Rotten to the Common Core

 If you look up the word “common” in Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms (similar words and their opposites), you find it classified under No. 78, under the category “Generality”.  Alongside it are such words as “general,” “generic,” “collective” (how interesting), “wide,” “broad,” “comprehensive,” “sweeping,” “encyclopedic,” “widespread,” “prevalent,” “rife,” and “epidemic.” 

Opposite to common are the words in category No. 79 – “Specialty.”  Here you find words such as “individuality,” “individual,” “particular,” “specific,” “proper,” “personal,” “originality,” “appropriate,” “exceptional,” and of course, “special.”

Progressives feel that it is unfair and inequitable for an individual to rise above expectations, to display originality, to show exceptional ability at any or all things.  The only way for education to be fair to everyone, to the “collective,” is to reduce the standards to a common level that the slowest, densest student can reach.

The call for educational reform began back during the Carter administration, when Jimmy Carter created another cabinet post, the Department of Education.  The move was actually unconstitutional.  The Federal government is not supposed to play any role in the education of children.  That job belongs to the state and local government.

What the Progressives propose is for every student in the country to learn exactly the same thing, at the same time, and take the same test.  Every teacher must teach to this test the Federal government has established.  If they veer from the course the government has laid out, they can be fired.

California served as the precursor to what would become known as the Common Core program.  According to Common Core:  A Trojan Horse for Reform,” by California educator and Common Core opponent Orlean Koehle:  “Many educators considered CLAS [California Learning Assessment System] as a ‘cutting edge tool for assessing students’ skills in solving problems, analyzing literature and writing.’  It would be a true order of their ‘higher-order’ thinking skills.’

Various systems were tried out first in Liberal, wealthy California, according to Koehle, who was forced to not only teach the new methods, but submit her children to them:

Whole Language:  A disastrous attempt to remove phonics from the schools, “destroying a generation of children’s” ability to read beyond the third grade level.

New, New Math or Mathland:  Mathland did for math what phonics did for reading – “a generation of  math students…were [unable] to work simple addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.  They were no longer asked to memorize math.

And of course, the third was the CLAS test.  “However,” Koehle writes, “teachers, principals, and administrators were not allowed to see it the test.  It was ‘top secret.’  It was not anything factual or objective.  Students did not have to have any facts in their heads memorized.  All they had to do was read a story and write a little essay as to what they thought of the story.  The whole test was ‘assessing’ students’ attitudes to see if they were politically correct or not.”  The questions were also loaded, asking such no-brainers as “Do you think marriage brings freedom or does it not bring freedom.”  (I know at least a few grown, married men who would answer “absolutely not.”)

A few tests were leaked, Koehle says, and after hearing horror stories about essays concerning lesbian relationships, complete with “x-rated, graphic language,” many parents refused to let their children take the tests.  School administrators found that grading such tests took an enormous amount of time, “and the grades were so arbitrary and inaccurate” that “a few tests from one school would be used as the overall score for the district. 

“After more and more complaints from parents and teachers, school districts began refusing to give the test.  Finally, in October of 1995, Gov. Pete Wilson signed legislation to end the test and replace it with some other testing method.

Meanwhile, Koehle says she had “hear of some of the same strange stories and questions that were on our CLAS test turning up on similar state assessment tests.  So I wondered if a ‘cartel’ higher up was gathering these stories and accompanying questions and passing them on to all the states, just as is the case, with Common Core.”

Common Core, it turns out is about more than just indoctrinating our children (more on that later).  Adults always want to get to the bottom line, that is to say, money.  We’ve all heard about Race to the Top.  But you haven’t heard it all.

Before Obama appointed Arne Duncan Secretary of Education in January 2009, Duncan served since 2001 as Chicago Superintendent of Schools.

In 1992, Duncan’s childhood friend, investment banker, and Chicago School Board Member John W. Rogers, Jr., appointed him director of the Ariel Education Initiative, a program mentoring children at one of the city’s worst-performing elementary schools, the Shakespeare Public School, and then assisting them as they proceeded further in the education system.  After the school closed in 1996, Duncan and Rogers were instrumental in re-opening it as a charter school, Ariel Community Academy.   In 1999, Duncan was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.

Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Duncan to serve as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools on June 26, 2001. Opinions vary on Duncan’s success as CEO; one prominent publication notes improved test scores and describes Duncan as a consensus builder, while another finds the improvements largely a myth and is troubled by the closing of neighborhood schools and their replacement by charter schools, and what it describes as the schools’ militarization (meaning indoctrination into black mythology, or black anti-mythology).

In short, black educators wanted to divorce their students from white, European-centered education.  Not just the black students, mind you, but their white counterparts as well.  White students were to be taught their criminal heritage in enslaving and undermining black education.

Duncan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2009.   One of Duncan’s well-known initiatives as secretary has been a $4 billion Race to the Top competition. It asks states to vie for federal education dollars by submitting proposals that include reforms such as expanding charter schools and judging teachers partly on how well their students do on standardized tests.  

In March 2011, Duncan said 82 percent of the nation’s public schools could be failing by next year under the standards of the No Child Left Behind  law (it’s all Bush’s fault, naturally). The projection amounts to a startling spike from current data, which shows that 37 percent of schools are on track to miss targets set by the law. “Four out of five schools in America would not meet their goals under [No Child Left Behind] by next year,” Duncan said in his opening statement.

Naturally, since not all children in all school districts were reading the same material or learning math and science at the same rate.  Some poor school districts had every inadequate libraries and ancient, out-of-date science books.  Classical literature had no bearing on the life experiences of minority children.

One of the corporate leaders whom Koehle names as part of No Child Left Behind and its successor, Common Core, is Edward B. Rust Jr.  Koehle says that the corporate leaders she names are only in it for the money.  I don’t know about the others, but that’s not true of Mr. Rust.  I met the man personally and I can tell you there’s not a more caring CEO on the planet, and that includes – that especially includes Bill Gates.  Mr. Rust is sincerely interested in the education of American students. 

My former company invests a good deal of money in the education of its employees as well as students in poor districts all across America.  I had the privilege of partaking in a co-sponsored event with Teach to Read at the New York Public Library a few years ago.  Mr. Rust’s employees donated their own, private childrens’ books to impoverished children in New York City.

 The kids were thrilled with the books.  They had more problems with the books containing happy, white characters than I did.  Mr. Rust’s interests are genuine and whole-hearted.  After reading Ms. Koehle’s book, I’m sorry I can’t say the same for Mr. Gates.

 “‘The Common Core State Standards Initiative’, Ms. Koehle explains, “is the official name for the new education program coming down from the Obama administration, preparing the way for the ‘Race to the Top Assessments,’ which will take place in 2014 when all the computer software is in place to test the minds of the nation’s children to see how well Common Core has been sufficiently taught (CC – yes, it is already being taught in certain states at certain grade levels).

“CC pretends to be a benign ‘State” program, State-written and state-controlled, that will leave students better prepared for college and the workplace.”

“However,” Koehle continues, “I am afraid none of the above is true.  CC is really a deceptive Trojan Horse, a national program, written by a national [and international] team, supported by Obama and the Federal Department of Education, and it is imposing national, top-down standards and curriculum on all of the 46 states that have signed onto it.”

 The impression is that Common Core is voluntary because the state governors accepted the Race to the Top money.  Actually, only 10 states got the money to implement Common Core, but even those states who only signed up for the race but didn’t get the Stimulus money must still abide by the Common Core regulations.  That was the price just for signing up.

 Ms. Koehle says, “We are told by the Obama administration that the CC standards were ‘voluntarily’ adopted by the states that have signed onto the program.  Actually, it was more like the States were ‘coerced’ by tempting them with enormous stimulus grand money, a waiver to get out of NCLB’s rigid requirements and threatening to take away Title One funds if they did not sign on.

 “Cleverly, Obama’s administration pressed the States to sign, giving them just a small window of time even before the actual standards, curricula, and assessment tests were able to be seen.”

