Common Core is bad policy on so many levels there isn’t space or time to list them all here. But suffice to say that it has been a dark and twisted path to the development and birth of these so-called standards and its real goals, the power players and the money behind it. People should do their research and find out for themselves. The reports of it failures come in daily from around the country. But now that they are here, for the time being anyways, let’s talk about a few of the current issues, how they negatively impact children and families, and how to deal with its damage.
Recently, the field test of the “Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium” tests, otherwise known as “SBAC” which is the testing arm of Common Core, had to be delayed a week nationally due to system and software issues. As of this writing today, the pilot tests were reinstated but with reports of endless problems, frustrated teachers, and upset children abounding here in Killingly and I am sure around the country. Not a surprise, what do you expect when you try to institute a one-size fits all national curriculum (disguised as “standards”) on a whole country of moldable children? Top down, central education has been the goal of “Progressives” (from BOTH parties!) for over a hundred years and we are merrily waltzing into it here in CT and many other states. Thankfully, there are many people and legislatures waking up to this danger and pushing back. The State of Indiana is the latest to jettison Common Core and at least 2 dozen other states are actively considering it. Sadly, CT is currently not one of those states.
In regards to SBAC , the best thing you can do as a parent is to opt your children out of this testing now and in the future. I have already done so with my child and will continue to do so. But wait, you are asking, we were told that if we want to opt out our child that we are in violation of the law and were quoted very official looking statutes that say we can’t and that we have no right or say in this or on how our child’s personal data will be collected and used(more on that in a moment). This a half truth being perpetrated on unsuspecting parents who are not knowledgeable about their rights. While it is true that there is no opt out language in the law, there also is no provision to NOT allow opt out and there is no enforcement mechanism to make you agree to this intrusive testing. I attended the public hearing on March 12 in Hartford on HB5078 that would delay implementation of Common Core in CT until at least 2015 so it could be thoroughly reviewed. More than 120 people testified for over 12 hours on this bill and others and the majority were in support of the bill. While that bill will likely never see a vote, because the Democrats who Chair the committee are in total support of Common Core, one of the main highlights of the hearing was very early on in the testimony when CT State Dept of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and Chairman Allan Taylor were pressed on whether parents could opt out their child and what the consequences were If they did. They reluctantly admitted after being asked the question several times, that indeed parents had the right to opt out and there is absolutely no recourse or punishment that can be dished out to parents or students. Which of course we always knew as Commissioner Pryor had already circulated an official talking points memo (which is readily available to the public) instructing school districts in how to respond to opt out requests in a step by step manner attempting to scare and intimidate parents into compliance. The last point on the memo essentially says that in the end if the parent insists, then the child will not be tested. So parents, opt out your kids if you are concerned. It is your right and you should not be intimidated from doing so. What the Chairman also said has equally been known to most of us as well - that there is a 95% testing compliance in place by the Federal government. Meaning if at least 95% of students do not take the test, the State could be penalized by means of less money from the Federal Dept of Education. But wait, we have been told by CC supporters that the Federal government has nothing to do with Common Core. How can that be then?? If we want to get rid of Common Core, one of the best ways to do that is just get 10% of parents to opt their kids out. The money will dry up and it will have to go away. This also proves another truth. That Common Core was never about improving education and doing the right things for kids. It is all about money and control.
And what about the SBAC field test failing and being delayed by a week? Instead of kids getting the locally designed and implemented instruction they need, millions of kids around the country are being used as guinea pigs for unproven, undocumented, and poor standards with an expensive failed test software rollout. And again, if the Federal government is not orchestrating Common Core (at least in the background) and this is a “locally controlled” initiative, then why was this test a national failure? Why was the State of CT or any other State not able to conduct its own testing on its own system? Why is all this linked together?
And that leads to the next point-privacy and data mining. We have seen the abuses of the NSA in unconstitutional spying on US citizens without a warrant growing rampant in the last 10 years especially. Common Core is also mass spying. It seeks to establish tracking and storage of sensitive private data (not just test scores) on you and your family. It will establish this tracking from the time your child starts school and continue all the way though and beyond school and into the workplace. This data will be shared across state lines through uniform systems called “ statewide longitudinal data systems”. Are you comfortable having your child’s history tracked and stored without your knowledge and certainly without your consent? For what purpose? But don’t worry, we are assured that there will be strict limits placed on who can access this data and that the Federal government will not require states to turn over this info to them. Only problem with that is again, it is a half truth at best. You see the Federal Dept of Education Secretary Arnie Duncan unilaterally (read: without Congressional approval) changed what is called FERPA law which is existing Federal statutes that is supposed to severely restrict collection and dissemination of student data to allow much of this sensitive personal data to third party companies! Yes, corporate interests that will use this information to track your child and market services and products to them. Again, follow the money. And since these data systems have to be uniform so the various States can access and share this data, it will also allow a back door entry for the Feds to get this data. Remember, the States will not be required (yet) to hand over this data but the backdoor will be left open for them to walk in. Do you trust a Federal government that is also in charge of NSA spying and an IRS now in charge of your healthcare to safeguard your family’s data?
Common Core seeks to get its hooks into your kids at an early of an age as possible for maximum influence and affect on their development. Why do you think we are seeing a renewed national push for mandatory pre-K? Is putting your kids into the hands of the State at such an early age and away from the nurture of their parents and traditional family really a benefit to your child’s future? No, it is simply a way to mold and shape them to the dark objectives of Common Core’s developers and money people using these highly flawed and suspect standards.
The financial costs of implementing Common Core now and in the future are massive and bound to topple already fragile budgets. Common Core was seeded by the US Department of Education in 2009 with more than $300 MILLION of grant money dangled in front of cash strapped states. They just had to accept the standards to get the money. That funding is scheduled to run out this year and a renewal of this funding will not be sought. Therefore this will become another giant unfunded mandate. And guess who will pick up the tab for its future costs?
What will be the result of this crushing cost? Poorly educated , bewildered, and angry students unprepared for what they will face; loss of many great teachers fed up with the bureaucracy and unable to look into the mirror and tell themselves that this is the right way to run an education system; state and local budgets left in ruins; an eventually I feel the final goal- the “necessary” full federal takeover of the education system (much like the end game of the so-called “Affordable Care Act”- a full government takeover of healthcare when it topples the existing system) and another nail in the coffin of our Republic. Don’t worry though, I’m sure Common Core will instead teach our kids that we live in a Democracy so they won’t know the difference anyways.