By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
On May 1st the Wall Street Journal published a page 3 news article documenting New Standards Adopted by Nearly all States Are Finding a Growing Group of Foes. The article stated that the opposition was bi-partisan:
Now, the Common Core effort is under attack from an unlikely coalition: conservatives who decry the implementation costs and call the standards an intrusion into local education decisions; union leaders who worry that states have tied, or plan to tie, teacher evaluations to new Common Core exams; and some parents who contend their children are ill-prepared for the Common Core tests
The opponents of Common Core are at the grass roots level. On May 2, a Twitter rally generated 9.7 Million impressions against CCS. On Capitol Hill, the state political level and Teacher’s Union Leadership are coalescing against CCS. The Report Card has published a series of articles about CCS that chronicle a growing and widespread bi-partisan belief that CCS will harm, not help learning in America.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) is seeking to prohibit federal funding for any Common Core efforts. Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature passed legislation Friday that calls for the state board of education to hold hearings on the standards and reconsider its 2010 decision to adopt them. Legislatures in Michigan, Alabama and several other states are considering anti-Common Core bills, and the Republican National Committee has a draft resolution opposing Common Core.
Tuesday, Common Core was dealt a blow by one of its staunchest supporters. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called for a moratorium on linking teacher evaluations to Common Core assessments until the standards are “properly implemented and field tested.” While teacher unions have complained about using test scores in performance reviews, Ms. Weingarten has championed Common Core. She said Tuesday the standards are “creating a serious backlash as officials seek to make them count before they make them work.”
The article also pointed out that the Obama administration and some local teachers were supporting the new educational standards.
We asked some prominent opponents of the Common Core to react to the WSJ article.
Heather Patinaude, an activist with Stop Common Core Illinois:
The last quote from the teacher (who supports Common Core) is frustrating…doesn’t she understand how the new tests will hurt the children. It’s like all they have to say is “it will hurt the children” and we’re supposed to believe them.
CCSS are not state led. This is a myth and there are plenty of articles and documents to prove they are not state led.
CC has removed states authority over their own standards. This top-down control is not what teachers, students, or tax payers deserve. We deserve control for our standards in our states.
Plus CC will cost states and taxpayers more money. How much is unknown since most states have not done a cost analysis.
Not to mention the massive data tracking system. Parents need to understand that their child is being tracked and information can be shared among companies, government agencies, unions, and others. This is a massive invasion of privacy!
In most states children are not prepared for College or Career at the end of highschool, but losing control is not the answer for fixing that.
Joy Pullmann, a with The Heartland Institute:
It’s about time the Wall Street Journal noticed the Common Core controversy. It’s been storming the country in the past several months. Parents are packing almost every public meeting held about it, and they’re not happy. No wonder the folks who created it decided to adopt first, and inform the public next.
As to your sketch of points for and against: It’s absolutely unproven that Common Core will have any effect on student achievement, and evidence we already have about state standards shows they have no effect on how much children learn. No one has ever tested Common Core or studied its classroom effects. It’s an entirely unproven set of learning goals for kids. That the nation’s leaders inflicted unproven, vague goals on our kids is appalling.
Common Core was also NOT written by governors. It was written behind closed doors by several sets of federally sponsored committees. One sixtieth of the people involved were teachers. Its four main writers are not classroom teachers and have almost no previous experience writing educations standards. And the federal government is the exclusive sponsor of national Common Core tests arriving in 2014!
Parents and teachers are unhappy about Common Core because it was inflicted on them and their children without our consent, there is no evidence it will benefit kids, and it otherwise mutilates America’s long tradition of local control over education.
Will Fitzhugh, Publisher of The Concord Review
If E.D. Hirsch, Jr. is correct that knowledge is essential in order for students to gain more knowledge, it should be pointed out that knowledge, at least in history, is not a goal of the Common Core, which says again and again that it is “not a curriculum.” By this they mean that they are not specifying what knowledge, for instance of history, all students should have. They have shifted their attention to “critical thinking skills,” and the like, and avoided the question of essential knowledge completely.
When Harvard struggled with a Core Curriculum in the 1980s, no professor would agree to be told what should be taught in his/her field, so, as Caleb Nelson pointed out in an article in The Atlantic at the time, they reached a compromise: “Rather than emphasize knowledge, the new core curriculum would stress students’ critical faculties.” This raised the point, however, that “one cannot think like a physicist, for example, without actually knowing a great deal of physics.” In the end, the Core passed because, as one math professor pointed out, “this motion…cannot fail to pass; it has become totally content-free.”
The authors of the Common Core did not profit from these lessons, and they have put together a set of content-free guidelines for “problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork,” that basically ignore the need to lay out the basic knowledge that our students will have to have to be ready for college and for any career.
This flight from knowledge to skills, which E.D. Hirsch, Jr., has called “How-To Ism,” dooms the Common Core as a very expensive irrelevance for, and an impediment to, the education of our students.
