~ an anonymous parent
...bumping over potholes and realizing this machine has major problems,
...hearing the grinding of excessive testing wearing down children,
...screeching and groaning as we realize how developmentally inappropriate these standards are for young children and students with special needs,
...realizing crash-test-dummies never made sure common core was safe before children were put on board,
...shocked to see the lug-nuts pop off as excellent teachers leave the profession,
...scared that the driver doesn't have an honest-to-goodness teaching license and is bailing out in 2 years,
...choking on smoke billowing from the engine as our children are asked personally identifiable questions on surveys without parental consent,
...spending money we don't have to buy brand-name common core parts to make this vehicle get us to the next test,
...frantically searching in the glove box for the title, but come up empty-handed because it was given to a charter school company.
Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education is the real name of SCORE. It was created in 2009 by US Senator Bill Frist. It is a 501(c)3 "nonprofit" organization (but some are profiting a whole lot from SCORE as you will see). SCORE is governed by a 14-member board of directors who are not educators or even leaders in the education field. Most are businessmen whose own children attend private schools. SCORE also has a 29-member steering committee of the state’s "top education stakeholders" which include some greedy business organizations (Stand For Children, Teach For America, TN Charter School Center, etc.) plus the token PTA leader who doesn't even have children in school any more. Oh, yes, the very controversial, Michelle Rhee, has her greedy paws in SCORE, too. Some of these organizations come to SCORE smelling the huge pot of money that TN won from Race to the Top ($500 million), and some are just token organizations included for their organization's names, but not really for their input (PTA & TEA).
SCORE seeks two outcomes:
- Ultimately, every student in Tennessee graduates high school prepared for college and career
- Tennessee is the fastest improving state in the country on the key student outcomes that will lead to college and career preparedness
SCORE’s work is governed by a theory of change (reform) that includes embracing high academic standards (aka: Common Core, which we know have serious problems), cultivating great school and district leaders (that seek to privatize schools and benefit businesses), ensuring excellent teaching in every classroom (through unfair use of test results and over-testing students), and using data to enhance student learning (even though it violates student privacy to share student information with corporations, especially without parental consent).
That's like saying we want to cure cancer (a lofty goal everyone agrees with), but we are giving everyone rigorous prune juice as medicine (common core), rating our doctors on our lab results (testing), and selling our hospitals to fast food chains (charter schools). We know it won't cure cancer, but it will make the prune juice people and lab testing company richer, it will run off the doctors who know this is a bad plan, and McBurger will be delighted to have all those tax dollars and customers stuck eating prunes at their restaurant.
- CEO/President's salary package in 2012 = $328,361 (including a bonus of $25,000)
Yes, that is much, much more than she ever made as a TN Senator.
Yes, more than TN Commissioner of Education's salary (highest in the state).
Yes, much more than the Governor of TN's salary.
Yes, that would pay the salaries of 6 teachers.
Okay, we'll stop now because all that money is giving us heartburn because we can't fathom someone profiting so richly off of our poor public schools.
- Money given from SCORE to Stand For Children (another underhanded organization that claims to support children).
$75,000 in 2011
$75,000 in 2010
$50,000 in 2009
Not much detail is given why they gave that money, just that they are sub-grants. Stand For Children has hundreds of millions of dollars and doesn't need a penny from SCORE. Just another red flag to tuck away in the back of your minds when you're connecting the dots.
Who knows? Their donors list is private. We do know that a big chunk comes from the Gates Foundation and some from the Hyde Foundation. There is speculation that some money comes from business interests who will profit from the things SCORE advocates for (like the Nashville-based Ingram Corporation will make a small fortune selling Common Core products). Some of those businesses are listed on the SCORE website as supporters.
***UPDATE on 8/27/14: the SCORE website removed the page of their supporters after they got a bunch of money from Bill Gates and got an expensive makeover to their old website. Lucky for you, Momma Bears happens to have a snapshot of their old website! Here ya go:
SCORE awarded "SCORE Prizes" to 3 schools ($10,000 each) and 1 school district ($25,000) that had the most dramatically improved student achievement. Those schools were celebrated and used in SCORE video to convince people support their reform agenda. (((Did you catch that? Yes, the prizes to the schools were less than the CEO's big fat $25,000 bonus last year))).
