Monday, November 25, 2013

Mary Calamia Testifies on Common Core

We do post a many articles on our Facebook Page relating to Common Core. Today when I read the testimony of Mary Calamia, who is a clinical social worker, before the New York State Assembly Education Forum, it was in PDF format so I thought that I should post her full text here:

Statement for New York State Assembly Education Forum Brentwood, New York October 10, 2013 by Mary Calamia, LCSW, CASAC

I am a licensed clinical social worker in New York State, and have been providing
psychotherapy services since 1995. I work with parents, teachers, and students from all socio-economic backgrounds representing more than 20 different school districts in Suffolk County. Almost half of my caseload consists of teachers.

In the summer of 2012, my elementary school teachers began to report increased anxiety over having to learn two entirely new curricula for Math and ELA. I discovered that school districts across the board were completely dismantling the current curricula and replacing them with something more scripted, emphasizing “one size fits all” and taking any imagination and innovation out of the hands of the teachers.

In the fall of 2012, I started to receive an inordinate number of student referrals from several different school districts. A large number of honors students—mostly 8th graders—were streaming into my practice. The kids were self-mutilating—cutting themselves with sharp objects and burning themselves with cigarettes. My phone never stopped ringing.

What was prompting this increase in self-mutilating behavior? Why now?

The answer I received from every single teenager was the same. “I can’t handle the pressure. It’s too much work.”

I also started to receive more calls referring elementary school students who were refusing to go to school. They said they felt “stupid” and school was “too hard.” They were throwing tantrums, begging to stay home, and upset even to the point of vomiting.

I was also hearing from parents about kids bringing home homework that the parents didn’t understand and they couldn’t help their children to complete. I was alarmed to hear that in some cases there were no textbooks for the parents to peruse and they had no idea what their children were learning.

My teachers were reporting a startling level of anxiety and depression. For the first time, I heard the term “Common Core” and I became awakened to a new set of standards that all schools were to adhere to—standards that we now say “set the bar so high, anyone can walk right under them.”

Everyone was talking about “The Tests.” As the school year progressed and “The Tests” loomed, my patients began to report increased self-mutilating behaviors, insomnia, panic attacks, loss of appetite, depressed mood, and in one case, suicidal thoughts that resulted in a 2-week hospital stay for an adolescent.

I do not know of any formal studies that connect these symptoms directly to the Common Core, but I do not think we need to sacrifice an entire generation of children just so we can find a correlation.

The Common Core and high stakes testing create a hostile working environment for teachers, thus becoming a hostile learning environment for students. The level of anxiety I am seeing in teachers can only trickle down to the students. Everyone I see is describing a palpable level of tension in the schools.

The Common Core standards do not account for societal problems. When I first learned about APPR and high stakes testing, my first thought was, “Who is going to rate the parents?”

I see children and teenagers who are exhausted, running from activity to activity, living on fast food, then texting, using social media, and playing games well into the wee hours of the morning on school nights.

We also have children taking cell phones right into the classrooms, “tweeting” and texting each other throughout the day. We have parents—yes PARENTS—who are sending their children text messages during school hours.

Let’s add in the bullying and cyberbullying that torments and preoccupies millions of school children even to the point of suicide. Add to that an interminable drug problem.

These are only some of the variables affecting student performance that are outside of the teachers’ control. Yet the SED holds them accountable, substituting innovation and individualism with cookie-cutter standards, believing this will fix our schools.

We cannot regulate biology. Young children are simply not wired to engage in the type of critical thinking that the Common Core calls for. That would require a fully developed prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is not fully functional until early adulthood. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for critical thinking, rational decision-making, and abstract thinking—all things the Common Core demands prematurely.

We teach children to succeed then give them pre-assessments on material they have never seen and tell them it’s okay to fail. Children are not equipped to resolve the mixed message this presents.

Last spring, a 6-year-old who encountered a multiplication sign on the NWEA first grade math exam asked the teacher what it was. The teacher was not allowed to help him and told him to “just do his best” to answer. From that point on, the student’s test performance went downhill. Not only couldn’t the student shake off the unfamiliar symbol, he also couldn’t believe his teacher wouldn’t help him.

Common Core requires children to read informational texts that are owned by a handful of corporations. Lacking any filter to distinguish good information from bad, children will readily absorb whatever text is put in front of them as gospel. So, for example, when we give children a textbook that explains the second amendment in these terms: "The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia," they will look no further for clarification.

We are asking children to write critically, using emotionally charged language to “persuade” rather than inform. Lacking a functional prefrontal cortex, a child will tap into their limbic system, a set of primitive brain structures involved in basic human emotions, fear and anger being foremost. So when we are asking young children to use emotionally charged language, we are actually asking them to fuel their persuasiveness with fear and anger. They are not capable of the judgment required to temper this with reason and logic.

So we have abandoned innovative teaching and instead “teach to the tests,” the dreaded exams that had students, parents and teachers in a complete anxiety state last spring. These tests do not measure learning—what they really measure is endurance and resilience. Only a child who can sit and focus for 90 minutes can succeed. The child who can bounce back after one grueling day of testing and do it all over again the next day has an even better chance.

A recent Cornell University study revealed that students who were overly stressed while preparing for high stakes exams performed worse than students who experienced less stress during the test preparation period. Their prefrontal cortexes—the same parts of the brain that we are prematurely trying to engage in our youngsters—were under-performing.

We are dealing with real people’s lives here. Allow me introduce you to some of them:

...an entire third grade class that spent the rest of the day sobbing after just one testing session,

...a 2nd grader who witnessed this and is now refusing to attend the 3rd grade—this 7-year-old is now being evaluated for psychotropic medication just to go to school,

...a 6-year-old who came home crying because in September of the first grade, she did not know what a vertex was,

...two 8-year-olds who opted out of the ELA exam and were publicly denied cookies when the teacher gave them to the rest of her third grade class,

...the teacher who, under duress, felt compelled to do such a thing,

...a sixth grader who once aspired to be a writer but now hates it because they “do it all day long— even in math,”

...a mother who has to leave work because her child is hysterical over his math homework and his CPA grandfather doesn’t even understand it,

...and countless other children who dread going to school, feel “stupid" and "like failures," and are now completely turned off to education.

I will conclude by adding this thought. Our country became a superpower on the backs of men and women who studied in one-room schoolhouses. I do not think it takes a great deal of technology or corporate and government involvement for kids to succeed. We need to rethink the Common Core and the associated high stakes testing and get back to the business of educating our children in a safe, healthy, and productive manner.



