by: Eric Holcombe
I made a prediction (without seeing the speaker list) that 90% of the proponents of Common Core “state” Standards in last Friday’s Senate Education Committee hearing would fall into one of two groups (if not both):
1. They are part of an organization that received direct or indirect funding (meaning millions of dollars) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as payment to implement the standards (note: this includes the National Governors Association (Phil Bredesen, Bill Haslam), the Council of Chief State School Officers (Tim Webb, Kevin Huffman), Achieve Inc. (Phil Bredesen, Bill Haslam), the testing arms Race To the Top created: PARCC and SBAC (Kevin Huffman), Memphis City Schools, among others. I.e., they have a financial conflict of interest to be there.
2. They are part of an organization that endorsed the Common Core “state” Standards via the Race To The Top application with a rubber-stamp letter or a Memorandum of Understanding dated prior to the “confidential” draft of the standards being made available to the state on January 13, 2010, only five days before the Race To The Top application was submitted on January 18, 2010. (note: this includes the State Board of Education, Tennessee School Boards Association, State of Tennessee Higher Education Commission, The University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Knoxville and Martin, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, ALL 136 district directors of schools, ALL 136 district school board chairmen, the TEA and their local affiliates, among others. They all endorsed standards that weren’t available to see in “confidential” draft form and wouldn’t be available for public comment for another 60 days.
Well, it turns out I was wrong. Only 88% of the proponents fit the bill:
A. Kevin Huffman – Huffman serves on the governing board for PARCC, the national testing organization created with Race To The Top federal funds – and the testing arm Tennessee is committed to. Also as Commissioner of Education, he has great latitude in authority since the reform legislation was passed (First To The Top Act of 2010 and the Complete College TN Act of 2010) and the promises that Tennessee made in the Race To The Top Application. PARCC’s “project manager” is Achieve Inc., which received multi-millions from the Gates Foundation. Bill Haslam is on the board of directors of this Washington DC corporation. Phil Bredesen was formerly co-chair.
B. Jamie Woodson – Former state senator who was very prominent in passage of the First To The Top Act of 2010 and the Complete College TN Act of 2010. Once these were accomplished, she quit to become president and CEO of Bill Frist’s TNSCORE organization, which has received over $1.8 million from the Gates Foundation. Woodson is also in the second category as she signed one of the rubber-stamp letters endorsing the Race To The Top application which committed Tennessee to implementing the Common Core “state” Standards. Of course, Bill Frist did the same on January 14, 2010, one day after the “confidential” draft of Common Core was made available.
C. Clint Satterfield – Director of schools for Trousdale County. Clint is of course one of the 136 directors of schools who signed the Memorandum of Understanding (date unknown) provided by the federal government which claimed an “assurance” that they were “familiar with” the Race To The Top application which of course committed Tennessee to implementing the Common Core “state” Standards. I doubt these were turned around in the span of five days from January 13, 2010 when the first “confidential” draft was made available and January 18, 2010 when the application was submitted. He rubber-stamped Common Core without reading the 1111-page application just like the rest. Clint is also part of a special group of taxpayer-funded Common Core lobbyists called LIFT.
D. Michael Petrilli – Executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which also received over $6 million from the Gates Foundation. Fordham is being paid to do this all over the country and are supposed to be the “right wing” think tank to appeal to the Republican sheep. I told you the players in Common Core come from both sides against the middle. As Petrilli gets up to leave, Sen. Tate says “hopefully the check is in the mail” (at the 4:04:39 mark).
E. Casie Jones – Teacher from Martin Luther King Transition academy in Memphis, an alternative school for convicted juvenile delinquents to transition back into “traditional” classrooms. Casey made an impressive plea for the “rigorous” Common Core “state” Standards, however this would seem to be diametrically opposed to her previous pleas to maintain the Not Meeting Standards (NMS) program in 2010 where failing students were not given an “F”, but more of an “incomplete”. And of course, since the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pumped $90 million into City of Memphis schools, she falls into category 1. If instead she were counted as a Teach For America employee, she would fall into the rubber-stamper category 2.
F. Candice McQueen – Dean of Education, Lipscomb University. McQueen serves in Tennessee’s Educator Leader Cadre for the PARCC testing Consortium and also serves as the liaison for higher education for the State Department of Education’s Common Core State Standards Leadership Council for K-12 and on the Common Core advisory board for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Institutes of Higher Education. She like Woodson is a double dipper. Work for PARCC puts her in Category 1 and work for the rubber-stampers of the State Department of Education and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission puts her in Category 2.
G. Pitt Hyde III – Founder of Autozone. Pitt being asked here just highlights the fact that these standards are about serving employer business needs, not educating. This being one of the claims of the opponents of Common Core, made it rather humorous that Pitt was selected to speak on the state’s behalf. Of course, Pitt is one of the rubber-stampers that endorsed Race To The Top with his December 18, 2009 letter found in Appendix A of the Race To The Top application, dated three weeks prior to the “confidential” draft of the Common Core “state” Standards even being available to the states.
H. Lt. Col. Eric Goslowsky – Director of Tennessee Guard Family Support Programs. Goslowsky was the only pro-Common Core speaker for the day that didn’t fit my two categories. I believe he was there primarily to generate an appeal to fear as he reminded us that only ½ of 1% “wear the uniform” and if we don’t implement the Common Core “state” Standards (which haven’t been proven anywhere period), then terrorists will invade our country and no one will be there to defend you – and he will have to homeschool his one child that is still in school because our schools suck so bad without them that he has left his child in the sucky system the entire time, or he may take an assignment in California (where they will have Common Core) so hurry up and implement them.
I will give Goslowsky credit for being the ONLY proponent there that actually had some skin in the game, because that is the one thing continually missing from all the “demand” for Common Core – the actual parents and taxpayers.