Tonight while trying to unwind and get myself mentally prepared for restful sleep, I was watching a little mindless television, playing Words with Friends, and skimming Facebook posts and late night emails. When suddenly an email came in with an article attached that sent my heart rate through the roof, my mind racing, my blood boiling, and my eyes wide open unable to get passed what I was once again reading in the multi-billion dollar government and corporate sales game that is Common Core.
As a retired Georgia teacher, my husband and I moved to Tuscaloosa, AL two years ago for him to make a career move. Upon relocating, I immediately set about getting to know new people and find interests to make the transition less lonely and frightening. As a teacher, I had been down the path of the nightmare of No Child Left Behind. When some of my new friends began to talk to me about the federal takeover of education through Common Core, I wanted to know more. I was already totally against government intrusion into education, and I hated what I saw every time government bureaucrats tried to “fix education”. It was always a bad outcome.
So, I have spent the last two years researching and learning everything I possibly could about Race to the Top, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, The ESEA Flexibility Waiver, the State Longitudinal Data System, Federal Laws forbidding a national curriculum and so much more information that my brain can barely hold it all. But, these facts are so unbelievable and un-American that they have been etched into my mind. The proponents of Common Core commonly claim that Common Core is benign, just a common set of standards to provide equal opportunity education to all students. But, that could not be further from the truth.
The latest article full of pro Common Core spin was from the local Opelika, AL newspaper. It was about yet another meeting that had taken place to persuade the uninformed that Common Core is a good thing. According to the article, school superintendents and school board members met Tuesday night at Auburn High School for the Alabama Association of School Boards District 4 meeting. The evening was for dinner and discussion of “the myths and rumors of Common Core”.
The discussion, however, was nothing more than a brainwashing session to fill the minds of those without the true facts with thoughts from a biased, indoctrinating viewpoint. It was an opportunity to misrepresent facts and place positive images of Common Core and plant seeds of doubt toward anyone who may try to show opposition to Common Core. These individuals, whose jobs and incomes are dependent on selling educators, administrators, and elected officials on the wonders and miracles of Common Core, call the unpaid grassroots opponents “conspiracy theorists” who see a “bogeyman” in Common Core. But, their talking points never change. The brainwashing techniques to persuade these individuals to “buy in” is as canned as the standards themselves.
Make no mistake, they use definite brainwashing techniques. On the Alabama State Board of Education website in the section created for repurposed Literacy Reading Coaches now called the implementation team are instructions for them to look for signs of resistance and compliance. Additionally, these educators receive a regular newsletter called MINDSHIFTS. The message is always the same, the rhetoric is always the same, and those are brainwashing techniques. But, there is no real substance to their statements. Furthermore, the facts presented are usually skewed, distorted, or totally false. Such is the case with the information presented by the article itself as well as the quotes given from the meeting’s speaker, Sally Howell, Executive Director of AASB.
The first false statement comes from a canned statement put out by the US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. It is a commonly seen statement for anyone who has done any research. “Common Core was encouraged by the federal government, developed by states and voluntarily adopted by states, including Alabama. They are K-12 academic standards in mathematics and English language arts.”
Ms. Howell further stated that this was an initiative developed by governors and superintendents across the nation.
All of the above is a huge distortion of facts. First, Common Core was more than encouraged by the Feds. Through bribes such as grant money from RttT, and the opportunity to get ESEA flexibility waivers From NCLB, the USDOE dangled carrots in front of states to entice participation. But, there were many strings attached. The first was that regardless of results of these applications, states agreed to comply with the requirements.
Secondly, the standards were not developed by states and did not come from representative groups of governors and superintendents. The standards were written by a private company called ACHIEVE, INC. and are copyrighted by the Washington DC trade organizations, the National Governors Association and the Chief Council of State School Officers.
Sally Howell went on to do her job very well by making the following types of statements, leading the basically divided group at the start of her program shift to a 93% favorable view of Common Core at the end of her canned exercise.
She stated that Alabama reviewed the Common Core standards and used them as a foundation for the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards. Wrong again. By the agreed requirements that came from state board adoption and application to RttT and the NCLB waiver, Alabama had to adopt the standards. That was done by using the ACHIEVE tool to make all of Alabama’s existing standards 100% identical to the Common Core standards, and all standards must be taught, exactly as written. Alabama could then add up to 15% state specific standards that will not be tested on the required Common Core aligned national test.
She further went on to say that there was much confusion that the standards will control the curriculum and what and how teachers teach. In essence she said that these are standards and not curriculum. She explained what all teachers know. Standards are the skills students are to learn, but curriculum is how they are taught.
Yet, her point is very misleading. This is much more complicated. Teachers know that how they teach is very much controlled by what they must teach. Standards drive curriculum. Textbooks are aligned to the standards and contain pre-written lesson plans. Additionally, the standards are so specific that they intrude so deeply into a teacher’s instruction that all autonomy is stolen from the teacher. The teacher loses creativity, innovation, and the ability to reach the needs of every child.
Furthermore, Common Core does everything upside down and backward. First, it takes the hierarchy of the stages of mental thought and learning and turns it completely upside down. Then, it uses the concept of backward design to put the learning process in reverse order. It starts by determining what the child needs to know on the standardized test and moving backward through the curriculum through sample lesson plans, test prep activities, and exemplars to teach the standards which are designed to match a narrow set of skills determined by the standardized tests. Because teachers’ evaluations are based on student performance on the TEST, they will use anything available to guarantee student success, including using the suggested lessons and exemplars.
Common Core is being pushed by government and corporations to control the destinies of the next generation and those to come. Government wants to shift to a socialistic society, just as they have with the healthcare counterpart, Obamacare. Business and private industry are seeking to control the future of the workforce by testing, slotting, and training the labor force in, yet again, a socialistic system.
No, those of us who oppose Common Core are not wearing tin foil hats, are not “conspiracy theorists”, do not see a “bogeyman”, and we are not exaggerating when we say Common Core proponents are using brainwashing techniques. One statement Ms. Howell made was that she had heard that we opponents claim that “Common Core is trying to rewrite history.” Well, she is definitely wrong there. This is not rewriting history, but repeating it. Unfortunately, it is not the repetition of American history. It is repeating the oppressive and failed histories of nations such as China, Russia, and Cuba. We have even heard it said lately that children do not belong to their families, but to the community.
Wake up America, Alabama. This is education we are talking about. Do your homework. Do not be hypnotized, brainwashed and allow them to manipulate you with their MINDSHIFTS.