The original pdf can be found here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dr. Peg Luksik talks Common Core

What happens when you explain Common Core using state contracts and other documents? Watch this video by Dr. Peg Luksik, PhD as she skillfully presents her case. Dr Marguerite "Peg" Ann McKenna Luksik, a mother of six, is a conservative politician and Constitution Party activist in Pennsylvania. She is a 1976 magna cum laude graduate of Clarion University with a bachelor of science degree in special education and elementary education.






Now, lets go back to watch Peg Luksik on August 3, 1992. This video entitled "Who Controls The Children (schools dumb down kids deliberately)" is a MUST SEE! If you want to know about common core before there was a common core, and if you want to know about outcome-based or proficiency-based education, then you will want to listen carefully.



Friday, September 13, 2013

Common Core and Homeschoolers

By Heidi Sampson

“Common Core won’t affect me as a homeschooler, right?” Nothing could be further from the truth!

“I’m a homeschooler, so who cares what the public school is doing? This doesn’t affect me! It’s just another ridiculous idea in the public education’s revolving door of fads. This only reinforces the decision I’ve made and is all the more reason for me to homeschool.”

We as homeschoolers often have this attitude. If the law hasn’t changed affecting the way I homeschool, anything in the public arena with respect to education has nothing to do with me. This to a great extent has been true until now. Now we must stand up and pay attention…it does affect us!

For the past 20 years (actually much longer in all reality) there have been some major players who have been working diligently to create a ‘one size fits all’ system in education in order to level the playing field and establish a labor market system to develop human capital for the global workforce. I’m not making these words up. This is exactly what they think of our children. Check it out for yourself. They have methodically been putting pieces into place. In the last 6 or so years it has accelerated with federal laws being established and local laws or rules being altered. Then seemingly out of the blue we have Common Core State Standards in our schools. But the pieces of this have been around for all this time yet we as homeschoolers have been out of the scope of its reach. No more! They are fully aware of the homeschoolers and have every intention to get the data they want.

Homeschoolers MUST become educated about this stealth-like educational system that has been slipped into our state under the cover of darkness. It was designed to be slipped in this way and still the proponents know that most people are asleep and they are getting away with their destructive plan. The lies and layers of deception are manifold. It’s a very convoluted and sinister plan to completely lock our state and others into their plan. All their propaganda and catch-phrases are based on lies or half-truths at best. Children will be so incredibly limited, dumbed down and ultimately impacted on many levels; controlled by the testing and data collection that will follow them the rest of their lives.

The irony in their semantic deceptive words includes ‘The Race to the Top’, in all reality is a race to mediocrity. The ‘Rigor’ they use every time they refer to the CCSS, is anything but. ‘College Readiness’ is not speaking about a competitive 4 year university, but a non-selective Community College. ‘Career Readiness’ speaks to tracking students into a career path as early as middle school…they will tell the student what they should pursue and all their education (on a computer) will narrow their pathway. ‘High Standards’ will be reflected by students graduating with a 7th grade reading level and 2 years behind in the area of math.

Homeschoolers will be impacted at a variety of levels. If your child ever intends to go to college it will hit them with the entrance exams. PSAT’s, ACT, SAT’s are all being aligned to CC. Most curricula, including materials that homeschoolers use as well as the popular assessments used have been aligned to the Common Core Standards. If you have services for any special needs or any other issues, the schools are in their right to demand testing or documentation from you. There are public schools looking to make some money off of homeschoolers. They will provide wonderful services for just the homeschoolers. Why? If your child takes advantage of classes at the public school, they will be able to collect the much needed funds and much wanted data the US DOE ultimately wants. Now please understand not all those data collection pieces are in place yet, but by this time next year (June 2014) the Statewide Longitudinal Data System SLDS will be completed. I’ve seen the contract.

In the summer of 2013 a group of concerned parents, grandparents, legislators and citizens came together and formed a group, No Common Core Maine. We are mobilizing and have lots to do for anyone who wants to help. We are planning a rally in southern Maine Oct. 2nd and one in northern Maine Nov 14th.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sandra Stotsky: Common Core’s Invalid Validation Committee

On Monday, September 9, 2013, at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Sandra Stotsky will present a white paper about Common Core’s validation committee at a conference entitled “The Changing Role of Education in America: Consequences of the Common Core.” It is posted below.


Common Core’s K-12 standards, it is regularly claimed, emerged from a state-led process in which experts and educators were well represented. But the people who wrote the standards did not represent the relevant stakeholders.  Nor were they qualified to draft standards intended to “transform instruction for every child.” And the Validation Committee (VC) that was created to put the seal of approval on the drafters’ work was useless if not misleading, both in its membership and in the procedures they had to follow.

I served as the English language arts (ELA) standards expert on that committee and will describe today some of the deficiencies in its make-up, procedures, and outcome. The lack of an authentic validation of Common Core’s so-called college-readiness standards (by a committee consisting largely of discipline-based higher education experts who actually teach freshmen and other undergraduates mathematics or English/humanities courses) before state boards of education voted to adopt these standards suggests their votes had no legal basis. In this paper, I set forth a case for declaring the votes by state boards of education to adopt Common Core’s standards null and void —and any tests based on them.

For many months after the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was launched in early 2009, the identities of the people drafting the “college- and career-readiness standards” were unknown to the public. CCSSI eventually (in July) revealed the names of the 24 members of the “Standards Development Work Group” (designated as developing these standards) in response to complaints from parent groups and others about the lack of transparency.

What did this Work Group look like? Focusing only on ELA, the make-up of the Work Group was quite astonishing: It included no English professors or high-school English teachers. How could legitimate ELA standards be created without the very two groups of educators who know the most about what students should and could be learning in secondary English classes?

CCSSI also released the names of individuals in a larger “Feedback Group.”  This group included one English professor and one high-school English teacher. But it was made clear that these people would have only an advisory role – final decisions would be made by the English-teacher-bereft Work Group. Indeed, Feedback Group members’ suggestions were frequently ignored, according to the one English professor on this group, without explanation. Because the Work Group labored in secret, without open meetings, sunshine-law minutes of meetings, or accessible public comment, its reasons for making the decisions it did are lost to history.

