"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Evidence lacking for annual testing

Sent to the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 28, 2015

Paul Peterson (Op-ed, Feb. 23) asserts that yearly testing done under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) resulted in increased test scores ("modest" gains in math), "solid evidence" in support of annual testing. Ron Harris (letters, Feb. 27) argues that the increased test scores are due to better test-taking strategies. 

Researchers Jaekyung Lee and Todd Reeves analyzed data from all 50 states from 1990 to 2009 and concluded that the NCLB testing policy did not increase reading gains and did not close ethnic/racial and socio-economic achievement gaps in reading. Gains in math were not "modest" but small, and the reduction of the math achievement gap fell far short of reaching NCLB targets.  Lee and Reeves based their conclusions on the NAEP test, a "low-stakes" test that is immune to "test preparation."

NCLB test score gains were not due to better test-prep: Lee and Reeves' analysis strongly suggests that they never happened.

Stephen Krashen

Original articles: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-peterson-nclb-defense-of-testing--20150224-story.html
Lee, J. & Reeves, T. (June 2012). Revisiting the impact of NCLB high-stakes school accountability, capacity and resources: State NAEP 1990-2009 reading and math achievement gaps and trends. Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(2), 209-231.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Proposed reductions in testing: the boondoggle remains

LETTER Published in Substance
February 26,2015

In my e-mail today I received a note from President Obama which included this statement: "We need a better education plan -- one that cuts standardized testing to a bare minimum ...".

Of course I agree (see Krashen, 2008), but the proposed reduction in testing that has been submitted to congressional committees appears to be only a modest cutback from the current massive, nonstop testing program. I suspect that the plan of the US Department of Education is to reduce testing just enough to satisfy at least some critics and keep the same profits flowing to the testing and computer companies.

With the proposed reductions, there will still be plenty of tests, and they will still be administered online, a huge and ever-growing boondoggle that bleeds money from schools, money that is desperately needed for legitimate educational purposes. Even if the amount of testing is cut 50%, the profits will be about the same, and we will still have far too much testing.

Is the US Department of Education (or anybody else) making any serious efforts to determine just how much testing is necessary and helpful? The answer to a proper inquiry might be very disappointing to the testing industrial complex.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Krashen, S. 2008. The fundamental principle: No unnecessary testing (NUT).  The Colorado Communicator 32 (1): 7.   Available at: http://sdkrashen.com/articles.php?cat=4

National Adjunct Walkout Day

The first happened this week in Arizona.  Here is part of the story from Bill Moyers and Co.:
On Wednesday, adjunct faculty at the University of Arizona (UA), myself included, walked out and taught-in as part of the first-ever National Adjunct Walkout Day. At least 300 of us — adjunct professors, students and tenure-tracked faculty — came out to the campus mall, deciding to dig in and call for fair wages and better working conditions for the part-time, temporary employees who make up the majority of higher education instructors.

I’ve been teaching creative writing classes at UA since the fall, and have a one-year contract, which is good for an adjunct.

What most provokes my students about the situation facing the adjuncts who teach them are the numbers. Even fans of our top-seeded basketball team think $1.9 million a year — the salary of UA head coach Sean Miller — is grotesque. The next cringe comes when considering UA President Anne Weaver Hart’s potential performance bonus of $170,000, which would be the cherry to her $600,000 annual salary. And then this: UA English Department adjuncts teach over 100 writing courses to 2,500 students each semester. Teaching full-time, and often putting in more than 40 hours a week, we earn a salary of just $33,050 a year. And many adjuncts haven’t received a pay raise in over a decade, not even a cost-of-living adjustment.

Newly seated Republican Governor Doug Ducey recently slashed higher education spending in Arizona by $75 million dollars, while sending nearly the same amount of state funds, $70 million, to private prisons. Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow responded by calling for “modernization,” wanting the state’s public universities to be “as free and able to operate on an entrepreneurial basis as possible.” (ASU is governed by the same Board of Regents as UA.)  . . . .

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When Marian Wright Edelman Forgot History

Yesterday Marian Wright Edelman weighed in on the ESEA "debate" by coming out strong against the the House version of NCLB Corporate Takeover 2.0. 

