Are You As Smart as a Common Core 4th Grader?

July 2nd, 2014

By Elois Zeanah

Common Core is sold as rigorous standards that better prepare students for college and careers and that are internationally benchmarked.  Both claims have been refuted, and it has been proven that Common Core math will set American students two years behind other high-achieving countries.  This three-minute video by a parent quickly explains one of the problems with Common Core’s “fuzzy math”.

COMMON CORE: A Trojan Horse to Transform Traditional Schools & Replace Families as the “Hub” of Society

June 22nd, 2014

By Elois Zeanah

A total transformation of traditional schools is happening at lightning speed.  The Trojan horse is Common Core.  State superintendents and school boards purposefully mislead teachers, parents, legislators and the public about what Common Core is because they know, as history reveals, that the public does not want nationalized education under the direction of the federal government.  But Common Core is much more than just centralized standards.

Common Core authorizes the collection of private, non-academic information on students without the knowledge or permission of parents, puts this information in a national database, and shares this information with the federal government and private parties.  It tracks students from preschool to retirement.  It takes away parental and local control. It bases teacher performance on students’ test scores, yet teachers never see the tests and tests are so secretive that parents don’t have a clue what’s on them.  It enables an unprecedented partnership between federal government and big business to control education.  It “redistributes wealth” from wealthier school districts to poorer school districts.  It introduces sexually graphic reading materials into classrooms.  And it turns schools into service hubs, with the intent of replacing families as the hub of society.  This article focuses on the latter.

Just as the authors of Common Core floated the myth that the standards were “state-led” to hide the fact that they were written in secret, went around the legislative process, and are copyrighted by private organizations (the first time in history that education standards are owned by private organizations), backers of Common Core avoid giving the public the big picture, instituting one piece of the puzzle at a time without public knowledge of their connections to Common Core.  One puzzle piece, for example, is to expand the role of public schools to be community service centers.  The Obama administration has created “Promise Neighborhoods” grants to entice states and local school districts to re-define family and to restructure the meaning of education.  These community school hubs are embedded in the following:

  • The Obama administration’s “A Blueprint for Reform: Re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).” Among other things, this extends the school day to all day, re-defines the family; offers mental health services; sets up school-based clinics in schools; provides medical care, pregnancy prevention, gang intervention, recreation programs; and encourages schools to become “hospitals” that can bill Medicaid.
  • The waiver to No Child Left Behind (the ESEA flexibility waiver) redefines the definition of “education” and expands the role of government to intervene in family home life, creating more education administration bureaucracy, and increasing government dependency. The school is made the center of the community.
  • The 2014 U.S. Senate Bill 1094 Re-authorization of ESEA is 1150 pages and replaces No Child Left Behind. It tells the story about community schools. There are several relevant sections; one is listed below. The full bill can be read at:

PART G—PROMISE NEIGHBORHOODS ‘‘SEC. 4701. SHORT TITLE. ‘‘This part may be cited as the ‘Promise Neighborhoods Act of 2013’. Page 731 ‘‘(8) FAMILY AND STUDENT SUPPORTS.—The term ‘family and student supports’ includes— ‘‘(A) health programs (including both mental health and physical health services); ‘‘(B) school, public, and child-safety programs; ‘‘(C) programs that improve family stability; ‘‘(D) workforce development programs (including those that meet local business needs, such as internships and externships); ‘‘(E) social service programs; ‘‘(F) legal aid programs; ‘‘(G) financial literacy education programs; ‘‘(H) adult education and family literacy programs; ‘‘(I) parent, family, and community engagement programs; and ‘‘(J) programs that increase access to learning technology and enhance the digital literacy skills of students. ‘‘(9) FAMILY MEMBER.—The term ‘family member’ means a parent, relative, or other adult who is responsible for the education, care, and well- being of a child.

  • The education plans for states that adopted Common Core. Alabama’s plan, for example, is titled “Plan 2020”.

The federal government has severely harmed minority communities over the past 50-plus years by welfare programs that encourage and has resulted in more children being born out of wedlock and the disintegration of the family unit.  The efforts to replace the traditional family as the hub of society with school hubs furthers dependency on government as family.  (There’s even a Common Core worksheet that teaches students that “government is family”.)  We must beware of the Trojan Horse.

Congress Should Demand that the President Enforce the 2006 Secure Fence Act

June 22nd, 2014

children crossing border

By Elois Zeanah

The invasion of 80,000+ children so far in 2014 from Central America, some unaccompanied, has created a new immigration crisis.  Why isn’t Congress and the media talking about the law that was passed and signed in October 2006 to build a secure border fence, but which was never built?  If this law had been enforced by President Bush, and now President Obama, there would be no humanitarian and health crisis at our southern border.  Today, the Alabama Republican state executive committee adopted a Resolution asking Congress to demand that the President enforce this law and secure our border.  Hopefully, other states will follow Alabama’s example.

RESOLUTION ON BORDER SECURITY: Enforce The October 2006 Secure Fence Act

WHEREAS, The U.S. Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-367), which authorizes the construction of 700 miles of double-layer fencing along the Southwest border and for the creation of a virtual fence along the entire Southwest border;

WHEREAS, The goal of this law was to decrease illegal entry, drug trafficking, and security threats by building 700 miles of physical barriers along the Mexico-United States border, and to authorize more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, and lighting as well as authorize the Department of Homeland Security to increase the use of advanced technology-like cameras, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce infrastructure at the border;

WHEREAS, Simultaneously the President signed a separate $35 billion Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act which included funding to secure our border. It provided a total of $7.4 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including $1.2 billion for fencing and other barriers along the border, and funding for 1,500 new Border Patrol agents; $3.9 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and $181 million for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS).

