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Common Core: Our new national curriculum

2012-08-29T00:00:00Z Common Core: Our new national curriculumBy BARBARA RUSH, IR YourTurn Helena Independent Record
August 29, 2012 12:00 am  • 

According to the Montana Common Core Standards Document, issued by the Office of Public Instruction, the standards were written to “fulfill the charge issued by the states.” Where did this “charge” come from? The work was “led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA).” My question is this: When did Montana begin to be represented by associations and councils rather than our elected representatives in the legislature? Denise Juneau, our state superintendent, went to the Montana Board of Public Education, an appointed body of seven, to gain approval to mandate Common Core in all our schools. The Pioneer Institute published an in-depth financial analysis of Common Core and determined that it would cost the state of Montana about $40 million to implement. Where will that money come from, and why wasn’t the legislature the body to decide if this was the right path for Montana schools?

Common Core is a federal action hiding under cover of the CCSSO and the NGA. President Obama offered waivers to states from No Child Left Behind to join a national curriculum (Common Core was the only one) and then offered grants from his Race to the Top Program to states that joined Common Core. Federal Race to the Top money is being used to fund the tests for Common Core, which are extensive.

David Coleman, known as the architect of Common Core, has never even been a teacher. He professes to know how teachers should teach in the entire country and what they should teach, and yet, he is not a teacher. Coleman worked for McGraw-Hill (textbook publishing company) before leaving to create GROW a curriculum testing company which was later bought by McGraw-Hill. Bill Gates (who funded the creation of Common Core) and McGraw-Hill stand to make huge profits from Common Core. According to NextUp Research, the research arm of Global Silicon Valley Corp., the e-learning market in the United States is expected to grow $6.8 billion by 2015, up from $2.9 billion in 2010. According to Sanjeev Ahuja, the vice president of K-12 marketing for the company Blackboard, Common Core is a clear bonus for e-learning companies because “We don’t have to go and do 50 updates.” So this is a win-win for computer companies, more business and less cost, but what about our students and teachers?

According to the Montana Common Core Standards, kindergartners will “Participate in shared research and writing projects,” first-graders will “write opinion pieces,” and second-graders will “participate in shared research and writing projects.” The school day is short and the amount of foundational learning, just math and reading basics alone, is vast. Do our students have time to do research and spend time discussing their opinions? Young children need to know something before they are ready to do research. Let’s let kids learn something before they begin questioning their parents and telling them that their opinions are based on their “research.”

The sample testing items for Common Core Curriculum that have come out are very revealing. Smarter Balanced (the consortia Montana has been signed up for) asks sixth-graders to figure out what they need to build a community garden to a given set of specifications. Sixth graders will also research and present reports on community service. They must research and present a five-minute speech on a “young wonder” of their choice. Eleventh-graders will read excerpts from a speech by women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony. I didn’t see anything in the samples that indicated they would be teaching the free enterprise system and the wonders of our founding fathers and the United States Constitution.

Other countries that have federally mandated curriculums, like China and France, have found that a national curriculum did not put them at the top academically. China has never had a Nobel Prize winner. Many countries that perform worse than the United States on International assessments have national standards.

The outreach to the public from our Montana Board of Public Education was held almost exclusively for selected educators. Common Core was developed behind closed doors without public input and without research and trials. Montana needs to step back from Common Core and do financial and technological readiness analyses, as well as bring the public up to speed on this extensive and intrusive program that will take control away from teachers and local school boards.