Sadly in doing so, Edelman jumps onto the rickety testing-for-civil-rights bandwagon that is aimed directly for the ditch after almost 30 years of running down the same rutted path.  Obviously, Edelman still believes what liberals pretended to believe in 1988 with the passage of Hawkins-Stafford, which set in motion the standards and testing juggernaut that has been effectively used to punish and deprive poor children, rather than to provide equity and equality. 

Interestingly, we see that since 1988 when the standardistas took charge and the Rule of the Business Roundtable began in earnest, the "achievement gap" that had been closing during the years of school desegregation and focus on equality, began to open up once more and resegregation began, and continues today. See charts below.

More testing to close the achievement gaps, anyone??  What fool would believe that another generation of the same "high standards and accountability" would produce different results?  Oh, yes, there is the corrupt corporate water carrier, Jonah Edelman, for one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

State Attorney Generals Should Do "Close Reading" On The Student Success Act

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating dietary supplements being sold to consumers by the largest retail companies in the world. After years of billion dollar profits, people getting sick or wasting their money, New York's attorney is taking on some powerful corporations.

"The scientific community, public health officials, and others have raised serious doubt about the steps taken to ensure the safety and efficacy of the herbal dietary supplements taken daily by millions of Americans," Schneiderman said in his letter. "As part of a broader investigation, NYAG is reviewing the sufficiency of the measures manufacturers and retailers are taking to independently assess the validity of their representations and advertising in connection with the sale of herbal supplements."
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters Monday to four manufacturers, in Long Island, California and Utah, demanding detailed ingredient and quality control information on every herbal supplement they sell in New York state. The companies' products include the store-brand supplements Schneiderman ordered off the shelves at Walmart, Walgreen's, Target and GNC stores in New York state.
What does this have to do with education you ask? 

Well, the scientific academic community in education has raised serious doubts about another bogus product, high stakes standardized tests.  Obama hosted the nation's governors this past week in Washington DC,  and he could have asked them to have their AG's investigate the education profiteers who have been selling the nation's public schools another toxic placebo costing taxpayers billions of dollars and decimating public schools, the teaching profession as they continue to destroy the souls of our nation's children with yet another revision of a bad policy.

Even though Paul Krugman let the cat out of the bag this week by speaking truth to power and ripping the fig leaf off bad economic policy, it seems there's still no accountability for anyone except teachers for a situation they have absolutely no control over - growing poverty.

Krugman wrote: But if my math is right, the 90s ended 15 years ago — and since then wages of the highly educated have stagnated. Why on earth are we still hearing the same rhetoric about education as the solution to inequality and unemployment?
Good question. I'm still waiting for an answer. One possible explanation could be the emperor just has no clothes. This little fictional tale from 1620 will make a good lesson this week as students prepare for PARCC testing. Perhaps it will reduce their anxiety just a little to reread The Emperor's New Clothes and help them understand why sitting at computers for hours answering inane questions instead of learning is taking up so much of their precious time in school.
It's highly unlikely Diane Ravitch or her followers letters to Congress will put any clothes back on this emperor or make a difference in terms of sane legislative changes.  As for me, I'm finished wasting my time. I just can't get excited about making another phone call, sending money to another organization, or standing out in the pouring rain and freezing cold to protest education policy. 

With all the hoopla in the blogosphere about reauthorization of ESEA, the latest media circus  isn't focused on education but on the Department of Homeland Security and its employees being held hostage so Republicans can throw poor immigrant children under the school bus once again.  Perhaps they'll find some common ground with Democrats and give immigrant children an opportunity to become soldiers, or work at a Walmart or even win the lottery and get a spot in a charter school or KIPP.

So let's check in and see what's happening in DC as the on-line petitions,  letters and phone calls flood the halls of our nation's capitol.   Congress continues to bloviate about a new and improved version of NCLB, aka, The Student Success Act  There are so many important decisions to make for the powerful who send their children to private schools where none of these policies exist. Should we test once a year in every grade? Or what percentage of a teacher's salary and job security should be based on their student test scores, 10%, 25%, 50%? 

