The editorial board at The Tennessean clucks its tongue at parents and citizens who recently showed up to protest the Common Core State Standards being implemented in their state in an editorial yesterday. Apparently Tennessee legislators, parents and citizens are to blindly accept as fact the talking points circulated by those who advocate for the Common Core.
They editorial board asks “where have they (the opposition) been until now?”
They then make several points:
- The Common Core State Standards have been in the works since 2008.
- Access to information has been readily available.
- “The tenor of the complaints suggests that the standards were developed covertly and parachuted into Tennessee directly from the White House.”
- The process was begun in a group of 12 states that volunteered to lead the way. Among them was Tennessee. This predates Race to the Top and its hundreds of millions of dollars
- Other voices (Hoover Institution and Pioneer Institute) that help “gin up the complaints about the Common Core in Tennessee that seem to have little basis in reality.”
- The fact is that Common Core does not dictate curriculums or teaching methods. It provides benchmarks for what a third-grader, an eighth-grader and every other grade should know in order to succeed.
Let me address these points.
- The Gates Foundation started funding for the promotion of standards in May 2008. The National Governor’s Association, Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve, INC. didn’t release their report Benchmarking for Success until December of 2008. The Common Core State Standards Initiative didn’t exist until late 2009, and the standards first draft was not released until March of 2010. Well after the Race to the Top grants were offered. So states, including Tennessee, signed on to something that had not even been written yet.
- The final product was released in June of 2010. The first two winners of the Race to the Top grants were announced that month. Notice that applicants applied before the standards were released. In the Race to the Top application acceptance of Common Core State Standards were included in the scoring of applications.
- To meet the deadline for the second round of Race to the Top grants states only had two months to adopt these standards. So while the Federal government did not write the standards there can be no doubt that Race to the Top grants were the impetus for their acceptance in 46 (Minnesota adopted the ELA standards) and the District of Columbia. To state otherwise would be a statement that has “little basis in reality.”
- The editorial board of The Tennessean disparages “think tanks” like the Hoover Institution and the Pioneer Institute, but all they do is spout off talking points given from those who advocate the Common Core. Is this really a good example of critical thinking? No. Besides these “think tanks” have been studying and writing on these standards since 2010 can the same be said for this newspaper – I highly doubt it. So who are we supposed to trust – scholars who actually researched the standards and haven’t received funding from the Gates Foundation or a newspaper that receives talking points from organizations who received Gates money to shill for the Common Core?
- No national expert who has researched and opposes the Common Core has ever said that the standards were developed by the Feds. We only state the obvious – that the money pushed their acceptance.
- As far as information being readily available. It’s hard for parents and citizens to obtain information if they don’t realize the process is even happening. When you consider that there was only three months between the first draft and the final draft being released doesn’t give one much time to give feedback (not that they were open to public feedback that long. Perhaps if The Tennessean reported on this their citizens would have been better informed. The simple fact is the media has been largely silent on the Common Core until the opposition started to gain traction. Also if the Tennessee State Legislature had been given a chance to actually vote on the Common Core Tennessee’s parents and citizens would have known.
- They are correct in saying the standards are benchmarks, but the goal is to shape curriculum. The Common Core State Standards Initiative planned to “leverage states’ collective influence to ensure that textbooks, digital media, curricula and assessments are aligned” with the standards. CCSSO President Sue Gendron aptly described it as “transforming education for every child.” When you consider these standards in conjunction with assessments that are aligned to them it is easy to understand how this will drive curriculum. That is if you actually exercise critical thought.
I think The Tennessean needs to actually do its homework before it tries to lecture Tennessee parents and citizens on standards that they have been denied to speak out on through their elected representatives. We actually believe in a robust debate, transparency, and the proper process for implementing educational policy. Apparently the Editorial Board of The Tennessean does not.