kitchen table math, the sequel: "How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution" (& the free for all)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution" (& the free for all)

The man behind the curtain

Diane Ravitch: Time for Congress to investigate Bill Gates' role in Common Core

And here is William McCallum, lead writer of CC math standards, winning friends and influencing people.

Ed and I were talking about McCallum's post last night. People who know him say he's a nice guy, and I'm sure that's true. But his post is a lollapalooza of name-calling and nitpicking, both of which continue apace in the comments thread.

Which took me aback, because it's not the tone I'm used to hearing college professors take in public. (It's not the tone I'm used to hearing college professors take in private.)

I'm used to college professors sounding....you know, professorial.

I never hear college professors sounding furiously wronged and internet-y.

For me, this situation is something of a first. I'm accustomed to academic content coming from publishing houses, which have corporate leaders and marketing departments, and which, as a consequence, do not have textbook authors venting in public.

But with Common Core, there's no corporate parent and no marketing department. There's just Bill Gates and the many NGO's, state departments of education, and think tanks he bankrolls, plus the federal Department of Education (whose head was previously bankrolled by Gates), so there's no party discipline. Gates appears to see himself as CEO and absolute ruler of his foundation in the same way he was CEO and absolute ruler of Microsoft, but when push comes to shove, where Common Core is concerned, he can't actually fire anyone.

He can't order Common Core defenders to vet their posts with marketing.

The federal government can't step in, either, mostly because the federal government isn't supposed to be writing national standards in the first place (not mandatory ones), and because Arne Duncan's one foray into enlightening suburban parents as to the non-brilliant state of their schools & their children was a debacle of epic proportion. For months now, we've have silence from the top.

So...the defense of Common Core is turning into a free-for-all, and the story-line is getting lost in a bombardment of "process" stories and op-eds about the tea party (bad) and the Democratic Party's standardized-test-hating base (also bad).*

Op eds about the tea party and the Democratic base are bad for Common Core. I'm pretty sure.

They're bad because nobody likes being told they're an idiot for not agreeing with David Brooks -- especially not being told they're an idiot for not agreeing with David Brooks by David Brooks. Being told that only tea partiers and members of the Democratic Party's standardized-test-hating base don't like Common Core makes me not like Common Core. Also, it makes me want to join the tea party and the Democratic base.

Point is: if the defense of Common Core is to be left to volunteers, then Common Core is going to die an unusually painful death.

Bill Gates "Letter to Our Partners" (the aforementioned NGO's, state departments of education, and think tanks plus the federal Department of Education) is just the start.

I think.


* David Brooks, has yet another bad idea.

49 comments:

Allison said...

The anti-CC side has been vitriolic, too, to say the least.

But I am shocked to hear you say you haven't heard this stuff from professors. What are you talking about?

The Jo Boaler-James Milgram stuff is this vitriolic. The names the fuzzy math supporters have called the instructivists for decades now is this vitriolic. Heck, in some circles you're a racist if you are pro-cc these days, and in others, you are a racist for demanding rigor. I imagine the literacy side is as well, though I don't follow it. Assuredly, Hirsch has been called terrible things.

*I*, charter member of the VRWC, have been called an "Obama shill" over my willingness to support Common Core aligned textbooks in a school.

re CC: I hear this stuff All The Time. Currently, the loudest side is the anti-cc side, but both sides have people who play this nasty. As the joke goes, the politics of the university are so vitriolic because the stakes are so low.

What's clear is academic egos are extremely large; this is the stuff they consider their seminal contribution, the pinnacle of their professional life's work; when threatened, they behave terribly. Most people in the private cannot behave this way because they would lose their jobs for it.

Tejesh Mehta said...

Hey there, I found your blog very informative and helpful. I've read almost all your blog posts and would really love to read more of it. I suggest you also syndicate your blog on popular sites like http://www.ManagementParadise.com where you will find millions of like minded people as a ready audience. Keep Blogging. Cheers!

froggiemama said...

