Archive for September, 2013

globeflag

So you’re on an elevator. Let’s hope it’s slow and you’ve got every button pushed. Because the person next to you is asking why you oppose education reform and you’ve got about 2 minutes to answer. Here’s what you can say in 2 minutes or less (if you talk fast):

–Education reform is crafted on the  grossly incorrect assumption that the broad scope of what we call learning can be measured with a single standardized test.

–These tests (MAP, PARCC, SBAC etc.) do not measure learning. They measure a child’s socio-economic status, zip code, and test taking abilities. They were not written by teachers and are not pedagogically or developmentally appropriate.

–All of the policies driving reform are based on these erroneous and faulty measurement systems. On this faulty system of tests we mis-evaluate children, fire teachers, and close schools.

–The lion’s share of the monies going to schools are spent on these tests and the curricula grounded on these tests (CCSS), while little money is being put toward building meaningful infrastructures that would enable children to actually learn more or learn better.

Hurry, one more floor to go.

Your friend asks, “Well then why are we doing this?”

You reply: “Because the corporations and politicians from both sides of the aisle who pushed these policies through federal and state legislation are making billions of dollars as a result of their implementation. It’s about corporate greed and corporate control of your child’s education. They are robbing our children.”

Your friend make a pensive face. “Well, what can I do about it?” You reply: “Refuse to participate by opting your child out of the tests, and creating awareness within your community. Fight to take back your schools. It stops when we stop it.”

The elevator bell has rung. “Ding.” The doors slide open. It’s time to get off.

Seriously folks. IT’S TIME TO GET OFF.

Resource Pins

Seriously?

Everybody. Stop the presses! It’s here!

The solution to all of the social, economic, and pedagogical ills that have been plaguing our “failing” schools for decades! What is it you ask? Why Common Core apps, silly!

Yes, now we can re mediate for the needs of ALL learners, especially those in schools with crumbling infrastructures, haunted by racist school- to- prison pipelines, failing economies, high unemployment rates, and rampant dropout rates. Who knew it could be accessed all in the palm of your hand? Or the latest iPad, I should say.

Don’t believe me? Just join me the next riveting round of Education Nation coming soon to a neighborhood near you, where you can listen to the greatest scholarly and educational minds of our century (millionaires and movie stars) expound upon their deep knowledge of “what works best” for school children. Here, they will dazzle you with tales of their own teaching experiences working with the most challenging students, their independent scholarly findings about how to motivate and inspire children to reach their highest potential, and their selfless hands-on efforts to fight the problems of institutional racism, poverty, and social problems that affect how children learn and grow.

And of course they’ll be on hand to share with you how their own latest technological and testing innovations will solve all these problems without the messy trouble of having done all the other things I just mentioned.

Or, maybe they’re just trying to sell us something

Ever flip through a magazine and stumble across a full page glossy image that expounds on some problem, like how a bad diet can lead to split ends? It’s laid out like a real article. It offers serious looking information given by “research” and “experts” and follows this with, of course, “just the solution you’ve been waiting for!”– Shampoo X, with all the dietary nutrients your hair is missing! And down at the bottom in small print it says “advertisement.”

Education Nation is little more than an extravagant advertisement disguising itself as substance. How else can they explain the cast of characters being paraded on stage as presenters, in the guise of “helping transform education”?  Although there are few speakers of real merit… most ought to raise an eyebrow.

And what are they selling exactly? Ideology and products.

If one examines the ideological perspectives of nearly everyone on that presenters list one will find  that nearly all of them embrace a free-market corporate-driven approach to education reform.

Never mind that such an approach has never been proven to work … yet there’s an abundance of research, findings, and personal experiences documenting how it is harming school, communities, teachers and children. We do have concrete evidence that such reform measures lead to record profits for the companies and persons who wielded the political and financial power to pass the necessary legislation in the first place.

But never let the truth get in the way of advertising. It hurts your profit shares.

A large portion of the presenters  (or the organizations they represent)  have self-serving economic and political motives in promoting reform legislation which includes, but is not limited to: New “improved” tests, an unproven but already problematic and largely despised Common Core standards (hey, but at least they’ve got cool apps!), increased tax dollars toward charter schools (never mind that they fail), and new teacher evaluations systems (which force out experienced teachers, in favor of “Great White Savior” TFA Harvard grads who use teaching as a hazing process to earn their entrance into some high powered corporate position).

