Common Core Collaborators

Photo Credit: J. Sanna (CC-By-2.0)

Richard P. Phelps at the Nonpartisan Education Review provides an excellent resource. They offer five articles that provide a historical, financial and media analyses of the organization that spawned the Common Core State Standards, the two copyright holders, two of the paid proselytizers, and the delivery vehicle, where the reputed Common Core architect, David Coleman, now runs things where Phelps says he earns an annual salary of well over million dollars.

Here are the links to each article:

Turning Education Into What Businesses, Not Children, Need

Education evidently isn't about children anymore as long as companies like Microsoft get what they need.

Education evidently isn’t about children anymore as long as companies like Microsoft get what they need.

The National Governors Association (who owns the Common Core State Standards) and National Conference of State Legislators released their own plan for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

It amazes me that two trade organizations that one would assume would want to protect state interests is interested in ESEA (or what we call No Child Left Behind in its current form) being reauthorized instead of sunset.  Which means they are not interested in protecting the interests of states at all, but instead protecting the interests of educrats in DC who want to implement top-down reform.

In a joint press release they said:

Governors and state legislators say the new act should improve the law’s governance structure to provide states greater authority to align and leverage their early education, K-12 and postsecondary policies to increase educational effectiveness. The law should reinforce the principle that accountability and responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states. It also should support state-led strategies to improve low-performing schools and include the ability to empower teachers and school leaders to prepare all students for success.

Oh they had governors and state legislators vote on this plan?  Fascinating.  You know what would provide a state’s with “greater authority to align and leverage their early education, K-12 and postsecondary policies to increase educational effectiveness” (whatever that means)?  Kill NCLB and end Federal involvement in education.

That isn’t what these groups want however.

“Forty-three states are operating under waivers from No Child Left Behind. While waivers are important tools that provide states with flexibility to innovate and to manage programs, government by waiver is a sign that underlying laws do not work and are in need of reform,” Governor Brian Sandoval (R-NV), chair of the NGA Education and Workforce Committee, said in the joint statement.

The waivers mean the law needs to die, not be reformed.

Then the vice-chair of the NGA Education and Workforce Committee said something peculiar.  “The Elementary and Secondary Education Act will allow states to align our needs through early education to higher education with the needs of our innovative businesses, developing a stronger workforce development pipeline, expanding opportunity for all of our people and ensuring that students are prepared for success in all phases of life,” said Governor Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

There you have it.  They believe education is about the needs of our business and not the needs of our children and their families.  It’s not about teaching kids to be well-educated, well-rounded citizens.  Instead education is to be a pipeline for the workforce.

That’s the shift from classical education to workforce development.

In their plan one of the points they make in “ensuring state-determined accountability” is to make sure that ESEA “(e)nsures that state goals are aligned, where possible, with the state’s workforce development plan and state career and technical education initiatives to ensure that students develop the skills necessary for the state’s current and future workforce needs.”

There was a time when businesses were responsible for paying for their own employee training.  Apparently “governors and state legislators” want this shifted to taxpayers.

I would recommend that if any Governor or State Legislators truly believes in federalism, and are against top-down reforms such as this, they withdraw their membership from these worthless organizations.

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 State Standards Not Nevada’s Creation

By Karen Briske & Christina Leventis

State-led, state-led, no really it was state-led! How many times have “We the People” been told the Common Core State Standards c. 2010 was a state-led process? How many times have “We the People” been told the adoption of the standards were voluntary (which, of course, begs the question why would the federal government need to tell sovereign states they have the right to adopt something they created – but we digress)?

For the past year-and-a-half we, along with many other parents and concerned citizens, have been pondering this state-led initiative suddenly and coincidentally under-taken, voluntarily, by 45 states all at the same time. Why has the federal government and state leaders waved this blood red flag at us? We heard you the first time and we heard you the one thousandth time. We hear you still. We hear you, but we don’t believe you.

Without recreating the full narrative on the development of the standards by the five or six businessmen, under Achieve, commissioned by the NGA and CCSSO (who are heavily funded by the federal government and who currently hold the copyright to CCSS), we are simply going to lay out the chronological order of how our great state of Nevada came to be saddled with the Common Core State Standards c. 2010 that our teachers and parents played no role in:

Dr. Rheault did not have Legislative approval to sign for Nevada. It is doubtful many, if any at all, members of Nevada’s Legislature were even aware of what was at work behind the scenes, in secret, with Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and the individual states at the time of this signing. (See Laurie H. Rogers Education News story on July 14, 2009: (

  • June 25, 2009, Dr. Keith Rheault, introduced the fact that the MOA had been executed on behalf of Nevada. In the minutes from the state board meeting Dr. Rheault states, “The intent of this initiative is to align state standards and assessments.” Rheault also said that he would, “hold town hall meetings in December for public input and appropriate input.” (

Clearly this initiative was well underway and Nevada’s Superintendent and Governor were looking to take advantage of the end-product. We have yet to find minutes from any town hall meetings Dr. Rheault (may or may not have) held, nor have any been offered by the state board in the last four years.

