Common Core State Standards — Why the Rush?

March 20, 2010

I listened with such frustration yesterday to two different webinars hosted by the Georgia Department of Education concerning the rollout/implementation of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The rhetoric flowing out of the DOE on this issue is incredible. I do not fault the presenters themselves. They are following directions. If you listen to both presentations, one describes the mathematics CCSS while the other details English/language arts. The presenters are quick to point out that these standards were designed by and agreed upon by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers among other groups, and that 48 states and 2 territories have adopted them.

They also point out each time that Texas and Alaska are the two states that have not adopted them. I guess they are trying to shame the Governors of these two states into adopting so they can have the whole country! Anyone have land for sale in Texas or Alaska? Actually, the presenters address a question posted by one of the listeners about “adoption” and Kentucky is the only state to have officially “adopted.”  Of course they fail to even acknowledge the direct questions like, if we don’t adopt these standards, will we still get the Race To The Top grant? Why weren’t we included in the development of these? And, can we get a copy of the names of teachers included in the writing of these CCSS?

It really concerns me what the real agenda may be behind these CCSS.

  • These standards have been being developed for over a year in total secrecy
  • They were introduced to the public on March 10, 2010.
  • The public has until April 2, 2010 to comment on them.

Okay, so “they” spend over a year developing these documents and guidelines that are over a hundred pages in length that are so filled with educational jargon that most of the general public won’t understand a thing they say, and they expect our feedback in two weeks?  Where is the equity in that? What is the URGENT rush? Why are these bring rammed down our throats?

One answer: Race To The Top. If the state doesn’t adopt these standards, we won’t receive the Race To The Top grant. The federal government wants control over our educational system and this is the avenue. The presenters in these webinars explain that common national assessments will come 3 to 4 years down the road. When the government controls the assessments, they will control the curriculum. Why? Because another key piece of Race To The Top is teacher merit pay. In order to receive Race To The Top monies the state must also adopt a merit pay system for teachers that bases teacher pay on how well their students do on these assessments.

When the merit pay piece is added in, the teachers will teach exactly what is in the CCSS and nothing else because that is what the national assessments will cover and the amount of their pay will be based on how well their students perform on the assessments.

In these horrific economic conditions, thousands of teacher layoffs, multiple school systems around the state already borrowing money to make payroll, educational programs being cut, WHY are we choosing now to do this? Consider this:

  • The state legislature is still toying with the idea of cutting the number school days for students next year AND the number of teacher planning days. When we will have time to train?
  • The systems have no professional learning money to pay for teacher training. It has been cut.
  • We haven’t even finished rolling out the new Georgia Performance Standards and we are already changing them?
  • Curriculum maps, frameworks, unit plans, and assessments that systems have been developing for the past several years will have to be redone to align to the new CCSS. We have no money or professional learning days left for that.
  • At a time when teachers are facing furloughs, pay cuts, layoffs, and attacks on their integrity, I am afraid we’re going to discourage potential new teachers from entering the profession while simultaneously encouraging others to leave.

The presenters reiterate over and over how similar the new CCSS are to our Georgia Performance Standards and the fact that Georgia’s standards were used to write the CCSS. If that’s the case, why do we need to adopt standards we already have and subject the educators in our state to another layer of federal oversight and control to adopt a curriculum we already have?

I submit to you that it is not at all really about this phenomenal new curriculum that is the silver bullet fix for educating our children. It is about the current federal administration wanting to control the education of your children, including what goes into the textbooks. Kudos go out to Texas and Alaska for resisting this movement. I end as I began, anyone have land for sale in Texas or Alaska?

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One Response to “Common Core State Standards — Why the Rush?”

  1. Karen Rheney Barboza said

    Very well stated John! That’s exactly what it’s all about…federal control over our lives from womb to tomb. With the government takeover of healthcare currently at center-stage, the new state standards proposal is way below the radar. Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. Keep up the great work!

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