Common Core ‘puts academic quality at risk’

Until recent times, America had a rich history of excellence in education. Parents, teachers, local school districts and states, in that order, controlled education.

A mere six decades after the birth of our nation, French historian Alexis de Tocqueville toured America and was astounded by the high level of education he found across all demographic groups.

 

One hundred and fifty years later, following the federal government’s unconstitutional usurpation of parental and state rights, there has been a precipitous drop in the quality of education.

No Child Left Behind became law in 2001 and required schools to make “adequate yearly progress.” Schools were set up to fail with the requirement that they attain 100 percent proficiency by 2012.

Despite being the cause of the crisis, the federal government in 2009 created a solution called Race to the Top with $4 billion of stimulus money. Under Race to the Top, states could apply for grants and waivers from NCLB if they agreed to implement data collection systems, adopt Common Core Standards and National Assessments (which had not yet been made public), adopt performance-based standards for teachers and principals and adopt “P-20 integration” with greatly expanded preschool.

In 2010, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty quietly applied for Race to the Top. Minnesota did not get “free money,” but it did get a NCLB waiver. Since then, Minnesota has been busy implementing the English Language Arts portion of Common Core and building a longitudinal database system.

Parents, teachers and concerned citizens are only now finding out what Common Core is — and they don’t like what they’re finding.

Common Core calls for unprecedented monitoring, collection and sharing of private student and family data. The Obama administration has reinterpreted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA to allow personally identifiable information including name, address, Social Security number, attendance, test scores, learning disabilities and family information to be collected and shared with other agencies, researchers and private companies.

Parents and state legislators were not asked and did not consent to this violation of their privacy.

The copyrighted standards were written in closed-door meetings without public debate by only five major authors, none of whom ever had taught in a K-12 classroom and only one of whom had ever before written standards.

The standards have not been field-tested, and five members of the validation committee refused to sign.

Federal laws prohibit the federal government from controlling school curriculum. Common Core advocates say that the standards are not curriculum, but because educators will retain their jobs and get raises based on how well their students do on the assessments, educators will align curriculum and “teach to the test.”

Joseph Califano, secretary of health, education and welfare under President Jimmy Carter, admitted in 1977 that “national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.”

Assessments are being written by two private organizations: Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), led by Bill Ayers, and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), led by Linda Darling Hammond.

Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas, refused to validate the standards because they were neither internationally benchmarked nor research-based. She said, “Common Core has carefully disguised its road to equally low outcomes for all demographic groups, and many state boards of education may quickly follow up their unexamined adoption of Common Core’s K-12 standards … by lowering their high school graduation requirements in the name of alignment.”

R. James Milgram, professor emeritus at Stanford, also refused to validate. “The Common Core math standards are actually two or more years behind international expectations by 8th grade, and only fall further behind as they talk about grades 8-12,” he said.

“Indeed, they don’t even fully cover the material in a solid geometry course or in a second-year algebra course.”

Jason Zimba, one of Common Core’s creators, admitted that “college ready” means ready for a nonselective two-year community college, not a selective four-year institution.

Common Core Standards present a serious threat to parental authority, local education authority and states’ rights, while putting academic quality at risk.

We invite all Minnesotans to become better informed through our organization, Minnesotans Against Common Core (commoncoremn.com).

Herald readers should talk with their legislators, superintendents, school boards and educators and tell them to say “no” to Common Core.

Cross-posted at Grand Forks Hearld