Common Core? Read the Label Carefully

Apr 2, 2013 by

common-core-2“For example, in reading content, students will have reduced exposure to fiction.  Currently the ratio of fiction to non-fiction is 80-20 but it will shift to 40-60%. Why? Because, as David Coleman (one of the lead authors of the Common Core), and now newly appointed the College Board stated in a speech told his audience“As you grow up in this world,” Coleman said at a conference last year, “you realize people really don’t give a sh&* about what you feel or what you think.”

Every day, parents decide on the most nutritious foods for their child’s diet — why would we not make an informed decision about the quality of education they’re receiving?

By Morna McDermott

The National Common Core Standards are coming to a school near you.  While the name might sound familiar, what do parents (and often even teachers) really know about the Common Core. Who wrote it? Where did it originate? Who owns it? What’s in it?

Most parents concerned with their child’s nutrition read beyond the labels, and look carefully at the actual ingredients. For example, the front of the Trix cereal box announces it is “vitamin fortified with a daily allowance of calcium.”  But look at the ingredients.  Second ingredient is sugar.  Similarly, many fruit snacks proclaim to be made with “real fruit.”

That may be so, but look carefully — what else are they made of?  I’m not saying that parents are right or wrong for allowing their children to eat such food items, but at least we should all know what’s really in the food we feed our kids and make informed choices.

So why would we not make an informed decision about the quality of education our children are receiving?  When you hear the phrase Common Core, know the front of the box advertises all sorts of promises.  But be careful-read the ingredients on the side of the box so that you are fully informed about what’s being thrust into our classrooms and ingested by our children.

I work with teachers.  Lots of teachers.  I listen.  Many teachers have told me that there are facets of the common core standards that they like- That it promotes critical thinking for example.  Fair enough.  But why would we need to spend millions of dollars to teach teachers how to do something that any really well- prepared educator is doing anyway?

That’s the trick that turns educators from being creative developers of meaningful curriculum into consumers of curriculum.  The state of Maryland received millions of dollars of Race to the Top funds in exchange for adopting new instructional methods, assessments, teacher evaluations, and training resources.

So where does this money go?  To pay for the new instructional materials, the assessments, the teacher evaluations, and the teacher training to go with it all. In one door and right out the other.

Yet, there’s nothing actually in this Common Core that effective educators and schools aren’t doing already.  And there’s nothing in it, nor the high stakes testing, that will eliminate bad teachers.  Bad teachers can blindly follow directions and teach to a test much better than a good educator can.

Common Core and the testing requirements to which they are tethered are like the pair of jeans that some company manufactured in a factory to appear faded and distressed, and selling them at Nordstroms for $200 They’re fake. And they won’t last.

In fact, while the Common Core may have some redeeming values, it also comes with some not so redeeming values.  For example, in reading content, students will have reduced exposure to fiction.  Currently the ratio of fiction to non fiction is 80-20 but it will shift to 40-60%. Why? Because, as David Coleman (one of the lead authors of the Common Core), and now newly appointed the College Board stated in a speech told his audience“As you grow up in this world,” Coleman said at a conference last year, “you realize people really don’t give a sh&* about what you feel or what you think.”

He gave that point in strong terms, asserting that it would be rare, in the working world, for someone to say, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday, but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.” Yeah, let’s rid those first graders of that nasty imagination of theirs.

On the front of the metaphorical box, the Common Core promotes its ability to promote “consistent standards” which apparently will solve all our educational ills.  But as emeritus education professor Stephen Krashen at the University of Southern California says:

The rationale for the standards and national tests is the belief that our schools are broken. The only evidence for this is our mediocre scores on international tests. But middle-class children who go to well-funded schools do very well on international tests, scoring at the top of the world. Our overall scores are unimpressive because we have so many children living in poverty, about 22%, the highest percentage of all industrialized countries …This shows that the problem in American education is poverty, not a lack of standards and tests and not teaching quality. Poverty means food deprivation, lack of health care, and little access to books. The best tests and the most inspiring teachers will have little impact when children are hungry, sick, and have little access to books.”

Think: “includes 100% real fruit juice,” but the first ingredient on the list is high fructose corn syrup.  Why not just give the kid a 50 cent apple instead of an overpriced pre packaged fruit-like snack?  And why do we NEED the over-priced Common Core and the host of standardized tests that go with it?  Why not prepare great educators and evaluate them and their students in meaningful authentic ways that don’t necessarily come in a box?

Why indeed? The answer becomes more clear when you look closely at the origins of the Common Core.

Who is behind the Common Core?

1)      NCEE (Natl Center for Education and the Economy)  is funded by WALTON FOUNDATION, BROAD FOUNDATION, GATES FOUNDATION. NCEE is funded by the New Schools Venture connected to America’s Choice. New Schools Venture supports business model charter schools like KIPP and EDISON.  NCEE is a program of America’s Choice which is funded by GATES and WALTON FOUNDATION. America’s Choice was acquired by Pearson

2)      ACT  is a billion dollar international testing company. ACT designed Common Core. Dixely Axley on the Board of Directors for ACT works for STATE FARM. Theodore Sanders on the Board of Directors for ACT serves on the Education Commission of the States part of the BUSINESS ROUND TABLE.

