Here is an op-ed that I have submitted for publication in our local Sweetwater County newspapers. You can follow the links to the references discussed. Enjoy.
Don’t Be Misinformed; Know What Common Core Is And Reject It
An article from County 10’s website had a write up concerning a meeting that took place on June 11th, in Riverton with Fremont County School Superintendents and State Representative Lloyd Larsen. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss Common Core State Standards. Common Core State Standards are the newly adopted K-12 standards that are being used in all of our schools. Mr. Larsen attempted to discuss what he called “all the misinformation that is being spread locally about the issue.”
My response to his “supposed” debunking of Common Core Myths can be found at my personal blog, wyomingagainstcommoncore.wordpress.com
My blog was created to help educate and give, not just my opinion, but the facts surrounding something that is affecting education and our children. I write this from a duel perspective as a mother of 3 young children and an educator.
In the article mentioned above, Dubois School Superintendent Jerry Nolan said that Rep. Larsen “had nailed the key issues and identified some of the false stories being circulated. “People are attaching poison pills that have nothing to do with common core,” he said.
Actually, Mr. Nolan, there is a lot of poison out there and it has EVERYTHING to do with the common core! Looking further than the Common Core State Standards own website, or the Wyoming Department of Education’s CCSS FAQ page, which is basically copied and pasted from the copyrighted CCSS site, shows enlightening information on the history and roots of the Common Core State Standards. After attending a WDE training on the CCSS almost a year ago, I began researching the history behind CC.
I attempted to share this information with colleagues in the school I have taught at for the last 3 years, in Sweetwater School District #2. I was prevented by my administrator from having an open dialogue concerning the issues surrounding Common Core. It was made quite clear that teachers that wished to take a different view would be silenced. We are being asked to turn a blind eye and assume that we could never be lead astray. It must be okay, everyone is doing it. No decision would ever be made by the “experts” that could be based on money versus what’s best for our children. As a teacher I was prevented from doing what good teachers teach their students to do, which is, Question, Research, Discuss, Form an Educated opinion based on Facts. Those that are expected to implement, teach, and know the Common Core, are prevented from discussing it with parents or each other unless it’s on an “educational” basis. This is a sure sign that something is wrong!
Let’s take a look at what is really going on around us!
In Utah this year, GOP state delegates passed a resolution that opposed Common Core, by a 65% vote. The National GOP passed a similar resolution. The Michigan legislature passed a bill that defunded Common Core. Indiana legislators passed a year-long time-out bill to pause Common Core. Similar efforts by Republicans and Democrats are growing in North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri ,Iowa, Florida, Illinois and elsewhere.
Yet Wyoming’s governor continues to promote the Common Core, claiming it is “state-led” and not mandatory. I spoke with Governor Mead when he was in Rock Springs for the ice cream social, “Capitol for the Day” event. In answering my concern that Wyoming teachers, parents, and local school boards are losing their voice by adopting common core, he could only point to what he believes is a state led initiative, and we will still have our local districts controlling public schools.
It’s not “state-led.” The authors of the copyrighted Common Core are private entities, not subject to open meetings, accountability to voters or other proof being state-led. Conditions of the federal ESEA waiver and Race to the Top application show how federally-pushed the Common Core agenda was. Now Obama has announced a tax to pay for Common Core technology in a ConnectEd Initiative, and has announced that he will redesign U.S. high schools.
How state-led does that sound?
I also asked Governor Mead to tell me where the data or research based evidence is to prove the standards, he signed off on, are any better than what Wyoming or other states around the nation have been using. He stated that he feels it is raising the bar to bring all states to the same “goal post”.
It’s not academically legitimate. There’s no evidence to back up claims that the standards increase college readiness as they are experimental. The standards were written by D.C. groups who opined that classic literature should be curtailed to favor information texts. These groups felt that basic algorithms should be taught at delayed times. The unvetted ideas, unsupported by academic research, formed Common Core.
As a teacher I’m highly concerned that should I feel my students require additional teaching or more information to master a subject, I’ll be prevented from spending time on something that won’t be on the new National Test. Since Wyoming History is not on the National Test, written by the Smarter Balanced Consortium, it will be one of the first things to go when our students scores aren’t where they should.
It’s not minimalistic. Proponents call it a set of minimum standards. But a 15% cap was placed over the copyrighted standards by the federal government, limiting Wyoming from adding much. Worse, the Common Core tests, with teacher evaluations geared to them, act as the ultimate enforcement mechanism.
Consider for a moment how controversial the Wyoming PAWS test has been. At least teachers from our local districts, representing our local voice are involved in its creation and were part of the discussion when it came to input for recommending changes. There is no local process to involve those teachers that will represent your children and their needs in suggesting changes to the standards.
It’s not amendable. The D.C.-based system defines and narrows learning yet has no amendment process.
One of the HUGE concerns for parents is the privacy issue that Rep. Larsen mocked when trying to say the iris scanning that happened in Florida (he actually said New York, but again, he is misinformed) would never happen in Wyoming. The very existence of Common Core and all it encompasses is “common” throughout the country. Of course that could happen here, to say it wouldn’t is misleading his constituents!
It’s not protective of privacy. Along with asking us to adopt Common Core, the federal government pushed the State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) which now exist in each state. These give aggregate information to an Edfacts Data Exchange. Although private information gathered by schools, found in an SLDS, is not required to be given to D.C., it is requested. Federal entities request that states share identifiable student information: see the Common Education Data Standards, the Data QualityCampaign, and the National Data Collection Model.
To make matters worse, the Department of Education altered federal regulations in the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) reducing parental consent requirements and redefining “authorized representative,” “directory information” and “education agency” to obliterate privacy.
Rep. Larsen is either unaware of the change to the FERPA law or chose not to mention it in the handout that quotes the original FERPA law.
We should opt out our children of the SLDS tracking and the Common Core tests (find the form here). We should let teachers use their own judgment rather than rely on yet another data point to determine where their student’s level falls. We should let teachers teach without feeling restricted to cover EVERYTHING that might fall on THE TEST. We should allow open and free dialogue between parents, teachers, and elected officials about concerns – without feeling there might be repercussions.
We should find answers to important questions, such as:
• Where is the legal authority for entities outside Wyoming to set school standards and to monitor tests?
• Where is a line-item, Wyoming-specific discussion of the cost of Common Core technologies, teacher trainings, mailers to delegates, and textbooks?
• Why didn’t Wyoming follow the U.S. leader in education, Massachusetts, rather than adopting the mediocre Core?
• How is Common Core state-led when boards who are not accountable to the public bypassed parents and 99% of all teachers and legislators, operating behind closed doors to develop and copyright the experiment?
•Where is evidence that the standards are legitimate and that they do not harm?