FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | September 27, 2013

While browsing the Common Core State Standards website (something I do for fun and personal growth several times a day - I know, admit it: you're jealous), I noticed that the site only works if you add "www" to the beginning of your url path.

In other words, works, where doesn't.

To see the difference, compare what you get when visiting The Standards page at

Way to go!

Compare that to what you get at

Bill Fitzgerald | September 22, 2013

In a fourth grade classroom in Vermillion Parish Schools in Louisiana, students were given a worksheet that included the words "pimp" (as part of a song name) and "mobstaz" (as part of a band name).

Thankfully, Fox News is on it:

“I try to instill values in my son,” parent Brittney Badeaux told Fox News. “My goal is for him to ultimately to become a great man, a family man, a well-rounded man. And now my son wants to know what a pimp is.”
Badeaux was helping her 9-year-old son with his homework when she heard him say the words “Po Pimp” and “mobstaz.”
“I couldn’t believe it at first – hearing him read it to me,” she told Fox News. “So I looked at the paper and read the entire article. It was filled with Ebonics.”

The breathless "filled with Ebonics" piece stuck with me...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 19, 2013

A North Carolina school board bans The Invisible Man for having no literary merit.

Melinda Anderson has a great piece on charters - she reports the story of a 7 year old girl expelled for her hairstyle, which apparently violated the dress code. However, she then situates the story in the larger context of school closings - which disproportionately affect people of color - and how some charters quickly open in these neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, private schools receiving public subsidies in the form of tapayer funder vouchers are performing 30% below average. John White,...

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...


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