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'End Common Core!' echoes from Chicago... Chicago Teachers Union unanimously approves resolution opposing Common Core. American Federation of Teachers Local 1 to bring opposition before the AFT convention in July in Los Angeles

The Chicago Teachers Union at its May 7, 2014 House of Delegates meeting unanimously approved a resolution in complete opposition to the so-called Common Core. The lengthy motion, which will be brought before the American Federation of Teachers convention in Los Angeles in July, was passed by the 800-member House of Delegates without a dissenting vote. The motion came before the HOD after a lengthy debate among the members and on the union's executive board. Three speakers spoke in favor of the resolution and none against before debate was ended. When a speaker rose to close debate, CTU President Karen Lewis asked whether anyone wanted to speak in opposition to the resolution, and after a half minute ruled that there were no speakers rising to speak in favor of the Common Core, and the motion was approved. [Disclosure: This reporter spoke on the resolution as a member of the HOD, moving to close debate].

Rank and file opposition to corporate "school reform" has moved a long way since American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten (above left) invited billionaire Bill Gates (above right) to be a featured speaker at the AFT's 2010 convention in Seattle. At the time, Weingarten ignored the history of the labor movement in the Northwest and insulted the union organizers who had been thwarted by Gates' union busting at Microsoft. In the fact of protests from some union delegates, Weingarten ordered the Baltimore local to cheer the billionaire to drown out opponents. The prize for the Gates invitation included million dollar corporate "reform" grants for Tampa, Pittsburgh, and Denver, along with Weingarten's support for merit pay that was forced into a large number of union contracts, especially those in major cities where teachers and students are largely minority. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The official text of the resolution was in the packets of each of the delegates as the meeting began at 4:45 on May 7, 2014 at the Operating Engineers Union Hall in Chicago. It reads as follows:

Resolution to Oppose the Common Core State Standards

WHEREAS, the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives, not solely preparation for college and career; and

WHEREAS, instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

WHEREAS, the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice; and

WHEREAS, high quality education requires adequate resources to provide a rich and varied course of instruction, individual and small group attention, and wrap-around services for students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were developed by non-practitioners, such as test and curriculum publishers, as well as education reform foundations, such as the Gates and Broad Foundations, and as a result the CCSS better reflect the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers than the best interests and priorities of teachers and students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were piloted incorrectly, have been implemented too quickly, and as a result have produced numerous developmentally inappropriate expectations that do not reflect the learning needs of many students; and

WHEREAS, imposition of the Common Core State Standards adversely impacts students of highest need, including students of color, impoverished students, English language learners, and students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards emphasize pedagogical techniques, such as close reading, out of proportion to the actual value of these methods – and as a result distort instruction and remove instructional materials from their social context; and

WHEREAS, despite the efforts of our union to provide support to teachers, the significant time, effort, and expense associated with modifying curricula to the Common Core State Standards interferes and takes resources away from work developing appropriate and engaging courses of study; and

WHEREAS, the assessments that accompany the Common Core State Standards (PARCC and Smarter Balance) are not transparent in that –teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available given the nature of computer adaptive tests; and

WHEREAS, Common Core assessments disrupt student learning, consuming tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration; and

WHEREAS, the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards – including the political manipulation of test scores – are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union opposes the Common Core State Standards (and the aligned tests) as a framework for teaching and learning; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union advocates for an engaged and socially relevant curriculum that is student-based and supported by research, as well as for supports such as those described in the Chicago Teachers Union report, The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will embark on internal discussions to educate and seek feedback from members regarding the Common Core and its impact on our students; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will lobby the Illinois Board of Education to eliminate the use of the Common Core State Standards for teaching and assessment; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to the Common Core State Standards; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Illinois State Board of Education, the Chicago Board of Education, the Governor of Illinois, and all members of the Illinois legislative branch; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that should this resolution be passed by the CTU House of Delegates, an appropriate version will be submitted to the American Federation of Teachers for consideration at the 2014 Convention.