Meanwhile, there is some good news for those working at Walmart this week. The company, which made a few billion in profits and saw their revenues surge this quarter, is raising its hourly rate to $9!  See, there's no need for Congress to pass a national living minimum wage and worker protections, no need for social studies, civics and history -- and no need for a college degree when you can look forward to $9 an hour at Walmart, or Target or another corporation that squeezes and abuses its workers and rewards its shareholders, its management team and the politicians in their back pocket. 

How many of our elected representatives in DC will do a "close reading" of the new and improved Student Success Act as they sit around discussing reauthorization of ESEA which has no chance in Hell of passing anyway. How many more books, blogs, columns, letters, protests, occupies and opt outs do we need before things change?

Will public school teachers and schools in crumbling towns and communities, urban centers and rural areas continue to be judged on the test performance of hungry, sick, anxiety ridden and depressed kids who might have to attend "bad schools" as Michelle Obama so eloquently pointed out this past week. Looks like it.

I wonder if the final version of  The Student Success Act exceed the 1,100 pages of No Child Left Behind passed a few days after 9/11. Can't wait to see the final bill that will never make it to the President's desk because there seems to be no accountability in Washington DC or in Governor's offices where union bashing, teacher trashing and budget cuts are the new normal. Another train crash again today, this time in California? No reason to invest in railroads or mass transit, especially when those making the laws and directing the money are flying around on private jets, yachts and limos. 

Meanwhile, Arne Duncan is running around like Chicken Little warning the sky is falling because of  Draconian budget cuts in the Republican proposal for education. 

Hasn't Arne  figured out yet that the Student Success Act, just like No Child Left Behind, is the placebo or Golden Goose that laid the Golden egg; and the WMD sent to blow up public education by measuring every child, every year in every subject? Maybe he was too busy playing basketball with Obama when Margaret Spellings was running this at the Department of Education.

In this upside down world of Alice in Wonderland, where up is down and right is left and no one can even tell the difference between right and wrong, just follow the Yellow Brick Road Arne.  It will lead to a beautiful Utopia where everyone plays basketball with the rich and famous and the children of the poor sit at computer screens quietly, grateful that no matter how bad their schools are, they too can become a Walmart employee some day.

It's good  these youngsters aren't being taught how to close read quarterly financial statements or they might actually see the Wizard behind the curtain i.e., the billions of dollars in profits and tax breaks going to those who need it least and to the companies making their lives and futures a bleak, empty pile of debt and impossible odds. 

Like NCLB, The Student Success Act is shaping up to include more money for vouchers, charters and a little less testing to keep the teachers and students from literally killing themselves or someone else.

Meanwhile, the intent of this insidious legislation written into law in 2001, is doing it's job by putting the final nail in the coffin of public education and democracy itself.  The powerful and the wealthy are working overtime to cut the heart and soul out of the nation's public schools and its teacher unions, the one last bastion of job security and benefits about to be toppled in a world where even cooking is now a competitive sport. 

Since most teachers are women and some are the sole supporters of their families working around the clock to jump through all the hoops being thrown their way, Republicans in state houses and Congress are determined to turn the clock back about 100 years when women knew their place and were expected to be underpaid or not paid at all. Just think how much money the corporations could save on taxes if women just taught the children for free and took care of the elderly for free. No need for expensive social programs - free labor.

So, how much longer will politicians and business leaders blame public school teachers for America losing its competitive edge in a global economy or for poor children not reaching their full earnings potential? 

That's actually one question I know the answer to, as long as they can.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Superintendent to Parents: Withdraw Your Children During Test Week

 Rocky Killian, West Lafayette, IN superintendent had this good advice for parents:
"It's inhumane what we are doing to the kids, what we are doing to the educational environment, we lost so much instructional time today, it's ridiculous," Killion told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis on Feb. 12, after computers froze during a dry run for ISTEP last week.

The Superintendent of the Year for 2015, as named by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, followed it with this: "I would prefer all of my students' parents withdraw and become home-schooled during ISTEP, and then we can re-enroll them."

