This morning I read the "California Office to Reform Education" No Child Left Behind waiver request. It is available here.
It is not a very interesting document. It offers a new accountability plan that will definitely require more student testing, and teachers will absolutely be evaluated on that assessment. (Waiver requests require this; SFUSD at least has been rather quiet about this.) In theory, the CORE districts will also take into consideration social-emotional well-being when judging accountability; this definitely means student surveys and possibly means building repairs.
It is also not a very well-edited document. I suppose the redundancies of language are to be expected in a waiver application; the more you sound like Arne Duncan, the better your chances, right? There is also some confusion about the number of districts making up the CORE; ten Superintendents sit on the Board but most of the documentation refers to eight districts. (Also, someone forgot to remove editing notes, so that on page 44, there's a parenthetical asking if eight should be changed to 10?? (question marks as shown here).
More interesting are the people and foundations supporting CORE. Its Executive Director is Rick Miller of Capitol Impact. Capitol Impact engages in "non-lobbying" activities that include providing "access to policymakers and opinion leaders". Capitol Impact works closely with the Gates Foundation and the pension-loathing millionaires at California Forward.
Among those associated with and funding CORE's work is the Parthenon Group. They most recently came to my notice when they anonymously tipped off the San Francisco Chronicle that teachers unions hate school districts getting money. Actually, it ends up that the story was more that school district officials and union leaders do not agree with the Parthenon Group that accepting small sums of money in exchange for larger, permanent cash outlays is a great idea.
Anyway, my brief examination of CORE's founders, friends, and associates confirms my general opinion of the CORE waiver: there may be some good ideas in there, but despite the local rhetoric, it's more untested reform at the behest of the powerful.