CALLING ALL THOSE WHO WANT
EQUAL, QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION:
YOUR HELP IS URGENTLY NEEDED
Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace & Justice. Contact us: Justice.firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.250.3335
IS COMMON CORE
--WITH ITS HIGH-STAKES TESTING--
A DANGEROUS CRISIS IN PUBLIC EDUCATION
--or is it just another annoying scheme
that will go away without a fight?
INFORMATION TO CONSIDER:
1) Corporate members of the National Business Roundtable started planning Common Core in 1989, because they need employees who are narrowly trained to be obedient workers, and they need inventors, engineers, and managers to make their global enterprises competitive against rivals from Japan, the European Union, Russia, China, etc. Their stated aim is to produce graduates “ready for college and careers.” (Most parents have broader, more complex goals for their children. Bill Gates and others are now spending millions to counteract mass opposition to Common Core across the country.) (Source:herinst.org/
BusinessManagedDemocracy/ education/campaigns/BRT.html;businessroundtable.org/ resources/essential- components-of-a-successful- education-system)
Funders & initiators of Common Core: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Exxon, Chevron, Eli Broad Foundation, McKinsey Consulting Corp, Walton Foundation (Walmart), Boeing, GE Foundation, State Farm Insurance, Nationwide, Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Co. Fund, IBM, Xerox, Pearson Education Corp, Bank of America, Citi, etc
2) Instead of educators making basic decisions about public education, just 29 people were chosen--not classroom teachers and education researchers, but mainly employees of testing companies--to secretly set Common Core standards acceptable to big corporations for each grade. This was done behind closed doors without using the internationally accepted methods for setting standards: transparency, balance, consensus, due process. A thoroughly undemocratic process. (See: dianeravitch.net/2014/03/24/
For example, they set this kindergarten standard--“Read emergent reader texts with purpose and understanding.” Many 5 year-olds are not developmentally ready to read, and there is no research to support the teaching of reading in kindergarten. (Copple & Bredekamp, “Developmentally Appropriate Practice,” National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009)
3) Big businesses like Pearson Corp. are creating and selling curriculum modules, books and computer programs for each subject in every grade to school districts--all aligned to the unscientific Common Core standards. Their reading lessons often omit contexts; for example, focusing on The Gettysburg Address without talking about the Civil War.
They are also selling huge data gathering and storage systems--with parents having no say on what is permanently recorded or who is allowed to use it--such as businesses, the military, employers, colleges, etc. In 2012, Obama issued an executive order which weakens the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act-- giving education officials permission to decide who outside of public schools can be given access to children’s confidential records, which can include such things as mental and emotional health, discipline problems, family income, divorce issues, etc. (markgarrison.net/
4) Corporations like Achieve Inc and Pearson are making, selling, and grading tests that are aligned with the Common Core standards and curriculum to state school systems. Education researchers, teachers and parents--who were not involved in the basic decision-making for any part of the process of creating Common Core--question the validity and reliability of these tests, saying that they are worse than the long-discredited standardized tests. (dianeravitch.net/2014/
05/12/why-the-common-core- standards-for-grades-k-3-are- wrong)
5) The CC tests are to be taken on computers--meaning that every school district will have to buy enough computers for all the PAGE 2 (Continued: Common Core-- education by corporations for corporations.)
children to take the many required tests. This means that more education dollars will be diverted away from hiring additional teachers for smaller class sizes and to teach art, music and physical education--classes which are now being eliminated in many schools.
Meanwhile, all of the corporations directly involved will enjoy wind-fall profits. The estimated increase in the education “market” for the ed-tech sector is doubling, to $13.4 billion, by 2017 (Silicon Valley Business Journal, 11.12.13).
IF CC TESTS WERE RE-WRITTEN --BASED ON LEGITIMATE CRITICISMS FROM EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHERS, TEACHERS, PARENTS & STUDENTS-- WOULD COMMON CORE EDUCATION THEN BE GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN ?
