(Virginia Starrett) – About two years ago, I was favorably disposed toward Common Core (CC). Who could oppose better standards? (I asked myself). Certainly, not me (a college English instructor by trade). But then I became aware, through a meeting of the local Good Governance Group, that some highly-respected folks were staunchly opposed to this new approach to education (conservatives George Will and Charles Krauthammer to name two). That awareness pricked my curiosity, so I formulated a campaign to get myself informed about CC, which led to my discovery of two extremely helpful blogs: deutsch29 (written by Mercedes Schneider, a Louisiana K-12 teacher and a liberal) and dianeravitch.net (written by Diane Ravitch, a liberal and former U. S. Secretary of Education) and read up on how Common Core came into being (short version: it’s a corporate reform project), with no field testing, with intentional widespread student failure built in, with no regard for any of the research into how children develop, and with no accommodation for either ESL students or students with learning disabilities.
I could go on with other similar negatives, but these are the ones I put at the top of my list regarding the standards. Add to this list the fact that the two actual standards experts hired by the Common Core creative team (headed up by David Coleman, a businessman, not an educator, and a man who earned his living as an executive with an educational testing company) refused to sign off on the standards themselves as they found them severely flawed (and judged them to be not rigorous, and, in fact, came to the conclusion that a student who graduated high school under the CC standards would be two years behind the rest of the world in knowledge and skills) (FYI: I got this information from the two standards experts, Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. Stanley Milgram, in direct conversation). I almost forgot to pass on how the CC standards (unlike any previous standards) are copyrighted and mandate that they be implemented 100% (so much for local control). If a school board wants to add something to the standards, that’s fine, but they are restricted to adding no more than 15%, and this additional stuff will not be on any of the CC tests that judge the teacher’s competency as well as the student’s. Oh, and that guy, David Coleman, who oversaw the creation of CC, well, after he completed CC, he was put in charge of writing the SAT and ACT tests.
CC is a Sword of Damocles hanging over public education; unfortunately, most dedicated educators aren’t looking up, so they don’t see it. I have now spent at least a thousand hours researching Common Core and I have concluded that it is a terrible assault on the teaching profession. I believe it is part of a deliberate and concerted takeover of education by corporate interests. It means to shut down public education not reform it. I have become convinced that it is not in the best interest of students at all, but instead will result in a two-tier education scheme wherein the “privileged” students gobble up all the spots in the finest universities and the “underclass” will be relegated to worker bees.
Contrary to the current mantra held forth by CC proponents, CC slowly destroys local control of not only curriculum but the students themselves. Also built into the CC system is the agreement by all states who participate in CC testing (PARCC or SBAC) to provide personal data by student identity to the testing consortium. FERPA (the Federal laws that protect student privacy) was weakened over the last 5 years so this could happen. The testing consortium has agreed, in turn, to provide this information to the USDOE (and other third parties [a vague reference that could mean anybody]), also as part of the CC system. Arne Duncan himself voices the purpose for all this data collection:
“Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career . . . . We want to see more states build comprehensive systems that track students from pre-K through college and then link school data to workforce data. We want to know whether Johnny participated in an early learning program and then completed college on time and whether those things have any bearing on his earnings as an adult.”
You need to know that included in the desired “points” of data collection would be religious affiliation, home situation, political beliefs, and behavioral problems. This information would, because of the CC system, be made available to the USDOE. The USDOE is aggressively using grants to bully states into getting ready to participate in this data collection scheme, and under many of the grants (held out as carrots), the collection starts with information concerning a child from birth.
Nevada isn’t collecting much of this kind of data — yet, but current legislation is attempting to put this kind of data collection into place, and Nevada has built the required Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS), under a 2012 SLDS Federal Grant, necessary to facilitate the collection and transmission. Washoe school district is already well on its way with its “Infinite Campus” access program.
To re-iterate, Nevada isn’t collecting or transmitting this data outside the state — yet. Nevada is participating in SBAC testing, though, and the testing is also a data collection device. Any student who takes the SBAC tests coming up will trigger a “file” on him or herself in what constitutes a de facto national database.
I didn’t even touch on the Bill Gates & cronies aspects concerning the profit-making incentives for businesses through CC (deutsch29 has powerful hard evidence on this in her early blogs), but I’m guessing I’ve probably overwhelmed a reader already, so I’ll desist. I am a bit worked up over this whole CC subject. I’ll end by suggesting a starting point for a quest concerning CC would be Ravitch’s January, 2014 speech to the MLA (found at “My Speech to MLA by Diane Ravitch”).
Ms. Starrett is Board member of Nevadans Against Common Core.