This past Wednesday, an attempt at a town hall for “Friends of Education” was held at Cox Mills High School in Cabarrus County. In the previous article, I touched on the comments made by Dr. Atkinson and said I would follow-up with more in another article. This is that article. For more details read: Town Hall Or Campaign Event?
Here’s a brief summary to bring readers up to speed:
Citizens who attended reported to me that in addition to a 15 minute speech by NC State Superintendent Dr. Atkinson followed by a short question and answer session, the event was begun with a campaign speech by Democrat Earle Schecter. Mr. Schecter made claims directly attacking his opponent Rep. Larry Pittman. This political speech identifying and attacking his opponent arguably qualify this “town hall” a campaign event. The public was notified of this “town hall” in the local online paper the day before, yet Democrats in the area were aware as early as April 5th. No Republican candidates were present or invited.
I also gave a quick look at a few of the comments made by Dr. Atkinson. This is where we pick up. The Independent Tribune has an article up, but it misses quite a bit of what was reported to me by attendees and instead, goes mostly with the teacher pay issue. Read it here, I’ll be referencing it later on.
Revisiting NC State Superintendent and CCSSO President Elect’s Comments
Just a reminder as to what was covered in the last article, Dr. Atkinson made the following comments:
“The standards are deeper, but not as wide.”
“The standards are not perfect, but are better than what we had.”
“The 8th commandment tells us not to bear false witness and there is much false witness going on about the Common Core in this state.”
False witness. She stood up the in the Cox Mills gym and listened to Earle Schecter give false witness against Rep. Pittman, but whatever. False witness is Dr. Atkinson’s way of calling those of us who oppose the Common Core a bunch of liars. It’s not the first time she’s done that.
Sad that people will not read the Common Core standards and give constructive feedback but are willing to spread myths. #stopcommoncore
— June Atkinson (@DrJuneAtkinson) February 24, 2014
Be sure to read the replies to that tweet.
I find her statements mocking opposition as ‘misinformed’ a bit ironic given the dodging of direct questions she’s done on Common Core. Atkinson is committed to making sure Common Core moves forward in North Carolina and has blocked or dodged reasonable attempts to get at answers made by multiple citizens and our own Lt. Governor.
President Elect Of The CCSSO
The following question was asked of Dr. Atkinson: Is your position as President elect at CCSSO a conflict of interest with given the controversy over Common Core here in North Carolina? The Independent Tribune article glossed over this question:
Someone asked about her position as the president-elect for the Council of Chief State School Officers and it being a potential conflict of interest because North Carolina adopted Common Core. She responded that it would be a conflict of interest if a person were to gain financially by their state adopting Common Core.
“I have nothing to gain. In fact, (the standards) are free,” Atkinson said.
“I have nothing to gain.” Chuckle, right – Millions upon millions flowing through the Common Core, but ‘I’m just a volunteer with nothing to gain’. I’m sure that’s what Bev Perdue says in her cushy DigiLearn 501(c)3 that’s packed with Common Core people and money is saying. Atkinson’s answer was a bit more than that. Here are some quotes as reported to me by attendees:
“I looove this one. Some of you may not know what the CCSSO is. Some call it a trade association. It’s similar to the Lt. Governors Association. All Lt. Governors belong to the Lt. Governor Association…”
“We met and said ‘could we work together in a grassroots effort to establish standards so each state doesn’t have to do it?'”
“There is no conflict of interest. I have to fill out an ethics report. Conflict of interest says a person has to gain financially. The Common Core standards are free, in fact.”
“Common Core Standards are made free.”
“I work for the taxpayers of North Carolina. CCSSO is a volunteer position. “
Let’s dissect these.
A lot of people might not know what the CCSSO is – it stands for Council Of Chief State School Officers. It is, in fact a trade organization out of Washington, D.C. similar to the National Governors Association (NGA). I noticed Atkinson referenced Lt. Governor’s Association as a comparison. That was a clear stab at Lt. Governor Dan Forest, who has been a vocal opponent to Common Core.
