, Salem, MA


March 13, 2014

Column: The mystery behind Common Core


We can easily follow the money from curriculum development to those producing the mandatory tests. But I can’t tell you why Bill Gates is doing this except to note that just because a genius creates Microsoft doesn’t mean he can’t be used and manipulated by government bureaucrats who convince him he’s part of something very important.

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow federal intrusion into the state/local education arena; Common Core attempts to deal with this by using private sector developers. Then, federal stimulus money was offered to those states who accept Common Core, and with money comes control. The private organizations created a Validation Committee to “evaluate the soundness, rigor, and validity of the standards” they were developing. No information is available on how committee members were chosen. No transparency is required of the private sector.

Fortunately, one qualified person was on the Validation Committee: Sandra Stotsky, a Massachusetts expert on K-12 English education, who was involved in the implementation of the bipartisan Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993.

A mathematics expert joined Stotsky as the two dissenting votes when the committee validated the standards. In the end, Stotsky told us, it didn’t matter, as the program that was eventually sent to the states that accepted the federal money wasn’t the same program that had been validated anyhow.

Common Core’s mission is to promote common educational standards and testing in the English and mathematics curriculum across the country. According to Stotsky, the common standards are lower than what we already have created in Massachusetts since the Ed Reform Act.

The Pioneer Institute is my go-to group for education issues; Stotsky serves on its advisory board for ongoing school reform. Pioneer reasonably asks why the federal government didn’t start its program with low-achievement states, trying to bring them up to our standards, instead of potentially letting us drop down to their level for the common goal.

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