This article is long. It has taken me weeks of study and rewriting and trying to simplify. Every time I think I’m done, there is something new. I’ve discovered that others have had the same frustrations. This has not been a pleasant experience.
Learning about Common Core may not be a pleasant experience for you either. It may overwhelm you. It may scare or depress you. But it is real and it will affect us all during the next school year, if it hasn’t already. Please hold on to your faith; all is not lost yet. As big and as ugly as Common Core is, there is also a growing movement for innovation and freedom in education. Life has always had its opposites, and at times like this the clash between the two can be intense. At this point we are in a fight to the death — the death of liberty, of family, of our future as a country is at stake. Interestingly, Education may be the issue that wakes us all up. Education may also be the weapon that stops Common Core, so let’s get educated and start educating. As my lawyer friend always says, “know your enemy.”
Common Core is an educational system that completely nationalizes education in America. It is an unconstitutional and illegal takeover orchestrated by the federal government, political activists, and private interests. It moves all significant oversight and decision making from parents, teachers, and local districts to the national level and the private sector. It’s goal is to connect education to the workforce in a “seamless web, cradle to grave.” Common Core is about indoctrination and control.
Except for its name, Common Core is not new; it’s basically the same plan that was nearly introduced when President Clinton was elected to the White House in 1992. Let’s look at that plan first so we can better understand the new version.
On November 11, 1992, a week after the election, progressive education reformer Marc Tucker sent an 18 page congratulatory letter to Hillary in which he detailed a strategy by which the new president could “move like lightening” in a national takeover of the schools and the workforce. This plan would have made the Clintons dictators.
By some miracle, the “Dear Hillary” letter was leaked, and in 1998 it was entered into the Congressional Record by Congressman Bob Schaffer who considered the plan treasonous. The letter gives us a candid view of the true intentions of Mr. Tucker and his conspiring friends. It is not an editorial or an article; it is a “confidential” communication of an excited man who believes he can be part of a new America.
The Clintons did not accomplish all of the dreams outlined in the letter, but they did move the agenda forward incrementally. You can read the full letter on Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum website, and I encourage you to do so and keep it handy as you learn about Common Core and watch its implementation over the next year. (The Eagle Forum website is a good source of information about political and educational issues, including Common Core.)
Here are parts of the Tucker letter:
I still cannot believe you won. But utter delight that you did pervades all the circles in which I move. I met last Wednesday in David Rockefeller’s office with him [and three others]. It was a great celebration. Both John and David R. were more expansive than I have ever seen them — literally radiating happiness….
The subject we were discussing was what you and Bill should do now about education, training and labor market policy. Following that meeting, I chaired another in Washington on the same topic [15 invited].
Our purpose in these meetings was to propose concrete actions that the Clinton administration could take — between now and the inauguration, in the first 100 days and beyond. The result, from where I sit, was really exciting. We took a very large leap forward in terms of how to advance the agenda on which you and we have all been working — a practical plan for putting all the major components of the system in place within four years, by the time Bill has to run again. . . .
We think the great opportunity you have is to remold the entire American system for human resources development, almost all of the current components of which were put in place before World War II. . . .
First, a vision of the kind of national — not federal — human resources development system the nation could have. This is interwoven with a new approach to governing that should inform that vision. What is essential is that we create a seamless web of opportunities, to develop one’s skills that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone — young and old, poor and rich, worker and full-time student….
Second, a proposed legislative agenda you can use to implement this vision. We propose four high priority packages that will enable you to move quickly on the campaign promises:
…. an apprenticeship system as the keystone of a strategy for putting a whole new postsecondary training in place….
…. a rebuilt employment service and a new system of labor market boards to offer the Clinton administration’s employment security program, built on the best practices anywhere in the world. . . . assuring adult workers . . . that they need never again watch with dismay as their jobs disappear….
… a special program to greatly raise the work-related skills of the people trapped in the core of our great cities.
…. advance the elementary and secondary reform agenda.
The other major proposal we offer has to do with government organization for the human resources agenda. While we share your reservations about the hazards involved in bringing reorganization proposals to the Congress, we believe that the one we have come up with minimizes those drawbacks while creating an opportunity for the new administration to move like lightning to implement its human resources development proposals. We hope you can consider the merits of this idea quickly, because . . . it will greatly affect the nature of the offers you make to prospective cabinet members….
We take the proposals Bill put before the country in the campaign to be utterly consistent …. for a new human resources development system for the United States….
