Common Core — The Chamber of Commerce Is Dead Wrong!

Jan 17, 2014 by

dead wrong

Common Core — The Chamber of Commerce Is Dead Wrong!


by Henry W. Burke





The U.S. Chamber of Commerce argues that national standards will facilitate students who move to another state.  Fact — The percentage of school age children who moved out of state was only 0.3 % of the total population!



The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has strongly voiced its support in favor of the Common Core Standards.  The Chamber of Commerce is dead wrong to support the Common Core Standards.  Because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is such a powerful and influential organization, they need to stop supporting the Obama administration’s education plan that will harm instead of help children.


In fact, the Chamber of Commerce is finding themselves on the wrong side of CCS because grassroots citizens are rising up all over this country and in protest are opting their children out of the CCS lessons and assessments.


I believe that a pro-growth, pro-business outlook can do wonders for America.   Our economy has stalled since the recession began in 2008; and the economic recovery under Obama has been rather pathetic!  Unemployment remains high and millions of workers have dropped out of the labor force.  We have the lowest labor force participation rate in 36 years!  Economic growth, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is non-existent.  


I am a Civil Engineer with over 40 years of experience in the construction industry.  I retired from one of the largest construction companies in the U.S., a highly respected, growing corporation.  I write extensively on education and economic issues because I care deeply about the future of our country.  Much of this writing has focused on the Common Core Standards (CCS). 



1.  Myth — The Common Core Standards Are High Quality.

The website for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation begins the Common Core talking points by addressing “What are the Common Core State Standards?”  It states:

            The Common Core State Standards are a set of high-quality academic expectations in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics that define both the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each grade level in order to be on track for success in college and career.


Similar arguments are advanced by Chamber President Tom Donohue.  In a 10.22.13 article on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, “Dispelling Common Core Myths,” Donohue stated:

          Common Core is an elevated set of standards—not a curriculum. It focuses on the building blocks of learning, such as reading and math, and is designed to be applicable in the real world—namely, college or career.

Fact — The Common Core Standards are not high quality standards!

The Common Core proponents love to talk about “college and career.”

Dr. Sandra Stotsky was formerly in charge of developing the widely praised Massachusetts English/Language Arts Standards.  She has written extensively about the lack of quality of the Common Core, particularly in the area of literature.  Dr. Stotsky should know; she sat on the Common Core Validation Committee and refused to validate the standards.  Sandra Stotsky is professor of education reform emerita, University of Arkansas. 

The states that adopted the standards in 2010 did so before the Common Core standards for English and language arts were even finalized.  The Common Core advocates argue that these standards would make all students “college-ready,” but Dr. Stotsky has stated that the Common Core Standards will not produce “college-ready” students.

By reducing the study of complex literary texts and by requiring teachers to place a heavy emphasis instead on informational text, Common Core decreases the students’ opportunities to develop analytical thinking skills.  Hence Common Core students will be less prepared for college.

Students develop a love for reading when they read the rich literary classics.  Would a student rather read a wonderful piece of literature or the informational text found in a boring government document, executive order, or insulation manual?  Such boring, non-literary articles will absolutely kill the love of reading!  Informational texts belong in other classes, not in English classes.

The mathematics standards are not any better.  

The Pioneer Institute recently published a report by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky, “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM.”


R. James Milgram is professor of mathematics emeritus, Stanford University.  He was a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee 2009-2010. 

Professor Milgram states the following in the Pioneer white paper:

            With the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards END after Algebra II.  They include no precalculus or calculus.

The Common Core mathematics standards do not make high school graduates “college and career-ready,” as the Common Core proponents claim.  The national mathematics standards will not prepare students to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in a selective four-year college.

The Pioneer report concludes by offering these chilling indictments:

          At this time we can conclude only that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.



Dr. Stotsky wonders why industry leaders, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are supporting the Common Core Standards, even though the standards are blatantly inferior.


          How could so many supposedly sophisticated industry and business leaders not understand that Common Core Math will not prepare students for jobs in their fields? Surely they have people on their staffs – engineers and technology people – who could offer their opinion!







2.  Myth — The Common Core Standards Were Created by a State-Led Initiative.

On the U.S. Chamber website, the discussion of Common Core continues with this statement:

          They were created through a state-led initiative and have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Fact — The Common Core Standards (CCS) were initiated by private interests in Washington, D.C

To produce a facade of state involvement, the CCS creators enlisted the support of two D.C.-based trade associations — the National Governors Association (NGA), and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  The Common Core Standards were created primarily by Achieve, Inc. (also a D.C.-based organization). 

It takes more than sending a few state education bureaucrats to an NGA / CSSO meeting in Washington, D.C. to make it a truly “state-led” process.  Private interests drove the Common Core process; and massive funding was supplied by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Common Core Standards have been adopted by 46 states (45 states plus the District of Columbia), but a number of them are now backing out of the assessments and/or other aspects of the Common Core Standards Initiative.




