Musings of Captain Justice a/k/a Gil Jones

Common Core Educational Standards: a Dissection

Common Core - Coring Out Your Child's Brain

Common Core – Coring Out Your Child’s Brain (Photo credit: rich_french77Amber)

I was recently asked my opinion about Common Core whereupon I realized that most of my knowledge was anecdotal. This Saturday I met a teacher from Louisiana who was recently retired — motivated by disgust from dealing with Common Core’s inaccuracies. This graphic sums up the usual discussion I hear on the street. I resolved to research it.

Firstly, I think it important to realize that the debate has conflated two issues. One issue revolves around whether there should be national standards for education and if so, what the standards should be. The other issue concerns the content that is to be used to attain the standards.

Why write this now? Common Core is dead in Texas. Or maybe not. Portions of the CSCOPE curricula is still used at least in part in many Texas schools, perhaps even locally. In any event, standardized testing is still a push from the federal government and the backers of Common Core are still pushing its adoption. [toc]

Common Core’s Origin

In 2009, the NGA convened a group of people to work on developing the standards. This team included David Coleman, William McCallum of the University of Arizona, Phil Daro, and Student Achievement Partners founders Jason Zimba[6] and Susan Pimentel to write standards in the areas of mathematics and literacy.[citation needed] Announced on June 1, 2009,[7] the initiative’s stated purpose is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.”[8]1 Additionally, “the standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers”, which should place American students in a position in which they can compete in a global economy.[8]

via Common Core State Standards Initiative – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Core_State_Standards_Initiative

Common Core rejected by Texas

Texas is one of several states that did not adopt Common Core. Of the 45 initial adopters three (Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina) have now abandoned it (Layton, 2014). My hometown2 school district was using it, somewhat surreptitiously, and was forced to drop it for the most part. In the 2012-13 Marble Falls ISD’s District Improvement Plan the CSCOPE (i.e. Common Core) plan was prominently endorsed. Marble Falls CSCOPE adoption DIP_2012-2013

The Texas Legislature in the 83rd Regular Session (2013) passed, and Governor Perry signed, House Bill No. 462 which precludes adoption of Common Core.  Nevertheless, as of October 2013 Marble Falls had applied for the federal “Race to the Top” grant competition for school districts (RTT-D2 for short) funds according to the American Federation of Teachers web site.3

Many advocacy groups sound an alarm about Common Core thusly

To get any Race to the Top funds, the applicants have to swear they will follow the Common Core Standards Initiative/College and Career Ready Standards.  In actuality, this means:  national standards, national assessments, national curriculum, teachers’ salaries tied to their students’ test scores, teachers teaching to the test each and every day, national indoctrination of our public school children, national database of students and teachers.

via Voices Empower. (n.d.). Race To the Top in Texas? | VOICES EMPOWER. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.voicesempower.com/race-to-the-top-in-texas/

So what is wrong with CSCOPE

Teachers, analysts and pundits wax-eloquent pro and con about CSCOPE. There is a source to see its contents for yourself:

The Texas Tribune has obtained the complete set of curriculum content produced by the state-run education service center cooperative known as CSCOPE, which grass-roots activists have pushed to eliminate because of a perceived liberal, anti-American agenda. Review the more than 10,000 lessons in social studies, science, math and language arts for yourself in our searchable interactive to see what the controversy is — or isn’t — about.

Pick a subject and search for a keyword; to find the keyword in a particular lesson plan, click on the document and search in the upper right-hand corner. If you would like to view or download the original document, click on ‘Original Document (PDF).’

via Murphy, R. (2013, August 22). Interactive: Search CSCOPE Lesson Plans | The Texas Tribune. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.texastribune.org/interactive/search-cscope-lesson-plans/

One site has concrete examples of material from CSCOPE. Some are, at least to me, obviously troubling. Others have subtle messages. Some seem innocuous. Read for yourself at Russell, G. (2013, April 25). WARNING: CSCOPE’S TOP 20 LESSON MISTAKES » RED HOT CONSERVATIVE. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.redhotconservative.com/warning-cscopes-top-20-lesson-mistakes/

Even a cursory review of the “literature” available online reveals a pronounced agenda for social justice and assertion of opinion disguised as facts. For example

For example, one teacher claimed that she had to give up having her students read Shakespeare in favor of Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point because it was “fact-based” and Shakespeare was not. Of course, Tipping Point has a political agenda.  Parents may be concerned if they were to learn that Gladwell suggests such “facts” as the belief that parents should stop worrying about their children’s “experimentation with drugs,” including cocaine because “it seldom leads to hardcore use.”

“Fact-based” books on climate change are also replacing classic works of literature because they are viewed as offering students an opportunity to learn “science.” Freakonomics—a book that has already been a favorite of public school teachers—is preferable to Poe because students will learn about the positive effects of abortion on reducing crime rates by reducing the population of those more likely to commit crime.

via Hendershott, A. (2013, March 25). The Ambitions of Bill and Melinda Gates: Controlling Population and Public Education – Crisis Magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-ambitions-of-bill-and-melinda-gates-controlling-population-and-public-education (Note: Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.)

