Tag Archive | Bill Haslam

Dear Tennessee Legislators: Your anti-Common Core bills aren’t worth the paper they are written on

2013-02-27 19.31.04

Source: http://www.wjle.com/news/2014/governor-greeted-protests-over-education-standards-tennessee-view-videos-here

By Eric Holcombe
I wish it wasn’t so. There are several bills before the education committees of varying potential effectiveness to close the gaping wounds of Common Core caused by the state’s fraudulent end-around of the voters with the Race To The Top (RTTT) application. However, the Republican “leadership” just isn’t interested in some of these bills. See, Governor Haslam has a direct conflict of interest as a board member of Achieve Inc, the Washington D.C. corporation that received (still receives?) millions from Bill Gates, and the “project manager” for PARCC, the no-bid testing body created with RTTT money. His appointed commissioner of education, Kevin Huffman is on the board of PARCC so he too has a direct conflict of interest in altering Common Core or the mandatory online data mining of your children. He is also a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the other Washington D.C. corporation that received millions from Bill Gates. Plus our state attorney general Bob Cooper, who is appointed by the illegally “selected” judges in our unconstitutional “Tennessee Plan”,  is a signatory to the RTTT application that committed us to Common Core and the data-mining and also cannot afford to admit any fault in the claims made therein. So any bills that would seriously challenge Common Core “state” Standards or the desires of the federal government (but I repeat myself) will earn a quick “opinion” from the AG that we are being “unconstitutional” or that we shouldn’t dare challenge our federal overlords or some such poppycock his office is known for when it comes to anything remotely 10th Amendment related. Some bills just don’t have a chance – like SB2405/HB2332 by Beavers and Womick that would simply stop Common Core, or SB1469/HB1705 by Gresham and Faison that while it doesn’t really stop PARCC, it does limit the bizarre data-mining of children that the U.S. government has already suggested it wants to do. Unfortunately, this bill appeals to the data-gathering privacy limits imposed by FERPA, which Obama has already gutted by executive order because this was necessary since the PARCC/SBAC data-mining and subsequent 3rd party sale of your children’s privacy was already illegal under federal law. Rep. Rick Womick appears to be protesting the “leadership” gatekeepers of the “acceptable” bills just a bit here:

Other bills are simply too weak and would do nothing substantive to correct the error of RTTT and the obvious corruption in the state board of education and executive branch that brought it to us. The only bill that has progressed is SB1835/HB1549 by Gresham/Dunn (see amendments) which does nothing about the existing Common Core standards for English Language Arts or Mathematics, but only the adoption of future standards for science, social studies, health and sex education – which will still be done after the state board of education simply puts it on their website for 60 days. And believe me, it will happen. Because they want their sugar daddy money from the fed. This bill has the possibility of shutting out PARCC from TN, but again, we will be doing mandatory online testing for Common Core with somebody – because this bill does nothing about the existing tar baby we are attached to. But none of the bills will work anyway. Why? Because Obama is making our allegedly “state-led” standards mandatory as part of his federal education budget:

As Neil McCluskey from the Cato Institute explains:   “The big story in the proposal is – or, at least, should be – that the president almost certainly wants to make the Core permanent by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests. Just as the administration called for in its 2010 NCLB reauthorization proposal, POTUS wants to employ more than a one-time program, or temporary waivers, to impose “college and career-ready standards,” which–thanks to RTTT and waivers–is essentially synonymous with Common Core. In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called “College- and Career-Ready Students,” with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.

This was utterly predictable. Core opponents, who are so often smeared as conspiracy mongers, know full well both what the President has proposed in the past, and how government accumulates power over time. RTTT was the foot in the door, and once most states were using the same standards and tests, there was little question what Washington would eventually say: “Since everyone’s using the same tests and standards anyway, might as well make federal policy based on that.”

Don’t worry, we have “Conservative Republicans” Bailout Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander (and his campaign manager Jimmy Duncan) watching our backs right? Maybe Doug Overbey and Brian Kelsey can tell you that I am all worked up about a problem that doesn’t exist yet…

So Bob Cooper (at “leadership” urging for opinions) will shoot down ANY of your bills – not that both houses wouldn’t just return to their RTTT vomit once they feared loss of the sugar daddy money (Yes, I noted the hand-wringing of Charlotte Burks last week).  Our executive branch and the necessary appointees are bought and paid for. The people lose.

My prediction: Tennessee will pimp your children some more for that almighty federal dollar. The names of the “standards” may change, as other states have already attempted to rebrand the BS into bovine scat, but it still smells the same.