NO--because Common Core tests are based on its unscientific standards and the narrow curriculum which is based on those standards. Common Core is a total package designed to suit the needs of the private corporations which initiated and oversaw its development. No changes or exceptions on these copyrighted materials--on state or city levels--can be made without their permission.
Testing corporations have chosen cut-off points designed to insure that only 30 % of school children will pass. So poor African-American, immigrant and other working class students will “fail” more often and be more systematically humiliated-- made to feel they are “inferior human beings.” They can then be channeled into low-paying jobs.
This means teachers have to focus single-mindedly on training students for CC tests--with no time for lessons based on the specific needs of children, or for nurturing creativity (Jane David, “High-stakes testing Narrows Curriculum,” Educational Leadership, 3/11, p.78-86).
If the self-serving aims of corporations are reached, we will have more obedient soldiers and workers, and fewer people who refuse to obey harmful or immoral orders, or are concerned about issues of war and peace. Narrow, skills-oriented education will not teach our children to value equality and democracy nor to be creative, thoughtful people capable of making humane decisions and improving our society.
(By the way, the claim by the corporations that U.S. students are behind other countries has been shown to be based on faulty statistical analysis--where the much higher percentage of U.S poverty--with disadvantaged students often getting low scores-- is not considered.)
ISN’T THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INVOLVED IN COMMON CORE ?
ISN’T PUBLIC EDUCATION SUPPOSED TO BE BASED ON DECISIONS IN EACH STATE?
YES & NO-- the corporate creators of CC got around the Constitution’s provision that education is left to states by having the National Governors Association (NGA) take charge. The NGA is a non-governmental organization (NGO) and private trade association that is not accountable to the public or required to reveal minutes of meetings, etc. The NGA convinced 45 governors to adopt CC for their states. State superintendents oversee implementation. Note that election campaigns of governors were funded by money from private corporations.
The federal government wasn’t directly a part of writing the new standards, and they don’t have the legal right to decide how each state runs its educational system. However, President Bush used “No Child Left Behind” and President Obama used “Race to the Top” before CC was put into 45 states. They promoted the main educational features now in Common Core. Rewards were given only to states which agreed to adopt common educational standards. “Race to the Top” is a contest with prize money-- open to all states if their governors promise to: open more charter schools, require standardized testing, and use student scores to evaluate and punish teachers and schools (“Race to the Top Executive Summary,” U.S. Dept of Ed, 11/09). Note that corporations that wanted such education programs funded the elections of Bush and Obama.
IF GOVERNORS DECIDE TO TAKE THEIR STATES OUT OF COMMON CORE, WILL THIS MEAN THAT THE PROBLEM OF ESTABLISHING EQUAL, QUALITY EDUCATION HAS BEEN SOLVED?
NOT REALLY--It’s vital that we build a strong mass movement against the Common Core program and for the kind of education we want for our children--at the same time. It would be very unfortunate if a governor decided to drop out of the Common Core, and then the people felt the fight was all over. It’s dangerous to assume that what a governor and other public officials then decide to put in place would be what working people need. For example, a system very similar to CC could be set up, or they could go back to an old system that does not meet the needs of a modern democratic society. This is why we need a lot of public debate and fresh thinking about public education that is not under the control of corporations or government officials who are beholden to them. Unless we educate and empower ourselves, we will not be prepared to exercise our democratic right to make decisions about all the things that deeply affect us. So if we want the best for our children, we have to remain active participants and stand against the privatization of public education in its many forms.
Overall, if corporations succeed in completely taking over public education across the country, it will greatly increase the control the 1% already have--over the economy, the media and the government. If we don’t want our children to suffer under a training program for the benefit corporations, we’ll have to keep up the fight to bring decision-making under the control of working people.
WHAT YOU AND OTHER CONCERNED PEOPLE CAN DO: Let’s join all the parents, teachers, students and other concerned people across the country who are organizing against the CC, thousands opting out of harmful standardized tests, and more and more refusing to have massive data collected and used against our children. Contact us to participate in educating ourselves and others to oppose the whole Common Core program of privatization on steroids.