A few months ago, I had never heard much about the new Common Core education standards, so I contacted the Wilmette District 39 curriculum director, an administrator I had known for years. I served eight years on the District 39 Board of Education, but that was back in 1995-2003. She reassured me that the new standards were just great; nothing would change about the excellent objectives of the district, and there would be added resources to take education forward. Looks like the North Shore public elementary schools and New Trier High School drank this Kool-Aid, and they may be pretty surprised when the testing and data collection get going in a couple of years – and when the Feds drop their “initial” funding and dump the multi-billion dollar costs onto the states and local districts.

I learned that, notwithstanding the hype that Common Core was a state-initiated program, this agenda to nationalize education came out of the Obama administration and its high-tech cronies. Most states (Illinois, of course) signed on early in 2010, incentivized by promises from the Feds that states “might” receive initial funds if they were winners of Race to the Top. It turned out that  – only with a promise to adopt Common Core federal standards and its national database – Obama Stimulus funds were dispersed (an early by-pass of Congress), sweetened with waivers to No Child Left Behind testing. So who actually is behind Common Core? Try Bill Gates, UNESCO, George Soros, Bill Ayres, Rupert Murdoch, Jeb Bush, Marc Tucker (of Goals 2000 fame), David Coleman (runs the SATs), the Pearson Foundation (monopoly owner of nearly every American textbook publisher) and a bunch of non-governmental trade groups like the National Governors Association – to name a few, all worthy of future Google searches.

It turns out there is quite a lot to worry about. First, Common Core is not about improving education; it’s about transforming American society into a global community that cares – about social justice, about tolerance, about sustainability, all without the “poisonous air of nationalism.” With the Feds in charge of education, America can move towards a “true democracy” rather than the old Constitutional republic – those pesky states and local governments will gradually be obsolete. So far the Common Core standards are just for math and English/Language Arts. Math gets a face lift from the old Euclidian model: right answers are no longer necessary – just fluency, estimation, a range of right answers. English instruction takes on the outdated Western classical literature Canon; the curriculum gradually reduces fiction reading to 30 percent, with 70 percent in “informational texts” – government reports and non-fiction pamphlets.

Some are calling it indoctrination 101; at least that’s a possibility. Who knows better how to raise your children – your family or the government in Washington? Better decide. Most politicians know very little about this movement, so maybe it’s time to ask them to represent us local families.

More information from StopCommonCore.com in Illinois:

How Race to the Top Funds Fundamentally Transformed our Schools :

  • What many call ‘Common Core’ is really a set of initiatives that were introduced to states via the Race To The Top Funds.  
  • These funds were offered to states as part of the Obama Stimulus Bill.
  • In order for states to quality for the Race to the Top Funds, they were required to:
    • Implement the new Common Core State Learning Standards
    • Use new standardized tests to evaluate student and teacher performance
    • Set-up a longitudinal database which contains student demographics and performance data from preschool through age 20
    • As a deal ‘sweetener’, many states also qualified for a waiver from the Race to the Top requirements which financially penalized failing schools
  • No state legislature voted in Race to the Top education reforms; they were simply applied for by state governors and administrators while most state legislatures were out of session
  • Initially, all states except Alaska, Texas Virginia and Nebraska adopted the Common Core  Standards.

Who Wrote the Standards:

  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided the funding to write the new standards.
  • Two Washington DC trade organizations:  The national Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Counsel of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) worked with education industry partners to write and trademark the new standards.
  • Many on a panel of educators and business leaders refused to sign off on the final draft of the Common Core Learning Standards.

Why Should You Be Concerned about the Common Core State Standards and Standardized Tests?

  • Some advocates of Common Core insist that Common Core is “not a curriculum” and that it will promulgate “an academic curriculum based on great works of Western civilization and the American republic.”  But the standards are being used to write the tables of contents for all the textbooks used in K-12 math and English classes. This may not technically constitute a curriculum, but it certainly defines what children will be taught, especially when they and their teachers will be judged by performance on national tests that are aligned with these standards.
  • Why should centrally controlled, taxpayer-funded, unaccountable-to-the-public committees have the power to define what nearly every U.S. school child will learn?
  • The most important thing to understand about education standards is that research has
  • demonstrated they have no effect on student achievement. That’s right: no effect at all. A series of data analyses from the left-leaning Brookings Institution found no link between high state standards and high student achievement.
  • No state, school district, or even school has ever used the Core. It has no track record. Ordinarily, changes to curriculum, even small ones, are made incrementally, giving experts, policymakers, teachers, and parents time to review and respond to them. Even so, curriculum experts and consultants continue to chant that the proposed Common Core standards are “rigorous” and “internationally benchmarked.” The new standards are neither. The Core’s Web site labels skepticism about this as one of many Common Core “myths,” insisting “international benchmarking played a significant role in both sets of standards.”
  • No one really knows how much it will cost to implement Common Core. Most states did not estimate costs before adopting it. Estimates of the Core’s phase-in cost vary from $3 billion to$16 billion nationwide.  The new tests will also cost far more to administer each year. Georgia testing officials, for example, said previous tests cost taxpayers $5 per student per year, but Common Core tests would cost $22 per student annually, more than four times as much.
  • Defenders of Common Core standards assert that the project is state-instigated and -controlled.  Why, then, do national government officials need to review these tests? Because the federal government provided all the funds for these national tests and major grants to the nonprofit groups who wrote Common Core.  They and big funders of government expansion such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation bankrolled the entire project. Big businesses (including Microsoft) have significant financial stakes in national education markets. They are leading the effort to promote Common Core to lawmakers and business leaders.
  • Special interests are the only ones to have had a seat at the table in developing Common Core:  Parents and elected officials were largely shut out. Common Core represents an improvement over most state standards only because those standards were so awful. It replaces low benchmarks with barely better benchmarks, is confusing and of poor quality itself, and introduces a host of privacy and curricular concerns.
  • Firms that earn significant income by selling tests, textbooks, and professional development sponsor the entities that developed the Core and own its copyright (the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers). Earning money isn’t bad, but a centralized education market is a significant boon to big companies, giving them a large financial stake in getting it and keeping it that way regardless of the instructional effects and costs to taxpayers. “Everybody’s excited about it,” a Chicago investment firm founder told Reuters.

Source:  The Heartland Institute – Fight Common Core.  Full brochure available on our printable items list under ‘resources and links’ tab.

Why Should You Be Concerned about the Longitudinal Database? 

  • Without US Congressional debate or votes, the Department of Education weakened the student privacy laws which have historically protected student records (FERPA.)
  • New federal guidelines allow for the collection of controversial demographic information about the student and their family including political and religious affiliation, relationships with doctors and ministers, and income.  Also tracked are  student and parental behavioral, mental and medical information.
  • In Illinois, the student data collection can begin at 24 hours old and will follow the child into college and the workforce (until age 20.)
  • There is very little information regarding how and when the demographic data will be utilized.
  • The new nationally standardized database design will allow access to student data via an internet portal (API.)  Privately owned educational applications will allowed to access and write student data to ‘personalize’ online learning materials for students.  Research firms and numerous governmental and workforce agencies will also have access to the data.
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