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January 5 2015

Common Core “Puppet Committees” Trying to Deceive Parents

VIcki Alger

In their Washington Post editorial last month, Thomas B. Fordham Institute President Michael J. Petrilli and the Institute’s national policy director Michael Brickman argue that replacing Common Core “state” standards with better ones would be virtually “impossible.” Sandra Stotsky, who was instrumental in developing Massachusetts’ first-rate state standards and also served on the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Systemic Initiative, aptly de-bunked that claim.

In a separate article for Education Views Stotsky exposes the shenanigans education agencies are up to in states that have opted out of Common Core, specifically their standards revision committees. In what Stotsky calls ““The Great Standards Game”:

The State Board of Education, whose members had been appointed by Gov. Fallin, does not want Oklahoma to develop first-rate standards and has done what Governor Pence did in Indiana. It is trying to set up so-called standards revision committees that come up with the same Common Core standards that were supposedly banished, but only ever-so-slightly altered to justify the time the committees spent and the stipend they get from the state for their time. Gov. Fallin, like Gov. Pence, seems to fear the effects of having real high school standards in their states more than they fear the effects of Common Core’s low academic expectations and tests on their institutions of higher education—and on truthfulness about academic achievement.

Unfortunately, these states aren’t isolated cases, as Stotsky continues:

Now on to South Carolina, whose Department of Education has made sure its standards revision committees produce something close to Common Core’s standards but buried in so much verbiage that only Common Core’s test developers (who come in a variety of flavors) will be able to find them. How did the SC DoE ensure these results? Same way Governors Fallin and Pence did. By choosing who got onto these puppet committees and what documents they work with. …

Tricks are still being played by Missouri’s so-called Work Groups. The last inning hasn’t taken place yet, disappointing Governor Nixon who no doubt had hoped his Department of Education would have figured out by now how to outwit the Missouri parents required by the bill he signed to be on the revision committees. The MO DoE is the same organization that gave Missouri its former Show-Me standards. Instead of acknowledging that it was responsible for the original disaster, the MO DoE now crows about how much better Common Core’s are in comparison. But Missouri parents are not giving in easily to the people the MO DoE and the legislature stacked the Work Groups with, and may yet be able to sneak in rigorous standards in place of Common Core’s.

But according to Stotsky, Florida takes first prize for trying to deceive parents about its “standards”:

It used an online survey soliciting thousands of standard-by-standard comments. It then announced that the overwhelming majority of reviewers wanted pretty much what they already had. But it would show the world how different the “new” standards were by adding over 50 standards for a calculus course. It knows that Florida high school students won’t be able to get to or take such a course in high school since the necessary standards leading up to calculus were deliberately left out of the new “Sunshine” standards and Common Core’s original math standards.

What state boards of education, commissioners of education, and departments of education are doing to deceive the parents of their state raises profound questions about the political worth of their continued existence. Who needs them? And why are they so gung-ho about making the state’s K-12 teachers the scapegoats for the schemes of the charlatans appointed by Common Core’s project managers to develop these so-called “college readiness” standards?

Along with Stotsky, The Heartland Institute’s Joy Pullman compiled another excellent expose of the games politicians are playing—at the expense of students, parent, and taxpayers.

Want great standards without all the snake oil? Expand parental choice.

Competition for students is a better assurance that students will be really prepared academically for the long-term—all without the shady, backroom politics.

Any parent in any state who’s sick of (again) having their children used as guinea pigs in the latest politicized schooling fad, should be able to use their children’s associated funding and send them to other schools of their choice. Faced with losing students and cash, schools already burdened by Common Core will become even more vocal in their opposition to politicians and well-funded special interests trying to control education—instead of parents assisted by their children’s teachers.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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