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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Inside Training Document Reveals How Test-Supporters Want to Talk About Testing - Living in Dialogue

Inside Training Document Reveals How Test-Supporters Want to Talk About Testing - Living in Dialogue:

Inside Training Document Reveals How Test-Supporters Want to Talk About Testing

By Anthony Cody.
I have received a training document from a recent conclave of corporate reformers that reveals in great detail how they would like to shape public discourse around the issue of testing.
In recent years the ways in which complex issues are framed has become a central task for those seeking to communicate with the public. George Lakoff’s book, Don’t Think of an Elephant, taught us how important it is to use language and conceptual frameworks to get our messages across. The creators of this document have taken his message to heart, and put a lot of thought into the framing of the issues surrounding testing and the Common Core.
With this in mind, it is informative to see how supporters of test-driven reform are seeking to shore up their eroding position in the public debate. The document I received is presented in bright colors with cartoon illustrations. I will share some of the main messages here, and you can download the whole thing here:HowToTalkAboutTesting. There is no author, source or sponsor listed.
The six page document is titled “How to talk about testing,” and each page tackles a different issue.
Page One: “The argument: There’s Too Much Testing. What’s at the heart of it? Parents want their children to get the maximum benefit from their education, and some fear that testing takes away from classroom learning.”
FIRST: Find Common Ground:
Whether or not it’s true, you’re fighting a losing battle. It’s best to agree.
“You’re probably right, and there are a lot of reasons for that. The new Common Core tests are meant to improve the situation.”
THEN: Pivot to higher emotion: Peace of Mind
While their may be too much testing in some schools, we sure wouldn’t want to have no way of measuring progress. Parents want to know how their kids are doing, and they need an objective measuring stick. These new tests provide parents with the information they want and need.
Do position new tests as a solution, not the problem. Distinguish between adding more tests and replacing old tests.
We know there are a lot of problems with tests. These tests were designed to address some of them. Many of the old tests being used today don’t provide parents and teachers with useful information. The new Common Core tests do. This isn’t about adding another test. It’s about replacing existing tests with something better.
Do suggest the simple act of talking to the teacher. “Challenging the district” Get Involved” can overwhelm parents.
Don’t overpromise. Don’t position new tests as the end all be all.dontoverwhelm
Are they perfect? No. But they’re better. Will the problem of overtesting go away overnight? No. But these tests will help.
Don’t overwhelm parents. This isn’t a call to action.
[this section has a “do not” symbol on top of it] “Get involved! Challenge your district! Educate yourself on all the many different kinds of tests your kids are taking and take action!”
Here are some other quotes from subsequent pages:
Page #3: The Argument: It’s more than just teaching to the test. What’s at the 
Inside Training Document Reveals How Test-Supporters Want to Talk About Testing - Living in Dialogue:

Guest: Resist federal pressure to consider test scores in teacher evaluations | Opinion | The Seattle Times

Guest: Resist federal pressure to consider test scores in teacher evaluations | Opinion | The Seattle Times:

Guest: Resist federal pressure to consider test scores in teacher evaluations

Linking teacher evaluations to test scores undermines quality education in our schools and demoralizes our teachers, writes guest columnist Robert Cruickshank.

