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Five Reasons to Drop the Common Core Standards
by Henry W. Burke
“Look before you leap.” This is a wise maxim and one that 45 states and D. C. should have followed. Instead, they rushed into adopting the Common Core Standards without ascertaining first the profound ramifications.
As citizens and legislators learn more about the Common Core, they do not like what they see. These people are clamoring for sound information to make intelligent decisions about our nation's schools.
The five important reasons why the states should drop the Common Core Standards are:
1. The high cost of implementing the Common Core Standards
2. The poor quality of the Common Core Standards
3. The indoctrination aspects of Common Core
4. The loss of local control with Common Core
5. The data mining mandates of Common Core
1. High Cost to Implement Common Core Standards
a. The Federal Carrot
We know that the promise of federal money drove most of the states to adopt the Common Core Standards (CCS) even before they were written. Under the guise of a federal competition, Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan enticed the states to drop their own state standards and embrace the unknown and unfinalized Common Core Standards.
Buried deep within the $787 billion Stimulus Bill was money for the Race to the Top program. Obama and Duncan's devious plan was to use the $4.35 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) program to lure states into the Common Core Standards (national standards).
Their plan worked splendidly, and 45 states plus the District of Columbia signed up for the Common Core Standards. This was done before the standards documents had even been finalized and without any international benchmarking or piloting to see how academically effective such standards might be in the classroom!
Obama and Duncan bragged about the success of their Race to the Top (RTTT) scheme. A 2011 White House press release for the Fiscal Year 2012 Education Budget stated this about RTTT:
Adapts the Race to the Top Model of Competition to Transform Lifelong Learning. Widely viewed as leveraging more change than any other competitive education grant program in history, the Race to the Top (RTT) initiative spurred States across the Nation to bring together teachers, school leaders, and policymakers to achieve difficult yet fundamental improvements to our education system.
In their words, Race to the Top is "leveraging more change than any other competitive education grant program in history."
The five enlightened states that have not signed on to the CCS are Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia.
b. Nationwide CCS Implementation Costs
For many people, the high implementation cost of CCS is the easiest argument to understand. As taxpayers, we are vitally concerned about the burgeoning cost of government at the federal, state, and local levels. In most states, Common Core represents a huge unfunded federal mandate, and taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab.
The nonpartisan Pioneer Institute published an excellent report in 2012 that determined the implementation costs for CCS, "National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards."
According to the Pioneer Institute white paper, the 45 states and the District of Columbia that adopted Common Core will collectively spend $15.8 billion to implement the standards over a seven-year period. Yet these same states received only $5.2 billion from the federal government in competitive awards. That leaves the states' taxpayers to make up for the $10.6 billion shortfall.
[$15.8 billion - $5.2 billion = $10.6 billion]
Based on the Pioneer Institute’s data, I produced a report on 10.15.12 that provides the cost to implement Common Core in each of the 46 states (45 states plus D.C.) which adopted CCS; this report is entitled "States' Taxpayers Cannot Afford Common Core Standards."
In this report, I compared the CCS implementation cost with the federal awards for each state. I have distributed copies of this report to all 46 state education departments, to many state legislators, to elected officials across the country, and to many concerned citizens.
I also prepared a companion report on 10.17.12 for the five non-CCS states, "Non-Common Core States Will Save Millions of Dollars." This report covers Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia.
c. State Common Core Implementation Costs
Since that time, I have also produced state-specific reports for all 46 CCS states. Because each analysis applies to only one state, it allows interested parties to focus on the situation in that particular state.
[If you would like a free state-specific report for your state, please contact me, Henry W. Burke at email@example.com . Please be sure to specify which state report you desire.]
I have received hundreds of requests for state-specific reports, and I have distributed these reports widely around the country. The feedback tells me that people are hungry for information on Common Core costs; they are using these reports to influence the elected officials in the Common Core states.
In the majority of cases, the state education departments adopted the Common Core Standards without the knowledge and approval of the state legislatures. Many state legislative bodies are now feeling the pressure of the citizens and are re-examining the states' decisions. Some states are withdrawing from the Common Core or its Assessments; other states are delaying CCS implementation.
[When you get to the Truth in American Education website, locate the U.S map on the far right; click the download arrow to get the latest CCS action map.]
d. CCS Loss Per State
The difference between the Common Core implementation cost for a state and the federal awards is the CCS Loss for the state – the amount of money the state’s taxpayers must divvy up. The top 10 state CCS losses are as follows:
(1). California will lose $2,084 million ($2.084 billion) on CCS implementation. (Translation: California taxpayers will have to take $2.1 billion from their state coffers to pay for CCS.)
(2). Illinois will lose $733 million on CCS implementation.
(Translation: Illinois taxpayers will have to take $733 million out of their state coffers to pay for CCS.)
(3). Pennsylvania will lose $647 million on CCS implementation.
