Fireworks in Missouri Over Common Core

MissouriStateFlag1The St. Louis Post-Dispatch yesterday wrote an op/ed that said Republicans continue to peddle a Common Core lie.  They write:

Some Missouri Republicans are playing their constituents for chumps. As soon as certain national Republican political consultants decided that calling Common Core a federal plot by President Barack Obama to take over schools (it is not) was a political winner, they began a national campaign to defeat the raised standards that states around the nation had worked to develop. Republican governors (especially those running for president, like Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Chris Christie in New Jersey) reneged on their support of Common Core. Money from wealthy donors started flowing into campaign coffers of those who would stand up and oppose the alleged scourge of Common Core.

Anne Gassel with the Missouri Against Common Core Coalition told Truth in American Education that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch made one glaring omission.  “Gretchen Logue and I were plaintiffs in the lawsuit that declared SBAC an illegal interstate compact which is what the legislature was responding to with next year’s budget, so we were particularly irritated by the Post’s omission of that critical detail,” Gassel said.

Gassel said that the editorial was so full of lies and half-truths that they felt compelled to respond.  “Oddly, they simultaneously accuse the Republicans of working to keep Common Core (our state board president they call a conservative Republican and show that he wants to retain Common Core), and blame them for creating the opposition to Common Core. By their metrics, the Republicans can’t win,” Gassel added.

You can read their longer response at Missouri Education Watchdog and their shorter rebuttal below.

In “Republicans continue to peddle the Common Core lie” the editorial board lamented that Missouri took two steps back in education policy. The piece was such a work of fiction, it barely qualified for the opinion page.

We’d like to set the record straight about “the Common Core lie” and ask questions of clarification.

Fiction: Missouri legislators (especially, Kurt Bahr) are playing their constituents for chumps because HB 1490 did not eliminate common core. Fact: Governor Nixon would not to sign a bill with language explicitly eliminating common core. HB 1490 instructs work groups constituted in 2014 to “develop” academic learning standards, not rubber stamp copyrighted ones. Representative Bahr sent a written communication to the work groups stating that the intent of the bill is for Missouri to have standards in public domain.  According to the editorial, “Those standards are likely to mimic Common Core. And even if they don’t, the Board can (and will) dismiss them.” Question: Is the Post suggesting that the State Board of Education intends to defraud the public, by rejecting the work submitted by the work groups a priori.

Fiction: the Republicans, responding to wealthy campaign donors, are off loading common core as an Obama initiative. Fact: several Republican presidential candidates and governors have been stalwart in their support of common core, even in the face of increasing public rejection of the standards. Question: Is the board making a back-handed endorsement of Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee who support the common core standards? Why did the board finger wealthy campaign donors for messing with education policy and, not mention funding from wealthy private (Gates) and corporate (Pearson) underwriters of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Is the Post suggesting that the 1% is only philanthropic in giving?

Fiction: legislative meddling caused a succession of tests that inhibits comparison of scores.

Fact: In February, Cole County Federal Judge Daniel Green, ruled that the SBAC Consortia is an unlawful interstate compact and prohibited payment of SBAC membership fees.  Further, SBAC failed to meet the terms of its existing contract, putting superintendents around the state in a very difficult position of trying to provide adequate preparation for the full summative tests this spring. Question: is the board suggesting that the legislature ignore the ruling or violation of contract?

Fiction: the SBAC assessment was “adequate.” Fact: To date, no published data are available to support statements that the SBAC is technically “adequate.” No validity, no reliability, no legal defensibility of decisions based on test scores. Question: How did the board determine SBAC was more adequate than an assessment DESE could develop?

It would have been gross dereliction of duty for the legislature to fund SBAC membership fees or tests or leave Missouri vulnerable to an indefensible assessment plan. How is protecting the public and following the law taking two steps back in education policy, and who is really telling the common core lie?