Emails reveal the “Gates Machine” in action after the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision that charter schools are unconstitutional

Here is just a peek at the corrupt influence of the Gates Foundation in the Washington state charter schools scheme. Do take the time to read some of the emails hyperlinked in the article.

“A meeting was held at a Starbucks between the Gates Foundation and Superintendent Jacka [of the Mary Walker School District] where they worked out a financial agreement. As shown in the emails, the Gates Foundation wrote the grant proposal for the Mary Walker School District and after the school district’s review and approval, a check was sent to MWSD in December, for the first of two grants to the MWSD. The first grant was for $250,000 and the second grant totals $2.1M.

That grant money did not include an additional $160,000 paid to MWSD from the Gates Foundation via the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

It would behoove all to read the grant proposal written by the Gates Foundation for the Mary Walker School District. It reflects the fact that there are well-defined strings attached to any money that Gates “donates”. They do want a return on their investment.”

Seattle Education

money_machine 

Is the Gates Foundation an invisible fourth branch of Washington’s state government?

In a previous post titled The charter school shell game in Washington State: Money laundering at its best (or worst?) by way of OSPI, I described how first private and now public money is being laundered through the Mary Walker School District and to charter schools. The first charter school to enjoy this set up is Rainier Prep which is located in the Highline School District

In this post I will provide the specifics of where this scheme originated, how it evolved and the players involved. This is an explicit example of how Bill Gates, through his foundation, is able to manipulate people and policies to fit his agenda, using millions of dollars to grease the wheels. This is also an example of Gates making an end run around the Democratic and legal processes.

Within days…

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Conservatives for Exit Exams: A lesson in high-stakes testing

Why conservatives should celebrate, not bemoan, the passage of California’s SB 172 eliminating exit exams.

Breann Treffry
Opt Out Spokane
Washington State Against Common Core

There seems to be some confusion among conservatives regarding recent developments in education reform. As previously evidenced by Congressional Republicans’ support of the Every Student Succeeds Act (a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and a bill that delivers veto power over state education plans to the U.S. Secretary of Education) and now by what we hope is a misunderstanding over the good news of California’s repeal of exit exams, many trusted conservatives appear to be doing very shallow research and a great disservice to the anti-Common Core and opt out movements.

Tests known as exit exams, while they have been around for over a decade in California, are a relatively new element of the same federal reforms that have brought us the Common Core State Standards, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and a gutting of FERPA laws to allow student data collection and sharing on a phenomenal scale without parental knowledge or consent. All of these reforms are sustained by high-stakes testing. Testing and standards are directly linked, and the data through which policies are influenced and profits are made is gathered directly by the tests. Nevermind that these tests are often invalid, with cut scores being set after results are in, with scorers hired via Craigslist ads, with questions being psychological (not just academic) in nature, and, in the case of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, with the entire test being experimental and unproven. As many parents are becoming more informed about high-stakes testing, the numbers who choose to allow their children to participate are falling. 2015 produced Washington state’s highest opt-out numbers ever.

1554380_351907538283396_1733073351_nIn order to coerce parents and students into taking these tests, governments, districts, and schools will raise the stakes, often at the behest of private interests who profit greatly from the testing industry. The federal government threatens to withhold funding or close schools; states and districts instruct their principals to hold high pressure meetings with each parent who wants to exercise their right to opt their child out of state testing; the Washington state legislature required (thankfully, now amended) that retention be considered for THIRD graders who scored too low on the state test; state colleges are convinced to accept the SBA as an entrance exam; and so on. But by far the highest of the stakes placed on any test is requiring it as an exit exam to receive a diploma. This creates the potentiality that a student who has spent 13 years of his life working hard in school could pass all courses with a 4.0 and be denied a high school diploma because he did not take or pass one particular test. Creating this situation, as has been done in Washington state, is nothing more than a top-down coercion tactic aimed at increasing the number of students testing and, therefore, the amount of data collected and profits made through the test.

California’s SB 172 removes the highest of stakes on testing by eliminating the requirement of an exit exam. This does not mean high school students will not take tests and be required to pass them. In the state of Washington and elsewhere before exit exams and requiring a single test for graduation, performance was demonstrated in part through course finals that helped the teacher determine whether a student had sufficiently mastered a course. It is a system of greater local control and, indeed, students are still required to take and pass their finals.