It’s time to put the 10th Amendment pants on….if you have any. Or maybe borrow Sen. Ramsey’s boots. He doesn’t seem to be using them. I hope you have the courage to do so.


WARNING! This Common Core Post contains explicit content


by Eric Holcombe

…because it contains text from two of the text “exemplars” recommended by the Common Core “state” Standards for English Language Arts for preparing your human capital widget to “compete in the global marketplace”.  That means if you are under 18 years of age, stop reading now. This isn’t your Common Core English class. My intent is not to disseminate the pornographic material contained in the so-called “state-led” Common Core standards, but rather to warn you in the spirit of Ephesians 5: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

‘Wait!’ you say, ‘we hear all the time that Common Core “isn’t a curriculum”, so how could it possibly be recommending a bunch of books to read? Isn’t that a curriculum?’ Uh, yeah…it goes right along with that famous “state-led” claim. But the state and local whores of Common Core still insist on telling us these were all our idea and they are “rigorous” and “internationally benchmarked”.  They continue to do state propaganda puff pieces on the wonderful success of Common Core and it’s all rainbows and unicorns.

But there’s a problem. The Common Core English Language Arts Standard contains a list of recommended reading text “exemplars” – grade “appropriate” of course. However, some of them contain passages that are simply pornography and are therefore illegal to present to a minor in the state of Tennessee:


39-17-911. Sale, loan or exhibition of material to minors.

(a) It is unlawful for any person to knowingly sell or loan for monetary consideration or otherwise exhibit or make available to a minor:

(1) Any picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, video game, computer software game, or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body, that depicts nudity, sexual conduct, excess violence, or sado-masochistic abuse, and that is harmful to minors; or

(2) Any book, pamphlet, magazine, printed matter, however reproduced, or sound recording, which contains any matter enumerated in subdivision (a)(1), or that contains explicit and detailed verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual excitement, sexual conduct, excess violence, or sado-masochistic abuse, and that is harmful to minors.”


I’ll warn you now – these texts aren’t fit to be read. They are filth. I can’t think of an “appropriate” age to read them or any educational benefit from reading them. If they were a picture or a movie, some would legally be considered child pornography. In fact, if these texts are provided to minors in a Tennessee public school classroom, the school most certainly will be in violation of Tennessee’s obscenity law and possibly guilty of delinquency of a minor. That is if the human capital widgets “learn” anything from reading them.

White County Assistant Principal (and candidate for U.S. Congress) Jerry Lowery warned the gathering at the Senate Education Committee “fact-finding’ hearings of the filth contained in “The Bluest Eye” and would not read it aloud, instead providing written examples to the Senate Education Committee of what he found offensive and inappropriate for students. So at least the Senate Education Committee is aware, uh… I mean reminded about it, because see, these are “state-led” standards that we thought up right here in Tennessee. At least that’s what the propagandists keep telling us.


 The two Common Core recommended texts are called “The Bluest Eye” and “Dreaming in Cuban”. They are recommended for 11th grade students. They can be found listed on Page 19 of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Exemplars (along with the ISBN numbers so you can order your curriculum that isn’t a curriculum) or they can be seen in the Common Core Appendix B list of Text Exemplars here on page 152 along with some ambiguous descriptions and non-pornographic excerpts from each text. I have wrestled for a while about publicizing these texts more than they have been already, but I think the parents and taxpayers need to see the kind of depraved minds that are behind these “state-led standards that aren’t a curriculum” and the “list of books that isn’t a partial or complete list”. This is how the Common Core whores operate. They hope you never find this. When you do, suddenly the “exemplar” text lists aren’t a “partial or complete list”(?!?) or really even a suggestion that you read, even though they give you the ISBN info so you can order them.  These are the people deciding what your children need to learn and when – and rewriting the college entrance exams. I am showing you these to provoke you, so that you don’t go back to sleep and ignore the millions in payoffs to the organizations our governors and commissioners of education are part of (NGA, CCSSO, Achieve Inc., Diploma Project, PARCC). So that you can no longer ignore that the fraud of Common Core was foisted upon the administrators and teachers of the public schools to force their consent before the standards even existed. So that you are equally offended when you see these local propaganda puff pieces in the “news” paper. But ultimately, that you might consider whom is teaching your children – and how much control do you really have over what is being taught?

 Here is the link to excerpts from both texts. By clicking this link, you agree that you are 18 years or older (and want to find out what Common Core intends to teach 16-year olds to help them compete in the global marketplace).

 What I want to know is, if Common Core is really “state-led” as claimed by the Governor, commissioner of Education, the state school board, Jamie “we were going to do it anyway” Woodson and all Bill Gates’ paid whores at the “fact-finding” hearing, just exactly whom from Tennessee worked on putting together this English Language Arts Text Exemplar list and why didn’t they have any objection to the content? Who from Tennessee worked on these “state-led” standards and thought it was just fine to present pedophilia pornography to minors in violation of state law? I’d like to give credit where credit is due.

Where are the Common Core MOUs?

rotten-applecore-673by Eric Holcombe

I believe the TN State Dept. of Ed. is guilty of fraud at the federal level for lying on the Race To The Top Application for hundreds of millions received in federal taxpayer funds.

I found the recent story of the petition circulating amongst various public school district leaders and the TEA’s version in Nashville and Williamson County stating a vote of “no confidence” in state education commissioner Kevin Huffman a little surprising, if not hypocritical. If you have looked at the State of Tennessee’s application for Race To The Top (RTTT), you know there was a requirement for the states to show solidarity among the public school districts by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing themselves to the requirements contained in the 1100-page Race To The Top application which included great expansion of data collection on the students, mandatory online achievement testing, as well as implementing the Common Core “State” Standards (or if you had the time and resources, implementing your own multi-state consortium of academic standards instead). The state made the claim in this application that their goals were aligned to the federal department of education, so they used the MOU provided by the federal department of education and obtained signatures from not only the directors of schools, but the school board chairs and teacher’s union representative (as applicable) from nearly every district in TN.

From page 17 Section A(1)(ii)(a) in the RTTT application:

We also used the U.S. Department of Education’s sample MOU because our goals were aligned with it and because our districts asked for an MOU as soon as possible so they could have discussions with their unions and school boards. The MOU, reflecting the terms and conditions of our application, is attached as Appendix A-1-2.

• Section A(1)(ii)(b): Similarly, we sent the U.S. Department of Education’s sample Scope of Work because we believed our goals were aligned with it. We are pleased that 100% of our 136 participating districts and 4 state special schools committed to each and every reform criterion, as the summary table demonstrates. We achieved this sign-on rate even though all participating LEAs will have to implement a bold set of policy and practice changes, including using student growth as one of multiple measures in evaluating and compensating teachers and leaders; denying tenure to teachers who are deemed ineffective as gauged partly by student growth; relinquishing control over their persistently lowest-achieving schools; increasing the number of students who are taught by effective teachers; and, in many cases, opening their doors to more charter schools. The sample Scope of Work is attached as Appendix A-1-3.

• Section A(1)(ii)(c): As a sign of our statewide approach, 131 of our 136 participating districts and 4 state special schools submitted all three applicable signatures – superintendent, school board president, and union leader.The summary table demonstrates that we had 100% success rates in obtaining the signature of every superintendent and applicable school board president, and a 93% success rate in obtaining the signature of every applicable local teachers’ union leader. (Not all Tennessee school districts have collective bargaining; nonetheless, we asked for the support of local union/association leaders regardless of whether they represented teachers in a collective-bargaining capacity.)”

 I found it pretty interesting that all those directors of schools and union leaders who allegedly signed the Federal Dept. of Ed. MOU selling their souls for Common Core would develop convenient amnesia and start complaining about Huffman implementing the very things contained in the application they would have sworn assurance to “be familiar with” and agree to. I was figuring they really didn’t read the 1100-page application and possibly didn’t actually see the first “confidential” rough draft of the Common Core “state” Standards that were contained in the application. I suspected they had to hurry and rubber stamp their approval (like the legislators, gubernatorial candidates, charter operators, philanthropists and colleges did). I was particularly interested in the date they signed these MOUs. Here’s why:

 1.    The date of the Race To The Top application is January 18, 2010.

2.    The “confidential” first rough draft of the Common Core “state” Standards contained within the application is dated January 13, 2010, only five days prior.

3.   I  figured there was no way these directors, school board chairs and union reps actually read this stuff, but it would be especially ridiculous if their signatures on the MOUs were dated prior to January 13, 2010 because that would mean it was not possible to even see the first rough draft of Common Core before committing to whatever it becomes in the future.

