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The Millbrook Independent

May 29th
The Last thing we need is Common Core
Written by News Desk   
Friday, 11 July 2014 08:26


By Art Parker, Editor

When it comes to this fight, I don't have a dog, well, not a dog involved directly. My kids never went to school in this area, they are grown and gone, and it is very doubtful that I will have grandchildren, and if I do they will probably grow up and attend school in Maryland or Virginia. All I have is a deep love of my country and a love of Alabama.

The fight I mention is about Common Core and those behind it. At first I didn't think much about Common Core, the new education standards, testing, etc., that have already been approved by the Alabama Department of Education. One may hear that Common Core has the goal of making our kids more competitive and that they will learn more. One may hear that more accountability is required, and that means more paperwork on educators, and that doesn't translate into learning.

The conservative political party does not want Common Core. The best indication of such came a couple of years ago. In 2012, the Republican Party Platform specifically stated the need to "repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCS plan (Common Core) which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement."

Common Core supporters make the following claims in this paragraph. Common Core Standards are evidence-based. Extensive research has been carried out and many experts have contributed to making the standards excellent. The skills required by the CCS have all been agreed upon as essential, and are based on 21st-Century Skills. The standards are also based on international benchmarks and incorporate the newest educational thinking, and they build upon successful elements already employed in many of the leading states, so that states with successful standards need not worry about taking education a step backward. Content is balanced against applications so that students will not leave high school either only prepared to theorize and think critically or only be able to apply skills to the real world. Instead, students will be able to think critically about the world around them, and possess applicable skills, making them well-rounded. The standards' focus on complex texts across disciplines will increase overall literacy and prepare students to engage in critical thinking in multiple disciplines beyond high school. (Source: wordpress.com).

I was pretty impressed when I read those words about Common Core a while back, and even while I am no fan of the president, I first thought the resistance to Common Core was nothing more than fanatical right wingers blaming Obama for something else. Obama is not the one that set Common Core in motion and that led me to believe it was just more fanatics screaming foul. But in the last couple of months, and after a great deal of research, my position has changed. One may hear all of the so-called good things about Common Core, but I for one, am convinced that it is a money making scheme and an idea that will contaminate the minds of our young people (more on this in a moment). No, President Barack Obama did not create Common Core. I believe CCS was created by people that are looking to get filthy rich. Obama jumped on board after the creation because he saw Common Core as a socialist vehicle that could give more power to the federal government, especially in the area of education whereby young minds could be controlled and sabotaged.

One of Elmore County senators, Dick Brewbaker, explained to me that, "The federal government has always wanted to control what is taught in schools. Until recently, the states have pretty much controlled what was taught, how it was taught and how it was assessed. I think Common Core was somewhat harmless in the beginning but then the U.S. Department of Education got involved and that meant potential penalties if states did not participate. There is no way we can be free to control our educational process and our schools, and something like Common Core cannot be considered voluntary if the federal government wants to tie or restrict our taxpayer money to its usage."

Now I can see why the Republican platform came out against CCS. Now I can see why the Obama-CCS resentment is real. Brewbaker is an old friend, one that I disagree with frequently, but he really got my attention when he said, "The Common Core problem is the most important States rights issue of my political life." That says a lot coming from a Vanderbilt University graduate with a degree in history and economics, and one who is a former teacher.

Except for a couple of items, I have not reviewed much content regarding CCS. But the things I have seen sent chills up and down my spine. The most shocking of these is a book entitled It's Perfectly Normal. It is on the recommended reading list for Common Core. On the cover it clearly says, "For age 10 and up." I know that a 10-year old will probably be in the fifth grade since my wife taught that grade for more 30 years (she is retired). When I first saw this book, after I almost vomited, I took it home to let my expert see it. My wife said, "This pornography does not belong in any school including high school."

This publication graphically depicts homosexual activity, body parts, discusses abortion and uses many sexual terms I would never print in this newspaper. And this is recommended reading for 10-year olds? I have been told that the State Board of Education has this publication on a restricted list, which is good, but I submit to you that any curriculum, any group of standards, or any educational idea that would even think about handing this over to a 10-year old should be banned from the State of Alabama and hopefully our nation as well. I am not for censorship but when it comes to the minds of those that have yet to reach adulthood our government (that includes schools) must not cross the line of responsibility that first belongs to a family.

