1
COMMON CORE:
BUSINESS INVADES PUBLIC EDUCATION
By KALEY PERKINS
A THESIS PRESENTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIRE...
2
Table of Contents
ABSTRACT ................................................................................................
3
ABSTRACT
#CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education studies the legislative history
and business influence behind cu...
4
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This is the most ambitious multimedia project that I have created to date. It
challenged me to the core...
5
Marilyn Melville-Irvine, provided to me was invaluable. Marilyn spoke as a veteran
English language arts teacher and lit...
6
aplomb; to the scores of articles and bloggers I stumbled upon who expanded my
understanding and helped me clarify my th...
7
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Problem Statement
American pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students speak 381
different ...
8
companies directs a uniform set of standards and curriculum for 90% of the states
(Perkins, 2014a). The question of whet...
9
they need to be informed by parents, teachers, and professionals in childhood
development and not predominantly by indiv...
10
CHAPTER TWO
LITERATURE REVIEW
Introduction
“Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answ...
11
and the privatization of schools. “I was wrong,” Ravitch writes of her former philosophy
in her newest book, Reign of E...
12
benchmarking (The National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). According
to Ravitch (2010), this report shift...
13
2009). Each of these five companies also benefit financially from the adoption of
Common Core standards (Perkins, 2014)...
14
these standards, however, create more learning anxiety for the students whose
academic performance the standards were c...
15
Summary
The American public school system is sprawling and diverse. Its charge is to
prepare the 50.1 million students ...
16
CHAPTER THREE
METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS
Project Development
In 2009 and to promote innovation in educational reform, Pres...
17
Project Execution
#CommonCore: Business Invades Public
Education is a multimedia history of the Common Core,
the unveil...
18
with the topic. A Pinterest board curated by Edutopia (Figure 2), a reputable resource
for teaching resources, is on th...
19
For the sake of fair coverage, it is necessary
to demonstrating that the Common Core is a state
led initiative. Politic...
20
annual educational budget. Some opponents consider the Race to the Top initiative a
way to bribe states into accepting ...
21
To justify standardized testing, Common Core advocates draw comparisons
between test scores of American students to stu...
22
After a sound-rich section on Jamie Vollmer and his Common Core criticisms, the
narration turns toward Diane Ravitch. R...
23
the crafting of national
standards should involve a
more diverse set of opinions.
To further demonstrate
the business i...
24
been taken out of context. Instead, hosted on The Gates Foundation’s YouTube
channel we hear Bill Gates tell state legi...
25
With McHattie, the
audience heard from a veteran
teacher and former administrator.
In this colorful slideshow (Figure
1...
26
The video below (Figure 15) completes #CommonCore: Business Invades Public
Education by featuring local schoolteachers ...
27
Project Distribution
The chart below itemizes the hosting platforms of the fifteen multimedia elements
that were employ...
28
Project Promotion
Because www.kaleyperkins.com is relatively new blog, with a small but growing
readership, it is criti...
29
After publication of the story on www.kaleyperkins.com, a simultaneous
announcement was broadcast via Hootsuite to the ...
30
Figure 20. Screenshot E
Publication announcement posted to
Google+ on March 30, 2014 by Kaley
Perkins.
Figure 21. Scree...
31
Project Results
The following Google Analytics chart shows visitors, page views, and duration of
visit to www.kaleyperk...
32
What is noteworthy in the following Google Analytics graph is that it tracks the
same time period; but instead of repor...
33
CHAPTER FOUR
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
Project Summary
#CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education is a multimedia p...
34
Reflection
I found four particular challenges as I conceived of and produced
#CommonCore: Business Invades Public Educa...
35
journalist who sells feature-length productions. To be successful, I will need to create
high quality projects of diges...
36
Finally, I will rely on facts and expert voices to inform my content. I will be able to
engage more proactively with sp...
37
Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education with whom President Obama announced the
Race to the Top recently stood before t...
38
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Achieve, Inc. (2004). Ready or not: Creating a high school diploma that counts.
Retrieved from: http://www...
39
Maxwell, L. (2013, 08 21). Most Americans unaware of common core, PDK/Gallup
poll finds. Education Week. Retrieved from...
40
Perkins, K. (Producer). (2014c, March 30) Jamie Vollmer: I would send back the
blueberries [Audio podcast]. Retrieved f...
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This thesis accompanies a multimedia project which is hosted at http://kaleyperkins.com/commoncore-private-enterprise-in-public-schools/.

