One of my favorite talk-show radio hosts in Delaware is Rick Jensen on WDEL. While I may not always agree with him on every issue, we stand united in our hatred of Common Core and both actively advocate for parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Or as Rick calls it, the “Not So Smarter Balanced Assessment”. He had this guy from the Thomas Fordham Institute on the show today.
I love how this guy refuses to call Common Core a curriculum. Really? Then why is it I put an article up with a copy of my son’s math homework a year ago, and it generated 15,000 hits in less than 24 hours? Because parents across America were Googling this homework that night, when kids all across the country had the SAME homework, with teachers teaching to that math that day. If that is just a standard, then I strongly suggest this man buys a dictionary and learns the difference between standards and curriculum.
And let’s not forget one thing that most folks don’t know. The NAEP test, that has been a “steady” barometer of our children’s success in America, is based on tests designed by American Institutes for Research. Who is also a vendor for numerous states and their standardized assessment, including all the Smarter Balanced Assessment states. Of course kids would do worse on a test they helped create against a test they helped create. A company like that doesn’t get $38,000,000.00 from a small state like Delaware, and who knows how much at a national level, if all children are succeeding. They need kids to fail this test, in great numbers, so they can continue their profit margins. That’s what it’s all about. So when these “think tank” guys talk about how much we need this data, they need that data so they can line their pockets with taxpayer money. It’s not about the kids. It’s never been about the kids. It’s about greed, pure and simple.
Why are these Fordham guys showing up in the News Journal and WDEL all of a sudden? Because folks like Dr. Paul Herdman of Rodel are asking them to. Because they know opt-out numbers are going to go through the roof next spring, and they want to get the spin control out now. Because these corporate intruders, and that’s what they are, are scared to death of the 148th General Assembly overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50. But like the Smarter Balanced Assessment itself, they will fail. Because they are missing the crucial ingredient in all of this. A parent’s love for their child. There is nothing greater aside from the Almighty Himself! So Jack, Paul, Mark, all of you, listen up. We will not give up. We will not surrender. We will not stop. We aren’t idiots who believe whatever lines you throw our way. We are parents. We are our children’s voice. You all need to stop before you embarrass yourselves even further.
Paul Peterson and Martin West with EducationNext released a blog post today based on a survey showing 67% of the public want federal testing requirements for students and oppose opt-out. This is from a survey sent to 700 teachers and 3,300 members of the public. You know what, I can send out a survey and it means nothing without knowing who your sample groups are. I know if I put a survey up on my blog that it is going to skew towards my target audience: concerned parents and disgruntled teachers. I would never base public policy off those numbers.
But EducationNext is led by folks like Michael Petrilli with the Thomas Fordham Institute, a long-time supporter of charter schools and high-stakes testing, so I shouldn’t be surprised. He is also a fellow at the Hoover Institution, who is the publisher of the EducationNext blog. So I challenge Peterson, West and Petrilli to show who this survey was sent to.
We found little public sympathy for the “opt-out” point of view. Only 25% of the public like the idea, while 59% oppose it, the remainder taking a neutral position. Among parents themselves, just 32% favored the opt-out approach, while 52% opposed it. Fifty-seven percent of the teachers also reacted negatively to the idea, with only 32% lending it support. Clearly, the public favors the Senate education bill’s approach to this issue over that of the bill that passed the House.
Clearly is a strong word, and I would want a much larger sample size to base your ideological arguments off of. Because I really don’t believe 57% of teachers are opposed to opt-out, and aside from the ones coerced into these reformer agenda think tanks, most favor it.
Of these 700 teachers, how many were sent to local district teachers? Since they represent the largest group of teachers, I would assume at least 75% of the surveys went to them. But if it was sent to mostly charter school and Teach For America teachers, of course the data would lend support towards exactly what EducationNext, the Thomas Fordham Institute and the Hoover Foundation represent. Which is the privatization of public schools and the destruction of teachers unions. As for the 3,300 “adult members of the public”, how many are parents of traditional school district children? How many are charter school parents? What is the statistical age representation of this survey? Failure to release that kind of information does not lend credibility to your arguments.
This is the biggest problem in education these days, organizations like yours coming up with these reports and surveys and using the flawed data to mold legislators into your puppets to pass laws off your agendas. The lines between public policy and lobbyists have become so convoluted that the bias towards corporate money in education has become the norm. Enough already. Why does anyone give Petrilli the time of day anymore?
I have been a fan of report Avi Wolfman-Arent since he appeared on the education reporting scene last fall. He writes for WHYY/Newsworks, and he has conducted investigative pieces on charter schools, the DOE, opt-out and has also conducted interviews with Mark Murphy and others in the education landscape of Delaware.
Yesterday, Avi wrote a very well-researched article on Delaware’s climbing graduation rate in an article called Progress or Illusion: Examing Delaware’s Drop-Out Rate. Last February, the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell were praising the rise in Delaware’s graduation rate, but Avi discovered the increase wasn’t what it appeared to be. He found out it had more to do with better reporting of numbers by school districts than a mark of progress on the state’s part. And the timing issue was crucial on the DOE’s part the day of the announcement, considering their appearance before the Joint Finance Committee on the FY16 budget, their meeting with the House Education Committee on Race To The Top funding, and Arne Duncan’s visit to Delaware the next day. As well, they were beginning to feel the mounting threat from the opt-out movement.
Today, he wrote about the rapid proliferation of charter schools in Wilmington in the excellent Wilmington, The City With Too Many Charter Schools. Avi got both sides and perspectives in this story, with the side of too many charters being pushed by Dan Rich, a member of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, and the other side by Mike Petrilli, the President of the Thomas Fordham Institute, a “conservative-leaning education think tank” as he described them. In my research on Rodel, I found the Thomas Fordham Institute is one of the leading corporate education reform advisory groups and has influenced Delaware education reform considerably over the years, especially through Rodel’s Paul Herdman. I take anything Petrilli says with a grain of salt because he is paid a considerable amount of money, like Herdman, to perpetuate the idea of more and more charter schools.
Avi continues to be a welcome addition to education reporting in Delaware, and I highly recommend checking his articles out and putting Newsworks in your favorites! Blogs are very different from mainstream journalism, and we don’t always get both sides of the issues, but Wolfman-Arent does this in great detail with great transitions in his articles.