By Sharon Sewell – Director, Alabamians United for Excellence in Education (http://www.auee.org)
This article responds to unfounded claims made in a joint OpEd written by State Board of Education Members Mary Scott Hunter of Huntsville and Tracey Roberts of Mobile.
Their OpEd reveals a naiveté about the meaning of the current presidential administration’s description of Common Core as a “revolution” to help in the “battle for social justice”, as well as the role of special interests which want to exploit our children to make billions of dollars. The education of our children should not be controlled by the Far Left which sees classrooms as laboratories for indoctrination at taxpayer expense, or by special interests which see students as a source for profit.
Common Core is just the latest but well-disguised ploy to federalize education and take our Tenth Amendment rights. By chaining our children to Common Core, the state board of education has fundamentally changed our education system without the knowledge or consent of legislators, parents, and taxpayers. The following is a rebuttal to the OpEd by Board Members Hunter and Tracey.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative does not strengthen but dumbs down education standards
Math: Common Core math standards do not meet the recommended content targets of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, of leading states, or international competitors. As a result, students are not prepared for four-year colleges but for two-year nonselective community colleges. Dr. James Milgram of Sanford University, a mathematician, warns us that graduating students will be two years behind other countries in math skills.
English Language Arts: Education experts warn that reading levels for seniors will be reduced to what is currently 7th grade. Authors of “Why the Common Core is Bad for America” write: “The Common Core ‘college readiness’ ELA standards can best be described as skill sets, not fully developed standards. As such, they cannot point to readiness for a high school diploma or four-year college coursework …. The ELA Common Core Standards will impair the preparation of students for competing in a global economy.”
Alabama does not control its standards or its curriculum
Alabama Standards: Hunter and Roberts want us to believe that “Alabama Standards” are different from Common Core standards. They are, in fact, one and the same. Common Core is a one-size-fits-all for all states, all schools, and all students. Alabama must adopt 100% of Common Core standards, cannot change or delete anything, and may allow only a small amount of additional content, which won’t be covered on national tests. All one has to do to understand how “specific Alabama Standards” consist of a mere 2.5% in English Language Arts and 14% in Math, and all the rest is Common Core, is to link to Alabama standards at https://docs.alsde.edu/documents/54/1%202010%20Alabama%20English%20Language%20Arts%20Course%20of%20Study.pdf and 2010 Alabama Mathematics Course of Study.pdf.
Alabama Curriculum: Alabama’s curriculum is controlled by Common Core standards. This is abundantly clear when you read the legal documents and implementation plan. Curricula, assessments, everything, must be aligned to Common Core.
Common Core does not offer more “rigor”
Education experts have dispelled the notion that Common Core has more “rigor”. Some of us joke that Common Core is “rigor mortis”. It stifles innovation, creativity, and flexibility.
The federal government requires the state to collect non-academic information on students and to track them from preschool to retirement
The federal government by law is not allowed to maintain a national database on students, so the U.S. Department of Education requires states to collect information to be used by federal agencies and private organizations. Recently, Ms. Hunter stated that the Federal Privacy and Family Protection Act prevents highly personal information from being collected and shared. Apparently she’s unaware that President Obama expanded the interpretation of this law, effective January 3, 2012, and weakened student protections. The bill to repeal Common Core restores privacy protection for Alabama students.
The Common Core Initiative was not state-led
Common Core standards were developed by special interest groups and led by vendors who stand to make substantial profits off our children. The bulk of the work was done by Achieve, Inc., a D.C.-based nonprofit, associated with the Far Left education reformers such as Bill Ayers, Marc Tucker and Linda Darling-Hammond, who have advocated for federalized education for decades. These efforts have been repeatedly and resoundingly rejected by the public and Congress.
This time is different because the creators of Common Core found a “cover” to end-run Congress and develop standards outside the public meetings act. This cover was the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CSSO), two trade associations, which have no legislative authority to act on behalf of states. Massive funding came from private interests such as the Gates Foundation. Bill Gates expects to spend about $380 million to get states to adopt Common Core. He will make billions off this “investment”.
Special interests, in concert with the Obama Administration, rushed states to adopt Common Core before the public could catch on, rise, and resist. Informed elected officials should not be complicit in these lawless actions that invade student privacy, take away parental control and states rights, and will cost Alabama taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Only Gov. Bentley, Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters voted to withdraw from Common Core. Now it’s up to the Alabama legislature to protect our children’s privacy and preserve our education freedom under the Tenth Amendment.
According to a 2002 Alabama Supreme Court decision, “The Alabama Constitution vests the duty to provide for public education ‘squarely upon the shoulders of the Legislature.” (Ex-parte James, 836 S. 3d. 813 at 85). The Alabama Legislature has repeatedly instructed the state board of education in matters dealing with standards and curricula. Legislators are now our last line of defense, and it is their duty to protect our children and their future, as well as Alabama values and states rights. They have an opportunity to prove that checks and balances work in Alabama, though not in Washington, D.C. The Legislature must repeal Common Core this year. Next year will be too late! A Republican super-majority should assure a rapid repeal.