Who is behind Common Core

Many sources accessible via the internet attribute the main backing to Bill Gates and George Soros. It has proven difficult to find definitive resources proving this. However, one web article that is heavily sourced was located that appears4 to be authoritative. The following from the article’s summary: (reformatted for readability)

Gates’ Foundation other contributions during the time frame of consideration and development of the Common Core initiative.

  • Counsel of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO): 2009–$9,961,842, 2009–$3,185,750, 2010–$743,331, 2011–$9,388,911
  • National Governor’s Association (NGA): 2008–$2,259,780
  • Mark Tucker’s NCEE: 2009–$1,500,000
  • Total: $27,000,000

To any who still harbor the illusion that Common Core State Standards were the product of the states simply coming together, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Special thanks to the many people involved in digging this information up. Much work has been done by people all around the country to put this information together and help follow the money trail. Please do your part now in passing this information on to everyone you know so they can be educated about what the Common Core Initiative is really all about.

To see where Common Core fits into the scheme of related programs that make up the globalization of education, check out this visual diagram and then other links below.

via Think Common Core Standards were a State Initiative? | Utah’s Republic. (2012, March 1). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.utahsrepublic.org/common-core/

A recent article in the Washington Post points out an important aspect of the Gates involvement in avoiding what would otherwise have generated a huge “states rights” outcry:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.

Bill Gates was de facto organizer, providing the money and structure for states to work together on common standards in a way that avoided the usual collision between states’ rights and national interests that had undercut every previous effort, dating from the Eisenhower administration.

Layton, L. (2014, June 7). How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution – The Washington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e-ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html

Why is the Gates involvement a problem?

The Gates Foundation gives a lot of money to a lot of causes. The Gates philanthropy is well-known and even includes a favorite cause of mine, the Rotary International Polio Plus initiative to eradicate polio worldwide — which has now almost been achieved.

So isn’t Bill’s donation to the Common Core project simply another charitable act?

Hardly. Microsoft has a huge profit stake in Common Core in that it requires a computer (think Windows® operating system), often running on a tablet such as the Microsoft Surface™, and then you have to score the exams. Who does that? Probably Microsoft. This is documented via an interview with Bill Gates and further investigation by Washington Post writer Valerie Strauss. Some excerpts:

Layton: Meaning Microsoft and Pearson just signed a deal to, to put the Common Core curriculum on the surface. So, you’ve got a product, Microsoft has a product now that it’s, that it’s selling…

Gates: Yeah, we had the old Pearson stuff. I, it, it, there’s no connection, there’s no connection to Common Core and any Microsoft thing…..

Still the fact remains that Microsoft is hoping to make some money from the implementation of the Core in classrooms. Here, on the Microsoft Web site, is a page titled “Tech Essentials for Testing Success” with details about what schools will need to give new Common Core-aligned exams on computers.

via Strauss, V. (2014, July 12). How Microsoft will make money from Common Core (despite what Bill Gates said) – The Washington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/12/how-microsoft-will-make-money-from-common-core-despite-what-bill-gates-said/

Conclusion

This was not intended as an opinion piece — which will shock everyone who knows me even a little bit. But it is, rather, intended as a research compendium as a springboard for further research and developing the reader’s own opinion.

References

Common Core State Standards Initiative – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Core_State_Standards_Initiative

Hendershott, A. (2013, March 25). The Ambitions of Bill and Melinda Gates: Controlling Population and Public Education – Crisis Magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/the-ambitions-of-bill-and-melinda-gates-controlling-population-and-public-education

Layton, L. (2014, June 7). How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution – The Washington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e-ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html

Murphy, R. (2013, August 22). Interactive: Search CSCOPE Lesson Plans | The Texas Tribune. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.texastribune.org/interactive/search-cscope-lesson-plans/

Russell, G. (2013, April 25). WARNING: CSCOPE’S TOP 20 LESSON MISTAKES » RED HOT CONSERVATIVE. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.redhotconservative.com/warning-cscopes-top-20-lesson-mistakes/

Strauss, V. (2014, July 12). How Microsoft will make money from Common Core (despite what Bill Gates said) – The Washington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/12/how-microsoft-will-make-money-from-common-core-despite-what-bill-gates-said/

Think Common Core Standards were a State Initiative? | Utah’s Republic. (2012, March 1). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.utahsrepublic.org/common-core/

Voices Empower. (n.d.). Race To the Top in Texas? | VOICES EMPOWER. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.voicesempower.com/race-to-the-top-in-texas/

 

Recent Possibly Related External Links

  1. FN 8 from Wikipedia: “Implementing the Common Core State Standards”. Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  2. Marble Falls, TX
  3.  http://texasaftblog.com/hotline/?p=3289, accessed 20JUL2014
  4. The reader is encouraged to study the article and check its sources. I’ve not vetted it totally.

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