Common Core for the Common Good?

I was made aware of this WordPress blog page through a social network. Since I am in complete agreement with this mom’s feels about Common Core, and since she has given permission to re-post it, I will do just that.

In the link at the end of the article she has done a good job of “following the money.”  It’s well worth the time to read it also.

A Mother Speaks Out: Children For Sale – Guest Post by Alyson Williams   70 comments

Children for Sale

By Alyson Williams

No more decisions behind closed doors!  Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.

 

In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children.  It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No  other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was  complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d  heard about it.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common  Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!

Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this  decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free, has ultimate authority over decisions that directly affect my children’s  intellectual development, privacy, and future opportunities. It is not even an accurate representation  of my initial reaction to the flyer. I say it to make a point  that I didn’t realize until much, much later… this isn’t just an issue of education, but of money and control. Please allow me to explain.

That first day my husband picked up the flyer and asked me, “What is Common Core?” To be honest, I had no idea. We looked it up online.  We read that they were standards for each grade that would be consistent across a number of states. They were described as higher standards, internationally benchmarked, state-led, and inclusive of parent and teacher in-put. It didn’t sound like a bad thing, but why hadn’t we ever heard about it before? Again, did I miss the parent in-put meeting or questionnaire… the vote in our legislature? Who from my state had helped to write the standards? In consideration of the decades of disagreement on education trends that I’ve observed regarding education, how in the world did that many states settle all their differences enough to agree on the same standards? It must have taken years, right? How could I have missed it?

At first it was really difficult to get answers to all my questions. I started by asking the people who were in charge of implementing the standards at the school district office, and later talked with my representative on the local school board. I made phone calls and I went to public meetings. We talked a lot about the standards themselves. No one seemed to know the answers to, or wanted to talk about my questions about how the decision was made, the cost, or how it influenced my ability as a parent to advocate for my children regarding curriculum. I even had the chance to ask the Governor himself at a couple of local political meetings. I was always given a similar response. It usually went something like this:

Question: “How much will this cost?”

Answer: “These are really good standards.”

Question: “I read that the Algebra that was offered in 8th grade, will now not be offered until 9th grade. How is this a higher standard?”

Answer: “These are better standards. They go deeper into concepts.”

Question: “Was there a public meeting that I missed?”

Answer: “You should really read the standards. This is a good thing.”

Question: “Isn’t it against the Constitution and the law of the land to have a national curriculum under the control of the federal government?’

Answer: “Don’t you want your kids to have the best curriculum?”

It got to the point where I felt like I was talking to Jedi masters who, instead of actually answering my questions, would wave their hand in my face and say, “You will like these standards.”

I stopped asking. I started reading.

I read the standards. I read about who wrote the standards. I read about the timeline of how we adopted the standards (before the standards were written.) I read my state’s Race to the Top grant application, in which we said we were going to adopt the standards. I read the rejection of that grant application and why we wouldn’t be given additional funding to pay for this commitment. I read how standardized national test scores are measured and how states are ranked. I read news articles, blogs, technical documents, legislation, speeches given by the US Education Secretary and other principle players, and even a few international resolutions regarding education.

I learned a lot.

I learned that most other parents didn’t know what the Common Core was either.

I learned that the standards were state accepted, but definitely not “state led.”

I learned that the international benchmark claim is a pretty shaky one and doesn’t mean they are better than or even equal to international standards that are considered high.

I learned that there was NO public input before the standards were adopted. State-level decision makers had very little time themselves and had to agree to them in principle as the actual standards were not yet complete.

I learned that the only content experts on the panel to review the standards had refused to sign off on them, and why they thought the standards were flawed.

I learned that much of the specific standards are not supported by research but are considered experimental.

I learned that in addition to national standards we agreed to new national tests that are funded and controlled by the federal government.

I learned that in my state, a portion of teacher pay is dependent on student test performance.

I learned that not only test scores, but additional personal information about my children and our family would be tracked in a state-wide data collection project for the express purpose of making decisions about their educational path and “aligning” them with the workforce.

