By MAPIE President Michael Gendre, Secretary Cindy Curcio, and Treasurer Andrew Cardarelli
As of now Massachusetts Parents Involved in Education (MAPIE) has a fully operational website www.MA-PIE.org. MAPIE’s mission reflects US Parents Involved in Education’s mission (USPIE), which is to bring education excellence to the children in our state. We believe in local control by parents, local educators and local elected officials. We distrust federal intervention in education. Our website is designed to list significant education developments and perform email blasts. Massachusetts’ extraordinary accomplishment implementing the bi-partisan Massachusetts Education Reform Act (MERA1993) brought Massachusetts consistently to the top of all fifty states and made us competitive internationally. MERA relied on appropriate content taught to students through a well-thought-out curriculum and on the well-timed training of teachers. Researchers at the non-partisan Boston-based Pioneer Institute evoked a “Massachusetts Miracle” for the rest of the country to emulate.
Regrettably, non-elected private interests had been looking at how to insert themselves into the educational equation of this country. Sadly, the rest of the country was on a steady decline, whose causes are complex. They partly include the breakdown of the American family, the fads of multiculturalism/diversity, and various varieties of anti-Americanism. Multiplication tables were cast away and English or American literary great achievements all but ignored. Lacking mooring Americans throughout the country were failing to understand our Western tradition and America’s contribution to it and the world.
In 2009, the Obama Administration sought to bring its imprint on American education. They believed in a master plan pushed from Washington under the radar because if people saw what was in it they wouldn’t want it. Conveniently, the Gates Foundation facilitated non-experts in the field of education (individuals who had never taught anything, anywhere, to anybody) to convene with testing agencies. They devised a complex scheme called “Common Core” which sought to bring everyone to the middle instead of higher. It made math more complex in the lower grades, requiring extensive testing. It made English artificially simplistic in the higher grades, lending itself to whimsical testing. Parents got alarmed very quickly, and teachers also felt shunted aside.
Former Governor Duval Patrick sneaked Common Core into Massachusetts (July 2010) with the compliant assistance of Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Board of Education led by Mitchell Chester. The Board voted for it. They renamed the mandatory PARCC test in the 11th grade “MCAS 2.0” (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System 2.0)
This was an intentional misnomer. The test is not written in Massachusetts, instead 90% goes to paid consultants from testing agencies and their facilitators.
The EndCommonCore movement was born. Throughout the Commonwealth information bubbled up from frustrated parents and teachers. Jamie Gass of Pioneer Institute and Dr. Stotsky documented unmistakable overreach by educational bureaucrats and their corporate sponsors. Opposition to the corporate machine also came from teachers: Barbara Madeloni was elected president of the MA Teachers’ Union in an upset of the usual status quo.
However, the corporate-backed education machine didn’t back down. They targeted the EndCommonCore movement because we collected 120K certified signatures toward a ballot question (late 2015 and spring 2016). They had an ally in Jim Peyser, the current Secretary of Education in the Baker administration, who supports Common Core. Additionally, the Gates Foundation paid for a lawsuit against the language of the EndCommonCore petition. Although AG Maura Healey found the petition properly worded, Justice Margot Botsford of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided that the release of used test questions was unrelated to the transparency of a test. This was a nonsensical argument but couched in legal language in which everything or anything can be said. They killed our ballot question.
USPIE formed nationwide when similar failures happened elsewhere. Parents and teachers couldn’t override the willfulness of unelected officials. We formed MAPIE to alert parents to what is currently happening statewide and nationwide. “Despite dramatic federal spending increases over time, educational outcomes have not improved. Federal control over K-12 education has risen dramatically in recent decades” (USPIE Blueprint to close USED, October 1, 2017, page 2). USPIE points out that Fed Ed is also involved in post-secondary education through Direct Student Loans and Pell Grants, whose granting is determined by risk-based pricing and contributes to blatant inefficiencies in higher education. “College-completion rate among children from high-income families has grown sharply in the last few decades, whereas the completion rate for students from low-income families has barely moved (Bailey & Dynarski, 2011)” (USPIE Blueprint, page 3). We argue for sending all program management and funding to the states.
The same applies to student data collection. “By eliminating federal intervention, states could return to managing aggregate student data and stop intrusive student level data collection. Oversight and enforcement of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), could be transferred to the Department of Justice (in Washington). Other programs could be moved to other federal departments (USPIE Blueprint, page 5).
MAPIE’s mission is to demand action from our elected state officials. We need to end the inferior Common Core Standards continued under ESSA (signed into law by President Obama, December 2015). Common Core is a resounding failure: “COMMON CORE DROPS U.S. 8 SPOTS IN GLOBAL RANKING.”
Visit MA-PIE.ORG to learn more about the Massachusetts Chapter of U.S. Parents Involved in Education!