Barbara Rush is a retired teacher from the Helena Public Schools.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. chrissym
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    chrissym - September 25, 2012 4:00 pm
    All politics aside and children's education first, I LOVE THE COMMON CORE :) It allows children and teachers to dig deeper into the content instead of just covering a whole bunch of curriculum for the sake of saying we did it..."deeper not wider" is how I describe it. I have been teaching the Common Core for about a year at the kindergarten level and I already notice a deeper understanding of the material by my students. We still use the same materials and tools, we just make more connections and think more critically than we did with the objectives that we have had in the past. Our country needed something like this to catch us up globally in the field of education. What a refreshing change from the unrealistic and ridiculous guidelines set forth by NCLB, which would have eventually led to the privatization of schools if we had continued down that destructive road. I do not know President Obama's role in the implementation of the Common Core, but like him or not, all President's get blamed or praised for all things that happen under their administration. Take it from a teacher, this one will prove to be a thumbs up for him! I can't say enough good things about this educational reform :) Put the politics aside and worry about our children. Cheesy as it sounds, they are our future!
  2. skooter
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    skooter - September 10, 2012 10:18 pm
    Funny - how we (catspaw assumably included) on the right are the frustrated ones when you, your party, the tea crowd and Ms Rush are on the outside looking in still...and if form holds true, you'll be even more isolated for another 4 years. The anger is from the right and has been since you guys blew it for 8 years and plunged us into this morass. If there is one side that sounds frustrated I would say you seem to be on it. The division is from taking from the poor to give from the party's past time. i don't know about the catspaw, but I am not angry and expect a fairly sound victory unless something drastic changes...

    I'm just in the trenches challenging the really base lies and misinformation that people use to try and pretend they are getting America back.

    And catspaw is right - your equation of the school system to 1930's Germany tells too much. You should still be ashamed of yourself. Your anger and our country's free speech doesn't give you cart blanche to say whatever horrible thing you want just to have something to say here.
  3. MT_Justitia
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    MT_Justitia - September 02, 2012 8:55 am
    What an interesting letter by Mrs. Rush; and, what interesting observations by members of this community. I will add this: Mrs. Rush is neither an advocate for the "Tea Party" nor a fiscally conservative Republican. Mrs. Rush was a long-time teacher in the Helena Public Schools. She has a publicly funded retirement account from the TRS, and was a part of the system when increasing federal dollar intake seemed to be the main objective of OPI, local schools, and the retirement systems. Mrs. Rush has NEVER accepted the fact that at some point in time there will be a day of reckoning. No one can DEMAND more and more money and expect there won't come a day when the people DEMAND proof of good stewardship. I am not a supporter of Ms. Juneau, but I will suggest she has a better grasp on keeping federal dollars flowing and is being honest about her objectives. I cannot say that about Mrs. Rush.
  4. Thomas Kent
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    Thomas Kent - September 01, 2012 6:34 am
    Wow! Only 9 comments before Godwin's Law came into play!'s_law
  5. Limber
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    Limber - August 31, 2012 3:29 pm
    Recently published Texas Republican Party platform bans teaching of critical thinking skills because …[it] challenges the student's fixed beliefs and undermines parental authority. ( In other words, they believe that education is teaching what to think, not how to think. I call that indoctrination, not education. So much for local control. Scientifically designed, internationally indexed common core standards sounds like a good idea to me. Oppose them, but unless you offer a constructive alternative that I like better, I think you’re nothing but a loud mouth Whiner.
  6. edwilson
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    edwilson - August 31, 2012 10:28 am
    The Obama administration had nothing to do with development of these standards, although they certainly are promoting them through their lame programs like Race to The Top which Juneau has resisted falling for. The NGA (most of whom are Rs) finally realized that this country has been falling further and further behind educationally and economically and decided it was time as a nation that the bar get raised to start to bring an end to this trend. Ms Rush can't be too popular with her R friends when she critizcizes the private sector for wanting to get in on the action here. The true premise behind unbridled local control and also so called "school choice" is to line the pockets of national and international corporations with public dollars and top grow even larger profits in the private sector and all the while they try to get us to believe it is good for us. Good for them maybe. Brainwash? Come on, get real. The only brainwashing going on in this country is from the private sector and the political quarters that support them for their money to support their campaigns wanting to destroy our public school system for a profit instead of investing in it and making sure it does what needs to be done - to ensure that every student that walks through the school house door reaches their fullest potential.
  7. catspaw
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    catspaw - August 30, 2012 5:22 pm

    This is comming from the same person that compared the Helena School System to Germany in the 1930's? What an all time low steeline has sunk to.

