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Just who decides the role of SEAs? Elites or state legislatures?


Many of  you know Fordham Institute’s stance on Common Core.  It loves it.  Loves it, loves it, loves it.  Michael Petrilli and Michael Brickman of Fordham have flown all the way from Washington DC to appear in legislative hearings to tell us how desperately Missouri needs the Common Core standards because they are so much better than what we had previously and they are extremely worried about Missouri student achievement.

Fordham has supported common standards for quite some time.  It was involved with Achieve (on which Governor Jay Nixon is a Board member) and the American Diploma Project since the early 2000’s working on common standards:

Achieve, Education Trust and Fordham launched ADP to help states restore the diploma’s value by anchoring high school graduation standards to those of jobs and colleges. Toward that end, ADP has moved beyond the kinds of standards that reflect experts’ consensus view of what is desirable for students to learn, to expectations linked directly to the essential demands faced by students preparing for college, work and citizenship.

The project found an unprecedented convergence between the knowledge and skills employers seek in new workers and those that college faculty expect of entering students. Both groups expect that high school graduates can complete a significant research report and apply the higher-level math concepts historically taught in Algebra II, for example.

The ADP benchmarks are ambitious. In math, they reflect content from Algebra I and II, Geometry, Data Analysis and Statistics. In English, they demand strong communication skills, as well as the analytic and reasoning skills typically associated with today’s advanced and honors classes. Whether interpreting an introductory economics text in a college classroom or communicating safety rules to a construction crew, high school graduates must master content and skills beyond those expected by present state standards.

“When all kids get the same, rigorous high school curriculum, we know that poor and minority students can more than hold their own in college,” said Education Trust Director Kati Haycock. “Through ADP, we now know just as definitively what it will take for graduates to compete in higher education and in good jobs, and it’s intolerable we would offer them less and consign them to dead-end futures.”

This PR piece was published in 2004.  Sounds a lot like Common Core, doesn’t it?  Did you notice the 2004 talking point that all kids get the same, rigorous high school curriculumThe ADP benchmarks (standards) must match the curriculum.  Did these private organizations change their 2009 marketing strategy when rolling out  CCSS since national standards and curriculum are illegal?


Fast forward to April 2014.  Fordham is sponsoring a meeting on Thursday, April 24 at 10 AM EST.  You can watch it live streamed here.  It’s a discussion on how state education agencies should be restructured largely because of the effects of the four assurances from the state stabilization plan (common core, turnaround schools, teacher evaluations):


fordham and state agencies


Did anybody else find this line a bit alarming and a tad bit elitist?

Should we shrink the SEA and its role and empower other entities to lead state-level reform instead?

I hope the Fordham panelists (includes two SEA Commissioners staunchly defending Common Core) answer these questions:

  • Who is the “we” thinking about shrinking SEA roles?
  • Does the “we” have the constitutional authority to revise the roles of SEAs?
  • Who are the “other entities” private organizations/reformers want leading state-level reform?
  • Do the “other entities” have the constitutional authority to lead state-level reform?
  • Who is setting this state-level reform?  Will it be “state led” like the Common Core standards?
  • Will we now see a consortium of Education Commissioners signing on to MOUs ceding state SEA authority to a centralized organization for SEAs?

The rule of law (just follow the creation/adoption/implementation of CCSS) means little to education reformers, governors, education commissioners and State Boards of Education.  Legislatures have the power to set the role of SEAs, not think tanks, private organizations or “reformers”.  Common Core violated several Missouri state statutes but that didn’t stop Petrilli and Brickman from defending an untested, unfunded massive stimulus program.

The law: What difference does it make?

The law makes little difference to these reformers.  Not content with Common Core implementation that the taxpayers and legislators have to pay for with nary a vote (or authentic discussion), they now are exploring on how state education agencies could operate more optimally with less to do and other entities can lead “the reform”.  Haven’t we been down this road with Common Core?  Plans were made, MOUs signed and Common Core was implemented with little public/legislative input.

Listen in on Thursday and tweet your remarks here:

Follow the conversation with @educationgadlfy at #HelmNotOar

The last sentence from the Fordham meeting announcement:

Join the Thomas B. Fordham Institute for a discussion on the role of state education agencies and their leaders in the education-reform ecosystem.

Maybe you can tweet Fordham this question: @educationgadfly. What is an education-reform ecosystem? Do taxpayers want it? Your answer: What difference does it make?



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