FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | September 16, 2013

Ken Libby does yeoman's work tracking crazy articles about Common Core under the #corespiracy hashtag. These are just two posts of many that he flagged this morning, but they are useful to demonstrate why having a substantive discussion about Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and the associated policy changes being implemented in parallel to the CCSS rollout, is difficult to achieve.


On a related note, posts comparable to the examples highlighted below make it easy to relegate objection to any element of CCSS as part of the lunatic fringe.

From Historian...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 15, 2013

On January 31, 2012, Pearson announced a contract from Smarter Balanced and PARCC to develop a "Technology Readiness Tool":

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) today announced they have awarded a contract to Pearson to develop a new Technology Readiness Tool to support states as they transition to next-generation assessments.


According to Pearson's press release, this tool is open source:

This new open source tool, with the assistance of the State Educational Technology...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 14, 2013

Diane Ravitch has a post up where she highlights a piece from Sharon Higgins that attempts to debunk the widely reported STEM crisis.

However, there are some issues here:

3. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the top 20 fastest growing occupations, only one is STEM-related (biomedical engineers). 4. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the top 20 occupations w/highest projected numeric change in employment, ZERO are STEM-related).

Sharon Higgins reports - and Ravitch repeats - that only one of the top 20 fastest growing occupations is STEM related. But, following the link reveals the following STEM-related jobs:

  • Personal Care...
Bill Fitzgerald | September 14, 2013

An interesting read from Jose Vilson on the language around testing. Advocates of standardized tests have a lot to gain by labeling people who advocate for more balanced assessments as "anti-testing."

As Jose Jose puts it:

I’m not anti-testing. I’m pro-whole-child-assessment. We don’t have a fancier name for this, but it’s more appropriate than the drivel attached to the “anti-testing” label.

The "anti-testing" label is an effective way to pigeonhole people who want more balanced assessments, because "anti-testing" carries some additional baggage:

  • People who are "anti-test" believe that all tests are bad;
  • People who are "anti-test" aren't proposing any alternatives;
  • People who are "anti-test" don't want to measure effectiveness;
  • People who are "anti-test" don'...
Bill Fitzgerald | August 31, 2013

Over at the Huffington Post, Joy Resmovits has a softball piece up on David Coleman.

It's a good study in how to use the intangibles to sell your subject. In the second sentence, she introduces the idea that Coleman is about "ideas and inquiry" by stressing how that was inculcated in his childhood. In the third sentence, she juxtaposes Coleman next to the image of Martin Luther King, Jr. These rhetorical devices provide the frame for the rest of the piece. They aren't relevant to the story, but they are useful as a signifier of authorial intent.

Two commonly repeated inaccuracies in the piece deserve special notice.

Commonly Repeated Myth One: Objection To Common Core Is Limited To The Political Fringe

From the Resmovits piece:

As schools begin to implement the Core, far-right and far-left advocates are trying to roll it back.

Bill Fitzgerald | August 26, 2013

Over the last few days, I have been fortunate to be one of the initial users of the beta launch of Sanderling, a "Mobile Field Journal for Educators." As part of this process, I have been collecting notes and observations of the experience.

In my use of the beta site, I used two devices: a Galaxy 3 phone running Android 4.1, and a Nexus 7 running Android 4.3. While some users have reported issues installing the app on the Nexus 7, I had no problems getting the app up and running. This beta version of the app only runs in Android 4.x.

The observations listed below are in no particular order. In an effort to have this feedback actually make sense, I took screenshots where applicable using the Nexus 7.


This overview reflects my vantage point on what Sanderling is supposed to accomplish, and the types of activities it...

Bill Fitzgerald | August 7, 2013

The results for New York State Common Core aligned tests are in.

New York State education officials anticipated that the scores would raise questions, and arranged a conference call with Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

In the call, Education Secretary Arne Duncan shared his view that the New York State test results are a demonstration of deceit on the part of school systems:

"Too many school systems lied to children, families and communities," Mr. Duncan said. "Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable as educators."

You can't call the people within the system you lead liars, and expect them to trust you.

The blatant disrespect this shows for the people tasked with implementing the failed and poorly...

Bill Fitzgerald | August 5, 2013

Lisa Petrides, the president and founder of ISKME, has a new post up on her blog titled The Elephant in Education: Open Source Pillaging. In this post, she explains why OER Commons (one of the first - and certainly one of the best - OER repositories) is licensing the metadata around the content shared in OER Commons under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license:

Eames Elephant

Organizations like ours (and we are not alone) are having...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 24, 2013

While not widespread, a fair number of school districts have used RFID tracking devices to track the location of school kids.

From the perspective of a school or district, using RFID to track kids can have some negative side effects -- like lawsuits.

But if you roll out a 1:1 iPad program, you get to say that you are a trailblazer in 21st century learning! The fact that you can -- via Mobile Device Management -- install a GPS tracking app on a device that works like an RFID tracker is a bonus that you don't need to emphasize. It's not like a school district has ever misused "...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 20, 2013

It is difficult to keep up with the amount of misinformation spewed on a regular basis about the Common Core standards. The conversation is complicated because, depending on who is talking, the words "Common Core" can mean any one, or any combination of, the following:

  • The actual Common Core standards;
  • The curriculum aligned to the Common Core standards;
  • The tests aligned to the Common Core standards;
  • School ratings based on the tests;
  • Teacher evaluations based on the tests; and/or
  • Incentives contained within Federal Department of Education funding that paired Common Core adoption with test adoption and data collection.
Empty desks

One of the more recent examples occurred when...


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