The lead ELA writers were David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, neither of whom had experience teaching English either in K-12 or at the college level. Nor had either of them ever published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction.  Neither had a reputation for scholarship or research; they were virtually unknown to the field of English language arts.  But they had been chosen to transform ELA education in the US.  Who recommended them and why, we still do not know.

In theory, the Validation Committee (VC) should have been the fail-safe mechanism for the standards. The VC consisted of about 29 members during 2009-2010.  Some were ex officio, others were recommended by the governor or commissioner of education of an individual state.  No more is known officially about the rationale for the individuals chosen for the VC.  Tellingly, the VC contained almost no experts on ELA standards; most were education professors and representatives of testing companies, from here and abroad. There was only one mathematician on the VC—R. James Milgram (there were several mathematics educators—people with doctorates in mathematics education and, in most cases, appointments in an education school).  I was the only nationally acknowledged expert on English language arts standards by virtue of my work in Massachusetts and for Achieve, Inc.’s American Diploma Project high school exit standards for ELA and subsequent backmapped standards for earlier grade levels.

As a condition of membership, all VC members had to agree to 10 conditions, among which were the following:
Ownership of the Common Core State Standards, including all drafts, copies, reviews, comments, and non-final versions (collectively, Common Core State Standards), shall reside solely and exclusively with the Council of Chief State School Officers (“CCSSO”) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (“NGA Center”).
I agree to maintain the deliberations, discussions, and work of the Validation Committee, including the content of any draft or final documents, on a strictly confidential basis and shall not disclose or communicate any information related to the same, including in summary form, except within the membership of the Validation Committee and to CCSSO and the NGA Center.
As can be seen in the second condition listed above, members of the VC could never, then or in the future, discuss whether or not the VC discussed the meaning of college readiness or had any recommendations to offer on the matter.  The charge to the VC spelled out in the summer of 2009, before the grade-level mathematics standards were developed, was as follows:
1.   Review the process used to develop the college- and career-readiness standards and recommend improvements in that process. These recommendations will be used to inform the K-12 development process. 
2.   Validate the sufficiency of the evidence supporting each college- and career-readiness standard. Each member is asked to determine whether each standard has sufficient evidence to warrant its inclusion.  
3.   Add any standard that is not now included in the common core state standards that they feel should be included and provide the following evidence to support its inclusion: 1) evidence that the standard is essential to college and career success; and 2) evidence that the standard is internationally comparable.”
It quickly became clear that the VC existed as window-dressing; it was there to rubber-stamp, not improve, the standards.  As all members of the VC were requested to do, I wrote up a detailed critique of the College and Career Readiness Standards in English language arts in the September 2009 draft and critiques of drafts of the grade-level standards as they were made available in subsequent months. I sent my comments to the three lead standards writers [1] as well as to Common Core’s staff, to other members of the VC (until the VC was directed by the staff to send comments only to them for distribution), and to Commissioner Chester and the members of the Massachusetts Board of Education (as a fellow member). At no time did I receive replies to my comments or even queries from the CCSSI staff, the standards writers, or Commissioner Chester and fellow board members.

In a private conversation at the end of November, 2009, I was asked by Chris Minnich, a CCSSI staff member, if I would be willing to work on the standards during December with Susan Pimentel, described to me as the lead ELA standards writer.  I had worked with her (working for StandardsWork) on the 2008 Texas English language arts standards and, earlier, on other standards projects. I was told that Pimentel made the final decisions on the ELA standards.  I agreed to spend about two weeks in Washington, DC working on the ELA standards pro bono with Pimentel if it was made clear that agreed-upon revisions would not be changed by unknown others before going out for comment to other members of the VC and, eventually, the public. A week after sending to Minnich and Pimentel a list of the kind of changes I thought needed to be made to the November 2009 draft before we began to work together, I received a “Dear John” letter from Chris Minnich. He thanked me for my comments and indicated that my suggestions would be considered along with those from 50 states and that I would hear from the staff sometime in January.

In the second week of January 2010, a “confidential draft” was sent out to state departments of education in advance of their submitting an application on January 19 for Race to the Top (RttT) funds. (About 18 state applications, including the Bay State’s, were prepared by professional grant writers chosen and paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—at roughly $250,000 each.)  A few states included the watermarked confidential draft in their application material and posted the whole application on their department of education’s website (in some cases required by law), so it was no longer confidential.  This draft contained none of the kinds of revisions I had suggested in my December e-mail to Minnich and Pimentel.  Over the next six months, the Pioneer Institute published my analyses of that January draft and succeeding drafts, including the final June 2 version.  I repeatedly pointed out serious flaws in the document, but at no time did the lead ELA standards writers communicate with me (despite requests for a private discussion) or provide an explanation of the organizing categories for the standards and the focus on skills, not literary/historical content.

One aspect of the ELA standards that remained untouchable despite the consistent criticisms I sent to the standards writers, to those in charge of the VC, to the Massachusetts board of education, to the Massachusetts commissioner of education, to the media, and to the public at large was David Coleman’s idea that nonfiction or informational texts should occupy at least half of the readings in every English class, to the detriment of classic literature and of literary study more broadly speaking. Even though all the historical and empirical evidence weighed against this concept, this idea was apparently set in stone.

The deadline for producing a good draft of the college-readiness and grade-level ELA (and mathematics) standards was before January 19, 2010, the date the U.S. Department of Education had set for state applications to indicate a commitment to adopting the standards to qualify for Race to the Top grants. But the draft sent to state departments of education in early January was so poorly written and content-deficient that CCSSI had to delay releasing a public comment draft until March. The language in the March version had been cleaned up somewhat, but the draft was not much better in organization or substance – the result of unqualified drafters working with undue haste and untouchable premises.

None of the public feedback to the March draft has ever been made available. The final version released in June 2010 contained most of the problems apparent in the first draft: lack of rigor (especially in the secondary standards), minimal content, lack of international benchmarking, lack of research support.
In February 2010, I and presumably all other members of the VC received a “letter of certification” from the CCSSI staff for signing off on Common Core’s standards (even though the public comment draft wasn’t released until March 2010 and the final version wasn’t released until June). The original charge to the VC had been reduced in an unclear manner by unidentified individuals to just the first two and least important of the three bullets mentioned above.  Culmination of participation on the committee was reduced to signing or not signing a letter by the end of May 2010 asserting that the standards [2] were:

  1. Reflective of the core knowledge and skills in ELA and mathematics that students need to be college- and career-ready.
  2. Appropriate in terms of their level of clarity and specificity. 
  3. Comparable to the expectations of other leading nations.
  4. Informed by available research or evidence
  5. The result of processes that reflect best practices for standards development.
  6. A solid starting point for adoption of cross-state common core standards.
  7. A sound basis for eventual development of standards-based assessments.

