The Cook County Record Apr. 23, 2013, 1:35pm

To the Editor:

What President Obama called “college and career-ready standards” during a speech before the national Governor’s Association in 2010 is in reality a federally mandated education curriculum known as Common Core, which consists of a set of requirements setting out what every child should learn in grades K-12 in math, English and other subjects.

It was in 2009 when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan quickly rolled out this new national curriculum, lacking any back-up research, with $4.5 billion in “Race to the Top” stimulus spending. Basically, the administration bribed cash-starved states into adopting unseen instructional standards as a condition of winning billions of dollars in grants. Even states that had lost their bids for Race to the Top money were required to commit to Common Core.

In 2010, Illinois became one of 46 states signing up for Common Core by accepting federal funds through the Obama’s stimulus package. Over the next few years Common Core standards will substantively change what goes on in many American classrooms.

With this in mind, how has the federal government been doing with public education? Federal spending has increased by 375 percent since the founding of the Department of Education, but math and reading scores have declined, according to the Department of Education, during that same period.

The individual who was the lead architect of the Common Core standards, David Coleman, is described by Dana Goldstein in her article, “The Schoolmaster,” as “an idealistic, poetry-loving, controversy-stoking Rhodes Scholar and a former McKinsey consultant who has determined, more than almost anyone else, what kids learn in American schools.”

Goldstein wrote that Coleman “has zero K-12 teaching experience. Should we really be learning how to cook from a person who’s never been in the kitchen?”

Equally disturbing is that when Coleman shortly steps into his new position as the head of the College Board, applied Common Core standards may also affect who applies to college and how applicants are evaluated.

As with Obamacare, states were promised federal subsidies to get the program started. Questions do remain, however, as to how much and for how long those federal funds will continue to flow.

Also akin to Obamacare is that testing standards for Common Core had to be adopted before they were even known. This was part of the quid pro quo for receiving the stimulus money back in 2009.  In so doing the states signed on to what amounts to an experimental learning program that has never been tried or tested as to academic achievement results.

Recently the Illinois State Board of Education began the process of informing taxpayers of the new federally bench-marked Common Core Standards Initiative. The high implementation cost for Illinois will be $733 million dollars over the next seven years. Was an Illinois cost analysis ever conducted?

How will Illinois pay for this massive cost?  What is more, the legislation will not allow school districts to discontinue or modify any mandated activity regarding costs to Common Core, thereby ceding the sovereign rights of Illinois.

At the present time Common Core is focused on math and language arts.  The plan is to complete the roll out on these two subjects and then redirect attention to science and history as well as health and sex education.

As far as standards being rigorous, the overall math requirement will drop so that Algebra 1 will move from 8th to 9th grade, making calculus unachievable by anyone but AP students before graduation. Accordingly, Common Core math standards will not produce students who are ready for college level math (Calculus is required by most four year universities.).

It is quite revealing that three state governors rejected Common Core standards from the beginning.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell recently said: “The bottom line is, we don’t need the federal government with the Common Core telling us how to run our schools in Virginia. We’ll use our own system which is very good. It’s empirically tested.”

Texas governor Rick Perry, never one to mince words, said, “The academic standards of Texas are not for sale.”

Then there is Nikki Haley of South Carolina who did not want to relinquish control of education to the federal government in her state.

State lawmakers in Michigan are seriously thinking about opting out of Common Core standards, believing that Common Core standards seem to lower the bar thereby limiting the ability to raise the bar.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has also indicated that state leaders will “take a long, hard look” at Common Core.  Indiana has cited concerns over quality, cost, and loss of control. Indiana and Michigan are just two of approximately 10 states considering legislation to withdraw from Common Core.

The intent of the Obama administration’s $4.5 billion Race to the Top stimulus spending back in 2009 seems obvious, it was to break the states’ monopolies on education by using federal purse strings to bribe states into handing over control of curriculum standards to the Department of Education.

Empowered by Washington education bureaucrats and backed by liberal philanthropists led by billionaire Bill Gates, there is every reason to fear a further radical makeover of your children’s school curriculum under Common Core standards that will do nothing to raise achievement standards.

Mirroring concerns of governors are moms, dads and even teachers apprehensive that the federal government is on the brink of dictating the contents to be taught in every school.

There is every reason to believe that the agenda will be progressive driven, as the federal government has spent billions to move Common Core forward and has put billions more on the line to fully implement.

This fear is borne out in an article by Bill Korach in which he relates some major issues that should concern all citizens about CCS:

1. The educational establishment, by training has leftist attitudes, so CCS will reflect this build in bias.

2.  CCS means loss of local control of school curricula and content.

3.  CCS fails to instill an appreciation of what it means to have liberty under the Constitutional form of government.

4.  CCS fails to implement rigorous instruction in reading and writing.

As if the above wasn’t worrisome enough, United Nations’ “world school” standards are embodied in Common Core.

If you are uneasy about the foundational philosophy of Common Core (to create students ready for social action so as to force a social justice agenda as adults), make your voice be heard by joining those who oppose Common Core at

Nancy Thorner

Lake Bluff, Ill.

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