NGA Chair Gov. Mary Fallin Target of Campaign to End Common Core

Gov-Fallin-1American Principles Project, Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, Home School Legal Defense Association and several other grassroots conservative groups launched a campaign urging the Chair of the National Governors Association, Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK), to end the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  The NGA, along with the Council of Chief State School Officers, are co-owners of the copyright to the Common Core.

Fallin is facing a Common Core repeal bill that has passed both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature with an amended version that will need to be considered.  Governor Fallin has indicated that she is keeping an open mind about the bill, but it would put her in a strange position being chair of the NGA.

The letter has been signed by some of the leading figures in the fight to stop the Common Core State Standards such as Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins of American Principles Project, Phyllis Schlafly the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, Jamie Gass and Jim Stergois of the Pioneer Institute, syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute, Michael Farris of  and Stacy Mott the Founder and President of Smart Girl Politics Action.

The letter to Fallin states in part:

NGA’s activities, including its ownership, development and propagation of the Common Core,have caused profound harm to our constitutional structure.  NGA has enabled corporations and other private interests to drive education policy and, concomitantly, compromised the power of parents.  It has enlisted the power of the federal government to bring about these changes and, in so doing, has weakened the power of states to defend the authority and rights of parents and other citizens.

More specifically, NGA has assisted the federal government in employing a strategy against the states that has divided and conquered the state checks and balances that are intended to guard against federal overreach.  It has presided over the development of math standards that lock children into a defective education, one that does not prepare children for studies in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) or for admission to competitive public and private universities.  It has presided over the development of English standards that fail to prepare children for authentic college work in the humanities and that weaken the formation of strong citizen-leaders and individuals of substance who are fully capable of exercising their liberties.

The pushback against the Common Core rests on parents’ love for their children and their defense of the Constitution that protects their rights to form their children and direct their education.  It is a movement based on truth, and on highly informed citizens –citizens who follow in the footsteps of the Founders.  It is a movement that continues to grow and which will be victorious.

The letter is being sent along with a 13-page statement addressing the unconstitutionality of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Emmett McGroarty, Director of APP Education, with American Principles Project in a released statement said, “The American people know that government has drifted away from them and no longer responds to their will,” said APP Education Director Emmett McGroarty. “This letter details how state government has been turned into the tool of the federal executive branch, rather than responding to the will of the people.”

McGroarty continued, “Governor Fallin, though, has a wonderful opportunity to stand up for the American people and the Constitution that is intended to protect their rights, including their right to have a say in what their children learn and who teaches it to them.”

Parents, teachers and community members are encouraged to add their names to the letter here.

Cross-posted from Caffeinated Thoughts.

Common Core Conference at the University of Notre Dame

notre-dame-golden-domeFrom, this will be a great conference to be held next month at Notre Dame University in Indiana.

The Changing Role of Education in America: Consequences of the Common Core

University of Notre Dame
September 9, 2013

You can register online here.

Please join us for a one-day conference at the Notre Dame Conference Center in South Bend, Indiana, as leading experts from across the country discuss the changing landscape of the American education system and the implications of the new Common Core Standards.

Sponsored by: American Principles Project, Heartland Institute, Pioneer Institute

Conference Program:

9:00 -9:20 Welcome and Opening Remarks
Professor Gerard V. Bradley, Notre Dame Law School

9:20-10:00 History of Education in America
Dr. Williamson M. Evers, Hoover Institute at Stanford University

Purpose of Education in American Society
Professor Patrick Deneen, University of Notre Dame

10:10-10:30 Coffee Break

10:45-11:45 Panel on Federalism, Privacy and Common Core
Joy Pullman, Heartland Institute; Emmett McGroarty, J.D., APP; Jane Robbins, J.D., APP; Dr. Williamson M. Evers, Hoover Institute at Stanford University

11:45-12:15 Common Core Development
Prof. James Milgram, Stanford University; Prof. Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas; Dr. Megan Koschnick

12:15-1:30 Lunch
Address by Andrew Kern, President of CiRCE Institute

1:30-2:45 Mathematics
Prof. James Milgram, University of Stanford; Ze’ev Wurman, Hoover Institute; Heather Crossin, Parent

2:45-3:00 Coffee Break

3:00-4:15 English Language Arts
Prof. Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas; Prof. Terrence Moore, Hillsdale College; Professor Patrick Deneen, Notre Dame University; Erin Tuttle, Parent

4:15-5:15 Religious Schools, Private Schools, Home School Families
William Estrada, JD, Home School Legal Defense Association; Jamie Gass, Pioneer Institute; Prof. Terrence Moore, Hillsdale College;
5:15-5:30 Closing Remarks

The Changing Role of Education in America: Consequences of the Common Core

Federalism vs. Centralization of Educational Standards and Testing: Panelists will discuss the role of the federal government versus that of the state and local community in educating citizens. They will explore the shifting purpose of the education system to meet the needs of the workforce at the expense of the needs of the citizen and society.

