Common Core: A Trojan Horse

**Please note: Members’ views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the Lincoln Club and/or it’s leadership.**

Common Core: A Trojan Horse

The deceptively innocuous-sounding name belies the crippling effects a centralized K-12 education curriculum will have on the United States once it is allowed to take effect.  Ze’ev Wurman, software architect, electrical engineer and longtime math advisory expert, succinctly summarized the problem when he labelled Common Core a government-enforced “mediocre national benchmark” that “marks the cessation of educational standards improvement” and will consign the country to a non-first rate future.

Incursion by the federal government in matters pertaining to the curriculum or content in public education is prohibited by the Constitution and education reforms enacted by three US Presidents: the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the 1970 General Education Provisions Act and the 1979 Department of Education Organization Act.1

The 2001 reauthorization of ESEA, the No Child Left Behind legislation, marked a shift that squarely involved the government in establishing national education standards and student assessments. With Common Core, however, the reach and scope of federal control is breathtaking, as is the disregard for the law. This essay attempts to outline the main issues. The extended analysis the initiative merits far exceeds the scope of a single essay.

The Common Core States Initiative was part of the 2009 stimulus package. Prohibited by law from direct control of public education, it represented an attempt by the federal government to establish a straw horse that suggested the measure was initiated by the states.

Representing one of Barack Obama’s signature programs, the initiative was designed to induce states to adopt the program in order to compete for gain shares of his $4.35 Billion Race To the Top federal grant lottery. States submitted bids for RTTT funds.

CCSSI was presented as a state-led effort “coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (two DC-based trade organizations) that was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates. To date, the Gates foundation has doled out $2.3 Billion in grants to Common Core-related projects.3

The standards, assessments, curriculum, texts and instructional materials were all developed by two independent private consortia: SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers consortium. The two groups were selected by the Department of Education which awarded them more than $300 Million in federal grants.

Although SBAC and PARCC had not yet written the standards for mathematics or the English Language Arts, the states had to commit to them sight unseen in order to receive the RTTT funds. Finding themselves in desperate financial straits due to the economic downturn, forty-five states and the District of Columbia agreed to accept CCI. NY and Florida were each awarded $700Million.

CCSSI is a national initiative masquerading as a state-sponsored program. States will be required to develop massive databases involving personal information about students and their families. This is an invasion of privacy that is prohibited by the Family Education and Privacy Act. The information will be shared with the Department of Education and the Executive office as well as other federal agencies.

The standards, curriculum and assessments in mathematics and English Language Arts were developed by a 29-member Common Core Standards Development Work Group. The members represented testing experts, professors of education, several teachers and school administrators and one mathematician.

Instead of experts in the much-needed STEM subjects (science technology, engineering and math), the work group and the 25-member Validation Committee consisted of employees of testing organizations like ACT, College Board and Achieve. The members of the two three-person committees that wrote the entirety of the national CCSI K-12 standards for mathematics and ELA were non-education professionals as well. A number of them had no experience at all in writing standards.

Sixty individuals who lacked adequate qualifications or credentials were designated by the federal government to undertake a Herculean task. That the product designed to develop critical thinking and to teach 21st century standards for college and career readiness in the global economy was accomplished without approval or oversight by the public or expert educators and has caused such furor and outrage is both understandable and appropriate.

There was only one college professor of mathematics, James Milgram from Stanford University, but no college or PhD-level professors of science, technology or engineering on the curriculum development committees.

Milgram refused to sign off on the final draft and warned that the CCSI math standards would put American students two full years behind their international peers from Singapore, Shanghai, South Korea, Japan and the other high-performing countries by the seventh grade.

John Goodman, a math professor at New York University, echoed Milgram’s concerns. He felt the CCI math standards imposed “significantly lower expectations with respect to algebra and geometry than the published standards of other (leading) countries.” CCSI experts ignored his advice and that of Doctor Milgram.

Their concerns were prompted by the shift from 8th to 9th grade for Algebra I and the reduction in emphasis in basic principles such as addition, subtraction, fractions and division in elementary school in favor of abstract reasoning and problem solving. In addition, traditional Euclidean-based principles have been discarded for an untested non-Euclidean system that was developed in Russia but discarded without ever being used. Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas expressed similar misgivings.

