Just wanted to give you a peek into my glamorous life as an education activist/mother.

I have been accused of being heavily funded by a number of different nefarious right wing organizations which I generally take as a compliment of my organizational skills, knowing that no one but my husband is primarily funding my activism. There is no Bill Gates equivalent on the side opposing common core offering to cover our photocopy, web hosting or even gas costs. People ask me where my office is. Usually it is in my kitchen where my computer sits.  Yesterday it was the Schnuck’s grocery store where I got a call from a Politico reporter asking about the lawsuit to which I am a co-plaintiff with Fred Sauer and Gretchen Logue.

The call came through with just a phone number from Virginia.  I used to ignore calls when I didn’t recognize the caller ID, but something made me answer this call because I knew I knew at least one person from Virginia and maybe this was her calling. That’s what it’s like when you start tying into a national network of activists. You begin to think that not every unknown caller is really unknown. Or this may be a mom who needs to be talked down from the ledge where she is sitting with her first grader’s latest homework assignment where he had to draw 400 dots to solve the problem. So I answered it.

When the woman on the other end said she was from Politico and wanted to ask about the lawsuit I knew that the chip aisle was not the place to have that conversation. Too noisy and crowded. And there is nothing worse than a shopper talking on the phone blocking the flow of the silver buffaloes trying to pass to hack off the other shoppers. So I headed to the medicine aisle (because it seemed the quietest) and tried to provide cogent answers to her questions while the muzak version of Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree played in the background.

While my two gallons of milk sweated I worked to juggle my purse and phone in order to get her the phone number for the lawyer handling the case when her questions became too legally technical for me to answer. After I hung up I briefly tried to remember what I said and wondered if it made sense. Then I began digging the shopping list out of my other pocket and trying to remember where I left off. I made a mental note to loop back to the attorney to get his answers to her questions in case anyone else called while I was in my satellite office at the Mobil station where I would be in about twenty minutes.

At least they picked a good quote out of what I said.


Politico’s Morning Education

With help from Eliza Collins and Stephanie Simon

DIVORCING ‘SMARTER BALANCED’: Anti-Common Core activists in Missouri activists opposed to the Common Core are revving up their legal fight to pull the state out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Last month, they won a temporary restraining order barring the state from paying membership fees to SBAC. But that order has expired, so they’ve filed motions asking for another such order – or, better yet, for a summary judgment declaring the state’s affiliation with SBAC an illegal interstate compact. The activists know they can’t stop Missouri from administering SBAC this coming spring; state law requires it. But state committees made up of teachers, parents and administrators are writing new standards to replace the Common Core. In future years, the state will be free to pick a new test aligned with those standards. The lawsuit aims to ensure the state can start that process with a fresh slate rather than be tied to SBAC. In the meantime, the activists want to be sure that Missouri is free to set its own cut scores and control test administration without interference from the consortium. “We want local control, which means that we control the test,” plaintiff Anne Gassel told Morning Education.

– Missouri owes Smarter Balanced $4.2 million for the complete package of formative, interim and summative assessments for this school year. The state has already paid a portion of that fee and Sarah Potter, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said it will have to find a way to pay the remainder no matter what happens in court, since the law requires that the SBAC test be used this school year. A renewed restraining order “could impact our membership in the consortium, but we don’t think it will affect our actually buying and administering the test,” Potter said. In the event that the Show Me State’s payments are affected, the consortium is developing a policy for dealing with deadbeat states. Among the issues being discussed: Whether to block states from using the assessments if they fail to pay their bills, Potter said.

– “We are committed to working with the state of Missouri to provide the best tools and assessments to teachers and students,” Smarter Balanced spokeswoman Jacqueline King told Morning Education. “Beyond that, I cannot comment.”

Published December 16, 2014

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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