And if Common Core dies, we will be back to arts n' craft projects masquerading as instruction, and watered down, dishonest state tests that make kids and parents (and politicians too) feel good. A lot of the shock and horror about Common Core in NY is just the fact that the new tests revealed the masquerade. We professors (and yes, we can name-call too, though I rather agreed with McCallum's post) have been screaming about this for years but nobody listened.

The Common Core standards may not be perfect but they are moving in the right direction. If this fails, there will be NO REFORM for the next 50 years because everyone will be too afraid. We will be right back to the watered down, head in the sand curriculum of before. And we college professors will be back to desperately trying to teach kids what they should have learned before, and moaning about it to anyone who will listen.

ChemProf said...

Yeah, I am not sure why you are surprised at the tone. I have definitely heard this level of discourse from faculty.

And frankly, I think this may be the end of any kind of educational reform (which in California may be an improvement since every new move seems to make things worse -- trust me, college faculty here are not thrilled about MANY districts using Common Core as an excuse to get rid of any kind of accelerated math path in high school, as in nothing other than 9th grade algebra, preferably without an honors level).

Catherine Johnson said...

Most of the people we hang out with are college professors, and none of them would write a post like the one McCallum wrote.

The tone is unprofessional. (Not just un-professorial, but unprofessional.)

Faculty meetings are different because they're private, not public.

Still, no one in the few meetings I attend as an adjunct takes that tone. Ever.

I'm talking very specifically about college professors AND authors of national standards every child in America is supposed to be following.

Bill McCallum has presented himself as just another Angry Internet Person.

If the lead author of CC math standards is an Angry Internet Person, that doesn't breed confidence.

Catherine Johnson said...

<< The anti-CC side has been vitriolic, too, to say the least. >>

You think?

(smiley face)

Catherine Johnson said...

"Obama shill": I ***really*** dislike ad hominem argument.

Catherine Johnson said...

froggiemama-

NY's tests have been a scandal, for sure (although I'm not sure the CC ELA tests aren't also a scandal).

Catherine Johnson said...

chemprof - I'm betting with you...I think this is going to be it.

I just hope CC can be stopped where it is, NOW, before it gets to history.

I'm worried about what David Coleman's going to do to AP history courses, too, but we'll see.

If CC stops now, we'll have phonics and fluency in math facts (& algorithms, right?)

And history can stay history, at least for states that had decent history standards, which NY does.

Catherine Johnson said...

<< the politics of the university are so vitriolic because the stakes are so low. >>

I'm not saying college professors don't have egos and politics. Obviously, they do.

I'm saying they have a professional manner of speaking and presenting themselves to the public that doesn't include name calling & nitpicking.

Kai Musing said...

It's unfortunate, but I think this has been going on for a while (especially on the reading wars side).

I think that's where a lot of people are saying they've seen it before…

Example: Reading Mastery as Pedagogy of Erasure

http://jrre.vmhost.psu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/26-13.pdf

Or most anything Stephen Krashen writes:

http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/defending_whole_language.pdf

2009, Brian Cambourne in Australia:

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/the-crazy-politics-of-learning-to-read-20090320-94dg.html

It would be nice if people could argue properly and professionally, but I think the reading wars have shown us that does not end up being the case.

froggiemama said...

My experience as a faculty member is very different from yours. I have seen professors swear at each other, snipe at each other, and once in a faculty meeting, one very senior full professors threw a chair. Maybe we are just a bit more unwigged in computer science

froggiemama said...

You want to stop reform?? You want things to go back to where they were? Arts n' crafts projects substituting for actual content, especially in social studies and science? We can go back to drawing pictures of math facts? To the era when the math standard for kindergarten was counting to 20??? Back to utter mediocrity?
And I don't know the history standards, but NY math standards for elementary school in the pre-CC days were an abomination.

Catherine Johnson said...

Kai wrote: << It would be nice if people could argue properly and professionally, but I think the reading wars have shown us that does not end up being the case. >>

Hey Kai - Of course you're right!

This is reminding me of my other Personal Saying, which is that I'm amazed at my ability to still be amazed.

Catherine Johnson said...

froggiemama - you're cracking me up!

Also: I'm wondering if I actually DO live on another planet.

oh gosh...do I want to tell this story....

I think I will, here in the comments.

