In the previous section, we looked at the lies and deceptions in a scam report called “A Nation At Risk.” In this section, we will look at some of the people involved in promoting high stakes testing as the fake “solution” to the fake “problems” claimed by the Nation At Risk report. The bottom line is that billionaires push high failure rate tests to convince the public that our schools are failing to the public will let billionaires take over our schools.
History of High States High Failure Rate Tests
The “theory” of Toxic High Stakes Testing education reform is that if school standards are raised (often called raising the bar), and students are tested often enough, students will work harder to jump over the higher bar. Thus, their achievement will go up– even if those kids are hungry and living in the back seat of a car! A second part of this theory is that students will be motivated to work harder if there is a high stakes standardized test they will have to pass at the end of the course. Neither of these claims has ever been supported by any scientific research on child development. Yet these claims are now being used to drive the education (or abuse) of 50 million students in the US. These claims are popular among the billionaires because they allow the super rich to ignore the fact that test scores are related to poverty. There is no need for the billionaires to worry about giving poor parents a job or giving poor kids a stable home. All they need to do is give low income kids more and harder tests. In fact, billionaires are blaming the victims of their concentration of wealth and power so that folks will be distracted from the fact that billionaires are robbing working families of a fair living.
The Toxic Testing scam (also called Standards Based Education) is based on Pavlovian Punishment and Reward conditioning. But this theory applies more to training dogs than teaching children. So how did this theory of unattainable standards and high stakes tests come to take over all schools in the US? To understand how this happened, we need to look no further than one single person... Marc Tucker, President of a billionaire funded outfit called the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE).
Marc Tucker... The Godfather of Toxic High Stakes Testing
Marc Tucker has no degree in education and has never been a public school teacher. So why have his views on public schools taken over our entire nation? How was Marc able to promote Standard Based Education into what we now call Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? This summary is based on an article in Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, March 14, 1993.
Marc grew up in an affluent suburb of Boston Massachusetts called Newton where he attended high quality public schools. Unfortunately, according to Marc's brother, Roger, their mother had “several stays in mental hospitals.” Because their father for some reason could not take care of the two boys, they were sent to foster homes and were “adopted by other families.” Marc had a teacher who hosted a show on PBS in Boston. This lucky connection helped Marc obtain a job as a camera man for PBS in Boston in 1962 – where Marc worked until 1970.
In 1971, something very strange happened. Despite having no degree or background in Education, Tucker was hired to be the Assistant to the Executive Director of the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory (NW-REL) in Portland Oregon. NW-REL is a very strange outfit that on the surface claims to be a combination of school systems in five NW States (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska). In fact, according to the “About” page on the NW-REL website, it is one of ten regional education laboratories (RELs) that are all “sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education.” According to the IES website, they are the “research arm of the US Department of Education.”
So Marc was hired by the US Department of Education in 1971 for an educational research job he was certainly not qualified to do. Marc only worked at this position for a single year. However, since this group strongly supported Outcome Based Education (OBE) – which is based on Pavlovian Conditioning and Skinnerian Behavioralism – It is likely that this is where Marc picked up his regressive educational beliefs that he would later morph into an even more radical approach to education reform that he called Standards Based Education (SBE) – whereby a bunch of standards like Common Core were dumped on teachers from the top down based upon an irrational and overwhelming need to control others. It was also likely that at NW REL in 1971, Marc made connections with Washington State educators – connections he would later use to change education in Washington State and eventually in the entire nation.
In 1972, Marc moved to Washington DC where he became the Associate Director of the National Institute of Education, another arm of the US Department of Education. Marc stayed in this position until 1981. From 1981 to 1984, Tucker worked on a project at the billionaire funded Carnegie Corporation on how to use computers in education. He then created the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy in 1985. Keep in mind, this guy just has a college degree in Philosophy – not education or psychology or computers. But he was clearly advocating for a theory that is music to the ears of the billionaires who were backing him.
1986 Marc Tucker Writes “A Nation Prepared”
From 1985 until 1987, Tucker was the Executive Director of the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy. There Marc wrote a report called “A Nation Prepared” which was published in 1986 – in response to and three years after the fake report called “A Nation At Risk.” Marc's 168 page report, “A Nation Prepared” recommended raising standards for students and teachers – raising the bar – and using high stakes tests to hold teachers and students accountable. It was the beginning of blaming teachers for the made up shortcomings of our public schools that were listed in the fake report “A Nation At Risk.”
