Jan 16, 2015 by


“Fireworks in Nevada Over Common Core”

By Donna Garner



“Fireworks” occurred at the Citizens for Sound Academic Standards Symposium on Common Core in Carson City,  Nevada, on 1.14.15.  The planners of the program had invited only two people to speak for each side.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram were chosen because they were both on the Common Core Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the final version of the Common Core Standards. 

Both Stotsky and Milgram have repeatedly said that the Common Core were developed by three organizations which were funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Gates Foundation and Achieve, Inc. chose most of the key writers of the high-school level, college-readiness standards. The two main writers of the ELA Common Core Standards, David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, have never taught English or reading in K-12 nor have they taught English or reading in college. The Common Core writing groups never had any meetings that were open to the public.   

Stotsky has stated openly that parents have the right to remove their students out of the Common Core Standards because local school boards – not the federal government — have the statutory authority over curriculum and instruction.  Nothing in state law requires local school districts to use the CCS developed at the federal level, and students cannot be required to take the Common Core tests.

Dr. Milgram has stated that the Common Core Math Standards are almost identical to the ones in California in 1992 when that state fell to 49th place in the nation.  “Students learning math under the 1992 California math standards for four years couldn’t recover and could never meet adequate math levels…only two percent could earn a math, science, engineering or technology degree.”



For the debate, the Nevada Dept. of Education chose to have Steve Canavero, Deputy Superintendent, and Judy Osgood, Public Relations Officer, represent the NDoE.  Stotsky and Milgram were to be on the other side for the debate.  Everyone knew the rules before the debate began; but after the debate began, the NDoE decided they wanted to rotate Common Core teachers in and out during the NDoE’s rebuttal part.


Dr. Sandra Stotsky forcefully but respectfully made her objections starting at marker 57:42:




Here is testimony from someone who attended the debate Symposium.  This person is responding to the misinformation put out by NDoE Superintendent Erquiaga (posted at the bottom of this e-mail): 

Date: Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 11:32 PM
Subject: Re: [TAEnetwork] Unbelievable: from Nevada’s Superintendent

I was there, I saw and heard it all.  There are so many things wrong with this statement [posted at the bottom of this e-mail] that it’s hard to know where to begin…

First, as we all know but apparently Mr. Erquiaga doesn’t know, the “two out-of-state professors” weren’t just any professors.  State Superintendent Erquiaga was invited to be one of the two panelists for the State, but apparently he had other things to do, so he sent the Deputy State Superintendent.  Maybe Mr. Steve Canavero didn’t tell Mr. Erquiaga who they [Stotsky and Milgram] were.  I’ll let that rest.

Second, the moderator announced the rules at the beginning of the event, and they were clear to everyone in the room, accept to our Deputy State Superintendent.  It was odd to watch the commotion on that side of the room.  While Drs. Stotsky and Milgram made their opening statements, they were facing Steve Canavero and Judy Osgood, the Nevada DoE public information officer.  Mr. Canavero then made his 10 minute presentation, listing the dates when the DoE etc. publicly informed all the citizens of Nevada all about Common Core.  Ms. Osgood then left her seat, and after some discussion, a Mr. Aaron Grossman took the 2nd seat.  Mr. Canavero introduced him as a school teacher who is currently on special assignment, and Mr. Grossman made a 10 minute presentation (so unimpressive I can’t remember what he talked about.)  Everyone in the auditorium expected Mr. Grossman to remain in his seat, but he left.  The “two out-of-state professors” [Stotsky and Milgram] made their rebuttal, to which the DoE was supposed to respond.  At this point Mr. Canavero announced that the DoE would be rotating their panel, to which the professors (and nearly everyone in the auditorium) objected.