The resolution has also been reported on the union's website, www.CTUnet.com

Private millions and federal billions combined between 2009 and 2013 to force the so-called "Comon Core" on most of the nation's states and school districts. Then, rank and file and mass opposition to the Common Core broke out across the nation, and by late 2013 some states were trying to "rebrand" the flawed product, while others were simply rejecting it. Trying to steer a compromise course in the face of massive and national teacher opposition to the Common Core, Randi Weingarten supported a "moratorium" to retool the tests that are central to Common Core, but by then the train had left the station and retooling was left behind. The dollars behind the entire Common Core fiasco came from private corporate foundations, most notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education. Above, Melinda Gates with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during their attempts to salvage the remains of Common Core.The passage of the resolution joins on of the most powerful voices in teacher unionism into the growing national movement against Common Core. During the debate within the union -- and within the union's leadership caucus, CORE -- teachers repeatedly rejected warnings that opposition by the CTU to Common Core would bring the union into an alliance with anti-union state leaders in Indiana, Louisiana and other states. Ultimately, the teachers' answer to that argument was, "So what?" The national movement against Common Core has been caricatured by the Obama administration as being a right wing "Tea Party" movement, when in fact it is much more broadly based.

According to the resolution, the CTU will lobby the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois General Assembly to eliminate the use of the Common Core for teaching and assessment.

The original impetus to Common Core’s began following the financial crisis of 2008 and the Stimulus Bill presented by the first term of the Obama administration in 2009. The Stimulus Bill gave $4.35 billion to the federal Department of Education to createthe “Race to the Top” competition between states for scarce dollars. In order to qualify for funding, the states needed to adopt Common Core and agree to massive expansion of charter schools. Both Common Core and charter school explosion have been signature policies of the Obama administration since Barack Obama appointed the controversial former "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools, Arne Duncan, as the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Although supporters have claimed that Common Core was developed by teachers as approved by states, opponents have long noted that the millions of dollars to produce Common Core in most of the states came from the anti-union Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other leaders of corporate "school reform."

“I agree with educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy,” said CTU President Karen Lewis after the vote. Lewis, a Nationally Certified Board Teacher and former high school chemistry teacher, now leads the national opposition to Common Core among unionists. Previously, union leaders have refused to demand an end to Common Core, instead proposing delays, as was done in New York. “Common Core eliminates creativity in the classroom and impedes collaboration," Lewis said in a statement on the CTU website (www.ctunet.com). We also know that high-stakes standardized testing is designed to rank and sort our children and it contributes significantly to racial discrimination and the achievement gap among students in America’s schools.”

The Illinois Federation of Teachers, of which the CTU is the largest member, has not taken a position on Common Core. As to the Illinois Education Association (IEA), a similar resolution was not permitted to be voted on at the recent Illinois Education Association state convention. The proposal in opposition to Common Core was ruled out of order by IEA President Cinda Klickna. The NBI had been introduced by veteran Park Ridge fifth grade teacher and delegate, Jerry Mulvihill. The National Education Association convention will be held at the beginning of July and will face the question of the union's position on Common Core despite the failure of the Illinois NEA section to discuss the issue.

The American Federation of Teachers will debate the resolution from Chicago at its national convention in Los Angeles in mid-July. [Disclosure: this reporter and several other Substance staff members are delegates to the AFT convention].

CTU PRESS RELEASE MAY 7, 2014 BELOW HERE:

Chicago Teachers Union joins growing national opposition to deeply flawed Common Core Standards. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin. May 7, 2014 312-329-6250

CHICAGO - Today, members of the House of Delegates (HOD) of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) passed the following resolution that enjoins the city's educators to growing national opposition to the Common Core State Standards, saying the assessments disrupt student learning and consume tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration.

Now that the resolution has passed, the CTU will lobby the Illinois Board of Education to eliminate the use of the Common Core for teaching and assessment; and be it further will work to organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to the law that increases the expansion of nationwide controls over educational issues.

Common Core's origins can be traced to the 2009 Stimulus Bill which gave $4.35 billion to the federal Department of Education which created the "Race to the Top" competition between states. In order to qualify for funding, the states needed to adopt Common Core with the added incentive that participating states would be exempted from many of the more onerous provisions of George Bush's "No child left behind" program.

"I agree with educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy," said CTU President Karen Lewis, a nationally board certified teacher. "Common Core eliminates creativity in the classroom and impedes collaboration. We also know that high-stakes standardized testing is designed to rank and sort our children and it contributes significantly to racial discrimination and the achievement gap among students in America's schools."

