Dr. Duke Pesta has been touring the country, giving a presentation on the Common Core State Standards (Common Core), "You cannot do Common Core in bullet points," he says.
He's right, Common Core is too complicated.
On this fall evening, he was speaking to a group of about 65 parents and grandparents, some were seasoned veterans of the discussion, others very new to it. Common Core was developed a few years ago. Starting in 2008 with the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership, who received a grant from the Gates Foundation to promote the adoption of national educational standards. The conference they hosted with the National Governor's Association further developed the idea, and it has gone from an idea to being adopted by over 40 states, with legislation in several to have it removed.
Pesta is an outspoken conservative professor, who first heard about Common Core while working with Catholic families in his area. When he questioned it further, he found that many private schools were adopting Common Core right along with the public schools. Since then, he started talking to groups in his home state of Wisconsin, and continues talking to people, educating them to give them the tools to argue facts, and to fight what he calls a federal takeover of education.
[tweetthis]"You cannot do Common Core in bullet points," - Dr. Duke Pesta #CommonCore #homeschool[/tweetthis]
"If the Federal government wanted to take over education, why didn't they just do it?" He asks the audience, then continues, "Because there is a 1965 federal statute, a couple of statutes by the way, the federal government is prohibited. They cannot legally create national standards or a national curriculum. It's illegal."
Since federal control of education is illegal, how did this get pushed into the schools? Mostly through money. The National PTA and many other organizations have received grant money from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core and were advocating for it before they even saw the standards. In fact, according to Pesta, all the organizations supporting Common Core received grants from the Gates Foundation. This money is fairly easy to trace, using the Gates Foundation's website.
"Do you honestly think that the federal government would have allowed this into your schools if they didn't want it? Do you honestly think that some rogue billionaire could have bought his way into the schools this way if they weren't supportive of it?"
It's a good question - why would the federal government allow something like this into the schools unless they stood to benefit? Governments have a history of seeking more power, the United States is no exception, and the rate of power consolidation is increasing. The U.S. government is finding ways to do more and more for the people, at the expense of freedom, and this is the latest step in that direction.
He goes on to talk about how the federal Race to the Top program led to states adopting Common Core, "Any state that took any Race to the Top money was obligated to accept the Common Core when it was finally written. That's how 46 states got it without seeing it. How in the world is this state-led?"
Common Core isn't state-led. When the federal government puts a stipulation in grant applications that says the recipient of that grant money is required to do something in exchange for that grant money, the recipient is put in the position of either doing whatever it is, or declining grant money when they believe they need it.
With the Common Core, there are more questions than answers. It seems that the more questions that are answered, the more questions arise. This the the very problem. What is seen appears to be just the tip of the iceberg, with most of it still under the surface, unseen. The testing is turning out to be just as much trouble. In New York, kids are having massive issues with Common Core tests - to the point that psychologists and teachers are speaking up:
The volume of testing done throughout the year on students is overwhelming and causing anxiety problems, and more therapists are seeing children because of the stress under which they're placed. But these tests aren't just problematic for kids, they're high-stakes for the teachers. Their jobs depend upon it. Their jobs depend upon how their students perform on tests. Never mind the fact that education does not solely rest on the shoulders of the teachers, but also on the parents and students.
[tweetthis]#CommonCore isn't state-led. #CommonCore #homeschool[/tweetthis]
"How do you hold teachers accountable for a set of curriculum standards that they didn't write, and have no say in? How do you hold teachers accountable for tests that they didn't write, don't get to grade and don't even get to see?"
Teachers write tests for their students so they can see strengths and weaknesses; they test students to see how much of the material students retained then they use this information to adjust future lessons to help improve student learning, but what happens when the teacher never even gets to see the results of those tests? It becomes a useless thing that helps no one.
If the testing and Common Core curriculum isn't healthy for students, and doesn't give them what they need educationally, what is the purpose of Common Core?
"The whole premise of all of this is not to educate your kids, but to convince your kids that they belong first and foremost to the state, not to you, not to your families, not to your local communities, certainly not to your religious traditions, but to them."
With all that is known about how Common Core was adopted, funded and guided by private interests and the federal government, what can parents do to remove it before it is so entrenched that removal is impossible?
There are people who believe that Common Core is just the latest education fad that will pass. Pesta says they need to understand that this is the first time education has been federalized. The states have never ceded this much power to the federal government.
[tweetthis]" ...to convince your kids that they belong to the state..." - Dr. Duke Pesta[/tweetthis]
The unfortunate truth, is that unless more parents become active, more parents become outspoken and take the big, scary step of being known as a trouble maker - nothing will change. It will only get worse, and precious freedoms will erode further. The difference between the education my older two kids received in public school and the education that kids are receiving now is stark and chilling, and should serve as a wake up call to all parents: Unless you like to have other people, who may not share your values, mold your kids socially and emotionally, Common Core has got to come out of schools, and you have got to start speaking up.