WHEREAS, The border remains unsecured after eight years;

WHEREAS, Unsecured borders and President Barack Obama’s refusal to enforce immigration laws have led to an invasion of under-aged children crossing the border, some unaccompanied, and has created a humanitarian crisis for our country, overwhelming our Border Patrol and the charitable organizations that minister to illegal immigrants;

WHEREAS, The plight of these poor, unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally highlights the urgency to enforce the October 2006 Secure Fence Act;

WHEREAS, Eighty thousand or more children are expected to swarm through the border this year, and even more next year, exacerbating a logistical and health nightmare;

WHEREAS, These children are overwhelming the Border Patrol’s abilities to monitor the border, and the Border Patrol has been forced to refocus its mission to a humanitarian nightmare, making it even easier to slip through drugs, gangs, terrorists, and more illegal immigrants;

WHEREAS, The chaos at the border is a result of not enforcing existing immigration laws and particularly the October 2006 Secure Fence Act; and

WHEREAS, Action by Congress to demand that the President enforce the October 2006 Fence Act would help alleviate this invasion on our southern border and the humanitarian crisis, separate out the non-controversial border fence from controversial issues of immigration reform, and remove the issue of border security as a pawn to get amnesty through “comprehensive immigration reform;”

RESOLVED, The Alabama State Executive Committee urges Members of Congress to immediately demand that the President enforce the October 2006 Secure Fence Act.

Submitted by the Alabama Federation of Republican Women Frances Taylor, President

Petition to Stop Alabama’s Supt. of Ed. from Seizing Control of Church and Home Schools

November 5th, 2013

For Remedy of Grievances 

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations of Alabama, do hereby reaffirm the fundamental right of parents to raise our children without undue interference from federal and state governments and to oversee our children’s education[i], and assert that the State does not have unlimited power to dictate one set of standards or regulate a certain way to educate all Alabama children.[ii]   We therefore submit a list of grievances against the State Superintendent of Education, who’s signaled his intention to force church and home schools under the control of the Alabama Department of Education and under the same courses of study as public schools, aka Common Core, which takes away an inherent right of parents to decide what our children should learn and how to teach it.  We seek redress to these grievances by asking the State Board of Education and the Alabama Legislature to forfeit the Superintendent’s actions and restore parental control and state sovereignty over education in Alabama.

WHEREAS, The enduring American tradition that parents have a fundamental right to not only rear their children, but also the right to oversee their education, has been established beyond debate;

WHEREAS, Some parents believe the public school system is inadequate to provide quality education and have the right to choose alternative methods to ensure that their children receive a quality education, such as homeschooling and church schools;

WHEREAS, Alabama law provides that when parents are affiliated with a church and receive no state or federal funding, the State Superintendent of Education cannot monitor, interfere or regulate in any way their instruction including enrollment reports, certification of teachers, dictating curriculum or the method of teaching and the subject matter to be taught;[iii]

WHEREAS, There is no provision of Alabama law that permits or requires any state, local authority or the State Superintendent to regulate a church or home school other than the state laws requiring parents to report attendance and for church schools to report if a student is no longer in attendance at such a school; and therefore “Church schools are exempt from regulations or state laws governing public and private schools”;[iv] [v]

WHEREAS, The Alabama State Superintendent, without statutory authority or a vote by the State Board, moved to place under his control and regulate all private, church and home schools in Alabama by creating and staffing a new Non-Public Schools department and issuing a 31-page book of rules and regulations dated July 9, 2013[vi], to control  church and home schools, and notified these schools of the intentions of the Alabama State Department to ask the Alabama State Board of Education to approve amendments to the Alabama Administrative Code to tighten its control over church and home schools;

WHEREAS, these new rules and regulations would have forced church and home schools to teach curriculum “comparable to ALSDE recognized educational standards,” a.k.a. Common Core, thus obliterating the exemption of church and home schools to have choice in the selection of what they teach and how, and to avoid materials that demean Christianity and moral values, contain foul and sexually explicit language, promote promiscuity and excuse rape and incest;

WHEREAS, the adoption and imposition of Common Core by the Alabama State Board of Education on public schools removes choice in public education; and its aligned assessments, tests, and college entrance exams trickle down to impact private, church and home schools; relinquishes parental control and state sovereignty over education; and centralizes education which takes away parents’ fundamental rights to oversee the education of their children, which is a natural right, and infringes upon parents’ religious liberties to rear their children according to their own religious beliefs and moral values without undue intrusion from the federal government or the state;

WHEREAS, The State Superintendent’s plan to oversee church and home schools included (1) a $500 fee to accompany an application for exemption, (2) submission of church documents to prove the legal status of the church school ministry, (3) submission of a catalog of courses the school would teach and “curriculum comparable to ALSDE recognized educational standards”, and (4) penalties for failure to comply with these new rules and regulations to include (i) the refusal by the State to recognize diplomas, (ii) the refusal to allow students to transfer credits to a public school, and the denial of graduates to attend State two or four year colleges;

WHEREAS, The State Superintendent backed down temporarily in the face of pressure put on him by Republican leaders in response to an uprising of parents, but stated he would pursue legislation to change State laws to allow the Alabama State Department of Education to control church and home schools the same way ALSDE controls non-religious private schools;

WHEREAS, While the State Superintendent seems intent on creating a “partnership” with or “control” of church schools and home schools, parents want no part of any sort of partnership with the state’s public education system and this is why parents opt out of public schools in the first place;

WHEREAS, the State Superintendent wants to tax a church for carrying out a legitimate ministry and call it a “fee”, and seems to ignore the fact that church schools already pay for any state services they use, from testing fees for teacher certification to members in athletic associations;

WHEREAS, This is an overreach of government authority and there have been no reports of widespread problems requiring state intervention or a request for such from church and home schools;

WHEREAS, Public schools in Alabama do have serious problems, and the State Superintendent and the Alabama State School Board should focus limited resources of the Department of Education on the problems of public schools instead of encroaching on and meddling in private schools, church schools and home schools, which are thriving and outperform public schools in every category at lower cost;

WHEREAS, Alabama law provides that when parents are affiliated with a church and receive no state or federal funding; the State Superintendent of Education or the Alabama State Board of Education cannot monitor, interfere or regulate in any way their instruction including enrollment reports, certification of teachers, dictating curriculum or the method of teaching and the subject matter to be taught;