Paul Horton, History Teacher, University of Chicago Laboratory High School
CCS does not better prepare students for college: many schools and districts already teach well above these standards and embracing theses standards will cause many excellent schools and districts to lower their standards
CCS writing included one teacher and Bill Gates funded their writing. David Coleman worked for McKinsey consulting and had no classroom experience. The idea came from this blueprint :<http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/GatesBroadARRAFinal.pdf>. The document represents a plan to control public Education. Almost all of the Educators listed are TFA or Broad Foundation graduates. The document is heavily influenced by the Gates Foundation and McKinsey consulting and is hostile to public education. It is not local. It has been made to appear local and this is the PR line that the Ed. Department repeats.
-Everybody is attacking CCS: students, parents, teachers, administrators, conservatives, and liberals. The major media consistently underreport the opposition because the corporate interests behind CCS have a lot of influence on on editorial boards.
CCS is designed to achieve RTTT goals, but the RTTT goals represent policy initiatives that are proven failures. This is why the corporate funders did not get any buy-in from teachers, because teachers knew that these policy initiatives merely continue failed policies.
Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates of Academic Freedom
The U. S. Constitution requires states to retain authority over education. The federal statues: General Education Provisions Act, the Department of Education Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 prohibit the DoED from exercising any direction or supervision in the selection of textbooks or instructional materials or in the control of administration of curriculum. The federal government ignored all of these laws when they financed the development of the Common Core State Standards, the creation of textbooks aligned with those standards, and the production of tests that are aligned with the CCSS. This process, when completed, will federalize education. If we are a people of laws, this violation is reason enough for ethical people to reject CCSS.
The CCSS standards have NOT been validated empirically and no metric has been established to monitor the consequences these standards will have upon the educational system.
The claim that national standards will prepare students for a 21st century economy requires citizens to suspend logic and to ignore truth. While Japan has national standards and their students outrank American students on national tests, their economy underperforms the American economy while America leads the world in patents for innovations.
China and Singapore are countries which are moving away from national standards because their leadership finally realizes that standardized education has a negative impact on creativity. Why is America implementing something that has not fulfilled its promises?
Supporters of CCSS are advocates for diversity, yet CCSS undermines diversity and ignores the principles of developmental psychology. CCSS requires all children to master the same set of skills and acquire the same knowledge by the same point in time. Separating curriculum from culture, from prior knowledge, from stages of cognitive and social development assumes that children are not unique human beings. This is the antithesis of a quality educational program.
Why would America select a curriculum that strips children of their individuality? Why would educators create a curriculum that eliminates respect for the variety of belief systems that contribute to our diverse society?
The landmark Eight-Year Study proved that curriculum locally developed can be successful.
Wisconsin Tea Party Open Letter to Gov. Walker
Hand-delivered to the Office of the Governor, May 2nd , 2013 Governor Walker and Esteemed Republican State Legislators:
As part of your base, we, the undersigned, find ourselves in a difficult position. We applaud and share your desire to see substantive reform, improved education for all children, and accountability to taxpayers. However, Wisconsin’s embrace of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which many of you have blessed, is leading us off a cliff. As informed citizens, we reject CCSS and urge you to do the same without delay. Our objections to CCSS are legion. This letter outlines only the most prominent.
CCSS ROBS CITIZENS
The federal and state governments will enforce CCSS. Yet, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) hold the copyright. Never mind the involvement of a long list of corporate partners listed on the CCSSO and NGA websites and traceable elsewhere. Via CCSS, people we did not elect can pursue private agendas vis à vis the education of Wisconsin children…with zero accountability to citizens.
Local taxpayers like us will have to foot the yet untold bill for CCSS – including but not limited to major technology initiatives, additional administrative staff, training, and textbook compliance. Our children will be subjected to CCSS and will have to live with whatever outcomes it yields. But CCSS will be entirely out of our hands.
CCSS IS EDUCATIONAL FRAUD
CCSS claims development by states and educational experts. While it chipped in approximately $30 million in consortia grants for CCSS development, the federal government insisted on nary a trained educator, state education chief, state governor, state legislator, or local school district representative. None expected, none present. The grants simply enabled corporate cronies to accomplish that from which the federal government is legally prohibited: the development of national standards.
CCSS marketing spin propagates a second total confabulation: international benchmarking. Show us the proof. Our research has yielded none. CCSS, then, makes children guinea pigs for unproven educational theories and approaches. These are arbitrary standards, not higher standards.
Follow the money to but a few of the truly big players in the CCSS development, implementation, and public relations game. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have contributed at least $35 million for development, plus another $10 million for promotion. GE contributed another $33 million. Pearson Publishing, College Board, and ACT are all deeply involved in CCSS and stand to gain millions. While highly abbreviated, this list shines at least some light on the false marketing around CCSS.