3.  Myth — The Common Core Standards were written by teachers.


The U.S. Chamber website makes this claim:

          A diverse team of teachers, parents, administrators, researchers, and content experts developed the Common Core to be academically rigorous, attainable for students, and practical for teachers and districts.



On the Chamber website, Tom Donohue and John Engler proclaimed:


          Common Core was created at the state level – where our most innovative policies often originate – by governors and state officials.




Fact — Parents and teachers were completely excluded from the writing process.



David Coleman and Susan Pimentel were the lead writers of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards; neither Coleman nor Pimentel have had any experience teaching English.


The whole writing process lacked transparency, with no outside review or disclosure.  In fact, the members of the Common Core Validation Committee had to sign confidentiality agreements.  There were no public hearings as the Common Core drafts were being written; and   parents and teachers were completely excluded from the writing process.



4.  Myth — The National Standards will facilitate students who move to another state.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues the Common Core discussion with this often-cited statement:

          The standards establish consistent learning goals for all students – regardless of where they live – so that they stay on track in school when moving from one state to another.



Fact — Very few students move to another state.



America is a very mobile country.  The advocates for Common Core Standards invariably argue that national standards would make it easier for those people who move around the country.  The argument sounds reasonable, but we need to look at the facts.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 36 million people moved in 2012-2013.  With a total U.S. population of 307 million people, this means that 11.7 % of the people moved.  [35.918 million/307.243 million = 11.7 %]  However, most of the people (30.111 million or 84 % of the people who moved) moved within the same state.


To justify national standards, a significant number of people would have to move to another state (within the U.S.).  About 4.770 million people moved to a different state in 2012-2013 (13 % of the people who moved).  This represents 1.6 % of the total population. 

[4.770 million/307.243 million = 1.6 %] 


How many school age children moved to a different state?  In 2012-2013, 0.884 million children (ages 5-19) moved to a different state (2.5 % of the people who moved).  [0.884 million/35.918 million = 2.5 %]  This represents 0.3 % of the total population. 

[0.884 million/307.243 million = 0.3 %]


In summary, only 1.6 % of the total population moved to a different state in 2012-2013The percentage of school age children who moved out of state was only 0.3 % of the total population (negligible)


The national standards / moving reasoning is clearly a bogus argument!




5.  Myth — The Common Core Standards will make the U.S. more competitive with other countries.


On 8.08.13, Tom Donohue and John Engler wrote “Common Core brings benefits to both education and our economy” (Chamber website).  They argued:

          Among the 34 leading industrialized countries, the United States ranks 14th in reading literacy, 17th in science and a dismal 25th in math. It should surprise no one that we’ve fallen from No. 1 in the world in the percentage of young adults with college degrees to No. 10.

           Common Core is also on par with international standards. Currently, our young people are being outperformed by students in countries like South Korea, Finland, Canada, Poland and Australia. The initiative aims to solve this problem by raising our educational standards, enabling Americans to compete with global peers.


Fact — The U.S. has slipped internationally, but Common Core will hinder rather than help our plight.



Professor William McCallum, one of the three writers of the Common Core Math Standards, admitted:

            ...that the overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [with] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.


Jim Stergios, Executive Director of the Pioneer Institute, published an article on 8.07.13, “Common Core is neither internationally benchmarked nor state-led.”

Stergios explained that “i2iiinternationally benchmarking” would mean that the writing team had conducted extensive research and direct comparative analysis on the standards with other countries.  Mr. Stergios quoted Dr. Sandra Stotsky as follows:

          As a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee from September 2009 to August 2010, among the criteria I was asked to sign off on in May 2010 was whether Common Core’s standards were “comparable to the expectations of other leading nations.”

           Despite making regular requests since September 2009 for evidence of international benchmarking, I received no material on the academic expectations of other leading nations in mathematics or language and literature.  I was one of the five members of the 23-member committee who declined to sign off after examining the final version of the standards.



The Common Core advocates have removed this “internationally benchmarked” claim from most of their websites.  Nevertheless, companies like Exxon continue to repeat this internationally benchmarked lie in their television advertisements.






The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is openly supporting the Common Core Standards and is dutifully repeating the typical Common Core talking points.  It is rather easy to refute these flimsy arguments.


Because the Common Core Standards are far from pro-business and pro-capitalism, it is hard to understand why the Chamber of Commerce has come down on the Common Core side.  Quite likely, the answer lies in the money that will be made from the whole Common Core oligarchy.


Millions of dollars will be spent on professional development, instructional materials, assessments, and technology.  The best estimate places the total Common Core implementation cost for the 46 CCS states at $16 billion, over the first seven-year period.  In the Chamber’s eyes, I guess money trumps a truly educated populace.  This is a sad commentary on a major American organization! 





Bio for Henry W. Burke




Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer  with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E.  He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years. 


Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction company. 


Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.


Henry W. Burke


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