WHEREAS, The State Superintendent persuaded the State Board of Education to adopt a data policy which supposedly protects student privacy while it allows the collection, data-mining, and sharing of private, non-academic information on students without parental permission; allows the collection of students’ behaviors and psychosocial attributes; and some school assessments can ask children about their or their family’s “political affiliations or beliefs; mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family, sex behavior or with whom respondents have close family relationships; legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parents; or income, thus threatening student and family privacy and serving no legitimate academic purpose;”[vii]

WHEREAS, The State Superintendent included in Plan 2020 (the eight-year strategic vision of K-12 education) race-based standards which lowers expectations for and stigmatizes minorities, and puts the State of Alabama in a bad light for this backward thinking;[viii]

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, the State Board of Education and the Alabama Legislature remedy the above grievances by the following actions:

  • The Alabama State School Board vote to direct the State Superintendent to fully retract the proposed rules and discontinue any legislative or other efforts to regulate non-public schools;
  • The Alabama State School Board vote to require the State Superintendent to cooperate with non-public schools to pass  legislation to recognize non-public schools’ autonomy and remove all      impediments to non-public school students and teachers accessing and receiving all education benefits, including but not limited to, transfer between non-public and public schools, acceptance into Alabama secondary schools and The Alabama Fire College and police academies, assistance to the disabled, and other rights, privileges and opportunities available to public school students and teachers;
  • The Alabama Legislature roll back the race-based standards in Plan 2020; and
  • The Alabama Legislature uphold their duty to retain local autonomy over education by passing legislation in the 2014 session that would:
    •  (1) make it clear that the Alabama State Superintendent and Alabama State School Board are prohibited from regulating, controlling, or interfering with the establishment, curriculum or staff of church schools and home schools, (2) protect personal, non-academic information on students, that’s as strong or stronger than SB190 introduced during the 2013 legislative session, that would restore in Alabama the privacy rights in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), stripped  by President Obama that allows spying on our children at school through the collection and sharing of invasive, personal, non-academic information;
    • overturn the State Superintendent’s decision to not remove pornographic reading materials that are part of the Common Core  recommended reading lists (Exemplars) linked from and “encouraged” on the Alabama State Department of Education website and ensure that no materials that are sexually graphic or encourage the corruption of youth morals can be part of Alabama’s K-12 curriculum now or in the future; and
    • repeal the State Board of Education’s decision to adopt Common Core and its aligned assessments and data gathering, which was an overreach into legislative authority and results in the loss of parental control and state sovereignty over education.




Anyone who  supports this petition can sign.  There’s no need to physically sign the petition; “signers” need only send their name and county of residence by email to OR type your name and county of residence as a “comment” to this article below.

[i] Peirce, 451 A.2d at 367
[ii] Peirce, 451 A2d at 367; see also Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 215 (1972)
[iii] Code of Alabama 1975, Sections 16-28-1, 16-1-11, 16-28-3, 16-28-7, 16-28-8, 16-28-15, 16-28-23, 16-28-24, 16-40-1
[iv] Code of Alabama 1975, § 16-28-2.1, § 16-28-3 and § 16-28-7; Attorney General Bill Pryor Opinion dated January 3, 1997
[v] Code of Alabama 1975, § 16-28-24
[vi] The “Rules and Regulations for Private Schools and Church Schools in Alabama” dated July 9, 2013, can be viewed at:
[vii]“Orwellian Nightmare: Data-Mining Your Kids,” New American, By Alex Newman, dated August 8, 2013;

Superintendent Tommy Bice consistently misleads legislators, parents and the press that Alabama does not and will not collect non-academic, personally identifiable information on students than can assessed by the federal government and private parties from the state and local levels, knowing full well that:

  • Private student data collection cannot be secured since President Obama bypassed Congress and changed FERPA laws (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) through regulation in January 2012 to allow third party data collection and sharing;
  • Alabama has built an interoperable State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) to capture and link student data from preschool through the workforce.  Bice cannot deny the certification/commitment Alabama made in its federal grant application to have the SLDS system up and running; and
  • Bice’s opening statement in the data policy      stating that the resolution relied on FERPA is a farce.

[viii] Under No Child Left Behind, 95 percent of all third-graders had to pass math by 2013 for a school to meet education standards.  All third-graders, black, white, poor, special needs or otherwise, had to meet the same goal.  But under Plan 2020, the percentage of third-graders required to pass math in 2013 are:
* 93.6 % of Asian/Pacific Islander students.
* 91.5 % of white students.
*90.3 % of American Indian students.
* 89.4 % of multiracial students.
* 85.5 % of Hispanic students.
* 82.6 % of students in poverty.
* 79.6  % of English language-learner students.
* 79 % of black students.
* 61.7 % of special needs students.

Someone’s Missing From The Common Core Discussion: PARENTS

September 18th, 2013

                             Empty Chair for Parents   The text is copied below.

Special to By Special to on September 18, 2013 at  3:46 PM

Alabama’s Plan 2020 fundamentally transforms classrooms. But someone is missing: PARENTS! Parents had no voice in the radical restructuring of Alabama’s education and what children will learn in school. A parent was recently told by a school board member that parents have no rights over their children in public schools. Will we accept this? Instead of staying the course, parents and taxpayers should demand a public debate, not a forced mandate.

Despite Mary Scott Hunter’s picture-perfect image of Plan 2020, it has a dark side. Upfront, Plan 2020 looks like any other untested school initiative. It repeats the same promises of past failed reforms. But a closer look shows something quite disturbing. It reminds me of the movie “Blue Velvet,” which opens with a street view of a beautiful, immaculate house, a picket fence, a cheerful environment and a lush green lawn. Then the camera zooms in for a closer look and the scene of scraggly, crawly, formerly invisible creatures worse than maggots wiggling in the infested grass.

Alabama parents, teachers, legislators and taxpayers should have a “voice” and a “vote” in these radical programs before they are implemented.

