Common Core is not the answer

Published 11:00 pm Friday, March 15, 2013

This letter is in response to the Op-Ed “Taking Bell’s Comments to Task,” regarding Common Core Standards. As an teacher, I respectfully disagree with this article. I want success for all my students too, but Common Core is not the answer. When Donella Carter and Mark Head stated the standards will allow a more effective curriculum, there’s simply no real data to support that claim. Unless, however, you look at the creators of the standards who have packaged this program and marketed it with millions of dollars to say the research they paid for is effective. If a doctor found a cure for cancer, there would be years of clinical trials and case studies before it was approved for use. With Common Core, there is no evidence they will be effective. Maybe they will, maybe they will not. Regardless, it is ultimately an experiment funded by corporate education reformers such as the Gates Foundation.

Sadly, many well-meaning superintendents and administrators have undergone training to push Common Core as something we absolutely must do for our students to succeed. There has been so much misinformation given to superintendents, I don’t blame them for believing what these “salesmen” are promoting. However, the truth is that superintendents and administrators are only given information from the promoters of Common Core. If a parent searched for a child care center for their child, I have no doubt that every center they visited would only give the positive reasons their child care center is the best. But parents would naturally know to call around and research other opinions. Unfortunately, the multi-million dollar marketing efforts to promote Common Core are only giving superintendents a one-sided view of the standards.

Diane Ravitch is a well-known education expert. She is not a conspiracy theorist. She is not a member of the Tea Party. She has been appointed by both President Bush and Obama for her strong educational expertise, and even supported President Obama in the last election. She spent the past few years researching Common Core on her own. She wanted to weigh all the evidence, the real data. Last week she stated she could not support Common Core because they are “fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation.” Common Core is fruit from a poisonous tree.

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One could also argue that a “level playing field” is not necessarily the best way to enhance creativity and life-long learning. If we compared this “level playing field mindset” to college football, how would that work? If someone told Nick Saban that every college team in the country would have to learn the same football plays, train coaches the same way, so that no matter where they moved, the teams would be the same. What impact would that have on college football?

It is also important to “follow the money.” It is interesting to note that the creators of the Common Core standards have now taken jobs with testing companies which stand to make millions of dollars developing tests based on the standards they created. This is how corporate education reform works. It is about money, not our children.

Sadly, this is what our well-meaning Alabama superintendents and administrators are never told. The training meetings discuss how to promote that “change” is a good thing, and they should tell their teachers that we should accept this Common Core change. As a teacher, I am not afraid of change. I just don’t want to sell-out our students’ education for a program that is untried and unproven.

Superintendents have been misinformed by the origins of the standards. They were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core. Their creation was neither grassroots nor did it emanate from the states.

These are not Alabama standards. If they were, Alabama would own them. We do not. They have a copyright ownership by Washington, D.C.-based trade organizations.

I am so proud of Mrs. Stephanie Bell for going above and beyond the call of duty and considering all the data. Bill Gates can spend millions of dollars promoting his experiment, and he has convinced many superintendents and administrators via his massive marketing that Common Core is effective. But facts are facts. Just as parents would investigate the background of a child care center when selecting a place for their precious children, no matter how good the owners of the child care center said the center would help children, superintendents must do the same for Common Core. Thank goodness Stephanie Bell had the courage to do the same.

Chasidy Miroff