by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

The following written testimony by Mark Garrison, Ph.D. was entered to support MO SB 210 and HB 616 and end the implementation of Common Core State Standards:

EXPERT TESTIMONY OF MARK GARRISON, PH.D., IN OPPOSITION TO THE
COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS INITIATIVE (CCSSI).

March 3, 2013

Based on my research, I have concluded that the CCSSI should be opposed for four reasons.*
They are:

1. There is no evidence that the CCSSI will improve the quality of education, reduce
inequalities, or ensure students are prepared to contribute to society or engage in
higher learning. For example, researchers have compared states with higher standards
to those with less challenging ones, and found that the existence of higher, better or
clearer standards did not result in demonstrably better results on the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or other international tests. There is,
however, a great deal of research that suggests the CCSSI will further narrow
curriculum, further mechanizing teaching. It needs to be understood that the architects
of the CCSSI mean to vastly increase the amount of testing (tests controlled by one of
the two private testing consortia created with federal funds). Testing will include
computer scoring of student essays, which raises a host of issues that I am certain
parents will be very concerned about. Finally, after review of many CCSSI documents,
I have come to the conclusion that the entire project treats students as “products” or
“things” and not human beings. If parents knew the whole truth about what the CCSSI
has in store for their children, I believe their opposition would be swift and
unanimous.

2. Despite the name of the initiative, there is little evidence that the effort was “state
lead.” Many state officials signed on to the CCSSI before the final standards were
even written. The former commission of education in Texas, Robert Scott, has
publically stated he was pressured by reformers to sign the Common Core Standards
MOU. There is evidence that governors in other states compelled their education
leaders to rubber stamp the CCSSI. As the legislatures of each state have been largely
absent from the process, it is impossible that legislator constituencies were involved,
making empty CCSSI advocates claims to have “parent support”. Few parents even
know about the CCSSI or that their schools are now being restructured to meet the
demands of the CCSSI.

3. The process by which the CCSSI has been adopted and implemented violates basic
principles of the United States Constitution and the laws of the United States. The
framers of the Constitution worked to construct a political system to avoid tyranny,
which meant that governmental power could not be consolidated in one office or
branch. Thus, framers insisted on the separation of powers between the legislative,
judicial and executive branches, and a weak central government. Importantly, the right
to operate schools was reserved to the States or the people themselves. Education was
envisioned as one means to block tyranny through the force of “enlightened public
opinion”. But education cannot serve this function if people lose control over their
schools. The federal Department of Education, an executive branch, has nonetheless
acted to make laws with its Race to the Top (RttT) initiative and its waivers to
provisions of No Child Left Behind Act. While executive waivers have legal
precedent, Secretary Duncan’s use of RttT funds and NCLB waivers as “incentives”
for states to adopt the CCSSI, which is not rooted in existing law, is in fact a form of
law making. Taken in conjunction with 1979 law prohibiting the Department of
Education from having “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum”
(section 103b), the CCSSI adoption process is unconstitutional and violates existing
federal law as well. And, how many legislatures know that the MOU for entry into one
of the two Common Core assessment apparatuses (Missouri is a member of the
Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) required alteration or elimination of any
state laws that might interfere with the operation of the assessment consortia!

4. While the federal Department of Education is in violation of the law, the CCSSI
represents something worse than a “federal power grab.” In fact, the illegal power of
the federal government has been used to remove public power over education at the
local, state and federal level and place it in the hands of four private (501c3)
publically unaccountable corporations, who have strong connections to test publishers
and the big private philanthropies secretly driving education reform. They are: the
National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers
(CCSSO), and the two assessment apparatuses, the Partnership for Readiness for
College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
Most telling is that the Common Core State Standards, standards that now govern
curriculum, instruction and assessment across the country, are jointly “owned” by the
NGA Center for Best Practices and the CCSSO! Both federal and state legislatures,
not to mention local school boards, are complete removed from having a say.

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