By Jeff Simpson
For those of you who have and have not been following the state of education in the country and in our state, one of the debates right now is a set of Common Core State Standards, that every state is trying to adopt so kids graduate high school with a basic understanding of how the world works. Whether you grow up in Janesville, WI, Detroit Michigan, Rockland County, New York, or South Alamo, Texas there are basic math, reading writing skills that everyone will have.
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
The theory is that we as a country have too much invested in our youth that when someone graduates West Bend high school and thinks that dinosaurs lived with man only a few thousand years ago that kind of ignorance harms us all.
It seems as though anti-intellectualism has become standard practice in politics today. Some of it can be attributed to the education vampire profiteers like former convicted felon Scott Jensen who prefers public education money in his pocket instead of your kids classroom. We can also contribute it to the failed state of our politics when we have serious candidates for president say things like this:
A little refresher course on Common Core, it originated as a republican idea:
On the face of it, Republicans should love the Common Core State Standards. Eisenhower called for higher education standards in response to Sputnik. Reagan decried that U.S. standards were too low. Conservatives have railed against lax standards, zero accountability and bloated education budgets for decades. We want measurable results, bottom-line solutions, and we don’t want them come from Washington.Then something devastating to Common Core happened. President Obama endorsed it! As "tea party" republican school board member Dan Belton from Rural Georgia says:
Common Core does that. Developed by teachers, created by the states, it provides the kind of education that big business and colleges are demanding.The initiative started in 1989 when President Bush (the elder) hosted a summit of governors to develop higher standards for public education. The idea came to fruition in 2007 when the National Governors Association (led by Sonny Perdue) created standards for English and math.The goal? To create graduates with the necessary skills to be employable by businesses or go to college. Funded by big business, with 10,000 different inputs by ordinary parents and teachers, developed by teachers, benchmarked against competitive foreign countries, the group created a yardstick that could measure every student across the nation.Up until that point, Republicans who knew about Common Core were unified behind the zero-budget, state-led initiative to an education system we’ve been trying to fix for generations. We welcomed these standards because they’d finally make all schools across the nation equally accountable – not to the meddlesome feds – but to 46 of our fellow states.
Then Obama endorsed the initiative, and conservatives turned against it.Now let's bring it back to WI where a group of "tea party" laggards are foaming at the mouth upset that we would even think about implementing anything the current President of the United States would endorse. They pressured the extremist elements of the current republican party(which is most of them) and they forced statewide hearings on common core.
I wish they’d look closer. I’d be annoyed if Obama announced he was suddenly a Braves fan. But that wouldn’t make me cheer for the Mets. That is the kind of backwards logic that some are now employing.Obama did not develop Common Core. It is not a federal program. Not one federal official was on any of the teams that created these standards.“But, wait!” you say. “The feds are controlling Common Core by using Race to the Top money!” Yes, that is one way federal money can be earned, but it is not the only way. Virginia, for example, won that money while rejecting Common Core.“But the curriculum tells teacher what to teach!” Actually, Common Core isn’t even a curriculum. It is a set of standards that each child needs to know. One teacher put it this way, "It's not about how to teach; it's about where students need to be by the time that teaching is done."It’s the end zone - home plate - the goalie’s net. It’s a yardstick that nearly every state agreed upon; a goal that is much harder than before.
Unfortunately, for the children of Wisconsin, these hearings turned out to be as big of a sham as everything the republicans have done in the last three years. It was so bad that Rep. Christine Sinicki quit the common core committee because nothing was being accomplished but a bunch of paid goons from out of state were the only ones being allowed to talk!
The John Birch Society, a conservative political advocacy group, paid experts to testify against the controversial Common Core academic standards in public hearings last week, which Sinicki called “immoral” in her resignation letter to committee chairs Sen. Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac.(Edit Note: In case you don't know the history of John Birch Society - it is not pretty)
“It has become painfully clear that this committee and its activities are occurring at the behest of interested parties outside of this Legislature, and even this state,” Sinicki said in her letter.
Sinicki said in her letter she would not sit on a committee that involves itself with “extreme” interest groups during legislative hearings but does not pay attention to the teachers and administrators affected by the standards.
