In response to a July 16 letter titled “School curriculum”:
There is much more to be said about still another federal takeover.
How much is enough? First, the automobile industry, then student loans, then the banking industry (Dodd/Frank), then health care, and now an attempt at nationalized education. Literally, the minds of our children and grandchildren are at stake.
Unfortunately, 45 states initially embraced the Common Core standards, having been bribed (Race to the Top grants) and threatened (removal of Title I funding for poorer students).
But since the full effects of the takeover have become clearer, 16 states, including South Carolina, have bills in their legislatures to revoke it. And there are many civic groups across the nation raising their voices against the program. And well they should.
The concept of nationalized education is not new. Presidents Wilson, Roosevelt and Clinton all had similar designs. President Obama’s overreach has gone further than any other because his department of education was given over $4 billion to spend from the stimulus bill.
But this recent effort has a great many negatives. The standards were developed in secret by the National Governors’ Association and a lobbying group, the Council of Chief State School Officers, together with a data specialty company they hired (Achieve, Inc.). Not a classroom teacher among them.
The 50 state school boards were asked to compete for grants and sign up for Common Core in 2009, even before the standards were written. Enticed by much-needed money and with the promise of waivers on progress required under “No Child Left Behind,” 45 states signed up.
Only seven got grants. All got waivers. This process was deeply flawed in many ways. No legislatures were involved, and because no cost analysis was made the curricula developed to meet the standards are seriously flawed:
The math curriculum moves addition and subtraction forward to the fourth grade and division forward to the 6th grade. Algebra is moved forward to the 9th grade. And geometry is to be taught through a new and untested method unknown to the current teaching staffs. James Milgram, a Stanford professor, refused to certify the math curriculum, stating it would “place American students at least two years behind their peers in other high performing countries.”
The English Language Arts curriculum calls for overly simple reading challenges at all grade levels, eliminating classics and substituting pedestrian materials from technical manuals, menus, pop music, etc. Professor Sandra Stotsky of the Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas, refused to certify the curriculum, stating “the reading deemed sufficient for high school graduation will be at about a 7th grade level.”
And the material substituted for the classics will put highly political and social justice messages into a propaganda pipeline aimed directly at the children. A few of the mentioned items in the curriculum were selected executive orders, EPA rulings on carbon emissions, why Obamacare is great, etc.
Further, personal and family data collected from students will cover periods from pre-K to 20 years and work experience.
Three thousand data points will be collected and stored to be shared with entities both inside and outside the government.
Student/parent privacy rights under FERPA were eliminated by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and parental permission is no longer needed for release to third parties. I don’t have to spell out what so much intrusion by a powerful central government can lead to.
Moreover, the cost to roll out this takeover was never considered until two years into the rollout and then only by non-government entities.
The Heritage Foundation estimates a total national cost of $16 billion over seven years. The S.C. estimate is nearly $300 million over the first full five years. All are unfunded mandates.
These are only a few of the soft points on Common Core. Space prevents me from listing more.
Chairman, Greater Charleston
Parents Involved in Education
Ben Sawyer Boulevard