3)      Achieve  is another testing and training center.  ACHIEVE also helped design Common Core. ACHIEVE is funded by LUMINA.  ACHIEVE is also funded by STATE FARM.  STATE FARM also funds ALLIANCE FOR EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION (AEE). BOB WISE is the Chairman for AEE. ACHIEVE is funded by Gates Foundation. The co-chair for ACHIEVE is LOU GERSTNER JR (Former CEO of IBM-also identified as one of the Ten Most Wanted Enemies of Public Education)

4)      College Board (CEEB) is a membership association that sells tests and is comprised of schools, colleges and universities. CEEB is funded by GATES FOUNDATION. Consumer rights organization Americans for Educational Testing Reform (AETR) has criticized College Board for violating its non-profit status through excessive profits and exorbitant executive compensation

Common Core has received DIRECT funding from STATE FARM as well.

Names and titles listed above in CAPS are all members of the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC).  ALEC is an organization dedicated to free market enterprise including education, and against federal “intrusion” into economics and industry, including education. It is more powerful than any lobby group. Behind closed doors, ALEC members, made up of industry moguls like Exxon, The Koch brothers, and Phillip Morris make deals with state legislatures that benefit their own corporate agenda and pass them through state laws under the guise of the state legislation.

One of its main goals is to place public education into private ownership and profits. So what we’re seeing in our schools now directly reflects ALEC’s model legislation, placing billions of dollars into the pockets of corporations as the expense of childrens education. The 2011 ALEC Annual Conference Substantive Agenda on Education shows their current interests:

“…the Task Force voted on several proposed bills and resolutions, with topics including: digital learning, the Common Core State Standards, charter schools, curriculum on free enterprise, taxpayers’ savings grants, amendments to the existing model legislation on higher education accountability, and a comprehensive bill that incorporates many components of the landmark school reforms Indiana passed this legislative session. Attendees will hear a presentation on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ initiative to grow great schools, as well as one on innovations in higher education.”

Don’t be fooled. Lately ALEC has been hemming and hawing about supporting the Common Core, but that is because of its ties between federal mandates pressed upon on state and local policies. It’s not Common Core they reject, just its delivery boy.

The resolution was approved by the ALEC Education Task Force overwhelmingly last December, and ALEC has discussed it at three of its national meetings.  The well-financed private entities and the federal government are moving forward with their implementation of the Common Core, and Americans have been cut out of the process.”

And who owns the Common Core?

The National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the central Common Core developers have the copyright. They play shell games with billions of dollars, using education and our children’s lives as poker chips. According to one source:

Dr. Tony Bennett, the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, presented the pro-Common Core case to the board of ALEC.   Dr. Bennett is also on the Board of Directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the two trade associations managing the Common Core Standards (along with the National Governors Association).  Additionally, he is the Chairman of Chiefs for Change, an initiative of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.  The Foundation for Excellence in Education and CCSSO have received $1,000,000 and $70,000,000, respectively, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary force financing and pushing the Common Core.

Are the Common Core Standards even any good? No one knows yet. Quite a bank roll for something yet unproven.  According to Tienken:

The standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended and unintended consequences they will have on the education system and children (Mathis, 2010). Yet most of the nation’s governors, state education leaders, and many education organizations remain committed to the initiative.

But we know for sure they are quite profitable. Here’s another example:

General Electric is so certain that the Common Core standards are the best way to boost student achievement that it recently made the largest corporate grant in history to further their implementation, $18 million. The money will go to a non-profit group Student Achievement Partners to help teachers implement the standards. David Coleman, one of the non-profit’s founders (and also a major contributor to the Common Core standards), said the GE-funded tools that his group will provide are “elegant” and will help teachers make sense of standards that arguably are more arduous than basic reading and math.

Notice how deftly the 18 million dollars changes hands- not a dime actually staying in the schools or going toward the student’s development? What about more art programs? Hiring teachers or teaching assistants? What about clean school facilities? What about equitable funding for materials? Nope. $18 million to the “non profit” founded by the man who designed the Common Core to help train teachers in using a product that good teachers don’t need in the first place.

Maybe David Coleman can say it best in his own words:

The Common Core State Standards aim to change everything—and for innovators and entrepreneurs, they may. With the simultaneous implementation of the Common Core State Standards in 46 states and DC, there is the potential for a truly national market. But how will the Common Core actually affect the classroom? A key author of the Common Core State Standards will lead an immersion experience.

While Baltimore County schools struggle with economic woes, thus reducing its number of teachers and increasing class sizes, Mr. Coleman will earn a base of $550,000, with total compensation of nearly $750,000.  So if you’re a label reader when you go grocery shopping, also take a moment and read the ingredients in the latest education “reform” policy.

The Race to the Top funds are little more than a billion dollar coupon forced upon Maryland to purchase Common Core and testing products developed by Pearson, the largest producer of educated related products and now purveyor or the SAT’s and the GED, too.  (for more on the relationships between Pearson and ALEC see  Expect to see increased testing beginning in kindergarten.  Expect to see stocks rise for companies like Pearson. Expect to see a “common” erosion of what makes our schools, and our teachers so great. Because they’ll have no choice.

via Common Core? Read the Label Carefully – Middletown, CT Patch.

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