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(published in the O.C. Register)
Reasons to stop Common Core
May 31, 2015 Updated May 29, 2015 4:50 p.m.
When the federal government’s role in local education began several decades ago, local control of education began its decline. Ask local school board members and parents today if independent decisions for their schools can be made, the response will be a resounding “No.”
Local control is diminished further by decisions of the state Legislature and the unelected state Board of Education, appointed by the governor. The net effect is marginalization of local boards, teachers and parents by a top-down management strategy.
The newest effort to diminish local control and centralize power to the federal and state government is called Common Core. As this education program is being fully implemented in our classrooms, parents and teachers are taking notice of its untoward impact on the education of children.
Last fall, the Orange County Board of Education unanimously held two public fact-finding meetings to inquire about the public’s protest against Common Core. These meetings demonstrated specific facts and validation of parental concerns. They include:
• Loss of student privacy by extensive data collection without parental consent to include, but not limited to, religious and political affiliation, student attitudes and mental health issues.
• Inappropriate K-3 grades standards and curriculum that early child psychologists term “cognitive child abuse.”
• Businesses’ profiting from these new national standards and higher taxes to support this untested reform.
• Violation of California laws through standards and curriculum that are less rigorous, without scientific validation, and lacking international benchmarks.
• National standards and testing creating a national curriculum.
• No validity studies establishing assessments measuring what is claimed to be measured.
• A student’s assessment is scored by individuals without teaching credentials or experience, paid at $11.15–$13 per hour.
Parent coalitions opposing Common Core have emerged across the political spectrum. Common Core produces a loss of local governance and parental choice. Most parents object to these national educational standards and a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education.
Washington state’s Democratic Party passed a resolution opposing Common Core in January 2015. The resolution stated, among many things, that Common Core standardized testing will “result in private data being transmitted to and stored by private corporations,” and that unaccountable corporate interests will “stand to profit substantially.”
The esteemed Fordham Institute ranked California’s previous academic standards as much “clearer and rigorous” than the current Common Core standards. In 2010, the state Legislature and Board of Education prematurely abolished the previous higher standards which had raised our students assessment scores from the bottom percentile (49th in the country) to the middle percentile.
The most dishonest claims from Common Core proponents is that national standards are more rigorous, scientifically validated and are internationally benchmarked as required by state law. Two members of the Common Core Validation Committee, former Massachusetts Education Commissioner and Arkansas University professor emerita Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Stanford professor James Milgram, testified before the OCBE of these facts, and have repeatedly asked to see proof of international benchmarking. To date, no documentation has been provided.
Legal challenges to Common Core is an option for school board members. Hugh Hewitt, a Chapman University constitutional law professor, in testimony to the OCBE said, “[A]t some point, you have stand up and say, ‘What am I doing here.’ Right now you’ve been turned into the puppets of the state and federal education bureaucracy. … If you care about local education, you won’t let the state take your jobs away from you.”
Hewitt encouraged the OCBE to support Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s federal court lawsuit by filing a separate action in this region of the country.
All citizens want higher standards and better education, but Common Core represents everything wrong with education. The data mining and violation of student and family privacy is worse than the National Security Agency’s tracking of American citizens.
Common Core mandates lower education standards, less-rigorous curriculum, and no evidence exists of international benchmarking. Worse yet, the state Board of Education and the federal government force school boards to yield sovereignty to bureaucrats to implement unlawful standards and a national curriculum.
Ken Williams is president, and Robert Hammond is vice president, of the Orange County Board of Education.