Here a few of the Education Nation panelists:

Joel Klein is now serving as CEO of Amplify (part of Wireless Generation) which has a lion’s share of million dollar contracts across the nation to collect and stores 400 points of student data.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has championed Wall Street millionaires with his attack on public education and offering hedge funders a new form of high yield investments in charter schools.

Lloyd Blankfein is the chairman of Goldman Sachs (so of course you can see his logical connections with curriculum and pedagogy). According to Ravitch, “In late 2010, Goldman Sachs announced it would lend $25 million to develop 16 charter schools in New York and New Jersey. The news release said the loans would be “credit-enhanced by funds awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.”

Jeb Bush, founder of the Foundation for Excellent Education, is a member of American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC) whose education policy goals include privatizing public education.

Robert Wrubel is Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Vice President, Apollo Group whose flagship institution is University of Phoenix. The policy push for online learning won’t hurt him will it?

Jonah Edelman is Co-Founder and CEO, Stand for Children. One article begs the question, “Could Stand for Children be training former Teach for America corps members to write ALEC policy for state legislatures?” 

Dr. John E. Deasy is Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District who supports charter schools, teacher evaluations based on student test scores, and “parent trigger” laws . Meanwhile, in spring 2013, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp  has spent a whopping $250,000 on the Los Angeles school board race, just as the corporation focuses on making money off of public education. News Corp and its for-profit education subsidiaries are also members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the education initiatives promoted by News Corp’s preferred candidates track the ALEC agenda.

Stop Chasing Shiny Objects!

At least I get their motives. They’re unpleasant, and I am outraged, but they’re pretty obvious. What I understand less is why we, as a general society, allow this to happen. Are we so beguiled by money and fame that they stand as the only criteria for being able to gain “legitimacy” about a deeply human concern?  We are a society that likes “shiny” and “sexy.” The Kardashians get more traction in the public sphere than does the NSA. We like our latest gadgets and toys.

And to those reformers who hark on the overused and inaccurate sound bite: “Our opposition (like me) has no solutions,” I say “Kiss my assYou just haven’t been paying attention.” I would tell them what I tell my own college students, “A failure to listen on your part does not constitute a problem on mine.”

The truth is, the real solutions to educational and societal issues aren’t “shiny” or “sexy.” They don’t make for ridiculous made- for- Lifetime TV crap like “Won’t Back Down.”  

But, how much TV ratings would be garnered from Jonothan Kozol sharing about the “savage inequalities” of our nation, or Sonia Nieto documenting powerful stories of Latino children engaged in culturally relevant classrooms? Not as much as athletes, politicians, millionaires, and movie producers.

No. Sadly, society would rather see millionaires and famous politicians strut their performance and sell us “new and improved education 2.0.” I’m sure that Allyson FelixOlympic Gold Medalist is an outstanding athlete and she’s probably a very nice person, but what does she know about education?

Hey, it makes for better viewing.

But it doesn’t make for better education. Real solutions can’t be reproduced as a glossy one-page ad.

But they’re real solutions. In fact, not only have reformers blatantly ignored the decades and volumes and volumes of evidence of what has been PROVEN to help children. Reformers now go out of their way to eliminate these programs, as if to wash away any of the evidence. How else does one explain the closing down of the Mexican American Studies program in Tucson which raised the graduation rates and class grades for some of the most challenged students?

How else to explain the persistent elimination of art, music, sports, PE and other extracurricular programs that have proven to increase school attendance and aid in the overall process of  learning (including ironically, test scores) especially in those schools where kids need it the most.

For decades market-driven corporate-minded money-making policy leaders have been ignoring real research, real evidence, real role models, real classroom examples of what works. Why aren’t true leaders of education presenting at Education Nation? You know. The ones who actually teach or have taught for decades, the ones who have dedicated their professional lives to real research, or devoted themselves to fighting for others? Many have been around even before NCLB. They’ve been promoting WHAT WORKS for decades.

