Gates-Funded Duo Pitches Common Core Misinformation


Curt Clawson

Below is a guest article written submitted by Judi Caler.  Her post complements the one I wrote on Wednesday.

Doing What They’re Paid To Do: Gates-funded Duo Pitches Common Core Misinformation

By Judi Caler

It is no surprise that the latest attempt by pro-Common Core advocates to keep Republican candidates from speaking out against Common Core has come from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s damage-control team, Michael Brickman and Michael Petrilli. In a recent article posted on entitled “Opposing Common Core: A Losing Issue, Even in GOP Primaries,” they claim that election results nationwide largely prove that “Republican candidates cannot win over conservative voters by bashing Common Core.”

Tell that to vocal Common Core opponent and political outsider Curt Clawson who handily won the Republican nomination in Florida’s 19th Congressional District against Lizbeth Benacquisto, the choice of GOP establishment and Common Core proponent Jeb Bush! And tell that to Christopher Judy and Curt Nisly who made their rivals’ refusal to end Common Core in Indiana a central issue and won the Republican nominations for Indiana House seats after trouncing entrenched incumbents.

And in Ohio, Brickman and Petrilli got their facts wrong in labeling defeated contender Kelly Kohls as a candidate from “Ohioans against Common Core” (OACC); she was not. They couldn’t even spell Kelly’s first or last name correctly. In fact, according to OACC founder Heidi Huber, “Common Core opponents achieved a huge victory for Tom Brinkman in the 27th Ohio House District against incumbent Peter Stautberg where Common Core was the number one issue. The tipping point in Brinkman’s winning the Republic nomination was the use of hundreds of “GO Brinkman –STOP Common Core” signs throughout the district. That stuck with voters; it was the first time in 18 years that a Republican incumbent had been defeated in a primary. At least three other Ohio House Republican candidates in Districts #54, #79 and #85 won their primaries with a heavy focus on and commitment to repealing Common Core.”

The Brickman and Petrilli article, just like the recent McLaughlin poll, wasn’t about information—it was about trying to silence candidates so they won’t create even more doubts about Common Core in voters’ minds than they already have. McLaughlin’s poll featured questions worded to generate responses in agreement with the positions of paid sponsors (among them the Gates Foundation) and selective reporting of poll results.

Brickman and Petrilli repeat the big lie that Common Core is “state-led,” repeat the misleading findings of the McLaughlin poll, and claim that more conservative Republican primary voters would vote for a candidate who supports Common Core over a candidate who fights against it.

Since Brickman and Petrilli are likely doing what they are being paid to do, it is incumbent upon the media to ferret out truth from propaganda, especially when they find a Gates Foundation-supported organization advising Republicans to be silent on Common Core in order to win elections!

Judi Caler is a member of Common Core Concerns of Nevada County, CA and holds a California teaching credential.

Indiana Common Core Repeal Bill Heads to Governor Pence

The Indiana Senate voted 35-13 today to concur with the House version of SB 91, Indiana’s Common Core Repeal bill, so the bill will head to Governor Mike Pence (R-IN).  Pence has expressed support for Hoosiers creating their own standards so it is likely he will sign the bill.

Chalkbeat Indiana points out that the original author of the bill, State Senator Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis) is not happy with some of the language in the bill:

The bill’s original author, Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, said he objected to language in the bill referencing Indiana’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Education releasing the state from some of the sanctions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. That waiver required Indiana to adopt “college and career ready” standards. It did not require Common Core but Indiana, at the time, said it would use Common Core.

Schneider said he opposed the federal education department’s practice of requiring states to change education policy to receive waivers or qualify for grants. Indiana would be better off to decline federal grants than agree to change its education system, he said.

“In order to get substantial amounts of federal dollars states have to adopt college and career ready standards or Common Core,” Schneider said.

Schneider said he objected to the federal government “directing us into adopting policies on a statewide level or we don’t get the money,” he said.

The bill’s only reference to the federal government is a section that permits the Indiana State Board of Education to renew its NCLB wavier.

“I think that’s unnecessary in this bill,” Schneider said.