The “infestation” of Plan 2020 is Common Core standards, which remove parental and state control over education; race-based standards; the ability of schools to use pornographic books approved by Common Core, which go against moral values, without parents’ knowledge; textbooks that are, in a teacher’s words, “clearly biased to a liberal perspective, so much so that many see it as indoctrination;” monumental costs; and spying on kids through the collection of personal, non-academic data, and the sharing of this data with the federal government and private parties who want to profiteer off our children.

We should not “stay the course” with this revolutionary experiment on our children, as Hunter suggests. Alabama parents, teachers, legislators and taxpayers should have a “voice” and a “vote” in these radical programs before they are implemented. They will be fully implemented in 2014.

Since Hunter and other members of the state Board of Education (except Gov. Bentley, Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters) have forced Plan 2020 on schools, Alabama parents and taxpayers should ask the Legislature to stop Common Core, which would derail Plan 2020.  This would invoke public debate and give voters a voice. Let’s put parents back in the classroom where they belong.

Elois Zeanah
President, Alabama Federation of Republican Women

Controversial Book “Bluest Eye” on Common Core Recommended List

September 5th, 2013

By Elois Zeanah
September 4, 2013

I want to share with you this press release, but I also want to share a statement from a friend about this book.  She writes:

“I have read ‘The Bluest Eye’ and have very strong opinions on it.  I read it as an adult and was totally disgusted by it.  Not b/c of the sexual language.  Not because of the rape or incest; because of the message that it seeks to impart.  Not only does it entail information on rape and incest, it glorifies and condones it.  In fact, the main character’s self-actualization only comes after she “accepts” the fact that her father’s only way of showing love was through her rape.  It’s sick.  Rape and incest are never beautiful and should never be described that way; especially not to children in public school.”

This is just the most recent example of what’s in store with Common Core.

  “The Bluest Eye” Novel About Rape and Incest Is The Latest Controversy Over Common Core

September 4, 2013

Tuscaloosa, AL:  “Is it appropriate for Alabama high school students to read openly and discuss in class a pornographic book about rape and incest, written from the viewpoint of the rapist to teach literary concepts?”  This is a question asked by parents and members of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women (AFRW).

The Bluest Eye” is a book on the recommended reading list for high school students by Common Core, the new unfunded mandate for Alabama schools.  The novel is about a rape of an eight-year-old girl by her father and is told from the view of the sexual offender.  The book recounts actual sexual acts as described by the pedophile.

AFRW President Elois Zeanah stated, “This newest controversy is only the latest example of how Common Core takes decisions from Alabama parents and puts it in the hands of entities outside of Alabama.  Books on the approved Common Core list end-run the public process.  Parents, school officials, and legislators have no say in what goes on that list, which becomes part of the Alabama curriculum.”

State Superintendent Tommy Bice’s staff stated that Alabama has no required reading list, as did State Board Member Mary Scott Hunter.  Zeanah pointed out how Hunter and others were parsing:  “While the Alabama course of study does not list recommended books, the course of study does link to the national list recommended by Common Core.  Further, the State Department of Education’s own website contains a statement that highly encourages schools to teach the selections listed by Common Core.”

Senator Bill Holzclaw, who helped defeat repeal of Common Core in the 2013 legislative session and accused critics of Common Core of seeing “bogeymen”, asked Bice to ban “The Bluest Eye” from the Alabama curriculum, after receiving heavy criticism of the book from constituents.  Bice refused.

Lisa Harris, AFRW’s Education Chair and former teacher, stated, “I oppose banning books in the public setting.  But within the school setting, I think we need to set boundaries, especially in what is openly taught in classrooms.  Let’s turn the scenario around.  If a student brought a paperback into the classroom containing the same sexual descriptions of a father raping his eight-year-old daughter as in the novel, what would be his fate?”

For more information, contact Elois Zeanah at or 205/247-5389.


COMMON CORE: Open Letter to Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh

April 25th, 2013

By Elois Zeanah, President, Alabama Federation of Republican Women
April 24, 2013

Reasons to Repeal Common Core are Simple:  Retain Liberty and Sovereignty.  Adopt Strong not Mediocre Standards.  Protect Privacy of Student’s Non-Academic Information.  Don’t Waste Tax Dollars

Honorable Sir:

You are quoted in the Montgomery Advertiser article that you and other Senators do not have the information you need” to vote on SB403 to repeal Common Core and you see “no need to rush to make a decision” in this session.   Actually, the issue is not complex and there are many reasons for urgency to act in this session.  Since you could not stay to hear Heritage Foundation’s education policy expert Lindsey Burke speak at last Thursday Senate Caucus and had to leave when she was introduced, I’m listing the link to an article that is most informative and is about the best summary you can find:

Why Repealing Common Core in 2013 is Urgent

  • The Legislature should not “stand by and do nothing while a State Board of Education effectively surrendered control over Alabama’s school children to federal agencies.”[i]
  • Schools can begin to collect personal, non-academic data on our children and share this information with the federal government and third parties without parental knowledge or consent.  This was illegal under the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  But the Obama Administration weakened student privacy protections by rewriting FERPA, which became effective January 3, 2012.[ii] 
  • Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) and Math standards dumb down standards overall, and put our children at least two years behind their international peers, and will not prepare students for four-year universities.[iii]  
  • Common Core will be fully implemented by next legislative session if the Legislature does not act now.
  • The Legislature should not waste hundreds of millions of tax dollars[iv] to implement Common Core when it may be undone – especially when the State is so short of funding for other priorities.

Whom Should You Trust?

Ronald Reagan’s dictum of “trust but verify” seems especially relevant here.  To my knowledge there are two sides:  conservative organizations and grassroots groups on one side and funded interests of education/business on the other. 

Business:   BCA and chambers of commerce state incorrectly that Alabama needs Common Core to recruit business.  This rings hollow since Texas and Virginia, both NON-Common Core states, have the most effective business recruitment in the nation.  The vested interest of the business community is that they want schools to train their future workers.  Their motive is profit.  They even refer to our children as “human capital”.[v]  Business and education can partner without forcing all our students in a one-size-fits-all model and ceding local control.

