An Oklahoma mom’s response to Mike Huckabee’s letter to Oklahoma legislators from last month:
Is Common Core Conservative?
An answer to Mike Huckabee’s letter to legislators, June 3, 2013.
by Jenni White, President, Restore Oklahoma Public Education
July 24, 2013
First, let us define: What is a “Conservative”?
Readers may feel this to be a rhetorical question – something not unlike “What is the measure of a man?” I assure you, it is not.
In fact, through countless political races I have heard, and on the pages of immeasurable numbers of articles of journalistic intent I have read, words to the effect of, “I am a conservative.”
Our Governor said it during her campaign. Governor Fallin would have gone on to collect millions of dollars to implement a health care exchange here in Oklahoma on the way to a full blown implementation of ObamaCare – a notion thoroughly dispelled by vote of the people in 2012 – had she not been stopped in her tracks by angry citizens.
Our State Superintendent said it during her campaign. Dr. Barresi – with help from the Governor – has gone on to accept, or apply for, one federal education grant after another to instill yet more controls over the way Oklahomans educate their children.
Though we can hardly say with a straight face that the Common Core State Standards, pushed endlessly, illegitimately, needlessly, deceitfully, by Dr. Baressi and Governor Fallin are federally promulgated, are they a Conservative notion?
What is Conservative? The word has many different meanings, but the political meaning, as copied from the Merriam/Webster online dictionary is:
a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change; specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (as retirement income or health-care coverage)
I’d actually call that fair, as I self-identify as a Conservative.
What about Mike Huckabee?
Governor Huckabee penned a letter to Oklahoma’s “Conservative” legislators last month to,
“encourage you to resist any attempt to delay implementation of the improved standards adopted by your State Board of Education in 2010.”
In the first sentence, he self-identifies as a “Conservative, so let’s put Common Core to the “Conservative” test.
1. Will it lower taxes? NO. Schools all over Oklahoma have had (will have) to either raise money through school bonds or apply for ERate grants to be able to afford the upgrades to their broadband systems necessary to take the ‘next generation’ tests necessary to appropriately assess the behavior, thoughts and ideas of students related to Common Core. Taxpayers pay for school bonds. Citizens pay taxes on their cell phones to fund ERate. In addition, the state education budget has increased by 74 million dollars (and even that’s still not enough) – does that grow on one of the trees on the Capitol Complex? No, those are taxpayer derived funds.
2. Will it limit government? NO. As noted by the increase in the education budget, the Department of Education grows, hiring 4.3 million dollars of REAC3H coaches to train teachers in the Common Core – oops, sorry, the Oklahoma Academic Standards – oops, sorry, the C3 standards…
3. Will it strengthen individual responsibility? NO. Schools will soon fall under the A-F grading scale. Right now, no teacher, administrator, or school janitor has any idea of the manner in which students will be tested on the Common Core standards next year, but we are quite sure state test scores will be rolled up into the A-F grade. If a school gets a D or an F (according to our NCLB waiver document), the school can be taken over by the State Department of Education or one of its contractors. So how can administrators maintain individual responsibility for their schools? How can teachers?
Governor Huckabee says a number of other things with which I take umbrage.
1. “Many of you voted in favor of these standards in 2010.”
Strange, but many of the legislators we have spoken to over the years were either not in their legislative seat in 2010, or knew much – if anything – about the standards themselves (encompassing 1 paragraph in a 35 page bill) when the bill that codified the standards into law finally passed on the second try (SB2033 – 2010)
2. “These standards, known as Common Core State Standards, have been near and dear to my heart since I served as Governor of your neighboring state of Arkansas.”
Governor Huckabee was Arkansas’s governor from 1996-2007. The Common Core weren’t even finished for review during the time he was in office. Was he with Achieve? How did he know about the Standards? I thought they were ‘state led’.
3. “And it’s disturbing to me there have been criticisms of these standards directed by other conservatives including the RNC.”
In other words, “Republicans should stick together and present a united front! To heck with whether we’re wrong or right or following Conservative principals!” That concept doesn’t work for me. Many of us self-identifying, Oklahoma Conservatives still operate on the “right is right and wrong is wrong” principal not the “go along to get along” principal. PS: he’s referring to the NATIONAL Republican Committee voting unanimously for a resolution against the Common Core. Unanimously.
4. “Speaking from one conservative to another”
Okay, that one’s easy.
5. “I’ve heard the argument these standards “threaten local control” of what’s being taught in Oklahoma classrooms…and this just isn’t true.”
Wow, Governor, how do you come to that conclusion? The standards impose what children are expected to “know and do” in each grade. Yes, teachers may have latitude to determine how that is to be taught, however, all books and ancillary materials will be aligned to the Common Core. In fact, in order to make a buck, many ‘education’ companies are creating curriculum packages so teachers can easily just pick one up and follow the dots. Why would they do this? REAC3H coaches have been providing spotty instruction in teaching to the Core all across Oklahoma. You gotta teach to get a check and you gotta have the check to live. One more thing…even states that adopted the standards completely, as did Oklahoma, have to abide by the 15% rule – we can’t add more than 15% to the standards – like cursive. I guess I don’t follow where Common Core ‘local control’ is akin to the amount of local control present in the previous PASS standards.
6. “From an economic and workforce development perspective, these standards are critical. Innovation driving the successful companies in Oklahoma…These standards ensure Oklahoma remains competitive in the race to attract companies with the highest paying jobs for Oklahomans…”
Two questions in answer: 1. When did America begin educating their children for the workforce? When did we educate children in America in order to fulfill an economic imperative? The Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce wants little automatons that can be expected to churn out iPhone contracts like China? 2. When did INNOVATION spontaneously erupt from homogeneity? How can one be ‘innovative’ and uniform at the same time? Uniformity does NOT drive successful companies and innovation springs from choice and depth in education, not an “inch wide and a mile deep” standards (as opposed to the hated and disparaged “inch deep and a mile wide” standards of traditional elementary and mid high education).
7. “Children of military families will not fall behind when their parents, who’ve chosen to defend our freedom, are asked to move from Fort Benning, Georgia to Fort Sill in Lawton or Vance Air force base in Enid.”
The Department of Defense has their own educational arm. If they chose the Common Core path after consultation with military families, so be it. That does not translate into a need for a set of national-level standards as military families make up a small overall percentage of most public schools. Many military families also home school. Why don’t we use homeschooling as our yardstick for a national education model?
In closing, the idea of a nationally uniform set of standards may seem righteous on first inspection. Closer inspection finds it lacking on a number of fronts. Please take the time to inspect the arguments for yourself. Ask questions. Seek answers. Common Core isn’t “Conservative” nor is it appropriate for American students and the American way of life.
Restore Oklahoma Public Education
Thank you, Jenni White.
Postscript: I just want to add here that there are many wonderful people in this country who self-identify as progressives, not as conservatives, who are vehemently opposed to Common Core as well. The point isn’t that all conservatives ought to be opposed to Common Core; the point is that anyone who cares about legitimate education, local control, teacher autonomy, American traditional values and fairness, ought to be opposed to the Common Core. –C.S.