I concur with Senator Schneider, it is unnecessary.  It also cedes sovereignty over to the Federal government, something no state should ever do whether it is for a competitive grant or conditional waiver.

Here is some good news in the standards rewrite front.  One of our friends will be in the process of evaluating the new standards.  I was forwarded an email from Chris Crabtree, Director of External Operations for Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who said they’ve reached out to Dr. Sandra Stotsky to help with their standards.

From: Chris Crabtree
Date: Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 9:52 PM
Subject: Gov. Pence asks Dr. Sandra Stotsky to assist in evaluation of Indiana’s academic standards


I am writing to let you know that Governor Pence contacted Dr. Sandra Stotsky today and she has agreed assist in the evaluation of Indiana’s academic standards. Her work in Indiana, Massachusetts and elsewhere is well documented. She is one of several national experts who are also participating as independent evaluators, and we look forward to their recommendations.

Parents, teachers and administrators have already submitted more than 1000 comments on the development of Indiana’s academic standards, and there is much work still to be done. The Governor is grateful that so many of you have taken an interest in ensuring that our students have the benefit of strong standards that will prepare them for success in careers, college and life.

Work to eliminate duplication and ensure consistency and transition between grades is ongoing and will continue to be informed by the public comments received online through March 12 at 11 p.m.

Thank you again for your interest in Indiana’s students and in making sure they have an education that equips them to succeed.


If Indiana’s ELA standards can mirror what she helped to do in Massachusetts that will be a major improvement.

Indiana House Votes to Repeal Common Core


The Indiana House passed SB 91 on a 67 to 26 vote.  SB 91 authored by State Senators Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis) and Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) in effect repeals the Common Core State Standards.

Here is the bill digest:

Adds a definition of "college and career readiness". Provides that before July 1, 2014, the state board of education (state board) shall adopt Indiana college and career readiness educational standards. Provides that during the 2015-2016 school year, the state board shall authorize the department to administer either the ISTEP assessment or a comparable assessment program that is aligned with the educational standards. Provides that before the state board may authorize a new assessment program, the state board shall submit the proposed assessment program to the budget committee for review. Makes technical and conforming amendments.

Even with this new bill we have to wonder how much Indiana is surrendering control over their standards.

SB 91 originally stated that the new Indiana standards must “comply with federal standards to receive a flexibility waiver under 20 U.S.C. 7861.” Proponents believe that “college and career ready standards” means adopting Common Core or something practically identical to the Common Core State Standards in order to stay within compliance of the state’s conditional waiver.

The bill also says the standards must “Prepare Indiana students for college and career success,  including the proper preparation for nationally recognized college entrance examinations such as the ACT and SAT.”  While that seems good, ACT and SAT have said their tests will be aligned to the Common Core.

So I’m leery about the outcome, and as I wrote earlier today, the review process and the new draft standards do not look promising.  So I don’t want to throw a wet blanket on what should be seen as a great victory, but I also want to make sure that the wool is not pulled over our eyes.

I certainly don’t believe this is the intent of the Indiana legislators who voted for this bill.  We’ll have to wait to see what the final product ends up being.  It would have been my preference that they would have gone back to the previous standards.

SB 91 passed the Indiana Senate on 2/4/14, and since it has been amended it will go back to the Senate for their approval before heading to Governor Mike Pence’s desk.

Photo credit: Massimo Catarinella (CC-BY-SA 2.5)

Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s History of Backing Poor Education Policy

Indiana Chamber of CommerceThe Indiana Chamber of Commerce promotes itself as a steward for the people and businesses of Indiana. No doubt it has done a lot of good for the state. But its support of the Common Core, a new national set of K-12 academic standards and tests in math and English, isn’t doing Indiana any favors.

The Chamber has a poor track record on education issues. From A Nation at Risk in 1986, through Goals 2000 and No Child Left Behind (NCLB), to today’s Common Core, it has consistently advocated for programs that increase federal control of education. Each time, it claimed these programs would create “higher standards” and better student assessments, which would increase graduation rates and improve “college and career readiness.” Unfortunately, its voyages in education always end with student achievement further behind, with the bar being lowered, decreasing graduation rates, and students less prepared for college and careers.