  • November 17, 2009, Dr. Rheault, at the Legislative Committee on Education meeting, regarding the adoption of the Common Core Standards, said: “Nevada would have to remove some of the standards that are currently in place.” Dr. Rheault also pointed out that adoption of the common core standards was not voluntary for states applying for Race to the Top grants.

Clearly stated here is the fact that the standards that did belong to Nevada would be replaced with the Common Core Standards that came tied to the request for federal money.

  • April 6, 2014, Dale Erquiaga, Superintendent of Public Instruction, for the state of Nevada stated, in a Las Vegas Sun article, “he has yet to hear a substantive argument against the standards from Common Core critics. Most of the criticisms focus on the way the standards were developed — which Nevada could not control — and objectionable lesson plans, workbooks and textbooks that are being used in other states to teach Common Core material, he said.”

Mr. Erquiaga could not have stated it more succinctly – “Nevada could not control (the development of the standards)…

We cannot imagine what more could be said on the subject of state-led. We may stop kicking this horse now – it’s dead.

Common Core as an Election Issue

polling-boothI spoke with a reporter from Education Week yesterday about the status of different pieces of legislation in different states.  While we’re not seeing repeal bills advance like we’d like to see I’m still encouraged by the number of bills and any movement forward.  Just seeing how this issue has advanced since the last legislative session has been encouraging, and seeing how much grassroots activism has grown has been exciting.

We’re playing the long game there.  This is not an issue, unfortunately, that will be won overnight.  Legislators who are not dealing with the Common Core in their states may end up feeling heat at the ballot box.

The reporter asked if that was a big expectation out of the issue that it could actually make an impact in elections?

I don’t know… ask Tony Bennett.

Yes and no.  I will make no grand predictions or promises.  I just know that state legislators and Governors could open themselves up for a challenge.

For instance South Dakota Dennis Daugaard (R) has a primary challenger in former State Representative Lori Hubbell, she has made the Common Core one of her top issues.  In Iowa’s U.S. Senate Republican primary race, Mark Jacobs is taking heat for his support of Common Core, and two of his competitors Sam Clovis and Matt Whitaker have released videos stating their position on it.  Another example is Mississippi Conservatives PAC attacking State Senator Chris McDaniel, who is running for U.S. Senate, about his votes in favor of funding the Common Core State Standards.

I’m sure there are a number of state legislative races that I’ve not even heard about.

I was reminded yesterday about an article that Joy Pullmann wrote for The Federalist – “Common Core: The Biggest Election Issue Washington Prefers to Ignore.”  She wrote about some bad behavior that has occurred among elected officials who have shown total and utter disregard of the electorate:

Before one of these hearings in October, Ohio House Education Chairman Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) told reporters Common Core critics “don’t make sense.” He also called opposition a “conspiracy theory.” In Wisconsin the same month, state Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) told a packed audience their hearings were “crazy” and “a show,” and asked, “What are we doing here?” When Michigan’s legislature reinstated Common Core funding after several hearings, State Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw County) said, “[W]e’ve marginalized, quite frankly, the anti-crowd into a very minute number.” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) has called opponents a “distract[ing]” “fringe movement.”

Then she pointed out the political games being played in Florida:

Florida’s state board of education received 19,000 public comments on Common Core in October. Officials still have not formally reviewed those, and lawmakers including Gov. Rick Scott (R) told constituents the comments were part of lawmakers reconsidering Common Core after dropping its national tests. The day before the comment period closed, however, Florida Deputy K-12 Chancellor Mary Jane Tappen said on a webinar, “We are moving forward with the new more rigorous [Common Core] standards. So, if anyone is hesitating or worried about next year, the timeline has not changed.”

In November, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz said of Common Core: “You can’t dip [the mandates] in milk and hold them over a candle and see the United Nations flag or Barack Obama’s face. They’re not some federal conspiracy.” (The Republican hails from Niceville. Really.) When opponents met with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) to discuss their substantive concerns, he asked them, “Is Common Core going to teach gay sex or communism?” according to three people who attended the meeting.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) seems like she cares more about her chairmanship of the National Governors Association than listening to the people.  Will she pay a price when she runs for reelection?  Will Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana), Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) and former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) pay a price if they decide to run for President?

I was asked by that same reporter if we could gage the success of our movement based on results at the ballot box.  I think that may be hard to gauge.  In the case of the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction race we definitely could see Common Core as an issue and it was one that Tony Bennett lost.  In primary races the Common Core may very well be a wedge issue to help us see daylight in between candidates that are closely aligned.  The quality of candidate is also something to take into consideration.  It is hard to unseat incumbents, but especially if you don’t  have a quality candidate running.  Running on a single issue is not enough, but it a candidate’s position against the Common Core can make a difference for a quality candidate.

