The following article was written by Pam Goode and published in the Delta Wind Newspaper on November 24, 2013. To view this piece on the Delta Wind Online, please click here.
The Common Core…Do you know what this is? If not, you are not alone. Most people I have spoken to do not know what Common Core is and/or what it means. Common Core has to do with the public education system (schools) and its direction in the 21st Century. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of the two members of the National Governors Association Common Core State Standards Initiative Validation Committee, who refused to sign the standards, identifies it as “a laudable effort to shape a national curriculum.”
The short-term goal behind Common Core is to implement the “structure and the system” that sets in place and secures a national curriculum for future adjustments. A crucial part of this “system” is to collect data (scholastic and personal) on children from preschool through to the workforce. The long-term goal is to have a “system” that directs children (the future generations of America) to be citizens in the new global economy.
If an individual focuses on any one aspect of this program they will most likely see little wrong with it and may even think it is a vast improvement. Please take a step back and look at the big picture. Find out where it came from and who is encouraging and helping to fund its implementation. Also and most importantly ask yourself, is this program fundamentally Constitutional?
When I contacted the Governor’s office with my concerns I was informed that Alaska did not adopt the Common Core standards. As I continued my research, I found this to be technically true but fundamentally false. Dr. Stotsky personally reviewed the “New Alaska Standards” and stated in a teleconference in August 2013, “… what Alaska has done is simply adopt Common Core but with a different name. It has changed the introductory matter in the document, the text that is there before the standards, but from my perusal of the actual English Language Arts Standards in what Alaska has adopted, it has adopted pretty much exactly what Common Core has.” Also, I attended an Alaska professional development course for teachers on the “New Alaska Standards” and the instructor stated that Alaska’s new standards are 93% identical to the Common Core standards. The other 7% are cultural.
Common Core is definitely here in Alaska by the alias name of the “New Alaska Standards.” Alaska chose to partner itself with the Common Core by becoming an advisory state in the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium to receive a No Child Left Behind waiver. This agreement binds Alaska to other states in the Consortium and the Common Core. Washington is the lead state in the Consortium and is legally responsible for the use of grant funds and ensuring the project is carried out by the consortium in accordance with Federal requirements. If you are interested in learning more, I highly encourage you to contact the Governors office and request a copy of the “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) SMARTER Balance Assessment Consortium Race to the Top Fund Assessment Program: Comprehensive Assessment System Grand Application.” This document was signed by Governor Parnell; Education Commissioner Michael Hanley; Chief Procurement Officer, Vern Jones; and President of the State Board of Education, James Merriner.
What I’m seeing goes much further than just standards. This is a whole new way of teaching, speaking and thinking for everyone. The implementation process was designed to be gradual and methodical, starting first with training the teachers so they can train the children, the parents, and the community.
The Delta Greely School District just introduced two Common Core books this year; Algebra and a 4th grade reader. A new book, “Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core,” was just introduced for the teachers to help them implement the new concept and vocabulary. I guarantee we will see more and more of Common Core in our schools as time goes on because only the new Common Core books have the new concepts and all state tests will use the Common Core vocabulary.
What I find more disturbing than Alaska’s acceptance of Common Core is the denial I have encountered of its presence in our state from the Governor’s office and educational leaders. Countless times I have witnessed individuals stumble on their words when they accidentally use the term “Common Core” and then quickly correct themselves with the term “New Alaska Standards.”
Each one of us is designed to be unique individuals and not a one-size-fits all; therefore, neither should be the education system that guides and influences our children’s minds. It’s the parents that are 100% responsible for their children’s lives and that includes their formal education and what goes into their brains. Options and choices are therefore essential and the Common Core system does not offer that. The name is self-explanatory. Home schooling will not be exempt.
A system, with unlimited choices, that allows the children and the teachers to reach their individual highest and fullest potential, should be paramount. This can never be achieved with a national education system driven by individuals with self appointed authority to direct us and tell us what is best for our children and the future of this country. This can only happen if the people either want it or do nothing to stop it.
There are two excellent websites on the Common Core in general and in Alaska and they are: https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreAK;
I would like to encourage the public to take some time to read through them and afterwards, please contact your school board members, legislative representatives, and the Governor.
They can be reached as follows: Rep. Eric Feige, 465-4859; Sen. Click Bishop, 465-2327; and Governor Sean Parnell, 465-3500. Delta Greely School Board members (Richard Mauer, Eileen Herman, Dana Mock, Becky Wilburn, Flower Cole, Jeff Lipscomb, and Barbara Parker) can be reached through the district website at www.dgsd.k12.ak.us or by calling the district office at 895-4658.
Ask them to remove Alaska from the Smarter Balance Consortium and the Common Core.