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#CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education

  1. 1. 1 COMMON CORE: BUSINESS INVADES PUBLIC EDUCATION By KALEY PERKINS A THESIS PRESENTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN NEW MEDIA JOURNALISM FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
  2. 2. 2 Table of Contents ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................... 3 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS............................................................................................... 4 CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION................................................................................ 7 PROBLEM STATEMENT.................................................................................................... 7 PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT............................................................................................. 7 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK............................................................................................. 8 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROJECT ...................................................................................... 8 DEFINITION OF TERMS .................................................................................................... 9 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW................................................................... 10 INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................. 10 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE......................................................................................... 10 SUMMARY.................................................................................................................... 15 CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS.............................................. 16 PROJECT DEVELOPMENT .............................................................................................. 16 PROJECT DISTRIBUTION................................................................................................ 27 PROJECT RESULTS ...................................................................................................... 31 CHAPTER FOUR: DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION............................................... 33 PROJECT SUMMARY ..................................................................................................... 33 REFLECTION ................................................................................................................ 34 RECOMMENDATIONS..................................................................................................... 35 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................... 36 BIBLIOGRAPHY........................................................................................................... 38
  3. 3. 3 ABSTRACT #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education studies the legislative history and business influence behind current, standards-based public school reform. The purpose of the project is to expose the connection between corporate interests and the authorship of a new, uniform set of national educational standards known as the Common Core. A further investigation shows the process that public school teachers in Washington state undergo to become proficient at applying the new standards in their pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade public classrooms. Interactive timelines, video, podcasts, infographics, photos, a photo slideshow, and embedded links weave throughout the text, providing evidence. After advanced promotion of #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education on various social networks, the entire project was published to www.kaleyperkins.com. Google Analytics demonstrates that audience engagement for the project, measured in duration of each visit to the website, increased significantly over previously published content.
  4. 4. 4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This is the most ambitious multimedia project that I have created to date. It challenged me to the core, and it woke a confidence inside me that I look forward to developing further. This year in school, culminating in this project, put unceasing pressure on my children. More weekends than I care to admit, the three of them watched TV and played video games while I researched, wrote and produced material for school. I fed them perfunctory meals, drove them to practices, and answered stray homework questions; other than that, they were largely left to occupy themselves. It was a joy to watch them grow closer and learn to help each other. I could not have done this program without their constant support and burgeoning independence. As a former homeschooling mother, I intentionally exploited my homework to model learning as a lifelong endeavor. I hope they remember a mom who invested in herself when it was a hardship to do so. Chloe, Matt, and Zach, you are the best kids, and I love you unwaveringly. In terms of the content of my capstone – and my blog for that matter – I owe the world to my sister, Jo Perkins and her professional network in Longview, Washington. She is a veteran special education teacher there and is now President of the Longview teachers’ union. Jo kept me abreast of issues affecting the teachers she represents. She provided me with context, perspective, and an invitation inside the fraternity of teachers and administrators throughout her district. Many of her colleagues are featured in my work. Tracy Shroeder, Assistant Principal at Mark Morris High School spoke with me about the challenges of administrators and the reality behind the TPEP, Washington’s new teacher evaluation tool. The expertise that Certified Teacher Trainer for ESD 112,
  5. 5. 5 Marilyn Melville-Irvine, provided to me was invaluable. Marilyn spoke as a veteran English language arts teacher and literacy specialist. She now teaches teachers how to incorporate the standards. Marilyn opened the door to watching teacher trainings and to talking to other wonderful instructional coaches: Travis Ruhter, Laura Hiatt, and Jodell Allinger. Sue Edmunson is a friend, a teacher, and a sometime photography assistant, teaches career and technology education. She is on the frontlines of preparing students for graduation and career and college readiness. Sue allowed me to join her class’s STEM field trip and introduced me to the staff at the local newspaper in Vancouver, Washington. Rob McHattie shared his love of teaching, his knowledge of Longview public education history, and his hopes and concerns about the future of public education. Karen Keltz and Cecilia Dwiggins, former English teachers from my public school days – and now friends - provided anecdotal stories and moral support throughout this year. The teachers at Mark Morris and R.A. Long High Schools allowed me to film them during their Common Core training and spoke freely about the challenges and rewards they saw in adoption of the standards. And teachers from all over Evergreen School District where I have been a substitute teacher this year have shared their classrooms, their experiences, their frustrations, and their joys with me. The depth of insight these professionals have shared with me has given me context into today’s public school environment that not only made this story possible, but also gave me behind the scenes access to public education that will inform all future stories. To Jamie Vollmer who has no idea what a big impact hearing him speak had on me; to Diane Ravitch who curates anti-high stakes corporate reform articles with
  6. 6. 6 aplomb; to the scores of articles and bloggers I stumbled upon who expanded my understanding and helped me clarify my thinking, thank you. I have tremendous fondness for the online New Media Journalism program at Full Sail University and the instructors who were part of my program. I wanted to gain practical technical skills in digital media and to hone my writing skills. To Meredith Cochie for encouraging me always; to Erika Barker for opening me up to photography; to Jeff Sharon who pushed me beyond what I thought I could do; to David Painter who walked through the final steps; and to Dr. Ron Thomas for reminding me that the only thing better than “perfect” is “done,” you are appreciated forever. To my ever-morphing cohort – those who finished and those who went different directions. I hope we meet some day in person. Your conversations and interaction personalized the online program, and I look forward to continued professional interaction. And finally to the adults in my personal life who helped me keep it together when I really just wanted to eat candy and binge watch Netflix: my cousin, Erin Downey, Ph.D., adjunct professor at Tulane who walked me off the edge when the Capstone came calling. To Mike, Rich, Megan, Annie, Debbie, Shannon, Tanya, and Tiffany, thank you for your patient support and emotional reinforcement. Finally, a hearty thank you to my sister, Sara, and niece, Molly, who babysit at critical times. My best to you all!
