Were our Governors and Supes Duped? Guest Article by Alyson Williams

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Were our Governors and Supes Duped?

by Alyson Williams

The current approach to education reform in the U.S. reminds me of a famous scene in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. Tom needs to whitewash an entire fence before he can get on with what he’d really like to be doing. Not able to get the job done on his own he comes up with a clever plan and one by one gets the neighborhood boys to take over his work by making the job look really appealing, by convincing them it is something that want to do of their own accord, and with the flattery that only certain people were capable of doing it. After all, Aunt Polly was “awful particular” and didn’t trust Jim, or Sid with the job. (A little bribery might have come into play as well.)

I find in the dialog between Tom and his first dupe an especially uncanny metaphor for the adoption process of Common Core and the other Stimulus-driven education reforms.

Tom expresses doubt that his friend Ben can be trusted with such the important task at hand saying, “If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it …”

Ben assures Tom that he’ll be careful and offers, “Say – I’ll give you the core of my apple.” And then as he sees Tom hesitate, he adds, “I’ll give you ALL of it.” “Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart… the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash.”

The narrator observes of Tom, “He had a nice, good, idle time all the while – plenty of company – and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.”

The vignette concludes by pointing out that Tom “had discovered a great law of human action… that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do” but that people would happily work at doing something if it was voluntary.

Oh, the irony of new ELA standards that trade to the info-text vocabulary of the 21st-century, global workforce the time once spent feasting on classic stories. Stories that, like this one, would serve as a cautionary tale to Governors and Superintendents racing to support common education standards for our nation when they would likely never had been such enthusiastic participants if the proposition had been assigned or decreed. But, when deftly positioned as a voluntary “state-led” initiative, and presented along with the ego-stroking idea of themselves as the only leaders who could be entrusted with such an important task, the Common Core State Standards Initiative swept Governors and Superintendents into bids of what they each might offer (in the form of Race to the Top grant applications and often the entirety of the cost of such commitments when the grant was not awarded) for the honor of participating.

As chief reformer, Education Secretary Arne Duncan later bragged to an international audience at UNESCO of the success of this strategy, “… today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.” http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/vision-education-reform-united-states-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-united-nations-ed

As a result, the fence standing between reformers who would centralize key aspects of public education and their goal of getting on to more mischief with our local schools was whitewashed in record time. The dupes gave up the whole apple and more, and just like Aunt Polly, the unsuspecting citizen accepted the trickery as a praiseworthy achievement.

In the engaging tale of an American boy, Twain gives insight into what motivates people (think of it as leadership training 101) but also alerts would-be dupes against such schemes as the one currently enabling a concentration of power over the education of the rising generation. In recognizing this, we begin to see the power of a good story to develop both literacy and wisdom regardless of the century or the economy. It might also lead one wonder if we really want students to spend more time dissecting excerpts of everyday informational text (falsely characterized as “critical thinking”) or whether we all would be better off with a little more Tom Sawyer or other classic works that have outlived the educational and political fads by masterfully capturing human interactions in language that speaks to our hearts and souls, motivates us to learn more, and gifts us timeless ideas and ideals to think critically about.

“Building the Machine” The Common Core MOVIE Available HERE!

 CCMovie

 “Building the Machine”

A gripping half-hour documentary that tells the story about the Common Core, one of the biggest national reforms to be adopted behind closed doors.

 HERE

Spread the word on social media and “Like” their page: https://www.facebook.com/BuildingtheMachine

Information on the movie  and the research behind it in their Press Release below:

Groundbreaking Documentary Sheds Light on Common Core 
Purcellville, VA — March 25, 2014

As the national conversation over the Common Core State Standards continues to heat up, one non-profit and an indie filmmaker are hoping that their upcoming documentary will shed light on an issue that they believe is a largely unknown problem. The film Building the Machine is about how Common Core came to be and how it will affect education for years to come.

The Home School Legal Defense Association’s department of Film and Visual Media has been working on the documentary for over a year and the film’s director believes it will make waves in the public debate over Common Core. “When I first started working on the film, I had very limited knowledge about the Common Core and how it made its way into our public schools,” Ian Reid, the film’s director, said. “At first it seems like an ideal solution to the commonly cited woes of an education system that is failing our students: After all, who wouldn’t want higher standards? But after more than a year of investigative research, and in-depth interviews with many on the inside of the education standards world, it was clear that there is much more to the implementation of the Common Core than merely ‘raising standards.’” 