Indiana legislators are debating a bill to revise the Common Core Standards and the new federally funded, mandatory student test called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). If this bill does not pass, the Common Core will require Indiana to continue down the same road as before, but this time we will have national standards and testing without local control or ownership of the process. The Common Core/PARCC scheme will increase testing, data collection, and spending, and all of this will be controlled by groups outside the state of Indiana.

Same Game, Different Name

Currently, the Chamber is following its normal pattern of support for expensive, national standards-based reform by lobbying against bills to reconsider Indiana’s Common Core participation. In a recent letter to the editor of the Indianapolis Star, Margaret Spellings, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and architect of NCLB, implored Hoosiers to continue with Common Core. The Indiana Chamber argued likewise in a similar letter. It’s all sounding very familiar.

This lobbying effort is reminiscent of the Chamber’s previous stubborn support for NCLB in the face of its failure. In 2007, after several years of NCLB leading to disaster,the Chamber still claimed, “The No Child Left Behind Act is working. This legislation is strengthening America’s public schools by calling for higher standards and accountability to ensure that every single child receives a good education.” While educators advocated junking NCLB, the Indiana Chamber’s then-Director of Education Policy David Holt argued, “There is such fear out there right now (regarding NCLB). Let’s not jump overboard before the ship hits the iceberg.” He was wrong, and NCLB sank, taking student achievement down with it.

Time to Jump Ship
If someone always recommends bad books, I quit taking their advice. Shouldn’t Hoosiers be wary of taking advice on the Common Core from an organization with a track record of education policy failures? This advice becomes even more suspect in light of the Chamber’s grudging admissions about the problems with Common Core. Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar publicly admitted there was a “tradeoff in adopting our standards, which were a bit more rigorous,” but “we are hoping the Common Core would evolve and become better over time.” How long does he want us to wait for this miracle? The uncontested facts are that Indiana’s prior standards were superior to the Common Core, the Common Core is not internationally benchmarked, and it was not field tested. As a matter of quality, it is fatally flawed.

This all leads one to wonder why the Chamber is pushing the Common Core? Is it a heartfelt, but misguided, concern for Indiana students? Or is it the $4.5 million that the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (an initiative of the U.S. Chamber) has received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Common Core’s chief private funder?

Indiana legislators should not let the Chamber of Commerce be the captain of yet another doomed voyage in education on the USS Common Core. Indiana should put on its life vest and jump ship.

Originally posted at School Reform News.

Mike Pence Needs to Lead Common Core Opposition, Not Sit on the Sidelines

Governor Pence greeting those who oppose SB 193Hoosiers Against Common Core founders, Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle, were joined Thursday by 75 representatives from 54 independent organizations from across the state of Indiana. They delivered a letter to Governor Mike Pence’s office that had been signed by over 900 Hoosiers during the prior five days.  The letter called on Governor Mike Pence to support SB 193 and for him to provide leadership in opposing the Common Core.

Indiana Senate Bill 193 would require public hearings and a cost analysis to be completed before the Common Core is put into place in all grades.  Currently the standards have only been implemented in Kindergarten and First Grade.

Heather Crossin made the following remarks on Thursday prior to delivering the letter:

“We are coming together in a unified way today to express the numerous concerns Hoosier parents, teachers, and taxpayers continue to have about Indiana’s adoption of the Common Core.

“As you know, SB193, which calls for a public review of Indiana’s adoption Common Core and a cost analysis of implementation, passed the Indiana Senate 38-11. At this time, the prospects of SB193 obtaining a hearing in the House remain uncertain. However, one thing is certain – regardless of what happens to the legislation, much will depend upon the leadership of Governor Pence.

“It is for this reason that we are releasing a letter, which has been given to him, on behalf of 55 independent organizations. It outlines our concerns and respectfully requests that Governor Pence ‘provide the bold leadership needed to return control of Indiana schools back to the state and to parents and teachers, where it belongs.’

“It’s no secret that Governor Pence has long been a believer that education is a state and local function. In fact, just a couple of weeks before the election, when asked by the Indianapolis Star how he would prioritize social issues, Governor Pence responded: “I hope Hoosiers look at my record and see I have been a consistent independent conservative throughout my years in Congress. My career actually began with battles against leaders of my own party, largely on government spending. I opposed ‘No Child Left Behind.’ I was one of a small number of Republicans to do that because I think education is a state and local function.”

