Tag Archives: progressive reform

The Real History of Common Core: ‘Black Helicopters’ All Over the Place


Acorn Woodland Elementary, Oakland, CA. Established in 2000 by ACORN and the Coalition of Essential Schools

Acorn Woodland Elementary, Oakland, CA. Established in 2000 by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Coalition of Essential Schools.

By Danette Clark

This article can also be found at EAGnews.org.

Despite the left’s efforts to convince us that Obama’s relationship with William Ayers was irrelevant to how he might lead as president, the facts that prove otherwise are plenty and can no longer be ignored.

Not only was the history between Ayers and Obama very relevant and media-worthy during the 2008 presidential election, it will have a devastating and lasting impact on our country.

To understand the agenda (and lies) at the core of our new national standards,  you have to go back to why many on the right were concerned about Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers to begin with — their work on education reform.

Although it is true that the Common Core State Standards are voluntary and not mandated by the federal government (yet), they are federally manipulated. Further, the people and pedagogy behind the standards, and the garbage content that comes with them, are the same as that of the radical reform long supported by both Obama and Ayers.

The History

The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), a progressive education reform model rooted in the social justice pedagogy of John Dewey and Paulo Freire, was expanded by President Obama and communist Bill Ayers through their work with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in the 1990’s, and later, through the Chicago Public Education Fund.

CES Schools was founded in 1984 by Theodore Sizer who was, at the time, head of Brown University’s education department.

Like John Dewey, the late Ted Sizer (also a humanist) believed that education should bring forth democracy. First, however, education must address the “institutionalized oppressive practices and attitudes” of the American society.

Of course, in order to address these so-called institutional injustices in the classroom, one must be willing to cross the [unconstitutional] line from  educating children intellectually to educating them morally. Not only was Sizer willing to cross that line, but he created CES schools for that specific purpose.

Sizer wrote that ‘moral’ or ‘character’ education “is an intellectual undertaking that must infuse the entire school”. In 1970, Sizer and his wife, Nancy, also wrote a collection of lectures titled Moral Education wherein they referred to the “simpleminded sermonizing tradition” of the 19th Century as “the old morality”. The Sizers argued for “a new morality”, one that gives primacy to students’ “moral autonomy and independence”.

To that end, CES schools were created to serve a ‘broader role‘ in children’s lives — to teach them “how to act in the social and ethical arenas of society”.

Sizer’s partner in the start of CES schools was Deborah Meier, now well-known among progressive circles as a prominent education reformer. Meier still works closely with Bill Ayers for social reform through education, and is a founding leader of Democratic Socialists of America, a Marxist organization that strives to end capitalism and bring about “a humane international social order”.

In 1993, Brown University President Vartan Gregorian (whom President Obama appointed as a White House Fellow in 2009) collaborated with Ted Sizer on the launching of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. The institute was created to build on the work of Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools and to expand that work to schools nationwide.

Sizer and Gregorian immediately began a grant selection process through which  several grants, as part of Walter Annenberg’s 500 million dollar challenge to the nation, would be awarded to launch Annenberg Challenge sites across the country. The first nine sites chosen were Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay area, South Florida, Houston, and Chicago.

Gregorian was instrumental in selecting the group led by Bill Ayers and chaired by Obama to receive a grant for the start of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in 1995.

Ayers’ organization, Small Schools Workshop, also received Annenberg dollars to aid in opening new CES schools and to transform existing schools into CES member schools (also referred to as ‘small schools’, ‘smaller learning communities’, ‘small autonomous schools’ and ‘schools within a school’). The organization provided (and still provides) curriculum resources, hands-on professional development, and grant development.

Ayers co-founded the Small Schools Workshop with fellow bomb-making domestic terrorist and Marxist-Communist, Mike Klonsky, who now serves as the organization’s national director.

In Chicago, Obama and Ayers funneled money to the now disgraced and de-funded ACORN to identify and train community members to become teachers in CES schools. In other states, CES recruited ACORN workers to elbow their way onto local school councils and scream for reform.

With heavy funding from Bill Gates, Carnegie Corporation, George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and CSR, Title 1, and smaller learning community grants from the U.S. Department of Education, CES has grown into a nationwide network of thousands of schools. Each school is provided with curriculum material, professional development training, and staff support through CES regional training centers, affiliates, and partner universities. CES currently uses the Annenberg Institute “as a forum for sharing resources and amassing political weight”.

