What is the big deal about the Common Core Standards and the PARCC?
The forte of the bureaucracy of the American government has many techniques and tactics to dissuade the public and voting citizenry of what really happens. For literally decades state and local governments have been successful at bait and switch, depending on the public’s attention span to be attention deficit disorder.
But if you want the real story about Common Core Standards (CCS) and the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), please read this.
Call it, Also Known As
American education has seen one “reform” movement after another. Over decades, there has been an evolving nomenclature of education programs to be cast into preview by former and sitting governors so they could be the implementers and cheer leaders. They formerly went by the names of America 2000, Goal 2000, Outcome-Based Education, School-To-Work, No Child Left Behind, and now the Race to the Top, the most recent incarnation, which was initiated by the Obama Administration in 2009. RttT, as it is known, is structured around the serious-sounding centerpiece called the “Common Core of State Standards Initiative Project.” Thus, their efforts would be rewarded by a consistent funnel of federal funding amid an increasingly difficult time-frame of the passage of local school district levies. If Americans suspected local, state and federal governments on the edge of insolvency, take a look at how the money flows with CCS and PARCC. Race to the Top is considered the funding mechanism of CCS.
CCS is a mandate, not a grant. No states “compete” for this money because the “standards” are set by the federal government. State Education Agencies receiving Dept. of Ed dollars for any purpose are obliged to accept them. CCS is supposed to pass itself off as a “state-led” initiative, even though it is part of a federal initiative. The difference is the “middleman” who coordinates the effort.
As with most mandates from the Feds to the states, the coordinating entity is the National Governor’s Association (NGA) , through its Center for Best Practices (“NGA Center,” for short). The “Best Practices” descriptor goes back to the Effective Schools (reform) Movement in the 1970s.
Like its “reform” predecessors, the Common Core of Standards can neither be described as academic nor substantive. CCS is rife with the usual misrepresentations. For example, the “Common Core” Math Standards do not focus on attainment of chronological steps along the path to competency at incremental levels, such as Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, Trigonometry, etc., but, rather, all of these are treated, essentially, as one. This makes it virtually impossible to tell which skills have been mastered by students and which have not. One cannot improve instruction this way-but, then, “academic instruction” is not the purpose of today’s schools.
Similarly, in English, the high-school-level standards do not set grade-level-specific achievements. Spelling and grammar are fused with literature and vocabulary, which, of course, they eventually are once a child has mastered the fundamentals. But that’s the point: The student hasn’t mastered the fundamentals.
Additionally, the emphasis in Literature is on modem works, not on appreciating the contributions of the classical masters in various disciplines. One is free to enjoy the great classicists, or not, but only if one knows about them. Today’s high school seniors, and even many college graduates, have little idea what the philosophers, scholars and artists prior to 1945 said or believed, even though their works greatly affected the evolution of governance in Europe and, in turn, America-underscoring the reasons why the U.S. took such a different route.
Can states decline the “standards”? Sure they can-if they want to lose their federal funding.
As part of the Race to the Top program, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a total of $330 million in September 2010 that will ensure the grip that the federal government and special interests have on K-12 curriculum content, increase the frequency of standardized tests, diminish the importance of traditional classroom tests, and further marginalize the role of parents and teachers. Ohio joined the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
What’s PARCC got to do with this? It is the assessment component to CCS and all data acquired from student testing and teacher evaluations go back to a data warehouse at the Pearson Corporation, one of the most expensive educational data mining corporations of the educational industry.
This assessment program has the stated goals of:
* Developing new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core Standards
* Testing students four times a year from third grade through high school
* Providing “ongoing feedback to teachers during the course of the school year” as well as measure annual student growth.
The PARCC was given $170 million by the U.S. Department of Education. PARCC consists of the District of Columbia plus 24 states that include AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC and TN.
According to the Department of Education, PARCC will “replace the one end-of-year high stakes accountability test with a series of assessments throughout the year that will be averaged into one score for accountability purposes”.
Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the PARCC on June 10th, 2010 adding his signature after Deb Delisle and Deborah Cain, former State Board of Education president, who signed June 4th, six days before Ohio officially adopted the Common Core Standards. They were confident about the outcome.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career also had to apply for and agree to the terms of the U.S Dept of Education’s Race to the Top assessment stipulations.
Education Secretary-Arne Duncan, unilaterally decided the only way to ensure a successful project was to put himself and the Feds in charge.
Local Control State
It will be said that Ohio is a local control state and that we have nothing to be concerned about. You will hear politicians use this because they do not have the guts to repeal really bad education policy in Ohio. This false pretense is confirmed in a letter received from the Ohio Department of Education. Seems opting for local control is not only impractical but fiscally and operationally prohibitive.
The Ontario Public School District (OH) received the following letter in response to inquiring what repercussions may result if the district acted upon their “local control” and opted out of the “voluntary” Common Core Standards. As you’ll read, the reform game is rigged with punitive penalties – for every player at every level – thus preventing any real or practical defection from the State and Federal regime. Read it here:
What Can You Do?
What can be done? Become partners with coalitions that are actively campaigning to repeal the standards in Ohio and get PARCC out of Ohio.
Below are the three predominant groups spearheading a repeal effort, submitted by State Representative Andy Thompson (R-95) through Substitute HB 237, as well as State Senator Kris Jordan with SB 237.
Ohioans Against Common Core
Ohioans for Educational Freedom (Statewide Political Action Committee)
OEF Facebook Group (by approval of moderator):
Education Freedom Ohio
Here are more grassroots Facebook groups (by approval of moderator):
Ohio Leaders Against Common Core:
Stop Common Core in Ohio
Ohio Parents and Teachers Against Common Core
Comprehensive information may be found by author Beverly Eakman who has written over decades of education reform history in the United States:
Guest Contributer Bio:
Mark Stevenson is a home schooling dad, veteran of 27 years. Mark, and his wife Diane, have been in various leadership positions with the Christian Home Educators Stark County Association support group for 25 years. They have home educated all their children and are currently educating their youngest son.
After Mark had been chairman of the board of directors for a number of years, he took on the role of political action committee chairman and has been looked to as an issues and candidate consultant during election seasons. Visit OEF (Ohioans for Educational Freedom) here.