Who are we?

By Francisco Russell

Stop Common Core Illinois is a non-partisan community of Illinois citizens united by our concerns about Common Core in Illinois. We are the typical people you can see whenever you open your garage doors to take your car out every morning.

Our core mission is to:

  • Foster communication and collaboration among activists striving to Stop Common Core in Illinois
  • Educate the general public about our concerns regarding Common Core
  • Collate the latest news and information in one convenient place
  • Work with the media to shine a spotlight on Common Core and related issues
  • Share our experiences in Illinois with other state and national organizations

What are the concerns?

How Race to the Top Funds Fundamentally Transformed our Schools :

  • What many call ‘Common Core’ is really a set of initiatives that were introduced to states via theRace To The Top Funds and theState Stabilization Funds.
  • These funds were offered to states as part of the Obama Stimulus Bill.
  • In order for states to quality for funds, they were required to:
    • Implement the new Common Core State Learning Standards
    • Use new standardized tests to evaluate student and teacher performance
    • Set-up a longitudinal database which contains student demographics and performance data from preschool through age 20
  • As a deal ‘sweetener’, many states also qualified for a waiver from the Race to the Top requirements which financially penalized failing schools
  • No state legislature voted in Race to the Top education reforms; they were simply applied for by state governors and administrators while most state legislatures were out of session
  • Initially, all states except Alaska, Texas Virginia and Nebraska adopted the Common Core Standards.

Who Wrote the Standards:

  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationprovided the funding to write the new standards.
  • Two Washington DC trade organizations: The national Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Counsel of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) worked with education industry partners …read more

    Source: Stop Common Core Illinois

Peter Greene: Center for American Progress Calls for Doubling Down on Failed Reforms

By dianeravitch

During the Obama years, the Center for American Progress reliably cheered on the administration’s education policies. As one after another failed, CAP never backed down. Charter schools good. Closing schools good. Common Core great. Despite the convergence of evidence that these policies did not work, that they destabilized fragile urban neighborhoods, that they demoralized teachers and created shortages, CAP never wavered.

As Peter Greene shows in this post, the CAP has learned nothing from the past 15 years of failed reforms. They are still pushing policy ideas cribbed from the GOP.

They still are pushing state takeovers and turnarounds.

He writes:

”And what example do folks who support takeovers and turnarounds like to cite? Of course, it’s New Orleans. Do we really have to get into all the ways that the privatization of the New Orleans school system is less than a resounding success? Or let’s discus the Tennessee experiment in a recovery school district, in which the state promised to turn the bottom five percent into the top schools in the state, and they utterly failed. As in, the guy charged with making it happened gave up and admitted that it was way harder than he thought it would be, failed.

“The whole premise of a state takeover is that somebody in the state capital somehow knows more about how to make a school work than the people who work there (or, in most cases, can hire some guy who knows because he graduated from an ivy league school and spent two years in a classroom once). The takeover model still holds onto a premise that many reformsters, to their credit, have moved past: that trained professional educators who have devoted their adult lives to working in schools– those people are the whole problem. It’s insulting, it’s stupid, and it’s a great …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

GREAT NEWS: New Zealand is Scrapping National Standards and Charter Schools

By dianeravitch

Hurrah for New Zealand!

The Minister of Education in New Zealand, Chris Hipkins, announced that the government is putting an end to national standards and charter schools.

“Both National Standards and charter schools were driven by ideology rather than evidence. Both were rejected by the vast majority of the education sector. The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system.”

The bill includes provision for existing charter schools to operate under their contracts while the Ministry discusses possible options, including in the state system, on a case-by-case basis.

“My preferred option is to explore early termination of contracts by mutual agreement.”

My hunch is that New Zealand has a strong tradition of good public schools and common sense. Also, the financial industry and tech sector did not spread campaign contributions to elected officials.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

How Bill Gates Financed the Common Core from A to Z

By dianeravitch

Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, President Obama, and others who promoted the “Common Core State Standards” like to say that they were developed by the states, by governors, by teachers, by people at the grassroots.

Not so.

This article by Lyndsey Layton in the Washington Post explains that Bill Gates financed the CC from start to finish.