The VC members who signed the letter were listed in the brief official report on the VC (since committee work was confidential, there was little the rapporteur could report), while the five members who did not sign off were not listed as such, nor their reasons mentioned.  Stotsky’s letter explaining why she could not sign off can be viewed here, [3] and Milgram’s letter can be viewed here. [4] 

This was the “transparent, state-led” process that resulted in the Common Core standards. The standards were created by people who wanted a “Validation Committee” in name only. An invalid process, endorsed by an invalid Validation Committee, resulted not surprisingly in invalid standards.

States need to reconsider their hasty decisions to adopt this pig in an academic poke for more than substantive reasons.  There has been no validation of Common Core’s standards by a public process, nor any validation of its college-readiness level in either mathematics or English language arts by the relevant higher education faculty in this country.  And there is nothing in the history and membership of the VC to suggest that the public should place confidence in the CCSSI or the U.S. Department of Education to convene committees of experts from the relevant disciplines in higher education in this country and elsewhere to validate Common Core’s college-readiness level.  It is possible to consider the original vote by state boards of education to adopt Common Core’s standards null and void, regardless of whether a state board of education now chooses to recall its earlier vote. Any tests based on these invalid standards are also invalid, by definition.

__________________________

[1] The lead ELA standards writers listed in 2009 were David Coleman, James Patterson, and Susan Pimentel.
[2] Keep in mind that the final version was not released until June 2, 2010 and many changes were made behind the scenes to the public comment draft released in March 2010.
[3] http://nyceye.blogspot.com/2013/08/mass-standards-czar-stotskys-letter-on.html
[4] ftp://math.stanford.edu/pub/papers/milgram/final-report-for-validation-committee.pdf


Friday, September 6, 2013

NCCM Response to BDN Editorial

When BDN published their opinion last week entitled "Don’t repeal Maine’seducation standards" and referred to us by name, we asked for the opportunity to respond to their points. They limited our reply to several paragraphs. This is our actual response:

Most Maine citizens aren’t aware of the new English Language Arts (ELA) and Math educational standards that are being implemented in our K-12 schools. Perhaps it is because even though they are called Common Core State Standards (CCSS) they were never referred to as such in 2011 when LD 12 was passed. There have been and will be substantial costs associated with the adoption of CCSS citizens are not aware of that either. Costs for training teachers and administrators, paying national consultants, purchasing new textbooks aligned with CCSS and costs for technology upgrades to meet the New National Testing have simply not been made public. In fact no credible fiscal study was done before we committed to these new standards with the associated testing and data collection on students and teachers.

The BDN states, “A potentially harmful fight is brewing” over the new standards. Since when is it a “harmful fight” to provide the citizens of Maine pros and cons of an issue that is critical to the education their children and grandchildren?

BDN also stated, “Maine residents should ignore petitions that would put a question to voters in November 2014 about whether to repeal the academic benchmarks by which public school students are taught.” Reading this statement, we could not believe we were reading the opinion of a statewide newspaper that supposedly stands by the fundamental principal of the First Amendment – Freedom of Speech. The public discussion on CCSS and all of its implications has not yet taken place in Maine.

The opinion piece further states, “The Common Core replaced a patchwork of state expectations with standards that are research-based and set to international benchmarks.” That simply is not true. The standards have never been tested and utilize unproven methods of instruction. The facts show the CCSS standards to be mediocre in rigor and below what high achieving nations expect of their students.

Prof. James Milgram, the only mathematician on Common Core Validation Committee and one of seven who refused to sign off on the standards, said they would leave our kids at least two years behind. Prof. Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas, the only literacy expert on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign as well. The Common Core Language Arts standards, she said, "will lead to a lower level of literacy for all high school students . . . [the Common Core's] grade-level standards are mostly language skill sets, with little substantive content." So where is the proof that the standards have been internationally benchmarked?

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, a group working with the writers of CCSS, did a study in 2010 comparing the existing state standards to those of CCSS in all 50 states. Their own study identified nine states with superior standards in math and ELA. These standards had been in place for years with proven results. These proven standards were ignored in favor of CCSS.

CCSS were actually initiated by private interests in Washington DC and not by state lawmakers. Both the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) are DC-based trade associations. In fact, most of the work was done by Achieve, Inc., a non-profit DC group which has received much of its funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has also provided funds to both the NGA and CCSSO in addition to funds for major education organizations and think tanks for the express purpose of advancing CCSS.

Parents are given the illusion that this effort was state-led but that is not the case. Neither legislators nor elected officials played any significant role in developing the scheme, and in fact, states had to agree to the standards in 2009, before the standards were even published to be eligible for a chance to receive federal tax dollars. Gov. Paul LePage has rightly pulled the state out of membership in the NGA because he Maine is not getting enough benefit for its taxpayer funded membership fee.

It is important to understand these new CCSS standards are copyrighted and states had to agree to adopt them100%. Our State Board of Education, the Maine Department of Education and our local school boards cannot change anything about them. We can add 15% to them but what does that actually mean? Who will test that 15%?

How will parents know if students have mastered a standard? Federally funded national testing regimes will ensure that students will have to submit to some elements of Common Core whether they want to or not. Maine has joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) for testing. Although BDN claims that the Common Core does not dictate curriculum, SBAC admits that these standards and assessments will create content. Those who have invested in CCSS realize that standards plus assessment (high-stakes testing) will drive curriculum.

While supporters of CCSS point to countries with national standards that do better than the United States academically as evidence of why the United States should have them, the vast majority of nations where students perform more poorly than Americans have nationalized education, too. Top-down, one-size-fits-all education will not improve outcomes.

There are those who are dismissive of the government overreach problem. Through the years, considerable barriers have been enacted by Congress to prevent the federal government from involving itself in decisions of the content of elementary and secondary school programs. CCSS is an end-run around those barriers. We need only look at the results of the last forty years of increased government intrusion into our public education system to see why. Increased spending and forcing new and costly regulations upon our local schools has moved the bar down in every category of results. Parents should have a straight line of accountability to those who are making the decisions. The state legislature, which is directly accountable to the citizens of Maine, is the appropriate place for those decisions to be made, free from any pressure from the U.S. Department of Education.