State-Led Effort vs. Foundations and Special-Interest Groups: Panelists involved in the
development of the Common Core Standards will discuss the credentials of those who created the Standards, the lack of state involvement, and the influence of private foundations and special-interest groups.

International Benchmarking and American Competitiveness: Panelists will analyze the lack of international benchmarking of the Standards, and explain why it will place American students years behind their international counterparts in mathematics and English and damage economic competitiveness.

You can register online here.

Photo credit: Dan Dzurisin via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

Speaking Out on the Common Core in Wyoming

state-flag-wyomingThere will be two round table events next week in Wyoming focused on the Common Core State Standards.

Both events feature:

The two sessions are:

Tuesday, August 20th – 6:00p – 8:00p (Registration opens at 5:30p)

Parkway Plaza Hotel & Convention Center (123 West E St., Casper, WY) – Mardi Gras/Natrona Room)

Moderated by State Representative Tom Reeder (R-Casper)

Wednesday, August 21st – 6:00p – 8:00p (Registration opens at 5:30p)

Little America Hotel & Resort (2800 W. Lincolnway, Cheyenne, WY) – Teton Room

Moderated by Amy Edwards

If you would like to pre-register call Mandy Ludtke at (307) 632-7020.

These events are sponsored by State Representative Tom Reeder and Wyoming Liberty Group.

Common Core Advocates Refuse to Debate in Colorado

Parent Led Reform is hosting a Common Core Community Forum on Monday, August 12th from 7:30p-9p (MDT) in Centennial, CO.  Their intent was to have both sides of the issue presented, but we received word today that those who had previously committed to advocated for the Common Core have pulled out.  Seven organizations that advocate for the Common Core were invited to send representation with expenses paid, but they declined.

What are they afraid of?

If you live in Colorado, come learn what Common Core supporters are afraid of:

Common Core Community Forum

Monday, August 12th 7:30p – 9:00p (MST)

Koelbel Library (5955 S. Holly St., Centennial, CO)

Colorado Board of Education Chair Paul Lundeen was originally going to moderate, but now John Ransom from Town Hall Finance will moderate instead out of respect for Mr. Lundeen.

The panelists include: Shane Vander Hart (American Principles Project, Truth In American Education), Joy Pullmann (Heartland Institute), Jamie Gass (Pioneer Institute), and Treon Goossen (Colorado State Coordinator for

General admission for the event is $10.00, you can register here.

Reclaiming Education Freedom: The Fight to Stop Common Core National Standards and Tests

The Heritage Foundation and Claire Boothe Luce Foundation had a great event for conservative women discussing the Common Core. I caught about the last 20 minutes of it. Lindsey Burke of Heritage spoke first, then Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute gave her remarks. They ended with a brief Q&A session. The video is now available which you can watch below.


Why Conservatives Object to the Common Core

Common Core State Standards

Kathleen Porter-Magee & Sol Stern ask in the subheading of their National Review article defending the Common Core State Standards ask “why are prominent conservatives criticizing a set of rigorous educational standards?”

There are others who have provided direct rebuttals.  I want to answer their primary question.  While I’m not a “prominent conservative,”  I am a conservative who has written extensively about the Common Core.

There are six primary reasons really…

  1. There is nothing conservative about centralizing education around a set of common standards.
  2. Conservatives object to the process in which they were adopted which allowed for little to no public debate, cut out the legislative process, and was introduced via the backdoor which cut out “We the People.”
  3. While perhaps the intent was not to have hyper-federal involvement, but the fact remains it does which violates the constitution and Federal law.
  4. Conservatives typically don’t approve of student privacy being violated by data mining which will be fostered through the assessment consortiums.
  5. They simply are not rigorous, they are mediocre and the embrace of the Common Core represents a collective race to the middle.
  6. They are costly and states adopted the Common Core and entered into assessment consortium without having a handle on the costs.  Is this good fiscal discipline?

