Common Core is not the right solution, it’s just spin

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorThis is in response to the Nov. 6 article entitled “As debate continues, Common Core curriculum supporters make their case”

First, the Standards were not developed by educators, except for a couple and none were from the early childhood area at all. In fact the “educators” (Milgram, Stotsky) that were brought in to sign off on the Standards as part of the Validation Committee refused to, stating that they were the floor level of standards and were at best preparing students for a 2 year college or low level 4 year school. The architect of the Standards, backed by Bill Gates money, is Mr. David Coleman, President appointed, President of the College Board- an individual in the business of testing. 500 early childhood educators, child psychologists and cognitive development experts sent testimony in 2010 showing how the standards were developmentally inappropriate for k-3 students, treating them like little adults cognitively, and why parents and teachers across the nation have dubbed them child abuse for this age group.

No. The common core cannot be separated from the testing. The race to the top carrot (coercion) contained 3 components: State adoption of the standards, choosing one of two testing consortiums (sbac or parcc) and developing the statewide longitudinal data base, Preschool to 20 Workforce Information Network ( P20-WIN) to be able to share student education records across agencies and across state lines without parental consent, thanks to the stripping of FERPA.  The government spent 300 million dollars developing these two “tests”, imposed on states to adopt, even if they had high standards, were graduating a high percentage of students and sending them off to quality 4 year colleges. You cannot separate the Standards and the testing, they were a package deal. A 4 billion dollar deal that CT received $0 of. We received 4.5 million in separate grant to build the P20WIN database. Rest assured that is what CC is about.

Now let’s look at the panel. National PTA receiving funding to give their nod of approval to parents by the Gates Foundation. Yep.  Council of Chief State School Officers as well- Yep. Of course they approve.  Ask this Superintendent or any Superintendent or any teacher for the research on the SBAC and how it is a valid measurement instrument for children. They will not have any because the research doesn’t exist. Ask them what the cut off score is and they won’t tell you bc it is set to fail 70% of students nationally. Wealthy districts will fare better. It’s predetermined. An “adaptive” test, scored by computers which in the end means that every child takes a different test…so how is that standardized?

Curriculum. Hmmm… lets see did your district just go out and spend a ton of taxpayer money on Core aligned textbooks, software, teacher training, technology upgrades to accommodate the new computer based tests? Yes they did. Why is that if it’s not curriculum? Do we all see across the country the worksheets coming home with code numbers on them not created by our childrens teachers? Yes we do. Standards drive curriculum. Period. Because the federal government is precluded by law from mandating a national curriculum they must separate standards from curriculum and hence the PR about local control. Did you vote on all the new common core aligned textbooks and software in the LMC or was it just picked out by central office, purchased and uploaded?  Because the federal government cannot develop a national student database, they circumvented that law by creating 50 separate ones that are open to each other, thereby creating a national student database in effect. In Greenwich Common Core may be the basement floor, but it is the basement upon which all else is built. Have no doubt more state led PR money will come to parents giving them false, inaccurate information and leaving out the fine print of the details. The truth is easy to find.

The good news for our new legislators is that because we failed, despite our numerous attempts,  to receive federal funding for implementation we are beholden to no one. We are currently bonding the money and putting it on the backs of districts and taxpayers. The owners of the Common Core Standards copyright are the NGA (National Governors Association) and the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) Interesting.  The problems lay not only within the standards themselves, but in the unvalidated testing instrument we are using and the P20 data base- which was another low score for us on our RTTT application- failure to communicate with the public regarding the data collection, according to the Quality Data Campaign monitoring the states progression in implementation. How many parents are even aware of its existence, uses, and governing policies? Did Greenwich or any town hold a parent meeting on P20 data collection and sharing? Or is it something we wish to keep quiet? Why may that be?  I have read the policies. 36 other states have put forth legislation surrounding this data collection, sharing and privacy for children. Where is CT? Nowhere, except to protect the agencies from liability in events of breach should it occur and not require the P20 Council or Executive Board to inform parents if their child’s information has been misused by the agencies under the MOA’s.   Are parents aware of the upcoming legislative session and what will be put forth to protect student records on the federal level, that is not being done on the state level in CT? It has already been done in other states.

What many states have done to rectify all of this is throw out these standards, and create their own, that admittedly pretty much look almost exactly the same but they are not under copyright protection and therefore can be modified to meet state and student needs. They have either pulled out of SBAC or PARCC or are delaying their implementation understanding the set up for failure on students and teachers that will result allowing for state takeover of schools and the increase in privatization of public education, in particular in our cities,  and that is what CC is all about. Privatization. Money for materials (Pearson), money for software and technology (Gates), money for testing (Coleman). That cannot be accomplished until the feds prove failure using an invalid instrument for testing, with a cut score set at 70% allowing only the best of the best to pass, and labeling 70% of children, teachers and schools as failures. Probably won’t be any of the well funded districts but we are complicit in creating the damage by participating.

Throw out this set of standards, create our own, restore teacher innovation,  inform parents about P20, and tell SBAC to go get their validity and reliability quotients and get back to us.  The reason why this sort of PR is needed is because there are organizations, scholars, activists, students, teachers, researchers, legislators, Governors, and lawyers who now know the truth and are acting to stop it. Time for CT to stop with the false PR, catch up and do what is right for the children of our state. But don’t believe me. Wait for the scores to come in, if you choose to participate, and see what the state says about the results, unless of course our legislature decides to act accordingly to stop the failure. I’m not saying we don’t need change in many areas. We do. But this will not achieve what it claims to be about.. a level playing field for all. The achievement gap will close by bringing high achieving districts and students down, rather than lifting those who are struggling up. In order to lift those districts and students that are struggling up we would have to combat poverty and rectify the test and punish system of teachers we currently employ.  Combating poverty doesn’t make Mr. Gates, Mr. Coleman, Pearson or Charter School Investors (campaign contributors paying for loose regulation policy) any money. Look around the country in how the set up for failure in public education is affecting those communities, those children. Not well.

The Corporate Reformers who have zero educational background must be stopped and our leaders with sincere motive must stand up and do the right thing by ending this attack on students, on professional educators and on public education while parents must be given the accurate details in full transparency. Again, it’s very easy to find the truth if you read the contracts, agreements, policies, legislation and very simply follow the money.

I have no doubt Greenwich will be spared district failure and school closures, but how does that help the communities, cities, schools, teachers and children under attack who are not so blessed? There are real ways to close the achievement gap that we do indeed very much have in our state. In order to do that in a valid and meaningful way will call for a dedication of resources and intent that is far greater than the Common Core, SBAC and P20-WIN. They have no hope, nor prayer of closing the achievement gap just like every other reform before them while we waste billions in another failed attempt to do the right thing. And quite honestly what are we sacrificing in terms of privacy, creativity, teacher autonomy, and the respect for every child’s unique gifts in the process as we attempt to standardize them? They are in no way common.


Jennifer Jacobsen, MS Ed.

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress