Tag Archive | RTTT

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.

 

Where are the Common Core MOUs? – Part 2

MOUs

by Eric Holcombe

 

In my previous post, I showed you the State Dept. of Education has admitted that the federal government-provided Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) claimed to be signed by all the Tennessee public school districts (directors of schools as well as local school board chairs and union representatives when applicable) in the Race To The Top (RTTT) application for millions in federal taxpayer funds simply “do not exist”.

The state Dept. of Education lied on the RTTT application for federal millions. The picture above is the information that I was given when I requested the federal MOU signature pages. These are different, state-generated MOUs, not the federal government-provided one claimed to have been signed by all the districts in the RTTT application. In addition, none of them are signed prior to the RTTT application date of January 18, 2010. At the time of this writing, the state is still maintaining copies of these MOUs along with the attached “scope of work” for each district here. As a follow-up to this delivery of paper MOUs, I sent a second request with four questions, which resulted in only the first one being answered essentially admitting the state lied about the unanimous support of the federal MOU. The other questions were not answered. They were as follows:

 

“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?”

 

I now have the answer to questions 2 and 3. In that big stack of paper the State Dept. of Education provided, there are four school districts missing. There is something curious about all four of these districts that I believe made the State Dept. of Education decide to delete them from my request:

 

They have different MOUs from the rest. They also are signed in December of 2009 – before the first “confidential” draft of the Common Core “state” Standards even existed (January 13, 2010).

 

Here are the districts:

 

Jackson County, Jackson-Madison County, Sullivan County and West TN School for the Deaf. A fifth district was partially withheld: Marshall County. Marshall County has two MOUs, one signed in December 2009 and another different version signed in June 2010. The State Dept. of Education chose to only give me the later version in their response. At the time of this writing, the state RTTT website still shows the 2009 dated MOU for all these districts.

 

Note the language on this 2009 MOU, especially under “Assurances”. This MOU is more similar to the federal version language and has the four signature blocks. The district leadership had to “assure” that their LEA certifies and represents they were familiar with the still-under-construction 1100-page RTTT application and were “committed to working on all or significant portions of the State Plan”. They were asked to sign this MOU agreement while the application was still in the works.The “confidential” first rough draft of the Common Core “state” Standards didn’t exist yet and wouldn’t exist in any form the state could review until just five days prior to the RTTT application being submitted to the federal government.

A couple of items of interest:

 

  1. Jackson-Madison County. Note that the TEA representative Janis Carroll added an attachment to her signed agreement to the MOU assuring implementation of RTTT application requirements (before they existed). She appears to have signed under protest and notes her signature is made “with reservations” (page 12) and refers to an attachment (page 14). You can get an impression from the concerns listed there that probably all of the districts were facing the same uninformed concerns, most notably her first one:Our members have not seen the Race To The Top application or its requirements.Remember, this is signed on December 15 2009. Makes all those rubber-stamp letters of endorsement dated about the same time look even more ridiculous, because you know they couldn’t and didn’t read the application either. And of course, Common Core doesn’t exist yet in its first “confidential” draft for anyone to review.
  2. This December 2009 MOU refers to a different “Preliminary Scope of Work” attached as Exhibit 1 (page 13) and is more vague than the later versions. This earlier attachment is only found in four of the five districts.
  3. Marshall County shows both a December 2009 signed by all three parties and a June 2010 MOU signed only by the director of schools typical of the other districts. Both versions of the “scope of work” are present also. It is interesting to see how this language changed pre to post RTTT application.
  4. The Jackson County file includes instructions they were sent for completing the scope of work forms and a state Race To The Top timeline. Note that this timeline begins in March 2010 after award of the federal taxpayer money. There will be another post coming on these instructions and timeline. This isn’t the first version of them.

We now have established:

A) The State of Tennessee lied on the RTTT federal grant application about the signed agreement of the local school district directors, school board chairs and TEA representatives to the requirements of RTTT including the concealed implementation of the Common Core “state” Standards and greatly increased data mining of students.

B) There was in fact effort by the State Dept. of Education to strong arm districts into committing to the requirements of the RTTT application including the Common Core “state” Standards concealed within before the first “confidential” draft of those standards even existed. This is evidenced by the five districts having signed the MOUs in December 2009. This was done when at least one district (Jackson – Madison County) did not even have the application to review.

C) The State Dept. of Education doesn’t want us to know about A or B and attempted to hide the early MOUs from me. Unless of course you believe it is just coincidence that only these four districts (and half of Marshall County) were missing from their response. They also declined to answer if any MOUs were signed by districts prior to the RTTT application date of January 18, 2010. Obviously, there were some. For the RTTT application to be legal, there should be one for every district and it would have to be the federal version MOU.

More to come…