The official text of the resolution follows:

Resolution to Oppose the Common Core State Standards

WHEREAS, the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives, not solely preparation for college and career; and

WHEREAS, instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

WHEREAS, the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice; and

WHEREAS, high quality education requires adequate resources to provide a rich and varied course of instruction, individual and small group attention, and wrap-around services for students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were developed by non-practitioners, such as test and curriculum publishers, as well as education reform foundations, such as the Gates and Broad Foundations, and as a result the CCSS better reflect the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers than the best interests and priorities of teachers and students; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards were piloted incorrectly, have been implemented too quickly, and as a result have produced numerous developmentally inappropriate expectations that do not reflect the learning needs of many students; and

WHEREAS, imposition of the Common Core State Standards adversely impacts students of highest need, including students of color, impoverished students, English language learners, and students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards emphasize pedagogical techniques, such as close reading, out of proportion to the actual value of these methods - and as a result distort instruction and remove instructional materials from their social context; and

WHEREAS, despite the efforts of our union to provide support to teachers, the significant time, effort, and expense associated with modifying curricula to the Common Core State Standards interferes and takes resources away from work developing appropriate and engaging courses of study; and

WHEREAS, the assessments that accompany the Common Core State Standards (PARCC and Smarter Balance) are not transparent in that --teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available given the nature of computer adaptive tests; and

WHEREAS, Common Core assessments disrupt student learning, consuming tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration; and

WHEREAS, the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards - including the political manipulation of test scores - are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union opposes the Common Core State Standards (and the aligned tests) as a framework for teaching and learning; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union advocates for an engaged and socially relevant curriculum that is student-based and supported by research, as well as for supports such as those described in the Chicago Teachers Union report, The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will embark on internal discussions to educate and seek feedback from members regarding the Common Core and its impact on our students; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will lobby the Illinois Board of Education to eliminate the use of the Common Core State Standards for teaching and assessment; and be it further

RESOLVED, the Chicago Teachers Union will organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to the Common Core State Standards; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Illinois State Board of Education, the Chicago Board of Education, the Governor of Illinois, and all members of the Illinois legislative branch; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that should this resolution be passed by the CTU House of Delegates, an appropriate version will be submitted to the American Federation of Teachers for consideration at the 2014 Convention.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU's website at www.ctunet.com.

SG:oteg-743-tr

SUN TIMES ARTICLE BELOW HERE:

The Chicago Teachers Union has voted to oppose the Common Core Standards, a rigorous set of educational benchmarks implemented by Illinois law and in many other states.

The union announced its House of Delegates voted Wednesday to urge the city’s teachers to join the “growing national opposition to the Common Core State Standards, saying the assessments disrupt student learning and consume tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration,” according to a new release.

The union said it will lobby the Illinois State Board of Education to “eliminate the use of the Common Core for teaching and assessment” and it will “work to organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to the law that increases the expansion of nationwide controls over educational issues.”

“I agree with educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy,” CTU President Karen Lewis said in a statement. “Common Core eliminates creativity in the classroom and impedes collaboration. We also know that high-stakes standardized testing is designed to rank and sort our children and it contributes significantly to racial discrimination and the achievement gap among students in America’s schools.”

State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus said the Common Core Standards better prepare students.

“These are really standards that not only ensure that students understand the concepts but can apply them to everyday life and to their careers and in the workforce,” she said.

The standards were adopted by Illinois in 2010 and school districts have spent the past few years implementing them, Fergus said. Forty-four states have adopted them, according to the Common Core Standards website.

“Illinois teachers, including those from Chicago, have been instrumental in the development and implementation of the Common Core standards,” Fergus said. These teachers understand the vast improvement these standards are compared to our prior standards and understand the importance of these standards to the well being of students. The State Board remains committed to the implementation of these standards in Illinois.”

“Anyone who reads the standards knows they really raise the bar for student learning,” she said.

Email: bschlikerman@suntimes.com

WBEZ STORY BELOW HERE:

In a vote that seemed to take education observers, school district officials, and even many teachers by surprise, delegates to the Chicago Teachers Union passed a resolution Wednesday evening saying the union formally opposes the Common Core State Standards, which are being implemented in schools across Chicago, Illinois and some 44 other states.

In a statement released to the media, the union said the resolution “enjoins the city’s educators to growing national opposition to the Common Core State Standards, saying the assessments disrupt student learning and consume tremendous amounts of time and resources for test preparation and administration.”

Teacher Michelle Gunderson, who heads the union's education committee, says the CTU has "philosophical" issues with the Common Core.

"Those who wrote the Common Core standards believe the purpose of education is to prepare children to be college and career ready. Now that in and of itself is not a bad thing. We want people to have jobs, we want people to be productive in their lives. But we don't believe that's the sole purpose of education. We want our students to become critical thinkers and people who can lead good and purpose-filled lives," Gunderson said. "We believe our students are more than just cogs in the wheel of the machinery of our workforce."

