What Got Lost in the Vandeven Kerfuffle It's *only* the continuing decline of test scores. Where's the outrage on that fact?
The letter below was recently sent to the Missouri State Board of Education members by Dr. Mary Byrne, a co-founder of Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. The various news organizations have reported on the process of Governor Greitens replacing Board members who subsequently fired Margie Vandeven and the outrage of the non-government organizations (NGOs) on her removal and those NGOs proclaiming that she has been good for the kids of Missouri.
In the din of these NGOs (Missouri Association of School Administrators, Missouri State Board Association, Missouri National Education Association) clamoring that special interests drove her firing (which will reveal itself in the coming selection of commissioner candidates), what has been lost is the reality of plunging test scores and academic achievement under Margie Vandeven. Where have the new organizations reported on actual scores of Missouri schools under the Vandeven administration? Where are the news reports on the Common Core like standards in the state even as HB1490 was to ensure Missouri had Missouri written standards as is directed in the Missouri Constitution?
The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core respectfully requests that all State Board of Education members read the letter below and respond to the urgent need to select a new commissioner who will seriously address the lack of academic achievement/excellence in Missouri and uphold the Missouri constitution and align itself with those goals. MCACC also requests that the news organizations reporting the outcry of Vandeven’s dismissal investigate the results of her DESE policies and provide a voice the taxpayers/parents on what type of Commissioner they would like to head the state agency of education, rather than just the NGOs and legislators who support the status quo and the current direction of DESE. MCACC and taxpayers would like an explanation on why scores have declined since the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and Common Core aligned curriculum.
Dr. Byrne’s December 9, 2017 letter below:
State Board of Education Members,
The Dec. 5, 2017 Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) Study describes a decline in fourth grade reading achievement for US students — indicating that the drop in MO students’ fourth grade reading performance seen on the NAEP since the adoption of common core is not specific to MO, but indicative of a national decline consistent with the adoption of defacto national standards. Please note the report post on the National Center for Education Statistics website (https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2018017) and articles commenting on the report provided below.
Despite the defensive posture assumed by former Commissioner of Education and her assertion that the State Board with which she worked was effective in improving student learning in MO, external assessment scores of national and international student performance provide evidence to the contrary.Since the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in 2010, Missouri’s students’ scores on the NAEP, SAT, ACT, PISA have declined. A November 2015 report submitted to the Joint Education Committee documented the results of external assessments (not MO’s common core aligned statewide assessment) in reading and mathematics as well as other subject content areas (see attached). The evidence within the report contradicts claims by MO education administrators that Missouri’s shift to alignment with Common Core standards would improve student learning, increase assessment scores, and make MO students globally competitive in the workforce — a claim that never specifically described or defined the meaning of workforce, and was made with no demonstrable relationship between individual student academic performance and the state, national, or international economies. The State Board’s adoption of “new” Missouri Learning Standards in 2016 was simply a renaming of what are essentially the Common Core standards, as evidenced by the administration of common core aligned assessments such as iReady in school districts throughout Missouri.
Throughout the 2015 public hearings mandated by HB 1490, Missouri State Board of Education members were repeatedly reminded that Missouri’s Constitution identified a specific purpose for publicly funded education in Article IX Section 1(a), that of protecting the rights and liberties of the people, not workforce development as designed and promulgated by Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education, who wrote Missouri’s SB 380 (1993) to align with his agenda to undermine state constitutions through statutory language written to construct a defacto national education system, thereby, circumventing the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting such a system.
There is no defense for ignoring Missouri’s Constitution or ignoring evidence from multiple external assessments which contradicts the narrative that Missouri schools are performing well under DESE’s current trajectory of policies, regulations, and directives. With the recent removal of a commissioner of education dedicated to continuing the policies and agenda of the past gubernatorial administration as well as Washington DC-based professional trade organizations, that is, the Council of Chief State School Officers (heavily funded (and by extension) influenced) by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York; the NGA and NASBE (also heavily funded by venture philanthropists), the Board has an opportunity to restore the rule of law to Missouri’s DESE and align their decisions to the constitutional purpose of Missouri’s publicly-funded education system.
Hopefully, the Board will take the recent change DESE’s leadership as an opportunity to reflect on their own leadership, correct course, and choose to serve Missouri’s citizens rather than “the beltway” special interest groups that lobby to control states’ schools only in service to their own agendas.
Mary Byrne, Ed.D.
Co-founder, Missouri Coalition Against Common Core