July 25, 2013
Superintendent Barresi and Board Members,
Throughout history, education in the United States has always emphasized local control of schools, standards, curriculum, and testing. The principle of subsidiarity states that functions which local organizations perform effectively belong more properly to them than to a dominant central organization (Merriam-Webster). In other words, a matter ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralized authority capable of addressing that matter effectively (Wikipedia).
When local control is handed over to a larger, centralized, distant authority, the more likely it is that decisions made by that authority are not in the best interest of those affected by it. Local control means local involvement. Local involvement ensures the best educational outcome.
Common Core, or the Oklahoma Academic Standards as they are now called, is the opposite of local control. These standards were produced by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. These standards are owned and copyrighted by private organizations that are not accountable to the people of Oklahoma. Not a single elected legislative body has had any input into these standards. There were no local meetings, public input or debate about these standards prior to their adoption by the Oklahoma state legislature. Where is the local control? In addition, it is my understanding that we must adopt and implement Common Core word for word, and can add no more than 15% of the material taught. Again I ask, where is the local control?
Our state adopted these standards before they were even completed. That makes as much sense as when Nancy Pelosi said, when referring to the Affordable Care Act, “We have to pass it to see what’s in it.” I know the legislature had not read the standards before adopting them, but I ask, have any of you? We are implementing a program that no one has read and that has not been field-tested. We are drastically changing the way we educate in Oklahoma, and no one knows what the impact will be on our children.
If our state no longer has control over education, neither will the parents in our state. This clearly violates the right of parents to direct the education of their children.
A quote from Thomas Jefferson seems quite appropriate here: “Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should all want for bread.”
Please don’t give away our local control.