Will public school teachers become "independent contractors"?

An interesting article: Why we are all becoming independent contractors (Nation of Change,  Feb. 23, 2015).

My comment, posted at http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/02/23/becoming-independent-contractors/

Many college professors are now independent contractors, known as "adjuncts." They are paid separately for each course they teach, and are not paid very much, and get no benefits.  As budgets at universities get tighter, departments are gradually moving toward adjuncts.

Will public school teachers become independent contractors? This is,  I think, one of the goals of school "reformers," whose reforms are all dedicated to more profit for the .01%. Elminating retirement and benefits, and making teaching a part-time profession would release billions for more unnecessary technology in the schools (of course some technology is great, but much of it is being imposed on schools in a great hurry without proper testing).

"Rising inequality is not about who has the knowledge; it's about who has the power."

 Paul Krugman turns his attention today to the "deeply unserious fantasy" promoted by the corporate education dissemblers and diversionists, who have made careers and millions from pretending that inequality is a schooling issue and that education will solve all the problems that poverty, classism, and racism have created. This dangerous myth is perpetuated by billionaire backers of profiteering charter groups such as the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP).  Can the lie be made more figural than that name!

A clip from Krugman:
. . . .there’s no evidence that a skills gap is holding back employment. After all, if businesses were desperate for workers with certain skills, they would presumably be offering premium wages to attract such workers. So where are these fortunate professions? You can find some examples here and there. Interestingly, some of the biggest recent wage gains are for skilled manual labor — sewing machine operators, boilermakers — as some manufacturing production moves back to America. But the notion that highly skilled workers are generally in demand is just false.

Finally, while the education/inequality story may once have seemed plausible, it hasn’t tracked reality for a long time. “The wages of the highest-skilled and highest-paid individuals have continued to increase steadily,” the Hamilton Project says. Actually, the inflation-adjusted earnings of highly educated Americans have gone nowhere since the late 1990s [see chart below].

So what is really going on? Corporate profits have soared as a share of national income, but there is no sign of a rise in the rate of return on investment. How is that possible? Well, it’s what you would expect if rising profits reflect monopoly power rather than returns to capital.

As for wages and salaries, never mind college degrees — all the big gains are going to a tiny group of individuals holding strategic positions in corporate suites or astride the crossroads of finance. Rising inequality isn’t about who has the knowledge; it’s about who has the power.

Now, there’s a lot we could do to redress this inequality of power. We could levy higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and invest the proceeds in programs that help working families. We could raise the minimum wage and make it easier for workers to organize. It’s not hard to imagine a truly serious effort to make America less unequal.

But given the determination of one major party to move policy in exactly the opposite direction, advocating such an effort makes you sound partisan. Hence the desire to see the whole thing as an education problem instead. But we should recognize that popular evasion for what it is: a deeply unserious fantasy.
Below is a chart that Krugman offers in an accompanying piece:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Colorado Students Getting It Done

R.A.V.E. action brochure passing out!

Join us at Littleton High School on Saturday February 28th at 7 p.m. to pass out opt out brochures at the end of their musical "Beauty and the Beast."

Littleton High School address -  199 East Littleton Boulevard
Littleton, Colorado 80121-1106

DATE: 2/28/2015 (Sat 7:00PM )

LOCATION: Littleton High School


The NY Times Editorial Board Stays Stupid on Status Quo CorpEd "Reform"

It was only a matter of time until the NY Times would put their full weight behind the extension of our nation's slow motion educational genocide.  As intentionally misleading and out of touch as ever, today the Times board of elites offers its latest miseducative opinionating on the ESEA reauthorization scramble.  

With the Tea Party House of Representatives pushing hard its version of ESEA that would turn Title I into a massive block grant that states could carve up and pass out to charter operators, there seems to be plenty to make any neoliberal corporation like the Times sharpen up its most poisonous pens.  But today's piece of dissembling says not a word about block granting ESEA but, rather, doubles down on in support of another generation of testing accountability as the civil rights issue of another generation. 

