October 13, 2014

With Common Core, federal forces cleverly circumvented the law that prevents federal direction of states’ educational systems, making it impossible for the Congressional Budget Office to look at costs of implementation. Common Core advocates slid this "state-led" initiative under the radar of the taxpaying public. Researchers estimate that Common Core implementation will cost consortium states $16 billion collectively over the next seven years, a sum that goes on top of the costs states already struggle to come up with for schools. States adopting Common Core will need to spend approximately $2.47 billion in one-time costs to obtain aligned English language arts and mathematics instructional materials. [Source]
The misnamed “Common Core State Standards” are not state standards. They're national standards, created by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association (NGA). They were designed, in part, to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum, hence the insertion of the word “state” in the brand name. States were coerced into adopting the Common Core by requirements attached to the federal Race to the Top grants and, later, the No Child Left Behind waivers. (This is one reason many conservative groups opposed to any federal role in education policy oppose the Common Core.)
No law states that the federal government can withhold educational funding from states if they refuse to adopt Common Core. Yet the U.S. Dept. of Education tries. The federal government is attempting to bribe states to stay in Common Core by holding out the No Child Left Behind waivers as a trade. We are protected by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be force to submit by our Executive Branch, which holds no legal authority over education in any state in our country.  Three federal laws in addition to the U.S. Constitution state that the federal government has zero authority to direct states’ education. [Source]
[The entire country just finished a decade-long experiment in standards-based, test-driven school reform called No Child Left Behind. NCLB required states to adopt “rigorous” curriculum standards and test students annually to gauge progress towards reaching them. Under threat of losing federal funds, all 50 states adopted or revised their standards and began testing every student, every year in every grade from 3–8 and again in high school. (Before NCLB, only 19 states tested all kids every year, after NCLB all 50 did.)] [Source]
Written mostly by academics and assessment experts—many with ties to testing companies—the Common Core standards have never been fully implemented and tested in real schools anywhere. Of the 135 members on the official Common Core review panels convened by Achieve Inc., the consulting firm that has directed the Common Core project for the NGA, few were classroom teachers or current administrators. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results. [Source] Parents were tricked into advocating for Common Core. In Utah, The PTA accepted a $2 million donation to advocate for Common Core without ever analyzing whether Common Core was for the best of our nation’s children and teachers.  This might be one reason why nobody, not even educators, seem to know more than catch phrases and rhetoric concerning Common Core. [Source]
Achieve, Inc.,  is a Washington, D.C. group formed in 1996 by a group of corporate leaders and some governors who wanted “standards-based education” across states. Michael Cohen has been president of Achieve, Inc. since 2003. Before that, he was a career-long federal education officer: Michael Cohen has been Director of Education Policy at the National Governors Association (1985-90) and Director of Planning and Policy Development at the National Association of State Boards of Education (1983-1985). During the Clinton Administration he served as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Special Assistant to President Clinton for Education Policy, and Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley. Thus, Michael Cohen went from a career in the U.S. Department of Education to leading Achieve, the national-standards group that wrote the CCSS, to then working for the national standards’ testing arm, PARCC, as its project manager, thus writing the tests for those standards which his group had written, that now will be federally directed and overseen by the Department he long worked for.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia decided to follow the new guidelines. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia opted out, while Minnesota decided to only adopt the English standards (with others perhaps joining them soon). These states began implementing the standards last year. State governments and governors teamed up with a few nonprofit organizations to create a rubric that all participating states could follow.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker asked the state legislature to abandon Common Core. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is asking the state to examine the standards. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, one of the Common Core standards' big supporters in the beginning, called on his state to develop its own standards. A group of teachers and parents are now suing him, saying that school is starting in a few weeks and they have no idea what to teach the incoming children now. Sens. Rand Paul (Ken.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) were all against the standards last year. [Source]
In March 2014, the state Department of Education announced that it would give a $220 million, 6-year contract to American Institutes for Research to develop and administer new accountability tests to replace Florida’s old testing system, the FCAT. The Washington-based "nonprofit" will develop tests aligned to the Florida Standards, the new education benchmarks based on the controversial Common Core State Standards. The new tests are expected to be ready for the 2014-15 school year. AIR has contracts to develop tests for about 10 states including Florida.

