quality of these assessments are also outside the realm of acceptable debate. No talk about “taxpayer protection” or any “accountability tools” when it comes to the obscene amounts of money being spent on these assessments or has gone into the testing infrastructure.

Never mind the $330 million used to develop the SBAC and PARCC tests or OSPI’s estimated five year district level cost of $165,500,000 for the implementation of the common core standards in Washington State. We should also ignore the numerous scoring errors and any data breaches as well. Funny how accountability doesn’t go both ways.

Of course, the real crisis in America’s public schools is childhood poverty, the answer to which will never be found on a high stakes standardized test.

One of the cruelest twists of this whole sad affair is that the original ESEA was written to directly fight childhood poverty, NOT create a testocracy. Too bad Patty Murray doesn’t understand this.

You can contact Patty Murray toll free at (866) 481-9186.

-Carolyn Leith

Hillary Clinton: More of the same on Common Core Standards

So we know where Mrs. Clinton stands on permanent war, on privacy for the rest of us (hers is taken care of by her very own server in the basement/garage) and on our civil liberties (whistle-blower Edward Snowden as traitor), but some folks might be hopeful that maybe, just maybe, because she IS a “Democrat”, that she might lighten up on the corporate reform elements of public education such as the Common Core Standards and the testing that goes with it.

Well, I hate to break it to you but Hillary is singing the same old song as Obama and all of the other neoliberals…what’s good for mine ain’t gonna happen for yours.

From Truth in American Education:


Hillary Clinton Defends Common Core

Well it didn’t take very long for us to get our answer on where Hillary Clinton stood on Common Core.  Clinton’s campaign arranged an education roundtable at a satellite campus of Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa.  Toward the end one of the participants, Diane Temple, who is a high school teacher and adjunct instructor at the college said, “I think that we are very blessed to live where we do where education, starting very young through high school, this community college, we have all these opportunities and we are so fortunate here.  I worry that not all of America gets to experience this treasure that we have. I think Common Core is a wonderful first step in the right direction of improving American education and it is painful to see that attacked.

“And I am just wondering what can you do to bring that heart back to education in the United States?  You know what can we do so that parents, communities and businesses believe in American education and that teachers are respected and our colleges are respected and we offer a quality education to all Americans throughout the United States?” Temple asked.

“Wow, that is a powerful, touching comment that I absolutely embrace.  You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument going on around Common Core it’s very painful because the Common Core started off as a bipartisan effort, it was actually non-partisan, it wasn’t politicized, it was trying to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was, there wouldn’t be two tiers of education.  Everybody would be looking at what was to be learned and doing their best to try to achieve that,” Clinton responded.

“I think part of the reason why Iowa may be more understanding of this… You had the Iowa Core for years.  You’ve had a system of plus the Iowa Assessment Tests.  I think I am right in saying I took those when I was in elementary school.  You know the Iowa tests so Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time, and you see the value of it.  You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system.  And a lot of states, unfortunately, haven’t had that so they don’t understand the value of a core, in the sense, a common core that then you can figure out the best way to try to reach,” Clinton added.

She then responded to Temple’s actual question.

“But your question is really a larger one.  How did we end up at a point where we are so negative about the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation which is how our kids are educated?  There are a lot of explanations for that I suppose, but whatever they are we need to try to get back into a broad conversation where people will actually listen to each other again and try to come up with solutions for problems because the problems here in Monticello are not the same problems that you’ll find in the inner city of our biggest, you know, urban areas. That’s a given,” Clinton stated.

“We have to do things differently, but it should all be driven by the same commitment to try to make sure that we educate every child.  That’s why I was a Senator and voted for Leave No Child Behind because I thought every child should matter and should be (told) ‘you are poor,’ ‘you got disabilities so we are going to sweep you to the back so don’t show up on test day because we don’t want to mess up our scores.’” Clinton added.  “No!  Every child should have the same opportunity and so I think we have got to get back to basics, and we have got to look to teachers to lead the way on that.  You are the ones (looking at the teachers in the group) who have 21, 15 and 46 years of experience.  So I think you make a very important observation about what we need to be doing and what I hope I can do in this campaign and as President.”

I’m curious what exactly about the argument is painful?  The fact we’re having an argument?  Is she upset with the plethora of New York Democrats who are against it?  Calling something “non-partisan” doesn’t mean it lacks ideology or that it is good.  Does Clinton even understand why parents oppose Common Core?  I doubt it or she doesn’t care.

Another question how has “Leave No Child Behind” (you’d think she’d get the name right) helped to educate our kids? Apparently she forgot to tell her Iowa audience that she opposed No Child Left Behind in 2008.

Also, she needs to explain her comment calling education the most important “non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation.”  She said that teachers need to be involved in developing education policies.  What about parents?

Education Reform: Democracy Left Behind

By its nature, democracy presumes the value of local control. Democracy trusts in the people to rule themselves, based on their collective judgment, freed from externally imposed dictates.

From the National Education Policy Center, policy brief:

How Recent Education Reforms Undermine Local School Governance and Democratic Education

This video provides an overall understanding of the brief.