I requested an electronic copy of these signed MOUs from the state Dept. of Ed. After an initial written response announcing a 10-day delay to collect the information, I was told on day ten that these were on legal sized paper and it would be “easiest for them” for me to come to Nashville to pick up copies. I agreed and traveled to Nashville to pick them up. Upon receipt of the copies, I noticed that not only were the provided MOUs NOT the same federal-government-provided ones claimed to be signed in the Race To The Top application, but in addition they were only signed by the directors of schools. Also, I was surprised by the signature dates. They were all signed in May and June of 2010, four to five months AFTER the Race To The Top application and at least 45 days after the RTTT money was awarded to Tennessee.

 I made a second request for the signed federal-government-provided MOUs including the quoted portion above from the RTTT application that explicitly states all the signatures were collected on the federal MOUs:

1. Did the 131 participating districts and 4 special school districts submit this MOU included in Appendix A of the RTTT application signed by all parties as claimed in the RTTT application? If so, this was the information I originally requested and still want to obtain copies for all districts.

2. If not, did the local chairs of boards of education and/or the local union representative in these districts sign another MOU such as the altered one signed by the directors of schools that have been provided to me?

3. Were there any other MOUs related to RTTT requirements signed by these three parties (directors of schools, chairs of local school boards, union representatives) that are dated prior to the RTTT application date of January 18, 2010?

4. Who wrote this portion of the RTTT application quoted above regarding the “sign on” rate of the school districts to the sample MOU? Education First?”

The response I received truncated my questions to answer only #1 above, ignoring the follow-ups. The answer: They do not exist.

Now the protest and petition by the directors of schools makes sense. So do the words of White County HS Assistant Principal Jerry Lowery in the Senate Education Committee “fact-finding” hearing: “We were presented with a done deal and now we are caught in a web that we never spun”.

Bottom line: The State of Tennessee committed federal fraud in obtaining hundred of millions of taxpayer dollars by lying on the RTTT application about the non-existent, local “unanimous support” for RTTT and the Common Core standards to improve their grant score.

The Common Core “state” Standards first became available for the public to view and comment on March 17, 2010. This is nearly 60 days after Tennessee’s RTTT application was submitted on January 18, 2010 committing TN schools to the standards that didn’t exist yet. Round one RTTT money was awarded on March 29, 2010, less than two weeks later.

Not a single Tennessee director of schools, school board chair or TEA representative had signed either the Federal Dept. of Ed. MOU or the altered state version MOUs yet. This would not happen for another 60-90 days. These were all signed in May and June, presumably in order for the State Board of Ed. To pass Common Core in their special called meeting in July as they promised to do in the RTTT application.

If you would like to see the MOUs that were actually signed (only by the directors of schools), those can be found on the state’s RTTT website here at the bottom of the page under “Approved District Scopes of Work” by school district. These are identical to the copies that were provided to me. I am not certain why the department didn’t simply refer me to these electronic versions rather than give me the run-around with the paper copies, but it is possible they didn’t know they existed since the two contacts I made were not employed there in 2010 (Bredesen’s administration). Within these documents, you can also see what spending each district committed to for the amount of RTTT money they were to be awarded. Of course this is all taking place after the federal grant was awarded to the state. There is an additional “scope of work” signature block with spaces for the director of schools, school board chair and TEA representative or funding agency for the district that is not signed. The TEA representative block has been made “optional” when it is used. A second, rotated copy of this page follows with the signatures. However, these signatures only assure their awareness that the money provided is one-time and will not cover any recurring expenses the district commits to in spending the RTTT money. Only the directors of schools committed the school districts to implementation of RTTT requirements with the altered state-version MOUs two months after the money was awarded. These state-version signed MOUs and LEA commitments follow the scope of work tables with projected expenditures. Note that these MOUs are even more vague than the one provided by the Federal Dept. of Ed, such that it is certainly not clear what you are committing to. I hope your director of schools read all 1100 pages before selling you out for some one-time money and signing onto that last line:

Although all programs listed in the commitments have not been developed, my LEA will participate as they become available. Even though my LEA may or may not spend RTTT funds on the elements of RTTT, I do understand my LEA will be expected to support/implement the commitments listed above.

Good luck with that. Might be worth looking back at your April, May, June 2010 board meeting minutes for discussion on completely changing all the academic standards, mandatory online testing, etc.

So, my questions to the State Dept. of Ed remain:

  1. Were there any other MOUs related to RTTT requirements signed by these three parties (directors of schools, chairs of local school boards, union representatives) that are dated prior to the RTTT application date of January 18, 2010?

  2. Who wrote this portion of the RTTT application quoted above regarding the “sign on” rate of the school districts to the sample MOU? Education First?