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Education Power Brokers Meet to Define Rigor

One more piece of news you will find nowhere else.

Washington, D. C.

After months of bipartisan stalemate in NCLB reauthorization talks, representatives of the Business Roundtable, an association of 160 chief executive officers of leading U.S. corporations, appeared eager to move ahead by brokering a deal on the definition of "Rigor," now in its 6,349th draft with staffers on the Hill.

"Agreement on Rigor is critical to the vital interests of the nation," explained Business Roundtable President John J. Castellani. When asked about the laid-off telecommunications workers serving as waitpersons for the catered lunch, Castellani explained, "It�s good to see such talent in the workforce. A solid grounding in Rigor for U.S. students is one of the keys to the United States' ability to compete in the global economy." After taking a breath, he added, "The mediocre performance of U.S. students on international assessments is yet another indicator showing that the United States faces a critical talent gap in Rigor and is not keeping pace with foreign Rigor."

The catered lunch was paid for with a grant from the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, which also provided all attendees with personal food tasters. Even so, Homeland Security declared the luncheon at orange alert.

"In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or unauthorized incursion by angry kindergarten teachers, the Department of Homeland Security will provide a coordinated, comprehensive federal response and mount a swift and effective recovery effort," stated Secretary Michael Chertoff.

"Where the Business Roundtable goes, we go," explained a Homeland Security staffer. "Properly trained and equipped first responders are standing by in the kitchen."

Representatives from the Business Roundtable, U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the NEA, AFT, Education Trust, National Urban League, La Raza, the U. S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, the U. S. House Committee on Education and Labor, the New York Times editorial board, and Oprah Winfrey met behind closed doors.

Citing the expectation of a phonecall from Sen. Edward Kennedy, Jonathan Kozol was unable to attend. "He listened to me before," stated Kozol. "I feel confident he will listen again."

Senate Education Committee members Clinton and Obama phoned in their support for a Rigor definition meeting international standards from the campaign trail. Clinton mentioned her long history in a leadership role on this issue; Obama pointed to his ability to bring fresh eyes to the topic. In a press release explaining his absence from the meeting, House Education Committee member Kucinich observed that if we brought the troops home we could have "guaranteed free Rigor for all, starting in pre-K."

In prepared remarks, U. S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said, "Agreement on the definition of Rigor is crucial to the passing of the �Rigor Rules Act,� a bipartisan effort to keep America the most Rigorous nation in the world by strengthening our research, improving our technological enterprise, attracting the world's best and brightest workers, and providing 21st century job training." Spellings added that she considers the word so important that she has ruled that be capitalized in all government documents.

During the dessert course, Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta joined with U. S. Chamber of Congress president Thomas J. Donohue to sing the newly commissioned Rigor Anthem. Schools receiving Rigor First grants will institute a singing of the Rigor Anthem following the Pledge.

The "Rigor Rules Act" is a bipartisan legislative response to recommendations contained in Bill Gates� speeches. "Anybody would be a fool not to pay attention to someone who lives in a house assessed at $135,758,169,� said a spokesman for the NEA. "We're happy to be at this table, representng 3.2 million teachers. We are confident we represent their views."

Asked about the removal of the EliminateRigor website, the NEA representative declined comment.

Summary of the "Rigor Rules Act"
The �Rigor Rules Act� would ensure the United States� ability to compete in the global economy and educate students for individual success in the 21st Century workplace by:

� Establishing a President�s Council on Rigor to develop a comprehensive agenda to promote Rigor in the public and private sectors.

� Authorizing competitive grants to States to promote better alignment of elementary and secondary Rigor with the knowledge and skills needed for success in postsecondary education, the 21st century workforce, and the Armed Forces, and grants to support the establishment or improvement of statewide P-16 education longitudinal data systems in Rigor.

� Strengthening the Rigor of thousands of teachers by establishing training and education programs at summer institutes hosted at the National Laboratories and by creating Teacher Institutes for 21st Century Rigor at Microsoft headquarters.

� Assisting States in establishing or expanding statewide specialty schools in Rigor that students from across the state would be eligible to attend and providing expert assistance in teaching from National Laboratories� staff at those schools.

� Developing and implementing programs for bachelor�s degrees in Rigor with concurrent teaching credentials and part-time master�s in education programs for teachers to enhance their knowledge and teaching skills in Rigor.

� Creating partnerships between National Laboratories and local high-need high schools to establish Centers of Rigor

� Expanding programs to increase the number of students from elementary school through postsecondary education who take the Rigor Oath and sing the Rigor song every day.

� Providing Rigor Now grants to infuse Rigor into the elementary and middle grades and provide targeted help to struggling students so that all students can become rigorous.

� Providing funds for Rigor Coaches.

� Requiring the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to identify forms of teacher ineptitude that create barriers to Pre-K rigor.

Representatives from the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English issued a statement indicating they are working on a joint proposal to train and disseminate Rigor Coaches. �Effective Rigor coaches will support teachers in becoming more rigorous about their instruction and help significantly improve student rigor outcomes. Collaborating with other associations to create Standards for Pre-K, Elementary, Middle, and High School Rigor Coaches is one way that we are working to fulfill our mission to improve teaching. These standards for Rigor Coaches provide leadership expectations and address the Rigor needs of students, regardless of color, creed, national original, sexual preference, body-mass index, or pizza preferences.

— Susan Ohanian
The Eggplant



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