Glenn’s new book CONFORM: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education seeks to offer parents, teachers, and students the facts they need to take back the debate and help usher in a new era of education built around the common sense principles of choice, freedom, and accountability. On radio this morning, Glenn welcomed former Florida teacher and founder of ConversationED.com Kathleen Jasper to the program to discuss her experience in the public education system and the work she is now doing to fight back.
“I wanted to introduce you to somebody I think is very, very brave. Courage is contagious. It really is. And when you start seeing people stand up and doing the right thing – but doing it the right way, being peaceful, being loving, and being accurate – those people are going to change the world. They are. And we're beginning to see those remarkable people stand,” Glenn said. “Kathleen Jasper is the founder of ConversationED.com. This is a place where you can learn about what's happening in our educational system, and she knows because she was in a high school.”
Jasper was a high school teacher and assistant principle, and she began to grow concerned under George W. Bush’s Administration because of the volume of testing programs like No Child Left Behind required. The implementation of the Common Core standards further exacerbated the problem, and though Jasper identifies herself as a liberal, she appreciates the solutions Glenn’s book CONFORM offers parents and teachers.
“So, you describe yourself as a liberal and generally probably didn't think we would have anything in common,” Glenn said.
“I've been watching you for many years on different networks, and I know all about you. When your producer contacted me, I was really excited but also, you know, trying to figure out where we had some common ground. I ran out and grabbed your book, and I flipped through it. It's pretty conservative, but as I was flipping through it, I wrote a list of agrees and disagrees. And the disagrees list was pretty short,” Jasper explained. “There were some fundamental things that I disagreed with you on, but the agree side was exponentially longer. So I started to sticky note your book and do what educators do with publications and wrote a blog about it and got some feedback from some people. And I really think that you and I – no matter what side of the spectrum we're on – agree on some very, very important points.”
Jasper believes the education system is sucking the souls out of our children, and the testing that supposedly measures merit and success is actually just a money making scheme.
“When I see third graders completely freaked out about a test that determines whether or not they are qualified to go onto fourth grade, you see babies, really, that don't even know who they are yet, being measured by this one test that generates hundreds of millions of dollars for a testing company and for campaigns,” Jasper said. “You see that our students are being pawns in a very, very evil – I will say that – game. And the people who stand to benefit are those who make the test and make the money.”
Former Florida governor is gaining a lot of buzz ahead of 2016, and during is tenure as governor, Bush was known for his education policy. He is now a supporter of Common Core. Jasper explained that even though Bush is no longer governor, he is still very much involved in the Florida education system.
“Bush is a very powerful man. He still has a lot of control in the state of Florida. And Jeb Bush has a foundation – the Foundation for Excellence in Education,” she said. “And that foundation is heavily tied with Pearson, which is a test making company. It's also a publisher. So Pearson publishes the books, they build the curriculum. They write the tests. They score the tests. And they store the data.”
As Jasper explained, these tests actually have a 30% fail rate built into them, and Pearson earns between $15 and $30 for each test administered. The more children who fail and must retake the exam, the more money Pearson makes.
“When the students do not pass those exams… because there's a mandate under No Child Left Behind that is been also pushed through Race to the Top that if they do not pass those required tests, they have to continue to take them over and over again. And in high school – that's my area – students are retaking tests three to five times a year depending on the test,” Jasper said. “They are literally just testing all the time, and every time that student retakes the test, the district pays for that test. So Pearson is in the business of failure because failure drives the machine.”
“It's great that you have these students passing the test, but really where Pearson is making its money is through the failure of our students,” she continued. “And that's where I have the biggest problem – that they are making money off the failure of our young people.”
Ultimately, as teachers grow increasingly frustrated with these standards, the children will suffer even more.
“Teachers are completely fried with these tests. Their autonomy has been stripped from the classroom. They have no choice but to a test because they want their students to be successful, because the consequence is: The student doesn't pass the test in third grade, that student is held back. So their hands are tied,” Jasper concluded. “They have to teach exactly what is on that test. And teachers, all they want to do is the creative work that they know to be the right thing do… I think that we should have teachers and students working together to build the curriculum and assess students differently because they are all different.”