The Times seems oblivious to the testing boycott that escalates daily or the searing hatred among educators and parents for the Business Roundtable profiteers who lined up for another generation of corporate education welfare.  And as always they are oblivious to the facts or pretend that editorials are for making your own facts:
National test data clearly show that since the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act was signed in 2002, academic performance for the country’s students has improved and achievement gaps between white and minority children have narrowed.
Here below are a few charts from that NAEP "national test data."  Who's lying to whom?  

First, those "gaps," and below that the facts about "academic performance":


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dear NAACP: The Tests You Say You Want to Use Are Racist and Classist to the Core

I don't often post unsigned comments, but the one below by NYCDOEnuts is an exception. It came in response to my post yesterday that Carol Burris had finally seen the light and is now calling for civil disobedience to stop the next generation of high stakes tests that the oligarchs and profiteers plan to use to impose years more of lucrative testing brutality in American public schools.

NYCDOEnuts is clearly in Ravitch/Cody camp, insisting that high stakes must be preserved to maintain the lost dignity of the corporate Kool-Aid drinkers at the NAACP and the other groups that are ostensibly committed to civil rights. 

Compare the leaders in the era of Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King, Jr., who called for the end of segregation and economic oppression, to today's unimaginative batch of would-be leaders who have surrendered to the corporate reformist plan to culturally sterilize black and brown children in privately run and publicly funded chain gang schools.  How out of touch could any group of would-be civil rights advocates get!

Does the NAACP really believe that the preservation of high stakes testing is going to assure any semblance of equity or equality for the children they say that they represent? Really?

These tests and their predecessors have been used for a hundred years to stigmatize, sort, separate, and treat children in ways to make them pliable, useful, and exploitable as second class citizens. 

Does the NAACP think the new Common Core tests with their 70-90 percent failure rate for black children offers some evidence that their needs are being met??  What need is that--for humiliation and degradation, or to force their participation in their own subjugation?

Below is NYCDOEnuts' comment to yesterday's post, and below that is my response.  By the way, DOEnuts, any future comments must include your real name in order to get them posted.

Note the first thing she does is to attack Carol Burris as being an out-of-touch suburbanite:

NYCDOEnuts4:16 PM
Jim I'm as against these private minded Ed reforms as anyone. That includes opposing high stakes tests and testing.

Having said that, every civil rights organization across the country supports at least one test before graduation for students. Perhaps this is because they feel the alternative -no high stake tests at all- will usher in a system where students of color and in impoverished schools will simply be left at the side of the road by districts all across the U.S. This seems to be their position and, to be honest, I very clearly see the absolute legitimacy of both the concern and the position.

Carol Burris' district serves some of the most well to do students there are -students who don't need a test in order to get a leg up in this world as adults. So her call for civil disobedience against tests, toward parents who may never need to see the value of leveling a very unfair playing field, doesn't concern me and probably won't concerned most seriously minded people who are genuinely upset with the unfairness of BOTH this terrible testing AND schools that can't do their part (note: their part) in leveling the playing field of our society.

What does concern me is that she, as a leader, hasn't called for anything specific with which this testing regime should be replaced. In fact, no one has. Nothing. The grandstanding is nice and the sentiments are shared by many (myself included) but the plan to actually do something without a whole regime of tests is simply not there. This makes this call of hers sort of fluffy in nature and about as nourishing to a soul hungry for a fair and just system and society as a marshmallow is to a starving man (I'll eat it but it won't help).

Isnt it tme to promote a better way? It's time to show that an alternative to what we are all enduring does exist? Time to stop thinking of creative ways of complaining in social media and time to start leading us into a system that both relieves us from all of these terrible tests AND ensures that every student (every single student) is exposed to high quality in the classroom (and is prepared for a job or college when it's all done)? Jim Horn, I love your pieces and love this blog and all look up to every one of its contributors, but isn't it time to stop standing against something and start finding something to stand for?

Just a thought. Thanks so much for the share.