I learned that there are fields for tracking home-schooled children in this database too.

I learned that the first step toward getting pre-school age children into this data project is currently underway with new legislation that would start a new state preschool program.

I learned that this data project was federally funded with a stipulation that it be compatible with other state’s data projects. Wouldn’t this feature create a de facto national database of children?

I learned that my parental rights to deny the collection of this data or restrict who has access to it have been changed at the federal level through executive regulation, not the legislative process.

I learned that these rights as protected under state law are currently under review and could also be changed.

I learned that the financing, writing, evaluation, and promotion of the standards had all been done by non-governmental special interest groups with a common agenda.

I learned that their agenda was in direct conflict with what I consider to be the best interests of my children, my family, and even my country.

Yes, I had concerns about the standards themselves, but suddenly that issue seemed small in comparison to the legal, financial, constitutional and representative issues hiding behind the standards and any good intentions to improve the educational experience of my children.

If it was really about the best standards, why did we adopt them before they were even written?

If they are so wonderful that all, or even a majority of parents would jump for joy to have them implemented, why wasn’t there any forum for parental input?

What about the part where I said I felt my children had been sold? I learned that the U.S. market for education is one of the most lucrative – bigger than energy or technology by one account – especially in light of these new national standards that not only create economy of scale for education vendors, but require schools to purchase all new materials, tests and related technology. Almost everything the schools had was suddenly outdated.

When I discovered that the vendors with the biggest market share and in the position to profit the most from this new regulation had actually helped write or finance the standards, the mama bear inside me ROARED!

Could it be that the new standards had more to do with profit than what was best for students? Good thing for their shareholders they were able to avoid a messy process involving parents or their legislative representatives.

As I kept note of the vast sums of money exchanging hands in connection with these standards with none of it going to address the critical needs of my local school – I felt cheated.

When I was told that the end would justify the means, that it was for the common good of our children and our society, and to sit back and trust that they had my children’s best interests at heart – they lost my trust.

As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.

When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.

Finally, I learned one more very important thing. I am not the only one who feels this way. Across the nation parents grandparents and other concerned citizens are educating themselves, sharing what they have learned and coming together. The problem is, it is not happening fast enough. Digging through all the evidence, as I have done, takes a lot of time – far more time than the most people are able to spend. In order to help, I summarized what I thought was some of the most important information into a flowchart so that others could see at a glance what I was talking about.

I am not asking you to take my word for it. I want people to check the references and question the sources. I am not asking for a vote or for money. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe with all my heart that a decision that affects the children of almost every state in the country should not be made without a much broader discussion, validated research, and much greater input from parents and citizens than it was originally afforded.

If you agree I encourage you to share this information. Post it, pin it, email it, tweet it.

No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.

_________________________________

Thanks to Alyson Williams for permission to publish her story.

Sources for research: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/FlowchartSources.pdf

Haphazzard Sex Ed

Pinky gazed around in amazement. Never in his life had he seen so many marvelous titties. Well, it wasn’t like he had never noticed them before, but now that he was in the sixth-grade and in the “Bigroom,” the multi-grade classroom of his country school, they just seemed to jump to his attention. Sort of demanding his unconscious gaze.

Some of these girls he hadn’t seen all Summer long. “The first day of school has just got to be the greatest!” he mused half aloud.

“What a change comes over a girl between the sixth and seventh grades!”

Dolly was just another tomboy last Spring, and Eileen had been just plain flat. Last fall Ina ran naked through the hay fields with a dozen or so of us. Now, even she is beginning to look more like a woman, and he hadn’t seen her naked in months.

But this year, if Dolly ran anywhere those titties would surely bop her in the chin!

“And marvelous Marla,” Pinky sighed over my shoulder, “She must have the biggest ones in school,” he whispered without so much as moving his lips.

At morning recess we had seen Glenn trying to squeeze one of Marla’s. She seemed to be acting strangely coy, yet enjoying the attention greatly.

Then sometime during the noon recess the word went out onto the playground, “Marla’s wearing falsies!”