Billionaires and politicians naturally hailed “A Nation Prepared” as the holy grail of education reform and Marc Tucker became their new Messiah (or new Snake Oil Salesman depending on how wealthy you are).
In 1987, Tucker used funding from these billionaires to create a new group called the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) to promote his report “A Nation Prepared.” Not so coincidentally, Marc's new group had the same initials as the group that wrote “A Nation At Risk,” the National Committee on Excellence in Education (NCEE).
It was therefore easy for folks to mistakenly assume that these were the same group and that “A Nation Prepared” was simply a follow up report to “A Nation At Risk”. In fact, the two groups had similar agendas (raising the bar) and were backed by the same wealthy interests.
Here is how one reporter described NCEE:
“NCEE is the multimillion-dollar Gates Foundation-funded advocacy (read: "lobbying") group founded by Marc Tucker, the godfather of Common Core-style schemes and top-down control masquerading as "reform." He has dominated the D.C. education-lobbying scene since before Bill Clinton was in office. Tucker's NCEE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that crusades for ever-increasing federal involvement in every aspect of education while denying its brazen lobbying activities.” Michelle Malkin, cnsnews.com April 4 2014
One group that bought into the nonsense pitched by Tucker in “A Nation Prepared” was the billionaire funded National Governors Association (NGA), the group that would later help draft the Common Core State Standards. Two governors in particular were thrilled with this report – Governor Bill Clinton in Arkansas and Governor Booth Gardner in Washington State. First, we will look at Booth's involvement in this scam – and then we will look at Bill's involvement.
1985 to 1993: Marc Tucker, Booth Gardner and the Failed Ed Reform Scam in Washington State
The Failed Ed Reform program in Washington State is important because it is the model Marc Tucker created for Washington State that would later be used as a model for national reform by Bush One, Bill Clinton, Bush Two and Barack Obama. So let's quickly look at what happened in Washington State in the 1980s and 1990s and how it failed.
In 1980, Washington was 11th in the nation in school funding. However, by 1990, it had plunged to 20th in the nation – despite doubling the local portion of school funding (called the levy lid) from 10% of total school funding to 20% of total school funding. Thus, as local property taxes went up, school funding went down. One reason for this was the billionaire takeover of government in Washington State in the 1980's. Billionaires like Bill Gates bought elections for their cronies in order to create tax breaks for billionaires. As more tax breaks were given to wealthy multinational corporations, taxes on everyone else went up even as school funding went down – all to pay for the billions in tax breaks for the rich.
Booth Gardner was the perfect example of wealthy people taking over politics in Washington State. He was the wealthy heir to the Weyerhaeuser fortune – which was one of the largest logging operation in Washington State and in the nation. Booth's family made their fortune by wiping out Old Growth Forests. From 1985 to 1993, Booth Gardner was Governor of the State of Washington. During this time, his primary accomplishment was to advance “standards based education and standardized testing” in Washington State. However, in 2005, a terminally ill Booth Gardner apologized for pushing toxic tests saying he was wrong and that he had been misinformed. He therefore supported eliminating the test he created - the high stakes test called the WASL.
History of the Schools for the 21st Century $21 Million Scam
In early 1985, Booth Gardner was taken in by the magical claims of the Ed Reform Messiah/ Snake Oil Salesman Marc Tucker. Booth allowed Marc to craft an Ed Reform scam called “Schools for the 21st Century.” In February, 1987, Marc Tucker addressed the Washington State legislature advocating for this scam. In May 1987, the legislature passed SSB 5479 establishing “Schools for the 21st Century.” The initial cost of this program was set at $21 million dollars to do a pilot program in several school districts in Washington State to see if “Standards Based Education” reform really worked.
Later in 1987, Marc started NCEE to be the lead consultant for this new program. Naturally Marc was paid to be the “expert consultant” for this project, “Schools for the 21st Century” which later became a model for Bush One's America 2000 Ed Reform program and Clinton's Goals 2000 Ed Reform program (which were all essentially the same thing). So it is fair to say that the entire national Ed Reform scam got its start in Washington State. Our state owes the nation an apology for the “Standards Based Education” disaster that has since been inflicted on 50 million children.