The CCSSO and the NGA, with the help of Achieve Inc. are the groups responsible for the Common Core Standards. They all received millions of dollars from the Bill Gates Foundation to create and promote the Common Core. The CCSSO alone has been the recipient of over $84 million. According to the 2012 CCSSO IRS 990 Form, they took in over 26 million dollars…but according to Atkinson, this was “grassroots”.
Yes, the CCSSO is volunteer – for some roles. Others are paid. Pay very close attention to what Dr. Atkinson thinks is the only definition of a conflict of interest. Ethics report? Make it available on the Department of Public Instruction’s website, Dr. Atkinson. There are millions more dollars on the line beyond what is invested, to say there is no conflict of interest here because Dr. Atkinson hasn’t personally been paid for her role at the CCSSO is to bear false witness.
The Standards are free. Sure they are, and copyrighted – ensuring only the NGA and CCSSO, who hold said copyright, can change them. Many groups, including the NGA and CCSSO, stand to make a lot of money from the standards. There is a very good article by Mercedes Schneider on the copyright issue and who stands to gain from it. This excerpt below captures part of this, but please read the whole thing. Also, pay attention to references to Pearson because they are deeply entrenched in Common Core, Powerschool and the data collection going on in North Carolina:
The next section, Material Beyond the Scope of the Public License, underscores that the license belongs only to the Standards, not to the examples used to illustrate the Standards. Many examples belong to the “public domain,” meaning anyone is able to use them without thought of obtaining permission. However, it seems that NGA and CCSSO entered into agreement with both the Penguin Group ( a subsidiary of Pearson) and McGraw Hill to use material copyrighted by Penguin and McGraw Hill to illustrate CCSS.
What the above acknowledgement of Penguin and McGraw Hill inadvertently shows is that these two have a “foot in the door,” so to speak, to the profit potential available via CCSS.
(Note: Pearson is positioned to run all aspects of CCSS, from examples, to curriculum to assessment. As for McGraw Hill: CCSS “architect” David Colemansold his No Child Left Behind assessment-related company, Grow Network, to McGraw Hill in 2004. He then started his national standards writing company,Student Achievement Partners, in 2007. He is now president of College Board– one of the few groups at the CCSS planning table [see CCSS MOU in the RTTT application linked below].
CCSS is a layered business deal.
Yes, it is the same layered business deal type thing going on with the testing consortiums involved.
While the standards might be “free” for now, what isn’t free is the millions of dollars it will take to implement them. North Carolina blew threw the Race To The Top (RTTT) funds that were dangled in front of us to get us to sign on to Common Core, now the state is on the hook for the rest of the bill. NC has not won any new RTTT funds, leaving the estimated 5 year cost of close to $642 million to fall on the state of North Carolina and the taxpayers. You think the pay complaints by teachers are bad now? Just wait.
Speaking of RTTT Funds
Many states were hurting for education dollars. What politicians or education official do you know who would turn down money for education? Acceptance of Race To The Top grant money came with strings attached — The Common Core. That’s fact, not ‘misinformation’.
A student asked Dr. Atkinson if NC adopted the Common Core to get those grant dollars. Atkinson said no. Dr. Atkinson has been asked this before and was claimed NC officials didn’t know about RTTT money before they adopted the Common Core. Unless they were deaf, dumb and blind, that position is false.
The idea of these funds being made available so states could sneak the Common Core into their state was floated a full year before the standards were finished. In fact, Arne Duncan announced this right here in NC at a Hunt Institute hosted symposium in June 2009. School officials in North Carolina in attendance knew this would mean adopting the Common Core to get those dollars. Dr. Atkinson, along with former Governor Perdue, signed off on the RTTP application on January 14th, 2010 – almost a full five months before the standards were finished and announced on June 2, 2010, which was also the same day the NC State School Board adopted them.
NC education officials applied for the money that adopted the Standards before they saw what was in them…but remember, “The 8th commandment tells us not to bear false witness and there is much false witness going on about the Common Core in this state.”