The ELA standards are equally sub-standard. Beginning in kindergarten through the 10th grade, 50% of the readings in classic literature will be replaced by informational texts. In the last two years of high school, 70% of what students read will consist of informational texts, political speeches and magazine articles.

Gone are Mark Twain, John Milton, Homer, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald and countless other great Western writers. Instead, a significant number of the literary selections that were chosen reflect the strong emphasis placed on multiculturalism and non-Western religions such as Islam. The de-emphasis on the two traditional Western faiths, Judaism and Christianity, is striking.

Pioneer Institute estimates the costs to implement Common Core to be $17 Billion for the 1st seven years in addition to the funds each state already allocates for education. The Congressional Budget Office was not asked to prepare an estimate lest it become obvious CCI is, in fact, a federal program.

The public is waking up to the specter of state-sponsored K-12 public education, lowered standards and a federalized system. A number of states have backed out of their commitment or refused and delayed implementation of the standards.

The effects of Common Core on student performance are dramatic. Massachusetts, the only state to score in the top three on global PISA assessments, dropped significantly in rank the first year following the replacement of its award-winning public school curriculum with the Common Core standards.

In New York, 70% of 8th graders failed the math exam and 74%, the English exam. In one Harlem school, just 7% of students passed in English and 10% in math. Pennsylvania noted a similar drop in scores. 2

Where do we go from here? There is only one answer. Michelle Malkin is correct. CCSSI is “rotten to the core.” America would do well to heed her warning that “the corruption of math education is just the beginning.” Common Core must be rejected and discarded. Our children and our country deserve better.

R. Claire Friend, MD

March 22, 2014

 

Footnotes:

1. http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/13/Common-Core-Will-Federalize-Education

2. http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/swirsky/130919

3. http://michellemalkin.com/2014/03/21/get-to-know-the-common-core-marketing-overlords/

Political Correctness: The Road to a Doomed Republic

**Please note: Members’ views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the Lincoln Club and/or its Leadership.**

Political Correctness: The Road to a Doomed Republic

 

Abraham Lincoln presciently warned that America’s greatest enemies lived within her own borders, not in some foreign land. Time has proven him correct. Islamic Jihadists and Taliban insurgents may well be her mortal enemies, but they are not as dangerous to her survival as homegrown liberal politicians and leftist radicals.

 

Political Correctness is a weapon of mass destruction. Basic rights that are protected by Constitutional guarantees are no match for its destructive power. The ability to freely express our beliefs and thoughts, to support causes and institutions sympathetic to our moral values and to refuse those that do not, the right to have the means with which to defend our loved ones and ourselves and the right to criticize the laws and institutions that conflict with our beliefs are being questioned and `incrementally eroded.

 

This was the basic intent of Hitler’s Final Solution, Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Stalin’s Gulag. That it also is the direction the country has been moving since the sixties must not escape our notice. More ominously, it is the direction the current administration has been taking us at breakneck speed.

 

It is as if we are being herded into cattle cars to death camps. Even more distressingly, the citizenry is as silent and obliging as were the Jews in Germany and Eastern Europe. The stakes are equally high: the eradication of our beloved Republic.

 

Mozilla founder and CEO Brendon Eich is fired for supporting traditional marriage, Dr. Ben Carson is repeatedly audited by the IRS, Dinesh D’Souza is under indictment and possible imprisonment for political contributions while Democrats likeCharlie Rangell, Jesse Jackson Jr. and William J. Jefferson escape scot-free for actual crimes.

 

The politicization of behavior, speech and action suffocates liberty. As Rush Limbuagh repeatedly notes, the abuse of government institutions to pressure, intimidate and silence free citizens is the hallmark of dictators and tyrants, not of the Republic our Founding Fathers envisioned.

 

The Declaration of Independence was not the blueprint for Mein Kampf or Das Kapital. Meekness in lieu of outrage or protest invites the fate of the benighted sheep in Silence of the Lambs. The Meek do not inherit the earth except from six feet under it. History repeatedly proves only the strong survive

 

Criticism by the citizenry of a Black who many say lacks the qualifications to serve as president or of another Black who abuses his position as Attorney General to ignore crimes against Whites is stifled because it will be labeled hate speech and could prompt a witch hunt.

 

Such intimidation silences an entire nation of three-hundred-plus million. It is a threat to our First Amendment rights that should demand an appropriate response from Congress, journalists who seem deliberately blind to its significance.

