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Was the Secretary of Education Murdered?

Dec 10, 2013 by

41lVElNSprL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Joel, you have just written a satirical, hilarious,book in which the Secretary of Education was possibly murdered or poisoned or both. What brought this book about?

Last spring, I taught a course on school reform with the participation of the former New York State Commissioner of Education David Steiner who is a major advocate for the Common Core and its accompanying tests.

I gained insight into the money Rupert Murdoch, Pearson, and technology companies are reaping from the implementation of the Common Core.

I also gained insight into why the Common Core was produced so rapidly without any real public involvement—completely undemocratic process.

I learned firsthand about the role of David Coleman in creating a literacy standards and the conservative corporate philosophy behind them.

As I wrote the novel, I was also revising my book Political Agendas for Education which covers the last national election. I consider my satirical novel an inexpensive companion to Political Agendas.

2) I guess we should tell people that the book is a satire- full of acrimonious stuff about the Common Core. What was your central point in the book?

My FBI character makes the comment to the Cincinnati Union leader that he has learned through investigating educators, publishers, investment firms, and technology companies that, “There’s money to be made helping poor kids.”

Today, government education policies are implemented if they promise some person, company, or group a profit. Rather than helping poor kids by providing equality of educational opportunity, the Common Core opens the door for companies and individuals to make millions.

3) Joel, someone is getting pretty rich with all this testing and I am pretty sure it is not you or me- But, what are the issues when someone is making a profit off assessment ?

Why, when teachers can make up their own tests. Why pay these huge testing conglomerates?

4) Joel, some of your stuff is not far from the truth- teachers changing answers, teachers teaching to the test, teachers prompting kids to cheat. What is the old saying? Truth is stranger than fiction?

A great deal of the satire is drawn from real events like changing tests scores.

5) Many years ago, you probably remember the Skinner Box and programmed Instruction and teaching machines- and your book talks about talking teaching robots. I think I can guess where this idea came from- but enlighten us.

The goal of teaching machines was to create teacher proof material—in other words material that the teacher could not change. In the context of the Cold War, this was to ensure what the teacher actually taught was aligned with the Cold War goals for schooling.

Today, many teachers must use scripted lessons to ensure no deviation from the Common Core. In my novel this becomes the effort to create teacher robots to replace human teachers.

6) Your book talks about the possibility of riots in the prisons as prisoners who want to take the G.E.D. are confronted with ( gasp ! ) questions from the Common Core that they were never prepped on. Possible issue in the future?

Who knows-that was a flight of my imagination after reading about a riot by prison gangs.

7) As I type this, it is Dec. 7th- Pearl Harbor- yet, I have it on good authority, that there is nothing in the Common Core about Pearl Harbor- am I off on this?

The Common Core does require studying US founding documents. However, there is no specification of particular topics like Pearl Harbor.

8) Now- standardized tests are scathingly denunciated in your book- there are no right answers, there are two possible answers, the test questions are confusing, and irrelevant. Any link to what is happening in the real world?

Again, I base my satire on what is happening in the real world.

9) Now- charter schools—what role do they play in your book ?

My satirical charter schools are called the “Booker T. Washington Charter Schools.” Charter schools are now being promoted as the panacea for the poor.

10) The hero of your book, FBI agent Tim Geary seems to find himself in a quagmire of confusion, trying to figure out who killed the Secretary of Education- what is he confronted with ?

He is confronted with duplicity and corruption among charter school operators, publishing and technology companies, government officials, college professors, and investment bankers.

11) How can readers get a copy of your book and how many millions of dollars are you going to make from the test questions emanating from this book?

The novel was published through the Amazon platform and is currently selling for $8.96—I don’t expect to make any money at this low price. However, maybe I can write questions for Pearson and make my fortune.

The book is available at http://www.amazon.com/Common-Core-Story-School-Terrorism/dp/0615873545/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386604538&sr=1-1&keywords=joel+spring+common+core

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1 Comment

  1. Marcia Wolford

    Would be much more amusing if it weren’t so true.
    I laughed out loud anyway.
    Always follow the money………….

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