AS Washington’s state legislators return to session, they are faced with a demand from the U.S. Department of Education to make high-stakes standardized tests a required part of teacher evaluations. If they do not make the change, the department is threatening to take back more than $40 million in federal funding and to withdraw our exemption from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.
It is an empty threat that the Legislature should refuse. Linking teacher evaluations to test scores undermines quality education in our schools and demoralizes our teachers. The Legislature should instead follow the lead of two dozen other states that have pushed back against federal education policy threats and should craft better solutions.
Washington’s teacher-evaluation system was developed after much public debate and reflects a balanced approach that emphasizes quality instruction, rather than a narrow focus on test scores.
Under the current system, districts can include test scores as part of a holistic evaluation process, but they are not required to do so. The Department of Education insists that test scores be included as part of all teacher evaluations in Washington, overriding the sensible compromise that has worked well in our state.
In states that have linked all teacher evaluations to test scores, the results are troubling. The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing reported last year that more teachers have been forced to narrow their curriculum to teach to the test. Teachers are becoming demoralized as they see their students missing out on important lessons, particularly in subjects such as art and music that cannot be subjected to standardized tests.
Parents are expressing frustration that their children are not getting a comprehensive education. Concerns regarding standardized tests already have produced resistance in Washington state, including the successful boycott of the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP assessment, in several Seattle schools last year.
Rather than cave to federal threats, Gov. Jay Inslee and legislators ought to follow the lead of their colleagues in state houses across the country who have refused these demands without losing federal dollars or waivers.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan threatened to withhold federal dollars from California schools if the state delayed the implementation of certain standardized tests by a year. California Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature called Duncan’s bluff last fall. Federal education funds continue to flow to California.
Other states have begun to resist federal education mandates, spurred by parent anger over excessive testing. Leaders in the New York state Legislature recently announced plans to delay implementation of the Common Core standards after an outcry about overtesting from parents on Long Island.
Massachusetts already halted implementation of the Common Core standards in order to protect its own widely praised state assessment system. Twenty-three states, spanning the political spectrum, have begun to push back against test-heavy federal requirements.
None of these states have lost federal funding as a result of their actions, suggesting Washington state has nothing to fear if it refuses the Department of Education’s demand.
Inslee and the Legislature should reach out to these states and work together to craft a better set of Guest: Resist federal pressure to consider test scores in teacher evaluations | Opinion | The Seattle Times:

Using Student Test Scores to Fire Teachers: No More Reliable Than a Coin Toss - Living in Dialogue

Using Student Test Scores to Fire Teachers: No More Reliable Than a Coin Toss - Living in Dialogue:

Using Student Test Scores to Fire Teachers: No More Reliable Than a Coin Toss

 By Elizabeth Hanson M. Ed. And David Spring M. Ed.

In this report, we will explain why Washington State legislators should protect fair evaluations of our teachers and principals by opposing the use of unreliable student test scores to make decisions about teachers and principals. We therefore should oppose Senate Bill 5748 and House Bill 2019 which would unfairly require the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers and principals.
Public school teachers and principals deserve fair treatment on important decisions about who should be retained and who should be fired. They should not be fired based on student test scores because the variation in student test scores is random. It is no more reliable than a coin toss. How wise would it be to fire doctors or lawyers based on a coin toss? Heads they stay. Tails they go. Imagine what this would do the moral of staff who had also most no control over whether they stayed or were fired. In this report, we will look at the scientific research (or lack of it) on using student test scores to evaluate teachers.
What is Value Added Modeling (VAM)?The idea behind value added modeling is that you add up all of the high stakes test scores of a teachers students and compare them to their previous year’s test scores. Teachers whose students gained the most are rated as good teachers (they added value to their students). Teachers whose students gained the least are rated bad teachers and are fired.
There are numerous flaws with the using VAM to fire teachers.
First, VAM scores are unfair to teachers working with students from lower income families. Students from higher income homes gain the most on high stakes tests because they did not have to deal with outside problems like living in a homeless shelter. So VAM results in firing teachers in high poverty schools.
Second, VAM scores are not reliable. Because students assigned to any given teacher have backgrounds that vary greatly from year to year, the value added number assigned to a teacher varies greatly from year to year. A teacher rated as one of the best one year under VAM is likely to be rated one of the worst teachers the next year.
Third, VAM scores are not an accurate measure of student learning. High stakes multiple choice tests only Using Student Test Scores to Fire Teachers: No More Reliable Than a Coin Toss - Living in Dialogue:

With A Brooklyn Accent: Why School Reform is an Irresistible Strategy of Urban Development for Economic Elites

With A Brooklyn Accent: Why School Reform is an Irresistible Strategy of Urban Development for Economic Elites:

Why School Reform is an Irresistible Strategy of Urban Development for Economic Elites

In virtually every urban center in the nation, there is a concerted effort, supported by a cross section of the business community, to dismantle urban public schools and replace them with charter schools. A full court press of this kind is taking place in Buffalo New York, Memphis Tennessee, Camden New Jersey, Little Rock Arkansas and literally scores of other small and medium size cities.
Why is this taking place, often accompanied by a campaign of demonization directed at teachers and teachers unions?
The answer is actually simple. Money. There are huge profits to be made, in the short run and long run, by dismantling urban public schools, and replacing them with charters Here is a summary of the ways elites gain from privatizing urban public school systems
1, Tax credits gained from investing in charter schools Federal tax codes allow a 39% tax credit for investing in a new charter school, allowing investors to recoup their initial investment in 7 years and begin registering profits.
2. Real estate speculation. Closing long established public schools destabilizes poor and working class neighborhoods and pushes residents into suburbs or the outskirts of cities, allowing real estate investors to buy up existing properties at bargain rates and build market level units that attract a far wealthier clientele. You can see this kind of investment in several New York, Chicago and Washington neighborhoods where public schools have been replaced by charters and it it starting to occur in small cities as well
3.Creating of consulting firms which get lucrative state contracts to "turn around" failing schools and school districts, or provide professional development services to newly created charters. There are actually now programs in "Educational Entrepreneurship" at major universities which train you how to do just that.

