May 28, 2014
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
Even more disturbing information continues to emerge about The American Institutes for Research (AIR), showing yet again that they are the worst possible organization to develop and administer Florida's state tests.
We have already reported how they promote the LGBT agenda
; run a national data mining center
that admits using individual data of Florida students and teachers; and are developing computer adaptive testing for Common Core tests of PARCC's evil twin SBAC
. Here is a rundown of three more concerning pieces of information:
Emotions Over Academics
: More of AIR's psychosocial agenda has been exposed in a brilliant article in American Thinker
by psychologist and economist Dean Kalahar. He confirms the chief of our concerns that AIR is far more involved with social engineering than with academics and rightly explains that "those who write the test set the curriculum." He quotes the goal of AIR's National Clearinghouse on Supportive School Discipline (NCSSD) from their website as follows:
"Changing the culture of communities and schools in which certain groups of students -- racial and ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth; and/or students with emotional, behavioral and cognitive disabilities -- face disproportionate school disciplinary action."
This is a social justice agenda instead of one to improve academic learning. Kalahar then lists other problematic areas for which AIR advocates, many of which Education Liberty Watch and EdWatch before that have warned of and fought for many years and that Florida Stop Common Core Coalition will be continuing to fight along with many others organizations:
AIR promotes "Response to Intervention (RTI)" practices which is education-speak for Common Core's universal "screening" of children and vast data collection practices. [The extremely subjective nature of mental screening and the problems with the over-prescription of dangerous and ineffective psychiatric drugs for children has been extensively chronicled here
AIR writes "Race to the Top" guidance papers to foster implementation of President Obama's nationalized education agenda. [The legal, constitutional, and local control problems with Common Core are discussed in Chapter 1 of our policy analysis
AIR champions "College and career readiness," which is euphemistic terminology for Common Core's agenda of centralized control over children's career paths. [This is the School to Work agenda that is pushed by Mark Tucker
, president of the National Center for Education and the Economy.]
AIR is a driver of "universal pre-school" which is aligned with progressive's cradle to grave philosophy. [The ineffectiveness and academic and emotional harm of government controlled preschool and childcare programs is extensively described at Education Liberty Watch
AIR advances the "Value added measures in education," an empirically discredited methodology of teacher evaluation. [For more details on this see the website VAMboozled
AIR focuses on controversial "social and emotional intelligence" theories that distort achievement differences to blur the line of competency. [AIR has an entire section of their website devoted to the subjective topic of "Social and Emotional Learning."
Another name for this is "non-cognitive learning," which is much touted in US Department of Education documents
and those of many other organizations cited in my Florida testimony
AIR works directly with the Center for American Progress
, John Podesta's overarching progressive think tank. Even AIR CEO David Myers, who holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Washington State University and earns a reported $566,304 yearly salary, believes "in the use of experimental designs in education settings."
Admission of a National Curriculum:
One of AIR's chief research analysts in mathematics, Steve Leinwind, has the following quote in his bio
"The fact that, for the first time, the U.S. has what is essentially a national curriculum, equivalent in quality to what is found in the highest scoring countries in the world, means that the focus of leadership can finally shift from arguing about what math to teach, to how best to teach the agreed upon content to all students." (Emphasis added)
AIR also admits that Common Core has mandates, federal strings, and they will be testing based on Common Core in one of their presentations
(bold emphasis in original, italics added):
The CCSS mandates the student learning outcomes for every grade level.
Students will be tested and instructional effectiveness will be measured based on CCSS.
Federal funding is tied to CCSS adoption, implementation, and accountability.
English Language Arts and Mathematics CCSS are just the beginning. . .more subject area standards are being developed.
Hopefully, this puts to rest the outright lie from proponents that Common Core is "state-led" and "voluntary."