From 1990 to 1991, Booth Gardner was Chairperson of the National Governors Association and thus worked closely with Bush One and Marc Tucker in creation of the America 2000 Corporate led Ed Reform program. In 1991, Washington State Governor Booth Gardner formed the Governor's Council on Education Reform and Funding. (GCERF). On October 4, 1991, GCERF signed a deal “giving exclusive reference to Marc Tucker, and the New Standards Project (NSP) — another NCEE program.” Put in simpler terms, Booth Gardner handed education reform in Washington State over to NSP and NCEE – both of which were ran by Marc Tucker. Governor Gardner and Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Judith Billings were on the governing board of NSP.
While working on this project, Tucker recommended a school restructuring plan for Washington State that in 1992 became Washington State Senate Bill 5953 – creating a new student assessment and school accountability system in Washington State. On February 2, 1992, Booth Gardner signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Marc Tucker to oversee the “design of ‘break the mold’ public schools” in Washington State. In 1993, this was supplemented with Washington State Bill number 1209 – yet another ed reform bill. The lead sponsor on this bill was Randy Dorn – the current Superintendent of Washington State Schools. The assessments known as the Washington Assessment of Student Learning or WASL – was to begin between 1996 to 1997 and passing the WASL was to be required for graduation (high stakes testing). Having to pass the WASL to graduate never actually happened, but that is besides the point.
The Billionaire Funded Brainwashing Begins... “Good Ideas are At Work Out There in the State of Washington”
On July 9, 1991, according to an article in the Seattle Times, President Bush announced a new national educational initiative called America 2000:
“President Bush yesterday said he would ask corporate leaders to raise between $150 million and $200 million to finance a school program based on Gardner’s Schools for the 21st Century…”Good ideas are at work out there in the state of Washington”, Bush said at the White House. Bush’s national schools campaign called America 2000 was announced in April.”
About America 2000, President Bush said, “We will unleash America’s creative genius to invent and establish a New Generation of American Schools…A number of excellent projects and inspired initiatives already point the way. These include Washington State’s Schools for the 21st Century. The mission is to help create schools that will reach to National Education Goals and the World Class Standards.”
Below is a picture of Washington Governor Booth Gardner, President George Bush and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton at the National Governors Education Summit. What Bush and Clinton apparently failed to realize is that the Ed Reform pilot program they were both promoting was actually failing badly in Washington State. http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/negp/reports/negp30.pdf
How did the “Schools for the 21st Century” Experiment Turn Out?
A group called Citizens United for a Responsible Education (CURE Washington) wrote a report about how the pilot program turned out. The group said they were exposing “a human experiment, which may have damaged the academic future of 52,000 children who participated in the “Schools for the 21st Century Program.” The 52,000 children whose academic futures were damaged were attending 111 elementary schools in Washington State in 27 school districts. The pilot school districts were allowed to change (required to change) to Standards Based Assessments and programs from 1987 through 1994 (when the pilot program money ran out).
Most of the pilot programs continued with the experiment when both the pilot program elementary schools and the normal elementary schools took the 4th grade WASL test in 1996. Since the experiment had been going on since 1987, the 4th grade kids subjected to “more rigorous standards” had been forced to endure these standards their entire school career and the teachers using these “raise the bar” standards had been drilling kids with these standards for about 9 years before the WASL test was finally given. Meanwhile, the kids in the normal schools were doing normal stuff like reading stories, drawing in picture books and hanging out with their friends on the monkey bars at recess.
So what were the results? How did the Drill and Kill Ed Reform kids compare to the 4 R kids (Reading, Riting, Rithmetic and Recess). Here is a quote from the study: “The statewide percentiles of students meeting or exceeding the standards were: math, 21%; reading, 47%; writing, 42%. These are the kids who haven’t had ten years of the harder questions. Compare those scores with the “21st Century school” Drill and Kill students who met or exceeded the same standard: math, 15%; reading, 38%; writing, 36%. The (Drill and Kill) students who were trained with harder questions performed 5-to10 percentage points worse on standardized tests.” http://www.curewashington.org/archives/371
This is important. So here is a graph of the above 1996 WASL data for readers who are more visual learners:
Shocking as it may seem, the project administrators for the 21st Century Schools project lied to the legislature about the progress of kids in the pilot schools. In 1993, they told the legislators that the pilot schools were doing much better than they had done in the past.
