Accuracy in Media reports:
Three years after the Department of Education announced a contest called Race-to-the-Top for $4.35 billion in stimulus funds, some parents, teachers, governors, and citizen and public policy groups are coming to an awful realization about the likely outcomes:
Working behind the scenes, implementing these policies and writing the standards are associates from President Obama’s community organizing days. In de facto control of the education component is Linda Darling-Hammond, a radical left-wing educator and close colleague of William “Bill” Ayers, the former leader of the communist terrorist Weather Underground who became a professor of education and friend of Obama’s.
When these dangerous initiatives are implemented, there will be no escaping bad schools and a radical curriculum by moving to a good suburb, or by home schooling, or by enrolling your children in private schools. . . .
The notion of a “Common Core” seems to recall E.D. Hirsch’s traditionalist Common Knowledge curriculum, which emphasizes the need for students to understand America’s cultural and national heritage. But Common Core is not that at all. Many have been fooled, and an estimated 80% of the public does not even know about Common Core.
Common Core is part of an effort to implement regionalism, the replacement of local governments by regional boards of federally appointed bureaucrats, who in turn are beholden to international bodies. Regionalism will eliminate the freedom parents now have in choosing neighborhoods with good schools because tax funds will be distributed equally. There will be no escape in home schooling or private schools either, because the curriculum will follow national tests. Students will be tracked through mandatory state records that will then be accessible to Washington bureaucrats. Ultimately, all students will be subject to education mandates implemented by Obama’s radical cronies. . . .
“Race to the Top” required that states commit to yet-to-be-written Common Core standards in math and English/Language Arts (ELA). Today, Common Core has the support of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and was included in the platform of the Democratic National Convention. It was embraced by former Republican Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, much to the consternation of Tea Party groups, who see this as an unconstitutional federal takeover of education. The Republican Party is divided.
Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, in their white paper “Controlling Education from the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America,” describe the pressure and sleight-of-hand that led governors to sign onto a commitment that was then changed before the ink had fully dried. They reveal that rather than being a state-led reform initiative, as touted, the new standards were written by a few well-connected, but non-qualified, education entrepreneurs. The history goes back decades, but in the most recent phase, the vision for Common Core was set in 2007, by the Washington-based contractor, Achieve, Inc., in a document entitled Benchmarking for Success.
The question is: Why was Bill Ayers keynoting a conference attended by the two highest officials in the Education Department and by Achieve, essentially the project manager of the nationalized education curriculum? It may be years before we know how often Ayers visited the White House, but the Ayers educational brand or philosophy is all over Common Core.
Some states are waking up. Virginia pulled out when Governor Bob McDonnell was elected. Georgia, Indiana, Utah, South Carolina, and others have begun the effort to extricate themselves.
When South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said she would support a state legislative effort to block Common Core, which her predecessor had instituted, Education Secretary Arne Duncan dismissed her concerns about nationally imposed standards as “a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy.”
But it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to realize that Common Core will ultimately dictate the curriculum. Two consortia of states (SBAC and PARCC) have been given $360 million in federal funds to create national Common Core-aligned tests and “curriculum models.” Well-connected companies, such as Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the multinational textbook company Pearson, are in competition to design the test. David Coleman, a chief architect of the Common Core standards for English/Language Arts, recently was namedPresident of the College Board, which administers tests, including those designed by ETS, like the SAT.
The Education Department on August 12, 2012, announced another competitionfor $400 million in Race-to-the-Top funds for local districts to “personalize learning, close achievement gaps and take full advantage of 21st century tools.” Such a competition cleverly bypasses recalcitrant states and lures individual districts into the federal web.
The feds’ announcement echoes Common Core’s emphasis on personalized learning and leveling of achievement through technology and collaboration (the “21st century skills”). Common Core emphasizes “in-depth” reading of short passages, rather than long fictional or historical narratives. The Publisher’s Criteria reveal that a focus on short texts will equalize outcomes. Text selection guide B mandates that “all students (including those who are behind) have extensive opportunities to encounter grade-level complex text” through “supplementary opportunities.” The strategy of gathering students into groups to collaborate on short passages ensures that no one advances beyond others.
In the tradition of John Dewey, multiple “perspectives” and “critical thinking” are emphasized over the accumulation of “facts.” Common Core advertises itself as promoting “skills,” rather than content. The skills, though, do not promise to make students more knowledgeable about literature or history, but to make them “critical thinkers” in the tradition of the radical curriculum writers who are selectively critical of the U.S. and the West.