Rethinking Schools has been publishing real stories from real classrooms that work, since 1986!

Fair Test has been providing research, resources, and facts for the public ever since 1985.

And there are too many educators to name who I call my heroes who have been fighting for children ever since I began by Masters degree in teaching in 1991. Today I am grateful to be able to call many of them my friends.

it’s not like we haven’t been shouting from the roof tops for years and years.

We have had real solutions for decades. And they’re rather simple. A small classroom size doesn’t come on an iPad app. A new “common” curriculum doesn’t provide needed infrastructure and equitable funding to our poorest schools and communities. New PARCC tests won’t feed hungry and developing minds in communities with food deserts. Bio metric galvanic bracelets and eye tracking systems will never replace meaningful relationships between caring experienced teachers and their students. No test can measure the life changing qualities of a culturally relevant and hands-on learning experience that empowers students.

Brought to you by…

And what about the Education Nation “supporters”? They are listed locally by city on the webpage. It’s paid-for advertising, while the speakers sit on stage and promote policies and agenda that profit and benefit the corporations that sponsored this. However, key ones that I keep finding in each city’s “sponsor” link include:

Kellogg– The Foundation invested 6$ million dollars through its mission driven investing arm to support financing of charter school facility expansion.  

University of Phoenix— Did Rubel buy himself a seat at the table?

And who can forget the giant head behind the curtain, Bill Gates? His corporation is a chief sponsor of Education Nation and is one who “supports effective teaching and teacher development, tools and supports for teachers aligned to the Common Core State Standards, and learning and teaching innovations, including education technology.”

I wonder whose gonna sell all that new technology to all those schools?

Is there an app for greed?

 

hell

WHAT the HELL is HOPE STREET?

Founded in 2003 by “young entrepreneurs” from a wide range of industries, Hope Street Group is a national, nonpartisan 501(c3) group.  One of their multi-pronged agenda of course is education and refers to itself as national policy reform group.

They support Race to the Top.

They have also been touted as, “a novel nonprofit …created in 2003 as a volunteer-only experiment, (which now) now has a full-time staff that works to build “coalitions of the reasonable” around domestic policy questions by gathering diverse groups of people to solve them together.”

But who and what lurk behind the curtain of lofty language?

WHAT’S THEIR AGENDA?

To promote the Common Core State Standards and other corporate driven reforms.

From their summary paper on their Education Working Group they focused on:

DATA driving a school culture, teacher EVALUATIONS, aligning CURRICULA, DATA driven instruction, and professional development.

According to their summary: “With CCSS as a backdrop and common thread for these areas, the Education Working Group participants used their time at the Colloquium to determine how we should best support public, private  and non-profit entities to address these three challenges.”

The Education Working Group was facilitated by Dan Cruce, VP of Education at Hope Street Group, who was formerly top brass in Delaware State Dept of Education.

and by Jimmy Sarakatsannis, Associate Principle at McKinsey & Company. 

LET’S REVISIT MCKINSEY FOR A MINUTE

McKinsey Management Consulting firm hires the elite to serve the elite.  McKinsey “draws on both public and private sector expertise” helping “clients improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their central administrative offices and processes.”

According to their own research panel entitled: Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity– Capturing its value: “Big data—large pools of data that can be captured, communicated, aggregated, stored, and analyzed—is now part of every sector and function of the global economy. Like other essential factors of production such as hard assets and human capital, it is increasingly the case that much of modern economic activity, innovation, and growth simply couldn’t take place without data.”

David Coleman, President of College Board and chief architect for Common Core was formerly an Associate as McKinsey. Sir Michael Barber now Chief Education Advisor at Pearson is former partner and head of McKinsey global education (in 2005) practice for McKinsey,and its unofficial motto could be his own: “Everything can be measured, and what is measured can be managed.”

If you think this all a coincidence I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

For a more in-depth analysis see:

https://educationalchemy.com/2012/06/18/the-hand-that-holds-the-data-rules-the-world/

The two resulting vision principles from Hope Street’s 2013 colloquium were:

• Using the “right” data to inform teaching on a daily basis

• Recognizing that professional development is not a separate idea or activity, but instead something that is embedded into school culture

WHO FUNDS HOPE STREET?