Gunderson also said the standards involve "a misuse and over-abuse of testing."

The resolution says the union will lobby the Illinois State Board of Education to abandon the Common Core, and “will organize other (union) members and affiliates to increase opposition to the Common Core State Standards.”

The union’s House of Delegates is made up of teacher representatives from every district school in the city.

The CTU resolution also declares that:

• “instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students” and “the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice.”

• Common Core standards were developed by “non-practitioners” including “test and curriculum publishers” and “education reform foundations, such as the Gates and Broad Foundations.” It says that “as a result the [standards] better reflect the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers than the best interests and priorities of teachers and students.”

• “the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards – including the political manipulation of test scores – are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators.”

Illinois quietly adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, with little opposition. But the standards have become a political football in the last year, and have faced opposition from both the left and the right. Indiana dumped the Common Core standards last month.

The Chicago Teachers Union vote represents a blow to the standards, which are just getting off the ground in many schools, and raises questions about their viability.

President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan have argued that the new standards raise the bar on what American students need to know, and create uniform standards across states. Duncan has called the standards “a sea-change in education. Not only do they set the bar high, they give teachers the space and opportunity to go deep, emphasizing problem-solving, analysis, and critical thinking, as well as creativity and teamwork. They give teachers room to innovate.”

The standards themselves are simply a list of what students should know and be able to do in reading and math, grade by grade. They replace the Illinois Learning Standards, which guided teaching and curriculum in the state from 1997 to 2010. The new standards are being billed as more rigorous. They push students to read more complex texts and expand their academic vocabulary. In math, the goal is to move away from a “mile-wide, inch-deep” approach—in which students cover many topics in little depth—in favor of deeper understanding of key math concepts.

The union's vote came the same day that the "nation's report card," or the National Association of Educational Progress, released new results showing test scores for American 12th graders have stagnated in math and reading over the past four years. On that test, just 26 percent of high school seniors are considered proficient in math; 37 percent scored "proficient" in reading.

The resolution was not on the House of Delegates’ monthly agenda. Reporters are typically not allowed inside House of Delegates meetings.

The union’s vote may prove unpopular with rank-and-file teachers. Polls have shown that teachers generally like the Common Core standards. Chicago Public Schools officials gave WBEZ the results of a survey it conducted in February (attached below). It emailed 18,000 teachers; just over 40 percent responded. Of those, 82 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the Common Core standards are more rigorous that previous standards; 69 percent said they believed the new standards would lead to improved learning for the majority of their students.

Even the Chicago Teachers Union’s parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, has been supportive of the Common Core standards.

"Absolutely our parent union pushed the Common Core. I don't believe when that push happened we realized the harm that it was going to do. I also don't think we realized how difficult and unfair the testing was going to be," Gunderson said.

In other states, teachers and their unions have complained about the implementation of the standards, and their timing. Many states are adopting the new standards just as test scores are being used to evaluate teachers. Scores have dropped precipitously in states, including Illinois, where some or all of the state standardized test questions are aligned to the Common Core standards.

Chicago Public Schools has spent millions shifting to the new standards; last year the district issued bonds to buy $40 million in textbooks it said were aligned to the Common Core. The state piloted new tests this spring, and will roll out entirely new Common Core exam next spring, replacing the ISAT.

The Chicago teachers’ vote puts the union, controlled by political progressives, in strange company. Take conservative radio host Glenn Beck for instance. “Besides being dumber, our kids are going to be indoctrinated with extreme leftist ideology,” Beck has warned. He has called the Common Core an “insidious menace to our children and to our families.”

“This is top-down education from the federal government, dictating to local schools what they must teach and how they must teach it,” Beck says. “Local control is out the window with Common Core.”

In a statement oddly out of sync with the union’s typical political thinking, CTU president Karen Lewis said she agrees with “educators and parents from across the country, the Common Core mandate represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy.”

Gunderson agreed it was an unusual argument for the union to make.

"It is odd that we have a convergent interest with libertarians right now. We do not align with them but we know that there should be local and professional, independent control of what happens inside our classrooms."

Mary Fergus, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education, told the Sun-Times, “these are really standards that not only ensure that students understand the concepts but can apply them to everyday life and to their careers and in the workforce." Fergus also told the newspaper, “Anyone who reads the standards knows they really raise the bar for student learning.”