…. A seamless system of unending skill development that begins in the home with the very young and continues through school, postsecondary education and the workplace.
…. Clear national standards of performance in general education….
…. curriculum, pedagogy, examinations, and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards …
…. a system that rewards students who meet the national standards with further education and good jobs, providing them a strong incentive to work hard in school….
The proposal reframes the Clinton apprenticeship proposal as a college program and establishes a mechanism for setting the standards for the program. The unions are adamantly opposed to broad based apprenticeship programs by that name. Focus groups conducted by JFF and others show that parents everywhere want their kids to go to college, not to be shunted aside into a non-college apprenticeship “vocational” program. By requiring these programs to be a combination of classroom instruction and structured OJT, and creating a standard-setting board that includes employers and labor, all the objectives of the apprenticeship idea are achieved, while at the same time assuring much broader support for the idea, as well as a guarantee that the program will not become too narrowly focused on particular occupations. It also ties the Clinton apprenticeship idea to the Clinton college funding proposal in a seamless web….
…. The question is how to get from where we are to where we want to be. Trying to ram it down everyone’s throat would engender overwhelming opposition. Our idea is to draft legislation that would offer an opportunity for those states — and selected large cities — that are excited about this set of ideas to come forward and join with each other and with the federal government in an alliance to do the necessary design work and actually deliver the needed services on a fast track. The legislation would require the executive branch to establish a competitive grant program for these states and cities and to engage a group of organizations to offer technical assistance to the expanding set of states and cities engaged in designing and implementing the new system. . . . As soon as the first set of states is engaged, another set would be invited to participate, until most or all the states are involved….
In spite of his Marxist, redistribute-the-wealth, despotic plan, I could feel Mr. Tucker’s smiles. He really believes he is doing something good for people. He thinks Lucifer’s plan really works!
Reading this letter now had a much greater impact on me than reading it in the 90’s. It was far removed from my reality then; but now, after watching hours of video on Common Core, reading many articles and websites, and attending several of the public meetings, I find the Tucker letter helps me understand the reality of what’s happening today.
Two decades after “Dear Hillary” we have Common Core, a new name for the same program. Where the Tucker agenda had “advance the elementary and secondary reform agenda” as the fourth step, Common Core has the educational components as the first focus while the workforce part rests quietly within — for now. That part will come later, “like lightening.” And this time the program is lavishly financed by $4 billion of stimulus money controlled by Arne Duncan, head of the federal Department of Education, and by grants from billionaire businessman, Bill Gates.
Common Core has four parts. The first is the much touted writing of new standards to define what skills and concepts students should learn in each grade. “Clear national standards of performance in general education,” Tucker had called them. In Common Core proponents insist on calling them State Standards. In Utah the state proponents insist on calling them the Utah Standards. When 46 states join together and write a single set of standards which all 46 states voluntarily agree to follow, how can they be anything but National?
Since it is illegal for the federal government to develop curriculum, a bait-and-switch game was devised in which a consortium was set up for teachers and educational experts to write standards “for their own states.” Mr. Gates wined and dined them and, magically, they ended up with one set of standards upon which they all agreed – except for a couple of the experts who refused to sign off on the them because they were so poorly done. So, to repeat myself, 46 states produced one unchangeable, copywrited set of standards which all 46 states voluntarily agree to use — thereby agreeing to be managed, controlled, measured, graded, and fined or rewarded by the federal government on the basis of the state, school, and teacher performances. How can that not be the nationalization of education?
Governors “developed” the Common Core Standards in their own NGA (National Governor’s Assn.). Why?
The State Superintendents “developed” for Common Core Standards in their CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers). Why?
Bill Gates donated millions of dollars to make it all happen. Why?
No state legislatures debated the new standards or the total concept of Common Core. Why?
The citizens knew nothing about Common Core or the new standards. Why?
The media seldom covers any of the anti-Common Core concerns. Why?
Who actually developed the new standards? Did Marc Tucker and friends have it prepared already?
The Standards don’t really reveal the full program. The website says “Building on the excellent foundation of standards states have laid, the Common Core State Standards are the first step in providing our young people with a high-quality education.” If we can’t trust the first sentence, how can we trust anything?
Did the $4 billion in stimulus money being offered to the states have anything to do with getting governors and state superintendents to sign up for this program?
The complete restructuring of our school system and our workforce into a federally controlled, Marxist leaning, cradle-to-grave system should have been transparently presented and nationally debated. Actually, it should never have been considered.
