Open Letter to the Argyle ISD School Board~ A Case Against Districts of Innovation
This is an open letter to my local school board, who will be voting if they will move forward to become a District of Innovation (DOI)
Dear Argyle ISD School Board,
I will not be able to attend the school board meeting on September 19th. I was previously scheduled to speak in East Texas on the Systematic Transformation of Education. My prayer is that others will show up and urge you to VOTE NO to DOI. Whether they do or not. It is your responsibility to know exactly what you are voting on.
After you watch the Senate Education Committee hearing videos on DOI below and read about the systematic transformation in education; I have a question for all school board members. Will you comply with the unconstitutional federal take over of our children’s classrooms? Will you sit idly by and allow our children to be used as guinea pigs? It really is up to you to say NO to Districts of Innovation (DOI) and the federal intrusion into our local classrooms.
Innovation “is defined simply as a “new idea, device, or method”.
Therefore Innovation does not mean piloted and proven successful. Innovation does not mean successful academic outcomes.
Simply Innovation = Experimentation
As parents are you okay with our local schools experimenting on our children using unproven learning theories and strategies?
Are you okay with our children being used as guinea pigs and our tax dollars funding this experimentation?
The video below may shed some light. This is from the September 14th Senate Committee hearing. The topic of this panel was Districts of Innovation (DOI). It is not about changing the start time, it is about innovative (experimental) learning theories, data collection and benchmarking for computer adaptive assessments and removing teachers from their key roll in the classroom.
Our great teachers are systematically being removed from the classroom in favor of a computer, through the mirage of Districts of Innovation (DOI).
After sitting through hours of testimony and questions about the Districts of Innovation plans by vendors, special interest groups and Texas Superintendents, I thought I needed to connect some dots.
- In 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) a grant for 6.3 million dollars.
TASA and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) are trade organizations who’ve been tied to the vendors/lobbyists for many years; and, of course, they pay for their agenda by using local taxpayers’ dollars which cover TASA/TASB dues, conventions, etc.
Texas Leadership Center Date: June 2000 The purpose of the grant to TASA: to provide superintendents and principals from public and private schools access to quality leadership development focused on technology integration and whole systems change.
- In 2002 the federal government began the Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant program to offer grants to states that agreed to build their student data systems according to federal dictates (20 U.S.C. § 9501 et seq).
- In 2006 TASA’s New Mission to transform Public Education begins.
According to TASA’s timeline in 2006 public school superintendents from across the state were inspired to come together to create a new vision for public education in Texas. Meeting as the Public Education Visioning Institute for two years, they shared ideas on how to transform Texas public education to meet the needs of 21st-century students.
- In 2007 the Texas Education Agency (TEA) was given a $7 million dollar grant by the Gates foundation. With the stated purposeto provide funding towards a longitudinal evaluation of the Texas High School Project now known as “Educate Texas” funded by“Communities Foundation of Texas”, as a way to understand the effectiveness of individual projects and programs, as well as overall effectiveness.
- In 2007 a new special interest group formed by Mike Moses and Bill Ratliff called, Raise Your Hand.
As Donna Garner wrote back in 2007. Ratliff and Moses are continuing to swill from the education trough by forming a new organization called Raise Your Hand to pressure the people for more tax dollars for Texas’ public schools. Have these two gentlemen any credibility on the subject?
William Murchison said it best in the 2.16.07 Lone Star Report, “…keep a country mile away from Raise Your Hand, and from Bill Ratliff, and from Mike Moses, whose solution for dealing with a sinking boat is to pour some more water in the gunwales.”
- In 2008, TASA created the New Vision for Public Education Document.
- In 2009, the federal Stimulus package, which Texas received 18+ million dollars, required the construction of particular data systems in exchange for the money from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.
- In 2009 the Race to the Top program launched a successful “Race to the Top” grant program which required the state to adopt the Common Core Standards, to adopt a state-mandated assessment aligned with Common Core, and to commit to expanding its student database.
Texas said NO to the Common Core National Standards, but we said yes to College and Career Ready Standards and TASA’s New Vision for Public Education.
- In 2009-10 according to TASA the “Consortium is Conceptualized” “With a visioning document for school transformation in hand, the group sought a means to begin work to fulfill that vision. They conceptualized a network of school districts that could do the work and described it in the Guidelines for Establishment of the High-Performance Schools Consortium.”
- In 2011 according to TASA Law Establishes the Consortium
The 82nd Texas Legislature made the Consortium official with Senate Bill 1557. The law established the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium and charged it with improving student learning in Texas by developing innovative high-priority learning standards and assessment and accountability systems.
- In 2011 Texas legislators overwhelmingly pass SB 6. SB 6 allows textbook publishers to bypass the state adoption process. Under SB 6, the Instructional materials (IM) only have to cover 50% of the TEKS (even though school districts by law are required to cover 100% of the TEKS). It is SB 6 that opened the door for CSCOPE and other instructional materials that are not aligned with the SBOE-approved-and-mandated TEKS to proliferate our public schools. In addition, for the permanent education fund (PEF) to now be used for the professional development of teachers for online digital learning.
- In January 2012, FERPA was gutted, and no longer protected our children’s data from almost unlimited sharing. Under the new regulatory interpretation, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) (and in fact state departments of education) may disclose personally identifiable student data to literally anyone in the world, as long as the disclosing agency uses the correct language to justify its action.
