This is an open letter to North Carolina’s Governor from me on the topic of Common Core.
I’m currently a registered Republican and voted for Governor McCrory. I also write at StopCommonCoreNC.org. I did not post this letter there; this is a personal endeavor not tied to that site.
Thank you to Carolina Plott Hound for linking.
Dear Governor McCrory,
I recently read an article in the News and Observer in which you praised former Governor Jim Hunt, calling him a “hero” and “mentor” of yours. While I am pleased to see bipartisanship taking place in discussions in the critical topic of education, given your appreciation for former Governor Hunt in the area of education and his institute’s ties to Common Core, I wanted to be sure you were aware of some important facts.
The emphasis on that has been placed on education producing a ‘qualified workforce’ is troubling given the relationship former Governor Hunt and his foundation have with the CCSS. I’m certain former Governor Hunt believes the CCSS is the answer, however, the reality is that these standards are just adding to the problems we face in education today. I’ve also noted the Chamber of Commerce lending it’s support. I hope they dig deeper and realize the pitfalls of staying on the Common Core course.
These are the facts:
FACT: Prior to the Common Core being named as such, it was known as ‘College and Career Readiness’.
Why the name change? No one really knows, but many speculate it was to give the standards a broader, more uniform look and feel. Perhaps it was to obscure the fact it does not make one ‘College or Career ready’, but rather Common Core is indeed what opponents call it – ‘one size fits all’.
FACT: The standards are copyrighted.
The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) helped to create the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). Together, with Achieve, Inc., these three private entities or non-elected groups developed a set of academic standards that would become known as The Common Core Standards. Private foundations such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, funded the development of CCSS and the US Department of Education is funding national assessments.
The NGA and CCSSO own the copyright to the CCSS. They are private associations and are not accountable to states, parents or citizens. States that adopt CCSS must adhere 100%, however, states may add up to an additional 15% to the standards. The current arrangement strips states of their authority and responsibility to direct public education. Make no mistake, the standards drive the tests and the curriculum. There is choice in what schools pick for curriculum, but it has to support the standards — standards we can’t change. Proponents telling you Common Core is ‘local control’ and this is ‘state led’ are hoping people won’t notice this.
FACT: The Hunt Foundation received millions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in order to push forward Common Core.
In 2013 alone, the Hunt Foundation received multiple grants from the Gates Foundation under the title “College Ready”, in the amounts of $100,000, $500,000, $1,749,070. That’s $2,349,070 given to the Hunt Foundation to push Common Core last year. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the funds received in 2009 prior to states adopting the CCSS. It was a staggering $5,549,352.
What does Bill Gates think about Common Core these days? Well, Gates himself was recently caught admitting that this is just a big experiment:
“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” – Bill Gates, September 21, 2013
By the way, these funds pale in comparison to the millions the Gates Foundation has given to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), of which NC’s Superintendent June Atkinson was recently made President Elect.
FACT: Members of the Common Core validation committee have refused to sign off on the standards.
Sandra Stotsky on the English portion and Professor James Milgram on the Math portion. Both have said the standards are not rigorous; citing age/developmentally inappropriate standards in the early grades.
Professor Milgram has stated for the record in numerous testimonies in front of various legislators that the Common Core math will put our students at least two years behind and will not lead to supporting STEM related careers.
Milgram is not alone on the math front, Dr. Ze’ev Wurman also finds them flawed. Even the main CCSS math standards writer, Jason Zimba, acknowledged that CCSS will not prepare kids for STEM careers. Professors at a variety of institutions have called out the CCSS as fundamentally flawed.
FACT: CCSS’s stated goal of “college readiness” is defined as “prepared to enter non-selective community colleges.”
To be clear, the CCSS is designed to allow the middle 40% of 11th graders to enroll in a credit bearing course at a “non-selective college”; Non-selective meaning an institution that accepts all applicants. This is not raising standards. This is teaching to the middle.
FACT: The cost of CCSS in North Carolina will undoubtedly land back on the backs of the taxpayers.
The Pioneer Institute in July of 2013 estimated that it will cost North Carolina $642 million over the course of the next 5 or so years. New technology alone took the lion’s share of that estimate — around $242 million.
In 2010, North Carolina won $400 million, but it was recently announced we did not win more Race To The Top (RTTP) money in the latest round. To be clear, our old grant expires this year. In an already strapped budget struggling to raise teacher pay, one has to really look at these costs and ask where the money will come from. NC’s Department of Public Instruction had no real answer to this question, nor could tell anyone how much of our RTTP funds were left.
FACT: Common Core is not rigorous; what has been called rigor is actually age/developmentally inappropriate standards.
It is not conjecture that the Kindergarten through 3rd grade portions are age and developmentally inappropriate as 500 early education professionals have attested to. A stress related syndrome has even emerged in New York directly related to CCSS, where children are reportedly having anxiety attacks, vomiting, refusing to attend school and even hurting themselves.
As a mom, I’m watching my own child go through it and I can tell you the stress is very real, as are the age inappropriate tasks they are being asked to perform. From where I sit and where many parents and educators sit, the CCSS isn’t about raising standards, but about breaking spirits. By the same token, no amount of testing, benchmarking or data collection is going to fix what is wrong in education today. CCSS is heavily reliant on all of those things to validate its existence. Turning our teachers into data entry workers is not the answer.
This is just a broad overview, not even touching on the multitude of other issues surrounding the CCSS like data collection, the loss of local control of our schools and not really digging into the costly over-testing done in Common Core. I’d be happy to have a more detailed conversation than a blog entry can provide.
Governor, you’ve made supportive statements about the Common Core in the past, but I respectfully ask you let the Common Core Study Committee at the General Assembly do their due diligence before really jumping in with both feet. Over 20 states have similar study committees. Many of them have already pulled out of the testing portion and others are looking to replace the CCSS entirely.
In Indiana, Governor Mike Pence has come out and stated he wants the Common Core to be replaced.
“When it comes to setting standards for schools, I can assure you, Indiana’s will be uncommonly high,” said Pence. “They will be written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers and will be among the best in the nation.”
I would ask you to review what is going on in New York state. Their legislature has filed to stop the Common Core. Parents and teachers, together, are pushing back rather loudly on CCSS. Protests have begun and Legislators are starting to listen.
The next meeting of the study committee in North Carolina is set for February 20th. Experts, parents and teachers will be called to testify about the flaws of Common Core. I implore you: listen closely to what they have to say.
I doubt anyone would argue with wanting high academic standards. I know that I don’t. I want the best for my child, which is why I am pushing back on the Common Core. It’s not just that the standards themselves are flawed. There are ramifications to the human element — our kids and teachers.
Our teachers are being turned into data entry specialists and that takes precious time away from actual instruction, creativity is being stifled and the love of learning is being beaten out of our kids as they are drilled, tested, and constantly assessed. Much of this has been happening at a gradual pace for decades, but Common Core has put all of those things on a fast track.
Common Core is not the answer, it’s an extension of a long line of problems in education in our country.
Sincerely and respectfully,