“That said, the message we are conveying to the Governor is that we share his philosophy and his principles of fiscal responsibility and local governance. The breadth of Common Core opposition in Indiana demonstrates our citizens’ concern over the loss of our autonomy over education. We trust that Governor Pence will put his
principles into action and help us protect that autonomy. When we decided to write this letter together, we envisioned that it would be submitted on behalf of the many organizations opposed to the Common Core.

“However, once word got out, individuals began clamoring to sign as well. So last Friday, we made it available for individuals to submit their names. In just five short days, over 860 individuals signed on to the letter. We will continue to collect and submit additional names as they roll in.

“In conclusion, I’d like to add that this letter in no way represents all of the groups who have expressed opposition to the Common Core. Many others, such the Indiana Policy Review, Americans for Prosperity, Advance America, Campaign for Liberty, the Indiana Association of Home Educators, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and a number of teacher networks, are continuing to call in their own ways for a rejection of
Common Core.”

After reading the letter, Erin Tuttle concluded with the following:

“This legislation represents a struggle between the voice of the people, representing states’ rights which ultimately protect that close relationship that needs to exist – that has to exist- between a child’s family and those in charge of his education and therefore his future, against the powers of corporations and federal agencies which at any opportunity seize and assume those duties and powers to which they have no constitutional right!

“The people of Indiana need to know that their will-the will of the people- will not be drowned out by the influence and the money that our opponents have used against SB193. The kind of power that can buy you $100,000 worth of commercials used to push a corporate agenda on an unwilling public.

We are confident that Indiana has selected the right Governor, Mike Pence, who will hear and honor the voices of his constituents- his wisdom allows him to see that at the end of the day, when the common core agenda fails, the publishing companies, the testing companies, the professional development companies they can walk away, their pockets lined with our tax payers dollars. But our children are forever impacted by the educational policies decided today in this house, the people’s house.”

Governor Pence did come out to greet the group, but his office thus far has not provided a formal statement. 

Common Core Foes Go Knocking on Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s Door

indiana-state-capitolAt 9:30am (EST) this morning at the Indiana State Capitol Common Core opponents are going to be delivering a letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence.  It reads:

We, the undersigned, representing diverse grassroots organizations from across the state of Indiana, oppose the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and membership in the Partnership for Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC).  We further oppose participation in all consortia and agreements, including PARCC and the Common Core State Standards Initiative, that cede any measure of Indiana’s governance of its standards and testing.

We agree that academic standards should be set high with assessments that adequately assess student growth and school performance. We do not oppose use of a nationally normed-referenced test, chosen by the school and reflective of the school’s curriculum . In order to retain choice in our private and public schools, we believe there should be a variety of approved tests available, not one.

The Common Core is not the instrument to raise student achievement in Indiana.  Its centrally controlled standards lack both field testing and international benchmarking. No evidence can be shown that Common Core will lead to student gains or an improvement in Indiana. Furthermore, the Common Core subjects all students to a set of standards which are pedagogically laced with unproven methods and techniques, and which subvert independence in curriculum choice.

Establishing national standards and enforcing them with a high-stakes, federally funded test will mandate a national curriculum. No constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula exists. We agree that this is a violation of federal law.

We adamantly oppose the adoption of standards that are copyrighted and owned by an organization outside our state that has the sole authority to change or delete standards. We fear the influence of special interest groups and the heavy hand of the federal government over our remaining state standards.

We disagree with the content, development, governance and requirements of the PARCC testing. Participation in this federally funded testing consortium impedes our state’s ability to develop and implement assessments suited to the expectations of students in our state.

The technical requirements of administering the PARCC test will drain our financial resources and place an unfunded mandate on school districts. Alarming figures are surfacing about the cost of Common Core implementation. It is fiscally irresponsible for Indiana to proceed without a cost analysis.

Finally, the testing consortium will dictate test cut scores, definitions of special learners, test accommodations, testing dates, content, test scoring procedures and security provisions. Indiana needs to be the sole voice in these decisions, not one of many states.

