1. Magda

    Please… Could you, very briefly, tell a foreigner what this CCS is all about? Is it more than just a way to standardize teaching/education with the aim to ensure a “lowest common denominator”? I just don’t get it with all this data collecting you’re talking about.

    Here we have a national standard, in the form of a common curriculum and also common syllabi (for pre-school, elementary, secondary and upper secondary respectively)… All schools (public as well as private) must follow these… We also have standardized national test in some subjects… and all grades are public (which means you may find a specific person’s grades if you search for them)…

    But as a teacher I am very free to interpret the syllabi, and as long as I don’t leave out any of the “central content” I may choose the ways of teaching as much as I want to – taking into account all the various individuals that my classes consists of and provide for them all

    It’s generally considered to be a good way of ensuring that all students get an education as equal as possible – leaving no kid behind… but also ensuring that “high performing” students are challenged and given the opportunity to constantly develop new knowledge and improve their skills.

    It’s NOT a way of holding anyone back, or trying to conform our children… in fact teaching, and allowing, our students of all ages to be critical is stated in the national curricula.

    So… CCS… please tell me what it’s about – something very different from our Swedish system (which though criticized in many ways still is something the vast majority of teachers want to keep)?

    All the best,

    • Paul Bogush

      Tough one to summarize Magda!

      Let’s say Handelsbanken and TeliaSoneradecided decided to give money to non-profit groups who decided to standardize a system to collect data on every Swedish child. Then they needed a way to collect the data so they decided to form other groups with very friendly names that sound like they represent state governments, but are in fact corporate sponsored. Then these groups hire a couple people to tell every Swedish child what they should learn and at what age. Let’s say these same people were behind creating other schools that would undermine public school teachers and public schools. Everything will depend on whether or not a kid passes this test. So schools tell teachers what to teach and how. After the first tests come back and they find out what scores high and low, they will then know what kind of writing scores the highest and teach every kid to write in the same way so that they can get high test scores. The groups behind this are attempting to tie teachers salary to their kids test scores so that they will be even more inclined to teach to the test.

      So businesses have created what will be taught, how it will be tested,and therefore how it will be taught. The more we do it, the more money they will make.

      The data is collected all along the way to be able to sell more stuff to help kids get higher schools, and I believe more devious things, which I will not write about due to they simply have not happened yet. One example though, lets say you kids score low on a test, but your kids excel in your class. The companies can see this in the data they collect and then you will be called in for grade inflation.

      You have to remember that we have states just as large as Sweden. So nationalizing a curriculum can make total sense in a country like Sweden, and many, many others. But with a country as big and diverse and rich and poor as the United States, expecting every kid who is 8 years old to be able to do the same exact thing is a bit crazy.

  2. aimeebogush

    Woa! Man. This is a scary way to start a Sunday morning. The problem is so huge and the tentacles so deep. It makes going to McDonald’s and out shopping at Walmart seem like a good idea…a distraction to help me forget about it all while eating my standardized fries and buying pretty new standardized socks. (My socks are what everyone sees while my head is in the sand after all.)

  3. Lisa Parisi

    Well that was cheery. We have let this happen, few people are even aware of the connections, and now that the genie is out of the bottle, it is really hard to back up or stop it all together. My hope is that, in NY at least, kids will do so badly on the Pearson created standardized tests, after working with Pearson programs to prepare for the test, that NYS will just throw the whole thing out. But, last year, after getting $14 million dollars to create the test, and screwing up so badly that it was news worthy, Pearson got another chance and kept all their money. So we keep going on.

  4. Nate M

    This is scary. Thank you for posting. The data mining isn’t going to stop. Everything I type here is going into a data bank with my name on it. There are very large forces which our students need to be prepared for. I think I’ll rewrite my syllabus as a “Defense Against the Dark Arts” course now.

  5. Paul Fitzpatrick

    I actually agree with you on the issue of government intrusiveness in our daily lives as well as the frightening movement towards central planning and the rise of the “nanny state”. After reading your opus magnus post I guess you are also outraged by:

    -The president using drones to murder American citizens without the benefit of due process.

    -A government which tries to dictate the type of food and drink we may purchase as well as the amounts.

    -An Affordable Healthcare Act which will dramatically increase the cost of healthcare while also rationing it.

    -Mandates issued by the Department of Health and Human Services which requires religions to violate their fundamental values.