Education:   What the State Superintendent of Education wants is, I believe, quite different from what conservative legislators want.   He comes from an NEA/AEA viewpoint.  In addition:

  • Dr. Tommy Bice is a member of CCSSO, which received millions of dollars to advocate for Common Core, is a co-owner with NGA Center for Best Practices of the copyright Common Core standards, and gets half of its funding from state and federal taxpayers?[vi]  Fordham Institute President Chester Finn described CCSSO as a major and long-term member of the liberal movement on federal education policy which has an “ancient and cozy relationship with the U.S. Education Department and can be counted on to do its bidding.” [vii] 

Dr. Bice seems to believe teachers should be trained to accept a “mind shift” to be facilitators, not teachers.  The goal of Common Core and Dr. Bice’s Plan 2020 is far different from traditional education.  Examples:  (1) The goal of curriculum should not be the coverage of content, but rather the discovery of content.”  (2) It should be the students’ voices, not the teachers’, that are heard in our classrooms.[viii]

Lastly, I want to show how Dr. Bice is being disingenuous when he states that Alabama retains full control over its standards, assessments, and curriculum.

  • Alabama MUST implement 100% of CC and cannot change, delete, or substitute any element.[ix] 
  • Alabama MUST align textbooks, testing, etc. with Common Core.
  • Alabama MUST retrain teachers.  I hear reports of monitors roaming the hallways and checking on teachers in classrooms to make sure they are teaching strictly as trained.
  • Alabama MUST replace its assessments to align with Common Core.
  • Alabama can add a token amount of additional material to Common Core (up to 15%), but this will not be assessed. (AL has added only 2.5% to ELA and 14.5% to Math.  Yet Dr. Bice calls 2.5%/14.5% of Alabama-specific standards added to 100% of Common Core as “Alabama standards”?
  • Standards determine assessments and curriculum must follow.
  • Alabama MUST follow specific percentages on what curriculum is taught in ELA – such as 70% information texts and 30% in literature in high school.  This is like putting a “strait-jacket on curriculum planning.”[x]

In conclusion, Alabama cannot “control” what it did not write, cannot change, and does not own!

Almost every national and state conservative organization opposes Common Core.  If you don’t feel you can trust conservative think-tanks, Republican-base organizations, acknowledged educational experts and members of the Common Core Validation Committee over funded interests such as the education establishment and the business lobbies, then I suggest you request that those two special-interests document HOW Common Core IS rigorous, research-based, internationally benchmarked and does not set back students two years over international peers.  So far, they’ve name-called those who bring documentation but offer no proof to counter and back-up their claims.

NOTE:  I’ve only selected a few sources as documentation but they are numerous and I could fill pages.  In fact, if you’ll check the resource guide on Common Core that Senators were provided, you’ll find some of these.  If you want more, let me know.

[i] Letter to AL Legislature dated 22 April 2013 from John Eidsmoe, a constitutional lawyer with the Foundation for Moral Law

[ii] Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 232, 12-2-11, 34 CFR Part 99, Page 75604.  There are over 400 data points that can be collected including disciplinary records, health history, family income range, parents’ political affiliation, students’ attitudes toward a large and unlimited range of subjects including sex, and biometric personal identifiers.  Children’s personal and intimate non-academic information will be “data-mined” and shared with the federal government and sometimes sold to private interests without parental consent.  Students will be tracked from Pre-K to retirement.  Attorney Jane Robbins with the American Principles Project stated:  “Parents need to know how the massive student tracking system under Common Core will contribute to the loss of student and family privacy.”

[iii] ENGLISH:  (1) The Heritage Foundation, Issue Brief No. 3800, December 11, 2012:  “Common Core Standards’ Devastating Impact on Literary Study and Analytical Thinking” by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, former Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Dept. of Education and in charge of the development of the state’s widely praised English Language Arts standards, and member of the Common Core Validation Committee (2) Pioneer Institute:  “How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place College Readiness at Risk,” by Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky  (3)  Video of Sandra Stotsky discussing Common Core and explaining why U.S. students will be two years behind top countries by 8th grade.  

MATH:  CC standards are not rigorous, research-based or internationally benchmarked.  Will increase remedial work and will not adequately prepare students for four-year universities.  (1) Video with Ze’ev Wurman on faults on Common Core standards.   Wurman discusses how the CC definition of “college readiness” does not include full geometry and Algebra II; and therefore, the percentage of students needing remedial work will increase unless colleges lower their entrance expectations.  A high-tech engineer from Palo Alto, Wurman helped develop CA’s math curriculum curriculum standards and assessments.  He served as a U.S. Department of Education official under George W. Bush, is currently an executive with MonolithIC 3D Inc.  In 2010 Wurman served on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that evaluated the suitability of Common Core’s standards for California, and is coauthor of “Common Core’s Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade” (Pioneer Institute, 2010) (2) Education Next, Summer 2012:  Wurman gives examples of how CC is not internationally benchmarked and fall behind international peers:  “Common Core defers fluency in division to grade 6. Fractions are touted as the Common Core’s greatest strength, yet the Common Core pushes teaching division of fractions to grade 6 without ever expecting students to master working with a mix of fractions and decimals. Students in Singapore, Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong achieve fluency in fractions and decimals in grade 5.” Wurman states that even with 15% additional state-specific materials on top of CC will not bring students to where they need to be in 8th grade. (3) Dr. James Milgram’s Testimony to the Indiana Senate Education Committee on December 6, 2012,

[iv] Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White Paper:  Projects initial costs to implement Common Core will be $16 billion nationwide, and $281.7 million for Alabama.


[vi] The Heartland Institute: “’State-Led’ Common Core Pushed by Federally Funded Nonprofit”, by Joy Pullmann, April 24, 2013,

[vii] Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Controlling from the Top:  Why Common Core is Bad for America,” a Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White Paper dated May 2012

[ix] “On the Road to Implementation” by Achieve, Inc. August 2010, pp 20, 22, 23 and 29-30.

[x] Chasidy White, an Alabama 8th Grade World History teacher – post on Yellowhammer, April 24th.

