Letter | Educate yourself on Common Core standards for schools

09/04/2013 4:07 PM

09/04/2013 4:08 PM

It truly is humorous that in their Common Core puff piece targeted to South Carolina conservatives, Chester Finn and Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute go after “outside groups” for spreading what they deem “misinformation” about these cookie-cutter standards. (“Common Core standards a conservative win for South Carolina,” Aug. 28.)

And so their Fordham outfit is located where – Pickens? Spartanburg? Conway? No, it is an Inside-the-Beltway operation, and Finn and Petrilli are former Republican political appointees who are regulars on the D.C. think tank circuit.

Practically every paragraph of their article is rebuttable, but up top your readers deserve to know this: Fordham is hardly a disinterested party with regard to Common Core. Since 2009, it has received more than $6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation largely for the furtherance of Common Core. (For verification, readers can go online to gatesfoundation.org and search under “recently awarded grants.”) Gates was the chief bankroller of the interest groups that drafted these standards behind closed doors and now the foundation is paying for advocacy to sell them to parents who were left in the dark about their development.

Finn and Petrilli tout “accountability,” but accountability to whom? Certainly not to parents and local taxpayers. The elitists and wooly theorists who concocted Common Core provided no mechanism for state or local amendment of flawed or inappropriate provisions. Indeed, they copyrighted Common Core to restrain local flexibility.

Among many other misleading statements, the DC duo assert that Common Core is not a national curriculum because “the standards were written by governors and local education officials, and they were adopted by each state independently.” In fact, the bureaucrats at the governors and state school chiefs’ organizations in the D.C. area received heavy Gates funding to set up panels of presumed “experts” to draft the English and math standards. Then, the Obama Administration dangled Race to the Top grants and No Child Left Behind waivers as inducements for states to jump on the bandwagon, in some cases before a final draft had even been released.

Furthermore, the chief architect of the English/language arts standards – David Coleman – had a background in standardized testing and no experience at all as a teacher. Now as president of the College Board, he has stated his intention to align college-entrance testing with Common Core, a move that could ensure even home schooling will not be immune from nationalized education.

Is this what South Carolina parents, whether conservative or liberal, want for their children’s education? Do they want to cede all their authority to technocrats and a remote power elite drunk on power and money?

Robert Holland is a senior fellow for education policy for the Heartland Institute. He lives in Myrtle Beach.

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