Governor Pence, you were elected, in part, because you share the principles of fiscal responsibility and local governance.  In furtherance of those principles, we call on you to publicly voice support for SB193. We further call on you to appoint individuals to the Indiana State Board of Education, who share this philosophy; we note that the current members of the Board, who were appointed under the guidance of a state superintendent soundly rejected by the voters, do not share those principles.

We ask that you provide the bold leadership that is needed to return control of Indiana’s schools back to the state and to parents, where it belongs.

From the Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel:

By a 38-11 vote, the Indiana Senate last month passed a bill that would delay implementation so Hoosier lawmakers, parents and others would have more time to study Common Core’s contents, impact and costs. The letter to be delivered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday on the third floor of the state Capitol asks Pence to push for similar legislation in the House, said Judy Ross, who is active in Fort Wayne 9-12, one of several tea party-affiliated groups opposed to Common Core.

Ross said 10 groups representing 5,000 members have formed the Northern Indiana Citizens Coalition to oppose Common Core, and similar coalitions have been formed in central and southern Indiana as well. Ross and many other conservatives question the imposition of a national curriculum and the resulting loss of state and local control.

House Education Committee Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, has opposed taking decisions on school standards from the state Board of Education and has been reluctant to allow a vote on the Senate bill, Ross said.

We’ll be watching to see how Governor Pence responds.

Photo Credit: Holley St. Germain via Flickr (CC-By-NC-SA 2.0)

Is the Indiana Public Not Capable of Providing Input for Standards?

Bob Behning

I read Joy Pullman’s story at Heartlander Magazine about Indiana’s Common Core bill being bottlenecked in the Indiana House Education Committee.  Something State Representative Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), the House Education Committee Chair, is quoted as saying made my jaw drop:

Indiana’s bid to pause national education standards is bottlenecked in the House Education Committee, where Chairman Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says no constituent or colleague concerns have changed his mind about refusing to hear the bill.

“I’m not excited about hearing [the bill,] but if I did it wouldn’t look like it does now,” Behning said.

By a bipartisan, 38-11 vote, the Indiana Senate passed Senate Bill 193 to hold public hearings in every congressional district on Common Core, national requirements for what K-12 students must know in math and English, and to study how much new tests, textbooks, and teacher training because of it would cost taxpayers.

“We’ve never ever gone to that level of public input,” Behning said of the bill. “Frankly, most of the time the public would not have a very easy time even understanding what standards are, let alone trying to help form them.” (emphasis mine)

Say what?

On his website he says that he is “always glad to hear the views of citizens (he) represents.”  Well on everything except educational standards anyway.  With those you’re too much of a simpleton to help evidently.  Does he even realize how arrogant that sounds?

Apparently he thinks the same of his fellow legislators if he won’t allow the bill to be heard.

Indiana Senate Passes Anti-Common Core Bill

indiana-state-house-newThe Indiana Senate passes SB 193, a measure that would put the brakes on Indiana’s implementation of the Common Core, on a 38-11 vote.  If this bill passes the Indiana House and then is signed into law by Governor Mike Pence it will force a level of transparency for the Indiana State Board of Education was lacking last time around.  I wrote last week:

…if passed will mandate that the Common Core State Standards are assessed without limitation.  It will also require that the Indiana State Board of Education have public sessions in every congressional district so that parents can share their concerns and desires about Indiana’s standards and their alignment with the Common Core.   It will require that the SBOE and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction receive advice from subject-area teachers and experts. Basically the bill requires the expertise, transparency, and public discussion that are hallmarks of good governance and  a democratic republic –hallmarks that were completely circumvented when Indiana adopted the Common Core in 2010.

They will also have to have an independent cost analysis done.

After all of this will Indiana still have the Common Core?  Possibly.  This bill doesn’t go as far as I would like.  It would really depend on how open-minded the State Board of Education is, what feedback they receive and the political will of legislators if they don’t like what they see and hear.  Another wildcard is that Governor Pence has the opportunity to appoint six people, I believe, to the Board.  Will he appoint those who believe in federalism and local control or not?

The ball will definitely be in his court and we’ll be watching.