The global eduction company Pearson landed a major contact in  2014 to administer tests for common-core standards. While a number of companies inquired in response to Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)'s request for proposals for the project, ultimately Pearson was the only bidder. Despite that, PARCC state officials (a 20-state consortium) are convinced the process was sound and resulted in the best vendor getting hired. The contract with Pearson is one of "unprecedented scale in terms of states coming together." One aspect of the deal with Pearson that is sure to get attention is the PARCC states' prediction that it will result in an assessment price of about $24 per student. The list of experienced subcontractors secured by Pearson, who include ETS, WestEd, Caveon, and Measured Progress, also gave PARCC state officials confidence, a Mississippi official said. "PARCC states wanted to ensure we got the best assessment at the best price possible," said Christopher A. Koch, superintendent of education in Illinois, another PARCC state, in a statement. Pearson has a worldwide footprint in education. The company says it operates in 70 countries, though 60 percent of its sales are in North America. The $24-per-student price was reached after "very aggressive negotiating" between PARCC state officials and Pearson, a back-and-forth that lasted weeks, he said. He attributed the lower-than-previously-estimated per-student cost partly to economies of scale that can be achieved through having large numbers of states and students participating at once. The PARCC states to date have had three contracts with Pearson, according to the consortium. One of those contracts calls for the London- and New York-based company, along with ETS, to do test-item development during year one of the common core, which includes the process of extensive field-testing underway in the states this year. [Pearson Wins Major Contract From Common-Core Testing Consortium, May 2, 2014, Education Week - Education Week is funded by Bill Gates]

Cuomo, Common Core and Pearson-for-Profit

By Alan Singer, Huffington Post
February 28, 2012
It will probably take more than a billion dollars in the bank to run for President of the United States in 2016. It looks like New York State Governor is already lining up corporate support. My concern is that he will sell out the education of New York State's children to for-profit companies, particularly Pearson, to position himself for the run. 

Pearson is one of the most aggressive companies seeking to profit from what they and others euphemistically call educational reform, but which teachers from groups like Rethinking Schools and FairTest see as an effort to sell, sell, sell substandard remedial education programs seamlessly aligned with the high stakes standardized tests for students and teacher assessments they are also selling.

Pearson reported revenues of approximately $9 billion in 2010 and generated approximately $3 billion on just digital revenues in 2011.

If it has its way, Pearson will soon be determining what gets taught in schools across the United States with little or no parental or educational oversight. Pearson standardized exams will assess how well teachers implement Pearson instruction modules and Pearson's common core standards, but not what students really learn or whether students are actually learning things that are important to know.

Pearson is already creating teacher certification exams for eighteen states including New York, organizing staff development workshops to promote Pearson products, and providing school district Pearson assessment tools. In New York, Pearson Education currently has a five-year, $32 million contract to administer state test and provides other "testing services" to the State Education Department.

It also recently received a share of a federal Race to the Top grant to create what the company calls the "next-generation" of online assessments.

Pearson, which claims to be the "world's leading learning company," is in the process of designing mind-numbing "multimedia textbooks... designed for pre-schoolers, school students and learners of all ages" for use on Apple's iPad so school systems will have more products to purchase instead of investing in quality teaching and instruction. In case you are not already worried about children seating dazed in front of computer screens for hours on end, Pearson promises its "respected learning content" will be "brought to life with video, audio, assessment, interactive images and 3D animations."

According to the New York Times, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is "investigating whether the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of one of the nation's largest educational publishers, acted improperly to influence state education officials by paying for overseas trips and other perks." Since 2008, state education officials have been treated to trips to London, Helsinki, Finland, Singapore, and Rio de Janeiro.