One of the great tests of personal freedom that rests in the minds of many Americans, especially in the South, is the protection of the Second Amendment. That part of the federal constitution basically guarantees us the right to have "arms" or a gun if you wish. I found information about Common Core conflicting with the Second Amendment or attempts to re-write it for the eyes of school children. The best example I found was at Libertyunyielding.com. First, here is the exact words found in the Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The following language is found in a "Common Core Approved" civics/government instruction booklet for elementary-middle school-aged students: "People have the right to certain weapons, providing that they register them and they have not been in prison." Compare the actual Amendment with the other language. Notice that arms has been changed to weapons and that the vital notion of "the right to bear arms" has been lost altogether. But the biggest change is not what the textbook authors have left out; it is what they added. Nowhere in the original Second Amendment is there any mention of a provision that guns be registered. This is not just a matter of taking liberties with the language of the original document. This is out-and-out perversion.

Promoting homosexuality to our kids? Tinkering with the Second Amendment? Not for me.

One of the top conservative voices in America, George Will, explained his position on FOX News in May of this year when debating Common Core. Will said, "The advocates of Common Core say, if you like local control of your schools, you can keep it, period. If you like your local curriculum you can keep it, period, and people don't believe them for very good reasons. This is a thin end of an enormous wedge of federal power that will be wielded for the constant progressive purpose of concentrating power in Washington so that it can impose continental solutions to problems nationwide. You say it's voluntary. It has been driven by the use of bribes and coercion in the form of waivers from No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top money to buy the compliance of these 45 states, two of which, Indiana and I believe Oklahoma have already backed out, and they will not be the last. Watch the verb align in this argument. They are going to align the SAT and ACT tests with the curriculum. They are going to align the textbooks with the tests. And sooner or later you inevitably have a national curriculum that disregards the creativity of federalism. What are the chances that we're going to have five or six creative governors experimenting with different curricula or one creative constant permanent Washington bureaucracy overlooking our education? We've had 50 years now of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 50 years of federal involvement that has coincided with stagnation in test scores across the country."

After hearing George Will it now makes sense something else Senator Brewbaker said to me. "If everyone knew how some of these things are being taught with Common Core, like mathematics, they would see that this whole thing will simply dumb-down our kids."

Now, the money. Remember, the last word in CCS in Standards. And with new standards comes a whole mess of stuff to be sold to the taxpayers with the state and local school boards doing the buying, such as books, test materials, professional development, etc. A study by Accountability Works, the Maryland-based nonprofit education advocacy group, estimated that schools nationwide will need $6.87 billion for technology, $5.26 billion for professional development, $2.47 billion for textbooks and $1.24 billion for assessment testing over the first seven years that Common Core is in effect. One estimate I saw for just the total implementation cost in Alabama is $200 million. The amounts I have seen vary when it comes to implementing CSS, but the bottom line is that it will be expensive.

So, who is pushing Common Core in Alabama? Bob Riley and the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). In March of this year, Bob Riley wrote an editorial in the National Review, a political magazine deemed conservative by most, published in New York. The editorial was entitled: "Why I Support Common Core Standards" accompanied by a smaller headline, which said, "They guarantee educational quality while leaving states, not Washington, in charge." I personally believe the part about states being in charge is the biggest lie ever told. Just look at the previous paragraph and see what the Republican platform said about a straitjacket.

Riley's lieutenants, Senate Pro-Tem leader Del Marsh and Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, refuse to let legislation go forward to block Common Core, and that will not change until the tide is turned in both chambers of the Legislature. That means new people that are not puppets and soldiers of our former governor. Senator Brewbaker has attempted to pass legislation to stop Common Core, but the Riley regime forbids debate on the subject. As Brewbaker accurately states, "Leadership in both chambers in the Legislature controls the flow of legislation. If they want a bill to go to the floor it will; if they don't want a bill to go to the floor it will not."

According to Yellowhammernews.com, an extra friendly website to Speaker Hubbard, "the (BCA) is the official partner of the US Chamber of Commerce here in the state, and has been the most vocal proponent of Common Core during the last two legislative sessions. BCA President and CEO Billy Canary and his lobbying team have fought tooth and nail to defeat several pieces of legislation that would either repeal or limit Common Core in Alabama."

In my mind, when I think of CCS, I can't help but see Riley and his regime making money and funding more PAC war chests with money. When seeing who is pushing CCS there is an instant stench in the air that is fueled by the never ending quest for money and power. The exact same stench that filled the air with the Alabama Accountability Act.

I tried to like CCS but I can't now, and I can't support anyone supported by the people pushing this idea. I believe CCS is a great detriment to this state and this nation, and we do not need politicians that will be a political servant to CCS or those that support it.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 08:29
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