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by Sharon Rondeau

Seal of the U.S. Department of Education

(Jan. 27, 2010)  — It appears another attempted power grab is occurring in Washington, DC which has not been publicized but could be just as significant as the attempt to nationalize health care.

While angry Americans attended town hall meetings in droves this past summer to express their dissatisfaction with what many perceived as a government takeover of medical care, a similar but more stealthy maneuver was being wrought by the “transformation” administration in the field of public education.

Beginning in 2008 and extending into the fall of 2009, a plan to standardize math and English skills for all public school students across the country was being developed with little fanfare by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. A “National Policy Forum” met in January 2009 “to establish a shared understanding of the scope and elements of the common core state standards initiative and coordinate implementation and adoption.” According to the joint statement, “The common core state standards are the first step in transforming our education system.”

On July 24, 2009 at a press conference announcing “Race to the Top,” Department of Education secretary Arne Duncan stated, “Today we cross a threshold in education reform.  Today, the Race to the Top began.”  The $4B “competitive grant fund” will come from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, commonly-known as the “stimulus” bill, passed in February 2009.

The “Common Core State Standards Initiative,” or CCSSI, was released in draft form two months later on September 21, 2009.  School boards and states were given 30 days to submit their feedback. While Texas and Alaska opted out completely, all other 48 states, two territories and Washington, DC accepted the plan without having seen the final version.  As of this writing, the “Common Core Standards” haven’t been released in final form.

According to the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math, the standards set forth in the CCSSI draft of last fall do not meet  college-preparatory coursework requirements. Commenting on the draft, the Coalition wrote, “We are concerned about the following statement, which appears on p. 3 of the standards document: ‘Students reaching these levels will be prepared for non-remedial college mathematics courses and will be prepared for training programs for career-level jobs; however, the College and Career Readiness Standards for Mathematics should not be construed as grade twelve exit standards.'”  This statement appears to be an admission that the Common Core standards are not only not college-preparatory, but may not even meet high school graduation requirements.

The U.S. Coalition for World Class Math has compiled its own set of standards entitled “World Class Math Design Principles for K-12 Mathematics Standards and Assessments” which it plans to use “in evaluating the work of the CCSSI.”

According to Robert Holland, a senior fellow for education policy with the Heartland Institute, “…states must accept the national standards and national test — essentially a national curriculum — sight unseen if they want the federal largess (sic).”

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  1. Every step the government takes to control education weakens this country. I was teaching k-1 classes when No Child Left Behind was being introduced. (I’ve also taught college classes for several years so I looked to the long term effects and was horrified). So many teachers left because the day to day decisions about what students needed were taken out of their hands. This country does not have a “standard student.” How can we possibly have a standard method of teaching and testing? We can not. My daughter has been teaching special ed classes for a couple of years and she is so frustrated with the standardized curriculum that she is already thinking of quitting.

    This move is dangerous and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.