Response to Mary Scott Hunter’s “Misinformation” Newsletter

April 20th, 2013

By Elois Zeanah, President
Alabama Federation of Republican Women

 I’ll be watching the Alabama Senate on Tuesday with a lot of excitement. We could be seeing a new day dawning, when the states start to roll back the tide of centralization. It makes me proud to be an Alabama resident!  I hope Alabama will be the first of the 40 states that have movements afoot to withdraw from Common Core.  Virginia, Texas, Nebraska and Alaska refused to cede control to Common Core from the outset.   Undoubtedly, other states will join them.  Let’s make Alabama first!

On the other hand, the possibility that Alabama would be a leader in education by repealing Common Core, which has deficiencies that will handicap our children, makes state school board member Mary Scott Hunter sad.  This article will respond to her recent newsletter, explaining how she continues to misinform her constituents.  She seems to think that renaming Common Core “Alabama Career and College Ready Standards” will fool her constituents.  Ways Hunter tries to misinform readers will be contrasted with and follow bold reasons why SB403 has great promise to pass the Rules Committee on Tuesday and the full Senate.  

Here’s why legislators will vote for SB403.

The Republican Party Platform advocates choice and competition in Education

There is no “rift in the Republican Party” as Hunter claims in her newsletter.  It is she who has abandoned the Republican Party’s mission.  Has she read the RNC Resolution that asks legislators to repeal Common Core to unlace the “straitjacket on academic freedom”?  Has she observed that both Alabama’s U.S. Senators, four Alabama U.S. Congress Members, the ALGOP state executive committee, that National Federation of Republican Women and the Alabama Federation of Republican Women are all on record as opposing nationalized standards?  So is almost every other national and state conservative group including tea parties.  It is she who’s out of step with her own Party and conservatives.

Common Core standards put an end to choice and competition in K-12 education.  Common Core is a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all model for all states, all schools, and all students.  Centralized control of standards at the national level is a Progressive’s dream; conservatives believe in decentralized power and have always opposed giving away more local control.  Common Core standards further federalize education and erode state sovereignty!  Common Core strips parents and states of political power while the private owners of the Standards insulate themselves from legal liability by broad disclaimers for any damage their Standards cause.

 Alabama’s K-12 problem is not its standards.  The K-12 problem is that it ranks near the bottom of the fifty states in educational results.  Common Core standards fail to address structural problems; so changes in curriculum to Common Core won’t fix that problem.  Only innovations in teaching and the learning environment (through choice, competition, accountability and innovation), compared to those in other states will change that.  The Legislature has begun to address those problems.  The ARI and AMSTI are excellent examples.

Alabama has made great strides in improving reading and math scores

Hunter mis-states that “the way her son is learning Math and English right now, will go away.”  Surely she is aware that English/Language Arts standards are not scheduled to be fully implemented until AUGUST 2013.  Surely she is also aware that Common Core math just started this year and there’s been too little time to know how this is working.  We DO have results of how our Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) and Alabama Math Initiative (AMSTI) have been working, however, and both have made Alabama a leader in education!  Alabama leads the nation in reading gains in grades four through eight.  Alabama has the second highest gain in math!  These two innovative and effective programs are the ones that will go away under Common Core.  Further, Hunter is aware of the scandal this year wherein the state superintendent misappropriated over fifty million dollars from these two proven programs, without the knowledge or authorization of the Alabama legislature, to implement Common Core reading and math. 

Common Core will “dumb down” English and Math instruction

Hunter states that “Many students cannot do college level English upon graduation, many more cannot do Mathematics,” but she ignores the fact that Common Core will make matters worse.  Education experts who served on the Common Core Validation Committees for ELA and Math state that Common Core does not strengthen high school English coursework and will not reduce post-secondary remedial coursework; and that Common Core will set our students back in math at least two years in comparison with their peers internationally.  We have many specific examples of how Common Core ELA and Math “dumb down” education but Hunter continues to ignore these.  (See attached)

Repealing Common Core will return control to Alabama parents, teachers, and the legislature

Hunter continues in her attempt to mislead others that Alabama did not adopt Common Core.  In this newsletter, she states that Alabama has “no ongoing commitments” and that “our standards are ours.”    She knows better.  

Regarding “no ongoing commitments”:  When the Alabama state board of education applied for a Race to the Top grant (February 2009, I believe – BEFORE the standards were even written), it committed to adopting Common Core standards whether it received the grant or not.  Many of the forty states which “adopted” Common Core seem to have done so for the reason Alabama did – to become eligible for federal money the Obama Administration offered as “Race to the Top” funds in return for ceding control of developing its standards and adopting national Common Core standards.  Alabama did not receive funds in phase one and re-applied in phase two.  This is why Alabama is listed on the official Common Core website even today as a participating state.  Alabama will remain committed to Common Core until and unless the Alabama legislature repeals Common Core, since the state board of education refused to withdraw and Mary Scott voted to remain a committed Common Core state.  This decision surrendered Alabama’s educational authority.

Regarding “our standards are ours”:  As an adoptive state, Alabama loses control over content.  Alabama must adopt 100% of Common Core standards.  It cannot change or delete or substitute anything, and it may allow only a token amount of additional content (up to 15%), which won’t be covered on national tests.  Alabama added only 2.5% of additional ELA materials and 14.5% of additional math materials.  For Hunter to refer to these token Alabama-specific materials added as “Alabama standards”, while having to implement 100% of Common Core, is disingenuous.  The standards are NOT ours, they are copyright by trade associations and belong to the NGA/CCSSO, which is working in partnership with the federal government. 

Speaking of federal backing:  Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation stated to Alabama legislators on April 18th:  “Federal backing has cemented the effort as one to establish national standards and tests that will define what every child in America must learn in school.  What the federal government funds, it ultimately controls.  That’s the biggest concern with Common Core, and why I consider these to be national standards and tests that threaten Alabama’s education sovereignty….National standards will strengthen federal control over education while weakening Alabama schools’ direct accountability to parents and taxpayers.”  So when Hunter states in her newsletter that “Alabama is safe,” I disagree on several levels. 