You made it personal: We are not the enemy - Times Union

You made it personal: We are not the enemy - Times Union:

You made it personal: We are not the enemy

Seven state-honored teachers protest Gov. Cuomo's educational leadership
Published 3:12 pm, Saturday, February 7, 2015

The following article was written by seven New York state Teachers of the Year: Ashli Dreher(2014, Buffalo); Katie Ferguson (2012, Schenectady); Jeff Peneston (2011, Syracuse); Rich Ognibene (2008, Rochester); Marguerite Izzo (2007, Malverne); Steve Bongiovi (2006, Seaford); and Liz Day (2005, Mechanicville)
Dear Governor Cuomo: We are teachers. We have given our hearts and souls to this noble profession. We have pursued intellectual rigor. We have fed students who were hungry. We have celebrated at student weddings and wept at student funerals. Education is our life. For this, you have made us the enemy. This is personal.
Under your leadership, schools have endured the Gap Elimination Adjustment and the tax cap, which have caused layoffs and draconian budget cuts across the state. Classes are larger and support services are fewer, particularly for our neediest students.
We have also endured a difficult rollout of the Common Core Standards. A reasonable implementation would have started the new standards in kindergarten and advanced those standards one grade at a time. Instead, the new standards were rushed into all grades at once, without any time to see if they were developmentally appropriate or useful.
Then our students were given new tests — of questionable validity — before they had a chance to develop the skills necessary to be successful. These flawed tests reinforced the false narrative that all public schools — and therefore all teachers — are in drastic need of reform. In our many years of teaching, we've never found that denigrating others is a useful strategy for improvement.
Now you are doubling down on test scores as a proxy for teacher effectiveness. The state has focused on test scores for years and this approach has proven to be fraught with peril. Testing scandals erupted. Teachers who questioned the validity of tests were given gag orders. Parents in wealthier districts hired test-prep tutors, which exacerbated the achievement gap between rich and poor.
Beyond those concerns, if the state places this much emphasis on test scores who will want to teach our neediest students? Will you assume that the teachers in wealthier districts are highly effective and the teachers in poorer districts are ineffective, simply based on test scores?
Most of us have failed an exam or two along life's path. From those results, can we conclude that our teachers were ineffective? We understand the value of collecting data, but it must be interpreted wisely. Using test scores as 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation does not meet this criterion.
Your other proposals are also unlikely to succeed. Merit pay, charter schools and increased scrutiny of teachers won't work because they fundamentally misdiagnose the problem. It's not that teachers or schools are horrible. Rather, the problem is that students with an achievement gap also have an income gap, a health-care gap, a housing gap, a family gap and a safety gap, just to name a few. If we truly want to improve educational outcomes, these are the real issues that must be addressed.
Much is right in public education today. We invite you to visit our classrooms and see for You made it personal: We are not the enemy - Times Union:

Teacher tells Congress: ‘We simply cannot ignore the stunning impact of income inequality and high child poverty’ - The Washington Post

Teacher tells Congress: ‘We simply cannot ignore the stunning impact of income inequality and high child poverty’ - The Washington Post:

Teacher tells Congress: ‘We simply cannot ignore the stunning impact of income inequality and high child poverty’

