By Elois Zeanah
National Common Core standards are being sold to the public as a new education reform that’s going to save failing schools. Jay Greene, the endowed professor of education at the University of Arkansas characterized Common Core Standards as “that thing from the grave” which gets “resurrected about every decade.”
Progressives have worked to get national education standards for decades. It started in the early 1900s. The last time it was tried was in the 1990s during the Clinton Administration. Each time national standards were resurrected, they got buried again under the barrage of public criticism and Congressional disapproval. Frustrated but ever determined, this time proponents of national standards decided to bypass the democratic process. The latest exhumation from the grave resumed in 2007.
Jay Greene put it bluntly when he said that “their entire project” of getting national standards approved “depends on stealth. If we have an open and vigorous debate about whether it is desirable for our large, diverse country to have a uniform national set of standards, curriculum, and assessments, I am confident that they would lose. Time and time again the American people through their political and educational leaders have rejected nationalization of education when it has been proposed in a straightforward way.”
The latest plot to nationalize standards included stealth by special interests and speed to rush through implementation before the public could catch on and organize resistance. They got away with it, thanks to complicit state boards of education. Now that Common Core is being implemented and we’re learning what’s at stake and that it’s going to steal our liberties and states’ rights and cost taxpayers a fortune, will “we the people” stop this travesty?
The Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was Created by Special Interests
The “Common Core State Standards Initiative claims that is a state-led effort, implying that it had legislative grants of authority from individual states. In fact, through 2008, the Common Core Initiative was a plan of private groups being implemented through trade associations, albeit trade associations that had ‘official’-sounding names [like the National Governor’s Association] …. Throughout 2008-2009, the Standards had not been drafted. Yet the Common Core proponents wanted to quickly lock the states into the Standards and thus avoid, from their viewpoint, the difficulties inherent in the democratic process.”
The “people and their elected legislators had no opportunity to deliberate on the Standards and assessments before their adoption.” This is of great importance “given that the Common Core system removes significant education policy decisions from the people and their elected representatives …. The federal government and private organizations have pushed their Common Core agenda on the states by impairing state autonomy, and they plan to retain their stranglehold on the states.”
Common Core was Written Behind Closed Doors & Washington Bureaucrats who will Police Common Core cannot be held Accountable
Former “Attorney General Ed Meese, former Assistant Secretary of Education Bill Evers, and hundreds of other professors and experts from a wide range of disciplines signed the Closing the Door on Innovation statement, arguing that, “we do not believe Congress or the public supports having [national standards] developed behind closed doors with no public accountability …. The Common Core Initiative and the manner in which the Standards were imposed on the American people undermine our federalist system of divided powers.”
Who are these people who are so bold to participate in attempts to end-run Congress, to violate federal laws, and to abuse the public process?
Sponsors of the Common Core State Standards Initiative
The “current phase” of national standards “began in 2007. That year, the Gates and Eli Broad foundations pledged $60 million to inject their education vision, including uniform ‘American standards,’ into the 2008 [presidential] campaigns. Then, in May 2008, the Gates Foundation awarded the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy a $2.2 million grant ‘to work with governors and other key stakeholders’ to promote the adoption of standards. The following month, Hunt and the National Governors Association hosted a symposium to explore education strategies …. In December 2008, during the transition to the Obama administration, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve, Inc. (an entity founded by the National Governors Association, governed by six state governors and six corporate leaders, and funded by several mega-corporations and foundations) set out their education vision in ‘Benchmarking for Success,’ funded by the Gates Foundation …. Including nationwide standards.”
Speed was Important to Stealth
The National Governors Association (NGA) “wanted to implement its plan quickly – and avoid the tedium of the democratic process …. The 2009 stimulus bill provided NGA’s breakthrough. It increased the Education Department’s discretionary spending by 25,500 percent, giving it a fresh pot of money and a means to shape state and local curricula without congressional interference.
“In March 2009, one month after passage of the stimulus bill, the Education Department announced a two-part “Race to the Top” national competition to distribute the money …. A state could not get the money unless it signed onto the standards.
“In March 2010, NGA released the ‘first official public draft’ of the standards, followed by a June release of the final product …. States had only two months to commit to adopting the standards …. Rutgers professor Joseph Rosenstein remarked in Education Week, ‘Deciding so quickly … is irresponsible.
“NGA is not an official body of the states. Yet, it is acting like a legislative body and, on a transformative initiative, helped cut the American people out of the democratic process.” Neither is the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) an official body of the states. “CCSSO was involved in the Clinton Administration’s attempt to create national tests.” 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.”
What Can We Do?
Will these private interests who are arrogant enough to hammer “the last nail of so-called reform … in the coffin of traditional American education which made our nation the envy of the Free World and which produced famous scientists, mathematicians, writers, artists, musicians, doctors, etc.” get away with their disrespect of the public and the democratic process?
Let’s ask state legislators.
What will Legislators Do?
Legislators are the people’s last line of defense to stop the federal government’s assault on parental control of local education and states’ rights. Legislators should rescind and defund the implementation of Common Core immediately. They, as others, were shut out of the public process when special interests used stealth to create and get state boards of education to adopt national Common Core standards, and their rushed implementation. But state legislatures are now being forced to fund the conversion of their states’ current education standards to Common Core standards.
The cost to implement Common Core nationwide is estimated to be $16 billion. Legislators have the power of the purse. Will legislators be complicit in letting special interests and the federal government violate the U.S. Constitution and undermine federalism as state boards of education did? Or will they fight for the rule of law, the democratic process, parents, taxpayers, and most of all, for our children?
Legislators will decide. Either they will bury “that thing from the grave” again, or legislators will hammer the nail in the coffin of traditional American education that promotes creativity and innovation and helps define American Exceptionalism.
 Emmet McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Controlling from the Top: Why Common Core is Bad for America” Nay 2012
 “National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards”: A project by Pioneer Institute, American Principles Project, Pacific Research Institute, and AccountabilityWorks
 Emmet McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Controlling from the Top: Why Common Core is Bad for America
 Emmet McGroarty, “Education Revolution … Without The People”? February 23, 2011