At this link, you can submit ideas for the Republican Party as they update the platform.
I submitted the following today, but had to shorten it because they only take a certain number of words.
COMMON CORE IS NOT ACADEMICALLY SOUND
It is a fact that the only math professor on the official Common Core Validation Committee, Dr. James Milgram, flatly refused to sign off on the standards as being valid. They aren’t valid. They lack a coherent sequence and do the opposite of what they claim to do (make USA students more internationally competitive). The Asian Tigers have Alg. I in 8th grade. Common Core has it in 9th. By junior high, Common Core places students one to two years behind what they should be.
In the English department, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who also served on the Common Core Validation Committee, also refused to sign off on the standards being adequate. They are not legitimate college prep because they slash narrative writing and classic, time-tested story reading to make room for info-texts. Common Core disrespects and diminishes the importance of classic literature, letting it be downgraded to a marginalized fraction of what is taught by high school English teachers in favor of mandating informational text readings. This is almost like book burning in its refusal to make generous room for classic literature in American classrooms.
Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University was asked to look at the standards and said his concern was that the standards call 4 year, 2 year, and vocational school preparation the same thing. Is college prep to be dumbed down? Yes, absolutely. That is how we will make all our students common.
This Harrison Bergeron-esque attempt to make all students equal and common is absurd.
EDUCATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION: Local educational decision-making capacity is severely reduced by Common Core.
Common Core is education without representation: the federal government incentivized its adoption by states but the public did not vote on the initiative, did not know what it was until after state school boards and governors implemented it, and has no means to amend the standards, as they are under NGA/CCSSO copyright. (Source: http://www.corestandards.org/terms-of-use )
There is no means provided for voters to recall any Common Core test-creating or standards-setting administrators. No matter how radiant the claims of Common Core, the standards are unproven, untested, and unfunded.
The state school board’s unauthorized decision traded state control of quality education for an unvalidated, un-amendable national educational experiment and minimized our local ability to control –or to abandon– the experiment.
The following documents show the ways in which local decision making has been severely reduced:
- Race to the Top (RTTT) Grant Application – on the definitions page, we learn that states are restricted from adding to standards for local use. The application hooked Utah to Common Core, even though we didn’t win the grant. It states: “A State may supplement the common standards with additional standards, provided that theadditional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards for that content area.” Putting a speed limit on learning is problematic; one example is the fact that 9th graders will be repeating most of their 8th grade year (Alg. I moved from 8th to 9th grade for CCSS implementation) and the state will not be able to add more than 15% to what they would be learning in 9th grade over again. This speed limit represents dumbing down some of our students rather than providing the promised “rigor”.
- Copyright on CCSS National Standards – The proponents of Common Core claim the initiative was state-led and was written by educators’ input nationwide, but the copyright states: “NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made. http://www.corestandards.org/public-license
- ESEA Flexibility Waiver Request – This document, like the RTTT grant application, also shows that Utah is not able to delete anything from the national standards and can only add a maximum of 15% to them. State and local school boards do not understand or agree upon how this problem is to be faced. While the local district says it is bound by top-down decision making and must adapt to Common Core, the state school board says that “local districts and schools are clearly responsible for accommodating individual students.” A Utah State School Board member confessed that, seeing this math retardation problem ahead of time, she pulled her grandchildren out of public school and homeschooled them before Common Core was imposed on them. http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/state-and-local-school-board-perceptions-of-common-core-differ-13-2/
- Cooperative Agreement – The Department of Education’s cooperative agreement with the SBAC testing consortium, to which half of the United States are now bound, states that tests must be synchronized “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” Although this data sharing is said to be subject to privacy laws, the Dept. of Education altered privacy laws this year, as well. So there is nothing to stand in their way. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
This Department of Education arrangement appears to be flatly illegal. Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act, the federal government is restricted from supervising education of 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…” http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1232a
- Letter From WestEd - “In order for this system to have a real impact within a statethe state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards).” This email response from the SBAC test writers shows that the up-to-15% difference between a state’s Core Standards and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be a 0% difference as soon as testing begins in 2014-2015. Nothing but the national standards will be tested. (Source: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-is-wested-and-why-should-you-care/ ) Also, teacher and principal employment will soon depend upon student performance on the nationalized tests. (http://www.nea.org/home/proposed-policy-on-evaluation-and-accountability.html ) Thus, there will be strong motivation to teach only to the test and skip unique 15% additions to the local version of the national standards.