 

Instead, it is met with a deafening silence, not with the revolution such behavior by King George prompted at the dawn of our birth. What has happened to our national backbone? After all, we are the heirs of the Founding Fathers.

 

Insult upon insult has been institutionalized by all three branches of government. Public welfare, affirmative action, illegal immigration, gay marriage, the war against success, confiscatory taxation and the repudiation of this country’s vaunted exceptionalism have all been forced down our throats against our will. To add further insult to injury, it has all been done by the hands of those to whom we have entrusted our welfare.

 

Silence in the face of terrorism, whether from foreign or domestic enemies, is insanity, if not suicide. Yet, that is precisely what Americans have been doing for fifty years. As our institutions are being relentlessly destroyed, the citizenry, with the exception of a handful of outspoken warrior patriots, is behaving like deer in the headlights.

 

Soon it will be too late to act. Revelations warns us of Armageddon. Never ignore the wisdom of the Prophets.

 

R. Claire Friend, MD

April 8, 2014

We Need to Protect Proposition 13

We Need To Protect Proposition 13

 

For more than 35 years, Proposition 13 has protected California homeowners and taxpayers.  While our sales and income taxes have risen to be the highest in the nation, property taxes remain constrained and more importantly, predicable to each property owner.

 

Residents can anticipate their base property taxes will be 1% of their assessed valuation and will rise at no more than 2% per year.  Prior to Proposition 13 the average tax rate was 2.67%.  In addition, homes were revalued frequently and it was not uncommon during times of rapid property inflation to see property taxes nearly double due to reassessment.  This was particularly devastating to seniors and those on fixed income.  Tens of thousands of residents in our coastal communities are “house rich-cash poor” and risked being literally taxed out of their homes.

 

Recently, local elected officials were solicited by a San Francisco-based organization called “Evolve,” drumming up support for an effort to change Proposition 13 by reducing or eliminating its protections for commercial properties.  This would represent a $6 billion tax increase with money going to local governments throughout the state. Already, more than 20 local governments and school districts have answered this siren song to raise taxes.  The proponents make it enticing by telling homeowners that they will not pay, but when we raise taxes on commercial properties, we all pay.  This $6 billion tax increase will show itself in higher rents as building owners recoup the taxes from their tenants.  It will result in higher prices as shop and business owners get hit with higher occupancy costs and it will further exacerbate the disadvantages of brick and mortar stores that compete with internet retailers resulting in more store vacancies on the main streets of our state.

 

Perhaps the biggest impact will be in increased unemployment.  Pepperdine University estimates that the so-called “split roll” will result in a loss of 390,000 California jobs initially and the continued loss of 100,000 jobs each year thereafter.  Make no mistake, if the high tax lobby can split homeowners and commercial property owners now, they will be back soon to raise taxes on residential properties in the future.

 

Since the passage of Proposition 13, local governments have survived and thrived.  The State is prohibited from taking local revenues, so there is no need for a $6 billion tax increase to fund more government.  We should all respond with a resounding NO to this San Francisco-based tax grab.

Keith Curry is a council member and former mayor of Newport Beach.  He is a candidate for the 74th Assembly District.

Carl DeMaio: Fix Congress First

Carl DeMaio is a congressional candidate, 52nd district and has been endorsed by the Lincoln Club. He has launched a campaign to “force congress to live under the same laws as the rest of us”. The key reforms in his plan are as follows:

 

CUT THE PERKS- Members of Congress should not get lavish pension packages and health care subsidies. Let’s benchmark their benefits against the average US taxpayer – no better, no worse.
FULL DISCLOSURE- Open up the books and records of the Congress to public review and disclosure.
READ THE BILLS FIRST- Require any legislation proposed in Congress be posted online for public review at least 72 hours in advance of any vote so we the People can read it first.
NO BUDGET, NO PAY- Members of Congress should permanently lose their pay for every day that the budget is late.

 

Be sure to check out Carl’s website, watch the video, and sign the petition!

Welcome, New Citizens!

Thanks to Lincoln Club member Ann Coil for organizing such a successful showing of Republican volunteers at the new citizen swearing-in ceremony yesterday in Anaheim.  The Lincoln Club sponsored lunches for the more than two dozen volunteers who helped greet and welcome new American citizens with information about what Republicans stand for. Thanks also to LC intern Maribel Marroquin for helping make it a big success.

 

 

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