Freeda Pirillis, a first-grade teacher at Agassiz Elementary, said she was shocked to hear that union delegates had voted to oppose the Common Core. She's been part of a union effort to develop exemplary Common Core lessons. Most of those lessons are being field tested this year, including one she came up with to teach primary-grade students to read informational texts.

"As a whole class we read lots and lots of books about frogs. I was modeling for my students how to pick apart a text, how to do research." At the same time, her students investigated an animal of their choice and made their own books.

"They loved it," says Pirillis. "I think for the first time they called themselves 'researchers' and said, 'I love doing research!'" Pirillis says with the proper support, even six- and seven-year-olds can make progress toward standards, which she calls "end goals." She says expecting mastery of the standards is where they may fall short.

Patrick Smith contributed to this story.

Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her on twitter @WBEZeducation.



Comments:

May 11, 2014 at 8:03 PM

By: Neal Resnikoff

The Corporations' Common Core Program for Public Education

I think it is very good news that the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) House of Delegates unanimously passed a resolution opposing Common Core. It is very important that the CTU is taking a firm public stand against this attempt by corporations to takeover public education and shape it to suit their needs. Common Core is narrowing the curriculum into training for jobs and the military, and trying to terrorize students into obedience to a discipline being imposed without prior public debate or discussion. We are now seeing the inspiring opposition in the campaign of opt out of standardized testing by parents, teachers and students supported by the CTU and other frms of resistance across the U.S.

In an attempt to further make people aware about the attack by corporations on public education through Common Core, here is a fact sheet developed by Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice. We would appreciate your comments, suggestions, questions. Our contact information is at the end of the fact sheet.

CORPORATIONS

& THEIR COMMON CORE PROGRAM FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

The corporations listed below started and funded the Common Core program and its high-stakes testing,

and have been working to get it established in public schools across the whole country.

The corporations agreed in the 1990’s that public education should be transformed,

using a set of common standards and high-stakes tests. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race

to the Top escalated high-stakes testing, privatization and charter schools, but they weren’t enough.

The corporations wanted a more tightly controlled, centralized program which would produce

students who would be ready for jobs in corporations or the military and for further training,

especially in science, technology, engineering and math.

The corporations are now continuing to invest funds to establish Common Core,

including millions to counteract the growing opposition to their program.

The corporations and their foundations include: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Eli Broad Foundation, McKinsey Consulting Corp., the Walton Foundation (Walmart), Boeing, GE Foundation, Nationwide, State Farm Insurance, Eastman Kodak, Lumina Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, IBM, Xerox, Pearson Education Corp, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, The Carlyle Group, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Exxon, Chevron, among others.

About 2007 David Coleman and Jason Zimba, leading writers of the Common Core standards, started a national standards-writing company, Student Achievement Partners, with the support of $6.5 million from the Gates Foundation.

Specifically, the corporations acted to create Common Core and put it into operation:

The corporations set up a group of 29 people to take responsibility for writing the new standards for each grade, in secret:

Seven are associated with the College Board corporation (which was funded by the Gates Foundation and criticized for biased tests), 7 with the test publishing ACT corporation and 8 with Achieve Inc. (funded by Gates, Boeing, etc.). Some others were from America’s Choice, Inc., initially started with grants from the Gates Foundation and now owned by Pearson, the highly profitable educational corporation. None was a K-12 teacher. David Coleman, lead writer, worked for McKinsey Consulting Corp; he is now head of the College Board.

The group of 29 did not follow the internationally accepted method of setting standards-- transparency, balance, consensus, and due process. There is no evidence that the standards are valid or age appropriate. And, it has been revealed that some on the "validation committee" rejected the standards—but were not given a chance to publish a minority report.

2) In order to get around the Constitutional requirement that each state set its own educational policies, Coleman and others went out to get members of the National Governors Association to join the project.

The governors of 45 states signed on to the full Common Core program, directing the appointed state superintendents of education to implement standards in their states--exactly as written, a requirement of the trademarked standards of Common Core.

Note that governors all get sizeable campaign contributions from corporations.

3) The corporations drew the two major national organizations of teachers-- AFT (the American Federation of Teachers) and NEA (The National Education Association)--into the process of establishing the Common Core program throughout the country.

The Gates Foundation gave $5.4 million to AFT and $3.9 million to NEA to write Common Core curriculum modules and classroom lessons, and for (a) training classroom teachers to align their teaching with the Common Core standards, and (b) training some teachers to train others to stick to the program.