Jim Horn10:31 PM
Since you apparently have no memory of what happened before high stakes testing replaced sanity and learning in schools, let me offer a couple of things you need to read up about. First and foremost, the U. S. went from apartheid systems of education in 17 states to the most racially-integrated national system in the world without the benefit of high stakes tests. We vastly increased women's access to educational opportunity without requiring high stakes tests to do so. Thirdly, we closed the test score gaps between black and white children to an all time low in 1990 without the help of any high stakes tests.

That is when the resegregation of American schools began and when the testing gaps began to open up once more.

Not without some irony, that is when the test based accountability entered its second phase, with higher stakes, more tests, and more punitive measures.

Then came the third phase, promising that no child would left behind, even as children lost their schools, teachers, and childhoods to corporate charter operators with their own sweet promises and their cruel realities.

We knew in 1960 which students were not learning, and it did not take a test to prove it. We knew in 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, and still we know: they are the students disabled by poverty that no one is being held accountable for, even as our schools are turned into corporate revenue streams by profiteers who mutter empty rhetoric that once meant something beside cynical semantics.

I have been steadfast in pursuing an agenda to bring sanity back to public education in the U. S., and that agenda has not changed: 1) end high stakes testing as the first step to the restoration of schools where learning and teaching can happen. Nothing is possible without that. The Allies at the end of WW II did not need a Marshall Plan to justify the end of Nazi genocide. Nor do we.

Just as we don't need a test to determine which children are getting the help they need. These kids will never get the help they need until we end childhood poverty. Which brings me to point 2) end school and classroom segregation of any kind, whether based on ability, economics, or ethnicity. When black children and poor children go to school with middle class children, all children will get the same opportunities to learn. And the third leg of the school renewal stool: 3) end corporate meddling and profiteering in public education by putting the public back in charge of public schools. We don't need high stakes tests to do any of these important things, and all the tests in the world will never increase the likelihood that any of them will happen.

I suggest that you and those who claim the mantle of civil rights should find another strategy to bring about equality than the continued use of racist and classist tests that have always been used to justify sorting, segregation, and second class citizenship. If you can't appreciate the sad irony in your proposition, I am, indeed, sorry. Now stop wasting my time with your bullshit and your not-so-subtle accusations.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Our elite leaders in education have left a great deal of what sheep leave everywhere… for others to clean up. One of the big results of an elite education leading to an elite ruling class is just that. It has strengthened, and exacerbated a two-tier class system in this country. Simply put, regardless of what income percentile group you may be in you are either elite or common. You are either them or us. You are either a winner or loser. They compete in everything. They have since elementary school. To them the world is a zero sum game. We can see it in the language they choose to describe premises of their reform movement: COMMON CORE. RACE TO THE TOP.

A bit of history.

Commonizing attempts to make the U.S. more competitive actually started with the use of Frederick Taylor's Scientific Management in public (at the time called common) not private schools, during the industrializing economy of the early 20th century. That was when we were “ruled” by the Fords, Morgans, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and other corporate leaders (Robber Barons) of their day. Their congressional and Presidential henchmen allowed them to rule the economic roost.

For years, most institutions and schools operated under the Frederick Winslow Taylor assumption of a century ago. This assumption presumed that the masses were drones that badly needed coercion, strict instruction, precise direction, and threats with punishment because they fundamentally disliked work and would avoid it if they could. “Work,” Taylor stated, “consists of simple, not particularly interesting tasks. The only way to get people to do them is to incentivize them properly and monitor them carefully”. That is what we often call classroom management. (Think of the straight rows and folded hands on desk total obedience model.) Think of what today’s education policy makers are saying about teachers and how they want them to work.

In education today, it seems as if our reformers still live by the standard of industrial America developed a full century ago by Taylor. Captains of industry (robber barons) supported scientific management, as it was called, in order to make their employees more productive. Their belief in the “mediocrity of the masses” (as supported by empirical testing) has fostered a systemic, algorithmic approach that has made “mediocrity the ceiling of what can be achieved.” Today’s policy makers want to turn teachers into industrial employees, churning students out like Ford workers churned out Model T's.

