The Problem with Common Core Forum was a great success. We had over 200 participants who got to hear from our amazing panel of experts. Thank you to all of the volunteers who made this possible. We will continue to stand with you to improve education in Idaho.
Jane Robbins is an attorney and senior fellow of the American Principles Project in Washington D.C. She had well documented evidence of the illegality of many aspects of the Common Core Initiative. She shared the timeline of adopting the Common Core. It was designed to be done very quickly, during a time when most state Legislatures were not in session. This was done to decrease public scrutiny, and have it adopted before it could be vetted. She detailed the many federal strings that are associated with adopting the Common Core. She highlighted the millions of dollars of corporate money that has been invested in creating and promoting this workforce system of education. She explained the data collection portion of the mandates and agreements. She explained how companies intend to use and benefit from using this data. “Not only does this scheme obliterate parental control over the education of their children, but it imposes mediocre standards based on questionable philosophies, constitutes a huge unfunded mandate on the state and on local districts, and requires sharing students’ personal data with the federal government.” She encouraged all concerned citizens to get involved in stopping this expensive federal and corporate takeover of our education and this huge intrusion into our children’s privacy.
Sandra Stotsky is a former professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas and the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality. She was the Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education until 2003. She was in charge of revising all the state’s k-12 standards. Massachusetts standards have been the best in the nation since they were rewritten under her leadership. She most recently served on the Common Core Validation Committee from 2009-2010. She shared with us her experience on the validation committee. As part of this committee, she believed she and the other experts would contribute to the process of writing the standards. It was made very clear early on, they were to be only a rubber stamp to whatever was developed behind closed doors. She repeatedly asked to see the feedback that was being collected from earlier drafts. She was never allowed to see any of these comments. The organizations that wrote the standards are not subject to Freedom of Information Act policies, so the process will remain secret. We do know, the experts that were asked to validate were not included in the process of development, their critiques and revisions were not made a part of the final process, and 5 of the validation committee refused to be a rubber stamp. The individual who wrote the final validation was never informed that several of those on his committee refused to validate. He had to write his report only from information directly from the Common Core standard writers themselves. She then explained how every other set of standards in our nation has been written in a much more open and public process. Sandra explained with great detail and evidence why she refused to validate the ELA standards. They are neither “rigourous” or internationally benchmarked as they claim to be. The average reading level of the common core standards is at a 6th to 7th grade level. The standards focus on empty skill sets, putting writing skills above reading skills. All credible research shows that strong writing requires strong readers. She also objects to removing literature as the focus, replacing it with informational texts. She hopes all of Idaho teachers, students and parents will work together to insist on better standards.
Ze’ev Wurman is a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution. He has served as a Senior Advisor at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the U.S. Department of Education. He analyzed the Common Core math standards for the pioneer institute and for the State of California. He served on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that reviewed Common Core. He de-bunked the myth that these math standards are higher. He shared the actual study that the Common Core uses to claim that they are in line with internationally rigorous nations. The study was based entirely on the shape of a graph which the author manipulated to give it the appearance of being similar to the Common Core. The author then further manipulated his conclusions through faulty math. How ironic. This is the only study that supports the claim that Common Core is internationally benchmarked. He then used the very words of the authors of the Common Core math standards to prove that they intend on stopping instruction at Algebra 2. This is a significant decrease for Idaho students some of which are able to take Algebra 2 in 7th grade. It is a significant decrease in the quality and level of what we are currently doing here in Idaho. It will eliminate the ability of students with a high aptitude in math to advance to calculus as is now available. It will not provide students the necessary tools needed to go on to a selective college program. He encouraged us all to be involved to remove these lower, untested math standards. Speak to those in industries who require the higher math skills, inform them of the significant change. We can make a difference if we stand together. We can demand something better for our children.