Things have gotten a little dicey in Thousand Oaks, California, since the Conejo Valley Unified School District School Board began considering hiring a $200,000 Common Core Coordinator. Leaving aside the fact that federalized national Common Core standards are not voluntary, rigorous, or economical—never mind consitutional—the school board’s consideration of such a position tells us what federal involvement in education is really about: more costly red tape and bureaucracy masquerading as progress—not better education for students.

About 300 community members showed up on June 10 for a subsequent debate on Common Core. Parents and audience members were decidedly anti-Common Core, and dozens of attendees lined up to ask questions (although only a handful got to speak given the limited time).

Audience members wanted to know why their district’s previous high standards were being scuttled for an untested government experiment. One woman likened Common Core to a “dystopian nightmare” and wondered why California officials are “so anxious to sell their soul to the federal government when it comes to education?”

Others were concerned about their children’s privacy in the wake of revelations that the feds would be mining data about their children through Common Core assessments.

Panelist Tony Dolz, founder of Concerned Parents of Conejo Valley and a school board candidate, distributed “opt out” forms for parents to excuse their children from data collection and Common Core testing.

CVUSD  Superintendent Jeff Baarstad called opting out a “nonproductive controversy,” adding:

Some of you may disagree with me violently…I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the kids and teachers in this community for us to be some sort of test case that says ‘we don’t want the state’s money and I’ll put 100 percent of the responsibility on my teachers (to develop their own curriculum).’ [Wouldn’t teachers be a better choice to develop curriculum than federal bureaucrats or private businesses salivating by the prospect of billions of dollars in federal cash?]  Do we want to be the community that says no to everything that has to do with Common Core state standards?

I agree with the audience, who shouted a resounding “yes,” rather than the Supt. Baarstad who dismissed them as “rowdy.”