Posts Tagged ‘National Governors Association’

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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One of the most overlooked issues of the last four years has been the fundamental transformation of American schools. While we have been trying to fight every overreach by the Obama administration, many activists and citizens have missed the pursuit and now near implementation of the Common Core State Standards initiative. The Common Core is a new set of curriculum standards that forty-five of our states have adopted.

The Common Core State Standards have been touted by its proponents as the greatest thing since sliced bread. As an educator, I have been skeptical of them since day one. I get a little nervous when a supposed “crisis” suddenly has a solution that is assumed to fix all of our problems.

I am a public educator. I will be the first to tell you that there are significant concerns in education. I will also be the first to tell you the problems are not what the public often perceives, the politicians think they are going to solve, and the “educrats” think they have all the answers for.

Common Core is not your educational knight in shining armor. In fact, I believe in the end it will cause even more harm to our educational system.

The first thing that you have to understand is that there is a significant amount of dishonesty involved with proponents of the Common Core. The biggest myth they like to tell anyone is that the Common Core is state-led. I am sorry, but that is a complete manipulation of the truth. State-led would mean that you had representatives from every state involved in this. You would think that there was committee work and passionate debate about what would go into the standards. Nope. The Common Core was actually created by a company called Achieve, Inc. that was hired by the National Governors Association (NGA). I’m sorry, the NGA is not a representative of the people.

The question is, why call it state-led in the first place? Why lie?

Simple, it’s against Federal law to adopt a national curriculum. So, with a little clever maneuvering, here we are. National curriculum, laws circumvented, problem solved, we are the elite, educated educrats and politicians we don’t need you stupid citizens to have input on this.

The Common Core was rapidly adopted by states as governors came back and touted their proposed solutions to all that is wrong with American education. In addition to the support from the governors, there was some very creative arm twisting in the form of Race to the Top which was included in the Obama stimulus. In Missouri, there was no legislative oversight, there was little input by teachers, voters, and local school boards. In Missouri, the state board of education is unaccountable to you and I. They just adopted it and hoisted an untested, unproved curriculum onto every child in the state of Missouri.

There are numerous other problems and concerns with the Common Core State Standards:

  • The standardized assessment instrument that the tests will use are a huge unfunded mandate on our schools. The tests are supposed to be computer adaptive which requires many districts to significantly add or alter current technology. Estimates in Missouri place it at $389 million dollars. Someone’s going to have to pay for this. I hate to break it to you, but the economy is not going to go up with the regulatory and confiscatory mentality in Washington, D.C.
  • There is some significant concern that these standards and tests may eventually be forced upon home school and private school.
  • The assessments are part of a broader plan to collect data on your child from P-20. What’s P-20? Preschool through your fourth year of college. Say, hello Big Brother!
  • Proponents say that we need these standards because we need common academic standards for all American students. They like to say that we need the same standards for students in California and Missouri. Ummm….no, we don’t. Let’s apply some critical thought. Some say students move from state to state, and they must encounter similar standards. Census data says! Less than 1% of American students move across state lines. Furthermore, this is a statement uttered by a person that does not understand our system of governance. Our states are supposed to be laboratories. We don’t want them all to be exactly the same. I want states to have the ability to innovate and dare to change things with regards to education. Common Core is a one-size-fits-all curriculum. It’s top-down, we live in a bottom-up world. Californians are different than Missourians (THANKFULLY!).
  • Some say we need internationally-benchmarked standards. Really? You don’t read much about other countries, do you? The world is soooooooo much better off than the US. I mean the Eurozone is financially stable, Japan is not a bug looking for a windshield (their debt makes us look like amateurs), and China is really a great place to live. I hear their ghost cities are great to visit anytime of the year, and freedom of speech is outstanding, especially when the government controls the Internet and restricts search terms like democracy. Don’t let me forget the Middle East. Yes, that region is an absolute pillar of human rights and respect of differences. By all means, ignore the stoning of homosexuals and the murder of Christians.
  • There are also numerous concerns put forth by many education experts with regards to the quality of the standards. They are wide and disparate. I encourage you to do your own research.

Missouri activists have worked hard this legislative session in trying to get bills in both bodies of our legislature. Please take the time to call your state representative and have them co-sponsor bills HB 616 and SB 210.

Clay County Representative Noel Shull has had the courage to co-sponsor HB 616. No other representative from the Clay County area has done so. Please call them and encourage them to do so.

For further research, please check out Missouri Education Watchdog.