Have you ever played the game “Two truths and a lie”? Each person gets a turn to say three statements. Two of them must be true, and one must be false. The listeners must try to guess which of the three statements is the lie.
Sometimes I feel like the Utah State Office of Education is playing this game with the state of Utah. The only problem is, we didn’t know that we were playing that game. We thought everything they stated was true. Sadly, no.
In the flier on Common Core that the USOE promotes on their website and sends to each district in Utah, there are so many lies that it’s hard to find a truth.
Think I’m biased?
Here are the items I base this on. These are documents and statements from people in positions of great power: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, National Common Core Validation Committee Members, Top USOE lawyer Carol Lear, Members of the Utah State School Board, the Utah Educator’s Network, and retired Utah Judge Norman Jackson.
1. The Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Dept of Education and the SBAC, which Utah belongs to. It’s not biased; it’s a document that anyone can read. It clearly reveals that Utah has given up her freedoms under Common Core. Maybe freedom doesn’t matter to you; it matters to me. This document proves that the USOE’s statement that Common Core comes without federal strings attached, and that it’s a state-led and state-determined initiative, is a lie. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
2. The academic reviews of Dr. James Milgram and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the national Common Core Validation Committee, and both refused to sign off on the adequacy of the standards. http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/stotsky.html http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/james-milgram-on-the-new-core-curriculum-standards-in-math/ These academic reviews conflict with the USOE’s statement that “most thoughtful people” like Common Core and the USOE’s statement that the standards are rigorous and promote college readiness.
3. Conversations I’ve had with State School Board members and with the top lawyer of the USOE, Carol Lear. These people have made it clear that the idea of being common, or equal, with other states, is more important to them than the idea of maintaining state freedoms like the power to educate as we ourselves see fit, and the power to hold parental authority as more important than federal authority over student privacy, and the power to amend educational standards if our state wants to amend them. Carol Learaffirmed that there is no amendment clause for the Common Core standards; yet, she saw no value in the “freedom to disagree” with other states. She did not seem to recognize that being in a cooperative with other states is much different from being cooperative with other states. She did not see that we sell our liberties one by one, as we buy into the siren call of equality for all.
4. The network of data gathering and data collection on kids that may or may not have to do with academics rather than surveillance of children and families. In this network is the P-20 workforce Utah and many other states have implemented to track children from preschool to age 20. In this network is the longitudinal database that Utah built with ARRA stimulus money http://www.recovery.utah.gov/news.html with the purpose of tracking children over time and allowing “all stakeholders” including the federal government to view this data. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/staff.asp In this network, locally, so far, are the Utah Educator’s Network, the Utah Data Alliance, Choice Solutions, and UTRex. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
5. Utah Judge Norman Jackson (retired) published a legal analysis of Common Core. It is noteworthy. It says that Utah is not free under Common Core. http://commoncorefacts.blogspot.com/
A teacher (who is also a proponent of Common Core) recently said that he had not read the pros and cons of Common Core because he thought it would be biased. To people like him I can only ask:
Do you think you are unbiased? I don’t think anyone is un-biased.
It is only a question of which side you listen to, and whether you are discerning enough to even realize which side you listen to.
In Common Core, there is the pro-liberty side and the pro-equality side.
On the equality side, education means an agreed-upon cooperative, a one-size-fits-all system so that it is common to all, convenient to all, and available to all.
On the liberty side, education means being free to choose (but not to mandate) cooperation with other states, to maintain local power to innovate, to be different, to maintain autonomy and sovereignty, and to leave power with the local entities to change our educational standards as we desire in the future.
When you boil the arguments down, these are what remain. It’s not really about how educated or ignorant our high school graduates may be. It’s not really about whether Algebra I should remain in 8th grade or 9th. It’s not really about whether classical literature should be slashed to make room for info-texts in English classes. It’s not really about how much money we spend or don’t spend on new technologies for testing. It’s about whether our highest priority ought to be providing educational equality, versus maintaining educational freedom.
–In my (very biased-toward-freedom ) opinion.