Tea Party Addresses Common Core Standards
Concerned parents and citizens filled the School House buildng at the Ward Ag Center Monday night, September 23, to learn more about the Common Core Standards that are starting to permeate our schools. The Wilson County Tea Party hosted Brenda Causey, the State Director for Concerned Women for America of Tennessee, who shared findings of her extensive research on Common Core Standards. One of CWA's core issues is education and Causey is alarmed at the direction education reform is taking in Tennessee.
Causey opened her presentaion with the simple question, "What is Common Core?" After receiving mixed responses she pointed out the Tennessee Legislature had passed a vote in special session in 2010 to accept Race to the Top (RTTP) grant funds if they agreed to accept Common Core Standards, sight unseen. Only 12 Senators voted against accepting RTTP grant money, of which our Senator Mae Beavers was one.
She went on to say that these standards were not developed by the states but by a progressive think tank organization called Achieve, Inc. and then funnelled through National Governor's Association to make it look like a state driven initiave. The effort has been backed by donations from various groups, the largest being the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has contributed over a hundred million dollars. Our own Governor, Bill Haslam, is a member of the board of directors for Achieve, Inc. When asked about legislators who concerned citizen's should contact, Causey pointed to the Governor because of his strong support for Common Core.
Before delving too deeply into the history of the program she shared a short video featuring Jane Robbins of the American Principal's Project who explained the evolution of Common Core Standards and why the program is raising so many concerns. Robbins was one of fourteen witnesses who just testified before the Tenessee Senate Education Committee on Friday, September 19th. Key points she stressed were the data mining of our students, increased testing costs and the inability of states and local school boards to make changes to the standards once in place. Robbins' full presentation is available for viewing on the Videos page of the WilsonCountyTeaParty.com web site.
Following the video, Causey opened the floor for questions in which a very engaged audience participated for the next hour. One Mom asked, "What can we do as parents? Pull our kids our of school?" Home schooling is a viable option, Causey noted. It is what she has chosen to do with her six children, but the time commitment can be a big challenge especially if both parents work. Another concern with home schooling is that the ACT and SAT college entrance exams are being rewritten to align with Common Core and those not taught in its ways will be at a disadvantage when competing for admission to accredited universities.
"Can it be stopped?" was the next question. "Yes, it can," Causey explained, "But legislation must be passed in the next session. Of the 45 states that originally signed on, eleven states have exit strategy legislation in the works and five states have already pulled out." She went on to note that an on line petition would be set up to collect signatures of those opposing Common Core before the next legislative session starts in January.
"What is PARCC and what will be the increase in cost for testing our kids?" another member of the audience asked. Causey responded, "The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career or PARCC is group of testing experts serving a consortium of 15 states including Tennessee. The testing will be fully computerized forcing current testing costs of $11 per student to rise to about $30. When federal grant money runs out this cost is passed onto the states. We are seeing happen in Rutherford county right now as the school board is pursuing a bond in excess of $5 million to comply with the hardware and testing requirements associated with Common Core."
Another Mom shared a story of her son's experience with Common Core math. Her son, a Junior, is confused with the new math because there is no right or wrong answer. The grade is based on the path chosen to find the answer, not the answer itself. At a parent teacher conference she asked the teacher about it and the teacher's response was, "You know about Common Core?" leaving the parent to believe the program was being indoctrinated covertly. "With no right or wrong answer," she stated, "It makes the student's thinking change to believe everything is relative."
As Causey began to wind down the discussion someone poignantly asked, "What is the real agenda behind Common Core?" "It's about control," Causey responded. "Common Core prepares our kids to go to vocational school, not college. There is no cursive writing, no fraction to decimal conversion and no pre-calculus." She encouraged those in attendance who felt strongly about the issue to contact Senator Delores Gresham, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and express their concerns.
In closing, she left everyone with a chilling thought - Bill Gates has said our educational system should be like China's.