Congress is finally attempting to rewrite No Child Left Behind — a task it was supposed to accomplish in 2007 — even as Education Secretary Arne Duncan has predicted a 50-50 chance that the task will be completed. Hearings by legislators have started, and this past week Democrats in the House held a forum to hear testimony from educators and others about how the education law should be changed, saying that they were concerned that the Republican majority on the committee was pushing a “partisan” approach.
A lot of the discussion has focused on whether or not students should be given standardized tests for the sake of “accountability” on an annual basis and how much weight those test scores should carry. But other issues are important as well, as one teacher Katrina Kickbush, a special education teacher at Wolfe Street Academy in Baltimore, explained in her testimony to the forum, which was headed by Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, who is now the senior Democrat on the House education committee. Kickbush writes about what she sees as the central problems facing many children — a lack of health and other supports that influence their academic achievement — and she calls for the expansion of community schools that provide a range of services to students and their families.
No Child Left Behind is the current version of the Elementary and Secondary School Act, known as ESEA, to which she refers in the following testimony that she gave to the forum:
Ranking member [Rep. Bobby] Scott and members of this committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss how the Elementary and Secondary Education Act can better meet the needs of students and families through innovation. My name is Katrina Kickbush, and I am a special education teacher at the Wolfe Street Academy in Baltimore. Over the course of 20-plus years, I have taught prekindergarten through eighth grade in a wide variety of educational institutions, including private schools, special education settings, and currently the Baltimore City public schools, where I serve as our school’s current building representative for the Baltimore Teachers Union.
Every day, teachers work tirelessly—before school, during school, after school, and even after they return home to their own families—not only to develop their instruction so their students can have rich lessons and classroom experiences that will help them excel academically, but also to also ensure students have the supports they need to access those lessons and experiences. With the majority of kids in American public schools living in poverty, this has become the normal job for thousands of teachers across the country.
Every family, no matter what their socio-economic level, knows that bad eyesight, poor mental and physical health, hunger, housing problems and joblessness are barriers to effective education and learning, and thus are barriers to successful student growth, to strong families, to thriving cities and to a 
Teacher tells Congress: ‘We simply cannot ignore the stunning impact of income inequality and high child poverty’ - The Washington Post:

Say goodbye to public schools: Diane Ravitch warns Salon some cities will soon have none -

Say goodbye to public schools: Diane Ravitch warns Salon some cities will soon have none -

Say goodbye to public schools: Diane Ravitch warns Salon some cities will soon have none

"Why destroy public education so that a handful can boast they have a charter school in addition to their yacht?"

Once a George H.W. Bush education official and an advocate for greater testing-based accountability, Diane Ravitch has in recent years become the nation’s highest-profile opponent of Michelle Rhee’s style of charter-based education reform (one also espoused by Barack Obama).
In a wide-ranging conversation last week, Ravitch spoke with Salon about new data touted by charter school supporters, progressive divisions over Common Core, and Chris Christie’s ed agenda. “There are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now,” Ravitch warned. A condensed version of our conversation follows.
The conference of your Network for Public Education closed with a call for congressional hearings on high-stakes standardized testing. What would those hearings look like and what do you think they’d uncover?
I think they would ask, for example, about costs. There are many states that are cutting the budget for public schools at the same time that they’re paying a lot out for testing… Texas, for example, a couple of years ago… cut $5.3 billion out of the public schools, and at the same time gave Pearson a contract for almost $500 million… They said that there would be 15 end-of-course exams in order to graduate high school and caused a parent rebellion: There were so many angry moms, they organized a group called TAMSA – Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment — better known as Moms Against Drunk Testing…
There are school districts where a very significant part of the school year is spent preparing to take the tests… Testing companies are selling what they call “interim assessments”… So kids are getting test prep for test prep. And the more time that is devoted to testing and preparing for tests, the less time is devoted to actual instruction…
I was in Pittsburgh last fall, where the budget cuts were so severe that [a] high school marching band has no instruments, but they have testing…
Los Angeles just made a deal a few months ago to spend $1 billion to equip every student and staff member with an iPad. The money was taken from a 25-year bond for school construction, to buy disposable equipment. The iPads will be obsolete in three or four years… Meanwhile, the schools have unmet repair dates… And at the same time, art teachers have been laid off. They’re talking about integrating the arts into other subjects, which means no art teachers… They’ve also closed half the libraries in the elementary and middle school. So what are the opportunity costs of spending all this money for testing?