Some of the recommendations in this study:

· Move from a punitive to a participatory model for engaging local communities in reform efforts. Rather than threatening to withhold funding from struggling schools, provide additional support and incentives for staff, parents, and other community members to get involved in deliberating about educational problems and their solutions.

· Encourage the adoption by states and locales of curriculum standards that include a substantive focus on (as opposed to mere lip service to) the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for effective participation in a democratic society, and de-emphasize high-stakes testing of “the basics” as the exclusive focus of accountability measures.

· Curtail the privatization of public resources through Supplemental Education Services (SES) and school choice. Keep the individuals and organizations receiving public funds accountable to the public through democratic procedures and support elected school boards, the entities best positioned to exercise proper discretion in allocating education funding within firm guidelines based on democratic education’s three limiting principles.

· Seek ways to promote integrated schools in order to ensure access to equal educational opportunities and the diverse context of learning that all students need for the inculcation of democratic character—for instance, include enrollment constraints based on socially significant categories such as race as part of school choice policy.



What the No Child Left Behind Waiver will mean to Washington State

The sum of all these changes means that test scores will matter even more in the states with waivers than in the states oppressed by NCLB’s heavy-handed regulations.

The following was written by Diane Ravitch and posted on US News’ The Daily Beast:

Obama Grants Waivers to NCLB and Makes a Bad Situation Worse

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Secretary Arne Duncan is right about the No Child Left Behind law: It is an unmitigated disaster. Signed into law a decade ago by President George W. Bush, NCLB is widely despised for turning schools into testing factories. By mandating that every student in the nation would be “proficient” by 2014, as judged by state tests, it set a goal that no nation in the world has ever met, and that no state in this nation is close to meeting. The goal is laudable but out of reach. It’s comparable to Congress mandating that every city, town, and village in the nation must be crime-free by 2014 … or their police departments would be severely punished.

NCLB is the worst federal education law ever passed. About half of all public schools in the nation have been stigmatized as “failing” because they couldn’t meet its utopian mandates, and the proportion is certain to grow every year. In Massachusetts, the nation’s highest performing state, 81 percent of the state’s schools are officially “failing” by the standards of NCLB. No national legislature in history has ever designed a law that resulted in the shaming of most of its public schools.

Since Congress has failed to reach agreement on the reauthorization of NCLB, Secretary Duncan has offered waivers to those states eager to escape the whip of NCLB, but only to those states willing to accept his ideas about school reform. Eleven states applied, and 10 received waivers. More are expected to apply for a waiver in the future.

The sum of all these changes means that test scores will matter even more in the states with waivers than in the states oppressed by NCLB’s heavy-handed regulations.

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced modifications to the No Child Left Behind program on Thursday at the White House. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo)

No one seems to recall that NCLB is George W. Bush administration’s title for what was originally known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. ESEA was passed during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, specifically to direct federal aid to schools that enrolled poor children. Its central purpose was equity, not global competition. It was certainly not contemplated at the time that the law would become a club with which to beat up and close the schools that enroll large numbers of poor children.

President Obama said that the waivers were necessary because the law was “driving the wrong behaviors, from teaching to the test to federally determined, one-size-fits-all interventions.” But what neither the president nor Secretary Duncan admits is that Duncan’s mandates will promote even more teaching to the test, while posing a heavy fiscal burden on the states at a time when they are strapped for cash.

Governor Jerry Brown decided that California would not apply for a waiver, because he wanted relief from federal regulatory burdens without preconditions. Brown has been outspoken in his criticism of testing, which is out of control in California and across the nation because of NCLB. In addition, California’s State Department of Instruction estimated that it would cost $2.5-$3.1 billion to comply with Duncan’s requirements for a waiver.

The states that won a waiver must agree to accept the Common Core State Standards, a national curriculum in mathematics and English language arts developed by nongovernment groups that has yet to be field-tested anywhere; they must agree to evaluate teachers and principals based in large part on the test scores of their students; and they must agree to intervene forcefully in the lowest-performing schools. At the same time, the Obama administration is promoting merit pay, so teachers whose students get higher test scores will be paid more.

The sum of all these changes means that test scores will matter even more in the states with waivers than in the states oppressed by NCLB’s heavy-handed regulations. Teachers will be evaluated based on whether their students’ scores rise or fall. Testing experts agree that gains in student scores will be smallest for teachers of children with disabilities and children who are English language learners and probably greatest for those teaching children in relatively affluent districts. In other words, those who teach children with the greatest needs are likeliest to get a bad evaluation and eventually fired. This will add to the already high level of teacher turnover in the neediest districts.

The schools with the lowest test scores—the ones targeted for “intervention”—will be overwhelmingly located in poor neighborhoods, because poverty is highly associated with low test scores. The principals and teachers of many of these schools will be fired, and their schools may be closed. Many of these low-performing public schools will be turned over to private management, since the Obama administration and conservative governors alike believe in the power of deregulation and privatization in education. Some states will promote vouchers as a reform. Students in the most vulnerable communities will find that their neighborhood public school has been shuttered, and they will be sent elsewhere, all in the name of school reform.

For additional information regarding this Federal waiver, see:

Vermont Stands Up for Its Children

Interview with Diane Ravitch: California’s Rejection of NCLB Waivers Sends a Message