It was, as she writes, “a swift revolution,” though some might say a coup.

Gates put up an unknown huge sum. Some say $200 million, others think the total might be as much as $2 billion.

Two points need to be considered.

One, Gates and others wrongly assumed that the biggest problem in American education was its variation, its diversity, its lack of uniformity. Gates made several speeches about the need for uniform standards, comparing them to standards for electricity, allowing anyone to plug in an appliance anywhere. It never occurred to him that children are not toasters and teachers are not merely deliverers of content. He seemed to completely ignore the close correlation between family income and academic performance.

Two, the Common zcore Standards moved so rapidly that they became toxic. Trump ran against them, though he probably didn’t know what they were. In a few years, they will be forgotten, obsolete. Standards for electricity may be national and stable. Teaching and learning are dynamic, dependent on the social conditions of families and children, as well as changing knowledge of teaching and learning.

All that money down the drain.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Mercedes Schneider: How Bill Gates Bought and Paid for the Common Core

By dianeravitch

As regular readers know, Mercedes Schneider is one of my favorite bloggers. I love her keen mind, her smart research, her deep experience as a teacher, and her ability to explain complicated issues. She also has a great heart. She is an original.

I think this was one of the first, maybe the very first post of hers, that I put on my blog. It is one of her best. It explains that one man bought and paid for The Common Core: Bill Gates. She wrote this in 2013, before that endeavor became radioactive. Why did Gates want the Common Core? He believes that everything should be standardized. That is the way computers work. That is the way markets work.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Bill Gates Defends the Common Core and Praises Standardization in Education

By dianeravitch

This is an oldie but goody.

In 2014, Bill Gates spoke to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and called on teachers to defend the Common Core standards. The article notes that Gates had given the organization at least $5 million since 2010.

My favorite part of the speech is when he compared standardization in education to the value of standardized electrical outlets.

Lyndsey Layton reported for the Washington Post on the speech:

Standardization is especially important to allow for innovation in the classroom, said Gates, who used an analogy of electrical outlets.

“If you have 50 different plug types, appliances wouldn’t be available and would be very expensive,” he said. But once an electric outlet becomes standardized, many companies can design appliances and competition ensues, creating variety and better prices for consumers, he said.

If states use common academic standards, the quality of classroom materials and professional development will improve, Gates said. Much of that material will be digital tools that are personalized to the student, he said. “To get this innovation out, common standards will be helpful,” he said.

Now if children were toasters or microwave ovens, Gates would be right. Every toaster needs standard electrical current and outlets.

But if every child is different, then standardization makes no sense.

I don’t want to hurt Bill Gates’ feelings by saying this, but I think he is making a very bad analogy.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

We Stand As One

By Francisco Russell

We Stop Common Core Illinois!

This is the advocacy we’ve been trying to fight for since the Common Core State Standards started to be adopted several years ago. With the goal of the federal government centering on equity among students across the United States when it comes to competency and efficiency of the education they acquire, it is still not apparent how this will serve the interest of the students – how by having an equal measure of standards could make them excel more.

But how about those students who have been competitive enough even before this regulation was put into place? They are the living evidence that competitiveness does not come after the implementation of the regulation. That with or without the implementation of common core, they are still competitive notwithstanding. What more is that this removes the power to parents to make smart decisions for their kids. This is tyranny coated in technical, sweet sounding promises. This is revoking their right to choose. So where is the good in that?

The impact of the implementation of the common core does not only lies on the students and the parents, it also has a negative impact on the teachers and the schools as a whole. One, this is another difficult adjustment for curriculum that are already set up since time immemorial. The adjustment is not instant and although realistically speaking this is expected, the adjustment is just hampering the education of the students. The teaching style is not only changed but the way students learn as well. This brings to those schools who are just starting the implementation of this regulation now compare to those who have been using the same educational system longer. Also due to this difficulty, many veteran instructors have long since resigning and …read more

Source: Stop Common Core Illinois

As Common Core Testing Groups Shrivel, Gates Drops in More Money

By dianeravitch

in 2008-09, Bill Gates agreed to finance the creation, development, and implementation of Common Core standards. Why? He loves standardization. Estimates for his spending on the Common Core range from $200 Million to $2 Billion.