There are many funders but a few important ones to note include: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Fdn, Wireless Generation, Carnegie, Wal-Mart, and THE COLLEGE BOARD

WAIT … IT GETS BETTER

Who do they list as their “network”?

It reads like a who’s who list of ALEC groupies, profit mongering corporate reformers, and sock- puppets masquerading as politicians.

(here are a few):

John Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest school district.

Michael F. Bennet was elected United States Senator for Colorado

Joel Klein-CEO of the Education Division and Executive Vice President, Office of the Chairman, at News Corporation, where he also serves on the Board of Directors.

Ron Huberman the Former CEO; Operating Executive for Chicago Public School System

John Schnur Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of America Achieves which creates common core related materials . Jon co-founded New Leaders for New Schools.  He also advises philanthropists seeking to “improve” education, including Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Bob Wise President; Former Governor and chair of Alliance for Excellent Education (check out their ALEC affiliated donorsand works closely with Jeb Bush and his brainchild Foundation for Excellent Education which is a member of ALEC. Bob Wise has also been know to present at ALEC annual meetings.

SO WHO or WHAT IS HOPE STREET?

Another faux non-profit Trojan horse designed to promote ALEC’s education agenda to destroy public education and to manipulate the public into selling out their schools and their children by fostering the illusion of “helping.” It’s funded and led by the SAME chief architects of the corporate-focused, data-driven, privatizing millionaires and politicians who serve as their house pets we find in dozens of other similar organizations. It might seem like all these “different” groups give the appearance of large public support, but really it’s the same folks who have orchestrated this from the beginning and now use places like “Hope Street” to fool the public into buying their narrative.

I’ve stopped listening to what they working groups are saying. I mean, who among them is really going to form a group and tout as their mission “to bilk the American public out of their right to public education and make millions of dollars doing it.” No. Of course it’s going to say “help the children blah blah blah.”                Whatever…..

I look at WHO is saying it.

WHO’S footing the bill.

Forget promises and ideals that NEVER manifest in reality. Who is making a buck off this?

Whose next campaign is getting funded?

\Whose getting the multi-million dollar contracts to facilitate these reforms?

And most importantly, where’s the data that shows that ANY of this crap has actually served the children it promises to “help?” For all of their obsession with BIG DATA, even McKinsey can’t pull that one out of their arses. Because the truth is, facts suggest these reforms have HARMED children and communities.

Today in my email I received a message from Edliberation list serve. The message sent on behalf of Randolph Potts said:

At the same time of day this email is being sent, 50 years ago…on Sunday, September, 15, 1963, Robert Chambliss placed a bomb under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bomb exploded killing Denise McNair (11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14). The four girls had been attending Sunday school classes at the church.
A week before the Birmingham church bombing, Governor George Wallace had told the New York Times that to stop integration, Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.”  A witness identified Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as the man who placed the bomb under the steps of the Church. He was arrested and charged with murder. On October 8, 1963, Chambliss was initially found not guilty of murder.….

And my mind now recalls a project I did in 1998 while a doctoral student, on this subject. My professor asked me to do research on the events surrounding the bombing of the Sixteenth Street baptist Church and the protests in Birmingham that ensued. I gathered photos taken from photographer Charles Moore whose photographs of the horrific responses to the peaceful protests rocked our nations consciousness.  I also combed copies of old newspapers and magazines (this was before the hey day of Internet research!) for primary sources. I created a Power Point that combined the images taken by Charles Moore with a script I created COMPLETELY OUT OF ACTUAL QUOTES from people at these events, as quoted by the newspapers and magazines of the time. I re arranged the words of the real lived participants so that they would flow as a script. But all the words are the original words as quoted in the primary sources. You will note the “N” word in there-which I chose to XX out–and yet it’s still slightly visible. I chose to XX it out to honor my own anti racist stance as a White female, and yet it remains somewhat visible underneath because that was the actual language spoken by Bull Conor as quoted by the New York Times. Dare I  “soften the blow” of his hate speech spoken brazenly in public?

Please feel free to to share this Power Point especially if you teach Social Studies, or teach about the history of U.S. Civil Rights Movement or social justice.