And one of the schools, Rose Park Math & Science Magnet, was recently redistricted as a feeder school to one of the best academic magnets in their district, so the "dramatic student achievement" was really due to the swiftly changing demographics of students, not from any of the reforms that SCORE supports. (But those students sure look great in the SCORE video)
SCORE created a coalition they claim over 300 organizations joined to support higher standards. (Who doesn't want higher standards, right?). They named the coalition a very noble-sounding name: "Expect more, Achieve more." At the TN Senate Common Core Hearings in September 2013, SCORE distributed impressively-thick packets about their coalition to the legislators and anyone who would take them. Momma Bears knows for a fact that at least 2 of the PTA organizations on that list never ever joined it. And putting all 138 school districts in TN on the list by default to pad the #'s is pretty underhanded. Some of the other organizations listed are pretty suspicious, too... Shoneys? home builders? Banks? Express Video & Tan of Ducktown? It looks like a list of Chamber of Commerce members to us. Of course businesses will join it (free advertising + it looks like you support worthy causes for children = #commoncorepaysbig!)
Among the education stakeholders on the SCORE steering committee are nonprofits, businesses, and public officials with strong connections and ties to the Chamber of Commerce. Many of these same people joined with SCORE to sign a letter to the Governor and Education Commissioner citing a misleading report paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that awards a big, fat "F" to Tennessee for "Truth in Advertising" as a reason to adopt Common Core standards.
The F sounds really bad, doesn't it??? But check out the actual report and you'll see a few things that SCORE doesn't want you to know about...
1. This disclaimer regarding the Truth in Advertising category: "This category does not evaluate state tests nor does it grade states on the performance of their students. Instead, the evaluation looks at how truthfully a state reports student proficiency." Get it? This was a problem with the grownups in our STATE not reporting accurately, not with our students. Of course, SCORE doesn't publicize that Tennessee fared much better in other categories of this report, including academics, they only point out that big, fat F and use it to further their agenda.
2. This fine-print disclaimer buried in the report: "The authors acknowledge that this is an imperfect measure of state transparency because there is some debate about using NAEP alone to benchmark state tests. However, this method is currently the only one available when comparing the transparency of reporting from one state to the next."
3. Manipulated letter grades: The results were rated on a pre-determined, weighted curve, so the differences between state scores are not as major as one thinks... This method of grading means there would be a pre-determined # of grades. (Only 5 states "earned" A's, 5 got B's, 20 received D's or F's, and the rest got C's).
It is true what our high school statistics teachers taught us, you really CAN manipulate data to show whatever you want. Momma Bears gives that report a big fat F minus for Truth in Advertising!
The SCORE connections with the Chamber of Commerce are more twisted and tangled than a daytime soap opera. We're not kidding! Here are some of the juicy connections that the Chamber of Commerce directly has with SCORE, and we're probably missing a bunch, these are just the big guns:
The U.S. Chamber of a Commerce is self-described as the "world's largest business organization," a "voice in Washington" for three million businesses that is more concerned with NAFTA than educational issues. It spent $1 billion in lobbying this year. Sitting on SCORE's Steering Committee are the President of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and the President & CEO for the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.
But wait, that's not all. Several of the nonprofits on SCORE's steering committee are active in their area chambers of commerce. Scott Niswonger, the founder of Niswonger Foundation is a former chamber president. And Buzz Thomas with Great Schools Partnership was the longtime executive director for Niswonger Foundation. Hamilton County's Public Education Foundation regularly collaborates with their chamber of commerce. Businesses like Ingram Industries are also connected to the chamber of commerce. Mr. Ingram is a past director for the Nashville chamber. Pitt Hyde's Autozone is a major player in the Greater Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber and Mr. Hyde even paired up to finance a campaign supporting a sales tax increase to support Pre-K funding. Then, there is Tennessee Business Roundtable which is like an elite club for businesses operating as a PAC bridge between the chamber and politicians. The cat-daddy of the Chamber, Mike Edwards (yes, the same Mike Edwards that sits on the TN Board of Education), longtime President of Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, serves on their board of directors. He also serves on the Education Committee for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Interestingly, Edwards is highly involved in Knoxville's Public School Forum sitting on their board of directors. It is interesting because that token PTA Mom on SCORE's steering committee is the Executive Assistant for the Public School Forum.
Read more about SCORE's SHADY characters and the sneaky way SCORE created a highly-suspicious survey to show support their reforms. Click HERE to read our Momma Bears blog about all that mess.
The final SCORE:
Momma Bears aren't fooled by SCORE's professional website, fancy videos, slick brochures, or with the people they rub elbows with. They are a greedy organization who will do whatever it takes to keep their paychecks rolling in and their business donors happy.