Most states adopted it, lured by the chance to win funding from Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top (states had to adopt the Common Core to be eligible to compete for a slice of $5 Billion in federal awards). But the backlash from every direction was so intense that most of the adopters renamed it, revised it, distanced themselves.

Bill Gates has never given up on the Core. He recently plopped a wee bit of money into a new effort to revive Common Core Testing.

Under Duncan, the U.S. Department of Education spent $360 million to create two Testing consortia. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

“Only five of the original 24 states involved in the PARCC consortium are still using members. They include Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and the District of Columbia. Louisana uses a hybrid of PARCC and another test.

“The other testing group, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) has seen massive attrition as well. The SBAC used to have 30 members.” SBAC is down to 12 full members.

Mercedes Schneider digs deeper into Bill Gates and his failing obsession here.

Give it up, Bill. It’s over. It’s done. Stick a fork in it.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Sinclair Media is Spreading Rightwing Propaganda Against Public Schools, And Coming to a Station Near You

By dianeravitch

This is a truly frightening story.

Far-rightwing media giant Sinclair Broadcasting has won approval from the FCC to buy Tribune Media. It will control the news feed into 72% of all homes, writes Jaisal Noor reporting from Baltimore.

Jaisal Noor writes:

“The Trump administration’s FCC recently changed local media ownership rules, paving the way for Sinclair Broadcasting to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion dollars. When the deal goes through, Sinclair has access to 72 percent of households nationwide. The Hunt Valley-based Sinclair is the largest distributor of local news in the country, and forces its stations to run commentary from pundits such as former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn and frequently offers up news with an unabashed, pro-administration spin (“Did the FBI have a personal vendetta in pursuing the Russia investigation of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn?”).

“While Sinclair consolidates its grip on the nation’s local TV market, in Baltimore, Sinclair is ramping up its local coverage with Project Baltimore on local affiliate Fox45, which aims to “save” Baltimore schools by bashing them. Project Baltimore’s propaganda is subtler than Sinclair’s employing click-bait headlines, skewed statistics, and half-truths to push a narrative that portrays Baltimore schools as beyond redemption and casts Project Baltimore as coming to the rescue.

“Its austere logo, in red, white, and blue offers up the tagline, “Save Our Schools.”

“Although Project Baltimore launched in March, recent stories have gone viral raising its profile and influence. A Nov. 8 report from Chris Papst titled “13 Baltimore City High Schools, zero students proficient in math” reported that over a dozen Baltimore City High Schools had zero students proficient in the math PARCC test—a test that’s part of the Common Core curriculum, aimed at evaluating students and teachers. Project Baltimore’s story was picked up by national right-wing outlets such as …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Kevin Welner: Can the New Gates Initiative Make a Difference in Closing Opportunity Gaps?

By dianeravitch

Kevin Welner of the National Education Policy Center has written a thoughtful (and optimistic) commentary on the Gates Foundation’s latest big bet on reforming education. The new one will invest $1.7 billion in networks of schools in big cities, in the hopes that they can work together to solve common problems.

Welner, K. (2017). Might the New Gates Education Initiative Close Opportunity Gaps? Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/bmgf.

Welner notes that the previous big initiatives of the Gates Foundation failed, although he believes that Gates was too quick to pull the plug on the small schools initiative in 2008, into which he had poured $2 billion. Gates bet another $2 billion on the Common Core, and that was sunk by backlash from right and left and in any case, has made no notable difference. Gates poured untold millions into his plan for teacher evaluation (MET), but it failed because it relied too much on test scores.

Welner says that Bill Gates and the foundation he owns suffer from certain blind spots: First, he believes in free markets and choice, and he ends up pouring hundreds of millions into charters with little to show for it; second, he believes in data, and that belief has been costly without producing better schools; third, he believes in the transformative power of technology, forgetting that technology is only a tool, whose value is determined by how wisely it is used.

Last, Welner worries that Gates does not pay enough attention to the out of school factors that have a far greater impact on student learning that teachers and schools, including poverty and racism. These are the factors that mediate opportunity to learn. Without addressing those factors, none of the others will make much difference.

Welner is cautiously optimistic that the new …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core