Read the rest at Caffeinated Thoughts.

Data Tracking and the Common Core

One of the things that isn’t being discussed enough, but is getting attention is how data tracking of students is connected to the Common Core. 

It isn’t just assessment scores.  Joy Pullman pointed that out in her article last week on data mining:

The department is also funding and mandating databases that could expand each kid’s academic records into a comprehensive personal record, including “health-care history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, and religious affiliation,”according to a 2012 Pioneer Institute report and the National Center for Educational Statistics. Under agreements every state signed to get 2009 stimulus funds, they must share students’ academic data with the federal government.

As Utah blogger Christel Swasey has documented, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) used to protect highly personal psychological and biological information, including items mentioned above and,according to the DOE, “fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.”

Under the DOE’s 2011 FERPA reinterpretation, however, any local, state, or federal agency may designate any individual or organization as an “educational representative” who can access such data—as long as the agency says this access is necessary to study or evaluate a program. These can include school volunteers and companies. A lawsuit against the regulations is pending.

Missouri Education Watchdog points out how this is tied to the Common Core.

They introduce a video from eScholar that makes the whole process seem benign.

  Gretchen Logue then writes:

eScholar is a company funded by government money to gather over 3000 data points on your child and teachers so your child doesn’t get “off track”.  Since when did the government start tracking human behavior and making the determination of what is “off track” and what is a child’s “greatest potential”?  Isn’t that up to the child and his/her parents?

Can anyone answer this question?  How can eScholar offer a “personalized track” for “Bobby” when “Bobby” is stuck in a “common” educational system?

Watch the CEO’s speech at the White House on his view of data and why he believes it is important to track individual data on each student.  Again, it sounds noble, innocent and non-threatening.  A student’s future is dependent on the data.  At 9:25 he mentions how  Common Core ties this all together.  A studentmust determine if his/her goals are  successfully tied into a common skill set.

What do you think would happen and what could go wrong if “Bobby’s” strongest skills and talents did not align with the Common Core skill set prescribed by SBAC or PARCC?

Read the whole article from Missouri Education Watchdog, it is a must-read.

Just remember this is something that is done without our permission and as one family was told on Friday it is something that we can not opt out of.

Put Down the Common Core Kool-Aid

kool-aidJoy Pullman has to be one of my favorite people who writes about the Common Core.  I didn’t realize that she was an Indiana resident until today.  She recently wrote this op/ed for one of her hometown newspapers, The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette

The first couple paragraphs of her piece articulates the skepticism we should have when somebody proposes a silver bullet answer to our public education woes.

As soon as someone tells you something will save education, hide your children, hide your wife and check your back pocket.

Because education deals with children and the American dream, it’s a land of magical thinking. The latest unproven fad is called Common Core.

No field testing… no field testing… no field testing… that should have been enough to halt the brakes on this madness before it was implemented pretty much everywhere except for some states who had Governors that didn’t join in the group collective, who were willing to ask questions and actually exercise some independent thought.

Fancy that, Governors, thinking for themselves instead of buying into an empty promise with fancy talking points.

Pullman outlines some of those arguments:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has whipped conservatives into agreement: It “will prepare our students for success in college and their careers,” he wrote. It will help close the achievement gap between rich and poor children, supporters insist.

Its tests will “redeem assessment in the hearts and minds of teachers and parents,” said David Coleman, one of the Core’s four chief writers.

Next they’ll be telling us it multiplies bread and walks on water.

Well before anyone believes the Common Core to be the savior of education they would have considered the cost right?

Wrong.  Pullman cites Rick Hess’s complaint about the Common Core.

Rick Hess, a think tanker in touch with state superintendents, lawmakers and school leaders across the country, called their “eerie confidence” in something no one has tested the “Common Core Kool-Aid.”

Remember the last time lawmakers prophesied an education miracle? It was called No Child Left Behind.

All that accomplished was to increase federal education spending 64 percent, occupy schools with 6,680,334 more hours of paperwork, and infuriate teachers and parents by its ridiculous pretense that a law can phantasmagorically eradicate refusal to learn, poor parenting, children’s different intellectual abilities and so forth.

It’s time to put down the Common Core Kool-Aid, back away and look at these standards and the process that led to their implementation in a new light.

