What’s Common Sense About Common Core?

EducationOn September 10th of this year, David Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, called for the use of common sense in the debate regarding Common Core Standards (also known as Kentucky Core here in Kentucky).  We would like to know, what is common sense about Common Core?

See article here.

Wayne Meyer, a Father, a Grandfather, a 40+ Year Career Professional and a former Chamber member that knows we can do better, much better.   Read his letter to Mr. Adkisson.

Mr. Adkisson,

I have a few comments regarding your article, dated September 10, 2014, noting the exercise called the Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge launched by the Department of Education in late August. First, because of your strong support and close working relationship with Commissioner Holliday and the DOE, I would have thought you would have gotten the name of the Challenge right (it’s not the Kentucky Core Standards Academic Challenge). And second, the article really did nothing more than to reiterate Commissioner Holliday’s old talking points on the Common Core State Standards. I do agree with you on a couple of your statements, 1) The “Common Core debate needs common sense”, and 2) “there is a danger of misinformation being mistaken for an accurate reflection of reality.” Although, your and my reading of that last statement is probably 180 degrees opposite of each other.

The Challenge will help Kentuckians learn more about the standards and will solicit feedback, which is a good thing, but what I do not understand is how the Kentucky Board of Education is able to review the well-researched suggestions on these individual standards and make changes and/or improvements to the Kentucky Core Academic Standards when they, or the State, do not hold the copyright. As you know, the copyright to the Common Core State Standards is exclusively held by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practice (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). If there has been legislation passed by our elected representatives that provides Kentucky the right to make such changes, please enlighten me.

The fact that Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards (in 2010), with unanimous acceptance, even before the final set of standards was completed, how does that happen? And with no public hearings, which appears to be a move to keep the parents of our most important stakeholders, our children, as well as the legislators, our elected officials, completely in the dark. Then finally, after four years, on March 13, 2014, a public hearing was held before the Senate Education Committee (which you participated in), yet no action was taken. So, how effective is the public hearing process when no action is to come out of it? Does that make any common sense?

The statement that the standards “were not created and implemented by the federal government” is somewhat a correct statement since it is against the law for the federal government to develop national standards. That’s where the NGA and the CCSSO, two national non-profit associations with substantial funding from the Gates Foundation, stepped in, developed and copyrighted the Common Core State Standards. And with Obama’s Race to the Top grant programs, $4.35 Billion from the 2009 Stimulus Bill and NCLB Waivers, the cash-starved states had little option but to go after those grants and to reluctantly accept those strings attached, being the Common Core State Standards, the aligned assessments, the greatly expanded Statewide Longitudinal Data System, etc. The NGA and the CCSSO clearly acted as surrogates for the federal government and with the federal funds, waivers and the expanded data collection, the States lost most of their control over their education systems, which is granted exclusively to the States by the Tenth Amendment. This was just another huge infringement over the states’ right to control education which started 50 years ago with Johnson signing the ESEA, Carter creating the US DOE, Clinton signing the School-to-Work Act, Goals 2000 and reauthorizing and modifying the ESEA, George W. Bush signing the NCLB, and now Obama’s Race to the Top grant programs. Regarding the implementation of these standards, 40+ states adopted them through their governor and their chief state school officers without any of them going through their state legislative process. So, is all of the above “misinformation being mistaken for an accurate reflection of reality”? I think not. The reality is quite clear.

Your statement that the standards “do not dictate what teachers must do in the classroom” is again somewhat correct, but that is only because of the use of strong terms, such as “dictate” and “must do”. The standards do not dictate, but with the use of the aligned assessments, and with the evaluation of teacher effectiveness due in part to the performance of their students on those assessments, the teachers basically have to teach to the test, which in turn sets the curriculum. This is a major concern by those opposed to the Common Core State Standards and their aligned assessments. The 15% additional that teachers are allowed to teach is never part of the assessment, so what good is that? We realize that the administration still has to keep repeating how most teachers are in support of these new standards and their assessments, but behind closed doors, many will tell you how much hate them. Why else would many districts have three and four times the number of teachers retiring, many of them earlier than they had planned. Again, “misinformation being mistaken for an accurate reflection of reality”? I don’t think so.

And your statement that “the standards do not limit what students can learn” and that “they establish only the minimum requirements.” If the aligned assessments are only testing students based on these minimum requirements and yet the State’s Report Card indicates little or no improvement, especially for gifted students and students at risk, we’re only perpetuating the failed education policies (outcome-based education, etc.) of the past. We can and must do better.

To call these Common Core State Standards “college- and career-ready” is the real “misinformation” being purported here. When the standards are preparing our students for at best two-year community colleges or for ill-prepared careers, rather than promoting individual achievement and creative thinking and allowing students to strive for careers of their own choosing, this system has to go. I support educating our students for a bright and prosperous future, and I know the Chamber and their members need an educated workforce, but they are only fooling themselves if you think the Common Core State Standards, or Kentucky’s Core Academic Standards, will do that job. And with the monies given to the Chamber by the Gates Foundation to support these standards, that really doesn’t give you anymore credibility.

I’d like to see some “meat” in this Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge, but unless the State has the right to make substantial changes to these individual standards, it is like holding public hearings when no action is planned to be taken. It appears that this “Challenge” is nothing more than a slick public relations event for the Department of Education.

I understand that you feel differently than I, but again, you probably have to support the Commissioner’s talking points regarding these standards. I thankfully, do not.

Sincerely,

Wayne Meyer
wmeyer1248@gmail.com
A Father, a Grandfather, a 40+ Year Career Professional and a former Chamber member that knows we can do better, much better.

 

What you can do?  Add your voice to the conversation! Be sure and visit the original article HERE and leave a comment.

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