Maine’s state student and teacher data collection system, known as the “P-20 Longitudinal Data System”, is operational and being expanded. Language in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was changed by the U.S. Department of Education to allow the collection of student data without parental consent and sharing of this information with other federal and state agencies, private companies, vendors and other interested parties.

It is the advancement of data technologies that make it feasible to fulfill the requirements that a proficiency-based system will impose. This will be a costly adventure. BDN makes a point of saying that proficiency-based learning is championed by Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. It is essential to remember it is also opposed by those same groups. There are downsides in trying to equalize outcomes for all, hurting top performing students the most. In order to make Common Core work, you first have to hold down the high achievers to the level of the lowest common denominator.

We are not trying to move backwards. We want standards that have been already proven to be effective. We want to protect parents’ rights to be able to work with local school boards to adopt the best cost-effective policies, curriculum and standards It is never a bad time to get rid of bad policies. NCCM has nothing to gain politically or financially.

Recently WABI –TV conducted an online poll with the question: “Do you think Maine’s Common Core Standards should be repealed? 85% agreed that they should.

When Mainers learn more about our new Common Core, high-stakes testing and data collection, they will want a voice and choice!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Statement from NCCM on Governor LePage's Executive Order

Gov. Paul LePage signed an executive order Wednesday regarding Maine schools local control and student privacy.

"We appreciate the governor taking this initiative [Executive Order] to enforce local control of education, ensure student privacy and to encourage high quality standards. This comes on the heels of Commissioner Bowen’s departure which can now provide the opportunity to fully examine all of the issues connected with Common Core. Our desire is genuine high quality education for our children."


AN ORDER REGARDING PROTECTION OF LOCAL EDUCATION CONTROL AND STUDENT PRIVACY RIGHTS

WHEREAS, Under Maine law, the state’s ultimate goal with regard to its schools is that they will “enable today’s students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for post secondary education, career, citizenship and military”; and

WHEREAS, rigorous state standards detailing expected learning outcomes for students are essential if the state is to meet that goal; and

WHEREAS, The adoption of state standards for learning outcomes should be done in an open, transparent way that includes ample opportunity for public review and comment, and

WHEREAS, The federal government has no constitutional authority to set learning standards in Maine or any other state, nor determine how children in the State of Maine or any other state will be educated; and

WHEREAS, The Maine Constitution specifically grants to local governments responsibility for “the support and maintenance of public schools”; and

WHEREAS, It is therefore the right of local school units, not the state, to develop and or adopt curricula and instructional approaches consistent with state learning standards; and

WHEREAS, The protection of student and family privacy is a fundamental right of all Maine people;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, hereby order as follows:

That the Department of Education shall not adopt any educational standards, curricula or instructional approaches that may be mandated by the federal government.

That the Department of Education shall not apply for any federal grant that requires, as a condition of application, the adoption of any federally-developed standards, curricula or instructional approaches.

That, consistent with state statute, the Department of Education may provide guidance and technical assistance to schools, but may not require the adoption of specific curricula or instructional approaches.

That any amending of Maine’s Learning Results standards must be done through a transparent public rulemaking process that allows Maine people ample time and opportunity to review proposed changes and provide feedback.Specifically, the Department of Education shall ensure that any amendment to the Learning Results be posted for public review and comment for at least 60 days. Any comments received during this notice period shall be made public prior to final adoption of any changes.

That the collection of student data by school districts and the state Department of Education must be done in a manner consistent with state and federal laws intended to protect student privacy. No personally identifiable data on students and/or their families’ religion, political party affiliation, psychometric data, biometric information, and/or voting history shall be collected, tracked, housed, reported or shared with the federal government, nor provided to private vendors for the purposes of marketing or business development.

The effective date of the Executive Order is September 4, 2013.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Press Announcement on Maine Common Core

Maine Equal Rights Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 14, 2013

Maine Equal Rights Center in conjunction with No Common Core Maine is holding a press conference on August 21st at noon time in the Hall of Flags announcing a first in the nation campaign.

Portland, ME - The Maine Equal Rights Center to put the Common Core Education standards to referendum for the people of Maine to vote on.

Remarks will be made by coalition speakers including No Common Core Maine co-founder Heidi Sampson who was the first homeschooler in the nation appointed to the State Board of Education by Governor LePage, Erick Bennett, Director of the Maine Equal Rights Center, Jamie Gass who is the Director of the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute Public Policy Research headquartered in Boston and Maine state law maker Ellie Espling of House District 105.

All four will take questions after the opening remarks. The event is open to the public.

To learn more contact:

Erick Bennett
207-332-9274
ErickBennett@MaineEqualRightsCenter.com

Information on the rally that will also be held on August 21st can be found at the No Common Core Maine website.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hogwash Alert to National Review Online

[Christel Swasey will be one of our national speakers at our August 21st rally. This is a well-documented article originally published on 4-4-13. We thought you would like it.]

“Hogwash Alert to National Review Online”
By Christel Swasey

I’m calling for a hogwash alert on today’s National Review article about Common Core.

The ironically titled The Truth About Common Core article cannot be taken seriously. It’s written without any links or references for its Common Core-promoting claims, and it’s written by two authors whose employers are largely funded by the main funder of all things Common Core.

Can anyone take seriously those who praise Common Core while being paid to do so?

The article makes “truth” claims that include the notion that Common Core is “more rigorous,” (where’s the proof?) and that the standards allow policymaking to happen locally. How can that be? The standards are written behind closed doors in D.C. The standards are copyrighted and are unamendable by locals. There is a 15% cap on adding to them, written into the ESEA Flexibility Waiver Request. And there is no amendment process; thus, no local control.

For anyone who has been living under an education reform rock, know this: Gates is the single biggest promoter and funder of Common Core, bar none.) So, Fordham’s and Manhattan Institute’s writers should not be expected to be objective about Common Core.If it seems like practically everyone supports Common Core, Gates’ money is why. Bill Gates has said he’s spent $5 BILLION pushing (his version of) education reform. He’s bribed the national PTA to advocate for Common Core to parents; he’s paid the CCSSO to develop Common Core, and he owns opinion maker Education Weekmagazine. There’s a near-endless list of Gates’ attempts (very successful, I might add) to foist his vision of education without voter input.