As it later turned out, Allan had gotten his dirty hands on one. He had just walked up to her, reached out and took a generous handful. When she realized what was happening she took a quick step backward, leaving him with a handful of sweater-encased foam. The elastic of her bra stretched out before him like a slingshot. He could feel the electricity in the air as the gasps arose from her group of girl friends.

Well, not wanting to be a “pervert caught red-handed,” so to speak, he let go. That wad of rubber nestled in a “c” cup catapulted back to her chest with a resounding “Thunk!”

A chorus of startled “Oh’s!” arose from her contingent of friends, and she made a beeline for the girl’srestroom.

By afternoon recess she was coaxed out in humiliation by several of her friends. Some of us though, didn’t get the full story until after school that afternoon.

For the next several days she was not “strutting her stuff” in tight sweaters, but was buttoned up in a lightweight jacket. It was months before we saw her in form- fitting clothes again. It was then that Pinky and I began to wonder if Allan’s story was true, or if some girls really were un-sanforized and tended to shrink!

Some time into the school year Pinky had to quit our little country church school for family financial reasons.

Every day he’d have to catch the big yellow school bus to attend the city school.

Many were the days I’d watch him trudge off to school like a martyr to the lionden. He would regale us with stories of life in the eathenschool. How at lunches, he’d have to turn down the hotdogs and pork chops and go hungry. He would decline to dance during the music classes, preferring to sit on the sidelines with his new fat friend, Penny.

To me, Penny seemed to be a strange, huge kid with a perpetual runny nose. But, he shared a common interest with Pinky, “titty watching” as he was fond of calling his sport of choice.

One day as Penny and Pinky were sharing a desk during another boring music class, they just “happened” to find themselves seated behind Charlotte, the most active dancer in the whole class.

“Charlotte!” he’d moan, rolling his eyes up ’til only the whites showed, harlotte, with the biggest boobs ever possessed by a sixth grader since Adam and Eve’s daughter.

Somehow, speculation arose between Pinky and Penny pertaining to the relative softness or hardness, and the real size of those mounds of feminine flesh as compared to say, a softball. Dares and giggles were swapped as each tried to get the other to “feel up” to the challenge.

After most of the period was wasted on giggles and chortles, it was decided that they would each slip a hand under her armpit from behind. Reaching far enough should allow them to “size up” the situation with one gentle squeeze.

I wasn’t there of course, but when Pinky and I got together that evening his face was still red. He claimed it was not from the resounding slap that he received, but from what he had learned in that briefest of moments when his fingers had cupped that breast.

In just a moment of time, he claimed, he had brazenly breached the barrier of the sexes.

“Right in the classroom, practically under the long nose of the teacher!” he choked out as rolled on the ground in spasms of laughter.

In that momentous instant he had accelerated the clock twenty years and discovered that the titties of older girls are both soft and hard. They squeeze somewhat like a foam rubber ball, but are more resilient and spring back into shape faster when your grip is released.

They also seemed to have a harder spot about the size of a pencil eraser right out in front. He had discovered that as his “pointy finger” swept his side of her chest like a blind man reading Braille.

“Did you know that titties aren’t really round like a ball?” he asked me. “Hers started almost under her armpit, and got bigger and rounder as they sort of wrapped around her chest.”

Penny claimed he was so freaked out by the thrill of what he had just done, that he hardly even felt the slap.

According to Ted, who was sitting across the aisle, she had whirled around administering a slap with each hand in such quick secession that they hardly had time to react.

Then up shot her hand, “I’m gonna tell Teacher on you!” she declared.

“Oh yeah? You can’t even say `tits’ out loud.” whispered Ted, “What are you gonna say?”

Suddenly her hand collapsed into her lap and she fell into a brooding silence.

That look of satisfied fulfillment on Pinky’s face convinced me that this was the stuff that wet dreams were made of, in fact I was getting stiff just listening to their tale of daring.

Someday, he and I would be in school together again, we could share experiences like this first hand. In the meantime I’d have to be content with listening and dreaming.