Photo Credit: Earl McGehee via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

Gates, Not the States, Driving Education Policy?

Further evidence that the Common Core is special-interest driven and led, not state-led.  Joy Pullman writing for the Heartland Institute’s School Reform News pointed out how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is driving education policy through its funding.  Some excerpts:

A recent example was a January legislative hearing on the Common Core, an initiative defining K-12 tests and curriculum requirements in 46 states. Gates has spent $173 million to develop the Core and corresponding curriculum, and to get lawmakers and business leaders to support it. Twenty-six of the 32 people who testified against a bill to withdraw Indiana from the Core are members of organizations the Gates Foundation funds.

“The Gates Foundation completely orchestrated the Common Core,” but when states actually implement the Core its will likely add to Gates’ mixed policy track record, said Jay Greene, who runs the University of Arkansas’ department of education reform.

There is concern about the lack of  transparency in the process.

Reckhow labels big education foundations a “shadow bureaucracy,” whose incubation of education initiatives cloaks the process from ordinary citizens. This is what bothers citizen activist Alisa Ellis.

Gates bankrolled the development of the Common Core through the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), but because all three are nonprofits their policymaking happens in private meetings, the Utah mom noted. Citizens can’t find out who attends or makes decisions, or what information they take into account when doing so, as they can for state boards of education and legislatures.

Gates and federal funding make up the majority of CCSSO’s income, according to its two most recent financial statements.

They have a big reach…

The foundation has directly sponsored state departments of education and myriad groups who aim to influence policymakers. In 2012, it gave $1.9 million to the Kentucky Department of Education “to examine the use of high-quality curriculum to accelerate common core state standards implementation.” The Pennsylvania Business Roundtable got $257,391 “to educate Pennsylvania opinion leaders, policymakers, the media, and the public on Common Core State Standards and the Common State Assessment.” The Foundation for Excellence in Education received $151,068 “to complete a statewide communications campaign in Florida … on why there is a drop in school grades, why it is temporary, and how raising the bar on education standards leads to greater student success.”

For more examples of Gates’ influence on one education policy, view this spreadsheet of all its grants related to the Common Core, which include development, money for states to put it in place, and messaging to target groups like politicians, teachers, and business leaders.

Nearly everyone interviewed for this article agreed Bill and Melinda Gates and their foundation’s employees are, as Greene put it, “good people trying to do good things.” But that does not quell their concerns.

I don’t think many people will quibble the good intentions of these foundations, but that they subvert the basic democratic processes designed to help encourage liberty and equality is what we should be concerned about,” Thomas said. (emphasis mine)

Money quote above.  Be sure to read the whole article and share it.

Pending Amendment to Indiana SB 193 Requires Public Input on Common Core

Joy Pullman writing for the Heartland Institute’s School Reform News reported that Senate Bill 193 in Indiana has “morphed” into a bipartisan bid to have Indiana reconsider the Common Core allowing more public input.

When 46 states signed the initiative in 2010, few held public hearings. Kentucky even agreed to adopt the requirements for what K-12 kids should know in English and math before they were published. Even now, nearly three years later, legislators, teachers, parents, and the general public routinely report in interviews and opinion polls they’ve never heard of the Core.

Lack of public input is a central concern of state Sen. Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis), Senate Bill 193’s original author….

…A Senate Education Committee vote on SB 193 was scheduled for Jan. 23, but has been moved back several times and now is slated for Feb. 13. The delays reflect a pending amendment to the bill “to make it more acceptable to a greater number of members on the committee,” said Education Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn).

Once senators pin down the amendment, the bill will likely put the Common Core on hold in Indiana, Kruse said. That means it would stay in place for kindergarten and first grade, where the state has already phased it in. Between the bill becoming law and the end of 2013, it would have the state department of education hold one public hearing in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts. The bill would also require the governor’s budget office to analyze the Core’s costs to the state over the next five years. After that, the bill may require the Education Roundtable, a board under the governor’s purview, and state board of education to publicly reconsider their 2010 decision.

“More people are aware of [Common Core] now than the first time around,” Kruse told School Reform News. “So even though groups may try to approve it again, we’ll have more people involved in the decision.”

Newly elected state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat and former teachers union president, has signaled her support for SB 193 based on concerns she’s heard from teachers, administrators, and parents around the state, said Indiana Department of Education spokesman David Galvin.

Read the rest.