The idea of local control in education, typically touted by conservatives as a desirable one, includes the notion that determinations affecting a student should be made as close to the student as possible. California’s former exit exam (CAHSEE) was determined at the state level. Washington’s exit exam is moving toward being determined at the national level (transitioning from the HSPE/EOC to the SBA). It seems the best we can hope for is that conservatives expressing support for what is a move away from local control are simply confused and misinformed. As a new legislative session and election season is nearly upon us, we can also hope that they do continue to speak up. Conservatives should be cheering California’s passage of SB 172 and supporting similar legislation in other states.

Sophia Abelita—Common Core Addition

I was sent a link today to a very brief article at PJ Media that included a video.  The article’s title caught my attention—Little Girl Destroys Common Core Math in Under 2 Minutes.

Sophia Abelita—Common Core Addition

In the video, Sophia worked the same problem twice.  The first way she worked it she used a strategy based on place value.  The second and more efficient way she worked the problem she used the standard algorithm for addition.  Many students like Sophia, are being taught to do addition using strategies base on place value in second and third grade because that is what is called for in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M).  The CCSS-M does require the standard algorithm for addition but it delays that requirement until fourth grade.  Until the fourth grade, students are to be taught and use strategies based on place value.  The CCSS-M does not specify the strategies that are to be used, only that they are based on place value.

This issue was addressed in a post called Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Does It Add Up or Down? Part 2.  The section from that post has been copied below.

Standard Algorithms

Here are graphic depictions of the standard algorithm for each of the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
additionsubtraction

 

 

 

 

 

multiplicationdivision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the standard algorithm for each operation required in the Common Core State Standards?  Yes!  The Common Core State Standards does require the standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Is the requirement delayed?  Yes!  But, this is not a good thing.
algoresThe Common Core State Standards for Mathematics does delay the requirement for the standard algorithms.  During that delay, what is taking place?  Well, leading up to the standard algorithm the standards require the use of strategies based on place value.  This allows for teaching alternative algorithms that are not efficient.  Even though the standard algorithms are based on place value, the standards emphasize strategies based on place value rather than the standard algorithms.

The Where’s the Math? webpage called Standard Algorithms in the Common Core State Standards shows the standards that explicitly require the fluent use of the standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  This page also shows the standards that lead to the development of the standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  It is in many of these standards you will see the required strategies based on place value.

What do strategies based on place value look like?  Here are a couple of videos that do a better job showing some of these strategies than I could do explaining them.  I encourage you to take the time to watch both videos.  Even though both videos were made prior to the CCSS. They show the type of strategies the CCSS encourage and publishers are including in their CCSS aligned programs.

48,000+ WA Students Refused Testocracy–Here are the Opt-Out Numbers for Seattle

This is a re-posting of an article published on Seattle Education.  It is re-posted here with permission of the author, Carolyn Leith, and Dora Taylor who maintains Seattle Education.

Seattle opt-out numbers for 2014-2015. It’s on!

hale_opt_out_kiro_smallSeattle had an incredible first year resisting the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

To see what occurred statewide, see 48,000+ students refused the testocracy in Washington State by opting out. This isn’t an “anomaly”, it’s an uprising.

Let’s take a look at the final numbers for Seattle and see what happened. It’s also worth noting Seattle’s opt out numbers turned out to be higher than what was initially reported by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in July.

11th Grade

Seattle’s 11th graders captured the media’s attention with their willingness to step up and opt out. This became such a phenomenon John Oliver mentioned Nathan Hale in his profanity laced take down of high stakes testing.

What do the final numbers look like? A mind blowing 76.1% of 11th graders opted out of the English Language Arts test (ELA) and 80.5% for Math.

For ELA, this translates into 2,425 students.
ela1For Math, this translates into 2,557 students.
math1What’s also interesting is a significant number of 3rd through 8th grade students opted out. After the OSPI press release, the narrative became parents of 3rd through 8th grade students must be OK with the SBAC.

Granted, the final numbers aren’t as stunning as the 11th grade. That said, the final count was high enough to throw a wrench into the system. Each grade, from 3rd to 8th, failed to meet the 95% participation requirement. That’s quite an accomplishment for the first year of resistance to a brand new assessment.

It’s important to remember that these are the kids who will face the SBAC as a graduation requirement. Now is the time to rise up and push back on it, before more harm is done.