CCSS DUMBS KIDS DOWN
As noted in CCSS’s own documentation, the new standards will now prepare children only for technical school, not for a four year college or university. Shouldn’t Republican officials be raising their eyebrow and asking why? As just one example of this lowered preparatory expectation, CCSS moves algebra from 8th grade to 9th grade, reducing the likelihood of completing calculus prior to graduation. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
CCSS encourages us to believe that a strict regimen of standardized testing, along with loads of new textbooks and technology, will result in smarter kids. Standardization and standardized testing do not equate to higher standards. Nor do laptops, tablets, prescribed textbooks and software, or endless standardized testing equate to enhanced performance. No hard evidence supports either presumption. In fact, endless standardized testing may well result in children who will take tests – and orders – on command but can’t think for themselves. We trust that, like us, you want children to be something other than mere automatons.
CCSS OBLITERATES LOCAL CONTROL
Like many states, Wisconsin signed on to CCSS to obtain a No Child Left Behind Waiver. No CCSS, no waiver. That’s federal coercion, which logically precludes state or local control. According to the terms of the agreement, Wisconsin may determine and implement a mere 15 percent of standards above and beyond CCSS. This stipulation is nonsensical. How would one objectively make this calculation? And what penalties will teachers or school boards risk in teaching to a higher standard – which, having investigated CCSS thoroughly, we would strongly encourage them to do?
More to the point, what utter perversion of proper representation determined that trade organizations – working in partnership with federal and state governments and a host of self-interested corporations – were eminently more qualified to determine the lion’s share of educational standards than the parents, teachers, and school boards who concern themselves with Wisconsin children on a daily basis at the local level?
We have heard from certain quarters that Wisconsin needs CCSS because it currently has such low standards. We contend that Wisconsin’s low educational standards result in large measure from increasing centralized control over several decades. Restoring greater local control is the answer, not doubling down on increasingly Orwellian centralization.
CCSS HAMSTRINGS TEACHERS
Every day, teachers are faced with the reality that each student learns differently. CCSS’s one-size-fits-all approach severely limits individualized attention and the use of unique methods to accommodate and bridge differing learning styles.
Under CCSS, teachers will spend approximately one third of classroom time administering standardized tests. How does reducing teachers to mere proctors for much of the school year encourage or enhance exceptional instruction? The remainder of classroom time will be spent teaching to these copious standardized tests in a manner that allows little or no deviation from a prescribed norm, once again undermining and possibly even penalizing ingenuity. Just as demoting teachers to proctors will not result in exceptional teaching, neither will reducing teachers to pedagogues motivate or even permit them to create effectively an atmosphere in which children desire to learn.
CCSS CO-OPTS CHOICE
The proposed 2013-2015 biennial budget clearly indicates that CCSS will become the standard not only for regular public schools, but also ultimately for all Wisconsin schools. Charter schools, private schools, virtual schools, home schools, and others will all finally be required to teach to CCSS. Abysmally, this fact thoroughly undermines choice.
CCSS EXPLOITS CHILDREN’S PRIVATE INFORMATION
In utter circumvention of federal child privacy laws, CCSS aims to track children from cradle to career via a “student information system,” a massive database intended to collect far more than academic records. Such data collection is actually already occurring but will expand profoundly. For instance, the proposed biennial budget makes plain that even non-public schools will feed data into the database. Moreover, because of changes to federal law, our children’s private and personal data can now be passed from federal agency to federal agency without parental permission.
A February 2013 Federal Department of Education report notes that the feds intend to use schools to catalog “attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes and intrapersonal resources – independent of intellectual ability.” To be very clear, that includes physical data; psychological data; feelings, beliefs, and personal biases; political data and voting status; religious affiliations; interpersonal data; financial information; medical records; and a multitude of other data points and groupings. The data will be identifiable to the child, not anonymous.
According to the report, CCSS also envisions collecting and storing biometric data via “edu-tech” devices in the classroom. Placed on or pointed at our children, such devices would record and measure facial expression, posture, heart rate, perspiration, and muscle tension. Even magnetic resonance imaging is considered.
Invasive data mining of children and parents is also in the CCSS plan.
Worse still, all of this private, personal data on our children will be farmed out to whoever “needs” it. Translation: Our children’s information is already absolutely free to many and will soon be for sale to others.
“So what?” we’ve heard some of you say. “We’re already collecting this stuff.” If you as a conservative are not horrified and working to roll back or arrest these gross violations of child privacy, it may be time for some serious self-examination.
CCSS is not limited government. It is not local control of education. It is not even state control of education. It does not represent a benchmarked or better standard for students. It will not encourage better teachers. It wrongly quells the voices of parents, citizens, and taxpayers. Moreover, CCSS is not fixable. Rather, it is a gross corruption of fiduciary duty and a violation of citizen’s rights on multiple levels. However much money and effort will be down the drain in backing away from CCSS, consider it cheap in comparison to what will result from continuing to embrace this monstrosity.
The State of Wisconsin must not remain complicit in CCSS, and Republicans should not be caught on the wrong side of this issue. We trust you will act quickly to verify what we’ve shared and to protect the rights of all Wisconsinites, particularly our children. We will not rest until CCSS is repealed in this state. We are watching. We are not alone. Our numbers are growing.