June 19, 2014

HSLDA and David Coleman

I homeschooled my kids for many years and am still a great supporter of it. So I know that many homeschoolers pay attention to the politics of education in order to protect their rights as homeschoolers, and many of them are concerned about how Common Core and data collection are going to affect their families.

HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) charges members $120 a year and basically acts as lobbyists for homeschoolers. Many parents of school children will have recently heard of them since they released the much talked about video "Building the Machine". I have to admit that I didn't watch it, because I am familiar with HSLDA and do not respect them as an organization since they have a serious problem with mixing causes. Their "About us" info starts out with:
Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.

My problem is with the "protect family freedoms" part since in doing so they actually aim to lessen the freedom of others. Additionally, the information they have on their website about how to legally homeschool in Connecticut implies that the "suggested" procedures in place here are actually mandatory. And they are not.

Nevertheless, many Christian homeschoolers continue to accept HSLDA as the authority on homeschool legal issues. And HSLDA has a whole section of their website dedicated to Common Core. In question seven on their FAQ page about it they tell us that:
The Common Core will impact homeschools and private schools in at least three ways.
First, designers of the expanded statewide longitudinal databases fully intend to collect data about homeschool and private school students.
Second, college admissions standards will be affected: Common Core standards for college readiness will be used by institutions of higher learning to determine whether a student is ready to enroll in a postsecondary course.
Third, curriculum and standardized tests are being rewritten to conform to the Common Core.
So HSLDA has been correctly telling their members that Common Core is no good for homeschoolers too.

But a few days ago, I read a blog post by SpunkyHomeSchool. Seems that HSLDA held a webinar for its members:
David Coleman has offered homeschoolers an opportunity to hear directly from him about the redesigned SAT, and to ask him any questions you wish—including about the Common Core. On Friday, June 6... Up to 1,000 people can be on the webinar, and we are sending this to our HSLDA members only as a member benefit.
SpunkyHomeSchool says that:
If you were hoping for a take-down of Coleman it didn’t happen... The webinar was a a one-hour infomercial for Coleman to spew his propaganda unchallenged by experts.
Go read the whole blog post here. It's a good read.

Honestly, I don't know why the webinar would surprise anyone since Michael Farris, Founder and Chairman of HSLDA, posted a letter a year ago about an hour long conversation he had with David Coleman. (In case you are new to all of this, SpunkyHomeSchool does a good job of explaining his role in Common Core.) In it, Farris writes:
David Coleman, president of the College Board, is the acknowledged principal leader of the effort to create and implement the Common Core. And he wanted to talk with me about Home School Legal Defense Association’s position. I was very willing.

I walked away wishing that more political conversations could be like this one. Polite. Professional. Helpful.

He acknowledged some good ideas that I shared, and I did the same.

I strongly oppose the Common Core for reasons I shared with him in detail. But I want to do my best to avoid demonizing those who promote it. He is motivated by what he truly thinks is best for education and for kids. I think his plans are unwise, especially when coupled with government coercion. But I will not question either his motives or his character.

We came away believing that each of us is acting in good faith. I think we make better policy decisions when we avoid the invective and simply look to the substance. That much, David Coleman and I have in common.
So Farris thinks Coleman is a nice guy. Others thought so too the first time they met him. But SpunkyHomeSchool wants to know:
Why is HSLDA playing the game instead of fighting it?  Why are they blasting the other sides message instead?  

I wondered this myself, enough so that I finally googled it, looking for a connection between David Coleman, architect of the Common Core, and Michael Farris, Founder and Chairman of HSLDA. And it wasn't all that hard to find. Her name is Hanna Rosin.

In 1987 David Coleman was on the debate team of Stuyvesant High School with Hanna Rosin. In 2007 she wrote a book called God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America, which is about Patrick Henry College. And Patrick Henry College was founded by, you guessed it, Michael Farris. Small world.

Interestingly, Patrick Henry College has an awful lot of students working in the federal government.
Of the nearly 100 interns working in the White House this [2004] semester, 7 are from the roughly 240 students enrolled in the four-year-old Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville. An eighth intern works for the president's re-election campaign. A former Patrick Henry intern now works on the paid staff of the president's top political adviser, Karl Rove. Over the last four years, 22 conservative members of Congress have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns in their offices or on their campaigns, according to the school's records... About two-thirds of the students major in government.
And more about the school:
The college has one mission: to save America from its downfall, from the abyss into which Barack Obama has steered the country in the past four years. Young conservative Christians are the soldiers in this war. At Patrick Henry College they will be trained to fight one day on the front - as politicians, filmmakers, or entrepreneurs they will win back American society.

The more I read about Michael Farris, the more I understand that Common Core is something he simply can't be bothered with; he's saying what his members want to hear, while keeping friendly with those in political power. He's too busy trying to fix our whole government, and apparently drafting soldiers to his cause.

June 11, 2014

Just What is Bill Gates' Involvement with Common Core?

For those of you who might not be aware of just how enmeshed Bill Gates is with Common Core, you may want to head over to The Washington Post, where you will find a fantastic article that explains just how involved he was from the very beginning. An excerpt...
...What followed was one of the swiftest and most remarkable shifts in education policy in U.S. history.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.

Bill Gates was de facto organizer, providing the money and structure for states to work together on common standards in a way that avoided the usual collision between states’ rights and national interests that had undercut every previous effort, dating from the Eisenhower administration.

The Gates Foundation spread money across the political spectrum, to entities including the big teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — groups that have clashed in the past but became vocal backers of the standards.

Money flowed to policy groups on the right and left, funding research by scholars of varying political persuasions who promoted the idea of common standards. Liberals at the Center for American Progress and conservatives affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council who routinely disagree on nearly every issue accepted Gates money and found common ground on the Common Core...
Now go read the rest.