When we first moved here (froggiemama & I live in the same county in NY), Jimmy attended a charter school for autistic kids.

There was a major, big-time parent problem there, having to do with the founding parents, and naturally Ed and I were in the thick of things. (The founder parents were trying to oust the director, who we supported.) The situation became so contentious that at one point, when Ed was speaking at a parent meeting, one of the founder dads, shouted, "Shut the f*** up!"

Later on I was talking to a reporter friend of mine about the scene, and I said, "How often do you here 'Shut the f*** up!' at a parent meeting?"

He said: "Not too often."

Then he said, "You think it all the time."

Catherine Johnson said...

Ed wrote the European history standards NY uses.

Catherine Johnson said...

Ed wrote the European history standards NY uses.

Catherine Johnson said...

froggiemama wrote: << You want to stop reform?? You want things to go back to where they were? Arts n' crafts projects substituting for actual content, especially in social studies and science? >>

OK, here is the "capstone project" over in Ardsley (neighboring district):

“I probably send out about 100 Snapchats a day,” Sofia Pernicone, 12, admitted sheepishly, as she cut construction paper into shapes to create a giant iPhone.

Pernicone and her group will measure students’ social media use in their favorite apps -- like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter -- and display their findings on the iPhone replica in the “museum exhibit” Brindise has organized as the capstone of the iPad unit.


http://www.lohud.com/story/news/education/hall-monitor/2014/05/05/class-notes-ardsleys-test-drive-new-common-core-app-delivers-mixed-results/8727899/

They're making a documentary to present to their "Pearson bosses."

Catherine Johnson said...

I have reform fatigue.

On a more serious note, I've come to the conclusion that the schools can't be reformed --- BUT that's not to say that I want reform efforts to stop, or that I think they should stop.

And that's not to deny that any given reform can help some or even many schools.

It seems to me that NCLB did help narrow the achievement gap. (I need to see something definitive on that, but that's the way it looks to me at this point.)

froggiemama said...

If those students knew some computer science, that capstone could be way interesting and very worthwhile...They could get into some nice social network analysis, learn a little graph theory, do some visualization, maybe mine some data... Probably not though...

What was their capstone BEFORE CC? I bet it was the same or worse

froggiemama said...

When do kids do European history in NY? I haven't seen a whit of it yet.But my oldest is only just through 8th grade. He does seem to have learned his US history pretty well, and better yet, he has learned how write about history really well.

Catherine Johnson said...

froggiemama - I just asked Ed. He remembers the years European history was studied (as part of world history) as being 5, 8, & 10 (or 11).

I think I've got that right.

Ed was part of the team who wrote the national history standards for Lynne Cheney in the 1990s. (I think Diane Ravitch oversaw the project, right?)

The project blew up in their faces (when Lynne Cheney blew it up in their faces) but that is my model for national standard writing -- and not just because my husband was part of it.

I actually didn't know till a couple of years ago that New York uses history standards my husband helped write!

(Jimmy had been diagnosed, and I was immersed in autism & the autism world...)

Catherine Johnson said...

<< What was their capstone BEFORE CC? I bet it was the same or worse >>

Definitely.

(This is English class, btw. Doing a documentary for their "Pearson bosses.")

froggiemama said...

OK, I just looked. In our middle school, grade 6 is "ancient history", and grade 7 and 8 are American history. I don't see any European history. They probably got a smidgen somewhere in elementary school, probably as a diorama or something. I know that Common Core does not cover history/Social studies, but I hope the rigor I see in the elementary school ELA now will migrate over to social studies anyway.

froggiemama said...

I just looked up the NY state social studies standards. There is no European history in the elementary school standards that I can discern. Grade 5 is the US, Canada, and Latin America. I remember my oldest fulfilled the Canada part by drawing a really nice picture of the Quebec City skyline. Seriously. I was so disappointed because my kids are of Canadian ancestry, and we go up there all the time. So of course I filled in lots of information. This is the kind of crap that I am hoping will eventually disappear once the schools have to adhere to real standards. They already dumped the grade 2 whale project because of Common Core, which of course I was totally cheering (but the parents at the bus stop were horrified - school won't be FUN anwymore.)