After the right wing extremist were able to force the republican party to hold sham hearings, that was not enough. Now somewhere around 60 of these extremist groups and their laggard heads all signed a letter asking Governor Walker to display his "unintimidated" principles and not implement it!
Nor could they better embody the principles that must guide you, Wisconsin’s chief
executive, in boldly rejecting Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in this state.Governor Walker, we ask that you match your bold words with decisive leadership and action on the most important issue that will ever be before you in your current office: the future of the children of Wisconsin
Yes a sane person would think they were talking about the devastating effects of his voucher school program on Wisconsin Students. but they are talking about Common Core.
As HuffPo points out:
The Common Core State Standards have been adopted in more than 40 states and are being taught to the same benchmarks. While the standards are typically seen as more rigorous than what most states previously used, in Wisconsin, some critics are arguing the standards are too mild and represent an example of federal overreach.
On Tuesday, the groups sent Walker a letter asking him to encourage the legislature to pass a bill rejecting the Common Core Standards, even though the state adopted the voluntary benchmarks in 2010.
Schools in Wisconsin have already spent about $25 million on the standards’ implementation process, the AP notes.
Whats $25 million in Wisconsin taxpayer money to the "tea party" anyway? they have proven that no amount of money matters when it comes to their agenda.
Their hilarious, yet scary letter can be found here.
A couple quick thoughts on their letter:
* The people that loved No Child Left Behind now are upset with testing in schools? Huh?
* Don't tell us about Wisconsinites are against it when you have a letter signed with "expert witnesses" from Utah.
* Anytime the cowardly Orville Seymour's name is attached then you know its a joke.
* The Southern Poverty Law center, who tracks domestic terrorist groups, tells us that one telling sign of an American dangerous hate group is the word "patriot" in their title.
Finally why do we need Common Core? Back to Ben Belton:
Why is this necessary? Nationwide, only 75 percent of ninth graders graduate from high school. Only 19 percent of our graduates are ready for college, only 44 percent enter college and only 21 percent earn a degree. Shockingly, 35 percent aren’t educated enough to enter the military. The United States is 25th among developed countries in math and 21st for science.Over 600,000 jobs remained vacant last year because no one was educated enough to fill them. If you think those stats are good enough, then, yeah…Common Core is a horrible idea.Common Core gets rid of No Child Left Behind. The dirty little secret is that although the feds administered that very unpopular reform program, they let the each state decide what their individual standards were.The result? Some states made their standards hard and others quite easy, making it impossible to compare one state to another.Common Core isn’t mandatory. State leaders, accountable to their constituents, can withdraw at any time. Which states opted out? Texas, Alaska, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Virginia -- evenly matched between Red and Blue.Common Core only involves English and math. It does not include social studies or science and probably never will.
In a nation like France, where people rarely move much from place to place, having national standards isn’t a big deal. In America, where children commonly move thousands of miles from state to state, it’s absolutely essential. Our tiny, rural system has dozens of children moving from out of state every month. Finding that your child is one or two years behind another state is extremely common.I’ve talked to a lot of teachers about Common Core. Their biggest concern? That we’ll scrap it and start over (yet again) with something else. Georgia DOE is famous for rolling out plan after plan without sticking to anything more than a year or two. Teachers have been using these standards over a year. It would be a crime to derail them yet again.Some parents complain it’s too hard or too confusing. Welcome to the 21st century! Our students will either rise to the challenge of the ever-competitive global marketplace or America will fail. Staying the course towards pale mediocrity is not a plan.Measuring performance is the cornerstone of accountability. Imagine if the Crimson Tide refused to play anyone outside the state of Alabama! How could they possibly say they were the best team in the nation? States must be able to compete and measure themselves against other states. Every Republican knows that.
Sorry Ben, the republican party of your youth is no longer around. The logical conservative elephant is as extinct as the Zanzibar leopard!
If Scott Walker listens to this surly group of half wits, anti intellectuals, radicals, subversives and antagonists then it will prove that Scott Walker is not only out of touch with what Wisconsinites truly feel, but that he is completely unfit for duty!
PS: To our friends on the right who signed the letter: Keep Writing them! PLEASE!