: New information has recently emerged that this organization that is so heavily into data mining millions of students cannot even protect the data of its own employees. As reported in Education Week
on May 19th
, (free registration required), this organization suffered a data breach of its employees' sensitive personal data. AIR tried to minimize the embarrassment of this data breach by saying the breach only affected their business systems and not their student data systems, but one affected employee, Joseph Hawkins, was having none of it when he accurately stated:
"I'm concerned that my own personal information was not secured," said Hawkins, who now works as a senior study director with Westat, a research and statistical survey organization based in Rockville, Md. "Given that AIR is constantly dealing with [clients] that require the highest security and encryption, that they didn't do that for their own employees, is to me a serious issue."
Indeed, given the already terrifyingly weak privacy protections in FERPA, that Florida already relies upon, that allows much private student and teacher data to be given without consent to research organizations like AIR without parental consent, this breach is very concerning and another reason AIR should not have Florida's contract.
May 13, 2014
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
The legislative session is now over. The governor and legislative leadership have completed their "Lipstick on a Pig" campaign of trying to convince the electorate that because they have removed references to Common Core in statute, changed the name, allowed parents to comment on and appeal textbook selection (which should have been the norm a long time ago), and pretended to protect personal student data, that things are all better. Our analysis
points out that there are major flaws in all of these bills and that they are merely cosmetic.
The Florida media and the public have never been fooled. Public opinion as evidenced in the Sunshine State News poll
and the Clawson win
in Jeb Bush's home state over his anointed candidate clearly show that Common Core is a major issue in Florida and a major problem for politicians that support it. The governor's struggling poll numbers
are yet another indication of problems, as is the abrupt resignation
of Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry just as the main election season begins. Curry's resignation is ostensibly to run for mayor of Jacksonville, but we suspect it is because he can read the handwriting on the wall about Scott's electoral difficulties and wants to have a job after this election. Those electoral difficulties are due in large part to ignoring his base on Common Core and these feeble efforts he has made to rebrand and distract from the real issues will not help him.
Nationally, unbiased polls not commissioned by pro-Common Core groups show findings similar to the other polls we have reported. The University of Connecticut did a poll
showing that while only about 40% of voters know about Common Core, those that do, oppose it:
"Those who do know about Common Core, though, are generally skeptical of the initiative's ability to boost the quality of American education. Just 33 percent believe adopting Common Core standards will increase the quality of education in their communities, compared to 27 percent who say it will have no effect and 30 percent who say it will actually be detrimental."
"Overall, 38 percent believe Common Core is a good policy, compared to 44 percent who believe the opposite."
"Fifty-four percent of Democrats, for example, say Common Core is good policy, compared to 30 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Americans who've heard of the initiative. The distinction is even more stark along ideological lines: 53 percent of liberals favor the policy, compared to 24 percent of conservatives."
Electorally, there are significant signs that pro-Common Core politicians are in trouble. In Indiana, two legislators that supported the standards lost their primaries
. In Ohio, an establishment supported incumbent who had badly beaten a challenger just two years ago lost by 22 points to that same candidate, because Common Core opposition was the major issue. This defeat has shaken up the Ohio Republican Party and legislative leaders prompting this quote in the Columbus Dispatch
(Hat Tip to PJ Media
Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said overall the GOP caucus did well, but he lamented the loss of Rep. Peter Stautberg, R-Cincinnati, who was beaten by archconservative Tom Brinkman Jr., a former lawmaker.
Stautberg easily defeated Brinkman two years ago. But this time, Brinkman campaigned hard against the new Common Core standards, and, Batchelder said, that likely played a key role.
"That sucker is a problem. I think we probably should have addressed it," Batchelder said.
Even in North Carolina, winning establishment U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, despite having the backing of and or millions of dollars Jeb Bush, the Chamber of Commerce, and Karl Rove's PAC (who "joked
" about murdering a sitting US congressman), had to state at least lip service opposition to Common Core
during the campaign.
The primary season is just beginning and establishment, pro-Common Core politicians in Florida and across the nation should take heed.