This is where I looked for the standards. Is it the right place?
http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sscore1.pdf

Catherine Johnson said...

I'll ask!

European history was part of world history -- so you'd have to look at specific content standards to see it.

Ed said it started with ancient history.

He said the idea was to have 3 different years of world history, and each year would pick up where the last one left off.

The problem with that (according to Ed) was that kids learned ancient history in 5th grade, when they were awfully young, and didn't necessarily remember it two years later (or 3?) when they again learned world history.

Each of the 3 years started with a major review of the earlier year for that reason.

I doubt NY changed its history standards, if only because it takes a lot of effort to write disciplinary standards.

Catherine Johnson said...

The most recent Fordham Foundation grade I see is an A- -- I'll ask Ed if these are the same standards.

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sscore1.pdf

Catherine Johnson said...

The Common Core history standards will be horrific, if what I'm reading is correct.

Constructivists ***really*** don't like history; the replacement of history with social studies was one of their earliest victories (I believe).

Catherine Johnson said...

I have to post the 'interview' I did with Ed back when my district was attempting to destroy history teaching....

He explained the whole concept of the standards and the testing to me -- it was fabulous.

I've mentioned, right, that Ed was one of the inventors of the DBQ?

Hoist by his own petard.

(Ed doesn't like my telling people he invented the DBQ because he doesn't know whether someone else invented first, which is entirely possible. Nevertheless, when he was part of the writing team for the national history standards, he and the team either invented or re-invented the DBQ.)

The DBQ is now used incorrectly. It was supposed to be a test, not a course content. The move to all primary sources is the opposite of what the History/Social Science project was trying to accomplish.

Common Core is probably going to move to a pure project-based form of history, where students read primary sources without textbooks and without historical narratives.

History is a narrative discipline, so if you take away narrative, you've taken away the discipline.

froggiemama said...

No, my kids did not do ancient history in 5th grade. I was never really certain what they did - it involved lots of posters and dioramas. They did ancient history in 6th grade. And then they do two years of US history. In 4th grade, they did Native Americans and pioneers and had a "grasslands festival". Before that, it was kind of "MY community and my world" type stuff. This was long before Common Core, and my district utterly adheres to the NY standards because they see themselves as a test taking powerhouse.

froggiemama said...

My kids have done DBQs for years. I actually don't see what the issue is. The DBQs were a lot better than the dioramas.

I am actually not a fan of textbook style history, at least in K8. The textbooks tend to be stultifying, loaded with pretty pictures, and little depth. I do think history should be taught with a lot of reading, but the reading material should be higher quality than most textbooks are.

Catherine Johnson said...

Ed isn't opposed to DBQs used in the classroom, but they were designed as a test, not a teaching tool, and they're certainly not the same thing as history.

They were an assessment tool.

Having kids do non-stop DBQs is the ultimate in teaching to the test, really.

Catherine Johnson said...

The textbooks are problematic, but it's much better to have a textbook than not.

Constructivists all want to get rid of textbooks and go to strict 'documents.'

Ed, by the way, has tried to teach history without a textbook, and his college students really dislike it.

History absolutely requires a sense of the chronology; you have to be able to see a ... timeline (?)

I'm not sure that's the right word, but it's flashed into my mind that the timeline, for historians, may be analogous to the number line for mathematicians.

If you don't see numbers on a number line -- if any particular number is just a thing unto itself -- you don't have number sense.

If you don't have some kind of 'chronological' sense of history, you don't have "historical sense."

(I'll have to run that by Ed --- I know virtually no history at all.)

History by DBQ is essentially history as case study, which, again, isn't history.

Catherine Johnson said...

<< I was never really certain what they did - it involved lots of posters and dioramas. >>

This is why 'standards' are no guarantee of rigor.

New York has had some of the best history standards in the country for the entire time your kids have been in school.

But your kids have been making posters and dioramas.

ChemProf said...

The timeline is one thing I really like about the classical approach to history. They typically recommend that you put up a big timeline in 3rd or 4th grade, and that you draw/write everything you learn up on the timeline, to really get a sense of the chronology and what things were happening at the same time.

froggiemama said...

