Remember the bid for a PR firm that that TN Parents wrote about in the spring? The TN Department of Education desperately sought the help of marketing professionals to fix their dreadful image. Well, obviously, a firm was hired and is working their makeover magic because there's a monumental difference in the propaganda coming out of the TN DOE lately.
First, check out the TN DOE website makeover:
(website screenshot from March 2014)
(screenshot from August 2014)
It is kinda funny how the new website says, "We've redesigned and reorganized our site from the ground up with you in mind." Gee, thanks, for keeping me in mind, when in all honesty, we are sure that the only thing on your mind was: "How On Earth Do We QUICK Fix This Awful Image Problem That Governor Haslam and His Appointed Commissioner of Education, Kevin Huffman, Have Created Before Election Time in November So That The Governor Gets Re-elected And We All Keep Our Jobs?"
And, of course, this dishonest image is still on both websites:
TCAP scores weren't even released in time for student's final report cards in the spring because they had to adjust the cut scores, take out the non-common core questions to boost scores, and figure out a way for this new PR firm to triage the massive outrage and somehow put a positive spin on the dismal results.
Here is why that claim of "Largest Growth on 2013 NAEP" is not truthful:
The Governor and Huffman keep saying it everywhere they go, and probably even mutter it in their sleep, but they neglect to mention one ginormous fact: TN passed a new law the year before the 2013 NAEP test which drastically changed the pool of students eligible to be tested for NAEP. This new law prohibited 3rd graders in Tennessee from being promoted to 4th grade if they were not proficient. So, for the first time in TN history, 3rd graders were not socially promoted to 4th grade. The low-scoring students were left behind in 3rd grade! Voila! Don't let the non-proficient kids in to 4th grade to take the test and you magically lift the whole state's average score compared to other states in the nation!
(A note about NAEP tests in case you don't know: the NAEP is given every 2 years to randomly selected 4th and 8th graders in every state in the nation. It is required by the Federal Government to get our federal tax dollars for our schools. Click HERE and HERE to read more about the NAEP and how is manipulated to suit politicians).
Next, NEW Emails from TNDOE:
I Heart You soooooooo much!!!
Subscribers to the TNDOE weekly emails noticed a big difference in the weekly emails, too. Prior emails were cold, factual, and condescending. The paragraphs were blocky and had the attitude of "Do This New Policy Or Else".
The new email sent to subscribers last week had hearts, smiles, friendships, relationships, unicorns, and rainbows. (Okay, so not the last 2, but we're not exaggerating about the difference being night and day.) Here's an excerpt from the new email:
Another big change to the emails is that they are now being sent through Mailchimp, which is an email service that allows the sender to track opens, clicks on links, reports, etc. The TNDOE loves, loves, loves data so they are probably in data heaven.
U R MY BFF 4EVR!
<3, Bill XOXOXO
We bet someone from that fancy new PR firm wrote the letter anyway. Bill doesn't write letters. He certainly won't respond to any of ours. Of course, he has staff that sends out blanket responses because Bill does not have the time to correspond with commoners unless you are pre-screened and agree with Bill's views.
Not all teachers were fooled by the use of mail-merge fields or by the use of their school email address to try to gain their vote for Bill in November. Other candidates for Governor certainly don't have the luxury, ability, or staffpower to send personalized blanket emails to teachers using their school email addresses, but Bill does. (Click HERE if you want to see one of those blanket letters Bill sent to a TN teacher)
Nothing. Zip. Zero.
The difference is that our tax dollars are now being spent on the best Public Relations Firm our tax money can buy with the goal of fixing the horrible image of the TNDOE, Commissioner Kevin Huffman (for as long as Bill keeps him around as a puppet), and the person who just happens to be up for re-election in November: Bill.
Our last Momma Bear blog focused on the external makeover of the TNDOE: website, email, and Bill's staff's letter to teachers. However, there was one huge difference that deserved its own blog. Did you catch it? Take a look at their new website, again, in the previous blog and see if you can tell what is missing:
Bingo!!! All references to Common Core have been removed!
You'll see plenty of the word, "CORE," because of TNCORE. They can't really eliminate "TNCORE" because they have a whole different website devoted to it with its own logo and all. Obviously, the TNCORE website hasn't gotten a makeover yet because Bill's picture is still at the top along with Kevin Huffman's name just like on the old website:
Oh, don't we wish! Unfortunately, there are lots of people making lots of money on this Common Core gravy train, so it is still chugging along the tracks full-steam ahead whether parents and teachers like the direction the train is heading or not.
Here is what the TNDOE has sneakily done, they have renamed the Common Core standards to:
"Tennessee State Standards"
Teachers told us that this renaming quietly happened over the past year. Teachers and Common Core coaches have been told to call it by the new name from now on and not to use the words, "Common Core" to avoid controversy or conflict. The name is toxic.
Wait, can they do that???
Now, everyone knows that Tennessee didn't write these standards. Even so, our state is branding them as their very own, which any English teacher can tell you is plagarism. Some would even consider it "stealing," "theft," or "lying" to take someone else's property and put your name on something you didn't write. Whatever you call it, it is undeniably sneaky and underhanded. If the owners of the Common Core don't object to it, (and why would they? they just want the standards implemented no matter what it takes) Tennessee can do it.
The TNDOE thinks that by not using the toxic name people won't be so upset. Think again. It is even more infuriating to know they are blatantly trying to trick us, isn't it?