Again in 1995, the State Board of Education also lied to the legislature and reported to the Washington State legislature that the “Kids in Schools for the 21st Century Project were performing above the academic level of traditional schools.” However, on an independent elementary school test called the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), the kids in the pilot elementary schools were doing much worse than they had done in the past. In short, after 9 long years of subjecting elementary school children to a much higher bar, the students inflicted with this chronic punishment model of education did significantly worse on the very test intended to measure how much better they would do. Even after years of practice taking high stakes tests, kids exposed to drill and kill education did worse rather than better.
There are many other studies that confirm that small children do not handle high stakes testing and high stress schooling very well. So why did the high stakes movement continue and even expand after Marc Tucker's disastrous failure with over 50,000 students in Washington State and after wasting nearly $21 million dollars? The answer is because Standards Based Education aka Common Core has never been about helping students learn. It has always been about using weapons of mass deception to convince the public into allowing private corporations to take over our public schools.
There are even more shocking problems with the WASL – which we will get back to in a moment. First, we need to update ourselves in the relationship between Marc Tucker and the Clintons and what was happening at the national level in the 1990s while thousands of school children were being severely harmed by Marc Tuckers High Stakes testing scam in Washington State.
Marc Tucker, Bill Clinton and the Dear Hillary Letter
In 1983, Bill Clinton became Governor of Arkansas where he was Governor until 1992. During this time, his wife Hillary served on the Board of Directors of a wealthy billionaire owned corporation called Walmart from 1986 to 1992. Hillary also made hundreds of thousands of dollars working for the law firm that represented the Walmart billionaires – the Waltons. Thus, Hillary became good friends with the Walton family billionaires who have since worked with another billionaire Bill Gates to push for a corporate takeover of our public schools.
In 1983, Hillary used the “Nation At Risk” study as an excuse to create a task force called the “Arkansas Educational Standards Committee” to reform Arkansas's education system. Like nearly all other corporate ed reformers, Hillary does not have a degree in Education and has never taught in a public school.
In 1984, Hillary Clinton supposedly wrote her own response to A Nation At Risk. She called it the “Education Reform Report.” In this report, she called for higher standards and statewide teacher testing across the State of Arkansas. To pay for the Teacher Testing, Bill Clinton helped pass a sales tax increase of $180 million – the largest tax increase in the history of Arkansas. This money did not go to hiring more teachers. Instead, it went to private corporations that tested students and teachers. Many of the recommendations in Hillary's Education Reform report in 1984 made it into the Tucker “A Nation Prepared” report in 1986 - which also focused on blaming teachers for poor student test scores. Some have claimed that the reason the two reports were so similar is that Bill Clinton had actually hired Marc Tucker to restructure the Arkansas education system in 1984 and the Hillary Clinton report had actually been ghost written by Marc Tucker.
In any case, it was not surprising that Marc Tucker hired Hillary Clinton from 1990 to 1991 paying her a total of $101,630 to do essentially nothing (while she was still making hundreds of thousands of dollars working for the Walmart law firm). Hillary did not really need the money, but it would look good on her resume. In fact, Hillary Clinton was also on the Board of Directors for Marc Tucker's group NCEE.
1992 Marc Tucker Writes the Infamous Dear Hillary Letter
In November 1992, 18 days after the election of Bill Clinton, Marc Tucker wrote the famous 18 page “Dear Hillary” letter in which he outlined his plan for a federal/corporate takeover of our nation's public schools and his desire to control the education of US citizens “from the cradle to the grave”.
The plan basically involved getting rid of local school boards and having all schools comply with a common core of national standards. Naturally, these new standards would require high stakes tests based on the new national standards to determine the fate of students, teachers and schools. The infamous “Dear Hillary letter” is posted at http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/marc_tucker/marc_tucker_letter.html
Note from the above image that another famous politician, Mario Cuomo, the former governor of New York was heavily involved in the Ed Reform scam and his son Andrew Cuomo is also heavily involved in the Ed Reform scam. It pays for politicians to align themselves with the billionaire funded Ed Reform team.
As a result of Marc's connection to the Clintons and as a result of a new report he wrote called America's Choice, Marc was able to inflict his Standards Based Education nonsense on the children of the following nine states in the 1990s: Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington. Keep in mind that this is a guy with no background at all in educational research, child development or teaching who has the arrogance to design the schools for the entire nation!
1996 Terry Bergeson Becomes the New School Superintendent in Washington State
If Marc Tucker was the person who designed the plans for education reform in Washington State, Terry Bergeson is the person who built the ed reform house and eventually burned it to the ground. I know the following is going to sound crazy. But when you think about it, Terry Bergeson's amazing rise to stardom is no harder to believe that Marc Tucker rise from a stage hand at PBS in Boston to designing education reform for the entire United States. I am including this information about Terry Bergeson as it is one more example of the kind of crazy people that have run education reform and the American public schools over a cliff in the past 30 years. You really need to know what kind of nuts and charlatans we have promoting education reform in the US. Much of the information about Terry Bergeson and her staff comes from this website: http://www.thefactsaboutwaedreform.org/
From 1988 to 1996, Judith Billings was the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State. Judith was therefore the head of public schools throughout the Marc Tucker experiment. But in 1994, Judith discovered she had AIDS. She therefore decided not to run for re-election. This left the Superintendent spot open for Terry Bergeson, who in 1993 had been appointed by the legislature to run the Commission on Student Learning – the group responsible for developing the WASL assessments with Marc Tucker. Like Marc Tucker, Terry Bergeson was an extremely unusual and “lucky” person. She had gotten her PhD from the University of Washington in 1982. Her thesis paper was called “A Comparison of Two Methods of Improving Math Attitudes in Intermediate Teachers and Counselors.”
Terry's PHD thesis is important because she used the strange ideas in her paper as the foundation for creating a very unusual WASL test. The title of her thesis sounds innocent until you look at the two methods Terry chose to improve math attitudes. Terry set out to prove that a treatment based on something called the “Carkhuff Human Resource Development skills” was superior to the “Eclectic Counseling Curriculum.” See page two of the following link.
Terry based her PhD thesis on the strange ideas of a person named Robert Carkhuff. So, to understand what Terry is claiming, we need to take a look at the extremely controversial work of Robert Carkhuff, a New Age Spiritual leader who claims that folks who follow his teachings are able to reach the “Fifth Dimension.”
Here is a quote from one of Carkhuff's books called “The New Science of Possibilities”:
“God is The Great Montessori Teacher: He co-processes only with those of us who use His most precious gift—the intellect with which He has endowed us. We came to know God only when we came to generate human and phenomenal possibilities, for God is in the phenomena He presents to us.”
Like billionaires, Carkhuff divides people into groups from low performers to high performers. The low performers include those who are physically sick, emotionally unmotivated or just plain poor. Like the billionaires who support his work, Carkhuff blames the poor for the fact that they are poor while he compliments the rich for having “God given intellectual potential.” The reason we need assessments and endless testing is to separate the smart humans from the dumb ones. The smart humans are “pure of mind, pure of body and pure of spirit.”
What is perhaps most disturbing about Carkhuff is that he advocates for a top down model in which the “smarter” rich people set the standards for the dumber poor people. Rather than a democratic decision making model in which all ideas are given respect, he advocates an elitist framework in which only ideas aligned to his model are worthwhile. Carkhuff conveniently ignores the responsibility of the community in creating poverty conditions or in creating better schools or learning conditions. His is a “pull yourself up by your boot straps” approach to education. It is easier for the wealthy to pull themselves up by their boot straps than for the poor – who may not even have boots – much less boot straps.
We warned you that things were going to get a little strange. Carkhuff has kind of a cult following – or did in the 1970s and 1980s. Two things put a damper on his rise to fame. First, he apparently got booted out of medical school for trying to brain wash other interns at the medical school. Second, his book was “peer reviewed” in 1973 by more normal psychologists who concluded that he had misquoted some sources and his theories lacked any scientific basis. In short, Carkhuff was a bit off his rocker. So it seems odd that Terry Bergeson, who had the responsibility for insuring the future of one million school children in Washington State, had fallen for this snake oil salesman with her 1982 thesis.
Before writing her PhD thesis promoting Carkhuff's ideas about math attitudes, Terry was a school counselor in Tacoma for about 8 years. While in Tacoma, and despite having very little actual teaching experience, Terry was elected to be the chair of the National Education Association Women's Caucus. In 1981, Terry was elected to be Vice President of the Washington Education Association and in 1985, she was elected to be President of the Washington Education Association. This rapid rise to power is almost as surprising as writing her PHD thesis promoting the theories of a cult leader.
