Common Core State Standards have been adopted in forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education program. Many homeschool advocates and other concerned education activists have this troubling federal initiative on their radar and are spreading the word to others. If homeschoolers know anything else, they know “local” is the best approach to education.
The National Governors Association initiated Common Core in 2009 to create a new standardized scope and sequence. That is what national groups, organizations and associated governments tend to slide towards – comparing notes and becoming uniform. How this particular monied enterprise applies to the original purpose, such as education, tends to be a bit sketchy.
So, here we go again. After the federal No Child Left Behind law was passed in a bi-partisan manner, its incessant appetite for standardized tests and school’s daily testing preparation has not shown much promise along education lines. Now we have the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation throwing around a bit of money to change education policy.
Mr. Gates later acknowledged that it achieved little [in presidential campaign efforts], but in the years since, the foundation has helped leverage sweeping changes. Its latest annual report, for instance, highlights its role — often overlooked — in the development and promotion of the common core academic standards that some 45 states have adopted in recent months. From Sam Dillon in the New York Times:
The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which developed the standards, and Achieve Inc., a nonprofit organization coordinating the writing of tests aligned with the standards, have each received millions of dollars.
The Alliance for Excellent Education, another nonprofit organization, was paid $551,000 in 2009 “to grow support for the common core standards initiative,” according to the tax filings. The Fordham Institute got $959,000 to “review common core materials and develop supportive materials.” Scores of newspapers quoted Fordham’s president, Chester E. Finn Jr., praising the standards after their March 2010 release; most, including The New York Times, did not note the Gates connection.
There is an interesting partnership of Gates’ foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York and a Rupert Murdoch News Corp. subsidiary creating the Common Core data tracking base - InBloom. We have the usual suspects with loads of money finding common ground in policies affecting our children. Including Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (now Institute) President Chester Finn‘s support. Finn has been in the forefront of “education reform”, including education tax credits and standardized tests. He seems to have a special interest in homeschoolers. This new database has gained parents’ ire – when they were finally notified of the process. From New York’s Daily News, Corrine Lestch and Ben Chapman report this:
Parents are furious that New York is joining eight other states in adopting the model without giving families a chance to opt out of sharing delicate information.
“I’m outraged,” said Karen Sprowal, 52, a stay-at-home mom. Her 9-year-old son is a fourth-grader at Public School 75 in Manhattan.
“I send my child to school to be educated. I never agreed to have his information shared with private companies or stored in a database.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio sent a scathing letter to city and state officials protesting the move. “I don’t want my kids’ privacy bought and sold like this,” he said.
A question is raised in how that data is used regarding New York homeschoolers who have to send in quarterly reports to the school district. Other states also have onerous homeschooling regulations where the public school system is involved with homeschooling families. They should be concerned about this data-driven, high powered effort.
A positive partnership has been formed with a progressive and conservative writing up a piece posted on the Education Week blog. One of those writers is an Illinois homeschooler – Heather Patenaude. Heather is a homeschooler who was homeschooled. Below is a quote from Heather regarding her’s and University of Chicago Laboratory Schools teacher Paul Horton’s commonalities:
I have found it refreshing to work with Paul, who is polar opposite of me. What we have found is we do have more in common than what is on the surface! For example, his Grandpa was a target of hate when he stood against the Klan, my great-great Grandparents were kicked out of Mississippi for having a black family over for a meal. They moved to Zion, IL, where my children are 6th generation Zionites. We both come from a rich history and heritage! Everyone has a story and if we took time to get to know each other, we may find more talking across the “aisle”.
These two Illinoisans offered their joint statement and reasons for concern in the blog:
What follows is a joint statement from Paul Horton and Heather Patenaude reflecting their mutual concerns about the Common Core.
There are many voices coming together across the state of Illinois to oppose the Race To The Top Mandates and the Common Core State Standards. We are two unlikely allies in this fight against Common Core, but wanted to present to you a united front in our desire to stop Common Core in Illinois.
In normal life our paths would not cross, but we have joined forces to stop Common Core in our state. We are seeing liberals and conservatives opposing different aspects of the Race To The Top Mandates and the Common Core Curriculum.
Read their concerns at the Ed Week Blog and listen to Paul Horton’s video interview offering Common Core development details.
Paul Horton on Corporate Collusion in Education
Opposition against Common Core Standards and Curriculum is steadily gaining ground with a grassroots effort. Bill Gates’ and others’ money deriving great power with limited opinions, has involved other governmental policies, such as pushing the Universal Preschool movement. When the ‘little people’ find their voice and passion, those brainstorms benefiting few and tending to harm many tend to go by the wayside. We can hope, research and push for these latest public/private partnership conglomerations to fail.
Read more at Spunky Homeschool‘s blog on what you can do to oppose Common Core.