After the Standards come the curriculum and the testing. Bill Gates made it clear at a National Conference of State Legislatures in 2009 that the national standards drive both the curriculum and the testing. How many legislators heard this?
To begin with in Common Core, the curriculum includes only Math and ELA (English Language Arts). Only portions of the curriculum have been available so far, and none of the testing. The school board, at least in Utah, tells us over and over that teachers are free to determine their own curriculum. Truth is, they may use their own for up to 15% of the content, but most likely that 15% will be more trouble than it is worth for teachers under pressure to teach to the test.
Did you notice that Gates also said (in the video above) that “for the first time” there would be a “powerful market . . . a large uniform base of customers”? In other words, some private businessmen will make a lot of money on curriculum. Who might that be? Recently Gates partnered with Pearson, the largest curriculum provider in the country. Surprise!
NOTE: If any Utah legislators missed the early warning signs in 2009, they did have questions later, probably going into their January-February 2011 session. The State answered those questions with more of the same lies. A few knew something was wrong from the beginning; more are waking up now, and a few will remain faithful to Common Core to the end. After I watched the Bill Gates video above again I noticed there were six other parts of it,. I linked from one of those pages to the Gates Foundation video page where I found clips of the first teacher consortium meeting. It is obvious that Wisconsin did not call Kentucky and say Let’s get together and design some better standards. Someone conceived this plan, invited the participants, set the agenda, and chose the presenters. I had begun to wonder if Gates and Duncan were also pulling a bait-and-switch on curriculum — a sham within a sham. Their talk about curriculum has many good points, but self-motivated, created, thinking students is not what progressives really want. Are the teachers being massively deceived?
Didn’t anyone who was promoting Common Core see the truth and feel some remorse? Superintendent Larry Shumway resigned after only three years. Is he still a supporter? Does he feel remorse now? I came across an isolated Facebook page of pictures from his retirement party in December 2012. A teacher posted a comment there, the only comment made. First she wrote: “Good Bye to the man who sold our children’s educational freedom to the federal government! I hope he enjoys his 30 pieces of silver!” That seemed harsh, but I had already written something similar. And it is true. Then a few minutes later she added. “This is what a teacher who use to support Common Core now says about it! parents you should be very worried! First, I want to offer you my apologies. It wasn’t long after my presentation that I had a crushing realization that the entire thing (minus the hands-on stuff) was completely misguided. I felt like a flip-flopper, but I’ve always valued the truth more than feeling good. So, I’m here to clear the air. The truth hurts and it should start scaring the hell out of you, because your children are your most precious gift and you will do anything to protect them. The whole reason I was part of the team that put those presentations together was to ease your worry about the changes that were coming. I’m here to retract everything I said. You should be worried. Very worried! I was wrong. The Common Core State Standards is a sham, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an instrument of devastation… …Now, the Common Core State Standards has one goal: to create common people. The accompanying standardized tests have one purpose: to create standardized people. Why? Because the movers and the shakers have a vested interest in it. It’s about money and it’s about making sure all that money stays in one place. Lots of good people have faced scorn and ridicule for taking a stand against Common Core, and I admire them all, but this was the first time I had seen someone with the courage to change her mind after being a promoter. I was amazed.
I had also noticed her mention of the hands-on stuff. I had just watched a classroom teacher doing math with about a dozen second graders, teaching the children to add from left to right which is standard to Common Core. The problem is that when a column adds up to more than 9 there will be an amount carried over to the next left column. If you have already added that column, you will have to add it again. That is why we add from right to left. This teacher was trying to get the children to think of different ways to solve the problem, also standard Common Core. After her demonstration the children were to go back to their desks and do a problem on their own. She reminded them that they must draw pictures and also use words to describe how they worked the problem. I remember a mother somewhere saying her child worked the problem, got the correct answer, then wrote how she did it — but she didn’t write the correct words in her explanation, so she failed. So much for independent thinking. Now picture yourself sitting with a first grader in your home with blocks or chips or cookies, and a paper and pencil. The problems would have all been done in ten minutes and you would have known exactly what your child was thinking and when he understood. I assume this video was a good example or it wouldn’t have been posted, and I conclude that moms should never be intimidated by classroom schools. The teacher was doing her best, but nothing is as effective as a mother and a child working together.
Now back to where we were in Common Core curriculum.
Common Core ELA texts for elementary schools were recently sent to Utah for approval. Here is a sample of some of the political indoctrination. Near the end of this video is a link to an excellent interview with a Clinical Mental Health Therapist who tells us why these books are harmful to children. You will see the link on the screen or you can link here. (The therapist, Joan Landes, gives some very good, probably unintended, reasons for homeschooling.)
