Sara Wood is a mom and activist in Louisiana. She responded to a recent article written by Michael Henderson and Martin West for the Brookings Institute in the form of an open letter.
Misinforming The Public to Make a Case for the Rebrand
By Sara Wood
Mr. Henderson and Mr. West,
I apologize right from the start but your article is offensive to informed parents, like myself, who have done extensive research on this Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Partnership and Public Opinion on Common Core“from Brookings Institute). I am offended, because instead of using your talents to investigate that which has parents actively engaged like never before to fight this initiative, you insinuate that the real issue is that citizens are misinformed and we can be tricked by merely playing semantics and rebranding the common set of standards in each state, in LA. REALLY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That is on the same level as Lane Grigsby using his organization to give legislators unicorns as a parody to attack moms as individuals who live in fantasy land. I mean enough is enough. I am a mother fighting for what is best for my children and what they experienced is actually horrible and damaging and I have a right to have my concerns addressed and not told that I am misinformed when obviously I can read and any Common Core promoters cannot, have not or will not, but hey no large numbers with access to mass communication caring about that reality. There are layers upon layers of concerning issues with this entire initiative and this is where you want to land. Well I am sorry but you have made a mistake.
You should have done a better job of researching the concerns and the validity of this initiative, if you even really care. There are ways to use words and you used them in a biased fashion as is so common and cowardly these days, to support Common Core. It is not so much the skewed manner in which the survey question attached some portion of accountability language enticing the adults to agree regardless or in spite of the use of “Common Core” or common standards across states, but it is your annotations in parentheses that are just snippets of misinformation. I am sure the promoters of Common Core are thankful for your propaganda piece that makes the case for a mere rebrand of the standards. However you seem misinformed and the comments in this article prove it. A common set of standards that use a national experiment to create not only a floor for the nation but through the binding agreements, grants and waivers, a ceiling for all children may be a good thing if you are looking to model Communist China, but it is counter to our federalist system of government, which should mean something to you, and it is scary that you or any of its promoters fail to see the dangerous path upon which this will take us toward centralized education beyond any ability to be constrained or controlled locally and that concern is only one out many.
Do you understand the difference between reading something on paper (theory) and then its effect as it plays out in reality (practice)? Your assertions are supported theoretically but not in practice. How long you remain blind to the reality which may require thinking beyond the four corners of the documents that you may or may not have read, is up to you. Please take the time to read this and feel free to ask any questions.
REASONS LA CITIZENS ARE AGAINST CCSSI, BY A CITIZEN AND PARENT IN THIS FIGHT.
As parents and concerned citizens, we urged the Legislature but it failed us, and so we will call on them this session to pass legislation to protect state sovereignty and parental rights as to education by prohibiting the ceding/abdication of discretion/control to any outside influence; to immediately stop the Common Core State Standard Initiative (CCSSI) in Louisiana, including the Common Core Standards, PARCC, and dismantling and purging of the statewide longitudinal database and to remove all school boards from any and all obligation from the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and PARCC testing.
45 states adopted the Common Core Standards, effectively resulting in national standards; and
For the 45 states that adopted the Common Core Standards there are only two consortiums for the assessments of those standards,effectively resulting in national assessments; and
The entire Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) reflects a strategy to conform American students to a “one size fits all” COMMON standard for education with “two size fits all” COMMON assessments of those standards, tied to COMMON teacher accountability based on individual student performance scores that will naturally evolve toward a COMMON curriculum for all students, contrary to deeply held American principles and in violation of three federal laws.
Louisiana applied for the Race To The Top federal grant in January 2010, May 2010 and November 2011; a grant that gave priority in competition among states to adopt a “common set of K-12 standards” defined as standards “that are substantially identical across all States in a consortium,” to participate “in a consortium of States that includes a significant number of States” and that were internationally benchmarked.” (Federal Register, Volume 74, No. 221, Wednesday, November 18, 2009, Notices).
At the time Louisiana applied for Phase 1 and then Phase 2 of the RTTT federal grant, there were no standards officially in existence that met the RTTT definition.
Louisiana received federal funding and waivers, including Phase 3 of RTTT that incentivized the adoption and implementation of the only standards that met the stipulations of the grant applications and those were the Common Core Standards.
Louisiana committed to the Common Core Standards through various agreements as shown in support of its Race To The Top applications, before the Common Core Standards for Mathematics and for English, Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical subjects were even written or released leaving no opportunity for the legislative process to take course at all, and denying citizens their right to fully evaluate and vet the standards. (Common Core Standards Memorandum of Agreement signed by then State Superintendent, Paul Pastorek). LA “adoption” of the CCSS was done without following the Administrative Procedures Act; a law meant to notify and protect the public from state agency action in violation of due process and other rights.
