on Common Core

Back in 2005, Iowa began work on developing a state core standard for education called the Iowa Core. In 2009, Governor Chet Culver and the Iowa Department of Education signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to join an initiative in developing a national core curriculum, and in 2010, with no vote from our state legislature, and with national standards not even yet fully developed, they decided to replace in full the state standards of the Iowa Core with the national standards of the Common Core (CC) curriculum. All Iowa school districts, including private accredited schools, will be required to adopt 100% of these standards by the 2014-2015 school year, with no allowance for any changes other than an option to add 15% more content (which will not be on the CC tests). States are just now beginning to discover the real facts about the Common Core standards. Here are the myths.

Myth #1: This is a state led initiative. Fact: These standards were developed by a private DC non-profit organization called Achieve, Inc., whose board consists of progressive education reformers, and funded by progressive entities like the Gates Foundation and the National Center on Education and the Economy. These then enlisted two private DC-based trade organizations, the National Governors Association (NGA) (which does not include all governors) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), to give the façade of state involvement. Meetings were not open to the public to garner public feedback nor were minutes published; such transparency is not required for private entities. Also, the CC standards are copyrighted by the NGA and CCSSO with no changes allowed; if this was truly a state led initiative standards would be under the control of the states and in the public domain.

Myth #2: The federal government did not have input in the development of Common Core. Fact: The U.S. Dept. of Education attended the closed door meetings that led to its creation. They have also given grant money to the consortia that will be developing the CC tests.

Myth #3: The states adopted the Common Core voluntarily. Fact: In order to be eligible for Race to the Top stimulus cash, other stimulus money, or receive waivers from the failed No Child Left Behind initiative, states were required to adopt the CC standards, even before they were finalized, let alone had a chance to be proved to be effective.

Myth #4: Common Core is only standards, not curriculum, and states will have control of their own curriculum. Fact: Standards and tests (developed in DC with no transparency or public oversight) will drive curriculum. Eventually all states will be teaching the same curriculum, private and public schools alike. In fact, the private consortia that is developing the testing models (including the Gates Foundation & the Pearson Foundation, the world’s largest publishing company) admitted that they will also be developing curriculum models.

Myth #5: The Common Core standards are rigorous and will make our children “college ready”. Fact: The Fordham Institute, a supporter of Common Core, has admitted that several states had standards that were equal to or superior than, the CC standards. One drafter of the CC has even said that the CC math standards were only good enough to prepare students for a two year community college, not a four year university. James Milgram, the only mathematician on the CC Validation committee, would not even sign off on the CC math standards, stating that they would put American students two years behind their international peers. And Sandra Stotsky, also on the committee, would also not sign off either, deeming the English standards as empty skill sets, weakening the knowledge needed for college course work (see http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/common-core-state-standards-content/ for a detailed list of concerns).

Myth #6: The Common Core standards are evidence & researched based, as well as internationally bench marked. Fact: No evidentiary data has yet been produced to validate these claims, nor info on who participated in the design of the standards or their qualifications, despite many requests from the public. Research data was not even provided to the CC Validation committee on how these standards stacked against other countries. In fact, the CC’s own website doesn’t even claim this anymore; they now merely say that standards were “informed by” international standards (whatever that means).

Myth # 7: We need common standards in order to compare student achievement between the states. Fact: We can already do that using the ACTs & SATs

Myth #8: We need common standards in order to help students who move from state to state. Fact: The percentage of students in this category is so small (less than 2%), it is silly to develop a national curriculum to meet this need.

Fruit from a poisonous tree is never sweet. The fact that the Common Core needed lies, bribery and extortion in order to see the light of day does not bode well on its ability to improve education, preserve local and parental control, and reduce the states’ financial burden. I will touch on more of this next week.

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