  7. 7. 7 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Problem Statement American pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students speak 381 different languages at home and they worship in more than 14 broad categories of religions (Pew, 2007; Ryan, 2013). Forty-five per cent of these young people also live in poor and low-income families (Addy, Engelhardt & Skinner, 2013). Clearly, these students vary widely in family structures, cultural experiences, learning styles, cognitive abilities, developmental readiness, talents, interests, physical development, nutritional foundations, and attitudes toward learning. Based on these differences, two children who were born with the same native intelligence can enter kindergarten at the age of five with a vocabulary differential of 6,000 words (Perkins, 2014b). Put simply: There is no typical American public school student. Yet, since 2010, 45 of the 50 states adopted a unified code of academic standards called the Common Core State Standards, or Common Core the purpose of which is to prepare these young people for future career and college readiness. Purpose of the Project American public education is a sprawling organism that serves 50.1 million students; employees 3.3 million full-time equivalent teachers; and costs $591 billion per year to host (Institute of Educational Sciences, 2013). The Institute of Educational Sciences (2013) reports that there are nearly 13,600 local school districts with 98,800 public schools across the 50 states. Traditionally, states have been responsible for setting standards and local school boards have set curriculum, allowing local communities to customize instruction to their specific needs. Now, a small fraternity of
  8. 8. 8 companies directs a uniform set of standards and curriculum for 90% of the states (Perkins, 2014a). The question of whether a a small group of people with a single educational philosophy can create a uniform set of standards that meets the educational needs of such a diverse population of students must be asked. In exposing the private business interests behind Common Core, the public will be able to decide collectively if it is optimum for the long-term health of American society to weave this standards- based reform into the fabric of public instruction. Conceptual Framework This 2013-14 school year was the original deadline for adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the new assessments. Originally 45 states signed up to be part of Race to the Top, of which Common Core standards are but a portion. Lately, many are delaying implementation based on concerns about fiscal feasibility, privacy concerns, and high-stakes testing (Truth in American education, 2014). Common Core is one of four components of the Race to the Top initiative. The expectation is that Common Core-aligned standardized tests and teacher evaluations will be fully integrated into the educational process by the end of the 2014-15 school year. Once the standardized tests become a fixture of the school year, the collection of data about students will begin. Collecting such a comprehensive set of data points will require an information technology infrastructure. Thus, there are costs to Common Core. Significance of the Project Preparing the next generation for success is the solemn responsibility of parents, communities, and schools. Public education is the common experience for public school students in America, laying the academic and basic skills foundation for the next generation of citizens. Educational policies have long term ramifications for society, ant
  9. 9. 9 they need to be informed by parents, teachers, and professionals in childhood development and not predominantly by individuals and organizations that have a profit motive. The public is largely unaware of the standards-based national education reform (Maxwell, 2013). According to Bill Gates, Common Core is just the beginning; his vision includes “a massive, uniform market of people buying educational products.” (Gates, 2009) The wider public may not agree that the purpose of public education is to create a market for Bill Gates’s Microsoft and other educational services. Public discussion needs to transpire before these reforms have become institutionalized. Definition of Terms Race to the Top is a national educational reform initiative designed to encourage states to heavily invest in standards-based educational reform. Standards-based refers to an educational philosophy that believes that effective learning can be broken into individual learning objectives. Common Core is a uniform set of standards that the 45 states that have agreed to participate in Race to the Top initiative have agreed to adopt. High-stakes testing refers to standardized assessments, the results of which determine the acceptability of students into institutes of higher learning as well as affecting professional teacher evaluations (Perkins, 2013b). Privatization describes the trend toward businesses becoming involved in public education. Charter schools are an example of privatization, as is the outsourcing of key functions to private enterprise. In many locales, for example, school bus services are privatized (National School Transportation Association, n.d.).
  10. 10. 10 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction “Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience -- to appreciate the fact that life is complex.” M. Scott Peck It is tempting to apply a one-size-fits-all model to public education because of the administrative advantages that model would allow. States would benefit from an economy of scale in the purchase of educational materials. A plug-and-play curriculum would make sense for a mobile society where teachers and families sometimes need to relocate. With meaningful metrics, policymakers could allocate resources more effectively. Exposure to a shared curriculum would create a common vocabulary and shared values across a diverse student population. Additionally, teachers could amortize their efforts at lesson creation as they share ideas across state lines. On the other hand, streamlining the product eliminates diversity. Standardized assessments act as gatekeepers into post-secondary education. Subjecting all students to tests based on physical age and grade level assumes a similarity in developmental readiness that simply does not exist. It does, though, create vendor preference monopolies for the companies that author the educational resources that the nation’s schools adopt. Moreover, tying teachers’ evaluations to students’ performance puts additional pressure on students (Dutro & Selland, 2012). Review of the Literature Educational Reformers. Diane Ravitch is former Assistant Secretary of Education under George W. Bush. She was once an advocate of standardized testing
  11. 11. 11 and the privatization of schools. “I was wrong,” Ravitch writes of her former philosophy in her newest book, Reign of Error (2013). Like Ravitch, Jamie Vollmer used to be a proponent of the privatization of public schools. Vollmer (2010) told returning Kelso and Longview teachers his “Blueberry Story” in fall of 2013. According to his narrative, he used to own an award-winning ice cream company. As part of a media campaign, he had been advocating school choice before a group of educators. During the presentation, a veteran teacher asked Vollmer a question that made him reconsider his position on running schools like businesses. “What happens when you get a bad batch of blueberries?” the teacher asked him. Vollmer began to see that the diverse student population could not be compared with an order of quality-controlled, Grade AAA blueberries he used in his ice cream. Neither Vollmer nor Ravitch believe high-stakes standardized testing will solve the problems facing America’s education system. Vollmer contends that the “failing school system” is a misnomer. He believes that systemic poverty, and not a failure of the educational system, is to blame for students who graduate high school not prepared to compete in the new market (Perkins, 2014b). In his book, Schools Can’t Do It Alone, Vollmer (2010) argues that the current educational system is archaic, built on an agrarian model that prepared graduates for careers in labor fields that no longer exist. Legislation & Educational Research. Since President Johnson declared a War on Poverty and passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965, educational research has linked projections of America’s future success with its ability to educate its children well (Farkas & Hall, 2000). Education has been seen as the vehicle for social mobility (Vollmer, 2013). The 1983 No Child Left Behind study found that America’s students lagged behind other nations’ students and introduced international
  12. 12. 12 benchmarking (The National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). According to Ravitch (2010), this report shifted blame for the outsourcing of jobs away from "short- sighted corporate leadership to the public schools" (p.2) David M. Heise (1994) writes in The Fordham Review, "The Nation at Risk report alerted the public to the need for educational reform and provided initiative for federal leadership" (p. 346). President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” study in 1994 codified standardized testing for the nation’s public schools No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The "Ready or Not" report published by Achieve, Inc, The Fordham Institute, and The Education Trust initiates "Career and College Ready" as the goal for high school graduates (The American Diploma Project, 2004). The 2007 “Innovation” study commissioned by the National Governors Association and published in conjunction with the Pew Charitable Trust, posits that the best model of innovation in any endeavor, including education, results from strategic alliances among governmental leadership, high education research and development, and the support of private enterprise. This administrative model of Innovation is the model that was used to create the Race to the Top initiative (NGA/Pew, 2007). The “Benchmarking” (2008) study published by the NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve, Inc. lays the foundation for creating benchmarks that are tied to international standards. Corporate Influence. The studies and publications listed previously laid the foundation for the “Race to the Top” initiative and the standards-based Common Core. Ravitch refers to this educational reform as “corporate reform” (Stern 2013). The National Governors Association published the list of authors for the English language arts and math standards, and aside from one or two subject matter experts, employees of five companies dominated the development of the Common Core (NGA & CCSSO,
  13. 13. 13 2009). Each of these five companies also benefit financially from the adoption of Common Core standards (Perkins, 2014). This financial link between Microsoft, The Gates Foundation, GE Foundation, Achieve, Inc., The College Board, ACT, Inc., Student Achievement Partners, and Pearson creates a potential conflict of interest (Perkins, 2014a). The Role of Poverty. Vollmer (Perkins, 2014 b) states that American students rank seventeenth out of 26 industrialized nations in academic comparisons, with Finland at number one. Again, Vollmer cites poverty, and not a failure of the American educational system, as the reason for America’s poor showing in the comparisons. Finland has a 1% poverty rate. At 26.3%, America’s students rank the highest among industrialized nations in poverty (Perkins, 2014b). The National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University (2013) cites a more conservative poverty rate of 22%. By adding low-income students to those in actual poverty, Addy, Engelhardt, & Skinner (2013) posit that 45% of American students live in financial situations that challenge their ability to learn on pace with children from families with more favorable financial situations. Dutro & Selland (2012) conducted research to determine how “children make sense of assessment policies.” They found a strong correlation between poverty and test anxiety. Students who know they do not perform well against their peers on standardized tests feel tremendous anxiety. Additional pressure is added to these students when they realize that their test results affect their teachers’ professional evaluations (Dutro & Selland, 2012). Supporters of Common Core advocate for a strong set of uniform standards so that all students will have equal access to a rigorous education. The tests attached to