Alabama is NOT safe from outside interference in our education when entities outside our state make choices of what Alabama students will learn and parents, teachers, and legislators have no ability to change this, even when there are problems.  By repealing Common Core, Alabama legislators will un-lace the “straitjacket on academic freedom” (as the RNC Resolution puts it) in Alabama. 

Repeal of Common Core will allow Alabama to set our own standards and answer only to Alabama parents and taxpayers. 

Hunter stated that she told her third grader that what he was “studying now in Math and English (sic – not implemented until August 2013!) could go away.  He asked, ‘Well, what will we learn?’  Good question.”  I would like to answer her third-grader’s question.

To start, Alabama could go back to our previous standards.  Alabama had good standards.  They were rated B+ by the Fordham Institute, which ranks state standards nationally and was paid millions of dollars by the Gates Foundation to advocate for Common Core; and which stated in a recent letter to Alabama that it “would not be crazy” to return to its previous standards.  By the way, Common Core was also rated B+.

While it is rising from the bottom,

·         Alabama leads the nation in reading gains in grades four through eight as a direct result of its ARI.

·          Alabama has the second highest gain in math because of our Math Initiative.  These are proven to work. 

·         Alabama was one of only eleven states to score a grade of “A” for our superior history standards. 

·         The gap between black and white students narrowed by 4 points since 2003. 

·         The gap between students from low-income families and other students narrowed by 5 points since 2003.  

 Despite the fact that our Alabama standards are good, we can still strengthen them.  There are six other states that were graded “clearly superior” to Common Core.  Why not check out their standards and see if we want to model them?  In addition, we know that choice and competition always improves education.  Our legislature should offer more school choice options. 

Why would Alabama settle for “common” when we don’t have to.  Why straitjacket Alabama to standards owned by someone else, controlled by someone else, and which aren’t even research-based or internationally benchmarked?  Why give away parental and state control over what our children learn of our own free will?  The federal government takes enough of our personal freedoms by force.  Why voluntarily give them more? 

In conclusion:  For years now, Ms. Hunter has claimed that Common Core has rigor and is an improvement on previous Alabama standards, yet she shows no proof.  It would be far more productive for Ms. Hunter to explain WHY she believes education experts are wrong when they say Common Core lacks rigor, is not research-based, is not internationally benchmarked, will put our children at least two years behind countries with the best standards, and will handicap our children’s future since they will not be prepared to be independent thinkers and good citizens or college-ready.  (Examples are listed in the attached document.)  So far no one has been able to refute these education experts.  Can she?

 Examples of How Common Core Standards
Lack Rigor and International Benchmarking

The Heritage Foundation:  Common Core has fatal flaws

English/Language Arts

·         Reading levels are lowered.  Reading standards for 12th grade students will be at the 8th grade level.*

·         Standards do not prepare students for authentic college-level work.*

·         Standards are not internationally benchmarked.*

·         Standards will not reduce post-secondary remedial coursework.*

·         Standards emphasize skills, not literary or cultural knowledge for citizenship.*

·         “Standards are designed to lead to a uniform, federally controlled, and intellectually undemanding curriculum.”*

·         Classical literature will be reduced and replaced with “informational texts”.  This drastic decrease in the instruction of classical literature at the high school level necessary for success at the university college level will ill prepare students.  Informational texts are written at a low level of thinking skills at around a 6th or 8th grade reading level.*

Math Standards

·         Will set American students back at least two years in comparison with their peers internationally

·         Defer fluency in division to grade 6 **

·         Defer Algebra to grade 9 from grade 8 **

·         Teach geometry by an experimental method (on the basis of rigid motions) that was not successful when tried in Russia **

·         Fail on clarity and rigor compared to better state standards and to those of high-achieving countries **

·         Fail to meet recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, and are contrary to the practice of international competitors **

·         Are two or more years behind international expectations by eight grade and only fall further behind as they advance in grades ***

·         Don’t fully cover the material in a solid geometry course, or in the second-year algebra course ***

·         Are inferior to several sets of standards in the nation including those in California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, and Washington ****

* Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Univ. of Arkansas,  served on the Common Core Validation Committee
Ze’ev Wurman, former head of U.S. Department of Education
 Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University, the only professional mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee
W. Steven Wilson, professor of mathematics at Johns Hopkins University



Common Core Math Emphasizes Process Over Correct Answers

April 19th, 2013

By Elois Zeanah

The adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover” was demonstrated again in a meeting of the Alabama Senate Education Policy Committee on Wednesday during a vote on whether to repeal Common Core.  Alabama Senator Bill Holzclaw is on a mission to scuttle his Republican peers’ bill to repeal Common Core, and he says he will fight them to the end.  I’m still trying to understand his agenda, although I’m suspicious since I know who the primary opposition is – the Business Council of Alabama (BCA).  But you have to give him credit for courage since this bill, SB403, is sponsored by fellow Republican Scott Beason and is backed by every Republican organization in the State. 

In a “show and tell” moment, Senator Holzclaw held up a fifth grade Common Core math textbook.  He stated there was nothing offensive about that book.  Granted, it was a pretty book – bright blue in color with a pretty abstract symbol that looked benign.  However, did Senator Holzclaw read the book?  Did he try any of the math problems?  Does he understand how Common Core math is different from traditional math?  Does he understand that neither parents nor legislators can take actions to make changes since the math standards are copyrighted by trade associations in Washington, D.C. and coordinated/directored by the federal government?

Common Core Math Emphasizes Process of Discovery over Correct Answers

If Senator Holzclaw had tried to work some of the math problems, he might have encountered the same feelings of confusion and turn-off by students or the frustrations of parents.  He might have even found himself unable to get the right answers. 

A child can get all the answers to math problems correctly but these will be marked wrong if the child can’t explain the “why and how” the correct answer is arrived at – such as drawing pictures, etc.  I wonder if Senator Holzclaw feels his valuable time as a parent or the added hours of mental anguish by students, which can turn model students into behavior problems (as some parents are reporting), are worth losing control of Alabama’s education standards, which parents and legislators can’t fix since these are copyright standards by trade associations and are decided by unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats outside of Alabama? 