In 1992, Terry ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction against Judith Billings and lost. But in 1993, Terry managed to be appointed to a prime job as Executive Director of the Washington Commission on Student Learning. In this role, Terry led the development of new learning standards and a new assessment and accountability system as part of Washington State’s educational reform law.
Bergeson ran for State Superintendent again in 1996 and won. This gave Terry control over awarding contracts to develop WASL assessments. She wasted no time in giving Dr. Carkhuff contracts totaling over one million dollars to serve as a consultant in designing the WASL test. These grants were for $400,000 on October 1, 1998 and $667,500 on May 1 2000. The money came from a federal grant so at least Washington State tax payers did not have to foot this bill. Carkhuff did next to nothing to earn this windfall profit.
After Terry became Superintendent, she ordered 500 copies of Carkhuff's books with a State contract and began passing them out to attendees at educational conferences. Washington State also paid Carkhuff about $75,000 for a few educational videos that were never produced.
In addition, Bergeson hired two of Carkhuff's followers – Shirley McCune and Andrew Griffin – both appointed as Assistant Superintendents. Shirley McCune was so into Carkhuff that she co-wrote a couple of books with him.
Shirley also wrote a book based on his teachings called “The Light Shall Set You Free.” This book went into more detail about the “interconnectedness between humanity and the universe.” The book “channeled” an ascended master named Kuthumi who came to earth from the “stars and seventh dimensional frequency as the Ambassador of Love and Light.” Back in the 1990s, Kuthumi told Shirley the “date of entry for the Fifth Dimension is scheduled for the year 2012 and that beginning in 2012 “we will have an entirely new curriculum that we must master.” (See page 7 of Shirley McCune's book, The Light Shall Set You Free, 1996).
Given that the Common Core Curriculum started coming out in about 2012, and that it is sending both teachers and students and parents to a whole new level of mind altering frustration, perhaps there is something to this ascended master stuff after all!
The Temple as a Tribute to God the Creator of All
In 2002, a mom in Washington State named Nancy Vernon found out about all of this mystical stuff going on at the Superintendent of Public Instruction's Office. Nancy began writing a series of reports about the strange leaders of education in Washington State. On page 6 of her second report, Nancy Vernon begins writing about her discovery of a yellow 14 inch notepad that was in a series of OSPI documents she was reviewing. The yellow note pad described a plan to create a “Temple.” The purpose of the temple was as a “Tribute to God, the Creator of All.” The temple was to have four underground passages and be built in the desert. The massive temple would hold all knowledge and control everything. This temple in the desert sounds a lot like the new NSA mass surveillance data center in Utah – which actually was built to hold data on every student in the US from “cradle to grave.”.
Nancy Vernon eventually uncovered the million dollars given to Dr. Carkhuff and filed a complaint with the Governor and the State Attorney General over misuse of funds. She accused Terry of using her new age religion to brainwash the children of Washington State. Amazingly, even 15 years later, some of Dr. Carkhuff's theories and materials are still on the Washington State OSPI website. Personally, I think his New Age theories are not that much stranger than the claims of Marc Tucker that we can raise the learning of children simply by subjecting them to a never ending series of high stakes tests. With that in mind, let's get back to the real problems with high stakes tests.
1996 Problems with WASL Extremely High Failure Rates
You may recall that only 20% of the Fourth Graders in Washington State were able to pass the 4th Grade Math WASL in 1996. This meant that 80% of the Fourth Graders were labeled as failures. This was pretty upsetting to tens of thousands of parents in Washington State who thought their kids were “at Grade Level.” In fact, their kids were normal and at Grade level – but Grade level was no longer good enough for the billionaire funded Ed Reformers. It was also upsetting to thousands of elementary school teachers in Washington State who also thought their students were “at grade level.” The fact was that the WASL test was simply too hard and the standards the test was based on were too high. Things only got worse when the 7th Grade WASL was put into action in 1997.
