Anti CCSS Warriors, we have another education reform ‘wannabe’. Consider it a chip off the old CCSS Machine’s block.. What AM I talking about?! “Micro Schools”, of course! If you haven’t heard of them, that’s okay, I recently discovered these schools, too.
One other question we will address is how this ties back to the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act).
So, What is a ‘Micro School’?
I found out about them via the Gates Foundation supportive, CCSS Machine member: Ed Week. (See: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/01/27/micro-schools-could-be-new-competition-for.html?r=608439843&cmp=eml-enl-eu-news1-RM)
Like its name, these schools are small in size (typically no more than an entire school population of 150). Unlike traditional schools, micros have all the students in one classroom. While the article suggests these schools are like the old-fashioned one room schoolhouses, there is absolutely NOTHING old fashioned about the agenda behind these small schools. As an anti CCSS Warrior, see if you can catch the agenda the CCSS Machine has laced through these modern minis.
AltSchools, the Supposed Leader in Micro Schools:
This group is mentioned in the article I have linked you to (above). You can access their website, https://www.altschool.com/
From their ‘About Us’ page, their mission statement begins with, ” AltSchool is a collaborative community of micro-schools that uses outstanding teachers, deep research, and innovative tools to offer a personalized, whole child learning experience for the next generation.”
(*Note, be sure to watch the embedded video with the smiley faced guy.) You should love the fact he is a businessman now involved in education. While that doesn’t seem so bad, listen to his pro CCSS companies he rattles off. (example: Google) Don’t miss his plug for project based learning (which is rooted in another progressive, pro CCSS Machine member, The Buck Institute. (my previously published look at PBLs:
Currently, AltSchools are in CA, NY, IL. To see the AltSchool locations in their entirety,
(*Note, be sure to click on one of the existing locations to look at the floor plan. You will see what many other traditional schools are doing, totally transforming them to be open locations with centers.)
The curriculum? Forget about seeing your student as a person, this group is after “T-shaped learners”. What the heck is a “T-shaped learner”? An excerpt, “…Students who have a wide breadth of knowledge across all subjects and depth in the subjects that they are passionate about. In addition to cultivating strong social-emotional skills, AltSchool students build competency across core academic areas: math, science, English language arts, and social studies. Through our before- and after-school co-curricular offerings, students delve even deeper into subjects of interest, including drama, arts, coding, and foreign languages.”
The educators? All 21st Century ones. See the entire description of both curriculum and educators, https://www.altschool.com/education#curriculum
(*Note: the heavy use of technology and the reference to aligning to the most recent education discoveries.)
From the FAQs, this loaded statement of CCSS Machine groups in the curriculum:
‘AltSchool’s learning objectives draw from a variety of standards and metrics as a framework for instructional design. Our Lower and Middle School instruction is informed by the Common Core, National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Next Generation Science Standards, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), among others.’
Helping fund AltSchools? Facebook and Apple owners! Yep, these two pro CCSS Machine members even made the news about their investments. See: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/05/04/altschool-scores-100-million-from-mark-zuckerberg-and-others/26740867/
(*Note: be sure to read where the AltSchool founder reveals that there are non-profits and other investors on board as well.)
Other financial backers? “Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Harrison Metal, John Doerr, Jonathan Sackler, Learn Capital, Omidyar Network, and other leading investors.” To learn more about why these investors are lining up in huge support of AltSchools, you will need to see the AltSchools Press Release from 2014. It explains that the schools are a ‘certified B organization’. What does THAT mean? Heavy on social justice issues with a large collective mindset. See the entire press release: https://www.altschool.com/press-release-11-17-14
Want to better understand what a B Organization truly is? As an anti CCSS Warrior, you will be quick to pick up on the main themes, the global aspects, and the money to be made.
New Orleans, TX, and Globally: Micros Coming Soon!
Also included in the featured EdWeek article about AltSchools, were the facts that New Orleans public charters are considering the AltSchool way of education; that at least one private school in TX is already involved (since 2009); that Catholic schools could be well served; how comprehensive high schools could learn from AltSchools; and, that several non-USA locations are benefiting from AltSchools.
Warriors Against the Core, are you seeing the pattern?
Not included in the NAIS:
AltSchools, according to the EdWeek article are not being tracked by the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools), so there may be many MORE micro schools in the world. However, my question is, are AltSchools accredited at all? One CBS interview from 2015, reveals the groups is in the process of becoming accredited. See: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/altschool-alternative-education/
Anti CCSS Warriors, do you recognize an issue here?
As Far as How This Plays into the ESSA:
Besides the red flags I have recently raised about the ESSA and technology/data/digital, the AltSchools have all sorts of CCSS Machine ties to overlook or assume they won’t be part of the ESSA written educational future in America. All this said, the AltSchools are considered ‘alternative education’. That phrase is most definitely used in the ESSA.
Alternative education evidence based state practices your LEAs (Local Education Agencies) can use to support a student: Page 99; Alternative routes for SEAs (State Education Agencies) to certify supporting programs: Page 111; any alternative education method in regards to correctional facilities: Page 266; alternative means of receiving a high school diploma: Page 793; For Native Americans, alternative education, standards, assessments: Page 811; The bigger the LEA, the bigger the funding weighed alternative: Page 946;Alternative routes for educators to teach or school leaders to lead: Pages 141; 305; 318; 322; 398; 800; 972-981 (ESSA Final Conference Report).
Considering my last 3 articles went into great detail about the digital and technology ties the ESSA has now put into action for all of us, you might wish to factor schools like AltSchools into the mix. You may find their other EdWeek article about the big push for technology and data worth using as knowledge, too. See: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/01/13/the-future-of-big-data-and-analytics.html
If you haven’t see the last 3 articles where you are given the CCSS Machine ties, the ESSA page numbers and related MUST KNOW information.
How much digital and technology the ESSA is mandating:
How the U.S. Dept. of Ed’s IES will assess not only students, but entire families for digital and technology: https://www.commoncorediva.com/2016/02/05/weekend-news-the-ies-and-the-essa/
How State Grants for public places and other funding is being manipulated and will continue to be thanks to the ESSA:
How comprehensive high schools/post-secondary education are extensions of the CCSS Machine via CTE (Career Tech Education):
Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation was also featured in the original EdWeek article above. Their website: http://www.christenseninstitute.org/
Be sure to grab their publication on using schools as community hubs (also embedded in the ESSA via Title One funding)). The publication is published by the Brookings Institute, a huge CCSS Machine member. : http://www.christenseninstitute.org/publications/schools-as-community-hubs/
How the NAIS/NCTM are tied to the CCSS Machine:
Next Generation Science Standards and CCSS:
CASEL, 21 Century Community Learning Centers and CCSS: