A few weeks ago I wrote about the separation of school and state and my concern that we have become lulled into a sense of false security about what is going on in our educational system. At the root of my concern is the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). As I have become aware of CCSS and it’s far reaching implications I have also learned that hardly any parents I know have any idea what these standards are or how they will affect our schools. My next few posts will cover a range of CCSS topics. If you, like me, were completely unaware of CCSS then I hope you find this information helpful and that you will have a better understanding of what CCSS is and how it will affect our children, schools, and our culture.
What are the Common Core State Standards? They are a set of national K-12 standards in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.
Who developed CCSS? The standards were developed primarily by nonprofit Achieve, Inc., and then released through the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
How did CCSS get into Georgia schools? In July 2010 Georgia governor Sonny Perdue signed off on CCSS.
On the surface the answers to these questions look very benign and leave many people wondering, what’s the big deal? Couldn’t we all agree that having state standards would be beneficial to our kids? Doesn’t it sound like some very knowledgeable people developed these standards? Wouldn’t a governor do what is in the best interest of their state by accepting these standards?
Let’s dig a little deeper and find out how this all came about. Remember the stimulus bill of 2009 that we needed to save our economy? In that stimulus bill $4.35 billion of our tax dollars were given to the Department of Education. The Department then came up with Race to the Top (RTTT) which allowed states to apply for grants so they could win back some of our tax dollars to use in our schools. If a state was awarded a grant they had to agree to do three things, 1. Adopt CCSS 2. Adopt nationalized tests 3. Participate in a State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) The states that applied for RTTT grants also became eligible for a waiver for No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which is our previous set of national standards, so they wouldn’t have to fulfill two sets of requirements for the federal government.
So let’s look at how Georgia came to be one of the states adopting CCSS. In November 2009 RTTT applications were released. States could print the application, which in many cases is hundreds of pages long, and get started filling them out. In January 2010 RTTT applications were due and had to be signed by the governor and the state school superintendent. By March 2010 a draft of CCSS was released and in June 2010 the final CCSS were released. And one short month later, in July 2010 our governor signed off on CCSS.
Does any of this concern anyone? Why are our tax dollars being used to entice our schools to adopt new standards, new tests and to participate in new data systems which at the time of our governor signing off on CCSS had not been discussed by our own state legislature?
Since I have begun learning about CCSS there are several issues that cause me concern as a taxpayer and as a parent. The way in which the federal government dangles our tax dollars in front of our schools to get them to do what they want is ridiculous and we know that the national standards set out in NCLB didn’t do us too many favors, so how will this time be different? As a parent I want to know if the curriculum is being dumbed down, if our children are being mined for data and what is being done with that data.
I strongly encourage you to do your own homework and find out more about CCSS. In my next post I will be addressing the concerns stated above and recommend this YouTube series, along with this article for more history on how CCSS came to be and this site for the latest information about CCSS.by