PRIVACY RIGHTS ARE BEING HURT BY DEPT OF ED. AND COMMON CORE
The following documents and links show that a network of intrastate and interstate data collecting has been created, financially incentivized by the federal government’s ARRA stimulus money, and has been illegally empowered by Dept. of Education FERPA regulatory changes, made without Congressional approval.
This data gathering network meshes student data collection locally and then nationally, including accessibility to personally identifiable information, and is on track to be federal perused, as well as being available for non-educational, entrepreneurial, and even “school volunteer” perusal– without parental consent.
- ARRA Stiumulus Money bought Utah’s $9.6 million State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS): http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT to be used for student tracking.
- Press Release Shows states using P-20 Tracking with UEN/Utah Data Alliance – “Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W) ” and that regional and federal groups are linked clients of Choice Solutions, Utah’s data networking partner. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
- Statement from Utah State Office of Education (USOE) – No Utah public school attendee may attend school without being tracked by the P-20 and SLDS systems. See http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/now-that-the-state-admits-they-track-pii-on-every-kid-and-our-feds-have-requested-data-mashing/
- 2012 Statement by J. Weiss, U.S. Education Department’s Chief of Staff: information from multiple federal data systems is being “mashed together” on the federal level and will be further mashed with state data. The U.S. Department of Education’s research agency is releasing information to “help” move states toward “developing partnerships” to use the student information gathered from state longitudinal data systems. (Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB )
- Schools/states being asked by NCES –federal government– to collect personal information along with academic information, including unique identifiers including names, nicknames, residences, immunization history, family income, extracurricular programs, city of birth, email address, bus stop times, parental marital status and parental educational levels, to name a few. View the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
- EPIC lawsuit against Dept. of Education – A lawyer at E.P.I.C., Khalia Barnes, stated that FERPA regulatory loosening will affect anyone who ever attended a university (if that university archives records and received federal scholarships). Not just children will have their data perused without parental consent– nobody will be asked for consent to be tracked and studied. The lawsuit is ongoing from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Department of Education. It suit is filed under the under the Administrative Procedure Act against the Department of Education. EPIC’s lawsuit argues that the agency’s December 2011 regulations amending the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act exceed the agency’s statutory authority, and are contrary to law., including: a) reducing parental consent requirements over student data to optional, a “best practice,” rather than a mandate and b) manipulating privacy laws by redefining terms and stretching the concepts of “authorized representative” and “educational program” past the breaking point so that even a school volunteer could access personally identifiable information. http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
- Powerpoint by John Brandt shows federal access to student transcripts and other data; Brandt is not only a state Technology Director of Utah but is also a federal NCES member and a CCSSO (Common Core creator) member. His online powerpoint states:
Where student records and eTranscripts can be used:
LEA <—-> LEA (local education agency)
LEA <—-> USOE (Utah State Office of Education)
LEA —-> USHE (Utah System of Higher Education, and beyond)
USOE —-> USED (US Department of Education
What should we do?
Rather than pushing national, common standards, education leaders can allow the creation of each state’s own standards, using local citizens’ and universities’ expertise.