    It not frustration with a different viewpoint. The Fears of this Nation being run by the GOP hijacked Tea Party best represented by Ms. Rush and Steeline are what needs to be kept in vigilant check by the voters in this country. We have problems in this country and the GOTP are not up to the task of answering the hard questions and have no identified plan other than to blame Obama (while disingenunely suggesting Bush played no role in our current problems), and proposing 8 years of previously failed policies that got us here in the 1st place. If they had other ideas besides giving away more tax dollars and geting nothing in return........Is that why the are called the No-Nothing Party in American history books?

    The question here is this: Do Americans want the Tea Party Vermin that have failed this country last decade and are doing everything to obstruct and ensure that millions of umenployed Americans stay unemployed so one man in Washington will lose his job? Do Americans want the Tea Party Vermin to ensure recovery of our country is dead by re-introducing more bad ecomonic, social, and international policy?

    As for the topic at hand (and my spelling), lets try this again. Ms. Rush did not get the message that her ultra-right wing viewpoint was heard, sensationalized by her and the rest of the GOTP, soundly defeated and sent packing by a wide margin last time the voters spoke. Once again, she is way out of her league and element here. She should crawl back where she came from and let the adults decide our children's education.
  8. steeline
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    steeline - August 30, 2012 10:44 am
    catspaw-- I believe you are a very frustrated individual. It appears that you don't understand exactly what is happening to you and the rest of us. I can understand your confusion and can detect your fears in the comments you make. Obama has let us all down, he is all talk and no walk so to speak. Don't feel bad though, there were a lot of us that thought the man would get it right, "Hope and Change". Well we know now that that didn't happen and four more years of his inefficient and failed policies will not correct the damange he has done, not only to the American economy but to the American image in the world. We have a lot of rebuilding to do to restore the American dream. We have a chance now to correct the failed presidency of Obama and get America Right. Hang in there things will get better for you and the rest of us. We have to get America back.
  9. catspaw
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    catspaw - August 29, 2012 9:16 pm
    And here I was hoping that Ms. Rush heard the will of the voters when her and the rest of the Tea Party ilk were soundly beaten during the last school board elections.

    Barb, your want out of your league and element here. Crawl back to the hole you came from and let the adults decide our children's education.
  10. rlrobb123
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    rlrobb123 - August 29, 2012 3:42 pm
    Mrs. Rush is on target. The Common Core standards were created by private interests in Washington and imposed on the states by the US Department of Education, through its Race to the Top program and No Child Left Behind waivers. By adopting Common Core, Montana has given up its autonomy over the education of children in English language arts and math. In addition, some professors who served on the Common Core Validation Committee refused to sign off on the standards because of their poor quality. Any Montanan who is concerned about this issue and wants to know how to challenge the imposition of Common Core in MT should visit, read the extensive information presented there, and leave a comment with contact info.
  11. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - August 29, 2012 2:24 pm
    Well, look at who wrote the letter. Of course she's against this. Of course we need to have some standards, so a Montana high school diploma actually represents that the holder has learned some basic math, English, history, and science. So a diploma from Helena High will be equivalent to one from Twin Bridges or Billings or Harlowton, and so a hiring manager or college admissions officer can be reasonably sure that it represents a minimum baseline level of knowledge.
    How horrifying! It must be socialism!
    (I hope the Common Core includes education on what Socialism actually MEANS)
  12. Limber
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    Limber - August 29, 2012 11:28 am
    Rambling, incoherent rant! Sorry that our new common core standards don't meet your standard to indoctrinate our students with right wing T-party prejudice. By the way, reading Susan B. Anthony is exactly what you say it is ... a sample. It is not prescribed by the standards. Local teachers and school boards determine what is in the curriculum. All the standards do is make sure the student can read well enough to understand Susan B. Anthony (or any other similar level writing). Your condemnation of it as a sample is quite ignorant.
  13. steeline
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    steeline - August 29, 2012 8:53 am
    This is scary reading. It seems typical of the Obama administrations method of doing business. Mostly out of view of the public. It reminds me of another time in another country when the leadership and supporting party set the curriculums so as to condition the childeren to accept the proposition that it is necessary and acceptable to eliminate certain people from society as well as "brain wash" the childeren into going to authorities to report what their parents were saying about the leadership. As a result 6,000,000 humans were exterminated. We have to get our education system back and restore America to greatness again.

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