Incumbents being challenged whether they are Governors or legislators can make a difference however so this is definitely one front on the war on Common Core.  The message that is sent at the ballot box seems to be the only message some politicians understand.

Photo credit: Ben Sutherland (CC-By-2.0)

Wait! Weren’t We Told the Common Core Was Initiated By “The States”?

We’ve been told by Common Core advocates that they were developed by “the states.”  The Huffington Post on Friday published a defense of the Common Core, and they have a historical overview of the Common Core’s development.  We learned fascinating things about how Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday agonized over how to accomplish his state legislature’s directive to write new standards while “munching on pasta and salad” (a fascinating detail I know).

He then thought aha!  The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers did a presentation on how states could pool resources and create standards.

Wait a minute?  Doesn’t that illustrate that the standards were in fact the brainchild of trade organizations?  Why yes, yes they were (as we’ve been saying for years).

Then David Coleman was interviewed and I found this excerpt to be very interesting:

Government officials meeting in airport hotels weren’t the only ones thinking about these problems. In New York, college buddies David Coleman and Jason Zimba had created — then sold — the Grow Network, a startup that sought to make the results of tests under No Child Left Behind inform teachers’ instruction. Coleman recalled they were shocked to discover in their research that learning standards tended to be so scattershot and cumbersome that it was almost impossible for a teacher to convey them to her students with any depth. Existing learning standards, he felt, were simply a laundry list, a product of school-board politics.

Coleman, now president of the College Board, and Zimba, a former Bennington College physicist, went to work on a seminal paper for the Carnegie Foundation that called for "math and science standards that are fewer, clearer, higher." Directors at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation saw the paper and were impressed by its ideas. They funded some of Coleman’s work — and eventually dropped as much as $75 million on what would become the Common Core.

So now we see how the Gates Foundation pushing the idea of the Common Core by ideas set forth by David Coleman and Jason Zimbia.

“The States” did not initiate the Common Core State Standards special interest groups did.  Common Core advocates need to at the very least be honest about the origin of the Common Core.  The claim that the Common Core originated in “the states” is absolute nonsense.

Alabama State School Board to Vote on Meaningless Resolution

alabama-state-flagThe Alabama State Board of Education is set to vote on a resolution that would rescind a 2009 agreement with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers related to the Common Core State Standards.  The Dothan Eagle reports:

According to a press release by the state, the move would help remove doubts that Alabama’s standards in math and English language arts were in fact a state initiated and a state-led effort. The NGO helped develop Core Standards, but each state adopting the standards was able to put its own spin on their state’s standards.

The original agreement between Alabama and the NGO and CCSSO was intended to acknowledge the development of a set of internationally-benchmarked standards that could be shared across states, according to the state Department of Education.

Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said the state will continue to work with the NGO and CCSSO and will also continue to implement the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, the Alabama version of Common Core.

Board member Betty Peters says she’s not voting in favor because it’s a meaningless resolution.  I agree.  How exactly will this resolution “remove doubts”?  Only a low-information voter would believe that.  Are they repealing the standards?  No.  Are they rewriting the standards?  No.  Are they even having public hearings on these?  No.  What does this do?  They are playing revisionist history hoping that enough people buy it.  So what if they rescind the agreement if they keep the standards?  The resolution doesn’t DO anything.

Dr. Bice says they will continue to implement the “Alabama College and Career Ready Standards” while working with the NGO and CCSSO.  Oh yes, he’s trying to pull an Arizona.  If you call it something different then people won’t think it’s Common Core.  Alabama residents, don’t be fooled, the “Alabama College and Career Ready Standards” for Math and ELA are Common Core.  They were not state-led, they were special interest led and funded.  The Alabama Department of Education may not have a formal MOU with NGA or CCSSO, but will continue to work with them.  What has changed?

Absolutely nothing.

Stopping Common Core is Only the Beginning

As parents have encountered Common Core in their children’s classrooms, then sought information about what it means, we’ve seen a nationwide brushfire of alarm. Parents must know Common Core did not randomly appear. I’m not talking about how it was created and advocated by the Gates Foundation, National Governors Association, and Council of Chief State School Officers, but the entire education edifice they represent that ensures ending Common Core will not prevent Common Core 2.0, just like stopping national education standards in Congress did not preclude Common Core.

Common Core is an outgrowth of the big business-big government consensus that dominates education and, because the mainstream education system reaches virtually every future voting citizen, is increasingly dominating every area of our lives. Name one sector of life or the economy where people are truly free in this country, or truly have the ability to influence decisions others make in our names. I dare you. In my state, a supposedly conservative one, we can’t even drink milk from a neighbor’s cow, which I did my entire childhood with only rosy cheeks to show for it. We can’t choose health insurance providers, can’t defend our property from robbers, can’t opt our children out of the Common Core complex even by homeschooling. Even in public education, we can’t choose our schools, can’t decide what we’ll pay for them, and can’t get supposedly representative school boards to give us the time of day.