Example of Texas:
Texas rejected Common Core based on an estimated $3 billion implementation cost and the fact that Texas’ educational standards were already better than Common Core. “I will not commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national standards and tests,” Gov. Rick Perry wrote in a January 13 letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/O-DuncanArne201001130344.pdf
Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott explained: The standards were “originally sold to states as voluntary, [but] states have now been told that participating in national standards and national testing would be required as a condition of receiving federal discretionary grant funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA),” Scott wrote. “Texas has chosen to preserve its sovereign authority to determine what is appropriate for Texas children to learn in its public schools…” http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120208_RoadNationalCurriculum.pdf
Example of South Carolina
Unlike Virginia and Texas, both Utah and South Carolina did adopt the Common Core standards and joined a nationalized testing consortium. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Michael Fair are now working to withdraw the state from the national standards and assessments, against great political pressure to remain bound.
AccountabilityWorks estimated the costs for South Carolina over the next seven years to be over $75 million for professional development, $42 million for textbooks and 115 million for technology. To do adequate assessments, South Carolina would need a 4 to 1 ratio of students to computers, totaling 162,500 computers. 62,128 computers were still needed. South Carolina faced an estimated price tag of at least $232 million, over seven years, not including assessments, but just to implement the common core. The number didn’t include the operational costs the state already paid for.
South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley explained in a public letter:
South Carolina’s educational system has at times faced challenges of equity, quality and leadership – challenges that cannot be solved by increasing our dependence on federal dollars and the mandates that come with them. Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the Federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states. Confirming my commitment to finding South Carolina solutions to South Carolina challenges, I am pleased to support [Senator Fair's] efforts to reverse the 2010 decision to adopt common core standards…
South Carolina Senator Mike Fair ‘s bill (S.604) simply stated:
The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio.
Senator Fair explained in the Greenville News:
“…If the federal government didn’t create Common Core, how is this a federal takeover? Simple– the Department of Education is funding the development of the national tests aligned with Common Core. Even Common Core proponents admit that whoever controls the test will, for all practical purposes, control what must be taught in the classroom. And once Common Core is implemented, no one in this state will have the power to change any standard… The Legislature never had a chance to review Common Core because the feds timed their deadlines for adopting them to fall when the Legislature wasn’t in session. So, to qualify for a shot at Race to the Top money in 2010, the (previous) state superintendent and the (previous) governor had to agree to adopt Common Core– standards that had not even been published yet… By the way, South Carolina wasn’t awarded Race to the Top money, so we sold our education birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.”
We can work against the overreach of the Dept. of Education by having Congress create conditions or prohibitions on the funding they provide. So, for example, an option would be to attach a requirement that funds cannot be used to implement Common Core as it currently stands, requiring a process that states can choose to involve top scholars locally and nationally to revisit the standards and revise them to ensure that they are truly internationally competitive, but states are accountable only to state leaders, not to the federal government.
Federal agencies and state consortia are not stakeholders in state educational decision making, as evidenced by G.E.P.A. law and the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution. D.C. (whether the Dept of Education or the NGA/CCSSO with its copyright on standards) should not determine our choices.
Having reasserted the importance of state sovereignty and freedom to determine education locally, states can then look to legitimate good examples to create new standards for Utah. For example, states can look to (pre-Common Core) Massachusetts. The state tested as an independent country and was still among the highest ranking educational systems worldwide, up until Common Core. Because Massachusetts had the highest standards in the nation before they discarded their standards and adopted Common Core, we could use those standards as a template for our own.
States can regain local control over the quality and type of education, can reclaim the local ability to vote educational leaders in or out of office, can reclaim the ability to add to her own standards without restraint; and can take a strong stand against the Dept. of Education’s push that aims to expose students and families to unprecedented privacy intrusions via data collection and FERPA regulatory changes that eliminate the need for parental consent and that loosen the definitions of “educational program” and “authorized representative.” (For more details on the FERPA overstep, read the details of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s lawsuit against the Department of Education.)
The Republican platform should clearly state that it has been brought to light that Common Core is an experimental and untested, inferior educational program, an attempt at nationalizing education, and an un-American, un-Constitutional attempt which President Romney will stop in its tracks.
Return the reins of education to the states.