How was Obama able to keep Common Core so quiet.   “Because of the passage of the Stimulus Bill that gave Obama almost $800 billion ‘carte blanche,’ he, cleverly, does not have to go to Congress and start a national debate about the programs he wants.  Why not?  He already has the money,” the author notes.  “He can do whatever he wants with it.”

“Obama quietly marked $4.35 billion of federal stimulus spending for his Race to the Top education initiative and used that money to entice State governors to compete for it.  By making it a competition, it appeared more like a badge of honor for their State to have received it, rather than a bribe.”

The Mainstream Media remained faithfully silent on the subjects.  Koehle says most Congressmen and even State legislators knew nothing about it.  I have my doubts on that score, although it has been known to happen here in New Jersey.  However, citizens groups have been “educating” their state legislators about Common Core and some states, like Utah, have been successful in having Common Core repealed.  Alaska and Texas refused to sign on in the first place and are not burdened by Common Core, although Progressives have been using back-door tactics to get their textbooks changed.

Koehle cites Lance T. Izumi, Senior Director for Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute and the author of a small booklet about Common Core, Obama’s Education Takeover:

 “Obama has laid the groundwork for an unprecedented centralization of education policy under the guise of promoting educational innovation, accountability, and improved student achievement. In reality, Obama’s new national standards, curricula, and testing – in addition to huge spending commitments by the federal government – shift the policymaking power from individuals and communities to the federal bureaucracy.”

 Koehle notes how a federal take-over of education is a violation of the Tenth Amendment, an attack on our system of checks and balances (the federal government taking over rights that belong to the states – the states are supposed to serve as a balance to federal bureaucracy).

 She cites Kent Talbert, former General Counsel for the Department of Education and Advisor to Secretary of Education, Margaret Spelling, as accusing Common Core of “violating three Federal laws:

 The Department of Education Organizational Act, established in 1979, Section 103b

The General Education Provisions Act

The Elementary and Secondary Act, first enacted in 1965 and most recently amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.

Each of these laws has language that essentially says the same thing:  “The Federal Department of Education shall not be involved in developing, supervising or controlling instructional materials or curriculum,…of any educational institution, school or school system.”

Again, Obama offered waiver enticements to governors to get out of what they considered rigid NCLB requirements.  But in order to receive the waiver, those states had to agree to adopt the Common Core standards (or something similar).  When Iowa refused to implement statewide teacher evaluations, their application for the waiver was rejected.  In any case, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the waivers are not legal.

 “’It is certainly not the place of the U.S. Secretary of Education to condition relief of certain federal requirements on the adoption of a whole new federal policy agenda that has never passed Congress and therefore lacks democratic legitimacy.”

 Koehle notes that Common Core is just No Child Left Behind But The Parents, Teachers, and School Boards Are.  Common Core has a nome de guerre, too:  College and Career Ready Standards.

 According to the author, “Standards were partly funded by private interests are controlled by unaccountable private interests in Washington, D.C.  There are many special interest companies and foundations that stand to make much money and gain dominance by the new curriculum.

Chief among these culprits is Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, and CEO of the Bill and Melissa Gates foundation.  Gates donated $100 million to Common Core.  But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the millions he’ll make in computer sales to schools, with computers for every student.  Gates also made a deal with IBM, Koehle notes, and benefits from whenever the DOS (disk operating system) is sold on an IBM compatible computer.  The Gates Foundation is also partners with the Pearson Foundation, the biggest company developing online reading and math course to be aligned with the standards.  (To think, I applied to that company for a job.  Thank God, they turned me down!)

States were also given money to create the Longitudinal Data System, a national data collection model giving the government the right to collect health records, family income, and family voting status.    The Executive Branch bypassed Congress to weaken Federal privacy laws (FERPA) to collect student data through the LDS.  Data will also be collected on the teachers (hear that, union-member teachers?).

For all their collective talk of resolving inequities in the educational system, the NCLB waivers mandate “Differentiated Recognition”:  “…a State will establish a differentiated, accountability, and support system that gives credit for progress towards college- and career-readiness. The system each State develops will recognize and reward the highest-achieving schools that serve low-income students and those that show the greatest student progress as Reward Schools.

