Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Letter to Governor Walker: Common Core State Standards

An Open Letter to Governor Scott Walker
on Common Core State Standards

August, 2013
Dear Governor Walker:

On the national scene, as well as in Wisconsin, there is a rising tide of opposition to Common Core “State” Standards (CCSS). Several states have now decided not to use CCSS testing, one or two have dropped out of the initiative entirely, and others are reconsidering their involvement with it. The Lt. Governor of North Carolina, for example, recently wrote a long and detailed list of questions that deserve to be answered regarding the history, development, and potential ramifications of CCSS. c.f.Common Core Letter to the governor of NC

As people who have supported you in many respects, we would ask you now to support us by heeding our concerns. The annual meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA) in Milwaukee seems an opportune time to correct a previous mistake on the part of the NGA, namely, endorsing and funding CCSS. We would ask you, a member of the NGA executive committee, publicly to draw the attention of your colleagues to national concerns surrounding CCSS and the need to reconsider the role of the NGA and individual governors in advancing it. As just one example, should the possibility exist either to offer or sign onto a resolution rescinding NGA endorsement of CCSS and/or defunding it entirely, we would ask that you seize the opportunity.

Here are just a few reasons why:

1. CCSS federalizes education and grossly undermines state and local control. It represents a
top-down, centralized planning model that has failed every other time it has been tried. Actions taken by the Federal Department of Education to facilitate the development and implementation of CCSS are thus in violation of not only the 10th amendment but also at least 3 federal laws. The federal government funded CCSS every step of the way and required CCSS compliance in order to get NCLB waivers and Race to the Top funding. It also requires CCSS participation. Claims that the standards are voluntary are false.

2. CCSS eliminates competition. Under this system, even private and home schools will have little choice but to comply with this program. In every other segment of the economy, competition tends to make things better. Yet, CCSS will greatly reduce the opportunity for schools to compete and excel. Why even have private or home schools if they must use the same framework as public schools? To make education homogenous will reduce rather than increase quality.

3. CCSS has not been adequately field-tested. Early results from those few places where it has been are not encouraging. Organizations such as the Fordham Institute that claim otherwise fail to mention the troubling methods by which they arrived at their conclusions.

4. CCSS will dumb down education in many states in the name of elevating standards.

5. The cost of implementing CCSS represents a huge burden for citizens. The cost of CCSS is currently estimated at around $300 per student per year. For Wisconsin alone that comes to around another $250 Million. In light of the soft economy we now have, we should consider each budget increase carefully. CCSS requires electronic test-taking, with each student having their own computer, tablet, or other electronic device. This is a huge up front expense. In addition, there are maintenance issues, software to maintain, and additional internet bandwidth to consider. Moreover, IT support will be needed. If there is a glitch in the system, it could waste an entire day, adding to already heavy financial burdens.

6. CCSS is inflexible. It requires at least 85 percent compliance with its standards and no one has yet been able to explain how one would measure the remaining 15 percent.

7. CCSS testing will frustrate young children. The brain develops various capacities over time. CCSS asks young children to grapple with certain concepts that they are not yet developed enough to conquer successfully. This scenario will lead to frustration and defeatism for many. Hardly the path to greater achievement.

8. CCSS will under-challenge older children. In later grades, CCSS is often not challenging enough. The only mathematician to serve on the standards committee, Professor James Milgram, has stated that “it is a joke to think CCSS will prepare students for college level math.”

9. CCSS compliant-materials communicate a collectivist worldview. The program places
international government ahead of concepts on which our nation was founded, such as national sovereignty and individual rights.

10. CCSS reduces actual instruction time. We all agree that something must be done about
diminishing educational achievement. However, the fact that children aren’t learning suggests a need for more rigorous instruction, which is very different than more rigorous testing. Unfortunately, CCSS places profound emphasis and dependence on testing, reducing current instruction time by approximately one-third. CCSS, in fact, demands up to 20 days of testing per year. If we are always testing
and never instructing, how will we be able to make real gains in academic achievement?