  14. 14. 14 these standards, however, create more learning anxiety for the students whose academic performance the standards were created to improve (Dutro & Selland (2012). Classroom Teachers. Marilyn Melville-Irvine is a 25-year veteran English language arts teacher who trains teachers in 30 Washington districts in the Common Core standards. In an interview, Melville-Irvine noted that veteran teachers have been through sweeping curriculum changes before. According to Melville, veteran teachers tend to be skeptical that the changes will not be abandoned for the next ‘flavor of the month reform.’ Nevertheless, Melville-Irvine advocates for the standards. “Kids need to have rigorous expectations. They need to dig deeply into text” (Perkins, 2013a). Rob McHattie agrees with Melville-Irvine. McHattie is a 35-year veteran of public schools, serving as history teacher, high school principal, and now Director of Special Education at Longview School District in Longview, Washington. McHattie said he embraces the standards themselves. “It’s just teaching the way we used to teach,” he said (Perkins, 2014a). What he does not like about Common Core implementation is the link between teachers’ professional evaluations and students’ performances. “It is too much stick and not enough carrot. We are being asked to interact with students in a dynamic and collaborative way, but teachers feel like they have a threat hanging over them,” McHattie said (Perkins, 2014a). In the capacity of substitute teacher, I had conversations with teachers across grade levels and disciplines. Responses were varied. New teachers do not seem to have a negative reaction to the standards. “They are research based. I don’t see what everyone is worked up about. I just want a job,” said Alexis Murray, student teacher at Sunset Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington (personal correspondence, February 24, 2014).
  15. 15. 15 Summary The American public school system is sprawling and diverse. Its charge is to prepare the 50.1 million students it serves for success in a post-secondary world (IES, 2013). The disappearance of labor jobs and international competition for those that remain require the system to educate today’s students for an information age. However, the current model is based on an agrarian model (Vollmer, 2010). Advocates of standards-based education reform believe that creating a uniform, internationally benchmarked set of standards is the way to instruct students, evaluate their teachers, and measure the overall effectiveness of the system. Opponents of standards-based reform fear that homogenous standards and high-stakes testing will replace curiosity and open-inquiry with a conformity that will sabotage the drive toward innovation that the United States requires in order to compete and be able to thrive as a nation (Ravitch, 2013; Vollmer, 2010). Ravitch and Vollmer deny the validity of international benchmarking as a criterion to include in meaningful educational reform (Perkins, 2014b). Teachers fall somewhere in the middle, not generally resisting the standards themselves but concerned about the unintended consequences that adherence to them will create (Perkins, 2014a).
  16. 16. 16 CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS Project Development In 2009 and to promote innovation in educational reform, President Obama announced the “Race to the Top” contest to the nation. In exchange for adopting the four-part criteria of the contest, states were promised a piece of a $4.35 billion Department of Education grant. The initiative requires states to adopt a national curriculum and standardized testing; a teacher training and evaluation system; longitudinal data collection; and a commitment to turning around under-permforming schools. By 2012, 45 of 50 states plus the Department of Defense school system had agreed to adopt the national standards. This is the first time that the United States has had a national curriculum. The key components of the initiative were defined by corporate leaders and educational think tanks; the standards themselves were written by employees of five companies who stand to financially benefit from the adoption of national standards. #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education traces how business interests have gained strategic influence over the nation’s public schools. Classroom teachers will be responsible for implementing Common Core, and their professional evaluations will be based on their students’ performances even though teachers do not control the academic skills, native language proficiency, special education and behavioral needs, or percentages of children living in poverty who will make up their incoming classes. Yet their input and the contribution of educational psychologists were absent from the establishment of a national curriculum.
  17. 17. 17 Project Execution #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education is a multimedia history of the Common Core, the unveiling of its private-enterprise authors, and the effects of its implementation on schoolteachers in Washington state. A variety of audio-visual and textual elements inform the audience so that viewers can discuss Common Core with understanding. To begin, the first element presented is a picture of a school bus (Figure 1) heading off to school filled with elementary school students. The sky in the photo is grey and not blue, signifying a pending storm. Flanking the article column, in sidebars, are two curated social media elements, demonstrating the nature of social engagement that is present on the Internet Figure 3. Twitter Widget Figure 2. Pinterest Widget Figure 1. Photo A
  18. 18. 18 with the topic. A Pinterest board curated by Edutopia (Figure 2), a reputable resource for teaching resources, is on the left. And on the right is a Twitter feed (Figure 3), based on the hashtag #CommonCore. The Twitter widget content is primarily negative, and the Pinterest board is supportive so that a reader who is either for or against the national standards will find familiar as well as dissenting content and will conclude that the coverage is balanced. In addition to providing live information and resources regarding Common Core, these three elements are designed to offer enough visual material to interest the reader while the most content-dense and resource-rich element loads. To be able to contribute to the discourse about Common Core, it is necessary for the reader to know the educational research and legislation that is the underpinning of the Race to the Top initiative. States have been reliant on federal money to fund educational programs since President Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into legislation in 1965. President George W. Bush passed the No Child Left Behind legislation. An interactive timeline (Figure 4) is a multimedia element that displays the key legislative and policy cornerstones upon which the Common Core is built. The timeline includes links to source documents, historically relevant photos, and embedded video content that introduce the people, organizations, policy, and legislation that have resulted in the Race to the Top initiative and the Common Core state standards.