(4). Michigan will lose $569 million on CCS implementation.
(5). New Jersey will lose $564 million on CCS implementation.
(6). Indiana will lose $387 million on CCS implementation.
(7). Arizona will lose $349 million on CCS implementation.
(8). Missouri will lose $336 million on CCS implementation.
(9). Washington will lose $331 million on CCS implementation.
(10). Wisconsin will lose $313 million on CCS implementation.
2. Poor Quality of the Common Core Standards
What about the quality of the Common Core standards? Are they as good as proponents claim?
Dr. Sandra Stotsky was formerly in charge of developing the widely praised Massachusetts English/Language Arts Standards. She has written extensively about the lack of quality of the Common Core, particularly in the area of literature. Dr. Stotsky should know; she sat on the Common Core Validation Committee and refused to validate the standards. Sandra Stotsky is professor of education reform emerita, University of Arkansas.
The states that adopted the standards in 2010 did so before the Common Core standards for English and language arts were even finalized. The Common Core advocates argue that these standards would make all students “college-ready,” but Dr. Stotsky has stated that the Common Core Standards will not produce "college-ready" students.
By reducing the study of complex literary texts and by requiring teachers to place a heavy emphasis instead on informational text, Common Core decreases the students' opportunities to develop analytical thinking skills. Hence Common Core students will be less prepared for college.
Students develop a love for reading when they read the rich literary classics. Would a student rather read a wonderful piece of literature or the informational text found in a boring government document, executive order, or insulation manual? Such boring, non-literary articles will absolutely kill the love of reading! Informational texts belong in other classes, not in English classes.
The mathematics standards are not any better.
The Pioneer Institute recently published a report by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky, "Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM."
R. James Milgram is professor of mathematics emeritus, Stanford University. He was a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee 2009-2010.
Professor Milgram states the following in the Pioneer white paper:
With the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards end after Algebra II. They include no precalculus or calculus.
The Common Core mathematics standards do not make high school graduates "college and career-ready," as the Common Core proponents claim. The national mathematics standards will not prepare students to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in a selective four-year college.
The Pioneer report concludes by offering these chilling indictments:
At this time we can conclude only that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.
3. Loss of Local Control Under Common Core
In the past, a fundamental aspect of virtually all school systems is that control is maintained at the local level. Parents and educators are very proud that they have local control over their schools. Why would they want to give up this local control of their children’s minds to the federal government? That is a good question.
A typical talking point of the Common Core advocates is that "standards are not curriculum." The truth is that the Common Core Standards (CCS) and the mandated assessments will impose a curriculum on all schools.
Exemplar texts are recommended by the Common Core; and because students’ national CCS assessment scores will be tied to their teachers’ evaluations, those teachers will feel pressured to teach exactly what the CCS tells them to teach.
Because the Common Core Standards are copyrighted, the documents cannot be altered. States cannot change one word, even if their teachers find the standards to be wrong, poorly written, or confusing.
In some states, the textbooks are vetted and approved by the State Board of Education. However, under Common Core, much of the instructional material (IM) is provided online. At the click of a mouse, books and writings can be added or deleted.
Another pro-Common Core talking point is that the "Common Core State Standards are a floor, not a ceiling." During the selling period for the Common Core Standards, it was suggested that individual states would have to follow 85 % of the CCS but that they could introduce
15 % of their own content.
However now that the CCS are nearly in place, it turns out that teachers must implement 100 % of the CCS curriculum to get their students prepared to take the CCS assessments. There will be no class time left nor any incentive for adding 15 % of a state's own content. Even though there is a 15 % cap on adding to the standards, there is no amendment process.
Under Common Core, local school districts will not be able to develop their own curriculum. Thus, there is no local control!
The two major assessment consortia are PARCC and SBAC. PARCC is an acronym for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. SBAC stands for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia.
All of the testing (assessments) for the Common Core will be done online. Besides the huge costs, there are other serious problems. Because beginning in the third grade, children will be required on the CCS tests to use a keyboard to enter their writing into a small text window, teachers in K, Grade 1, and Grade 2 will have to get their students ready by having them practice on online benchmark tests also. This will create a difficult situation for children not used to writing on computers. This requirement will be especially hard for lower income families and poorer school districts.
Another limitation is that both consortia have committed to machine scoring for most of the writing sections. Humans will not read the writing responses; computers will score the writing based on certain pre-determined "features."
Additionally, the tests for third graders are projected to last 8-9 hours (over twice the length of the SAT test). How will teachers keep a third grader motivated for a 9-hour test? Even though the test will be given in parts, what incentive will there be for the student to persist?
4. The Common Core Indoctrination
The Obama Administration's goal is to indoctrinate our nation's students into their way of thinking. How is this goal being accomplished? The Common Core writers plow their ideas into the standards, assessments, and recommended resources.
