Friday, February 7, 2014

What is Common Core?

What are the Common Core State Standards?

The Common Core State Standards are a set of English Language Arts and math curriculum standards written and copyrighted by Achieve, Inc.  The primary funding source of Achieve, Inc. is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The development of the Common Core standards was not state-led.  Their development was led by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), both of which are national Washington, DC-based special interest groups.
The Common Core standards are being implemented in 45.5 states and Washington, DC.  Which is to say: Alaska, Texas, Virginia, and Nebraska have not implemented the standards, and Minnesota has implemented the English Language Arts standards but not the math standards.  Grassroots outcry against the Common Core standards has been overwhelming, and many states are now somewhere in the process of stopping Common Core.

Ties to the Federal Government

Though the federal government has not yet mandated that states implement the Common Core standards, states were bribed by the federal government into accepting the standards during the competitive application process for the Race to the Top (RTTT) grants that were part of the 2009 stimulus package.  State school boards, whose members are appointed (not elected), filled out and submitted the applications for the RTTT grant funding.
The application for RTTT funding was done on a points system and a significant number of points were awarded based on whether a state intended to implement the Common Core standards.  In order to be competitive in the application process, a state had to agree to implement the standards.  Though these grant applications were due in early 2010, the Common Core standards were not completed and released until June 2010.  This means that state school boards had to decide whether to implement the standards without having seen them.
This also means that appointed bureaucrats made the decision to implement the Common Core standards, without any involvement of the legislative branch of government or any electoral recourse for parents and voters.

Low Quality Standards and Curriculum

In addition to the increasing ties to the federal government and the loss of local control over education, the quality of the standards themselves is poor.
There was only one English Language Arts expert, Sandra Stotsky, and one mathematics expert, R. James Milgrim, included in the respective committees that worked on the development of the standards.  Both Stotsky and Milgrim refused to sign off on the Common Core standards as acceptable academic standards.
Educrats will often say that the Common Core State Standards are “standards, not curriculum.”  But the standards determine the curriculum and we are seeing increasingly poor curriculum as a result.  Parents have been outraged by biased textbooks and counterintuitive homework assignments from the beginning of Common Core’s implementation.  As time goes on, many teachers are discovering the difficulty of having to teach under such rigid standards and the negative reactions students are experiencing due to the changes.
Because the Common Core State Standards were written and copyrighted by Achieve, Inc., nothing is allowed to be removed or changed by the state school boards, local school boards, or individual teachers.  The standards allow for up to 15% of content to be added, but the standards are so onerous and assessment-focused already that most teachers are forced by time constraints to stick with the standards as written and teach to the test.

Increased Focus on Standardized Testing

The Common Core State Standards, like all federal education initiatives, have increased the required amount of assessment students must undergo.  Now all students must be tested multiple times per year for comparative purposes.  As a result, teachers are now spending more time than ever teaching to the test.  Standardized testing is widely acknowledged to be a poor indicator of intellectual capability, and activists and groups from all political perspectives have united against Common Core’s burdensome assessment requirements.
When states initially decided to implement the Common Core standards, they had to choose to participate in one of two testing consortia that were developing assessments aligned with Common Core: Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced).
Many states have since pulled out of the testing consortia to create their own system of assessments instead, due to projected cost of the assessments being developed by the consortia.

Increased Cost for States

The increase in cost for states to implement the Common Core State Standards varies among states, but it is a substantial increase in most cases.  In addition to the costs associated with development of new assessments, the technology of the schools must be upgraded significantly in order to teach the curriculum and administer the new assessments.
Some states received a one-time RTTT grant awarded after the competitive grant application process, but most states that accepted the Common Core standards did not receive federal funding.  This means that for those states the entire cost of implementing the standards has fallen to the state and local school systems.
Even for those states that did receive a one-time RTTT grant, federal funding has not been ongoing while the cost associated with implementation of Common Core has obviously continued.

Data-Mining and Privacy Violations

Separate from but related to Common Core is the development of the state Longitudinal Data Systems.  The federal government again bribed states by offering them separate grants to create Longitudinal Data Systems to track and store student and family data.
To read more about the extreme privacy violations occurring with the data-mining of our students in public schools, read “What Happened to FERPA? The Effects of State Longitudinal Data Systems on Student and Family Privacy.”

Crony Capitalism: Big Government Educrats and Big Business

Several large, supposedly non-profit groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Pearson Charitable Foundation (the non-profit arm of educational publishing company Pearson) have pushed hard to develop the Common Core State Standards by funding Achieve, Inc. to write the standards and by working with the US Department of Education to push state school boards into accepting the standards.
Pearson Charitable Foundation was recently ordered to pay a settlement of $7.7 million dollars after using charitable contributions to develop Common Core aligned products that led to tens of millions of dollars in profit for the Pearson publishing company.
When local school systems upgrade their technology to teach Common Core aligned curriculum and administer Common Core required assessments, Microsoft (owned by Bill Gates) turns a huge profit.
The Longitudinal Data Systems developed and implemented by most state school systems are being managed by inBloom, Inc., which is a non-profit organization primarily funded by the Gates Foundation.  The data that is collected about students and their families is allowed to be released to “related contractors” of the school systems.  Which means that inBloom, Inc., an organization funded by the Gates’ non-profit arm, can release the data it holds to companies like Microsoft, the Gates’ for-profit arm.
The federal government is promoting the implementation of nationalized education standards that then require huge government spending on textbooks and technology, which is paid directly to the government-approved companies whose charitable “sister” Foundations made the initial investment to develop and promote those standards.  This is crony capitalism at its worst.

What can you do?


These are just a few of the facts surrounding this awful program, but hopefully you will join us in opposing this effort by supporting the Common Core Prohibition bill in the House of Delegates in Annapolis right now. The bill is HB76 and is being considered by the Ways and Means Committee after the hearing we attended on Wednesday 5 February 2014.

Please email these folks today especially the chair and our delegate from Frederick County Afzali...


Hixson, Sheila E. (Chair) sheila.hixson.annapolis@house.state.md.us
Turner, Frank S. (Vice Chair) frank.turner@house.state.md.us
Afzali, Kathy kathy.afzali@house.state.md.us
Barve, Kumar P. kumar.barve@house.state.md.us
Boteler, Joseph C., III joseph.boteler@house.state.md.us
Branch, Talmadge talmadge.branch@house.state.md.us
Cardin, Jon S. jon.cardin@house.state.md.us
Fisher, Mark N. mark.fisher@house.state.md.us
Frick, C. William bill.frick@house.state.md.us
George, Ron ron.george@house.state.md.us
Harper, Nina R. nina.harper@house.state.md.us
Howard, Carolyn J. B. carolyn.howard@house.state.md.us
Ivey, Jolene jolene.ivey@house.state.md.us
Kaiser, Anne R. anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us
Luedtke, Eric G. eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us
Miller, Aruna aruna.miller@house.state.md.us
Myers, LeRoy E., Jr. leroy.myers@house.state.md.us
Serafini, Andrew A. andrew.serafini@house.state.md.us
Stukes, Melvin L. melvin.stukes@house.state.md.us
Summers, Michael G. michael.summers@house.state.md.us
Walker, Jay jay.walker@house.state.md.us
Washington, Alonzo T. alonzo.washington@house.state.md.us