4) The Gates Foundation and Pearson Corp. have produced a full set of K–12 courses aligned with the Common Core that is to be marketed

under the Common Core logo to schools across the country.

5) Two corporations are developing exams based on the Common Core state standards: Pearson Inc, and Achieve Inc.

States will be required to use tests such as these beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

Sample tests put out so far have been judged by professional educators to have the same faults as we have experienced with previously used standardized tests:

They are biased against working class children especially Black and immigrant children, and scientifically invalid and unreliable. Educators have pointed out that the tests will be discouraging to children and help to prevent poor and disadvantaged children from reaching their potential and playing their rightful role in society.

Such tests --with the pressure to teach for them and evaluate teachers and schools based on them--have already narrowed the curriculum in many schools.

6) Corporations such as inBloom, run by multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch, have signed contracts with states to set up data gathering, analysis, and data storage systems which can hold hundreds of pieces of information about each student and teacher without the permission of parents or teachers, who will have no way of knowing who will get or use them.

THE PROCESS OF CREATING & INSTITUTING THE COMMON CORE & ITS HIGH-STAKES TESTING AS A NATIONAL PROGRAM FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

IS TOTALLY UNDEMOCRATIC:

1) It was conceived and developed basically in secret, behind closed doors.

2) All the basic decisions were made by corporations---a self-appointed minority-- and those they hired and funded.

3) There was no real involvement of classroom teachers, parents or independent professional educators before the Common Core standards were adopted. The people’s right to decide what kind of public education will be best for the society was completely denied.

4) The 99% of us did not even get to hear public discussion and debate before the Common Core standards was in place-- let alone get to vote on it.

5) After the Common Core was put into 45 states, the governors and state superintendents then publicly announced and praised the new system for public education.

When they held public meetings to explain how much better state education will be, as in New York State, they were shocked by the anger and determined opposition from the public.

They have had to go on the defensive and figure out tactics for defusing and diverting the organized opposition--which is rapidly expanding across the whole country.

WHAT WILL CORPORATIONS GAIN

IF THEIR COMON CORE & HIGH STAKES TESTING PROGRAM IS ESTABLISHED?

1) Public schools across the country will produce some students who will make good employees and soldiers, and they will fail many other students who will then be expected to feel lucky if they can get minimum wage jobs.

2) Common Core standards and tests will narrow down children’s education and will not teach them to question the power of corporations or to refuse to obey harmful or immoral orders, or take up issues of war and peace, and social justice.

3) Corporations will make more billions every year from what they consider "the education industry." Instead of using public funds to hire more teachers, create smaller classrooms and include art, music and physical education in every school, school districts will be forced to use billions to buy computer systems and programs, tests, data systems, etc. Public funds are already being used to replace public schools with privatized charter schools that are less transparent and accountable than current public schools.

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ALL THIS?

If corporations succeed in establishing their Common Core & high stakes testing program throughout the U.S., this will greatly increase the control they already have in U.S. society—over the economy, the media, and the government.

Therefore, it is necessary for the people to oppose and resist Common Core and its high stakes testing-- as they are increasingly doing throughout the U.S. Parents, students, teachers, some principals and local unions such as CTU (Chicago Teachers Union) have united. In March, in New York state, 30,000 students refused to take the standardized tests. In Chicago, and elsewhere, there were campaigns and many children refused to take standardized tests.

________________________________________________________________

Some useful resources: markgarrison.net; DianeRavitch: dianeravitch.net/; Lois Weiner: newpol.org/blogs/lois-weiner; susanohanian.org; Mercedes Schneider: deutsch29.word press.com; substancenews.net

Produced by: Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace & Justice

To get on our email list, or contact us about setting up a discussion on this in a school, church, living room, etc., or to get more copies of this fact sheet to educate others: call 773-250-3335, or write: justice.yes@juno.com

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November 24, 2014 at 1:08 PM

By: Neal Resnikoff

Is Common Core a dangerous crisis in public education?

Here is an updated fact sheet and talking points on Common Core in answer to a number of questions various teachers, parents, students, and others have raised in recent months:

CALLING ALL THOSE WHO WANT

EQUAL, QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION:

YOUR HELP IS URGENTLY NEEDED

IS COMMON CORE

--WITH ITS HIGH-STAKES TESTING--

A DANGEROUS CRISIS IN PUBLIC EDUCATION

--or is it just another annoying scheme

that will go away without a fight?