When I show this Power Point in my classes I play the song “Mothers of the Disappeared” by U2, whose haunting lyrics mirror the horrors faced by the brave people, mostly students, who confronted brutality and hate with courage and conviction. Or sometimes I have them read the script as a play. We write about and discuss our responses to the images. To the words,

Sometimes we forget, or diminish, the history of oppression in our own back yard. And then we are forced to confront it again, as the debacle of the trial for George Zimmerman indicates–Have we really come that far? And though we have far to go, we must honor the courage and conviction of those individuals shown in Charles Moore’s photographs by matching theirs with our conviction and courage to never give up.

The POWER POINT CAN BE FOUND HERE  https://educationalchemy.com/?attachment_id=573

rocketscience

Driving to work today I was listening to BBC radio when they covered a story about the success of Finland’s Schools. The phenomena of Finnish schools is not new to anyone who follows education policies. And yet the simple truths about why they are successful continue to evade U.S. education policy makers (aka Billionaires and corporations). How can this be? The question leads me to deduce one of two possibilities: Either they are so completely diminished in their collective mental bandwidth in spite of the numerous degrees from Harvard (or so completely removed from the world we call reality) that they are unable to acknowledgment the facts as they are, … or, their ignorance to the facts is deliberate.

After being in this fight against corporate reform for many years now, I have determined that the answer to this conundrum lies in the latter explanation. It’s hard to consider that those in charge of one of the most fundamental cornerstones to our democracy, public education, could be working so hard to destroy it, but looking at the facts, we can no longer deny the possibility, even if it’s hurtful and ugly to look at.

Where Finland does not begin formalized instruction until the age of 7, we push “academics” earlier and earlier via toddler testing and developmentally inappropriate expectations (NO studies have proven this to be effective). Finland hires highly trained unionized teachers who are respected. We replace highly trained teachers with TFA grads, shatter unions, and create a climate of disrespect and mistrust for teachers. Finland does not require high stakes standardized tests in schools. We dole them out like Pez. I am sure there could numerous more comparisons like these.

So, if we see the evidence in Finland’s success, wouldn’t it make sense to do what they do?  Unless … one of two things were really happening.  Either

1) we really don’t want to copy their model because, let’s face it, there’s no corporate profit to be made using their model,

Or, 2) following the counter argument I have heard many people make;  “Well, Finland is successful in part because it is completely different than the U.S. in so many ways—they’re smaller, they don’t have our poverty rates and other socioeconomic complexities we do,” would force policy makers to concede that Finland’s success rests in large part from their policies on issues beyond the scope of what happens IN schools. In other words, U.S. policy makers would have to admit that no test, no curriculum, no “better teacher” evaluations can re mediate for the socioeconomic and environmental factors OUTSIDE of school influencing a child’s capacity for healthy growth and development as “evidenced” in learning outcomes.

If one looks at the facts in order to shape opinion, then we have to follow the logic where it leads. Fact: corporations and billionaires channel large sums of monies via lobbying efforts and in behind- closed- doors deals with politicians to influence educational policies especially around the supposed “need” for new tests, new teacher evaluation systems, new curricula (aka Common Core), and school vouchers. Then, once these policies have passed at the federal or state levels, these same companies and billionaires are conveniently the recipients of the contracts to provide the services needed to implement the new policies. And they make scads of money for doing so.

Need a charter school to replace that “nasty old” public school? Hedge funders can help you with that. New tests required to be taken on computers? Gates can help with that! Need all the latest Common Core training and prep manuals? Pearson can provide those! Need some way to manage this new mind boggling amount of child and testing data? inBloom has got what you need!

Now whether or not you agree any of this is a  good idea is I suppose a matter of opinion. But the fact that it happens is not negotiable. The fact that it’s profitable has been demonstrated again and again. The claim that it helps children has yet to be shown.

It is also a fact that no test, no system of convoluted evaluations, no magic bullet curriculum (aka Common Core) has ever: 1) been proven to increase graduation rates (all of which actually increase drop out rates in many districts), 2) meet the needs of diverse learners (teaching to the test and scripted curricula leave out millions of different types of learners and their needs), 3) reduce the school to prison pipeline, or 4) ameliorate the affects of poverty on children.

