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Saturday, January 03, 2015

STEVE CATES: THE PROCORES, THEIR LETTER TO THE EDITOR, AND THEIR MULTIPLE HISTORICAL REVISIONS

On December 20, 2014 the Fargo Forum and the Grand Forks Herald printed a letter to the editor authored by the proponents of the Common Core State Standards. For ease of recognition I will refer to the group that consisted of Andy Peterson of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, the Aimee Copas of the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, Jon Martinson of the North Dakota School Boards Association, and Nick Archuleta of the North Dakota public employees organization called ND United as the “ProCores.”

The ProCores make quite a number of claims of fact and to the honesty of those opposing Common Core in North Dakota. The majority of their claims are outright false.

 

According to the ProCores:  

 “When it comes to education and children, people are interested and passionate about providing what’s best for the youngest among us. This passion can oftentimes lead to doing whatever it takes to get your view across. We understand that the critics of Common Core are passionate, but that does not entitle them to revise history, discredit our well-qualified education or make up their own “facts.” To that end, we have formed a coalition to help provide the truth and combat the misconceptions being touted by a vocal few.

State initiative

The Common Core Standards were developed and reviewed by the top leaders in our communities, including governors and state superintendents from nearly every state in the country. These leaders collaborated with teachers, researchers and leading education experts to develop the Common Core Standards. After reviewing the standards, North Dakota education leaders voluntarily made the decision to adopt the standards using the same process that states have always used in determining its academic standards.”

Historical Revision #1: There were no leaders of any North Dakota community involved in the development of the Common Core Standards. The standards were created in secrecy by a group largely financed by the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation.

Historical Revision #2: There were no teachers immediately involve in the creation of the CCSS.

Historical Revision #3: There is no record that any North Dakota elected official nor their representatives had any involvement in creating the standards….no governor….no state superintendent.

Historical Revision #4: North Dakota committed to adoption of the Common Core Standards when then Governor Hoeven and then Superintendent Sanstead signed the June of 2010 Memo of Understanding that legally bound ND to the standards by the specific requirement that, “Each State agrees to the following element of the Consortium’s Assessment System: Adopt the Common Core Standards, which are college- and career-ready standards, and to which the Consortium’s assessment system will be aligned, no later than December 31, 2011.” Education leaders could not have voluntarily made the decision, even though that is how the process is being portrayed. It was a done deal. There was no alternative.

Our participation in that consortium requires us to participate in what the consortium itself claims the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s purpose as being as, “implementation of learning and assessment systems to radically reshape the education systems of participating States.”

 

According to the ProCores: 

“ND teachers

In North Dakota, 60 teachers spent two years vetting the standards to ensure their successful integration and respect for our history and cultural heritage. This decision was made by the Legislature, signed by then-Gov. John Hoeven, and implemented by our Department of Public Instruction. The whole time, this process was open and transparent; to say otherwise is to attempt to revise history.”

Historical Revision #5: There was no decision made by the North Dakota Legislature to adopt the Common Core Standards. The actual process was not open to the public as it was by invitation only, and no one has ever claimed anything about the transparency of the process

The Common Core Standards were not vetted. They were rubber stamped. ND was legally bound by the Memo of Understanding to adopt the standards. The 60 educators were window dressing on a done deal to provide a tissue of legitimacy. This is the constantly used fake-out by Common Core advocates to claim legitimacy and continues to this day!

The process of review of the standards that ND had guaranteed to adopt was done with the facilitation of the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) which is a private organization funded in large part by the U.S. federal government (approximately 40%) and to about an equal amount (approximately 40 %) entities that they will not publically name.

 

According to the ProCores: 

“We all have a vested interest in the education of our children. The teachers and educators who developed and reviewed the standards are the experts. These experts have overwhelmingly stated that these new standards are incredibly valuable as a way to better educate students with more rigorous standards to ensure they are college or career ready upon graduating from high school. This ensures a population that is ready for work or for school right out of high school. Previously, we weren’t doing a good enough job of preparing our students for their next step; now we are.”

Historical Revision #6: Repeat of Historical Revision #2. The standards developers were from testing companies.

Historical Revision #7: All kinds of people have made all kinds of claims about the efficacy of the CCSS. The proponents have made all manner of claims…..without substantiating the factual basis for their claims. Over and over it is asserted that the standards were “internationally benchmarked,” this is false. These standards were NEVER tested, nor evaluated in any manner prior to or subsequent to their adoption by the state of North Dakota.

 

According to the ProCores: 

“Raises the bar

Common Core raises the bar and increases our expectations of both students and teachers. The fact is, in North Dakota, to remain competitive, the bar must be raised. Prior to the implementation of the Common Core Standards, North Dakota received a D grade for our English Language Arts standards. The math standards similarly received a C. After implementing the Common Core Standards, those grades were raised to a B+ and A-, respectively. The standards are working, and curriculum is still controlled at the local level.”