INFORMATION TO CONSIDER:

1) Corporate members of the National Business Roundtable started planning Common Core in 1989, because they need employees who are narrowly trained to be obedient workers, and they need inventors, engineers, and managers to make their global enterprises competitive against rivals from Japan, the European Union, Russia, China, etc. Their stated aim is to produce graduates “ready for college and careers.” (Most parents have broader, more complex goals for their children. Bill Gates and others are now spending millions to counteract mass opposition to Common Core across the country.) (Source: herinst.org/BusinessManagedDemocracy/education/campaigns/BRT.html; businessroundtable.org/resources/essential-components-of-a-successful-education-system)

Funders & initiators of Common Core: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Exxon, Chevron, Eli Broad Foundation, McKinsey Consulting Corp, Walton Foundation (Walmart), Boeing, GE Foundation, State Farm Insurance, Nationwide, Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Co. Fund, IBM, Xerox, Pearson Education Corp, Bank of America, Citi, etc

2) Instead of educators making basic decisions about public education, just 29 people were chosen--not classroom teachers and education researchers, but mainly employees of testing companies--to secretly set Common Core standards acceptable to big corporations for each grade. This was done behind closed doors without using the internationally accepted methods for setting standards: transparency, balance, consensus, due process. A thoroughly undemocratic process. (See: dianeravitch.net/2014/03/24/the-fatal-flaw-of-the-common-core-standards)

For example, they set this kindergarten standard--“Read emergent reader texts with purpose and understanding.” Many 5 year-olds are not developmentally ready to read, and there is no research to support the teaching of reading in kindergarten. (Copple & Bredekamp, “Developmentally Appropriate Practice,” National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009)

3) Big businesses like Pearson Corp. are creating and selling curriculum modules, books and computer programs for each subject in every grade to school districts--all aligned to the unscientific Common Core standards. Their reading lessons often omit contexts; for example, focusing on The Gettysburg Address without talking about the Civil War.

They are also selling huge data gathering and storage systems--with parents having no say on what is permanently recorded or who is allowed to use it--such as businesses, the military, employers, colleges, etc. In 2012, Obama issued an executive order which weakens the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act-- giving education officials permission to decide who outside of public schools can be given access to children’s confidential records, which can include such things as mental and emotional health, discipline problems, family income, divorce issues, etc. (markgarrison.net/archives/tag/big-data)

4) Corporations like Achieve Inc and Pearson are making, selling, and grading tests that are aligned with the Common Core standards and curriculum to state school systems. Education researchers, teachers and parents--who were not involved in the basic decision-making for any part of the process of creating Common Core--question the validity and reliability of these tests, saying that they are worse than the long-discredited standardized tests. (dianeravitch.net/2014/05/12/why-the-common-core-standards-for-grades-k-3-are-wrong)

5) The CC tests are to be taken on computers--meaning that every school district will have to buy enough computers for all the

children to take the many required tests. This means that more education dollars will be diverted away from hiring additional teachers for smaller class sizes and to teach art, music and physical education--classes which are now being eliminated in many schools.

Meanwhile, all of the corporations directly involved will enjoy wind-fall profits. The estimated increase in the education “market” for the ed-tech sector is doubling, to $13.4 billion, by 2017 (Silicon Valley Business Journal, 11.12.13).

IF CC TESTS WERE RE-WRITTEN --BASED ON LEGITIMATE CRITICISMS FROM EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHERS, TEACHERS, PARENTS & STUDENTS-- WOULD COMMON CORE EDUCATION THEN BE GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN ?

NO--because Common Core tests are based on its unscientific standards and the narrow curriculum which is based on those standards. Common Core is a total package designed to suit the needs of the private corporations which initiated and oversaw its development. No changes or exceptions on these copyrighted materials--on state or city levels--can be made without their permission.

Testing corporations have chosen cut-off points designed to insure that only 30 % of school children will pass. So poor African-American, immigrant and other working class students will “fail” more often and be more systematically humiliated-- made to feel they are “inferior human beings.” They can then be channeled into low-paying jobs.

This means teachers have to focus single-mindedly on training students for CC tests--with no time for lessons based on the specific needs of children, or for nurturing creativity (Jane David, “High-stakes testing Narrows Curriculum,” Educational Leadership, 3/11, p.78-86).

If the self-serving aims of corporations are reached, we will have more obedient soldiers and workers, and fewer people who refuse to obey harmful or immoral orders, or are concerned about issues of war and peace. Narrow, skills-oriented education will not teach our children to value equality and democracy nor to be creative, thoughtful people capable of making humane decisions and improving our society.