And I don’t think we’ve even begun to understand the bill that’s going to come in. Because as part of the move to Common Core, all testing is supposed to go online, across the nation. Well, this is a bonanza for all the vendors — and nobody has even investigated the question: How many billions are going to be spent to put every school and every child in front of a computer? … Kindergarten kids don’t know how to keyboard a computer.
We’re also interested… [in] abuses of standardized testing… This story that was all over that national media a few weeks ago, about this child who was dying in hospice — and the state of Florida insisted that he had to take his test… Then there was the child born without a brain stem — they wanted him tested too.
The iPads that you mentioned — were the iPads for the purpose of taking tests?
They were taken solely for the purpose of preparing for Common Core testing…
In New York State when they gave the Common Core testing last spring, 3 percent of the English [language] learners passed it. 97 percent failed it…
It’s gotten out of control… Arne Duncan and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top requires states to use the test scores to judge the teachers… It’s not valid, it’s not accurate. You’re really grading the teachers by who are the kids in her classroom.
In a piece earlier this year critiquing high-stakes testing, [American Federation of Teachers President] Randi Weingarten maintained her support for the Common Core standards themselves, on the grounds that they are “a set of standards designed to help make the transition from just knowing and memorizing information to having the skills and habits to apply knowledge, which is critically important in today’s world.” Why do you disagree?
Well, we don’t know that. The fact is, we have no evidence that the Common Core standards are what we say they are until we’ve tried them. They haven’t been tried anywhere, they’ve been tested — and we know that where they’re tested, they cause massive failure. So I would say we need to have more time before we can reach any judgment that they have some miracle cure embedded in them.
I know, and a lot of teachers know, they’re totally inappropriate for children in kindergarten, first grade, second grade and third grade, because when they were written there was no one on various writing committees who was an expert in early childhood education… They’re also totally inappropriate for children who have disabilities — they can’t keep up. There’s an assumption in the Common Core that if you teach everybody the same thing, everybody will progress at the same speed. And that’s not human nature. It doesn’t work that way.
But I think Randi also said — and she’s been evolving in her position — that the Common Core standards should be decoupled from the testing. And we’re on the same page. She also agrees — we’ve talked about this — that the standards need to be reviewed by expert teachers, and wherever a fix is needed, fix them. That’s my position. I’m not opposed to them, I’m opposed to them in their current form, and I’m opposed to the standardized testing that’s linked to them.
More broadly, how do you assess the roles of the national AFT, and the [National Education Association], in the fight over education reform? Are there transformations that you want to see within those unions?
The teachers across America are being crushed… Experienced teachers, veteran teachers, excellent teachers, are feeling that it’s not a profession anymore — it’s just become a testing technician. It’s not the job they signed on for.
I was in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago — they’re having a massive brain drain of teachers. Florida just released the results of their teacher evaluations, and almost half of their Teachers of the Year were called “ineffective teachers.” I mean, there comes a point where, who would want to be a teacher in this country?
So I’d like to see the NEA in particular become more outspoken. I think Randi’s quite outspoken. But what’s happening at the state level is a nightmare for teachers, and for the teaching profession. What’s happening with federal policy is part of what’s encouraging an assault on the teaching profession.
The idea that you can judge teachers by the test scores of their students is not supported by evidence or experience. It is encouraging “teaching to the test.” It’s encouraging a narrowing of the curriculum. It’s encouraging massive outlays for standardized testing. And it just has no evidence behind it.
In 2012, when the Newark Teachers Union announced a deal to institute peer evaluation of teachers, but also [Mark] Zuckerberg-funded, testing-influenced performance bonuses, you told me that there was “a very good possibility that the Newark Teachers Union, and Randi Weingarten, is taking Chris Christie to the cleaners” in terms of the amount of money in the deal –
– but that paying teachers based on test scores is “treating them like donkeys rather than professionals,” and that teachers elsewhere were saying “How are we going to Say goodbye to public schools: Diane Ravitch warns Salon some cities will soon have none -

Shanker Blog » Relationships Matter: Putting It All Together

Shanker Blog » Relationships Matter: Putting It All Together:

Relationships Matter: Putting It All Together

Posted by  on January 28, 2015
About six months ago, we published a post entitled The Importance Of Relationships In Educational Reform, by Kara S. Finnigan and Alan J. Daly. This post was the first of an ongoing series on the social side of education. In addition to Finnigan and Daly, scholars such as Carrie R. Leana and Frits K. PilKenneth Frank, and William Penuelhave joined this effort by writing about their research and sharing their perspective.
If there is one take away about the social side approach, it is the idea that relationships matter in education. Teaching and learning are not solo but rather social endeavors and, as such, they are best achieved by working together. The social side perspective: (1) shifts the focus from the individual to the broader context in which individuals operate; (2) highlights the importance of interdependencies at all levels of the system – e.g., among teachers within a school, leaders across a district, schools and the community; and (3) recognizes that crucial resources (e.g., information, advice, support) are exchanged through interpersonal relationships.
In my previous post I shared a list of resources (e.g., videos, news articles, papers etc.) that I compiled, and which I will periodically update, on the research underpinning the social side lens. Today I want to share two additional materials: First, a short video that I created, which summarizes, in a visual way, the ideas outlined above; second, an interactive image to help you explore our collection of content on this topic.