  19. 19. 19 For the sake of fair coverage, it is necessary to demonstrating that the Common Core is a state led initiative. Political conservatives balk at the idea of the federal government having undue influence over public education. Eliminating a violation of the Tenth Amendment does not solve the issue of whether the Common Core is benign, however. The infographic to the right (Figure 5) demonstrates the disproportionate relationship between the one-time Race to the Top fund (red dot) compared to the Figure 4. Interactive Timeline Figure 5. Infographic A
  20. 20. 20 annual educational budget. Some opponents consider the Race to the Top initiative a way to bribe states into accepting federal oversight over public education. Figure 5 shows that Race to the Top grant money is statistically insignificant when compared to annual and recurring expenses. The thesis of #CommonCore: business invades education maintains that business interests have usurped control over public educational policy and that the control over that policy rests in the hands of too few influencers. This creates a conflict of interest. To counteract the dominant voice of business, two articulate and credible voices raise concerns against privatization and standards-based reform. To date, the elements have been visual but also information dense. A series of narrated clips vary the reading experience by introducing sound. National critic of privatization, Jamie Vollmer, addresses three salient topics: privatization, international benchmarking, and the profit motive. These clips also introduce teachers from the local districts who will show up later in the story. In the first clip (Figure 6), Vollmer appeals to the audience with a humorous story about how a veteran teacher challenged him to quit thinking about students as quality-controlled commodities. Figure 6. Podcast A
  21. 21. 21 To justify standardized testing, Common Core advocates draw comparisons between test scores of American students to students from around the world, coming to the conclusion that America’s schools are failing their students. In Vollmer’s opinion, the culprit is systemic poverty and not a failure of public schools (Figure 7). Figure 7. Podcast B In Vollmer’s final clip, he addresses the business motivation behind public reform. The thumbnail for this podcast shows local school teachers mingling and was selected to help transition the narrative to the local level. Figure 8. Podcast C
  22. 22. 22 After a sound-rich section on Jamie Vollmer and his Common Core criticisms, the narration turns toward Diane Ravitch. Ravitch was Assistant Secretary of Education under George W. Bush and is also a former advocate for standards-based education and testing. Ravitch adds high stakes testing and the role of business interests as criticisms. This narrative section includes is densely linked to content from an online community that Ravitch manages. Ravitch calls Common Core “corporate reform.” The next two infographics (Figures 9 & 10) display the inherent conflict of interest in the selection of authors for the Common Core standards. Figure 9 shows the companies for which the authors of the math standards work. Figure 10 shows the companies for whom the authors of the English language arts standards work. The five companies indicated are well- established educational material suppliers that are poised to financially benefit from the adoption of the standards. With these infographics, the audience sees that the number of subject matter experts (in white) is comparatively few. The reader is left to ask if Figure 9. Infographic B Figure 10. Infographic C
  23. 23. 23 the crafting of national standards should involve a more diverse set of opinions. To further demonstrate the business influence in educational reform, an infographic (Figure 11) tracks the grants from The Gates Foundation and GE Foundation to these five companies. For these two foundations to invest in education is surely commendable, but to give a fair view of what motivates these companies, it is necessary to see what their agendas are. In the following video element (Figure 12), Bill Gates explains his vision for education. If someone other than The Gates Foundation had hosted the video clip to the right (Figure 12), its credibility might be questioned. One could argue it had Figure 11. Video A Figure 11. Infographic D
  24. 24. 24 been taken out of context. Instead, hosted on The Gates Foundation’s YouTube channel we hear Bill Gates tell state legislators that he believes Common Core is just the beginning. Gates anticipates aligned curriculum, aligned testing, and then the creation of a “massive uniform market ready to consume material created by companies that make educational resources” of which Microsoft is one. To present a comprehensive overview of Common Core, it is necessary to personalize the story by visiting the people whom it affects: classroom teachers. Rod McHattie (Figure 13) is the Director of Special Education at a local school district in southwest Washington. He spent 35 years in the schools, teaching and being a principal before moving up to Longview School District. With years of teaching and managing teachers, McHattie has seen many sweeping shifts in educational philosophy and practice. While McHattie welcomes robust standards, he is skeptical about the role that high-stakes testing will have on both students and teachers. Text in this section features quotes from veteran teachers. The teachers speak positively about the robust standards of the Common Core while they speak disparagingly against high-stakes testing. Figure 13. Photo B