The new math curriculum has been used in some jr high and high school classrooms this year, and it has been a colossal failure, revealing incompetence and a hidden political agenda. Parents who have helped older children with their math assignments for years are angry that they cannot help anymore because the assignments no longer make sense. Mothers get tearful about their previously A students who are now failing in math. Some students are frustrated because they had earned the right to be in an advanced math class but were instead given the new, lesser curriculum. Many students are upset because they wasted this whole year getting nothing useful from their math class. There were no year-end test because the tests aren’t written yet! So no none knows if this social justice math program succeeded. Oh, yes, Mr. Gates, who is also very personable and had done much good with his billions, did tell us we wouldn’t know until the curriculum and the tests were written.
Teachers are complaining too, in private. Many have posted on a blog, www.UtahnsAgainstCommonCore.com hosted by a Utah dad, Oak Norton.
In Texas, a state whose governor did not sign on to Common Core, the CSOPE curriculum was snuck into a large number of the schools. The curriculum was all on-line and the teachers were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements — they were not allowed to tell parents anything! The unAmerican curriculum was leaked, however, and David Barton, bless him, got right on it. He found that the state standards had actually been changed. He brought samples to Glenn Beck and a Blaze TV show was devoted to it. Most of the CSOPE heroes were progressives or communists. Marxism was promoted over capitalism, and globalism was promoted. Two Texas teachers who were also on the program said the curriculum was scripted and monitors came into the classrooms holding clipboards to see that the scripts were being followed. A legislative hearing was held and corrections were made. CSOPE was sanctioned for dishonesty and has now been banned from the state. You can watch the whole program here. http://youtu.be/DkMNnVk2DtA
Actually, as I’ve read around online, it seems CSCOPE has been heavily involved in subversive teachings in Texas for a long time. Governor Perry, who saved his state from unfunded federal obligations and horrible, expensive curriculum and testing, needs to watch more closely what’s going on in the schools in his state. So do we all.
CSCOPE, I understand, is the brainchild of Linda Darling-Hammond. Here is a long video of her. When you first watch her she seems like a nice lady. What’s the problem? But soon she complains about how the schools have been teaching “a mile wide and an inch deep.” I’ve heard teachers and administrators say that quite a bit lately, and I believe it is coming down from her. I have two problems with the comment. First, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with going “a mile wide and an inch dep.” The instruction period lasts for a set amount of time. The curriculum must either go “a mile wide and an inch deep” or “a mile deep and an inch wide” or someplace in between, depending on the circumstances. Second, if “a mile wide and an inch deep” was such a horrid thing, then all teachers, experts, and administrators who promoted it should resign immediately.
Deep into this presentation Ms. Hammond begins to discuss the math. I’m sure she was promoting this before they called the teachers together to come up with the idea on their own, as their state’s personal new standard. I didn’t finish the video but I want to watch it again with a student who has been through the class.
Then I watched this very enlightening YouTube video from three very smart Utah moms. Christel, Alisa, and Renee who host the What Is Common Core blog. On a YouTube video Renee talked about math with a teacher who started out trying to repeat Linda Darling-Hammond. It was nice to pause for a moment of laugher. At the end of the conversation Renee and Alisa talked about careers. If you have read the Tucker letter, you’ll understand.
Then I found this video. Linda Darling-Hammond again, sounding great. Watch and see if what’s she’s selling us is what will be delivered. Actually, what she’s selling is closer to what homeschoolers do.
If you watched the documentary Monumental you know the pattern God gave America. The people bringing us Common Core have a different pattern of government in mind, and that’s what Common Core is really all about. The kind of teaching we are, or should be doing, is what the Church is presenting — active learning, led by the Holy Ghost. What Common Core is presenting is the opposite of everything Christ wants for our families. If nothing else, Common Core is proving that homeschoolers should never feel intimidated by the professionals. We reject Common Core in favor of Common Sense.
I’m going to stop here for now and call this Part 2a, and will finish the parts about testing and data collection as soon as possible. I’ve been questioning how good people, like superintendents and school board members and administrators on state and local levels, have gotten themselves tied into this and the personal battles that must be going on, and I’ve found some answers. I’m also anxious to get to the part about what might happen as more people get informed and as the next school year begins, and I also think there are things LDS families can do. We will have to strengthen integrity, faith, and courage.
And please share your comments!