On April 30, The Union published an op-ed by Shar Johns, associate superintendent for Educational Services for Nevada County Schools. The article was entitled “Understanding Common Core State Standards,” although “MIS-understanding Common Core State Standards” would have been a more accurate description of Ms. Johns’s grasp of the subject. I’ll comment on just some of the inaccuracies due to space considerations:
Johns: “… these new national standards (Common Core) were offered to states …”
In fact, cash-strapped states were bribed with “the opportunity to compete” for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers and Race To The Top (RTTT) grants.” NCLB waivers would have relieved states of the onerous burden of NCLB requirements scheduled to begin in 2014. In order to have this “opportunity to compete,” states had to agree to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) sight unseen and create a statewide longitudinal database, complete with student identifiable identification numbers capable of tracking every child and his family from kindergarten through the workforce.
Johns: “… as educators we hear from parents and community members every day, and everyone wants the same thing for their children, to learn the skills necessary to be prepared for college or career … This is exciting since this is exactly what the CCSS emphasize.”
This is not true. Common Core does not prepare our children for colleges that most parents aspire to for their children. While CCSS promises “STEM” (Science, Technology Engineering Mathematics) readiness and world class standards, Dr. Jason Zimba, a lead writer of the math standards, admits that the CCSS math standards are neither designed to prepare students for STEM studies nor capable of preparing them for any selective (four-year) college, even in a non-STEM discipline. And Bill Gates, whose foundation has already spread around hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars convincing hundreds of organizations and people to endorse the standards said, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, … we won’t know for a decade.”
The only two content experts who served on the Common Core Validation Committee — James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University and an expert in math standards, and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas (retired) and an expert in English language arts standards — refused to sign off on the standards.
Johns: “The standards are not curriculum.” While this may be true, standards and standardized testing drive curriculum, and to that end the government has a list of “suggested” textbooks and reading materials, much of which is age inappropriate. Questioning this material often results in parents being escorted out of school board meetings and/or being arrested. In addition, an extensive listing of the Gates Foundation grants relating to Common Core reveals numerous grants to develop curriculum!
Ms. Johns asks, “Are the CCSS abandoning classical literature and basic arithmetic?” Her answer is “absolutely not.”
In fact, CCSS is reducing classical literature to 30 percent, to be replaced by 70 percent informational text like computer manuals, government regulations and executive orders by 12th grade; basic arithmetic is so twisted that engineers cannot figure out third-grade math; geometry will be taught using a method that failed 50 years ago in the Soviet Union.
In Ms. Johns’ reference to Benjamin Franklin and the Founding Fathers, she states, they “… discovered, great change can bring a peak of unease, frustration and resistance, but is often tempered by the promise of amazing possibilities on the other side,” the possibilities for “improvement, achievement and success.”
It is interesting that Ms. Johns would quote a Founding Father here when the very existence of the U.S. Department of Education and Common Core violate the 10th Amendment of our Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” There is no place in the Founding Father’s America for a nationalized education system. And Thomas Jefferson called for strong local self-government as the keystone to preserving human freedom.
No wonder thousands of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, educators and other concerned citizens of these United States are working to defeat the CCSS and take back our schools and return them to local control. They’ve had enough of federal bureaucrats determining how our children will be educated without any input from state legislatures, local school boards, parents and teachers.
Jan Collins is the founder of Common Core Concerns. She lives in Penn Valley.