First, let’s look at the Common Core textbooks. Virtually every textbook company in America is aligning now with Common Core. (So even the states who rejected Common Core, and even private schools and home schools are in trouble; how will they find new textbooks that reflect Massachusetts-high standards?)

The National Review writes that it is a “right-of-center” organization, as if that claim is a “trust-me” pass. This is meaningless in Common Core land because, as Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project, has said, “Opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum. It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”

But we should clarify that oodles of Democrats and Republicans sell or benefit from Common Core implementation. That is the top reason for the gold rush anxiety to promote the national standards. A secondary reason is lemminghood (misplaced and unproven trust).

Republican Jeb Bush is behind the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nongovernmental group which pushes Common Core and is, of course, funded by Gates. Republican Rupert Murdoch owns not only Fox News, but also the common core implementation company Wireless Generation that’s creating common core testing technology. Republican Senator Todd Huston of Indiana got his largest campaign donation from David Coleman, common core ELA architect; then, after Huston was elected to the Indiana Senate and placed on its education committee, Coleman hired Huston to be on the College Board. They are profiting from the alignment of the SAT to Common Core. And of course, Huston is on Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, too. Even my own Republican Governor Herbert of Utah serves on the elite executive committee of NGA, the Common Core founding group. He doesn’t make money this way, but he does make lots of corporations happy.

I could go on and on about the Common Core gold-and-glory rush. I haven’t even touched on all the Democrats who promote Common Core for gain. But I don’t want to be up all night.

So, on to the liberals and/or not-right wing radicals who oppose Common Core:

California Democrat/author Rosa Koire and respected educator like Diane Ravitchoppose Common Core as an untested academic and political experiment that increases the high-stakes of standardized testing. They see that Common Core is promoting unrepresentative formations of public-private-partnerships, and promotes teacher-micromanagement. Chicago history teacher Paul Horton says Common Core turns teacher-artisans into teacher-widgets; he also sees it as a Pearson anti-trust issue. Teacher Kris Nielsen has written “Children of the Core” and teacher Paul Bogush calls teaching Common Core sleeping with the enemy. Math teacher Stephanie Sawyer predicts that with Common Core, there will be an increase in remedial math instruction and an increase in the clientele of tutoring centers. Writing teacher Laura Gibbs calls the writing standards an insipid brew of gobbledygook. Anonymously, many teachers have published other concerns in a survey produced by Utahns Against Common Core.

Still, political funders of the standards and corporations selling its implementation try to get away with marginalizing the opposition. But it can’t be done honestly. Because it’s not a fight between left and right.

This battle is between the collusion of corporate greed and political muscle versus the individual voter. It’s a battle between the individual student, teacher, or parent– versus huge public/private partnerships. That’s the David and Goliath here.

The Common Core movement is not about what’s best for children. It’s about greed and political control. A simple test: if Common Core was about helping students achieve legitimate classical education, wouldn’t the Common Core experiment have been based on empirical study and solid educator backing?

Did the authors of the Hogwash article really not know that Common Core wasn’t based on anything like empirical data but simply fluffed up on empty promises and rhetoric, from the beginning.

Where’s the basis for what proponents call “rigorous,” “internationally competitive,” and “research-based?” Why won’t the proponents point to proof of “increased rigor” the way the opponents point to proof of increased dumbing down? We know they are fibbing because we know there is no empirical evidence for imposing this experiment on students in America. The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes.
Many educators are crying out –even testifying to legislatures– that Common Core is an academic disaster. I’m thinking of Professors Christopher TienkenSandra StotskyThomas NewkirkZe’ev WurmanJames Milgram, William Mathis, Susan Ohanian, Charlotte Iserbyt, Alan Manning, and others.

The National Review authors insist that Common Core is not a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration.  But that’s what it looks like when you study the reformers and what they create. Pearson’s latest textbooks show extreme environmentalism and a global citizen creating agenda that marginalizes national constitutions and individual rights in favor of global collectivism. The biggest education sales company of all the Common Core textbook and technology sales monsters on the planet is Pearson, which is led by mad ”Deliverology” globalist Sir Michael Barber. Watch his speeches.

He doesn’t just lead Pearson, the company that is so huge it’s becoming an anti-trust issue. Sir Michael Barber also speaks glowingly of public private partnerships, of political “revolution,” “global citizenship” and a need for having global data collection and one set of educational standards for the entire planet. He’s a political machine. Under his global common core, diversity, freedom and local control of education need not apply.

Along with some of the gold-rushing colliders chasing Common Core-alignment product sales, there are political individuals calling educational shots, and these are without exception on the far, far left. And of these, the National Review is correct in saying that their goal to nationalize U.S. education had been happening since long before Obama came to power.

But they are wrong in saying that Common Core isn’t a road map to indoctrinating students into far left philosophy. Power players like Linda Darling-Hammond and Congressman Chaka Fattah ram socialism and redistribution down America’s throat in education policy, while Pearson pushes it in the curriculum. It’s safe to say that Linda Darling-Hammond has as much say as anyone in this country when it comes to education policy. She focuses on “equity” and “social justice” –that is, redistribution of wealth using schools. Reread that last sentence.

Darling-Hammond has worked for CCSSO (Common Core developer) since long before the standards were even written. She served on the standards validation committee. She now works for SBAC (the Common Core test writer); she also consults with AIR (Utah’s Common Core test producer) and advises Obama’s administration; she promotes the secretive CSCOPE curriculum and more.

Study her further here to learn the groups she works for, what’s in the books she writes, how many times she quoted herself in her report for the U.S. equity commission, and what she said in last summer’s speech to UNESCO about the need to take swimming pools away from students.

So yes, there is an undeniable socialism push in Common Core textbooks and in the Department of Education.

The National Review’s authors claim Common Core won’t “eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.” By cutting classic literature by 70% for high school seniors, they are absolutely doing exactly that. The article says that Common Core doesn’t mandate the slashing of literature. Maybe not. But the tests sure will.

What teacher, constricted by the knowledge that her job is on the line, will risk lowering the high stakes student scores by teaching beyond what is recommended in the model curriculum of the national test writers? And that’s the tragic part for me as an English teacher.

Classic literature is sacred. Its removal from American schools is an affront to our humanity. Common Core doesn’t mandate which books to cut; the National Review is correct on that point; but it does pressure English teachers to cut out large selections of great literature, somewhere. And not just a little bit. Tons.

