For those that are unaware of what Common Core, or CC, is (the Common Core state standards website is here), this refers to a national educational standard set by the federal government, albeit disguised as a state initiative. It is actually far more than that.
How did we get it and from whom? A federal program called Race To The Top (RTTT) was endorsed by the White House. One of its goals:
Development of rigorous standards and better assessments.
To date, President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative has dedicated over $4 billion to 19 states that have created robust plans that address the four key areas of K-12 education reform as described below.
I later found out that RTTT money runs out in 2014, so it is another “Trojan Horse” federal boondoggle that will saddle the state with the costs at that point, just as Medicaid expansion would do and just as the 100,000 cops program in the 1990′s did: Under the original Clinton plan enacted as part of a crime bill in 1994, the federal government paid 75% of the cost for three years, with a salary and benefit cap of $75,000 per officer. Local governments then picked up the cost- or laid off officers when they realized they could not afford to pay them.
To understand how CC is a federal program but not implemented by the federal government, a short lesson is in order. I will use something I am familiar with, REAL ID, which is federal standards for state driver licenses- and which saw a far larger backlash from states than did CC.
1. Congress or another federal bureaucracy invents a problem, which is often a federal failure to begin with (i.e. allowing 19 middle eastern males into the country).
2. Congress passes legislation with a costly and ineffective solution to the problem such as the REAL ID Act, which was hidden in a defense and Tsunami relief bill, or in the case of CC, allocates funds that will only be available if states do certain things. That is where those “robust plans” come into play.
3. States eager for so-called “federal money” which comes from the taxpayer jump through hoops and pass legislation to qualify for the funding.
Where is it in place? According to the above CC website:
Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards.
Florida is one of them.
Our problems with this issue
Loss of state or local control
First, when a federal standard is set, this means there is a loss of local or state control. Many of us realize a “one size fits all” program is not the best for us. With any federal takeover of a state function (read the 10th Amendment, REAL ID and state driver licenses is a fine example), there is also excessive cost involved. With a national debt of $17 trillion plus, it is impossible to justify these added expenses for a non-federal function. What most people do not realize is that “federal funds” have an administrative cost coming and going. Far more money could be put to use if it remained in the states.
Background on Common Core- Is Common Core State-Led?
“Proponents of this program say that it is state led, but, if you look, all three of these groups are private, member only, Washington D.C. based trade groups whose deliberations are not open to the public and are not run by elected officials. Even though it’s called the National Governor’s Association, it’s basically a group of experts, or quasi-experts, giving the governors information. It is not the governors themselves,”
-Dr. Karen Effrem
The federal government has no constitutional authority to mandate educational standards, curriculam and assessments. In an attempt to make Common Core look “state-led” they brought in the national governors association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to establish a national set of educational standards. The national governors association is a non-profit 501 C-3 organization providing Governors with research and anlaysis to develop state policy. The Council of Chief State School Officers is another non-profit organization who provide state education commissioners with policy advice much in the same way The National gov assoc works to provide services to state governors. The national gov assco with money donated by the Bil Gates Foundation then hired David Coleman, president of the College Board to actually create the standards. The College Board is an association in the United States that was formed in 1900 as the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB). It sells standardized tests used by many schools across the country.
The following is by Joy Pullmann- Research Fellow, Education, The Heartland Institute; Managing Editor, School Reform News:
Three Main Committees
By July 1, 2009, NGA and CCSSO had formed more committees. There were two work groups, whose dozen members in math and English wrote the standards. These included no teachers, but did include a few professors. Second were two feedback groups, who were supposed to provide research and advice to the writers. Those had 18 members each, who were mostly professors but included one math teacher. Third was the validation committee, announced in September 2009, which acted as the final gate for Common Core. Their job was to “ensure [the standards] are research and evidence-based.”
While many people sat on these various committees, only one in sixty was a classroom teacher, according to teaching coach and blogger Anthony Cody. All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private. While Linn says six states sent intensive teacher and staff feedback, committee members weren’t sure what effect their advice had, said Mark Bauerlein, an Emory University professor who sat on a feedback committee.
“I have no idea how much influence committee members had on final product. Some of the things I advised made their way into the standards. Some of them didn’t. I’m not sure why or how,” he said. He said those who would know were the standards’ lead writers: David Coleman and Susan Pimentel in English, and Jason Zimba, Phil Daro, and William McCallum in math. Coleman and Zimba did not have previous experience writing standards. Several people on the validation committee said the same: They had no idea what happened to their comments once they submitted them. Five of 29 validation committee members refused to sign off on Common Core. The validation committee’s final report does not mention their objections.
One aspect we find entirely unacceptable is yet another database- this time for our children. We are not talking about something as simple as name and address to verify they are in the correct school district- we are talking about things such as health-care history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, and religious affiliation.
A detailed piece on the surveillance of students aspect is here. It found:
According to the Department of Education’s February 2013 report Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century, “Researchers are exploring how to gather complex affective data and generate meaningful and usable information to feed back to learners, teachers, researchers, and the technology itself. Connections to neuroscience are also beginning to emerge.”
What they call the “four parallel streams of affective sensors” will be employed to effectively “measure” each child. The “facial expression camera,” for instance, “is a device that can be used to detect emotion…. The camera captures facial expressions, and software on the laptop extracts geometric properties on faces.” Other devices, such as the “posture analysis seat,” “pressure mouse,” and “wireless skin conductance sensor,” which looks like a wide, black bracelet strapped to a child’s wrist, are all designed to collect “physiological response data from a biofeedback apparatus that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration.”
Based on my law enforcement experience, the first part can be used for facial recognition and the latter part sounds like a lie detector or polygraph to me.
Note also the data does not just remain with the government. InBloom, a private company, has gained access to student data in New York and eight other states.
This issue is getting “on the radar”, especially with parents of school age kids. The tide is turning- in Georgia recently, Gov. Deal signed an executive order banning federal standards and protecting student data, but it allowed CC standards to remain in place. Georgia had adopted CC under another administration.
Lawmakers in seven states are proposing legislation to repeal common core. That site tracks the legislation.
Links to learn more
Floridians Against Common Core Education- the name says it well.
The Eagle Forum Education Reporter has many reference links on the CC subject.
If you’d like to read a relatively short piece about some of the issues with Common Core from an educator’s point of view, check out Eight problems with Common Core Standards from August 2012.
A great site with a lot of Florida CC information is Education LibertyWatch.
There is a Stop Common Core group on Facebook.
The COMMON CORE Education Without Representation blog, operated by some teachers.
Six Reasons Why Conservatives (Should) Object to the Common Core. This page lists some details about many areas, to include data mining and the cost.
Our goal at Liberty First is actual legislation to do away with CC and also to protect student data by preventing the capture of the invasive and irrelevant to education things CC requires. We know the best way to safeguard personal data is to not put it into the database to begin with.
The Liberty First Network is pleased to be joining the fight against Common Core. It is an uncommonly bad idea and must be rejected.