1997 First Review of the WASL.. The “Assessment from Hell”
Teachers students and parents were all upset about the 7th Grade math WASL. Here is a comment from an upset middle school math teacher, Arthur Hu:
“When I first saw the 1997 sample math problems, I was alarmed upon comparing the problems to the published grade level academic learning requirements. Judging which bag of marbles was more likely to have a white marble requires high school level proportions, comparing fractions and probability. There was a series of scales which was to be used to order blocks, which would be a complex logic problem that I was not even taught how to solve up to my master's degree at MIT. We just need a BASIC FREAKING EDUCATION. ARGH.” http://hu1st.blogspot.com/2009/01/perfect-wasl-test-score-scam.html
A young girl was so worried about her WASL score that she asked her mom:
“If I fail the WASL, will you still love me?”
In 2000, a Washington State newspaper published a drawing by a 4th Grade boy who was asked to draw his impression of the WASL. The boy drew a picture of a monster. The 4th Grader was partially correct. There was a monster who fed on the fear of children. But it wasn't the WASL test. It was a billionaire who was out to destroy our public schools.
1996 Achieve Incorporated is Formed to “Demand More from Students”
Meanwhile, back in the other Washington (DC), in March 1996, the nation’s governors and top corporate leaders came together at the National Education Summit. They decided to create a new kind of quasi-government-corporate organization called Achieve, Incorporated. It was led by six governors and six corporate leaders. But the Governors were mere figureheads to fool the public.
In the old days, this merger of government and corporations was called “Corporate Fascism.” It is now called Education Reform. Frank Shrontz, the head of the Boeing Military Machine was one of the six corporate leaders appointed to head this new organization. On March 28, 1996, The Washington Post published “Corporations Vow to Favor States That Boost Academic Standards.” This article stated: “Most of the nation’s governors and more than 40 corporate chiefs approved the idea at their national education summit here to put pressure on states to demand more from students.”
Achieve INC did not have a single teacher on their staff when they started in 1996. Achieve INC still does not have a single teacher on their staff or national board in 2015. Achieve’s website in 1997 confirmed its commitment on the part of businesses to increase the pressure on students. To this end, Achieve vowed to establish national academic standards and achievement levels. Businesses such as Boeing vowed to not locate in states considered to have unacceptably low standards and test scores. However, as least for Boeing, what actually determined where they located was the amount of tax breaks they could rob from the public schools – not the grades of students in those schools. Despite receiving billions in tax breaks from Washington State, Boeing has outsourced tens of thousands of jobs to sweat shops South Carolina – ignoring the fact that test scores and standards in South Carolina were much lower than they are in Washington State. Boeing is a wealthy corporation that made more than $20 billion in 2014. Rather than demanding more from our students, we ought to be demanding that Boeing pays their fair share of State and federal taxes.
Terry Bergeson Moves to San Francisco and Gambles Nonprofit Away in the Stock Market
Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the WASL high stakes test was an utter disaster in Washington State. This led to Terry Bergeson being defeated in the 2008 election by Randy Dorn – who promised to replace the WASL with something less costly and time consuming. After being defeated, Terry moved to San Francisco and took a job as the Executive Director of an educational non-profit called San Francisco School Alliance. The San Francisco School Alliance is another strange billionaire funded organization that develops strategic partnerships and advocates for policies to ensure that each student has access to world-class learning opportunities – and that each young person is career and college ready.
Unfortunately, in 2012, Terry quickly got caught up in a complex “grant” money laundering scheme. "We had people that were in positions of trust that were taking money, who were diverting this money for personal use," one of the School Alliance officials said. "This is one of the worst kinds of corruption." San Francisco School Alliance took between $5.5 to $6.3 million and charged about $1.2 million in administrative fees. They even lost about $250,000 in the stock market.
“We are mortified at the thought that trusted employees would conceive of such a scheme to divert funds from the children for whom they are intended," said another official. A call to Terry Bergeson, executive director of the alliance, was not immediately returned. While the other two nonprofits involved in the scandal have returned more than $4 million, San Francisco School Alliance has not returned any money yet, according to one of the investigators. The investigation is ongoing.
Sadly, the WASL was just the beginning of the high stakes testing scam. There was an entire industry being created just to measure student achievement. Of course what they were really measuring was family income.
What is Next?
In the next section, we will look at the history of a little understood national test called NAEP – the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It is essential to understand NAEP because the NAEP “proficiency” standard is now being misused to destroy the lives of millions of students all across America. After we review NAEP, we will look at the disaster called No Child Left Behind and explain how this corrupt law is actually a severe form of child abuse.