Sen. Stein Politicizing, Giving Misinformation On Common Core

UPDATE: Welcome Carolina Plott Hound Readers

At a panel discussion hosted by Public Schools First NC on May 3rd, several legislators were on hand to discuss teacher pay and Common Core. Democrat State Senator Josh Stein upheld the tradition of ‘politicizing‘ and ‘misinformation’ that the opposition of Common Core has come to know all too well. Memo to those doing the actual politicizing here: NC Replacing Common Core Means Leading, Not Following.

We’ll get to Public Schools First NC at the end of the article. First, let’s look at what was said. WRAL, to their credit this time, explained a bit more about the commission to be formed, that the brand name Common Core is currently in our state statutes, and in a way, corrects Senator Stein. The relevant portion is below; the emphasis added is mine.

As for Common Core, Stein said he expects the legislature to abandon it. 

“There is a great deal of misinformation. First, it’s not a curriculum. It’s a set of standards about what we expect students to know each year,” Stein said. “Second, it’s not a federal initiative. Third, it’s extremely popular with teachers. When you roll out a new program you expect kinks. You work through them.”

A student committee on April 24 approved a proposal to move North Carolina away from Common Core. 

Although the bill does delete legislative language referencing Common Core standards, it does not take them out of play right away. Rather, the measure would create an Academic Standards Review Commission to develop standards “tailored to the needs of North Carolina’s students.”

The commission would be part of the state Department of Administration, not the Department of Public Instruction. It would be instructed to finish a first run at revising the standards by 2015, in time for the 2016 legislative session.

The revised standards would go to State Board of Education for approval, but if lawmakers don’t agree with the board’s position, they could override it and enact new standards themselves.

Nice typo, WRAL — “A student committee” should be a study committee.

Now, let’s break Stein’s comment down.

1. It’s not a curriculum. 

True – it’s a set of standards. However, that drives the curriculum, textbooks, tests, and materials. That’s one of the points of having standards. You align everything under them. Senator Stein is playing semantics.

2. It’s not a federal initiative.

Mostly true, if you ignore the Race To the Top Money from the Department of Education which was made possible by this administration’s Stimulus (ARRA). Then there is the matter that Common Core is a violation of our Constitution.

What Sen. Stein fails to mention are the two D.C. trade organizations, along with the Gates educational outfit Achieve Inc., are the ones who created this educational experiment. These D.C. trade organizations are accountable to no one but themselves and they hold the copyright on the standards, of which NC would continue to be prostrate to unless we move to take control of our standards.

3. “It’s extremely popular with teachers.”

I am surprised he could deliver that remark with a straight face and without giving an iota of proof to back it up. What an incredible over-generalization.  If opposition had been represented on this panel, he would have been asked where he gets that statement from. That begs the question, why wasn’t anyone from the opposition view invited to this panel? If Stein’s gross over-generalization is coming from the Gates-Funded Scholastic survey being used by supporters as proof, well — that’s been debunked:

So about that survey… Excuse me, poll.  First, be aware Scholastic is also in the pocket of the Gates F0undation. Right on the front page of this poll, blazing across the top banner is “Primary Sources: A project of Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”  This poll also mentions the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in the “About” section of the survey.  Those are tidbits Brickman neglected to share when on the air. At the bottom of the state break-out page for NC, you see this:

“Results from an online survey of 662 teachers in North Carolina, conducted July 1-22, 2013, by Harrison Group, a YouGov Company.”

662 teachers. Out of over 95,000 in NC.  No where is the raw data displayed and in fact I had to sign up with my email address to be alerted of the full data set coming out. So far, that hasn’t happened. Some poll!  What we are to believe here is that Common Core is better, because they said so… and because, POLL!

Two can play at that game. Here’s another poll — excuse me, SURVEY: NC teachers favor slowing down Common Core.  And they list their data.

Teachers I have encountered dislike it in one way or another. More than one has told me that it may be what gets them to finally quit and if they had school-aged children now, they would homeschool.