The Connections

For those who don’t necessarily believe that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, how about dozens of bad apples?

As explained here, Common Core ‘architect’ David Coleman and his partner Jason Zimba have history with the Obama and Ayers led Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

Linda Darling-Hammond, creator of Common Core assessments and a member of the Common Core validation committee, is already publically known as an education reform ally of Bill Ayers. However, what has gone largely unnoticed about this former Obama advisor, is that she, like Ayers, has devoted her entire career to the expansion and success of CES reform.

Darling-Hammond is a long time advisory board member to the National Equity Project, formerly known as the Bay Area Coalition of Essential Schools (or BayCES). The National Equity Project provides ‘equity coaching’ to educators in dozens of school districts — the very same equity coaching that leaves us with teachers who believe the mention of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is racist.

Unfortunately, Coleman, Zimba, and Darling-Hammond aren’t the only Common Core developers whose roots are with the progressive/humanist agenda of the Coalition of Essential Schools and the Annenberg Institute.

In fact, Achieve, Inc., one of the organizations leading the charge in the creation of Common Core, is currently made up of several CES/Annenberg foot soldiers.

For example, Achieve, Inc. board member, Jeffrey Wadsworth, president and CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute, partnered with the Coalition of Essential Schools, Ohio State University, and KnowledgeWorks Foundation in 2006 to create a new CES school in Columbus, Ohio.

The manner in which Achieve, Inc. was founded is also very telling.

In 1995, the same year the Annenberg Institute launched the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and eight other challenge sites, it also named its first ever board of overseers. Board members included Vartan Gregorian, CES founder Ted Sizer, and Louis V. Gerstner, chairman and chief executive officer of IBM Corporation.

Louis Gerstner served as vice chair of George H. Bush’s New American Schools Development Corporation, which was already funding Atlas Communities, a project of the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Just five months after being named to Annenberg’s Board of Overseers, Gerstner and then NGA Chairman Tommy Thompson, called for and led the 1996 National Education Summit to address the “need for Governors and business leaders to act on K-12 education standards”.

Several papers were commissioned in preparation for the summit, which was held at IBM’s Executive Conference Center in Palisades, New York. Among those in attendance were 40 Governors and 49 corporate executives.

Although ironically, very few educators were invited to attend, it was said that several education leaders, “from different political viewpoints and professional experiences”, had been interviewed and were in agreement that “high academic standards — defined as a common core of learning for all public school students, with measures of performance based on that common core are essential to school reform”.

“Explicit expectations” outlined by the summit called for standards that “clearly define what students should know and be able to do”, and accurate systems to track student progress. It was also made clear that, although standards and assessments were necessary tools, there had to be “a clear articulation… of the skills necessary to meet the workforce needs of the next century” as well as a “specific agreement on the academic content students should be learning”.

It was right then and there that Achieve, Inc. was founded, with Annenberg’s Louis Gerstner appointed as its first chairman. Appointed as vice-chair was, then Governor of North Carolina, James B. Hunt, who was already working closely with Linda Darling-Hammond and CES founders, Sizer and Meier.

Today, Hunt’s organization, the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, is a partner in the creation of the Common Core State Standards.

Since its founding in 1996, Achieve, Inc. has taken a lead role in the creation of  Common Core and has created a system for national and international benchmarking of standards and assessments — all the while remaining deeply involved in and dedicated to a reform initiative that indoctrinates students into “a new morality” for a new society.

While it is true that Bill Ayers didn’t specifically write the Common Core State Standards and has even spoken out against the initiative in recent months, it doesn’t change the fact that both his and Sizer’s fingerprints are all over the standards and their accompanying resources.

Specifically, many of the inappropriate and anti-American Common Core texts that parents are ticked off about today were written by friends of Ayers, Obama, and Sizer.

Toni Morrison, for example, author of the Common Core recommended incest-laden book, The Bluest Eye, was recently honored by President Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morrison’s book has been recommended by Ayers and CES schools for at least two decades. At the CES Brooklyn School for Global Studies, a parent book club even participates in the reading of this pornographic book with 15-year-old students.