The citizens of LA duly elected each of the school board members of their respective parishes to represent their interests as to the public education of children attending public schools in and around the state, many voted against RTTT; only 35% are participating LEA’s in the RTTT.
The development of the Common Core Standards was organized by the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices (NGA), two private membership, non-profit trade organizations that assembled a work group that appears to have many names but in fact is a list of only 25 different people, none of which were listed as teachers or curriculum specialists in Elementary and Secondary Education in those work groups, and none of which were listed as Child Psychologists on the feedback group.
The Common Core Standards were never field tested after final release and lack empirical data to support claims of “increased rigor,” “higher standards” and “internationally benchmarked” (such claim has been revised and now the website states “internationally informed”).
The Common Core Standards were not created by a state led process, subject to any freedom of information acts, public meeting laws, or sunshine laws. Review and adoption is not the same as creation.
The Common Core Standards are copyrighted by the CCSSO and NGA, both of which have received significant amounts of federal funding and received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties for the advocacy and development of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Louisiana adopted the Common Core Standards directly and is bound by agreement to implement and maintain 100% of the Common Core Standards for each subject, Mathematics and English, Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical subjects.
The Common Core Standards bind Louisiana and other states to copyrighted standards with specific limitations on permissible use and prohibition on individual state modifications to these standards with a 15% cap on supplemental standards for those states that received RTTT federal funding, creating a non-differential floor and ceiling for educational standards around the country for all the states that adopted them, including Louisiana.
Because the Common Core Standards are copyrighted by the NGA and CCSSO, these two non-governmental and private trade organizations will have the authority to choose, in granting license agreements, any and all curricular curriculum materials claiming to be aligned to the Common Core Standards.
In June 2010, Louisiana entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Race To The Top – Comprehensive Assessment Systems Grant with all other member states of the (PARCC) Partnership For Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers by signatures of Governor Bobby Jindal and then, Chief State School Officer for Louisiana, Paul Pastorek and the President of the State Board of Education, Keith Guice.
PARCC and the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) received330 million from the RTTT federal grant and entered into Cooperative Agreements with the U.S. Department of Education for the development of common assessments systems that require data collection on each individual student reflecting each student’s growth and achievement toward college and career readiness.
In the MOU with PARCC, Louisiana is bound to the requirements to which PARCC is bound under it Cooperative Agreements with the U.S. Department of Education to share personally identifiable information, which agreement recognizes that the US-Ed will have “substantial communication, coordination, and involvement” in the success of this common assessment system and which requires the sharing of “student-level” data.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative includes federal funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data without knowledge or consent and the implementation and maintenance of a massive state longitudinal database with cross-connectivity to many government agencies and private entities.
The CCSSI effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts in Louisiana receiving state or federal funding must use the PARCC assessments based on the Common Core State Standards in order to allow students to transition through the school system.
In adopting the Common Core Standards, receiving federal and private funding and entering the PARCC consortium, Louisiana diluted/relinquished its educational freedom to external sources and away from Louisiana, namely parents and teachers, where it belongs.
There is an obvious curtailing or disregard of the democratic process, denying citizens the effective right to fully express their grievances with the CCSSI in seeking a legislative remedy for those grievances, and instead to give precedence to non-governmental, other special interests and remote stakeholders over the matter.
The Common Core State Standards were developed and adopted as part of an Initiative comprising a collectivist, educational reform scheme with federal, state and special interest funding and involvement to the exclusion of only five states, together with marketing in a way that fails to disclose the reality of the devastating consequences to our democratic republic and federalist system of American government, when it comes to educational freedom.
The CCSSI has a destructive impact on the Ninth and Tenth amendments of the Constitution broadly invading many protected freedoms and state sovereignty.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an affront to American principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution, the Louisiana Constitution and other applicable laws.
Because of the reasons herein stated, we citizens called on all Legislature but it failed us, and so we will call on them this session to stop the implementation completely of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, including the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC Assessments, and to immediately withdraw Louisiana from any all agreements thereto related; and
We citizens called on the Legislature but it failed us, with the exception of HB1076 (now Act 837) and so we will call on them this session to pass laws to dismantle and purge any and all statewide longitudinal databases containing any information that was collected in violation of law without knowledge and proper consent of parents and to close any loopholes that would allow access or sharing of said information.
We citizens called on the Legislature but it failed us, and so we will call on them this session to pass laws to address the symptoms of this Common Core State Standards Initiative and to prevent any variation of a collectivist educational scheme in any way similar to that comprising the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the future and to prevent the effective cession of any state sovereignty in any way in the future, particularly as to education.
As a parent and citizen of this state, I vow not to support any candidate who will not openly oppose the Common Core State Standards Initiative and who fails to take meaningful action to stop it.