I was disturbed to read a letter sent from Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett last May after Governor Corbett announced a brief pause in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Below is the text of the letter. You can read the original here.
Dear Governor Corbett:
Exxon Mobil applauds and shares your commitment to ensuring that every child in Pennsylvania is prepared with the skills to compete in today’s workforce. I also appreciate your strong support for the Common Core, including changes to reflect a “Pennsylvania Common Core,” and the potential it has to help your state’s students and teachers. Your counterparts in New Jersey and Wisconsin, Governors Christie and Walker, and many other leading policymakers have been equally supportive. However, I was disappointed to learn of the misinformation opponents of this critical effort are advancing, which subsequently led your administration to delay its implementation. I urge you to make the necessary clarifications quickly and move forward with the Pennsylvania Common Core.
Like you, I believe the Common core will help ensure our students develop the skills and knowledge they need for success in college and careers. This voluntary state-led effort developed by educators, parents and business leaders has the potential to turn around our underperforming public education system and produce the workforce that businesses need to remain competitive in the global marketplace. The standards stipulate what all students should know, but leave it up to Pennsylvania to determine how it teaches its students.
Exxon Mobil has significant operations in Pennsylvania, and we are committed to enhancing the quality of life for all your citizens. Last year, we contributed $3.3 million to Pennsylvania universities, hospitals, environmental research efforts and arts and civic organizations, but I believe there is nothing more important than improving the quality of education. The Pennsylvania Common Core will go a long way to achieving that goal, and it gives Exxon Mobil the confidence that the educational standards we require for employment will be met by your state’s graduates. Furthermore, it sets the groundwork for students to be prepared to compete globally for 21st century careers and help Pennsylvania prosper.
The letter was also sent to the Pennsylvania House and Senate Leadership and members of House and Senate Education Committees.
The first thing I want to mention is that he reiterates an absolute lie that educators, business leaders, and parents developed the standards. Actually I learned today that even the architect of the Common Core ELA standards thought they were unqualified. Then these are special interest-led (including Exxon Mobil), not state-led. And evidentially states that don’t toe the line will be rebuked by Exxon Mobil.
This really seems like a veiled threat to pull ExxonMobil from the state if Governor Corbett did not move forward with the implementation. ExxonMobil’s advocacy for the Common Core State Standards has been odd to say the least. I don’t remember any company getting so involved in education policy to the point they send letters like the one above to a sitting Governor, writing misleading op/eds, run ads during the Masters Tournament in support of the Common Core, and then threaten not to hire workers from states that do not implement the Common Core.
What a bully.