Informational text belongs in other classes, not in English. To read boring, non-literary articles even if they are not all required to be Executive Orders, insulation manuals, or environmental studies (as the major portion of the English language curriculum) is to kill the love of reading.

What will the slashing do to the students’ appreciation for the beauty of the language, to the acquisition of rich vocabulary, to the appreciation for the battle between good and evil?

We become compassionate humans by receiving and passing on classic stories. Souls are enlarged by exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, the poetic language and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that live in classic literature.

Classic stories create a love for books that cannot be acquired in any other way. Dickens, Shakespeare, Hugo, Orwell, Dostoevsky, Rand, Marquez, Cisneros, Faulkner, Fitzgerald– where would we be without the gifts of these great writers and their writings? Which ones will English teachers cut away first to make room for informational text?

The sly and subtle change will have the same effect on our children as if Common Core had mandated the destruction of a certain percentage of all classic literature.

How does it differ from book burning in its ultimate effects?

Cutting out basic math skills, such as being able to convert fractions to decimals, is criminal. Proponents call this learning “fewer but deeper” concepts. I call it a sin. Common Core also delays the age at which students should be able to work with certain algorithms, putting students years behind our mathematical competitors in Asia.

For specific curricular reviews of Common Core standards, read Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and Dr. Ze’ev Wurman’s math and literature reviews in the appendix of the white paper by Pioneer Institute. (See exhibit A and exhibit B, page 24.)

The National Review claims that the standards “simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness” and claim they are not a ceiling but a floor. This is a lie. The standards are bound by a 15% rule; there’s no adding to them beyond 15%. That’s not a ceiling?

The article claims that “college and career readiness” doesn’t necessarily mean Common Core. Well, it does, actually. The phrase has been defined on the ed. gov website as meaning sameness of standards to a significant number of states. I would give you a link but this week, so oddly, the Department of Education has removed most of its previous pages. You can see it reposted here:

The article insists that Common Core is not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards. Sure. But as previously noted: 1) all the big textbook companies have aligned to Common Core. Where are the options? 2) Common core tests and the new accountability measures put on teachers who will lose their jobs if students don’t score well on Common Core tests will ensure that teachers will only teach Common Core standards. 3) Test writers are making model curriculum and it’s going to be for sale, for sure.

The article falsely claims that “curriculum experts began to devise” the standards. Not so: the architect of Common Core ELA standards (and current College Board president) is not, nor ever has been, an educator. In fact, that architect made the list of Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform. A top curriculum professor has pointed out that the developers of Common Core never consulted with top curricular universities at all.

The article claims that states who have adopted Common Core could opt out, “and they shouldn’t lose a dime if they do” –but Title I monies have been threatened, and the No Child Left Behind waiver is temporary on conditions of following Common Core, and for those states who did get Race to the Top money (not my state, thank goodness) the money would have to be returned. Additionally, every state got ARRA stimulus money to build a federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System. Do we want to give back millions and millions to ensure that we aren’t part of the defacto national database of children’s longitudinal school-collected, personally identifiable information?

The article states that the goal is to have children read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge. So then why not read more –not less– actual literature?

The article also leaves out any analysis of the illegality of Common Core. The arrangement appears to be illegal. Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) the federal government is restricted from even supervising education.

GEPA states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”

And for those still believing the federal government isn’t “exercising direction, supervision or control” of the school system, look at two things.
  1. The federal technical review of tests being mandated by the Department of Education.
  2. The federal mandate that testing consortia must synchronize “across consortia,” that status updates and phone conferences must be made available to the Dept. of Education regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”
  3. The recent federal alteration of privacy laws that have taken away parental consent over student data collection.
Finally: the “most annoying manipulation tactic” award for the National Review Article is a tie between the last two sentences of the National Review article, which, combined, say, “Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards… aren’t they still?” Please.

Let’s rephrase it:

Americans used to be in favor of legitimate, nonexperimental standards for children that were unattached to corporate greed and that were constitutionally legal… Aren’t we still?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Following the Common Core Money Trail

By Pat Murray

When you hear of Common Core, you often don't stop to think about the fact that without huge amounts of money Common Core would only be another plan to "fix" the American education system that remained on the drawing board. Either directly or indirectly, most of the funding for Common Core will come from taxpayers. You should know that there are other sources as well.

This appeared in the New York Times on May 21, 2011 and here are a few excerpts:

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which developed the standards, and Achieve Inc., a nonprofit organization coordinating the writing of tests aligned with the standards, have each received millions of dollars.

The Alliance for Excellent Education, another nonprofit organization, was paid $551,000 in 2009 “to grow support for the common core standards initiative,” according to the tax filings. The Fordham Institute got $959,000 to “review common core materials and develop supportive materials.” Scores of newspapers quoted Fordham’s president, Chester E. Finn Jr., praising the standards after their March 2010 release; most, including The New York Times, did not note the Gates connection.

In 2010, the foundation gave $500,000, to the Foundation for Educational Excellence, founded by Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida.

Then a string of Gates-backed nonprofit groups worked to promote legislation across the country: at least 20 states, including New York, are now designing new evaluation systems.

“It’s easier to name which groups Gates doesn’t support than to list all of those they do, because it’s just so overwhelming,” noted Ken Libby, a graduate student who has pored over the foundation’s tax filings as part of his academic work.

In this 2011 article about Jeb Bush, note his organization Chief's for Change. Chiefs for Change is a program operated by the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Stephen Bowen, Commissioner of the Maine DOE is an active member and all in for Common Core. The nonprofit group received contributions of $2.9 million in 2009, from the foundations of Bill Gates and Eli Broad, among others including for-profit education technology companies.

You may not have heard of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Sourcewatch states that in November 2011, the Gates Foundation made a $376,635 grant to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which it claims was "to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement. Here is the odd thing. This grant was awarded to ALEC shortly after their Education Task Force overwhelmingly voted to approve an anti-Common Core sample bill to be distributed to the states. After receiving the grant, the Board of Directors tabled the recommendation and then killed it.

There has been a lot of money spread around since these articles first appeared so I'll have more on this later.

The old saying, "Money talks" still applies!


Pat Murray of Bradford, Maine is a founding member of NCCM. He is also a co-founder of the Maine Coalition for World Class Math and a former member of the school board in MSAD 64.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Common Core: Where Did It Come From?