From February 9-11, Pearson organized a National Summit in Orlando, Florida to promote its concept of "Best Practices in School Improvement" and to sell its programs for integrating Common Core State Standards into curriculum, instruction and assessment. These include providing "struggling and successful schools alike with professional development and consultative services that have helped their leaders transform instruction in the classroom and raise students' achievement levels."

The company brags that senior America's Choice fellows Sally Hampton and Phil Daro, employees of a Pearson sub-division, "not only led the development of the Common Core Standards, but also helped design Pearson's CCSS services, helping us tailor our professional development, district level consultative services, job-embedded coaching, learning teams for building capacity, and even whole school CCSS implementation services in order to meet your specific needs and interests as you align curriculum content and practices to the standards."

In September, Pearson cemented its ties with the New York State governor and the State Education Department when David Wakelyn was appointed Deputy Secretary for Education. Governor Cuomo claimed:
"With his extensive experience in improving the performance of schools all across the nation, David Wakelyn is the right person to help turn around our schools. He is an expert in state policy for education, and together we will deliver results for students and families in New York." 
However, Wakelyn's resume shows that after briefly working as a teacher as part of the Teach for America program, he moved into educational policy and decision making, primarily as a Senior Associate for America's Choice School Design, which is now a leading Pearson sub-division.

Of course, Wakelyn is not the only corporate representative to move into a government position where they can sell products produced by their former (and future?) employer. Karen Cator, the Director of the federal Department of Education 's educational technology section previously was an executive at Apple Computers for eight years.

Education Giant Pearson Wins 'Unprecedented' Common Core Test Contract (Excerpt)

May 5, 2014

...Regarding the announcement [of Pearson winning the contract for Common Core testing], Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post observed that two years ago, the nonprofit group FairTest predicted that while education policy makers promised Common Core reforms would increase competition and innovation, the same education firms that scored the big contracts in the past would still do so in the age of Common Core.

Pearson has had its share of interesting associations and controversy as well.

In 2010, the year most state boards of education were adopting the Common Core standards, Pearson purchased America’s Choice, the for-profit subsidiary of progressive Marc Tucker’s National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), which had assisted Bill and Hillary Clinton in achieving their education goals during President Clinton’s two terms. Later, Tucker served on the feedback team for the Common Core English/Language Arts standards, and two senior fellows from America’s Choice, Phil Daro and Sally Hampton, served, respectively, on the math and ELA work groups that drafted the Common Core standards.

Pearson acquired America’s Choice for $80 million, and proceeds from the sale created a $3.6 million per year endowment for NCEE. In addition, Daro and Hampton then became senior fellows at Pearson.

In December, the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the education giant, agreed to a settlement of $7.7 million after accusations by the attorney general of New York that it helped develop Common Core-aligned courses for Pearson, Inc., its corporate parent.

As Breitbart News reported, New York State’s attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman argued that Pearson, Inc. worked to develop a series of courses, instructional materials, and software aligned with the Common Core standards.
“Pearson, Inc. decided to develop its Common Core aligned course offerings within the Foundation, with substantial funding by Pearson, Inc., in order to attract foundation support and credibility for its commercial products,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“Pearson, Inc. and the Pearson Charitable Foundation planned that the courses developed within the Foundation would be sold commercially by Pearson, Inc.,” he continued. “Internal business analyses prepared by Pearson, Inc. projected that potential profits from sales of the courses and related offerings could be in the tens of millions of dollars.”
According to a report in the New York Times, Schneiderman also asserted that Pearson, Inc. had planned to use its charitable foundation “to win endorsements and donations from a ‘prominent foundation.’ That group appears to be the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” which has been the primary source of private funding for the Common Core standards.


By Arizonians Against Common Core 

A nonprofit organization called Achieve, Inc., in Washington, D.C. is the main driving force behind creating the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). The Common Core (CC) standards were initiated by private interests in Washington, D.C., without any representation from the states. See Common Core: Myths vs. Facts here written by American Principles Project.

