Like Obama Care, "Obama Core" is Unraveling
The private-federal partnership which created “Common Core State Standards” (CCSS) or Common Core is now beginning to unravel in many states across the U.S. In an opinion article published in the September 2014 edition of The Alabama Gazette I presented the origin, key players, ideology and nationally developed standards related to Common Core. As David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to President Obama, stated, “CCSS was initiative of the Obama Administration”. It includes fundamental changes and omissions of U.S. historical facts, is far less “God and Country” than former standards and texts, complicates math, and attempts to influence our children toward social/cultural/religious views contrary to long-held traditional and family values.
Common Core is to education as Obama Care is to health insurance. The similarities are strikingly similar. Both were initiated and written with little transparency. Both were developed with a top-down approach with insignificant input from local or state education sources. Both were concocted by a few individuals and high stakes corporate entities. Both have hidden agendas and are not good for the recipients. Both were attempts to place control, administration, and enforcement under the power of the federal government – the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE). Like Obama Care, the reality of Common Core has been increasingly exposed and a national grassroots push back is underway.
The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." And since the U.S. Supreme Court has not declared that education is a fundamental interest, states have absolute power in the area of education. We elect state and local school boards because we believe local oversight is better than what federal bureaucrats know and control with regard to educating our children.
In brief, Common Core was hatched between private entities such as Bill and Melinda Gates who own Microsoft instruction products and the Pearson Foundation (Pearson Publishing, Inc.). The USDOE awarded two consortia $350 million to develop standards while claiming them as state developed standards. In fact, these consortia developed 85% of the Common Core standards/curriculum leaving only 15% for each state to develop. Standards and uniform national assessments were written by *Achieve Inc. and ACT Inc. The assessments are aligned with the Common Core but do not assess any state-developed standards/curriculum - the 15%.
THE UNDOING OF OBAMA CORE
It was Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who made the infamous statement: “We have to pass the bill (Obama Care) before you can find out what is in it”. How profoundly related to Common Core! Most states were persuaded by dangling federal funding to accept what they had not actually read. Shame on Alabama State Board of Education members who voted in support of this omnibus federal power grab aimed to dictate and control the standards and curriculum of Alabama’s schools. Even more disappointing was the lack of assiduous leadership of Alabama’s State Superintendent of Education, Tommy Bice, who made the recommendation to the State School Board. As growing opposition of Obama Core continues in Alabama and across the country Mr. Bice’s leadership and prudence should be called into question. It was recognized as flawed from the outset among a few informed State Board of Education members and proponents of excellence in educating Alabama’s children.
Here is a snapshot of the fallout in states across America as the unpiloted Common Core standards and curriculum are revealed.
The states which have not adopted Common Core include: Alaska, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Officials in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and Tennessee have or are preparing to opt out of nationally-based assessments. South Carolina’s legislature passed a law which will replace Common Core standards and aligned assessments beginning in 2015. Missouri, currently using Common Core, has a new state law creating task forces to develop state standards by 2016. North Carolina has new legislation to abolish CCSS and re-write its own standards. In New Hampshire local school boards decide whether or not they adopt Common Core. Both Iowa and Utah have resisted full adoption of CCSS choosing to maintain state control of standards and testing. New York, Ohio, Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maine are grappling with repealing Common Core. Alabama adopted Common Core along with the national uniform CCSS aligned assessments though disguised it by folding it into an existing program called “College and Career Readiness Standards.”
Before assuming that folks in Alabama and millions of parents and teachers throughout the nation are right wing naysayers, it should be noted that the nation’s largest teachers’ union, the National Teachers’ Association (NEA), which supported Common Core during its inception in 2009, has now reversed its position. NEA’s President Dennis Van Rockel sent a letter to all NEA members expressing his shared frustration and anger regarding the poor rollout of Common Core. The second largest teachers’ union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is also not pleased with CCSS. AFT’s President Randi Weingarten said: “You think Obama Care is bad? The implementation of Common Core is far worse.”
David Nichols, Ed. D., is a regular contributing author for the Alabama Gazette. His fields of expertise and interests are education and law enforcement as he served in professional leadership roles in both fields. As a hands-on practitioner, leader, conference speaker, expert witness, consultant, teacher and author of journal articles and books. He has served in elected and appointed offices to include the Shelby County Board of Education, the Jacksonville City Board of Education, Montevallo City Council, Shelby County Planning Commission and other local boards and committees.