Our concerns do not stop there:

11. CCSS requires an intrusive database that violates the privacy of children and their families. The sample data model includes more than 400 data points, but could easily be expanded to 4000. Included is information such as pick up/drop off times and places. No one but the parent, the child, and the school transportation director should have such information. Parents should not be expected to cede information about their work histories, social security numbers, health histories, and voting
histories in order for their children to receive an education. Given recent media intimidation by the current presidential administration, the IRS and NSA scandals, and other similar debacles that involve abuse by government of personal information, it is not far-fetched to be concerned about how this student databank may be misused by this or future administrations. Moreover, FERPA language has recently been rewritten; where FERPA previously protected children's privacy, it has now made their personal information available to anyone who claims to "need" it. The fact that this information is to be shared on an individually identifiable basis with almost any bureaucrat and numerous corporations only heightens our concerns.

We hope you will protect the rights of citizens, most particularly children and their parents, not only here in Wisconsin but across the United States by taking bold action this weekend to move the NGA away from CCSS.

[the undersigned]

Todd Welch
Interim State Coordinator
Wisconsin Campaign for

Ken Van Doren
Education Director
Wisconsin Campaign for

Michael Murphy
Wisconsin Liberty Movement

Jeffrey Horn
Prairie Patriots
Sun Prairie, WI

David Stertz
Fox Valley Conservative Forum
Appleton, WI

Kirsten Lombard
The Wisconsin 9/12 Project
Madison, WI

Kristi Lacroix
Kenosha, WI

Alan Scholl,
Executive Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI

Mary Black,
Student Development Director
Freedom Project Education
Appleton, WI

Kim Simac
Northwoods Patriots
Eagle River, WI

Marv Munyon
Rock River Patriots
Fort Atkinson, WI

Oriannah Paul
Sheboygan Liberty Coalition
Sheboygan, WI

Joanne Terry
Ozaukee Patriots
Mequon, WI

Orville Seymer
CRG Network

Andrea Lombard
Sauk County Tea Party
Baraboo, WI

Charles Brey
United In Freedom
Beaver Dam, WI

Jayne Gohr
Mayville Tea Party
Mayville, WI

Sally Giedd
Chippewa Valley Tea Party
Elk Mound, WI

Jennifer London

James Murphy
Green Bay TEA Party
Green Bay, WI

Ronald Zahn
Northeast Wisconsin Patriots
Green Bay, WI

Greg Luce
LaCrosse Tea Party
LaCrosse, WI

Greg Lipovac
Young Americans for Liberty
UW Oshkosh

Michael Hintze
Tea Party Patriots

Ed Willing
Caledonia, WI

Kip Ertel
We The People
Sheboygan, WI

Seth Cowan
Wolf River Area Patriots
New London, WI

Jane Carpenter
Suburban Republican Women’s
Milwaukee, WI

Eric Shimpach
Young Americans for Liberty –
Sauk County
Baraboo, WI

Sandi Ruggles
Eagle Forum of Southeast
Menomonee Falls, WI

Tony Nasvik
Wisconsin Faith & Freedom
Hudson, WI

Darin Danelski
Lake Country Area Defenders
of Liberty
Oconomowoc, WI

Georgia Janisch
Rock County Voter Education
Janesville, WI

Steve Welcenbach
 Conservative Insurgency,
Menomonee Falls
Taxpayer Association, &
Waukesha County Taxpayer
Menomonee Falls, WI

Karl Koenigs
Wisconsin TEA Party
Committee on State
Peshtigo, WI

Matthew Strublic
Greater Milwaukee Patriot
Milwaukee, WI

Joana Briggs
Greendale Tea Party
Greendale, WI

Tracie Happel
LaCrosse, WI

James Leist
Manitowoc County TEA
Manitowoc, WI

Paul Lembrich
 Southern Wisconsin Alliance of
Taxpayers, Beloit, WI &
Citizens for Better Government,
Janesville, WI