From the Achieve, Inc. website: "To this day, Achieve remains the only education reform organization led by a Board of Directors of governors and business leaders. This unique perspective has enabled Achieve to set a bold and visionary agenda over the past 15 years, leading Education Week in 2006 to rank Achieve as one of the most influential education policy organizations in the nation." Achieve is a Washington, D.C. "think tank" which does not include membership from all of the states.

In Achieve's "Common Core Implementation Workbook" they state, "After 30 years of fits and starts, true transformational reform in education is not only possible but also entirely within our grasp." So Achieve has been working on "national education standards" for 30 years! They continue on, "The implementation challenge looms large. In response, Achieve and the U.S. Education Delivery Institute have developed a practical Common Core Implementation Workbook for all states in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The workbook uses a proven performance management methodology known as 'delivery' to lay out clear action steps for states and districts. It provides relevant information, case stories of good practice, key questions and hands-on exercises for leadership teams to complete together. Regardless of your timeline, the workbook offers state and district leaders the means to plan for the CCSS and then drive successful implementation. The discipline of delivery was first developed in 2001 under U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. "So the system of delivery was not first developed by the states but from from the United Kingdom's Tony Blair and in 2001! So much for the Common Core standards being a "state-led" effort! This is long before what is stated on the CCSSI website of this process starting in 2009!

"Eventually the creators of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) realized the need to present a facade of state involvement, and therefore, enlisted the National Governors Association (NGA) {a trade association that doesn't include all governors}, and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), another DC-based trade association. Neither of these groups have grant authority from any particular state or states to write the standards. The bulk of the creative work was done by Achieve, Inc., a DC-based nonprofit that includes many progressive education reformers who have been advocating national standards and curriculum for decades. Massive funding for all this came from private interests such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. which has donated $150 million in grants to implement the Common Core Standards (See Common Core: Myths vs. Facts as well for further information).

For a quick visual overview on how the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) {actually Federal Standards} view this flowchart: How is it implemented in our "States"? below: *


By Arizonians Against Common Core

You can see from the "How is it Implemented in our 'States'?" flowchart, there are companies that will directly benefit by implementing Common Core. Some of these companies are:

* The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged $150 million dollars in Grants in 2007. Bill and Melinda Gates are directly tied to the United Nations, and they will directly benefit from the software packages that are sold to train teachers in the classroom through Microsoft.

* Publishing Companies- Pearson, Scholastic News, MacGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (AZ textbooks used in Public Schools are primarily from the publisher Harcourt) etc., will benefit from Common Core because they will provide the textbooks, for training teachers and teaching students, and curriculum changes that will need to be made to implement Common Core. Pearson, the largest on-line book company in the world, announced in their 2012 Earnings Report that "The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)...awarded Pearson and Educational Testing Service (ETS) the contract to develop test items that will be part of the new English and Mathematics assessments to be administered from the 2014-2015 school year. We continued to produce strong growth in secure online testing, an important market for the future. We increased online testing volumes by more than 10%, delivering 6.5 million state accountability tests, 4.5 million constructed response items and 21 million spoken tests. We now assess oral proficiency in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Arabic and Chinese. We also launched the Online Assessment Readiness Tool for the PARCC and the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Common Core consortia to help 45 states prepare for the transition to online assessments." Can you say more $$$ for Pearson???

* Achieve, Inc. connections- who will benefit from Common Core? Craig Barrett is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Achieve, Inc., he is the current Chairman for the AZ Ready Education Council; and he is a Thunderbird Faculty member promoting United Nation Principles. (He is also the Former CEO/Chairman of the Board of Intel). Computer companies will directly benefit from computer sales to the states and local school districts. All of the Common Core student assessment testing will now be computer based. See (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers {PARCC} website for more details on the new student testing that will replace AIMS).
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