Monday, April 1, 2013

Daily Oklahoman Calls Common Core Detractors "Conspiracy Theorists"

Sunday (3/31), while many of us were enjoying Easter at church, with our families, one Daily Oklahoman editorial writer (see PS) was VERY busy doing damage control after the COMMON CORE IS NOT OK rally ROPE had last Wednesday.  His article, "Conspiracy theories about Common Core should be ignored", was full of nonsense and name calling.  Just like some of the 'research' that comes out of the State Department of Education, this essay had absolutely no legitimate, non-spun truth anywhere inside.  In fact, it was so ridiculous, I penned the following response:

WINNING!  Now that we're in the "ridicule" stage (we've been through the "ignore" stage) WINNING is next! 

Here are some fundamental questions to ask yourself and FACTS to research to see who the "Conspiracy Theorists" really are: 

"Would you buy a car sight unseen?" These standards were put into Oklahoma law before they were even available for review in order to get a Race To The Top grant funded by stimulus monies. So, if you're all for making school kids Guinea Pigs in an education experiment that could affect them (and private and home schooled students) for the rest of their lives just to get money from the feds, you're all for the Core!  

"Would you show up to buy a car without knowing how much it cost?"  The legislature never studied the cost Common Core would place on the state before enacting them into law in 2009/2010.  The Superintendent never answered that question when asked by legislators at a 2011 Interim Study, or when asked by Pat McGuigan of Capitol Beat that same year.  Since that time schools have had to apply for eRate grants and raise school bonds to pay for the technology costs associated with giving students the tests tied to the Standards. If you're all for having your property taxes raised and the superintendent asking for another140 MILLION dollars more for education spending, you're all for the Core! Sadly, that money won't go to students or teachers, but to buy computer and testing software and wiring.  If you're all for having less money in the classroom, you're all for the Core!  

As for Gus Blackwell and his voting record on the bill (SB2033 - 2010) that placed the Common Core into Oklahoma state law, read it.  You will find that the bill died the first time it went to the floor of the House 60 to 36.  Also, you will find that this was a 34 page bill titled "Schools; relating to teacher incentive pay plans; modifying requirements. Effective dates. Emergency."  The part about Common Core equals exactly one paragraph on page 30 in Section 11-103.6a  B.  WOW!  I can totally see how Gus Blackwell and all other legislators that signed on to the bill THE SECOND TIME it came to the floor, missed it.  Oh, but that's probably a conspiracy theory!  What am I thinking?  So, if you're all for a set of standards based on zero transparency to the people of Oklahoma, you're all for the Core!  

This editorial indicates that the Common Core is voluntary.  That is correct.  Now you know the process by which they were adopted in Oklahoma.  Voluntary for whom exactly?  Because the STATE adopted the standards, all state school boards now have to follow the Common Core without any input into their adoption, or risk getting poor grades on state tests aligned to the Common Core.  What happens if a district school board doesn't adopt the standards for their schools?  They do poorly on their Common Core-aligned state tests.  What happens if that brings down their school grade (calculated through the very controversial A-F gradingsystem) to a D or an F?  According to the No Child Left Behind waiver for which Governor Fallin and Dr. Barresi applied (against 10 out of 15 comments made on the process), the state can take over the school and either administrate it through the Department of Ed or hire a contractor to do so.  So if you're NOT for local education, you're all for the Core and if you're NOT for voluntary standards, you're all for the Core! 

What about state led?  I guess, if you consider either the National Governor's Association (NGA) or Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSO) NOT private, dues-supported, trade organizations not subject to Open Records, that works.  

I definitely hope the writer of this editorial doesn't call himself an advocate for Public Schools, or education, or children. We at Restore Oklahoma Public Education care about teachers and students - that's why we say COMMON CORE IS NOT OK!  

PS: The husband of Superintendent Barresi's ex-chief of staff (Jennifer Carter left the department after a tenure in which she referredto Jenks administrators as "dirtbags" in a Twitter post - and a stink was raised by state board members over the fact that her salarywas paid by a private donor prior to acceptance of her employment by the state board) is a writer for the Oklahoman.  This editorial certainly argues a connection...yet I don't know that matters so much as the time-worn notion that when you have no evidence to stand on to make your case, you just call others names!