Below is a break down of the opt out numbers by grade for Seattle Public School (SPS) students. (Click on the image to enlarge. Opt outs are listed as “No Score”)

3rd Grade

OSPI “Not Tested Report for 3rd grade” ELA. Student refusal = 118.
In final report, total students with no score = 235. Total refusal rate of 5.3%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 3rd grade Math”. Student refusal = 121.
In final report, total students with no score = 245. Total refusal rate of 5.5%
ela3math3
4th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 4th grade ELA”.  Student refusal = 145.
In final report, total students with no score = 235.  Total refusal rate of 5.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 4th grade Math”  Student refusal = 144.
In final report, total students with no score = 247.  Total refusal rate of 5.8%
ela4ela45th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 5th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 167.
In final report, total students with no score = 241. Total refusal rate of 6.0%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 5th grade Math”. Student refusal = 171.
In final report, total students with no score = 269. Total refusal rate of 6.7%
ela5math5
6th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 6th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 178.
In final report, total students with no score = 206. Total refusal rate of 5.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 6th grade Math”. Student refusal = 200.
In final report, total students with no score = 241. Total refusal rate of 6.5%
ela6math6
7th Grade
OSPI Not Tested Report for 7th grade ELA. Student refusal = 235.
In final report, total students with no score = 284. “Total refusal rate of 8.3%”
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 7th grade Math”. Student refusal = 238.
In final report, total students with no score = 275. Total refusal rate of 8.1%
ela7math7
8th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 8th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 312.
In final report, total students with no score = 359. Total refusal rate of 10.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 8th grade Math”. Student refusal = 346.
In final report, total students with no score = 386. Total refusal rate of 11.4%
ela8math8
Another interesting trend, the higher the grade, the larger the refusal rate. Third grade starts out with a solid refusal rate of 5%, by eighth grade the refusal rate climbs to 10% for ELA and 11% for math.

How many SPS students opted out of the SBAC?

For the ELA assessment, the number is 3,985.

For the Math assessment, the number is 4,220.

Not a bad start resisting a new assessment many parents had never heard of.
you-canCarolyn Leith

 

 

 

 

Making Big Ideas Into Small Ideas: The GOP Tendency

This is the seventh in a series about the report released by American Principles in Action, ThePulse2016, and Cornerstone Policy Research Action.  Permission has been granted for text from Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates to be published on Stop Common Core in Washington State.  The Executive Summary from the report was published in the first post.    The second post in the series was The Need for a Scorecard.  The third post in the series was The Public-Private Partnership: How Private Entities Developed the Common Core and Enlisted the Federal Government to Drive It Into the States.  The fourth post in the series was Common Core System.  The fifth post in the series was The Common Core Standards Lock Children Into an Inferior Education.  The sixth post in the series was The Common Core Pushback.  Here is the sixth section.

6. Making Big Ideas Into Small Ideas: The GOP Tendency

Common Core has become a flash point in the public square across the political spectrum. Its adversarial divide is elitists (those who believe that a people’s lives should be managed) versus populists (those who believe that people should govern their own lives) rather than along party lines. Republican and Democratic activists alike recognize that Common Core is the result of a systemic breakdown in governance.

Common Core activists understand how Common Core won an immediate, albeit a vague and pre-development, commitment from 48 governors and subsequently swept, almost in unison, into 45 states. Activists have fought against the federal, state, and local government. Many activists have reviewed thousands of pages of government statutes, regulations, grant documents, studies, and meeting minutes and have met with their governor, executive agencies, and federal and state legislators. They understand that the adoption of Common Core so quickly by so many states came about because elitist private entities prevailed on the federal executive branch to push the standards into the states through grants and regulatory threats disguised as relief from burdensome regulations.

Activists understand the crucial breakdown: the state education executive bodies (departments of education and state boards of education) pine for the conditional federal dollar and, in addition, many, perhaps most, of their jobs exist to administer that dollar. As a result, the state education apparatus turns toward the federal executive and away from the state’s legislature and citizens. That near exclusion of the citizen paves the way for the series of education fads and poor products like the Common Core. In state after state, on matter after matter, the controlling policy is simply, “What do the Feds want?”

Courageous public officials have made this observation. The experiences of Andrea Neal provide a case in point. Neal is an English language arts teacher and journalist who served on the Indiana State Board of Education during the implementation of a state law requiring the adoption of new, high-quality standards to replace Common Core. Regarding the state education apparatus’s efforts pursuant to that law, Neal observed:

The ‘new’ academic standards are at minimum 85 percent Common Core or Common Core paraphrased. The feds made clear they’d grant no waivers to states that didn’t have ‘college and career ready’ standards, assessments tied to those standards and teacher evaluations based significantly on test scores. The safest bet — as states quickly learned — was to adopt standards that looked a lot like Common Core. Hoosiers don’t determine education policy in Indiana. The federal government does.

