I pride myself on being able to make the difficult things in life simple; in being able to take complex issues and summarize them so the average person can understand. My greatest challenge to date with that concept is found in talking about Common Core. To take one blog and explain Common core would be like taking one sentence to try and explain the entire bible. So, faced with this daunting task, I am going to attempt (as briefly as I can) to take a stab at it.
In it's simplest form, Common Core is the attempt to indoctrinate a left of center, "progressive", anti-conservative and ultimately anti-christ world view into the minds of this current generation of youth and to every generation coming behind them. It is literally ground zero for the culture war of the United States that has been brewing for the last 60 years or so.
Now that we have framed it properly, what is it exactly and how did it come to be?
For many decades now, everyone from presidents to officials at all levels of government have sought to somehow better the education process and bring in accountability into the schools. This began to get off-track with a program called "Race To The Top" where a set of common standards were set that each school had to achieve in order to get their share of over $4.3 Billion in grant money from the federal government. Originally authorized in 2009 as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it encouraged states to develop and implement key reform strategies to get the cash. Part of what states had to agree to was to accept new standards to replace their existing standards and here is where the real problem is made known. 45 states plus DC all opted in for the grant money, agreeing ahead of time to adopt the new standards. These new standards were referred to as CCSS or Common Core State Standards.
Who wrote the standards?
Common Core's official website says "In 2009 two nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations called the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), convened government officials and dozens of consultants to write, rewrite, and, in June 2010, finally publish Common Core."
This is partially true but for time's sake I'll leave that there. Common core was written primarily by 24 people. None identified himself or herself as a classroom teacher, although a few had taught in the past (not the recent past). There was one work group for English Language Arts (ELA) and another for Mathematics. The largest contingent were representatives of the testing industry which as you will see is who really benefits financially from CCSS.
From there these "standards" went to a review board. Even though the board was hand picked, five of them which included some very respected and well educated people could not in good conscience sign off of them finding them inferior to existing state standards such as those in Massachusetts and California. Those five which included a Stanford university mathematician were simply excused and the group was resized and approved the CCSS. Many of the remaining board members have strong ties to several big money groups in Washington.
In short, it would be illegal and unconstitutional for the federal government to force one set of standards down upon all of the states but with the help of these private groups, and thru the coercion of billions of dollars in what amounted to be bribe money, they forced the states to agree blindly to accept these "standards".
This is what you as a reader here need to make sure you understand clearly. These standards are not just "standards". They are in fact a giant wedge, a financial crow bar by which the federal government tricked the states into what they did not realize was a lemon. Now, stuck with it as state law, the department of education of the various states are now using the same bullying tactics against the local school districts. While they claim the district has local control to do whatever they wish, in fact if the district doesn't comply with CCSS, they get their grant money taken away and their district grade reduced. it can even lead to them being fired so to claim the district is free to do what they want is a ruse. A canard designed to fool the uninformed.
Education is not the goal of CCSS, The TESTING is the goal of CCSS.
There are billions of dollars in state contracts for developing curriculum and testing that lines up with CCSS. Watch how innocent this next statement sounds... "Testing is how they keep the districts accountable to the standards." What that really means to the teachers is this... you no longer can actually teach your kids, your job is no longer to teach but your new job under CCSS is to prepare young minds for the coming tests and assessments. In many cases dozens of hours each week are no longer spent on learning how to do actual math or reading but instead in preparing for high stakes testing. You tube is packed with personal examples of children in tears of frustration and even teachers resigning over their job descriptions being changed. One Rhode Island teacher even reported that she was made to sign a confidentiality agreement to not talk to parents about these changes.
Data mining of the children
Part of what the states agreed to was creating a sweeping and exhaustive data collection system that tracks kids from prekindergarten thru collage creating a permanent record that follows them their entire life. This record is then accessible to anyone willing to buy it. It is perhaps the greatest overreach and abuse into the private lives of the citizens of this country ever devised.
The cat is out of the bag
As more and more of this gross intrusion began to be made public, parents predictably have been furious. Opt out notices have been rolling in all over the country from concerned parents removing their kids from the ill fated system. They are dumbfounded when they are told by their districts that they are not allowed to opt out and that they are mandated by state law to administer these tests. Read what I am about to say very carefully...
The law says the school must offer the test to every student. That is black letter law. However, there is NO LAW that makes it illegal for a parent to opt out or even to refuse for their child to take the test.. and this is the bright hope that parents and grandparents everywhere have. It is the crack in the door to stand up and protect your child by refusing them to participate in PARCC or other related CCSS testing.
School districts desperate for a high grade and more state money will tell you that you are not allowed to refuse. That is wrong. Just as Ronald doesn't become their father when they eat at McDonalds, the school district does not become their parent just because they attend public school there. You are still the legal guardian over your child and the Supreme Court has held repeatedly for parents rights in matters such as this over the years so the standing and precedence is indeed with you as the parent.
In Ohio, The ODE will push you to the district you live in saying they have freedom to receive your opt out if they wish. The districts will point you to the ODE and claim the ODE won't let them accept an opt out. Both positions are entirely irrelevant as there is no law anywhere mandating your child takes these tests! Keep them home those days or shadow them at school those days and do not let the, test. They are YOUR CHILD, not the government's ..and until a giant uprising at the grassroots level stands up and refuses this nonsense, it will keep right on going.
I will be writing more later, in the meantime, remember that you are the parent and if anyone tries to undermine that, offer to call the local police and have the law enforcement officer explain that to the school or the ODE to bring some much needed clarity. Remember you have the law on your side as it relates to refusing to test.
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