What can we prove these policies do? 1) When schools and children “fail” these tests the community schools are closed and re opened as hedge fund invested charter schools (which studies show do NOT out perform their public school counter parts), 2) children’s stress, behavioral problems, health problems and anxiety levels rise, 3) corporations MAKE money, and 4) schools LOSE time and money for programs and practices which HAVE been proven to improve/enrich learning such as:

  • reduced class size
  • ensuring all classrooms have highly trained educators trained in real teacher preparation programs (not TFA teacher wanna be’s),
  • embedded  art, music, PE, library, recess and after-school programs
  • culturally relevant, creative, student-centered, hands-on curricula

Funny. Finland seems to know this.

And it’s not only that we are ignoring the truth about what has been proven to create successful and meaningful learning for all children. It’s bad enough that we DENY millions of our nation’s children the right to these things. It’s worse. We’re channeling millions and millions of dollars AWAY from proven strategies to fund policies and practices that do the exact opposite. We pay money to set up our children, teachers, and students to fail.

Why? Just follow the money. How could anyone possibly deduce otherwise? The facts speak for themselves. It’s that simple.

JPEGLabyrinth Slide (2)

(click on image to make it larger)

WHILE THE INFORMATION HERE IS FREE AND OPEN TO ANYONE-REPRODUCTIONS OF THIS CHART MAY BE MADE ONLY WITH PERMISSION BY MORNA MCDERMOTT

A SPECIAL THANKS TO KAREN BRACKEN FOR THE SERIOUS TIME AND ENERGY SHE PUT INTO (RE) CREATING THE COMMON CORE CHART AS A POWER POINT (perhaps much more readable than my hand writing for many!!).

I HAD TO SAVE AS JPEG TO UPLOAD. POWER POINT SLIDE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST VIA EMAIL.

AND SEND KAREN BRACKEN YOUR MESSAGES OF THANKS!!

SHARED KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. KEEP IT GROWING!

A COUPLE OF NOTES FROM KAREN:

White letters indicate GATES funding

Red letters indicate ALEC members

Red lines indicate partnerships

Green lines indicate funder(s)

BOD= Board of Directors

AND A NOTE TO ALL COMMON CORE CHART READERS-–if and when you share this please don’t forget the amendments made to the original after it was published -they are needed to be most accurate and up to date! Click here for the transcript which includes additions and changes.

Corrections: The Council of Chief State School Officers director is no longer Tom Luna; it is now Chris Minnich, who used to work for Pearson. The former Gates employee, Sharren Bates, works for inBloom, not Wireless, as the chief product officer, and Connections Academy Mickey Revenaugh is no longer the ALEC education committee  co-chair. But she was when the chart was originally started in 2011.

EDIimage

 

My friend and partner in crime, Peg Robertson, alerted me to a document published about the Common Core in her state of Colorado    published by Achieve in partnership with a group whose name I had yet to be acquainted with: U.S. Delivery Institute (EDI).

I prefer to think of them as the Ministry of Magic.

Either they’ve somehow slipped past my radar in spite of hours of diligent reporting and researching on Common Core corporate associations  (entirely possible—none of is perfect, and let’s face it- this tangled web will always be more insidiously complicated than any of us can fully comprehend. The Matrix? Eat your heart out).

Or….they’re a newer kid on the block (created in 2010) laying low and quiet. But EDI is a newer kid, with the same old players.

So if you’re like me, and just meeting these folks for the first time let’s see who they are.

No spoiler alert needed here. Primary funder is….wait for it…Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Also funding EDI are The Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Harold K. Castle Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

And Who Are the Key Operators?

This is where it gets interesting.

The Founder of the U.S. Delivery Institute (EDI) is Sir Michael Barber who is also conveniently the Chief Education Adviser to Pearson, aka the giant Octopus (to quote Alan Singer) in the room.

The Chief Executive Officer for EDI is Kathy Cox. Prior to that she served as Georgia’s State Superintendent of Schools from 2003 until 2010.

EDI’s Program Director Nick Rodriguez was (formerly) an engagement manager with McKinsey & Company’s education practice, where he advised education leaders on policy and implementation at the district, state, and national level in the U.S. and abroad.