In that vein, the Texas Commissioner of Education in 2010, Robert Scott, and the governor, Rick Perry, were particularly attuned to the federal influence on education policy. In rejecting, the Race to the Top application Gov. Perry stated:

[W]e would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education. If Washington were truly concerned about funding education with solutions that match local challenges, they would make the money available to states with no strings attached.75

Some have suggested that, whether the funding or decision-making comes from the federal government or a state government, it should not matter in terms of the quality of the consequent policy or product. After all, aren’t both the federal and state governments constructed along the same lines with a legislative, executive, and judicial branch?

As the activist knows well, the current interplay between the federal executive and the state executive turns the constitutional structure on its head. It presently works contrary to its purposes of securing “the freedom of the individual”76 and of:

[allowing] local policies “more sensitive to the diverse needs of a heterogeneous society,” permits “innovation and experimentation,” [enabling] greater citizen “involvement in democratic processes,” and [making] government “more responsive by putting the States in competition for a mobile citizenry.”77

The current practices subvert that apparatus. Tying conditions or policies to funding deceives citizens and legislators. Where did the policy originate? Is it the view of the state executive that it is the best policy possible? Was that view the result of a prudential evidence-based approach? Who is driving the policy? Does the state executive believe it is being implemented in the best way possible? The answers to those questions are, at best, unknowable under current federal practices.78

We note that, on the continuum from legally mandated to politically coerced to induced through conditional grants, it is likely grant inducement that causes the most harm to the constitutional structure. It creates the most ambiguities, or confusion, to the citizen as to why a state or locality has adopted a certain policy or product.

In rejecting the Race to Top grants, Governor Perry touched on this problem:

Through Race to the Top funding, the U.S. Department of Education seems to be coercing states like Texas to suddenly abandon their own locally established curriculum standards in favor of adopting national standards spearheaded by organizations in Washington, D.C.79

As with other citizens, legislators who delve into the process understand the nexus between the perverted process and the poor quality of policy. As stated by Texas state Rep. Rob Eissler, Public Education Committee chairman in 2010, “[T]he two things I worry about in education are fads and feds, and this combines both.”80

Amy Edmonds, education policy analyst, Wyoming Liberty Group and former Wyoming state legislator, elaborates on that sentiment:

We continue to give lip service to the fairytale that states have control over the development and delivery of education in public schools. This is simply not true. The federal government has effectively created a system of “incentives” using the power of the federal purse to hammer states into submission. Wyoming, like most states, does not develop education policy that makes sense for our rural Western public schools, we develop policy based on what the federal government wants us to do. But we slap the word Wyoming in front of the legislation and say it’s state based. It’s utter lunacy.

Similarly, Del. Jim Butler of West Virginia observes:

As a state legislator I have been at first surprised and now very disappointed that the West Virginia State School Board and the State Department of Education officials have been so willing to mislead the public, and legislators, in order to prop up deeply flawed policies that are potentially harmful to West Virginia children only because they are promoted by lobbyists and federal agencies.

At the federal level Congress has the talking points on education and local control down pat, unfortunately it appears that they are only cementing into place federal authority at the expense of parents and children.

And Indiana state Sen. Scott Schneider:

According to our United States Constitution education is the sole responsibility of the states, to be carried out according to each state’s constitution. The Federal government, through the Federal Department of Education, has its tentacles entangled in just about every aspect of education at the state level. Through the threat of reduced or lost funding, the feds dictate policy directly and indirectly to states’ boards of education and departments of education, rendering the voice of the people – through their legislatures – mute. To truly improve education in this country, the Federal government must get out of the business of education completely, and return this function to the states. It is time to abolish the Federal department of education.

The activist –be she a parent, teacher, or some other citizen– knows this all too well. She has gleaned it from the volumes of papers she has read, from her entreaties to legislators, governors, and state board members, and from her networking with other activists from across the country.

With regard to the GOP presidential contest, almost all candidates have now voiced some sort of objection to the Common Core. However, as is the tendency in the party on issue after issue, rather than fighting on grand, timeless ideas or principles, many GOP politicians have responded to this issue by latching onto an insipid, flavorless part. They have made a big idea into a small idea. They argue that the standards were a good idea but that the federal government “hi-jacked” them (not true); that the standards were good (not true) but that the implementation is poor; or that government did not reach out to parents and get them on board. Or, some go along with a fallacy that standards re-branded and accepted by the state educational structure have replaced the Common Core with something different (in truth such standards are aligned with the Common Core such that children are taught with Common Core-aligned textbooks and subjected to Common Core- aligned standardized tests).