When I took history in college, we never used textbooks. We had READINGS, including full books. I am surprised that your husband's students insist on a textbook, since I know he teaches at a school very comparable to the one I went too. I guess it is just a sign of the times - kids can't cope with reading real material any more

We used textbooks when I went through social studies back in the day. It was dreadful. The low point came in 9th grade, when we spent the entire friggin year reading the textbook ALOUD, going around and around the room. Once a week, we would have a quiz over the stuff we read which consisted of regurgitating some factoids right from the text. No attempt at pulling anything together, no attempt at going beyond the text, no analysis, and no WRITING. I thought I would die in that class. The kid next to me used to read Archie comics under the desk.

When I think about how history would be taught, I would agree with you that it should be narrative, but in far more depth. They shouldn't cover so much ground each year, and they shouldn't keep repeating US history over and over and over at different levels (hm, sort of like the math spiral). There should be either no textbook, or a very minimal one that just pulls the chronology together. But the class should be reading and writing intensive, and it should be like that from first grade on. Books should be analyzed the same way we do in ELA, because every historical writer has a point of view and it is important to identify that. Even textbooks have a point of view! There is no such thing as a neutral history text, and kids can start to understand that very early, just as they do in ELA

froggiemama said...

Oh my kids had to do so many stupid timelines!! They turned into a parental project because the software to do it on a computer is beyond any kid, and of course the teacher wanted all kinds of graphics and photos and stuff. A pox on timelines!

I would like to see more of a map based approach to studying history. Even when I read a history book (and I read a lot), I always make sure I have a good map at hand. I do not understand how anyone can understand history without understanding the associated geography. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense, for example, how Buddhism spread east but not west, or how Alexander got as far as he did.

Anonymous said...

"I do not understand how anyone can understand history without understanding the associated geography. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense, for example, ... how Alexander got as far as he did."

The real key here is that Alexander rode a horse. The geography is less important ...

-Mark Roulo

ChemProf said...

Maps are important too, but the kind of timeline you are talking about is very different than the one I'm talking about. The idea is not to do lots of different timelines (with plenty of arts and crafts), but to keep a timeline (which need not be pretty -- a lot of people just put up butcher paper someplace) for multiple years, so that you have an idea of when Buddhism was spreading versus when Alexander was conquering the Mediterranean.

Hainish said...

History absolutely requires a sense of the chronology; you have to be able to see a ... timeline (?)

If you don't have some kind of 'chronological' sense of history, you don't have "historical sense."


THIS is what I sorely missed through my entire k-12 experience. I didn't have a proper timeline until the year after I graduated, when I read this on my own:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Passion-Western-Mind-Understanding/dp/0345368096

(No, I didn't take any history courses past high school. Mostly due to horrific experiences with history *ahem* social studies teaching.)

Ahsan Afsar said...

World Most Popular and Top Amazing Speedy Cars
TopAmazingCars.BlogSpot.Com

najma love said...

Join for Best Online Home based Jobs
JobzCorner

ahmedraza moon said...

Get Facebook Likes on your fb page, likes on your facebook pictures, followers on your facebook id, shares of your facebook posts, every thing is available here, visit for more details
www.jobzcorner.com

adnan khan said...

Find Best online home based jobs, data entry, copy pasting, facebook and clicking jobs
JobzCorner.com

Ahsan Afsar said...

Find best business plan from home without any work, just invest $1 and get 120% Total Profit within a week
EarningsClub.Com

waleedgazdar said...

for best Online Jobs without any rejection, no time limit required, no investment requires, just spend few minutes and earn upto $35 daily
www.adsclickearning.com

bilal sabir ali said...

for best Online Jobs without any rejection, no time limit required, no investment requires, just spend few minutes and earn upto $35 daily
www.adsclickearning.com

waleedgazdar said...

Find best business in the world where you can invest only $5 and get profit upto 7% daily for 60 Days, most popular website in ranking, Join now
www.hotprofitonline.com

waleedgazdar said...

Find best business in the world where you can invest only $10 and get 3000% Profit, most popular website in ranking, Join now
www.investorganization.com