Response to the Seattle Times editorial on Common Core

[This is a response to the Seattle Times’ March 15 editorial Criticism of Common Core is misdirected.]

You need to get the history of CCS right. The standards, the curricula and the tests are all one strategy. One begets the others. Teachers are forced to teach to the tests, so the standards mandate curricula. Pearson Corporation owns the whole thing and expects to profit $1 billion this year.

CCS was initiated by the Gates Foundation, which commissioned the two professional associations of governors and state school superintendents to hire David Coleman and others to write the standards. The driver is Gate’s idea that if we could measure deficits and progress in every student in every school, we would be able to improve our “production process” to prepare students for college and to be better workers. For this reason, CCS demands 70% nonfiction in the Language Arts curricula. Instead of preparing students to be independently thinking citizens, they are prepared to analyze non-fiction works and regurgitate evidence.

The CCS were written from the 12th grade down. They are worst in the lower grades. No child development experts were involved in writing them, and they have declared them developmentally inappropriate. You can’t expect analytic thinking from 3rd graders (even kindergartners!) who are concrete thinkers. Only a few actual educators were involved–as reviewers–and many have denounced the CCS.

Gates, the Walton (WalMart) family and others paid for the development, dissemination, lobbying the 50 states and implementation. They fund all the organizations that testified in favor–Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters are notorious mouthpieces for charter schools and the Common Core Standards. So is the Seattle Times–the Education Lab is funded by Gates. The Times needs to come clean on their conflict of interest in reporting this story.

Because the federal government is forbidden by the Constitution to set education policy, Arne Duncan used education stimulus funds to create a competition called Race to the Top. To be competitive for grants (that should have been based on need), states had to adopt the CCS and allow or expand charter schools. It amounted to bribery. A judge in Missouri recently ruled this coercive federal interference in education policy to be illegal and unconstitutional.

In January, the Washing State Democratic Central Committee passed a resolution opposing the Common Core Standards. The CCS-based Smarter Balanced Assessment tests have not been validated and therefore cannot be used to evaluate teachers. In NY and KY, where they were given last year, and the arbitrarily high cut score failed 2/3 of the students, parents revolted by the thousands. By labeling their high-performing students as failures, you have awakened a sleeping giant.

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