The test writers are driving the curriculum which will be based on the Common Core Standards. Because the Common Core Standards tie teachers’ evaluations to the scores their students make on the Common Core assessments, teachers are pressured to "teach to the test." Teachers will likely lose their jobs if their students score poorly on the tests.
Because the CCS assessment scores will be made public as states are compared with one another, the pressure on teachers to conform to the CCS will have been achieved by the Obama Administration. Their intent is to indoctrinate students rather than to raise their academic achievement.
The indoctrination will promote such things as: subjective feelings, opinions, beliefs, multiculturalism, political correctness, diversity, socialism, global warming, environmental extremism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, social justice, and income redistribution. These ideas are advocated at the expense of basic fundamental skills.
The content of the Common Core is absolutely horrible!
As the Common Core curriculum enters the schools, we are starting to see just how bad it is. An example was recently exposed at Buena Vista High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona. A highly pornographic book (Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia) was recommended in: Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects -- Common Core Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks (Appendix B). This is the link to the article and book:
[The book was on the 11th grade list, but the teacher was teaching it to even younger students in the 10th grade.]
Another pornographic novel appears on the Common Core Exemplar List. The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison is truly pornographic, yet it is recommended reading in the Common Core curriculum. This book is found on the Common Core Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks (Appendix B, p. 152).
Common Core recommends that teachers should teach many multicultural, politically correct books and gives teachers and students web links to authors’ sites, thus influencing students to purchase more books by these same authors.
Because the Common Core Standards are copyrighted, the documents cannot be altered, even if the material is very poor.
5. Data Mining and State Longitudinal Data Systems
The federal State Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) impose expensive, onerous, and intrusive mandates on the 46 Common Core states. Additionally, several non-Common Core states received competitive grants under the State Longitudinal Data Systems program (funded by the Stimulus Measure). This means essentially every state will be bound by the SLDS regulations.
Joy Pullman of The Heartland Institute wrote a shocking article on 3.12.13, "The U.S. Department of Education's Data Mining Efforts."
Under agreements that every state signed to get Stimulus funds, the states must share students' intrusive and personally identifiable data with the federal government. Parents and teachers may think that federal privacy laws protect them, but the Obama Administration has twisted these privacy laws. Until recently, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protected highly personal psychological and biological information on students and their families.
However, the USDOE reinterpreted the law in 2011 to allow the agencies to designate any individual or organization as an "educational representative" that can access such data. This means that third-party agencies could have access to the national database and could mine students’, teachers’, and family data. (A lawsuit against the new regulations is pending.)
As part of the Common Core, the USDOE is insisting that the two Assessment Consortia have access to "student-level" information. This means the records would be tied to specific and identifiable students, not anonymous records! According to a February USDOE report, the federal government wants schools to catalogue “attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability.”
The USDOE wants to expand each student's academic records into a comprehensive personal record. Some of the intrusive items include the following: healthcare history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, religious affiliation, fingerprints, retina and iris scans, voiceprints, DNA sequence, facial characteristics, and handwriting.
For more information on this subject, please read Christel Swasey's 10.15.13 article "Six Things the U.S. Dept. of Education Did to Deprive Your Child of Privacy."
Clearly, the federal government is attempting to compile an intimate cradle-to-grave dossier on every American. The horribly intrusive data mining under the Common Core provides one more reason to avoid the Common Core Standards!
My logic in focusing on CCS implementation costs is rather simple. If money (federal competitive awards) drove most states into CCS, the high cost to implement CCS can convince states to withdraw from the Common Core.
The Common Core Standards (CCS) are of questionable quality. Contrary to the CCS advocates' claims, the Common Core Standards will not make students "college-ready." Likewise, the Common Core Standards have not been internationally benchmarked. Finally, the Common Core Standards have not been piloted to see how academically effective the standards might be in the classroom!
The Common Core Standards will obliterate local control! The Common Core Data System ties each teacher to his/her student's test scores. If the students do poorly on the assessments, the teachers could lose their jobs.
Because the Common Core Standards are copyrighted, teachers and school districts will not be able to modify or add to the standards. Therefore, there is no local control!
The Common Core Standards will indoctrinate our nation's students into the philosophy of the Common Core writers. Students will lose the ability to reason and develop critical thinking skills.
The USDOE wants to include in the Common Core Standards national database intrusive, personal items such as the following: healthcare history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, religious affiliation, fingerprints, retina and iris scans, voiceprints, DNA sequence, facial characteristics, and handwriting.
The Common Core movement is not about what is best for the children; it is about greed and political control. If the Common Core was really designed to help students achieve a better classical education, it would have been based on empirical studies and solid educator backing.
Where is the basis for the empty promises -- "rigorous," "internationally competitive," and "research-based?" There is no evidence for imposing this huge and expensive experiment on the students in America.
States should reject the Common Core Standards and end this costly experiment!
Henry W. Burke