  25. 25. 25 With McHattie, the audience heard from a veteran teacher and former administrator. In this colorful slideshow (Figure 14), the audience sees student teacher, Alexis Murray, applying the lessons she has learned as part of her teacher preparation program with a group of students at a local elementary school. While privacy issues necessitated care in dealing with students’ faces, photographs show backs of heads and students in action in the classroom. The lesson shown is a science lesson in which Murray has applied Common Core teaching methodologies. The overview of Common Core ends with a story of its implementation. Washington State is one of the 45 states that originally signed up to adopt the Race to the Top criteria. It is actively incorporating the standards into its classrooms and teacher preparation programs. Marilyn Melville-Irvine, is the Certified Teacher Trainer who is responsible for making sure that the teachers is the 30 districts that local Educational Service District 112 services have the standards fully incorporated by the 2014-15 school year. She and three other instructional coaches and teacher trainers held a training in Longview, Washington in February of 2014. Figure 14. Slideshow
  26. 26. 26 The video below (Figure 15) completes #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education by featuring local schoolteachers and trainers from Longview and Kelso school districts. In the video, Melville-Irvine guides teachers through a model lesson that includes text based questions and group discussion. The video completes the project with a personalized, local perspective of the challenges included in adopting Common Core. Figure 15. Video B
  27. 27. 27 Project Distribution The chart below itemizes the hosting platforms of the fifteen multimedia elements that were employed in the Capstone. Element Number Subject Hosting Platform 1 Photo A WP Media Library 2 Pinterest Widget - Edutopia Pinterest and website embed 3 Twitter Widget - #CommonCore Twitter and website embed 4 Interactive Timeline Knightlab and website embed 5 Infographic A Imgur and WP Media Library 6 Podcast A SoundCloud and website embed 7 Podcast B SoundCloud and website embed 8 Podcast C SoundCloud and website embed 9 Infographic B Imgur and WP Media Library 10 Infographic C Imgur and WP Media Library 11 Infographic D Imgur and WP Media Library 12 Video A The Gates Foundation YouTube channel and website embed 13 Photo B WP Media Library 14 Slideshow Imgur and website embed 15 Video B Vimeo and website embed
  28. 28. 28 Project Promotion Because www.kaleyperkins.com is relatively new blog, with a small but growing readership, it is critical to cross-promote all social media elements. Each element hosted on third-party platforms contains search engine optimization keywords and a link back to the original website on which the #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education is published. In the time leading up to the story, the following teasers were distributed to the digital network of the producer. Figure 16. Screenshot A Pre-publication announcement posted to Twitter on March 23, 2014 by Kaley Perkins. Figure 17. Screenshot B Pre-publication announcement posted to Google+ on March 29, 2014 by Kaley Perkins.
  29. 29. 29 After publication of the story on www.kaleyperkins.com, a simultaneous announcement was broadcast via Hootsuite to the Google+ account, Twitter account, LinkedIn account, Facebook fan page, and personal Facebook profile of the producer. An email was sent to the President of the Longview Educational Association President to be shared with teachers who were featured in the article. Figure 18. Screenshot C Pre-publication announcement posted to Twitter on March 29, 2014 by Kaley Perkins. Figure 19. Screenshot D Publication announcement posted to LinkedIn on March 30, 2014 by Kaley Perkins.
  30. 30. 30 Figure 20. Screenshot E Publication announcement posted to Google+ on March 30, 2014 by Kaley Perkins. Figure 21. Screenshot F Publication announcement posted to Twitter on March 30, 2014 by Kaley Perkins. Figure 22. Screenshot G Second publication announcement posted to Twitter on March 30, 2014 by Kaley Perkins.
  31. 31. 31 Project Results The following Google Analytics chart shows visitors, page views, and duration of visit to www.kaleyperkins.com from March 6 – April 8, 2014. Peaks relate directly to publication of articles. Prior to publication of #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education, promotion for articles included a simultaneous broadcast via Hootsuite to Facebook personal, Facebook fan page, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ accounts. Figure 24. Screenshot I Google Analytics for March 8 – April 8, 2014 on www.kaleyperkins.com Figure 23. Screenshot H Post publication email to President of Longview Education Association on March 31, 2014 by Kaley Perkins.