In addition to the emotional and behavioral problems of children being reported by parents, some math experts assert that the new Common Core math standards will cause students’ performance to decline because of content and quality.

Common Core Math Dumbs Down Traditional Math Standards

“Ze’ev Wurman, an expert on mathematics standards and assessment and former U.S. Department of Education official, analyzed three separate studies of the Common Core math standards in the Summer 2012 issue of Education Next.[i]  He stated that the Common Core standards “may be higher than some state standards but they are certainly lower than the best of them.”[ii]

Common Core math standards do not prepare students to be “college-ready”

Mr. Wurman notes that the promise of college readiness rings hollow.  “Its college-readiness standards are below the admission requirements of most four-year state colleges.”[iii]

  • This echoes other education experts who state that Common Core prepares students for two-year, not four-year colleges.
  • Of great concern is Wurman’s prediction that “Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States.”[iv]

Common Core math standards are NOT research-based.  Mr. Wurman notes that they:

  • Defer fluency in division to grade 6
  • Tend to be wordy and hard to read
  • Defer Algebra to ninth grade from eighth grade
  • Teach geometry by an experimental method
  • Fail on clarity and rigor compared to better state standards and to those of high-achieving countries

Common Core math standards are NOT internationally bench-marked. 

Professor R. James Milgram of Stanford, the only professional mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the common Core standards. He states:

  • Common Core math standards are actually two or more years behind international expectations by eighth grade
  • Students continue to fall further behind as they progress to higher grades
  • Math standards don’t even fully cover the material in a solid geometry course, or in the second-year algebra course

A legislator can read the math standards, but refuse to read analyses of math experts.  He can look at pretty book covers, but not work the problems or listen to parents who have.  And he can be so loyal to special interest groups that he can refuse to heed the warnings that Common Core math standards are NOT research-based or internationally benchmarked — and be dogged determined to scuttle what his fellow Republicans are trying to do: 

  • Keep control of Alabama standards here in Alabama
  • Preserve choice and competition which mandatory nationalized standards prohibit
  • Strive to give our children opportunities to be “exceptional”, not “common”

SB403 could reach the Senate floor for a vote as early as Tuesday.  Senator Bill Holzclaw has pledged to fight this bill and offer his same substitute on the floor that was rejected by the Senate Education Policy Committee.  This will take valuable time.  There’s only eight “calendar” days left in this legislative session. 

If Holzclaw is really dogged determined to fight this bill and take valuable time from other bills, why doesn’t he use time productively to explain why he believes educational experts are wrong when they say Common Core is not research-based, is not internationally benchmarked, will put our children at least two years behind countries with the best standards, and will handicap our children’s future since they will not be prepared to be independent thinkers and good citizens or college-ready.   So far no one has been able to. 




[i] The assessments were done by the Fordham Institute; by Andrew Porter, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and colleagues; and by University of Southern California professor Morgan Polikoff.  Education Reporter (Number 326, March 2013)

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

Is Opposing Common Core Fighting for Freedom or Seeing a Bogeyman?

April 18th, 2013
By Elois Zeanah
Alabama Senator Bill Holzclaw disagrees with the entire Republican establishment (from the national to the state/local levels) and votes with Democrats on Common Core. He accuses his Republican family, tea parties, church-affiliated organizations and other groups which oppose Common Core, of seeing a “bogeyman”.
When a state board of education gives away its right to determine Alabama’s standards and assessments, which guide curriculum, to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., and MUST FOLLOW COMMON CORE DICTATES 100% and cannot change a word, or delete or substitute any of its elements, and the state board of education agrees to that — is this seeing a “bogeyman”?
When the SBOE agrees to adopt Common Core standards sight unseen in the hope of receiving federal $$$ and in return agree to blindly follow copyright standards of lobbyist organizations (NGA/CCSSO), which haven’t been written yet and which can’t be changed by us — is this seeing a “bogeyman”?

When we counter false arguments the Alabama state superintendent is dishing out to legislators, and give documentation that’s irrefutable – is this seeing a bogeyman?

It’s frustrating and puzzling to understand why Senator Holzclaw, whom I admire and know to be a highly intelligent man and patriot, puts his trust in one man, whom we know to be misleading legislators, who kept legislators in the dark when the state board of education adopted Common Core yet committed the legislature to pay for it (hundreds of millions of dollars) and who has misappropriated over fifty million dollars the legislature approved for one education purpose to pay for another purpose (Common Core) without the knowledge or authorization of the legislature. 

Those of us who are fighting to repeal Common Core put our faith in our research and those who put individual freedoms and state sovereignty over special interests.  Why would legislators put their faith in Superintendent of State Tommy Bice, who is a lobbyist for CCSSO, which received tens of millions of dollars to lobby for Common Core, and has been running roughshod over the Alabama legislature for some time now?

Instead of insulting Alabamians who are working hard to get him to do his job of legislative oversight, Senator Holzclaw should hold Dr. Bice accountable and repeal Common Core to un-lace the “straitjacket on academic freedom” (as the RNC Resolution puts it) in Alabama. 

Once Common Core is repealed, if Senator Holzclaw prefers Common Core over Alabama’s previous standards (which were rated as good as Common Core), then he can lead the way to adopt them without the straitjacket of answering to the feds and lobbyist organizations, without giving decisions of what our children will learn to others outside our state, and without giving up parental control and education freedom under the Tenth AmendmentLet’s set our own standards and answer only to Alabama parents and taxpayers.

I will warn the Senator, though, if he chooses Common Core even without the straitjacket of mandatory compliance to the two trade associations which hold the copyright, and without the straitjacket of reporting to the federal government, he will choose standards that  education experts have documented will put U.S. students two years behind their peers in countries which have the best education standards.  Why not repeal Common Core, revert back to our previous standards which were rated as good as Common Core but consider strengthening them by modeling one or more of the six states that have superior standards to Common Core? 

Why settle for “common” when we don’t have to, and why give away parental and state control over what our children learn of our own free will?   The federal government takes enough of our personal freedoms by force.  Why voluntarily give them more?