Common Core creators and proponents claim the new national standards are better because they are ‘fewer’ and ‘deeper’, meaning students cover fewer topics in greater depth. This is one of the Ten Common Principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Referred to as “Less is More” and “Depth Over Coverage”, this second CES principle calls for student mastery and achievement of a limited number of essential skills as opposed to covering a wide range of content.

CES reform, like Common Core, also favors ‘critical thinking’ over rote memorization of facts, and with that, both unscrupulously call for the ‘close reading’ of texts that relate to ‘real world problems’ like equity and fairness, racism, rape, incest, homosexuality, and American greed.

By their very nature, the Common Core standards force interdisciplinary learning (a.k.a. cross-curricular learning), another staple of CES reform. Without it, there would be no socialist indoctrination in Math class or lessons on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in English class.

It appears that just as the corporate world hi-jacked the 1996 education summit, it has also hi-jacked Sizer’s reform model to create a national standard that even Sizer wouldn’t approve of.

Community organizing, pro-union education reformers like Ayers, Meier, and Sizer have always opposed corporate involvement in the business of education, as well as a one-size-fits-all national standard and achievement testing. On more than one occasion, Sizer went head to head with Louis Gerstner over these very issues.

US Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, on the other hand, while happy to continue the CES/Annenberg legacy of social and moral indoctrination, has had no problem taking corporate dollars or closing failing schools, thereby kicking tenured educators to the curb.

Ayers and Klonsky summed it up in 2006 when they wrote that Arne Duncan (by way of his Renaissance 2010 school project in Chicago), “has used the terms of the small schools movement to promote privatization and the erosion of public space”.

Today, Obama and Duncan specifically promote, by name, Sizer’s CES schools and Ayers’ Small Schools Workshop while billions in corporate dollars and federal tax dollars are being spent to carry the ‘terms’ of their movement into the creation of Common Core.

Considering the numerous Common Core developers, writers, assessment creators, validation committee members, and funders deeply tied to CES reform, it seems clear that Common Core is the culmination of a 30-year-old progressive reform initiative still driven by the ‘irrelevant’ Bill Ayers.

Perhaps now, Arne Duncan should be asked to clarify his snide ‘black helicopter’ statement.

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CSCOPE – How Did Texas Get Here?


CSCOPEburqas

By Danette Clark

In 1992, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) entered into a partnership with Texas Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and Austin Interfaith to direct funds to low-performing schools for use in teacher training, parent leadership training, and after-school enrichment. From this partnership, several IAF ‘Alliance Schools’ were created.

Texas IAF is part of the Saul Alinsky-founded and Chicago-based Industrial Areas Foundation. Saul Alinsky is the Marx-loving, God-hating community organizer known for his influence on President Obama and ACORN.

According to a 2009 study by the Annenberg Institute, Texas IAF’s Alliance Schools network grew to “roughly a quarter of the Austin Independent School District’s elementary schools and half of the district’s high-poverty schools” in an eight-year period.

The study also reveals that Texas IAF and Austin Interfaith developed a collaborative relationship with former Austin ISD Superintendent, Pascal Forgione.

The Alliance Schools model can now be found in approximately 160 schools throughout the state — a speck on the map when compared to the number of Texas schools infected by the Coalition of Essential Schools.

As I wrote in Unravelled! The 30 Year Agenda Behind Common Core, the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) is the radical reform movement behind both CSCOPE and Common Core.

CES, which is modeled after secularist reformers like John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Paulo Freire, and George Counts, functions as a communist-style education movement with the stated intent of ‘educating for a more democratic and just society’.

Westbury High School in Houston and R.L. Paschal High School in Fort Worth are two of the original twelve schools that were established (or ‘redesigned’) by Theodore Sizer in 1984 to become CES member schools.

According to StateUniversity.com, the R.L. Paschal Essential School, which is a small autonomous unit embedded within the larger Paschal High School, survived and flourished by “keeping a very low profile“.

The largest expansion of CES progressive reform in Texas came years later by way of the Houston Annenberg Challenge.

In 1993, then President Bill Clinton announced that Ambassador Walter Annenberg would donate $500 million to improving public schools in America. It was this $500 million, plus matching grants from private sources, that aided in the nationwide expansion of  Theodore  Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools.