Because I am a mother who lives in a hectic home with two toddlers and a tiny one on the way, I entirely understand why parents only tune in to things like this when they enter our backyards. My point is that, as tired as you are, as distracted, and as consumed with your mortgage and braces and packed lunches, this battle did not start upon reaching your door and it will not stop after it seems to have left. Pushing this away from merely your own gates only means it will reach them again, or will reach your children’s with much greater force.

The Gates Foundation has not run out of money, and neither have the others. No bureaucrats or well-credentialed but poorly experienced think tank figureheads will stop pushing nationalized education if parents, at great time and personal expense, manage to rout their glorious Common Core. They will simply prepare sharper initiatives and tighter sanctions for the next round, still using your forcibly extracted money. The Obama administration and our state departments of education already have spent and are spending billions in our tax dollars, or debt for future generations, on this entirely experimental bureaucrat acid trip.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. We and our ancestors have not been vigilant. No wonder we are not free.

Unlike progressives, I believe history has much instruction for us today. It demonstrates without a doubt that central planning causes frustration and misery. And it shows that a small band of brothers and sisters can, by courageously speaking truth to power, end that misery for their children and less attentive neighbors. But whether Common Core fades quickly or slowly, we must always understand it is only one head of the hydra, and we want all of them, stuffed, on our walls. The alternative is leaving an angrier, smarter monster for our kids.

I spoke in a similar vein about this recently at the Heritage Foundation with Lindsey Burke.

The Common Core’s Fundamental Trouble

Answer Sheet had a guest post by the editors of Rethinking Schools whose writers include teachers, parents and researchers.

An excerpt:

For starters, the misnamed “Common Core State Standards” are not state standards. They’re national standards, created by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association (NGA). They were designed, in part, to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum, hence the insertion of the word “state” in the brand name. States were coerced into adopting the Common Core by requirements attached to the federal Race to the Top grants and, later, the No Child Left Behind waivers. (This is one reason many conservative groups opposed to any federal role in education policy oppose the Common Core.)

Written mostly by academics and assessment experts—many with ties to testing companies—the Common Core standards have never been fully implemented and tested in real schools anywhere. Of the 135 members on the official Common Core review panels convened by Achieve Inc., the consulting firm that has directed the Common Core project for the NGA, few were classroom teachers or current administrators. Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.

The standards are tied to assessments that are still in development and that must be given on computers many schools don’t have. So far, there is no research or experience to justify the extravagant claims being made for the ability of these standards to ensure that every child will graduate from high school “college and career ready.” By all accounts, the new Common Core tests will be considerably harder than current state assessments, leading to sharp drops in scores and proficiency rates.

Read the whole thing.

“State-Led” Common Core Primarily Had Only Five Writers

Joy Pullmann at School Reform News wrote an excellent piece that helps to further demonstrate that the Common Core State Standards were not state-led.  While there were many people who served on various committees and work groups all of the feedback was filtered by only five people.

After giving a brief history of what led to the development of the Common Core, Pullman writes:

By July 1, 2009, NGA and CCSSO had formed more committees. There were two work groups, whose dozen members in math and English wrote the standards. These included no teachers, but did include a few professors. Second were two feedback groups, who were supposed to provide research and advice to the writers. Those had 18 members each, who were mostly professors but included one math teacher. Third was the validation committee, announced in September 2009, which acted as the final gate for Common Core. Their job was to “ensure [the standards] are research and evidence-based.”

While many people sat on these various committees, only one in sixty was a classroom teacher,according to teaching coach and blogger Anthony Cody.  All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private. While Linn says six states sent intensive teacher and staff feedback, committee members weren’t sure what effect their advice had, said Mark Bauerlein, an Emory University professor who sat on a feedback committee.

“I have no idea how much influence committee members had on final product. Some of the things I advised made their way into the standards. Some of them didn’t. I’m not sure why or how,” he said. He said those who would know were the standards’ lead writers: David Coleman and Susan Pimentel in English, and Jason Zimba, Phil Daro, and William McCallum in math. Of these, only McCallum had previous experience writing standards.

Several people on the validation committee said the same: They had no idea what happened to their comments once they submitted them. (emphasis mine)

Then we see exactly how transparent the Common Core developers were:

Five of 29 validation committee members refused to sign off on Common Core. The validation committee’s final report does not mention their objections. Its author later told Sandra Stotsky, another committee member, he had never received any written objections from committee facilitators, she said, although she and several others had sent them. He would have included them, he told her.

Be sure to read her full article here.