Point of Order: These grades were assigned by the the Tomas B. Fordham Institute in 2010. That organization is largely funded by the Common Core primary funder.....the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Entirely objective analysis?

Historical Revision #8: There is no scientifically valid evidence that the CCSS are working. These standards HAVE NEVER been tested! There are no rigorous peer reviewed studies. None. The standards have not been utilized long enough for objective cause/effect analysis.

 

According to the ProCores: 

“We have a duty to provide the best education possible for our children – to prepare them for the new economy we have in North Dakota, to successfully compete with students here and around the world, and at the very least, we should be providing an education where students who receive a high school diploma are not required to enroll in remedial classes in college and incur that additional expense.”

Point of Order: The Common Core proponents repeatedly cite the fact that North Dakota high school graduates have to be remediated to attend college. They have no evidence whatsoever what the specific reason or reasons are for the need for remediation, nor, any evidence whatsoever that adoption of Common Core will have the claimed effect. None.

 

According to the ProCores: 

“We need change

The critics of Common Core are opposed to change. What we are saying is, we need change. The world our children are growing up in is full of technology, information, and everything is available at their fingertips through Google. It is not a world of long division, slide rules, or memorization. The world has changed, the business community has adapted and we now expect our workforce to adapt as well. The new standards take us in that direction.”

Historical Revision #9: No opponent of Common Core is opposed to improving the education of children. In fact many of the opponents sacrifice time and money to send their children to private schools and homeschool their own children. This assertion is a blatant falsehood. It is THIS systemic education reform that has been designed and promulgated by the Obama Administration that is being opposed.

 

According to the ProCores: 

“Common Core sets the standard, not the process. How you achieve the new standard is up to the school board and the teachers in the school. That’s it at a base level: Common Core are new standards. The experts in the state, in each school district and in every school control the path. We trust those experts; their interest is in helping develop and education our children. We don’t go to a mechanic if we have a tooth ache, so why would we go to someone outside of the education community to get facts about curriculum and standards.”

Great Point! Only education professionals know and/or can be trusted. The incongruity is that the ProCores have just told you how poor our standards were, how students have to be remediated for college, and that the people who were in control for all of the self ascribed failure should be trusted provide the ultimate solution – Common Core! The fact that they do not mention parents and other North Dakota citizens seems a rather significant omission. If you think an Obama Administration designed education system is going to allow for local control just remember…..”If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance, period”.

 

According to the ProCores: 

“We encourage you to do the same: talk to your teachers, talk to your school board and get the truth about the standards. Or you could just trust the work of the Legislature, then-Gov. Hoeven, our state superintendent, and numerous educators who developed and implemented these standards in North Dakota.”

Historic Revision #10: Repeat of Revision #5, the legislature did not “work” on the standards, nor did they have any input whatsoever in the adoption of the CCSS. In point of fact they, the legislators were entirely circumvented.

The truth about the standards is that they are the excuse for system wide radical reform of North Dakota education. It is being done with the money provided from the Obama Administration with the attendant strings attached and to the design of the Obama Administration.

 

According to the ProCores: 

“Great opportunity

The implementation of the Common Core Standards provides an unprecedented opportunity to help all students succeed while strengthening the state’s long-term economy. The world is a more demanding place today than ever before. Not only do students have to compete with others in their community to get into college and secure a job, but they must compete with students around the country.

As colleges and employers expect more, we all have a role to play in helping students master the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed, and, frankly, under our new standards, we are accomplishing those goals. Why break what we just fixed.”

Historical Revision #11: Repeat of Historical Revision #8. There is no scientifically proven that under our new standards that we are accomplishing any goals. What evidence exists that we fixed anything? There is none.

 

The ProCores: 

“Peterson is with the Greater North Dakota Chamber; Copas is with the North Dakota Center for Educational Leadership; Martinson is with the North Dakota School Boards Association; Archuleta is with North Dakota United. Together they comprise North Dakotans for Student Success.”

 

The ProCores are hiding the fact that Common Core is much, much, much, more than the simply the “standards.” Note that although the Common Core supporters have been repeatedly challenged to participate in open debate they refuse, only participating in highly structured settings where they are protected from hard questions and deeper analysis. It may be that the reason that Common Core supporters seemingly have no interest in open debate is because they may not want full examination of Common Core being in reality the full of implementation of Obama Administered designed systemic education transformation.

 

Signing the letter were:

 

Andy Peterson             (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)                       (701) 989-9899

Jon Martinson              (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)                   (701) 255-4127

Nick Archuleta            (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)                          (701) 223-0450

Aimee Copas               (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)                       (701) 258-3022                      

Click here to email your elected representatives.

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