Through the Annenberg grant, communist and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers created the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, wherein he and Barack Obama served on the board to further expand CES schools in the State of Illinois.

Both Ayers and President Obama have continued to this day to do their respective parts to promote and expanded CES schools nationwide. Ayers’ Small Schools Workshop still aids schools and districts across the country in implementing progressive reform through smaller learning community grants and funding from sources like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Brown University, and the Annenberg Institute.

In addition to the well known Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Walter  Annenberg’s ‘Challenge to the Nation‘ also provided for the expansion of progressive reform to Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay area, South Florida, and Houston.

In Houston, it was the Brown Foundation, Houston Endowement Incorporated, and several corporate and business leaders who collaborated to apply for a piece of the challenge grant money being offered by Annenberg.

Delia Quintanilla served as the first director of the Houston Annenberg Challenge (HAC). Six local universities were called on to provide support to the HAC by providing university staff, faculty, and students to interact with districts and aid in implementing reform.

The Annenberg Institute kicked off the HAC by choosing eleven ‘Beacon Schools’ to “‘light the way‘ to quality school reform for other funded schools”.

According to Chester Finn, Jr. of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the  Beacon Schools chosen appeared to have been ‘cherry picked’. Finn reported that the eleven schools chosen by Annenberg were doing better than the Houston average when they entered the program and were performing at about the same level three years later. Therefore, although it may have appeared to outsiders that the first few years of reform in those eleven schools was effective, as Finn stated, he could “scarcely tell what was caused by Annenberg and what may have been shaped by other influences”.

In 1995, Humble Independent School District opened Quest Early College High School. Quest is an Annenberg Challenge Grant Beacon School, a First Amendment School and a Coalition of Essential Schools Mentor School.

CES mentor schools act as a model of reform for other schools, offering school study tours, advocacy training, legislative action sessions, and professional development opportunities.

A Houston Annenberg Challenge 2 year summary report revealed that by 2001, approximately 100 metropolitan schools had already introduced Critical Friends groups on their campuses and the HAC had trained 300 coaches in both Annenberg-funded and non-Annenberg-funded schools.

The report further revealed that promising teachers and curriculum trainers were identified through group collaborations. Specifically:

“Teachers from Annenberg schools collaborate actively in Critical Friends Groups, Literature Study Circles, Professional Academies, Teacher Writing Groups, and Teacher Action Research Teams. From these activities expert teachers emerge as peer leaders in roles such as Critical Friends Group Coaches, Content Specialists, and Reading Learning Facilitators. Furthermore, a number of teachers have become certified as curriculum trainers in national programs including the Coalition of Essential Schools and the New Jersey Writing Project.”

Just as educators were identified and chosen through these collaborative efforts, some were also identified as not worthy to continue their involvement in the progressive reform process.

According to an article printed by the Houston Press in 1998, director Delia Quintanilla was dismissed a little more than a year after the Houston Annenberg Challenge got off the ground, and a troubleshooting team from the Annenberg Institute was being sent to Houston to “evaluate and audit the effectiveness of the local administatration of the grant”.

Annenberg Challenge National Coordinator, Barbara Cervone, expressed “serious concerns about the leadership, coherence and pace of the Annenberg effort in Houston”.

Despite tensions between proponents of CES’s radical reform methods, HAC pressed on with strict oversight and instruction from the Annenberg Institute and further donations from ‘philanthropic’ organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation.

Annenberg established the New Visions in Leadership Academy to train like-minded radicals for placement as principles into Texas Annenberg/CES schools. According to this job posting, “more than 300 seated school leaders from Houston-area K-12 districts” graduated from New Visions in the first 10 years.

In 2002, Humble ISD passed a $230 million bond measure to build Atascocita and Kingwood Park High Schools and redesign existing elementary, middle, and high schools.

Cecilia Hawkins, who served as the principal of Quest Early College High School for four years, left her position at Quest to work with community organizations in an effort to expand district reform.

From CES’s website (2005):

“Inspired by its experience with the Coalition of Essential Schools and the Houston Annenberg Challenge (now the Houston A+ Challenge) through Quest High School… Humble has not only put into place a process to remake its high schools but it has reorganized its entire district…”.