- In 2012 according to TASA, The Texas High-Performance Schools Consortium takes shape —originally 23 Texas school districts — were selected in 2012 by the commissioner of education. The Consortium began its work in October 2012 with superintendents and district teams working through the fall semester to determine a strategy for conducting the Consortium’s work as specified in SB 1557 and to produce the Consortium’s first report, delivered on December 2012.
- In 2012 TASA’s Future-Ready Superintendents designed its inaugural Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute.TASA’s Student-Centered Schools Future-Ready Students Document; The Moral Imperative: From Vision to Action Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Institute The Moral Imperative: From Vision to Action If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow. John Dewey, Schools of Tomorrow, 1915
- 2012-13 TASA pushes Anti-Testing Resolution
In 2012, TASA prepared a sample school board resolution to build support for the anti testing STAAR Opt out movement. By January 2013, 881 Texas school districts — 86 percent of Texas districts and 91 percent of its students — had adopted the resolution. Dozens of Chambers of Commerce and PTA groups across Texas passed similar resolutions.
- In 2013 Texas passes HB2103 which opened Texas students, parents, and teachers up to possible data mining by third-party entities. This bill set up cooperating agencies including the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) that will share data. Three centers for education research (CER’s) were set up to conduct research using the data from the TEA, THECB, and TWC that goes back at least 20 years. The data will be known as the P-20/Workforce Data Repository and will be operated by the Higher Education Coordinating Board.
- In 2013 Texas legislators pass HB5 (Workforce Development) law. Both Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly pass HB5, authored by Rep. Jimmy Don Aycock and Sen. Dan Patrick. The Workforce Development (HB5) just like the Common Core National Standards, expands the target from K-12 (Kindergarten through 12th grade) to a P-20 (Pre-school through College, Trade or Graduate School) system in order to control the economy and control our children by funneling them into certain career pathways.
- In 2013 TASA Published its Concept Paper on Transforming Texas Public Schools, which provides history and background on the transformation movement as well as an outline of the Consortium’s work in the areas of digital integration, high-priority learning standards, multiple assessments, and community-based accountability.
- In July 2014 Congress overwhelmingly passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). which provided the wrapping of K-12 education into a workforce development system binding all students. Nominally led by the states, this emphasis goes to regulations pushed by both the federal Department of Labor and Education. In this WIOA document, take special note of page 6; “it is important to review state legislation and identify areas that may conflict with WIOA to develop plans and strategies that resolve these conflicts. When state and federal laws conflict, federal laws take precedence.”
- In 2014, the Future-Ready Superintendents advance their MISSION: School Transformation. The Moral Imperative: From Vision to Action, a report that captures the Institute participants’ desire to help launch the vision from the Public Education Visioning Institute into action.
- In 2014 the State Board of Education (SBOE) and Texas Education Agency (TEA) develop a process for the revision of the English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that included the identification of high-priority learning standards by curriculum experts from the field. In December 2014, the Consortium released its second report.
- In November 2015, the White House is hosted a national conversation on transforming high schools to align with the Next Generation High School Model. Next Generation High School is a trade school–for all kids. Based on the Soviet Model of Education. The goal is to turn 95% of kids into workers, conditioned to think as the US Department of Education. and Bill Gates want them to. Rethinking the High School Experience- This all ties into why the states are moving to the Next Generation of Assessments and Accountability.
- In 2015 HB 2804 created the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability to “develop and make recommendations for new systems of student assessment and public school accountability.”
- In December 2015 Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which replace No Child Left Behind and is now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio stated, this is the “New Common Core,” while he was debating the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) is about character traits not academics. It is a clear shift to Competency-Based Outcomes- The Next Generation of Assessments and Accountability shifts from the “Mental” (Academics and Knowledge-Based Assessments) to “Behaviors” (Performance Standards and Competency for the workforce).
In 2016, the White House is hosting a second annual summit on Next Generation High Schools, recognizing commitments from states and school districts to redesign their high schools. https://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2016/09/12/white-house-summit-next-generation-high-schools
So what does this look like at the local level……
In classrooms across Texas and frankly the country, parents show up to register their child for school and there is NO way to say…. NO, my child will only be taught by a teacher, not a computer when it comes to reading, writing, math, and history. My child’s data is not to be shared with any third parties without my consent! Parents are informed they cannot refuse technology for their child while in school because it is now required that they are “21st-century learners”.
Here is a perfect example of when a district lives by a computer, not a teacher.
From a Tutor/Teacher
Did anyone else receive a progress report? “Not enough comprehensive data!” What data is he/she referring to? The almighty 5+ page reports spit out by iReady, MAP, and/or STAR. This is what I was afraid of- a teacher not conducting a running record, a one on one reading diagnostic assessment, by the first two weeks of school to determine the reading levels of students in K -5. I am livid as this student is a student who I tutored in the spring and summer, who is at a level N. An incoming 3rd grade should be between M, N, and O. With Guided Reading, NOT iReady, a third grade can read up to or beyond level R. This is the beginning of Computer Based Education, CBE, where a teacher will become OBSOLETE, and many children will be left behind and frustrated. Very sad and disheartening. Please, do not say that I did not WARN you.
As I stated in my testimony below to the Senate Education Committee on August 13th and 14th. I don’t want “School Choice”, I want a Choice in the Classroom for my child to be taught by a teacher, not a computer collecting data on my child.
Thankfully, I am not alone. Please see the testimony of other Texas Moms.
I pray you will do the right thing and protect our children and their teachers in the classroom.
Argyle ISD Parent