(By the way, the claim by the corporations that U.S. students are behind other countries has been shown to be based on faulty statistical analysis--where the much higher percentage of U.S poverty--with disadvantaged students often getting low scores-- is not considered.)

ISN’T THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INVOLVED IN COMMON CORE?

ISN’T PUBLIC EDUCATION SUPPOSED TO BE BASED ON DECISIONS IN EACH STATE?

YES & NO-- the corporate creators of CC got around the Constitution’s provision that education is left to states by having the National Governors Association (NGA) take charge. The NGA is a non-governmental organization (NGO) and private trade association that is not accountable to the public or required to reveal minutes of meetings, etc. The NGA convinced 45 governors to adopt CC for their states. State superintendents oversee implementation. Note that election campaigns of governors were funded by money from private corporations.

The federal government wasn’t directly a part of writing the new standards, and they don’t have the legal right to decide how each state runs its educational system. However, President Bush used “No Child Left Behind” and President Obama used “Race to the Top” before CC was put into 45 states. They promoted the main educational features now in Common Core. Rewards were given only to states which agreed to adopt common educational standards. “Race to the Top” is a contest with prize money-- open to all states if their governors promise to: open more charter schools, require standardized testing, and use student scores to evaluate and punish teachers and schools (“Race to the Top Executive Summary,” U.S. Dept of Ed, 11/09). Note that corporations that wanted such education programs funded the elections of Bush and Obama.

IF GOVERNORS DECIDE TO TAKE THEIR STATES OUT OF COMMON CORE, WILL THIS MEAN THAT THE PROBLEM OF ESTABLISHING EQUAL, QUALITY EDUCATION HAS BEEN SOLVED?

NOT REALLY--It’s vital that we build a strong mass movement against the Common Core program and for the kind of education we want for our children--at the same time. It would be very unfortunate if a governor decided to drop out of the Common Core, and then the people felt the fight was all over. It’s dangerous to assume that what a governor and other public officials then decide to put in place would be what working people need. For example, a system very similar to CC could be set up, or they could go back to an old system that does not meet the needs of a modern democratic society. This is why we need a lot of public debate and fresh thinking about public education that is not under the control of corporations or government officials who are beholden to them. Unless we educate and empower ourselves, we will not be prepared to exercise our democratic right to make decisions about all the things that deeply affect us. So if we want the best for our children, we have to remain active participants and stand against the privatization of public education in its many forms.

Overall, if corporations succeed in completely taking over public education across the country, it will greatly increase the control the 1% already have--over the economy, the media and the government. If we don’t want our children to suffer under a training program for the benefit corporations, we’ll have to keep up the fight to bring decision-making under the control of working people.

WHAT YOU AND OTHER CONCERNED PEOPLE CAN DO: Let’s join all the parents, teachers, students and other concerned people across the country who are organizing against the CC, thousands opting out of harmful standardized tests, and more and more refusing to have massive data collected and used against our children. Contact us to participate in educating ourselves and others to oppose the whole Common Core program of privatization on steroids.

Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace & Justice. Contact us: Justice.yes@juno.com or 773.250.3335

November 24, 2014 at 2:29 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

National debate over Common Core escalates

Despite the tricks played during the debates on the "Common Core" at the American Federation of Teachers convention in Los Angeles, the national debate in both the National Education Association and the AFT escalates. With each passing month, more evidence becomes available that the so-called "Common Core" is not simply about "standards" (as Randi Weingarten's supporters at AFT tried to maintain) but about a national curriculum straight jacketed by national tests. And, of course, these tests would be produced by someone like Arne Duncan through the U.S. Department of Education. Duncan is now the longest-serving U.S. Secretary of Education in history, and the damage he has gone will take a decade to undo. But for starters, the pillars of his plans -- privatization, charterization, turnarounds, and the Common Core -- are being exposed and resisted in a growing number of states and cities. The flimsy excuses some AFT leaders presented at the convention in Los Angeles in July 2014 to support the "Common Core" (er., "our standards") have all been shredded. It's time now to coordinate the resistance, first by articulating it on a national level, and then by legislations against it, state by state. If would be nice if the national administration were to renounce Common Core, but their imbecility (for all their Harvard smugness) is shown by the fact that in some places they've been discussing it as simply a need for a "rebranding." Only in corporate thing could this nonsense be taken seriously. Common Core under any "brand name" is still a shit sandwich, as every close look shows, in Chicago and across the USA.

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