Taylor, who as a member of the elite of his era, attended Exeter and was to go to Harvard until his eyesight deteriorated, and his followers turned efficiency into the justification for such changes. The industrial leaders of a century ago believed implementation of scientific management would benefit both workers and society at-large. Today’s policy makers have bought it hook, line, and sinker.

The best example of Frederick Taylor’s ideas at work in education today are high-stakes standardized tests--tests which have a significant effect on funding for schools and the careers of individual students and teachers. Although these exams can create enormous tension for students and administrators, it is teachers whose lives are most affected by them. Thanks to mounting pressure to get students to score high marks, teachers must concentrate on teaching the curricula chosen by test-designers, rather than local school boards or themselves.

The other major example of history repeating itself is in the meaning of "common". According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the primary meaning of “common” is: "Of or relating to a community". However two other definitions are: "Characterized by a lack of privilege or special status" and "lacking refinement".

Common Core proponents claim to use the first definition, but given the fact that only public (common) schools are required to follow these “national” standards the latter 2 definitions may actually apply. The elite’s private schools do not have to follow anything common.

CORE can be defined as: - the usually inedible central part of some fruits...I leave the conclusions to you.

All of this produces greater inequity, retards social mobility, and increases the isolation of the elite in our society. As the new ruling class tightens its grip, its members become more and more isolated from  “commoners” with the result being a smugness and arrogance they assume is their superiority as “the best an brightest”.

Beware you “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

William Deresiewicz provides us with some data about our 250 most “selective colleges”

% of students from top quarter of income distribution
% of students from bottom half of income distribution


“As of 2004, 40% of students from at [even] the most selective state campuses came from families with incomes of $100,000 and up…. The decade since, it’s safe to say, has only made the situation worse.”

Once again we can easily track why this happens besides increased tuition.  These elite sheep have been manufactured. As every product has it’s production costs, so do they. To pass inspection they must be able to be admitted to the top universities or colleges. What does it cost families to do this? Even without actual dollar amounts we can see how expensive an elite student is to produce.

First, a family must be able to afford either a top-notch private school or live in a community whose public schools are as good or better.

Second, regardless of the quality of the school, these families are convinced they must pay for tutors, test prep, music lessons, paid for community service programs, enrichment camps, sports equipment and travel teams, and any other means necessary to game the system.

Who can afford all of that? We know. So do they. More from Deresiewicz:

Less than half of high scoring SAT scores are by students from low income schools even enroll at 4-year schools. Or as Paul Krugman puts it, “ smart poor kids are less likely than dumb rich kids to get a degree.”

We are not talking about the Roaring Twenties here. “One study found that 100 (.3%) of all US high schools…account for 22% of students at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Of those, ALL BUT 6 are private!!!!” (The caps and !!! are mine.)

The universities know too. They know who butters their bread. Even with some new generosity, they must have a certain percentage of “full payers” and need to cater to their donors and “legacies”.  They need to service the upper and what they call upper middle-income classes to survive.  As a result they produce one big happy family of students, future faculty, funders, administrators, corporate leaders, and policy makers who “know how to do things right” even if they don't “do the right thing”.

Whew. As a result, doing things right means belonging to a meritocracy. Meritocracy needs data and algorithms. It means success on tests and high scores. It translates into how they decide who is good and who is bad. Anything unmeasurable, by those standards is bad. Funny how that word slipped in.

Why do they do it? They believe it. They have been raised to believe it. They have become it. To deny it would be to deny themselves. This is how they were measured as great. They think their sense of entitlement is due to them because their SAT, AP, GPA, GRE, scores were higher. We are “hot shit”, and that is how you need to become “hot shit” too. Too bad if you cant afford the manufacturing process. They have, too often lost touch with real people. They don't often grow up with plumbers, electricians, cops, or union members. As a result, their version of service (TFA) and government intervention (Race To The Top and Common Core) is condescending.

They are “excellent sheep” who, for all intents and purposes, have been raised in a bubble pasture. They are what they have been fed. They will seek to raise their lambs in that same protective pasture and create a world based only on what they know. They have merit and everyone else does not. They do everything to justify their own position and ideology.