Click on the boxes in the image below to learn more about these various sets of relationships by reading related posts within the social side series.

Feel free to use and share these two resources. Also, stay tuned and register for our upcoming session on the social side of education at the 2015 Teaching & Learning conference in Washington D.C., with Andy Hargreaves, Pasi Sahlberg, Susan Moore Johnson, Carrie Leana and Thomas Kane (invited).
Labor-ManagementDistrict LeadersResearch-PracticeTeachersStudentsSchool-CommunitySystem

Diane Ravitch What's wrong with public Ed 101 - YouTube

Diane Ravitch What's wrong with public Ed 101 - YouTube:

Reign of Error  (click picture)

States should decide their own policies for schools | New York Post

States should decide their own policies for schools | New York Post:

States should decide their own policies for schools

In 1981, Tennessee’s 41-year-old governor proposed to President Ronald Reagan a swap: Washington would fully fund Medicaid and the states would have complete responsibility for primary and secondary education. Reagan, a former governor, was receptive.
But Democrats, who controlled the House and were beginning to be controlled by teachers unions (the largest, the National Education Association, had bartered its first presidential endorsement, of Jimmy Carter, for creation of the Department of Education) balked.
In 1992, the former Tennessee governor was President George H.W. Bush’s secretary of education. He urged Bush to veto proposed legislation to expand federal involvement in K-through-12 education.
He said it would create “at least the beginnings of a national school board that could make day-to-day school decisions on curriculum, discipline, teacher training, textbooks and classroom materials.”
The veto threat derailed the legislation.
Today this former governor and former secretary (and former president of the University of Tennessee), Sen. Lamar Alexander, is chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Modal Trigger
Sen. Lamar AlexanderPhoto: AP
He is seeking 60 Senate votes to, he says, “reverse the trend toward a national school board,” which the Education Department has become.
Time was, before Congress acted on any subject, it asked: Is this a legitimate concern of the federal government? The “legitimacy barrier” (a phrase coined by James Q. Wilson) collapsed 50 years ago, particularly with passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which No Child Left Behind (2002) was the 12th major reauthorization.
NCLB mandated that by 2014, every school would have 100% proficiency in reading and math. So, Alexander says, “almost every one” of America’s approximately 100,000 public schools are officially failures.
This, he says, exacerbates “the irresistible temptation of well-meaning Washington officials” to assert a duty for Washington to approve schools’ academic standards (hence Common Core), define success, determine how to evaluate teachers and stipulate what to do about failing schools.
NCLB is more than seven years overdue for the reauthorization/revision that will impact 50 million children and 3.1 million teachers. Hence a recent hearing of Alexander’s committee attracted a crowd, with hundreds overflowing into the hall.
Alexander hopes to have a bill on the Senate floor by late February and to get 60 votes with the help of some of the six Democratic senators who are former governors.
And perhaps some others. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the purity of whose liberalism is wondrous, says education today consists of two worlds.
One is “of contractors and consultants, and academics and experts, and plenty of officials at the federal, state and local level.”
Modal Trigger
Sen. Sheldon WhitehousePhoto: AP
The other is of those who teach, and “the footprint of that first world has become way too big in their lives.”
Existing law forbids federal officials from exercising “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution.”
Existing practices ignore the law, especially by using $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funds to bribe states to accept the Common Core standards (to which tests and hence texts are “aligned”).
Alexander understands the futility of trying to lasso the federal locomotive with a cobweb of words. His solution is a portion of his 1981 proposal: Devolve to states all responsibility for evaluating schools, students and teachers.
If Alexander succeeds, this will have an effect on the Republican presidential race. Jeb Bush, who supports Common Core, can say to the Republican base, which loathes it: Never mind, imposing Common Core has been outlawed.
Teachers unions hostile to teacher evaluations have part of a point: Schools are States should decide their own policies for schools | New York Post:

Charter school founder facing trial on federal bank fraud charges

Charter school founder facing trial on federal bank fraud charges:

Charter founder facing trial on bank fraud charges

At the start of each academic year, Steven Ingersoll's company took cash advances from the Grand Traverse Academy's bank account as his fee for managing the charter school. By June 30, 2013, school auditors found, Smart Schools Management had accumulated prepayments totaling $2.33 million.
As his liabilities to the school mounted over the years, federal prosecutors say, Ingersoll tried to repay the Traverse City school with proceeds from a bank loan he had received to renovate a building for the Bay City Academy, a second charter he also founded and managed.
Ingersoll is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday, accused of steering $934,000 in loan funds for the renovation project into his own bank account, and sought to use the money to repay Grand Traverse. He is also charged with failing to pay federal taxes on the money. His wife, Deborah Ingersoll, and brother, Gayle Ingersoll, are also charged in the case, which will be heard by U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington at the federal courthouse in Bay City.
If convicted of charges that include conspiracy to defraud Chemical Bank of Bay City, wire fraud and tax evasion, Steven Ingersoll faces up to 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines and restitution.
The issues raised by his case mirror the findings of an eight-day Free Press series, "State of Charter Schools," that found Michigan's charters receive nearly $1 billion a year in state taxpayer money, often with little accountability or transparency in how those dollars are spent. The June series also found conflicts of interest, insider dealings, and boards that were not aware of their management companies' business practices.
As Ingersoll awaits trial, similar questions of cronyism, conflicts of interest and questionable business practices swirl around his charter schools:
■ Ingersoll was able to advance money from Grand Traverse to his companies without informing the board. Experts say the amount of the advance was unusually large.
■ Shortly before his indictment, the president of the board of Grand Traverse formed a new management company, Full Spectrum Management, to replace Charter school founder facing trial on federal bank fraud charges:

Ohio's new charter school "reform" effort: What's all this talk about sponsors? |

Ohio's new charter school "reform" effort: What's all this talk about sponsors? |

Ohio's new charter school "reform" effort: What's all this talk about sponsors?

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Ohio doesn't have a simple plan to weed out its bad charter schools.
The state instead has an indirect strategy.
It puts agencies known as "sponsors," called authorizers in most states, in charge of overseeing charter schools, of fixing struggling charters and of closing the ones that can't be fixed. We'll be hearing a lot about Ohio's 69 sponsors this year, since both Gov. John Kasich and House leadership have made them the focus of charter reform plans.
What are they, exactly? Who are they? And why is Ohio just not cleaning up the charter school mess on its own?
We talked this week to Gov. John Kasich, state Superintendent Richard Ross, and State Sen. Peggy Lehner, who heads the Senate Education Committee, about the state's focus on sponsors.
Kasich and Ross said sponsors are the best way to push for improvements at charter schools quickly, without overburdening the Ohio Department of Education. And the governor said having sponsors overseeing the schools will prevent a future governor from undermining them.
Lehner, a Republican from Montgomery County, thinks Kasich's approach may be too narrow. She said she hopes the Senate will come up with changes for other parts of Ohio's charter system this spring.
We also talked to Cleveland officials, who have a head start on looking at sponsor standards and quality, thanks to 2012's Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools. 
What is a sponsor, or authorizer?
Charter schools are public schools, just like your local school district.
Should sponsors police charter schools, or should the state? Tell us below.
But they are privately-run and states like Ohio appoint different agencies -- like school districts, state or city panels, colleges and nonprofits -- to "authorize" them to run as a public school.
Those agencies then are responsible for the performance of schools they allow to operate under their good name.
Who are they?
Nationally, 95 percent of authorizers are school districts who agree to back charter schools in the district to give families a choice, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).
Some states also allow the state boards of education or a special state charter board to authorize schools too. 
How is Ohio different?
According to NACSA, Ohio and Minnesota are the only states that allow nonprofit agencies to authorize charter schools in a significant way. In Ohio, according to Ohio Department of Education data, nonprofits authorize more than 40 percent of the state's general education charters.
Some of Ohio's nonprofit authorizers are not education institutions at all. Cleveland has Ohio's new charter school "reform" effort: What's all this talk about sponsors? |

National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Group: 1 in 5 charter schools not doing well enough to stay open

A group that oversees more than half of the nation's 5,600 charter schools said as many as one in five U.S. charter schools should be shut down because of poor academic performance.