It wouldn’t be an investigative blog from me if it didn’t have McKinsey mentioned in it. Hey, I can’t help it if they’re just EVERYWHERE in education reform!!! 

Who else can you find among the ranks of their senior leaders?

1) More than a few Teach for America grads, 2) individuals who, prior to their EDI positions, worked for the same foundations that are funding EDI, 3) and Sara Kerr, the former Chief Performance Officer with the Delaware Department of Education, who oversaw the implementation of Delaware’s $119 million Race to the Top grant . Conveniently, “EDI has partnered with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) to plan and drive delivery of the state’s reform agenda as outlined in its Race to the Top (RTTT) proposal.

This is all a little too incestuous for me, thanks.

What Does EDI Do?

Besides rake in millions?…. According to their website  their missions is to:

“ (F)ocus on helping our partner systems to use the delivery approach to implement the policies and reforms to which they have already committed.”

Touting itself as a “different” kind of “technical assistance organization” they promote what they call a “Delivery approach,” based on Sir Michael Barber’s book entitled Deliverology 101.  Accordingly:

“In 2001, Sir Michael Barber pioneered the delivery approach to meet the challenge of implementing reforms in a way that will guarantee their success.  EDI has adapted that approach for the American context and uses it to help state systems of K-12 and higher education achieve their ambitious goals.” See www.deliveryinstitute.org/delivery-approach

But wait!!! There’s more!!!

EDI has developed a curriculum that will allow any US education system to harness the power of the approach.”

If you order now you get one free barf bag and a packet of Kool Aid!!!

In their Access to Success Initiative, geared towards institutes of higher education, EDI operates under a partnership between the National Association of System Heads (NASH) and The Education Trust.

Who, or what, is Education Trust? (….besides a really bad oxymoron?)

Ed Trust expresses its lofty and generously vague and broad sweeping mission as promoting “high academic achievement for all students at all levels—pre-kindergarten through college.”

Ed Trust is funded by Lumina, Broad, Walton Foundation, and State Farm-all associated with ALEC. ALEC’s education goal generally speaking is to privatize public education, ensuring all Americans of their God given right to serve the corporate good.

Who or what is NASH?

NASH partners with Achieve, The Data Quality Campaign, Education Trust, and the National Governors Association (one of the central designers of the Common Core) among others.

“Formed in 1979 for the purpose of seeking improvement in the organization and governance of public higher education systems, NASH serves as a forum for the exchange of views and information among its members and with other higher education organizations, with special attention to the perspectives, problems, and opportunities of heads of systems as a unique category of higher education executives.”

It seems now more than in 1973 when it was founded, NASH has formed many innovating business opportunities in the manufacturing of education reform now creeping its way up the walls of the ivory tower.

Here are Two of EDI’s Goals

1) States are using student growth measures to understand teacher effectiveness for good reasons. First, student learning is the most important expectation we set for schools, and nothing in a school impacts student learning more than effective teaching.

Translation—EDI will enforce the use of Value Added Measure (VAM) despite strong evidence to it’s LACK of reliability or validity as a viable instrument to measure learning.

2) New data systems (that) permit far better links between student outcomes (tests, graduation, post-secondary experiences) and specific schools and teachers. This facilitates assessment of and systemic learning about changes to policy and practice that might lead to improvements in the quality of teaching and public schools.

Translation—Gates and other techno-junkies will suck school districts dry, draining them of much needed monies to pay for technology required to collect and warehouse this new data. Oh, they’ll get grants for these new innovations at first. Any good drug dealer knows you always give the first hit out for free. They’ll come back for more.

Such data will include all sorts of PRIVATE bits of information about our children with no guarantee to its security or clarity as to how its going to be used (without our consent). And lastly, this statement suggests that such data will be used to promote merit pay scheme and attach student tests scores to teacher evaluations and job retention.

This same cadre of corporate reformers (as the creation of EDI via Pearson, Achieve, Gates, Broad, et al…indicates) is some new science fiction-esque beast that keeps mutating itself, growing and spreading, and giving birth to itself like some mutant zombie pea pod…

…and it just won’t die.