The Common Core State Standards are the product of the National Governor’s Association, the Council of Chief State School Officials, education experts, and many wealthy backers like the Gates Foundation. The standards are being implemented in schools across 45 states. While the Constitution gives the federal government no direct authority over education, the government has created incentives for states to adopt the Common Core as a tactic for national curriculum. But many experts have voiced skepticism as to whether the standards are actually good for American children.

Our goal is to present a balanced investigative documentary, by interviewing experts on both sides of the issue—including some members of the Common Core Validation Committee,” said Reid, “and this led to a variety of fascinating discoveries about the culture war that is being waged in education right now. One of the most troubling was the clear difference between the two factions’ willingness to dialogue over this revolutionary change. Particularly, my team and I found that while many opponents to 
the Common Core were willing to speak out, only a small fraction of the supporters would engage in the discourse.”  

One thing that Reid finds most fascinating about the Common Core is that it erases party lines. “Common Core is not a typical liberals-versus-conservatives issue,” he said. “It’s an issue that concerns parents and the future of their child’s education, and I hope to get the message across that their ability to steer the education of their child is largely slipping away from their hands and into the hands of politicians, unelected bureaucrats, and large corporations.”  


The film will be released by the Home School Legal Defense Association online at noon EDT on March 31, 2014, for free. HSLDA will also be accepting pre-orders for the extended DVD set which will ship later this summer. Reid is the Director of Film and Visual Media at the Home School Legal Defense Association.

If You Like Your Teacher, You Can Keep Your Teacher!

Let’s scrap the Department of Education! WHAT?!   That is crazy (extremist) Tea Party mentality that would allow for FREEDOM of CHOICE and COMPETITION in EDUCATION.  Let’s move past the, “We know better than parents what is best for their kids”, and “We MUST have a way to PROVE that kids are learning or teachers are teaching”, mentality.

I know it’s hard!  It is so easy to feel safe and secure in what we have always done.   It is easy to feel that nothing will change.   It was fine when I went to school, it was fine just last year.   Common Core is not going to affect our local schools or teachers.   If it does, then they will let us know, and fix it.

Frog in a pot of water…

I don’t typically rant on my blog!  However, the video clip was brought to my attention.  It gathered a few things together for me in my right-wing, extremist, tea party, conservative mind.  (So sad those words seem to have a negative connotation in the main stream media these days)…ranting again…sorry!

In just under ten minutes, Bill Whittle, conservative blogger, political commentator,  known for his PJ Media, gives an excellent monologue on Common Core.  He makes some rather humorous statements, blasting  Common Core,  by comparing it to Obama-care.

“If you like your teacher (*wink, *wink), you can keep your teacher!”

I don’t think he realizes how accurate he really is when he says this!   My concern for teaching leads me to focus on some disturbing facts that point to this administration’s goal to level the teaching field, and essentially distribute the “good” teachers.

The “equitable distribution of teachers and principals” is one of the stated goals of Common Core aligned reforms and found in the Race to the Top document, on page 3.

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Do teachers and principals who are supportive of Common Core realize that if they are marked as “highly effective,” they will be redistributed –without their consent– under the banner of equitable education–  to replace teachers and principals in schools that are ineffective?

This “equitable redistribution of teachers” agenda is further elaborated in the document “For Each and Every Child,” (see page 25) published this year by the Equity and Excellence Commission for the U.S. Department of Education.

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An anonymous teacher said:  “I can’t make teachers understand that the equitable distribution of effective teachers mean that they get moved if they do a good job. Principals don’t get this either. They will no longer have the ability to retain their best teachers.…  a teacher does a good job and has high test scores, so her reward is to be placed in a failing school …. And what about the people who move into a certain attendance area because they like the teachers and principals?  Schools will become revolving doors with no stability or consistency.”

I know this all seems conspiratorial…but it is all there in writing for you to see!  It is the literal transformation of our country.   What better way to do it then to start with our education, and affect an entire generation.  That is the Progressive style…slow and steady she goes!

Bill Whittle is quite witty and paints this picture when describing something OTHER than the “Cookie Cutter Common Core”, something MUCH different than has been around since our federal government decided they needed to control education.

“Let’s imagine fourteen-thousand departments of education, one for each school district in America! Let’s imagine, that each one of them trying different approaches….one BAD idea didn’t ruin the entire country for a generation AND good ideas could be copied and modified and improved EVEN more!”

Thanks goes out to Carleen Brophy for pointing this video monologue out to me!

Specials thanks to Christel Swasey and her outstanding research,  that lead me in the right direction and my understanding how Common Core is about MUCH more than JUST STANDARDS.