Koehle explains what this codswallow means:  “There now a mandated, three-tier ‘differentiated’ diploma program for high schools.  The three diplomas from lowest to highest are:  high-school diploma, college- and career-ready diploma, and International Baccalaureate (which is a U.N. program).  The U.N.’s purpose is to drive globally-oriented programs such as Agenda 21 and Climate Change at the local level.  What’s more, in order to make sure all the teachers are on the same page, Obama is creating a Master Teacher Corps, training already-indoctrinated Common Core teachers to teach other teachers.

Koehle’s little booklet is filled with testimonies from numerous teachers about how bad CC is for students, and how expensive it will be for state governments to implement.

She borrows a quote from Utah Gov. Herbert:  “Obama’s Affordable Care Act imposes a one-size-fits-all plan on all states, effectively driving us to the lowest common denominator.  It results in burdensome regulation, higher costs, and a massive, budget-busting…expansion.  Christel Swazey, whom Koehle also quotes, says:  “If you substitute the [phrase] ‘Common Core’ for ‘Affordable Care Act,’ you’ll understand what the federal education push is all about.

 Koehle also tells us that teachers in California were told by their principals that they must “clean out and get rid of all their old files and only have Common Core materials.  If not, they are in danger of punishment and possibly losing their jobs.”  Furthermore, teachers will be monitored and evaluated in their tests as well as those of their students’ to ensure that they’re teaching the Common Core curriculum.  By 2014.  That’s next year.  No doubt, right after the mid-term elections.

Koehle says that Race to the Top is not such much a Race to the Top, but a Race to the Money:

“Billions of dollars are driving the push to Common Core for book companies and for e-books since children will be using computers for much of their learning, which many teachers and parents are not happy about.  [Teachers are unhappy because you don’t need that many educated professionals to monitor kids on a computer; parents, because they will not be allowed access to their children’s computers – at all].  According to an Aug. 3, 2012, New York Times article, NextUp research, the research arm of Global Silicon Valley Corp., the e-learning market in the United States is expected to grow up to $6.8 billion by 2018, up from $2.9 billion from 2010.”

Besides, the Media has been complaining about how bad all those heavy books are for your little darlings.

Koehle lists some of the titles of paperbound CC texts already out:

“Level 3 Diploma:  The Common Core Units.  Published under the title of “Children & Young People’s Workforce”

“Documenting Common Core Standards:  5th Grade.”

“Supporting Instruction”

Pearson Foundation is one of the biggest publishers of e-books and materials.  They got so big by buying out virtually every other textbook publisher and some other publishers, as well:  including Penguin Books (known for the classic literature titles); Viking Press; Grossett & Dunlap.  Pearson has over 100 educating publishers under its umbrella, which it began acquiring in 1988:  Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Allyn & Bacon, Addison-Wesley, Silver, Burdette & Ginn (for whom I once worked a long time ago), and Macmillan Publishing, among others.


Pearson Foundation, Koehle explains began as a construction firm in northern England during the Industrial Revolution.  We won’t go into the whole history.  Having acquired great wealth building reservoirs and tunnels, a Pearson grandson got into publishing in 1921.    They bought a group of local papers to form the Westminster Press.  In 1957, he acquired the Financial Times and Penguin Books in 1970;  Viking Press in 1975 and Grosset and Dunlap in 1983.

Sir Michael Barber, Koehle informs us, is the Chief Education Advisor at Pearson PLC, and one of the foremost men pushing Common Core worldwide.  He developed the “Whole System Revolution” in order “to run our children through education factories and mass produce them like little robots into workers of the future.”

Barber is, of course, a proponent of U.N. Agenda 21 and the Regional Equity Movement, “a long-standing goal of liberals and also part of Agenda 21, it is how money is being taken from the suburbs and rural areas and pushed into the cities.  Our states are already divided up into large regions with unelected commissions in charge.  California is divided up into 18 regions.”