Ironically, we have seen this all before. E. Digby Baltzell, most noted for his creation of WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) wrote in his Protestant Establishment, “History is a graveyard of classes which have preferred caste privilege to leadership.” According to him, the WASPs reached their peak during another period of extreme excess, the roaring twenties. I will spare you the consequence. I trust you remember.

What do we do now, you ask? We know some level of inequity will always exist. The key as Deresiewicz says “is to prevent that inequality from being handed down.” “Above all it means eliminating inequality in K-12.” That would take equitable funding nationwide or providing low-income families with what they need to compete from the beginning as they do in Finland Canada, and Singapore.

I ask, how can we do that without a change in our excellent sheep who, according to Caitlin Flanagan, “preen ourselves on our progressive views on race, gender, and sexuality, but we blind ourselves to the social division that matters the most, that we guard most jealously, that forms the basis of our comfort, our self respect, and even of our virtue itself: class.”

The answer is Deresiewicz’s. “If we are to create a decent, a just society, a wise and prosperous society where children can learn for the love of learning and people can work for the love of work, then that is what we must believe.  We don't have to love our neighbors as ourselves, but we need to love our neighbor’s children as our own. We have tried meritocracy. Now it is time to try democracy.”

David Greene
Author: Doing The Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks
Save Our Schools Treasurer

TWITTER: @dcgmentor

A Few “Facts” and Questions for Indiana Democrat Justin Moed

by Doug Martin

Straight off the heels of meeting private and charter school students at the statehouse rally for school privatization (sponsored by Hoosiers for Quality Education, Charter Schools USA, K-12 online learning, and many other groups detailed in my book Hoosier School Heist,) Indianapolis Democrat representative Justin Moed, who I am told is a supporter of supt. Glenda Ritz, was retweeting posts by the Hoosiers for Quality Education PAC, H4QED, yesterday.

Hoosiers for Quality Education, formerly known as the Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC, is the single most dangerous school privatizing group in Indiana.  It is the Amway/Walmart/hedge fund PAC which has funded Republicans in this state from day one to buy school privatization. 

Moed, in a response to me, the Muncie Voice and Hoosier Voices PE on Twitter, said we should “check” our “facts before we tweet,” so here are some facts that I hope Moed responds to.

So far Moed has been on the side of public education and state supt. Glenda Ritz, but his past is worth noting.  Moed, undoubtedly, is not raking in the campaign money from school privatizers that many Republicans in Indiana are, but he is getting money from those behind school privatization. 

Moed has taken money from Eli Lilly and Stand for Children, supporters of the Teach for America-Teach Plus temporary teacher and charter school agenda in Indiana.  In 2013, Eli Lilly handed Moed’s campaign $500 (page 26) and $500 more in 2014 (page 17).  Stand for Children gave Moed $750 in May of 2013 (page 18).  Stand for Children also dished out $500 for Moed’s campaign in 2012 (page 5).

In November 2013, hedge fund Democrat for Education Reform politician Mary Ann Sullivan herself gave Moed $100 (page 10).

In 2012, Andre Carson’s campaign gave Moed $500 (page 8).  Andre Carson’s campaign also handed Moed $150 in 2013 (page 23) and $250 last year (page 11).  Carson is a Wall Street Democrat (also funded by Gulen charter school people) whose wife will soon launch a charter school with money from the Mind  Trust.

And Zink Properties, a funder of Mike Pence (at least $30,000, according to state campaign finance records), Brian Bosman, and Tony Bennett, gave Moed $1,000 (page 28) in 2013 and even handed out golf prizes at some Moed event (see page 29 and page 39). Last year, Zink Properties slid another $1,000 Moed’s way (page 19).

JP Morgan Chase, the too-big to fail bank which crashed the economy in 2008 and lends millions to charter schools, slipped Moed $250 in 2014 (page 14).  The Indy Chamber gave the Democrat $500 last year, too (page 16). 

I think it best that the politicians who support public education start educating themselves a bit about the players in Hoosier School Heist.  I also think it best that supporters of public schools not forget that we must, from time to time, put pressure on Indiana Democrats, too, for there’ s a lot of money available for them to sell out.