  32. 32. 32 What is noteworthy in the following Google Analytics graph is that it tracks the same time period; but instead of reporting on the number of visits, Figure 25 analyzes how many pages were viewed per visit. The following chart displays a spike in pages viewed per visit on March 29, 2014. This spike signifies an uncharacteristic increase in engagement with #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education compared to previously published articles. Figure 25. Screenshot J Google Analytics for March 8 – April 8, 2014 on www.kaleyperkins.com
  33. 33. 33 CHAPTER FOUR DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Project Summary #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education is a multimedia presentation that investigates the insinuation of business interests into the American public educational system. The Common Core is a new set of national standards designed to satisfy one criteria of the national Race to the Top standards-based educational reform. Adoption of the standards creates a uniform market of consumers who use educational resources. There is an inherent conflict of interest when the providers of these resources are the very companies whose employees authored both the research to support the Race to the Top initiative and the Common Core standards themselves. The #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education multimedia project provides historical context necessary to enable the reader to see how the companies who stand to benefit from adoption of the Common Core are the ones that designed it and that created the policy that made its introduction possible. Interactive timelines spell out the history behind the initiative. Podcasts capture national school reformer, Jamie Vollmer as he debuns the assumptions on which standards-based reform is built. Infographics analyze the flow of money and, thus, influence between business interests and the companies involved in the Common Core’s creation. Photos and videos show the standards being taught to teachers and implemented in local public schools. Text interviews capture the voices of public school teachers who were largely unrepresented in the genesis of the Common Core. #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education will familiarize its audience with the history and business influencers behind the Common Core initiative.
  34. 34. 34 Reflection I found four particular challenges as I conceived of and produced #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education: determining an effective scope; deciding upon a niche audience; eliminating editorial slant; and publishing the piece with a timeliness that would have maximized promotional efforts. Instead of choosing a solitary angle to present to a specific audience, I presented too much information to too broad an audience. The variety of the information found in #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education is consistent with the scope of a complete book. Course Director, Dr. Ron Thomas advised me to structure the final project as though I were writing a book. He suggested, however, that I use subheadings to summarize the sections that would be chapters if I were writing a book. While the strategy for organizing my many topics made sense, doing so created a dense multimedia experience that I fear that few people had the inclination to digest. Breaking the project into a three- or four-part series may have attracted a wider audience. The challenges described above created an identity crisis for #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education. Was the project intended to be a broad explanation or a detailed analysis? I feel it did neither with particular grace. Combined with scope and audience challenges, my first draft was biased against to the point of being unprofessional. This combination created the need for substantial rewrites that impeded the timely publication of the project. By not publishing the project in a timely manner, I did not avail myself of meaningful statistics that would have given me more familiarity with the relationship between project promotion and audience behavior. As a result of completing #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education, I understand the workflow and marketing effort that is required to be an independent
  35. 35. 35 journalist who sells feature-length productions. To be successful, I will need to create high quality projects of digestible size for a well-defined market. This process needs to be executed expeditiously and professionally. Recommendations Completing the #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education has informed my approach to producing feature-length multimedia content. For subsequent projects, I will focus my topic and direct it at a more specific audience. To limit my topic, I will resist the temptation to be encyclopedic in my coverage. Different audiences will want different information about Common Core. Teachers would benefit from information about how local school unions are negotiating with their districts about the Common Core. The public might be curious to know if their taxes will be affected by the new legislation. Parents will want to know about the impacts of standards-based education upon their children. Directing smaller bites of information to the people who would be most interested in those bites will be a primary goal. Because I did substantial rewrites of #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education, I squandered time that would have been better invested in promotional efforts. By producing more targeted content, I will also be able to execute a more strategic promotional campaign. Stories of interest to teachers can be aggressively marketed to local educational unions; and more streamlined content will appeal to local newspapers. A more strategic application of targeted keywords and more interlinks among my articles will attract more traffic. I will be more structured in subsequent projects so that their execution is more a matter of filling in the blanks and less a matter of chaotic discovery.
  36. 36. 36 Finally, I will rely on facts and expert voices to inform my content. I will be able to engage more proactively with specific audiences if articles are highly targeted. I began with an agenda with this story, and letting go of that agenda to create a more professional and cohesive piece of writing created a significant amount of unnecessary heartache and workload for me. I will excise my editorial voice out of my journalistic writings in order to develop my professional reputation more effectively. Conclusion The process through which the Common Core standards were conceived, authored, and adopted sets a precedence for business interests to be the dominant voice in setting policy for the nation’s public schools. It is concerning that business is driving educational policy. The fact that the initiative was justified by research reports published by companies who designed the final standards and who also stand to benefit financially from their implementation creates a national conflict of interest. If such a trend is to overtake a system as complex as public education in the United States, more than just five companies and the federal government need to be part of its conception and creation. Any educational reform affects the 50.1 million students in schools this year, their parents, the 340,000 teachers who teach them, and the wider society into which our school system is preparing to induct those students as citizens. Adoption of the Common Core and its accompanying assessments has the potential to entrench a standards-based philosophy into the public education policy in a way that may preclude a return to a non-standards-based way of teaching and learning. #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education provides the content and evidence to inform the American population about the insinuation of business interests into public education. As of this writing, resistance to the educational reform is growing.
  37. 37. 37 Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education with whom President Obama announced the Race to the Top recently stood before the House appropriations subcommittee and distanced himself from the legislation (McNeil, 2014). That implementation of the Common Core is being interrupted by state-level legislative action indicates that grassroots efforts and media coverage like #CommonCore: Business Invades Public Education are beginning to have an effect on the national dialogue.
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