“Barber,” Koehle tells us, “does not seem to look at humanity as individuals with unique talents, abilities, and ingenuity who are ‘endowed by their creator with certain inalienable human rights.”  He is a believer in the three E’s (Economy, Ecology and Equity).  He came up with a methodology called “Deliverology:”  how to deliver and bring about education reform, the “global phenomenon.  It is no longer managed, he claims, by individuals or sovereign countries; global education has ‘no more frontiers, no more barriers.’”

The Whole System Revolution is all about collectivist, global governance.  Systemic innovation + sameness of standards + structure + human capital = “whole system revolution.”

Barber believes:

Better services come with more money.

A command and control approach is necessary to move services from awful to adequate.

Creating a bureaucracy for reporting, data collecting, and measurement is the same as real improvement.

One of Koehle’s witnesses, Liv Finne of Washington testifies that great masterpieces of literature will be dropped from the list of required reading:

“They [CC] will require that half the reading texts assigned by English teachers  must be non-fiction.  In Massachusetts, this means that teachers have been forced drop literary masterpieces of the American tradition, including Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Huckleberry Finn.”

Can you guess why those titles were dropped?  Hint: whale-hunting, slave-hunting, and truant-hunting.  Tsk, tsk, tsk!  We mustn’t allow the little dears to read about slave hunters, even though they’re the villains in Uncle Tom’s Cabin!

Seriously, folks, libraries are on the way out.  I told you that posts and posts ago.  That’s why I’ve been collecting all sorts of books, including children’s books (I have Huckleberry Finn, by the way, if anyone needs to borrow once it’s off the shelves).

Here’s Ms. Koelhe, our author, on how “Libraries are Changing and Getting Rid of Books:”

 “A lady from Montrose, W.V., who teaches classical literature, later called me and told me that she was visiting her library and noticed how many classical literature books they have gotten rid of.  She was told that if the book is not checked out in six years, they remove it from the library.  Of course, if children are no longer exposed to these great books, they will not be asking for them and checking them out of the library.

Listen, parents and teachers:  kids don’t know one book from another.  All they know these days are bright covers.  It’s your job to assign these books to the kids.  My father did.  That’s how I came to read Huck Finn.  You don’t think my school assigned it to me, do you?!

Koehle continues, “[She] was told that libraries are mainly becoming video and computer centers, where people come to go on-line, and if they read books, they are e-books.  She was told that many children are reading r- and x-rated e-books and downloading them from the computer onto their I-pads and taking them home with them where they can continue reading them.  She asked the librarian about this a d was told there was nothing they could do to prevent children from reading such books.  They would be guilty if censorship if they tried.”

Uh-huh.  Well, that being the case, I don’t need to go into what happened to that library’s Bible.

We’re at page 9 here.  Talk about a long reading assignment.  Koehle cites many education experts about the damage online learning can do in the long-term, the ties to U.N. Agenda 21, and the enormous costs that will be incurred to implement Common Core.

Maybe one in a million kids might be better off learning online from a computer, especially if the child has passive social problems or is being bullied (I could have done without school myself).  Kids, for the most part, though, need to be in a classroom, learning to pay attention, taking tests, learning from their mistakes, in front of a good teacher who can answer their questions and get it right the first time.  In other words, they need to be socialized (if you’ll excuse the expression), learn how to read, write, and think about what other people thought, not what they think (what a waste of time that is).

Otherwise, they’ll grow up to be overgrown, egocentric adolescents, jerks who don’t know who Ishmail was, or how far it is to Dingley Dell, or who “Kitty” was.  They won’t know how to count out change, figure out the tip at dinner, or even build a monument to Obama.

Parents and teachers, you’ve got to get on this right away.  I’ve given you the Belle’s Notes version of the book.  Do order up Orlean Koehle’s book, “Common Core:  A Trojan Horse for Education Reform” and read it for yourself.  It’s a short book, so it won’t take long to read (not much longer than reading this blog post).  2014 is now less than six months away.

If you don’t hurry, your kids won’t even learn how to connive a bunch of other kids into whitewashing a fence for them.








Published in: on July 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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