Many look at it as the latest fad coming down the pike – and they are correct. It’s a fad and an experimental fad at that. Many dislike it but are afraid to speak up.  I would refer readers to check out this NC Civitas poll from last Fall on what teachers think of Common Core and noting 62% favored slowing down or a halt of the standards. One comment, in particular, confirms the fad status, calling it ‘flavor of the month’:

“[Common Core] seems to be just another ‘Flavor of the Month’ and within five years it will be replaced.”

I think Senator Stein needs to realize that while there may be some who like the Common Core, the majority —  voters — do not. In fact, as of last December, 53% of those polled said they favor at least a slow down of Common Core.

As for the commission, which Senator Stein thinks shouldn’t happen, in April Civitas reported that 58% polled support it, and less than half of that oppose the commission. That support is bipartisan by the way:

Fifty-eight percent of voters said they support establishing a commission to review standards and improve them; 27 percent oppose establishing a commission and 15 percent are undecided. What’s interesting is support for a commission was strong across party affiliations. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans favor a Commission; along with 57 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Independents.

The polls and public opinion do not match Senator Stein’s comments.

About Public Schools First NC

Per the WRAL article, “Saturday’s panel discussion was hosted by Public Schools First NC and moderated by Joel Rosch, a senior research scholar at Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy.”

Public Schools First NC (PSFNC) is a non-profit named a ‘Friend in Education‘ by the Moral Monday supporting NCAE.  Their domain is registered to Yvonne Brannon, Chairwoman of Great Schools in Wake Coalition and is apparently tight with the Moral Monday and Democrat Party Defacto leader, Reverend Barber:

Caption for this photo reads: Yvonne Brannon, chairwoman of Great Schools in Wake Coalition sings with NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II at Martin Street Baptist Church. More than 500 opponents of the Wake School Board’s proposal to end busing for socioeconomic diversity gathered at the church for a candlelight vigil.

Brannon and PSFNC also held hands with the NC Justice Center during in the Teacher Walk-in. Reminder: NC Justice Center is who launched Blueprint NC. For those unfamiliar with this connection, read about Blueprint NC’s ‘eviscerate, slam and cripple’ attack memo. Be mindful that Senator Stein’s sister, Gerda Stein, sits on the Blueprint NC board.  Unsurprisingly, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation which funds Blueprint NC also gives money to PSFNC.

PSFNC also used to have a donation form on their site. I am unable to locate it now, but I saved a copy. View it here. Notice at the bottom, under Brannon as the contact point, it says, “Public Schools First NC, a project of WakeUP Wake County, is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization. Your donation is tax deductible.”   WakeUp Wake County is listed on the latest available Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation tax return for 2012 as eligible for $330,000 in grants (listed as unpaid) and received $45,000 in grant money.  In that list of unpaid grants, $290,000 was set aside for WakeUp Wake County to be used to run PSFNC.

So at the end of the day, who is politicizing Common Core in NC? From the panel I started out discussing and its ties, it would appear it is the well-funded Left seeking to make yet another Slam, Cripple, and Eviscerate attack.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
This entry was posted in BlueprintNC, Common Core, EDUCATION, Moral Monday, NC State Standards, NCGA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sen. Stein Politicizing, Giving Misinformation On Common Core

  1. Libby says:

    Speaking as a public school teacher for 35 years, I assure you the CC is exactly a set of standards, particularly useful to new teachers learning the curriculum. There are far worse things that the CC. Your children will be fine, and perhaps know why 2×2= 4, rather than simply using memorization.


    • Hi Libby,

      As a teacher for 35 years, I would hope you would be able to spot the latest educational fad and experiment coming down the pike. In fact, I know you know better because you just called it both standards and curriculum in the same sentence.
      ” I assure you the CC is exactly a set of standards, particularly useful to new teachers learning the curriculum.”
      The two are inextricably tied — Standards drive curriculum, materials, books, tests. Everything. A 35 years of experience teacher should know that.
      Yes, there are far worse things like CC — a teacher who thinks there are far worse things.

      Thanks for the comment.

      PS – There is nothing wrong with learning 2×2=4 and getting the right answer by memorization. Kids in elementary school really don’t need to write a novel explaining how they got their answer.


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