In Part 1, I introduced you to the Tennessee Race To The Top (RTTT) application for federal taxpayer funds that committed the public schools in Tennessee to implementing the Common Core “state” Standards – before they were even available for public review, and the signatories of this agreement. In Part 2, I showed you the additional unanimous, blind agreement of all 136 directors of schools and all 136 school board presidents to whatever the state said in the RTTP application to get their federal money. Also, we reviewed the two pieces of legislation that were hurriedly passed as part of the “reforms” necessary to implement Common Core and keep those promises made in the RTTT application and who those bill sponsors were. In this post, we will take a look at the specific promises to implement the Common Core found within the RTTT application, because despite being told repeatedly that Common Core is “state-led”, we just don’t find it anywhere in the legislation passed by our elected legislators, even though the First To The Top Act was explicitly made part of the RTTT application . You will only find it in the promises to the federal government as part of Race To The Top application in order to get federal taxpayer dollars.
Here are a few excerpts from the RTTT application that obliged all public schools in Tennessee to the Common Core (signed by Governor Bredesen, Education Commissioner Tim Webb and State Board of Education President B. Fielding Rolston) while they weren’t even available yet for public comment:
page 14: “New standards and aligned assessments are major tools in teachers’ toolboxes, and we are committed to making the standards even stronger through adoption of the Common Core. In this application, we describe the process we will use to adopt the Common Core, the timeline for implementation, and the way in which we will ensure that Tennessee educators receive training on the new standards.”
I must have heard that “tools in the toolboxes” quote from Jamie Woodson about a hundred times when she was working on the “reform” legislation.
page 15: “We seek to organize our efforts and interventions around this data, enabling it to be used from the Capitol to the classroom. We believe that an expansion from a K-12 data system to a P-20 data system, as well as the creation of an early-warning system, will enable us to reach our graduation rate goal of 90%.”
Just in case you forgot begging the Governor to start tracking all students from pre-kindergarten to four years AFTER they leave college with a diploma. Giving the level of information proposed in Common Core via the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) to the federal government is illegal and a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The U.S. Department of Education (an unconstitutional entity itself) KNOWS this and sees FERPA as a roadblock for the data-mining in Common Core. The U.S. Dept of Education has altered FERPA to empower the data-mining within Common Core and they have been sued for doing so, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
page 16: “The stars in Tennessee – the Governor’s Office, the General Assembly, the Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Tennessee Board of Regents, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, leading business associations, philanthropic foundations, and community groups – are aligned when it comes to the next generation of education innovation. The support ranges from our Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., to the organization representing our five largest district superintendents, to the statewide Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), chaired by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist…”
Gee, I guess that just about covers everybody who got paid by Bill Gates. Any response from the students or their parents? Oh, that’s right, the “public” draft isn’t available yet…
page 44: “First, we know our state assessment does not measure the level of rigor we know students must experience to succeed, which is why our performance on the NAEP has trailed that of our state assessment. With the introduction of a new test aligned to the tougher Common Core standards, we expect that student proficiency rates will more closely mirror those reported on the NAEP.”
This statement does not fit the “official” story that Common Core is only a set of standards, not a curriculum and not tests. Of course, since the English Language Arts author, David Coleman (who has never taught English in any capacity), has since moved on to become president of the College Board, he is re-writing the SAT college entrance exams to “align” with Common Core.
page 48: “We will continue to lead by adopting the Common Core standards at a special State Board of Education meeting the last two weeks of July 2010.”
Remember, they aren’t even available for public viewing at this point and won’t be until March 2010, but here the state declares they will be adopted.
page 49: “Governor Bredesen and Education Commissioner Timothy Webb have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to join the Common Core standards initiative led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The initiative will result in new K-12 grade-by-grade standards in mathematics and English, including a set of college- and career ready standards, which Tennessee will adopt in July 2010.”
NGA and CCSSO both paid millions by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Plus, we are sold the story that the Governors made these standards as part of NGA. Here it is made to sound as if they do not yet exist (which is true), but that Tennessee will adopt them in July 2010 – when they cannot even know what they are yet.
page 49: “Achieve has notified us that it will conduct a grade-by-grade alignment study between our standards and the Common Core. Based on our previous work with Achieve, we expect our standards to be well-aligned with the Common Core standards, but will make any adjustments as needed. Please see Appendix B-1-1 for a copy of the Common Core MOA, Appendix B-1-2 for a copy of the proposed Common Core standards, Appendix B-1-3 for documentation that they will be internationally benchmarked and prepare students for career-readiness, Appendix B-1-4 for a list of participating states, Appendix B-1-5 for our College and Career-Ready Policy Institute (CCRPI) plan submission, and Appendix B-1-6 for a final feedback letter from our CCRPI partners.”
Well, that’s nice that the Washington D.C. company paid millions by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is going to conduct an alignment to Common Core. I thought these were supposed to be “state-led”. Don’t we know what we want? Keep in mind these standards do not yet exist, yet again we are committing to make “any adjustments as needed”. Here is a link to Appendix B where you can see what is being called the “standards” on January 18, 2010. Notice the MOA is dated April 28, 2009 and labeled Draft/For Discussion Only. Yet, Governor Phil Bredesen and Education Commissioner Tim Webb have signed it? Also note that the document following purported to be the Common Core State Standards beginning on page 14 have a “CONFIDENTIAL” watermark and the heading that states these are a “DRAFT-1/13/10”. That is the Wednesday before this RTTT application was delivered on Monday 1/18/2010. I guess there was a really thorough, around-the-clock review of these standards in order to put this application together and claim that Tennessee would adopt these incomplete standards no matter what and would make any adjustments needed to adopt them. Doesn’t this seem just slightly irresponsible to you?
If these Common Core “state” Standards are “state-led” and not federally-demanded, why is Tennessee committing to the federal government to implement something that doesn’t exist yet – and since they are supposed to have originated with us, why don’t we know what they are and are relying on Washington D.C. non-profits funded by Bill Gates to tell us?
Part 4 in this series will show the multitude of “higher” education leaders, state and federal legislators, candidates for governor, business “leaders” and others who gave their rubber-stamp approval of this ridiculous commitment to standards that didn’t even exist yet.