After reading the article Huntsville, Madison legislators back off of bill to revoke common core standards (updated), I couldn’t help but think of the saying “There’s a sucker born every minute.” I encourage you to click on the link above and read the article. I don’t know if this is a situation with suckers, fools, people on the take, or something altogether different—possibly succumbing to groupthink. These two legislators are listening to someone without doing their own homework. They are willing to give up legislative authority over the content of what is to be taught the students in the state of Alabama.
Alabama likes to state that their standards incorporate the national Common Core State Standards. I have seen this in a number of places—including the Alabama State Department of Education website. An unsuspecting public, and apparently a couple of legislators who should know better, can easily be taken in with that “incorporate” business and be led to believe these are the state’s own standards. Well, they may be the state’s standards but incorporate and identical are not synonymous.
One only needs to do a side-by-side comparison of the Alabama math standards and the Common Core Standards for Mathematics to see they are one and the same. The same is true of the ELA standards. Alabama’s introductory narratives are not always the same but the standards themselves, including the coding, are identical with only an occasional minor and inconsequential change in wording. If Alabama was a college student turning their standards documents in as their own work, the university’s academic standards committee would be addressing a flagrant issue of academic dishonesty: plagiarism. Yet Alabama officials claim these as their own.
State school board member Mary Scott Hunter, who represents the Huntsville area on the board, agreed in a statement to The Times.
“The Alabama Career and College Ready Standards are ours. We own them. We control them. They set a high bar for students and teachers,” Hunter said. “The state board and State Department of Education have not, nor will they, give up control of our standards.”
I disagree. Alabama does not own the standards they have adopted. Alabama adopted the Common Core State Standards. They can call them whatever they want. The standards Alabama adopted, the Common Core State Standards, are owned and copyrighted by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and it states this on this Common Core State Standards Initiative webpage (make note of the disclaimers as well).
If Alabama now owns these standards, as State School Board Member Mary Scott Hunter claims, then they must have stole them and Alabama should be arrested. With the millions that Bill Gates invested in the development of the CCSS, Alabama’s theft would be grand larceny or felony theft.
Alabama does not own these standards and they don’t control them. No amount of claim to the contrary by state officials will change this. Play this scenario out in your head. It may be farfetched but remember, “reality is frequently inaccurate”. The NGA and CCSSO own and hold the copyright to the CCSS. As owners, it is their property. As property owners, they have the right to sell their property (unless of course Agenda 21 interferes). What if they decide to sell this property? Who are some potential buyers? Oh, possibly Pearson Education or a subsidiary thereof, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family, the Broad Foundation. I’m sure you can think of others. As property owners they could legally give their property to an individual or an entity. Hmmm, what if they gave their property to Bill Ayers… or Linda Darling-Hammond? Or what if they gave their property to the UN (UNESCO)?
We really don’t yet know what kind of binding commitment state’s have made by adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Certainly those who committed themselves to the CCSS via RTTT or NCLB waivers seem to be locked-in to using the CCSS. Now, let’s suppose any state that has adopted the standards is committed to using them and not able to withdraw from that commitment. Those states are at the mercy of the owners of the CCSS. What if new owners take possession of this cherished property (it is akin to the game of monopoly) and decide to charge already cash strapped states a per student annual fee for the use of their property? What would a reasonable annual per student fee be? $25? $50? $100? Anything is reasonable in the eyes of the owners—the taxpayers will have to pay.
There is something to be said for having standards that are in the public domain. This seems to be lost in the current era of privatizing and federalizing all things educational.