June 4, 2015 Globe Presentation: Corporate/Federal Involvement in Common Core

Common Core represents a federal/corporate take-over never before seen in the history of the United States of America.  Local school boards, teachers, and parents are becoming utterly irrelevant in this equation.  

Diane Douglas has been hosting Town Hall "listening" events all over Arizona, giving the public a chance to come to the microphone and speak on whatever public school concern they have.  The hot topic is Common Core.  At the Globe, Arizona, event held on June 4, I was able to make some public comments.  This is the first of three. 

For the record, I am against Common Core by any name including Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards, and its entire system including:  1) Standards; 2) Common Core-aligned curriculum; 3) High Stakes Testing; 4) Data Mining Arizona’s children; and 5) using students’ scores on high stakes tests for the purpose of evaluating teachers.

The Common Core standards were not state led.  When I hear someone make that statement, it tells me they’ve not done much research. They have simply repeated what they’ve heard or read provided by the National Governors Association (NGA), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and Achieve, Inc.

 The standards were not internationally benchmarked.  The national Common Core website has watered down that assertion, because they can't prove it.  Now their website reads that the standards are “internationally informed.”  Which is meaningless. 

Many people assume that the nationwide prevalence of Common Core indicates that each of the states engaged in a vigorous review of the standards and independently rated them as beneficial and of high quality.

That is false.  Common Core was developed by private entities.  In the midst of a fiscal crisis that left the states highly vulnerable, those three entities showed the federal executive branch how to deploy a carrot-and-stick approach to push Common Core into the states.  Then, they drafted the standards through a private process not subject to any of the safeguards of a public process and premised on the idea of a monopoly.

This is how they did it.  Back in December 2008, a handful of members of the National Governors Association (NGA), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and Achieve wrote a white paper titled Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education.  As an aside, those same three entities had received $150 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (NOTE:  As of this writing, the Gates Foundation has bankrolled Common Core by at least $2 billion, paid to businesses, universities, institutes, foundations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, State Boards of Education, Departments of Education, the AFT, NEA, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, College Board, etc., etc., etc.) 

Benchmarking called on the federal government to:  “adopt a common core of “internationally benchmarked” standards in math and language arts for K-12”; “ensure that textbooks, digital media, curricula, and assessments are aligned to standards”; “revise state policies for recruiting, preparing, developing, and supporting teachers and school leaders..”; and hold schools and systems accountable…”

This set into motion President Obama and Department of Education Secretary Duncan’s July 2009 announcement of  $4.3 billion available to the states in a Race to the Top competition.

Arizona scrambled to complete its 345 page application and appendices in Jan 2010 for a chance at winning $250 million in RTTT money, agreeing to adopt Common Core (before it was written).  Arizona also agreed to all of the federal governments demands.

Arizona didn’t “win” the money, and tried again 2 more times, finally receiving $25 million.  The Arizona State Board of Education (SBE) formally adopted Common Core in June 2010.  According to Arizona Revised Statutes, prior to adopting any new standards, the SBE is required to provide the Joint Legislative Budget Committee with a fiscal impact statement.  They didn’t do that.  Finally, in 2013, they advised the Committee that the cost to implement Common Core would be $387 million.

Did Arizona and other states provide thousands of comments to the NGA and the Writing Team?  Yes, they did.  Did the writing team made up mostly of 5 people incorporate anything of significance? 

Not likely.  Keep in mind that the NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve are NOT government entities.  Common Core was written behind closed doors.   With no checks and balances.  No public notices.  No public meetings.  Private companies are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.  

Also, the Common Core standards were written in just 11 months, from July 1, 2009 to June 2, 2010.  
Some of the best state standards in the world, developed by Massachusetts in the 1990’s, through a public process, took years to develop. 

Was the federal government involved in the development of the standards?  Their fingerprints are all over them.  What the feds did was simply pay the states to do that which would have been illegal for them to do.   

One final point.  Two attorneys, formerly with the United States Department of Education, wrote a paper titled: The Road to a National Curriculum:  The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers.

This is what they stated, and I quote: “...these standards and assessments will ultimately direct the course of elementary and secondary study in most states across the nation-- running the risk that states will become little more than administrative agents for a nationalized K-12 program of instruction--and raising a fundamental question about whether the Department is exceeding its statutory boundaries.”