Making the big idea into a small idea gives short shrift to the parents fighting for their rights and for their children’s future and to the activists who have devoted so much of their energy and time. Such tactics fail to address the root problem, thus opening the door for the same or another fad to be pushed right back into the schools. They also give the impression that the candidate (or the officeholder or the party) lacks courage.

We looked positively on those candidates who opposed the recent NCLB reauthorization legislation as inadequate in regard to protecting parental rights and state and local decision-making, especially in the context of substantial GOP majorities in Congress.81 We note that three GOP candidates who are senators voted against the legislation, whereas Sen. Graham (SC) did not cast a vote.82

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the sponsor of the senate NCLB bill, S. 1177 (also known as the Every Child Achieves Act), contends that the bill is conservative due to its prohibitions on USED; due to its elimination of the NCLB dictate that a state show Annual Yearly Progress toward 100% student proficiency; and due to purported flexibility that the government is giving the states with regard to matters such as state accountability systems.83 We do not discount the bi-partisan support the bill enjoys in the Senate: for the first time, there is bi-partisan consensus that the federal education footprint should be reduced. This is even more remarkable because Congress has generally lost its big battles with this President. However, S. 1177’s federal restrictions are illusory. For example, its vaunted prohibitions on the federal government largely replicate the existing ineffective prohibitions contained in NCLB (like the current prohibitions, they lack an enforcement mechanism for the states); it keeps the ineffective, expensive, and overbearing federal testing mandates; and it denigrates student privacy.84 A NCLB reauthorization put forward by the GOP-controlled Congress should have done much more to return power to the states and the people.85 It should have, for example, eliminated the federal testing mandates and the requirement that states submit a state education plan for USED approval.

At the heart of the report card is a parent and citizen movement to take control over education decision-making versus the GOP tendency to make big issues into small issues. Activists recognize a strong connection between, on one hand, the poor quality of the Common Core and the intrusive data collection and, on the other hand, the federal government’s dominant role in these policies. They understand that the failure to address the big idea, restoring federalism (returning power to the states), will negate the success of any small ideas suggested to tweak failed policies.

Because of the duplicity with which the Common Core was introduced and because the pushback movement is relatively recent, we view through a charitable lens candidates who initially supported the Common Core system but then changed their minds. At the same time, though, we must acknowledge those who opposed the Common Core from the beginning.
UntitledThe footnotes are available in the full report.  You can download the full report by clicking on Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates.

The Common Core Pushback

This is the sixth in a series about the report released by American Principles in Action, ThePulse2016, and Cornerstone Policy Research Action.  Permission has been granted for text from Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates to be published on Stop Common Core in Washington State.  The Executive Summary from the report was published in the first post.    The second post in the series was The Need for a Scorecard.  The third post in the series was The Public-Private Partnership: How Private Entities Developed the Common Core and Enlisted the Federal Government to Drive It Into the States.  The fourth post in the series was Common Core System.  The fifth post in the series was The Common Core Standards Lock Children Into an Inferior Education.  Here is the fifth section.

5. The Common Core Pushback

Participants in the pushback movement initially become engaged for one of multiple reasons: the qualitative defects of the Standards themselves and the aligned curricula, concerns with the assessments aligned with the Common Core, or concerns with the connected intrusions into student and family privacy. But many quickly became alarmed by the broader picture: The Common Core scheme is designed to influence other subjects in K-12; to transform education in America by promoting non-academic “outcome-based” training (not education) of the type rejected by parents 20 years ago; to feed into elitist economic policy whereby children are reduced to “human capital”; and to establish a sweeping and intrusive system of data-collection and student-tracking. Moreover, these dramatic changes were forced onto America with only a cursory nod to political institutions designed to ensure high-quality policies and adherence to the will of the people.74

In the absence of systemic changes, a national train wreck as bad as, or worse than, the Common Core will once again be pushed onto the American people. Thus, citizens want to know what reforms a candidate would champion as president to guard against such catastrophes.

The media, including much of conservative media, and the vast majority of politicians do not appreciate the depth of this issue. The federal executive has de facto unchecked power over state policy-making, and for their part, private entities heavily influence federal policy. Politicians who do not recognize this systemic breakdown leave citizens with the impression that they do not understand, and therefore will not fix, the problems that facilitated the Common Core. They may also leave the impression that they lack courage. Such politicians leave the door open for an illusory fix, such as the “rebranding” of Common Core in Indiana and other states, and for further policy dystopia.

UntitledThe footnotes are available in the full report.  You can download the full report by clicking on Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates.