by Chris Daniels
So a Press Sec, tech guru and a news anchor walk into a bar. Sounds like the start to a good joke, doesn’t it? But unfortunately this crew and their pals are far from a joke. They are teaming up to radically alter the landscape in education.
On June 10th, 2014, the decision came down in the Vergara v. California lawsuit which states that teacher tenure violates the civil rights of the students under California’s Equal Protection Clause. Whether or not you agree with this ruling, it is the merely the beginning in the battle to reduce protections of teacher’s tenure and seniority, and undermine Unions.
Two former Obama administration members, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, have founded the Incite Agency. Also part of this group is John Jones, a former Obama Admin digital strategist. Incite Agency will lead a national public relations drive to support a series of lawsuits aimed at challenging tenure, seniority and other job protections that teachers unions have defended ferociously. In addition Arne Duncan has cheered the Vergara decision, and a National legal campaign, modeled after the Vergara Case, is being headed by Campbell Brown, a former CNN anchor and her group PEJ – Partnership for Educational Justice. (A side note – Ms. Brown refuses to release the donor list for her group. Wonder why that is? Astroturfing?)
All of this info and more can be found on Politico at “>http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/robert-gibbs-ben-labolt-legal-fight-teachers-union-incite-agency-108243.html
Although this is being framed around “bad” teachers, protected by the system, there seems to be something deeper going on. And the big question is why are so many Democrats – traditional supporters of, and acceptors of Union donations – going after teachers and their Unions? It is my belief that there are some nefarious possibilities based on the final implementation of Common Core that is required in 2014 – 2015.
As has been taking place across the Country, more parents and teachers have been standing up and voicing their opposition to the changes that are happening due to Common Core. Due to these issues, teachers groups such as the Badass Teachers’ and many Unions have voiced their opposition to Common Core. In the case of New York, the teachers Unions voted “No Confidence” in Common Core, Arne Duncan and the Ed Chief of NY.
We are already starting to see some alarming issues arise with the implementation of Common Core. What is causing these issues? To paraphrase – it’s the curriculum, stupid. Well, actually, it is more than the curriculum. It is the data collection, it is the challenge to parental rights, it is the sexualizing of literature, it is the revision of history, it is the confusing math, it is the K-12 sexuality program, it is the excessive testing, it is the teacher evaluation, it is the National over reach, it is the corporatization and profitizing of students, it is the career steering, etc., that have found their way into the National spotlight and caused many to question exactly the intent of Common Core. Not to mention the unending flow of money heading to technology/textbook companies, testing companies and data storage companies. And add to that there have already been many issues with Special Education, with the plan going forward to minimize the Special Ed aspects, and ignore IEP’s. The powers that be have said as much, and we have already started to see the examples in many States. The current MO is, the more CCSS gets cemented, the more issues that teachers and parents will have, and this is where all the issues with teachers will start to arise.
So why is there a plan for so many lawsuits, and so much money involved to remove teacher tenure and Union powers? While some may claim this legal push is designed to protect the students, this is instead a pre-emptive strike to get all teachers out of the way who would disagree with the many objectionable thorns that have come about as Common Core continues to blossom. The people in control want obedient teachers to follow their plans. The plan for all the required testing makes it more difficult for teachers to have time to figure out individual students’ needs. This is a teach to the test program, as clearly evidenced by the scope of testing that is currently in use, or planned to be used. And for this type of instruction, Teach for America can be used. Teach to a fixed curriculum, take a test on that curriculum, judge from the results how the “Teacher” is doing passing along that curriculum. That is the danger that teachers need to recognize. As touted, it is an 85% fixed curriculum.
There is already a plan in place for those of you who don’t follow the rules. They will simply get rid of you and put in someone who approaches education like a robot. This is evidenced in writing in a CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) document from March 2014 titled “A Study of States’s Requests for Waivers from Requirements of NCLB Act of 2001: New Developments in 2013-14”, and is sourced from the US DOE on June 13, 2013 – Link below:
Click to access ASR_SCASS_ESEA%20Flex%20Addendum.pdf
All States have different implementation schedules, but as I am in Minnesota, I will give those specifics. On page 72 of the report it states that for Minnesota in the 2013-14 school year the “Educator Evaluation” was fully implemented for the Principals, and in the 2014-15 school year it will be fully implemented for Teachers. “Fully implemented” means both Teachers and Principals receive effectiveness ratings. For the 2014-15 school year for Principals, and the 2015-16 school year for Teachers, these are the first year in which ratings must inform personnel decisions (i.e. hiring, firing, pay raises, and tenure; not just professional development or support). And what are these ratings derived from? These ratings will come from all the standardized testing, as has been touted and promised by those in charge. Again, everything that is happening has been promised and is spelled out clearly. It is in writing from them and by them.
As those that are following the argument that these lawsuits are for protection of student’s, are simply being used to further the case of removing teachers. This is the most radical reform of our education system that has taken place in the history of our Country. It has been implemented with strong arm, backroom tactics, and has been driven by money. The only education experts with any teaching experience on the Common Core Validation Committees have sounded off on the lack of rigor, that it will put us behind and that it won’t raise our educational standards as a whole. It is an unproven system that in its infancy has had major issues. What good can the future possibly bring once full implementation is finalized? Can it be any better once the citizen’s hands are tied?
You may only have one or two objections to this take over, and may have issues opposing the other aspects, but one thing is crystal clear – If you object to only one aspect of Common Core, you have to be against all of it. There is too much power and money tied up in this whole program to rework only one or two aspects. What needs to happen is we all need to unite and stand up against this transformation. If we don’t come together, ultimately our efforts will fail. And if we lose, the children lose.
3 thoughts on “Attention teachers and parents: What do Gibbs, Jones, Brown and Vergara v. California mean for the future of education? Now in Minnesota!”
Excellent article. There is a fundamental flaw in evaluating teachers based on students’ scores on standardized tests, and they have to get rid of teachers’ rights and protections before it becomes obvious to everyone in a few years. The flaw is that it is mathematically impossible. For a student to show improvement on a test each year they would have to start out scoring very low in kindergarten and reach the maximum score attainable by the end of high school. It would be common for a child to score a two on state tests in elementary school, a three in middle school, and then reach a 4 in high school. We know this doesn’t happen because students can only reach their own potential based on their personal abilities. If their teachers and parents are doing their jobs they will reach the height of their potential in the early years, and as appropriately tests get more difficult the following years, students’ scores end up about the same over time. It is possible for a struggling student to go from say a two to a three or even a four with the appropriate help and intervention, but this means they were deprived of the help they needed in the early years.
This has all been masked by deliberately having a high failure rate for the first year of the new tests, along with all the propaganda about needing higher standards and teacher accountability. It was easy to achieve this when teachers didn’t even have the materials to teach the new curriculum aligned to new standards that were rushed in over night. For the states that 2014 was the second year of testing, there will be improvement as there was plenty of prepping all year, and Arne and gang will use this to declare CCSS a success. In a few years when students have adjusted to the new curriculum their test scores will level off and it will be two late to stop teachers making $70K and up getting replaced with $40K earners.
We need curriculum and testing experts to get involved, and we need to create a fund to bring a civil rights case against these reformers. You can’t fight ‘big money’ by passionately advocating for the rights of children. They DON’T care!
CCSS: Common Core Shameful Scam
Chris I hope you don’t mind but I posted this to my education blog. Well done as always! Thank you!
Absolutely. Blog away!