by Eric Holcombe
In a previous post, I showed you how the State Dept. of Education selectively censored the memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement forms that were provided to me upon request. The MOUs I requested were the forms the state claimed in the Race To The Top (RTTT) application for hundreds of millions of federal taxpayer dollars were signed by all the Tennessee public school district directors of schools, the local school board chairperson and if applicable, the local district teacher union representative. Of course, this has since been proven to be false as the department has since informed me these signed MOU forms claimed in the RTTT application “do not exist”. The MOU copies that were provided to me were: 1) not the same MOU form or language as those claimed to be signed by all parties in the RTTT application, 2) were only signed by the directors of schools and 3) were signed several months after the Race To The Top application. The department for some reason withheld five districts from these copies, all of which were signed in 2009, before the first “confidential” rough draft of the Common Core “state” Standards were even available for anyone to look at. That date was January 13, 2010. The only district that seemed to put up any kind of documented protest was Jackson – Madison County. Their MOU included an attached letter of protest/concern authored by JMCEA representative Janis Carrol which indicated concerns about agreeing to a memorandum of understanding that amounted to signing a blank check because: 1) The education “reforms” that would become special session legislation in January 2010 did not exist yet but there was plenty of talk about teacher tenure restriction/elimination and tying teacher pay to student achievement testing. 2) No one could yet read the 1100-page RTTT application that they were swearing familiarity with in the MOU they were being asked to sign 3) Therefore, they could not know the deception used by the Department of Education to hide the agreement to implement the Common Core “state” Standards and the massive data-mining increase (SLDS system expansion) that would be contained in the RTTT application. However this unknown also would apply to the school district personnel that were asked to sign.
To give some insight into what was going on in December 2009, when the State Dept. of Education was asking all the districts to sign the blank check and agree to whatever is inside their RTTT trojan horse, Janis has provided meeting minutes from the JMCEA executive committee meeting along with some commentary. Note that these minutes are from December 8, 2009, over 30 days prior to the first “confidential” rough draft of the Common Core “state” Standards even being available; the special session legislation that would be passed in January just prior to its inclusion in the RTTT application (which would be submitted only a couple of days later) doesn’t exist yet. Thus, the 1100-page RTTT application cannot be complete at this point, yet the state is asking for districts to agree they are familiar with whatever might be contained in it (including the Common Core “state” Standards and mandatory online, overpriced achievement testing by no-bid contracts with Phil Bredesen’s Achieve Inc. unbeknownst to them).
Janis’ comments follow:
“I’m attaching the minutes from the JMCEA Executive Board meeting just prior to me signing the RTTTF MOU. It explains how we came to the decision of how to handle this in the best way we thought possible.
Although this was four years ago, I recall us feeling the pressure into to signing this. We were damned if we did and also damned if we didn’t. We were lead to believe that all local associations had to sign this in order to get it. I didn’t want us to be the scapegoat if we didn’t. That being said, we agreed it was a bad idea to sign something that was still being planned out… CRAZY.
I think I remember there were about four or five teacher associations who refused to sign it. Turns out in the end that it didn’t matter if we agreed and signed it or not. It appeared it was a done deal.”
Remember those famous words from Jamie SCORE Woodson at the September 20, 2013 “fact-finding” hearing: “We were going to do it anyway”. She was sponsoring the special session legislation at this time and getting ready to resign and go to work for Bill Frist to spend those millions that Bill Gates gave to TNSCORE – for the children, of course. However, that special session legislation does not commit the state to Common Core or the no-bid, data-mining contract with PARCC (Governing Board member Kevin Huffman and their project manager, Achieve Inc. – Bill Haslam board member).
Also note in the JMCEA minutes that TEA had provided a letter to the local affiliates – presumably a letter of protest that Janis improved upon. This is what I would expect my union to do for me as a dues-paying member, because endorsing this massive application that you can’t read yet is as Janis stated “CRAZY”. For some reason though, even TEA had changed their tune by January 16, 2010 (two days before the RTTT application was submitted) as Earl Wiman’s rubber-stamp letter contained in Appendix A (on Page A-27) of the RTTT application states:
“We advised all of our local affiliates to sign their LEAs Memorandum of Understanding in order to support Tennessee’s RTTT application. Further, we recommended that they commit themselves to negotiate the appropriate components outlined in the school system’s scope of work.“
Presumably, this change was in response to “partnering with” Gov. Bredesen and compromising on the teacher tenure issue in special session. It is apparent that this was the JCMEA executive committee primary concern, after all, they couldn’t know what was contained in the RTTT trojan horse – and neither did Earl Wiman.
So the public school administrators were ignorant of Common Core and PARCC testing being contained in the RTTT application because they could not read it. Neither could the teachers. Neither could any parents of any students. The signatories of the RTTT application were Gov. Phil Bredesen, Education Commissioner Tim Webb and State Board of Education President, B. Fielding Rolston. Somebody knew about the trojan horse. Somebody worked on the Tennessee RTTT application and made these promises to implement Common Core and the PARCC testing. Somebody at the state level was forcing the districts to agree to this 1100-page document without being able to read it. If it is not the signatories, then who? Because it certainly wasn’t “led” by the people of the state.