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Letter to the Editor: Common Core imposed without local input

Dear Editor,

I am growing deeply concerned about a real threat that is encroaching the hallowed halls of the schools in our state. The threat has a name: Common Core.
Educational engineers with NO background in education have sought to radically change the education policies in our nation.  These engineers include Bill and Melinda Gates, Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, Robert Murdoch, media magnate, and others.  Their plan would change the mission of schools from teaching children academic basics to training them to serve the global economy in jobs selected by workforce boards. They have slowly been advancing this plan and have in recent years brought it out of their “laboratories” into the light of day.  And they started with the nation’s governors.
On June 25, 2009, our governor, Jay Nixon, signed a Memo of Understanding committing our state to begin implementing this radical global education plan. The National Governor’s Association and their agency called “Achieve” stated that their goal was to change states’ educational policies whether they were working or not.
Bypassing all elected officials on school boards and in state legislatures, the National Governor’s Association enabled federal funds to flow to the Governor and his appointees on workforce development boards. School superintendents, local school boards, parents and students were completely left out of the decision.
State Sen. John Lamping was astonished and alarmed by the audacity of the governor to commit our state to something so far-reaching without getting the public’s involvement. He authored a bill, SB210, to require that districts get the opportunity to review CCSS before it was decided upon in the Senate. This bill would put Common Core on hold until DESE went into each district in Missouri and answered citizens’ questions and offered a cost analysis to each district as to what CC would cost their community.
So what happened? How come we weren’t allowed to see it?  Our senator from the 21st District, Sen. David Pearce, filibustered the bill. Sen. Pearce took away our opportunity to preview Common Core.  Apparently, he felt that he knew better about what would be good for our kids.
Common Core is focused on producing global workers, not creative thinkers.  Students are forced to standardize not only their school work but their very thinking!  Bill Gates, who has given billions of dollars to get Common Core implemented, says “we won’t know if Common Core works for maybe five years.” Do we want this experiment performed on our sons and daughters? And why does our children’s thinking need to be standardized?
I have been on three conference calls with the subject-matter experts who were chosen to validate Common Core.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, our nation’s leading expert in English, and Dr. James Milgram, our nation’s leading mathematician, both called Common Core “junk” and refused to validate it.  Dr. Milgram said that the math portion “will set students back by two years, possibly 10.”
When these two experts pressed for documents showing that these standards were internationally benchmarked, none were provided.  Why?  Because they were NOT internationally benchmarked.   In a recent email dialogue with DESE about the Common Core test called Smarter Balance, we were told that DESE planned to keep Smarter Balance but “just change the name to MAP testing so as not to raise questions about it.”   When asked if DESE thought the parents would be angry to learn that DESE was being deceptive, the email dialogue abruptly stopped.
In closing, I am urging all of the good parents and grandparents in our district to arm themselves with factual information about Common Core.  Don’t settle for the “standardized” talking points from DESE that have been given to the superintendents and school officials.   (Often, these officials are unaware of the background behind these talking points.)  Get informed!

– Jill Noble, Richmond

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