Third, time for questions (written or faxed in only) was given. The moderator gave a special exception to the written question requirement to Senator Hammond, who besides being a legislator is also an active school teacher.  Senator Hammond went to a microphone and gave a little background on these aspects, as a teacher and as a legislator, and posed a question to the DoE.  Mr. Canavero apparently felt that, since Mr. Hammond seemed opposed to Common Core, that the DoE had a right to call a REAL teacher to the microphone to counterbalance.  The moderator denied his request.

Fourth, Mr. Canavero forgot that both Mr. Grossman (who had spoken for ten minutes) and Mr. (Senator) Hammond are school teachers, and made his outrageous statement that no teachers had been allowed to speak.  Apparently accustomed to being ridiculed by the audience at State Board meetings, Mr. Canavero was selectively deaf to those who loudly pointed out that teachers already HAD spoken.

It was clear from the outset that everyone in the room was prepared to be respectful and to allow discourse.  Applause was appropriate and uniform when everyone was introduced.  But it was clearly disruptive when it became obvious that the Department of Education wasn’t prepared, or wasn’t able, or wasn’t willing, to answer the arguments made by Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram.  The most Mr. Canavero could do was cry foul with the process.

Apparently I missed the side show of a Nevada educator being physically removed from the room.  With people on that side of the room milling about and changing seats, it wasn’t possible to follow everything.  All I can say is that I didn’t see or hear any physical violence or loud shouting or commotion with someone being dragged out.  When listening to the discussions in the audience during these procedural disruptions by Mr. Canavaro, one could hear the words “cry-baby”, “petulant”, “rude”, disorganized”.  Parents applauded when Mr. Canavero said that in all his years he had NEVER had a teacher be denied the right to give their input.

I listened to a radio talk show this morning that centered on this event; I was only able to hear parts of it.  All of the callers that I heard who had attended were appalled and embarrassed by our Nevada Department of Education, as was I.  Over the decades I have worked with many good people in that department; but there has been an organizational change in the last few years; and now the DoE is an arm of the Governor’s office.  There isn’t even the pretense of parental participation in our schools.  Our Governor thinks that education is the key to getting elected to Harry Reid’s Senate seat, and so he’s all in for Common Core.  Our experience as homeschool leaders and lobbyists of working with this Governor’s office at the legislature has been dismal…

-Frank Schnorbus
Nevada Homeschool Network, Chairman



Statement from Superintendent Erquiaga Regarding the Symposium on Common Core


For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Carson City, Nevada –



State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga today issued the following statement regarding the Nevada Department of Education’s participation in the Symposium on Common Core in Fallon:


“The Nevada Department of Education was invited by the Citizens for Sound Academic Standards to participate in a forum they organized in Carson City to discuss the Nevada Academic Content Standards based on Common Core. The organizers invited two professors from out-of-state to participate in the forum. As with all requests to engage in a discussion about Nevada standards, my staff invited Nevada teachers to participate in this discussion. I consider our educators to be the most credible and knowledgeable speakers about Nevada’s standards. This fact was communicated to the organizers and to the legislator who reserved the room in Carson City. When my staff arrived at the forum last night, they were abruptly notified that the Department’s teacher presenters, including an associate superintendent and educators from the Carson City School District, would not be allowed to speak at the forum. Attempts by my staff to provide teachers a voice in the conversation about their standards were met with a disrespectful, if not aggressive, response. Worse, one of the organizers physically removed a Nevada educator invited to speak on behalf of the Department; that educator filed assault charges with Legislative Police earlier today.


This is not the Nevada way of engaging in public discourse. I am compelled to denounce the Citizens for Sound Academic Standards and the visiting professors for silencing Nevada teachers to speak at a public forum and for resorting to intimidation tactics before and during the meeting to silence teacher voices. There is room for differences of opinion on this topic, but I cannot support participation in a forum that incites bullying and censorship. Department staff will not participate in the Symposium on Common Core scheduled to occur in Fallon tonight, or any other event involving these organizers and their out-of-state professors. Furthermore, I expect these individuals to apologize to Nevada educators.”
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Donna Garner

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