Sheila K. Muehling | July 5 2013

As Common Core is rolled out in the 2013-14 school year, many people in the public are asking questions as to what the program is and where it came from. Parents, grandparents and conservative activists are calling for public forums with their state superintendents. Questions are being posed as to who developed this program and who wrote the standards the schools will be mandated to follow. Many are asking questions but few are getting answers.

In my previous post I referenced a letter written by Marc Tucker to Hillary Clinton. In that letter it was clear that many powerful people in the government, business and private sector believed that the federal government should be heavily involved in the education system in the United States. Many felt the states were not doing an adequate job and it was their mission to change it.

“The Tenth Amendment states the Constitution’s principal of federalism by providing that powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States or the people.” This means States would shoulder the duties to administer the roads, education, public safety, justice and more, as decided by voters, state lawmakers and the state constitution. The Constitution did not grant any right by the federal government to control the education of our children leaving that entirely to the states and the people in each state.

...Read the rest of the story here

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Glenn Beck on Common Core

On Glenn Beck’s show on May 30, 2013 he invited legislators and groups from around the country to discuss Common Core. Glenn’s stated goal is to have Common Core dead in America by the beginning of school year 2014-15.







The Glenn Beck Program - Air Date: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Common Core OpEd 2012 - Pat Murray

By Pat Murray


In 2007 I began to research elementary math programs because my son, a second grader at the time, was bringing back homework in math that seemed to be in a foreign language.

I soon learned that elementary and middle schools throughout the nation had been systematically converted from traditional math programs to the new fad of reform programs. Programs like Everyday Mathematics, Investigations in Number, Data and Space, Math Trailblazers, Connected Mathematics and Math Thematics that did not teach—and actually discouraged—the standard algorithms for arithmetic.

This expensive but futile exercise began in 1989 and has resulted in three generations of American K-12 students without the basic math skills they need in our society.

As a member of our local school board, I was on the Disciplinary Review Committee for four years. Almost without exception students brought before the committee for behavior issues were failing in math or English or both. I began asking the parents when they’d first noticed a change in their son or daughter’s attitude about school.

In a vast majority of cases, the problems began when the students started to fail in math. Due to the abstract nature and the lack of parents’ knowledge of the methods used in these new math programs, the parents were unable to assist their children with homework or explain even the basic fundamentals of the methods being taught to them. (This was one of the major complaints of parents nationwide.)

As students progressed through the grades, they fell further and further behind until many eventually dropped out of school. The students, who knew they needed three or four years of high school math to graduate, saw dropping out as their only option.

After years of complaints from parents and math experts, a number of studies were done, including an effort by the National Math Advisory Panel, a two-year study. Time and time again the results were the same. Math programs in the U.S. were “a mile wide and an inch deep.” The reform programs that had been pushed on schools imparted too much subject material without allowing students to master the basic skills needed to progress through the fundamental learning process of mathematics.

To successfully comprehend algebra, which has been deemed the benchmark to strive for, a student needs mastery of basic arithmetic. Every study indicated the need to return to teaching the standard algorithms. Even with all this evidence, there are still people today in policy rolls who think “instant recall” of math facts is a waste of time.

Even before the results of many studies were known, several states had begun to hire experts and conduct their own studies and research. In 2001, as Maine began to adopt reform math, California, Utah and Texas had just banned some of the programs.

Several more states were in the process of beginning the costly but necessary review process. States that had completed their reviews were revising their standards, calling for a return to teaching mastery of basic skills.

This is about when the National Governors Association (NGA) got together and decided to pool their resources so each state would not have to incur separate costs (a common-sense approach). Unfortunately, this is when things started to go wrong.

The NGA teamed up with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a logical and obvious partnership. The problem was—and still is—members of the CCSSO were the very same people who had pushed the reform math fads that got them in this situation in the first place.

Initially groups like Achieve and the Fordham Foundation were standing shoulder to shoulder with the opponents of reform math. Federal funding and funding from private sources, like textbook publisher Pearson and the Bill Gates Foundation, have dumped millions into promoting Common Core Standards.
With the birth of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, there was great optimism from every citizen group who had opposed reform math for over two decades.

Unfortunately, the CCSSO saw to it that the math standards originally proposed by their expert panel were watered down significantly. Even blatant errors and omissions were not corrected before the final product was revealed to the public and labeled “Finished.”

Then the federal Department of Education came to the rescue. Tony Bennett, Indiana State Superintendent of Schools and a supporter of Common Core Standards, said it best. “This administration has an insatiable appetite for federal overreach,” he said. “The federal government’s involvement in these standards is wrong.”
He contended that while the Common Core is a state-driven initiative, it has been hijacked by the power-hungry Obama administration.

To be eligible for Race to the Top funds, states must adopt Common Core State Standards, which are nationwide K-12 and “college and career” academic standards. Forty-five states, including Maine, have adopted the standards for math and English.

Now the U.S. Dept. of Education is the steward of National Standards, National Assessments, National Curriculum, Race to the Top extortion, No Child Left Behind Waiver bribery and with the latest round of Race to the Top funding, is attempting to usurp state authority by bribing individual school districts. Of course, the school districts will have to comply with the strings attached and take commands directly from Washington D.C.

The U.S. Department of Education has an annual budget that equals $83,000 dollars for every K-12 student in the United States, but gives us back $882 per student. Not a good rate of return.

Taxpayers have been completely left out of the process of paying for all of this. In Maine, we were told by a member of the state Dept. of Education at a public hearing that Common Core Standards would not cost anything! Then, after a fiscal report was requested by the Education Committee, the same spokesperson said, “School districts would be able to absorb the costs.”

States that have actually done a cost analysis have estimated the costs to be very high. California estimated it would cost $1.6 billion to implement Common Core Standards. Other states have estimates in the hundreds of millions. Washington State estimated $300 million.

The Pioneer Institute and American Principals Project did a comprehensive study and released a white paper  projecting that $16 billion will have to “be absorbed” by states and local districts.

Teacher training, new textbooks that align with Common Core Standards, infrastructure upgrades for computers, computer maintenance personnel, hardware and software for the assessments—these are areas that will need continued funding and the only area in which taxpayers will have a say. Local control? With Common Core, the only thing your local school board will have to decide is who will plow the parking lot in the winter.

Pat Murray of Bradford, Maine is co-founder of the Maine Coalition for World Class Math and a former member of the school board in MSAD 64.

This article was originally printed in the Maine Wire in 2012.