    -the fact that the number of our fellow citizens who are on food stamps is at an all-time high.

    -The obscene national debt that we are saddling our children with.

    Only a mindless lemming would go along with any of this!!!!

    • paul bogush

      You know Paul, I wonder if we have been made to feel so busy that we no longer focus on what is most important. The media moguls tell us what we should be focusing on, the self-help folks tell us how to save ourselves, blahhh…

      I have learned so much during the last few months of research that I simply sound crazy when I talk about it. Who would believe that the country created a national system for collecting data on students and then created tests as an excuse to collect it. Was just reading about a new program used by schools called Naviance that will track you right into your working years.

      I don’t think people know what is possible when a company has so much data on you. The stuff Target(department store) does is simply AMAZING!

      • Brenda

        Maybe I am just dense or too naive, but why exactly do they want this information. What is the motive? I agree it is underhanded to create a test to collect data, and I am not saying it isn’t creepy, but I feel like I am missing the point. Why do they want it and what does it mean for them to have this information?

        • Paul Bogush

          That is my next post Brenda…exactly how can they collect the info and what can you do with 400 points of data on person from K-20, and into the workforce.

  6. Shannon

    Is this happening in private schools too? As hard as it was to read this information I appreciate that you shared it. It’s crazy.

    • Paul Bogush

      Shannon…what scares me is that no kid will be safe. I know that in Oklahoma they want even homeschool kids to go through this system.

  7. Autumn Cook

    Paul, I love your blog! Have you looked in American Institutes for Research (AIR) yet? This is the company doing the assessments for SBAC – I don’t know who’s doing PARCC’s.

    So here’s the relevance to this post on data collection. AIR is “one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research organizations,” as it says on their website. Why would a behavioral science organization be creating “educational” assessments? I’ll leave that for the insightful reader to answer.

    “They” need all this data on your kids and mine so they can play the parents, and decide what’s best for them – guide them into their “best fit” for a career. Common Core is by definition “college- and career-ready standards.” It erases the classical understanding of what education is, and replaces it with “workforce training.” No longer will kids be learning much about the great thinkers of the world, or the great ideas of human history, or the beauty of math, science and poetry. Those things – which are the CORE of a true education – will be minimized and incidental to the great work of “preparing a workforce.” That’s why they “need” all that information on your children – how they act, how they respond to certain situations, whether they have health problems, etc, etc.

    Check out AIR. You’ll find a lot of interesting information.

  8. Love 2Bs

    I can’t believe I came to this through Google since although I’m not a regular, I do stop by here when I have free time. I am a mom who homeschooled my children till my older son wanted to go to high school, and my younger son’s special needs became too challenging for me to handle at home. And all this nonsense is so hugely a part of why I homeschooled to begin with. I stop into your blog to give me hope, since you are so clearly an amazingly caring teacher, and my kids have been thus far blessed with the same. However, I never thought that I’d end up here as a result of a PTA meeting where the middle school principal talked about the transition, and all my homeschool friends on facebook are screeching about Common Core. I sincerely miss living in homeschool bliss, and my heart truly breaks that creative teachers like you and many of my kids’ will have to conform to this rigidity.

    We are already getting mail about seminars on how to afford college for our still high school junior, addressed to our names. And having been a homeschooler for so long, I knew the only place they could have gotten our “directory information” originated with the school itself. Which means they are releasing “directory information” to small local businesses; is this considered “research” on behalf of the schools? And this is just the small-time local stuff, and doesn’t take into account the brochures we are already getting for colleges!

    So what do we, as *parents* do? In one of your posts about Common Core (yes, I went through them and read them all) you talk about how you wrote a letter to Naviance to opt-out for yourself, (Naviance! How naive I was to use it for making a resume so my 16yo could go job hunting; now the data miners know his outside, non-school affiliated activities too!) but how are you protecting your children? I’ve come across opt-out templates for Common Core, some demanding the children take the tests with pencil and paper, and some demanding that the kids not take them at all. And what about Naviance? And Google Docs (which is really where my suspicion of data collection started, and prompted me to start researching all of this)? I know your blog focuses mostly on the teaching aspect of your life, but I’d love to read a post about your feelings on all of this as a parent. The only other parents I know *really* talking about this are homeschoolers; fellow schooling parents are completely clueless.

    P.S. Being a visual learner, I would love to see an RSA video on all the corporate connections of the common core. Or at least a chart ;-)

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