What has come as a surprise to many involved in exposing CSCOPE is the fact that several principals and superintendents seem to have no problem with the Anti-American content, errors, and ‘fuzzy math’ found in CSCOPE lessons.

Understandably, it must be difficult to accept that there could be that many radical educators in a state like Texas, willing to break the law and deceive children and parents for profit or to advance a political agenda.

The fact is, Texas is a big state with several univerities; and universities, for the most part, have often been a refuge and breeding ground for radicals.

CES schools have always relied heavily on the school-university partnership to implement and advance K-12 reform. ‘Professional development schools‘ are often created wherein universities and schools collaborate to “prepare new teachers, to renew the professional knowledge of veteran teachers, and to conduct site-based research into teaching and learning”.

In many states, CES has infiltrated and affected university course offerings for up and coming teachers, principals, and superintendents.

For example, Sam Houston University, as a requirement for superintendent certification, offers an internship course led by Dr. Shirley Johnson. Johnson is the executive director of Texas Coalition of Essential Schools.

According to Johnson’s course syllabus and guidelines, all interns must complete a “Leadership Profile”, the cost of which is to be paid by the student directly to Texas CES. Students are then given the opportunity to attend a feedback session related to the leadership profile — no doubt to allow the instructor to gauge whether the student would be a productive leader in a CES-style school.

Several other avenues exist for identifying prospective radical educators for placement placement in these indoctrination centers.

Texas ASCD, for example, who partners with CES and actively promotes and expands CES reform, identifies, recruits, and trains teachers and curriculum leaders, many of whom are identified in collaboration with local universities.

Read about the connections between Texas ASCD and educators behind CSCOPE and Common Core here and here.

CSCOPE is Common Core

In January of 2010, Governor Rick Perry formally rejected the nationally proposed Common Core State Standards, stating that he would not “commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national standards and tests”.

Ironically, the very people behind Common Core were already actively working within Perry’s state and had been for many years.

Linda Darling Hammond, one of several radical eductors behind the design of CSCOPE, has worked with Texas schools for years through her organization, School Redesign Network.

Achieve, Inc., an organization that has aided in authoring the Common Core standards, launched the American Diploma Project in 2005. Texas was one of 13 states to join the America Diploma Project Network.

As I wrote here, Achieve, Inc. is not only made up of several Coalition of Essential Schools/Annenberg reformers, but it was literally created by leaders of the National Governors Association and the Annenberg Institute.

The Grow Network (now owned by McGraw-Hill) was founded by David Coleman, who is said to be ‘the architect’ of Common Core. In 2004, the Texas Education Agency entered into a four-year, $17.7 million contract with Grow Network for online Personalized Study Guides to be provided to Texas educators and students.

Considering many of the same educators behind CSCOPE are also behind Common Core, and considering the rumor that Common Core offered to purchase the CSCOPE program for use with the national standards; it appears that CSCOPE was a ‘test-run’ for Common Core.

It seems likely that Texas is the guinea pig and CSCOPE a pilot project –being tested before going all in and using it with Common Core standards in more than 45 states.

It can’t be a coincidence that the same educators behind Common Core just-so-happen to have been chosen to contribute to the design of CSCOPE. Those educators, Wiggins, Tighe, Hammond, Jacobs, and others, have spent years providing professional development to Texas educators over, and over, and over on how to use their designs and teaching strategies, the same designs they are teaching Common Core states to use with Common Core standards.

Here’s an interesting side-note — Although it has been more than three years since Texas rejected Common Core, former Austin ISD Superintendent Pascal Forgione, the same superintendent who has worked hand-in-hand with Alinsky’s IAF and Linda Darling Hammond’s School Redesign Network, is participating in a conference later this year in Austin to discuss Common Core.

Forgione is now executive director of Educational Testing Service’s K-12 Center located in Austin.

K-12 Center works in partnership with the CCSSO and other organizations to develop Common Core assessment systems and also partners with the Alliance for Excellent Education, where Linda Darling Hammond serves on the board.

The conference on Common Core, in which Forgione will be the keynote speaker, is scheduled to take place August 12th-14th in Austin.

Did Forgione not get the memo that Texas rejected Common Core, or does he know someting that we don’t?