CHICAGO – The cult of Common Core had its crude beginnings in Chicago. The central players shaping the cult of Common Core, President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, David Coleman, and Jason Zimba all burnished their “education reform” credentials in Chicago before inflicting this failed model upon the rest of the nation.
One of the major criticisms of candidate Obama during the 2008 presidential election was that he had no leadership credentials either in the private or public sector. From 1995 to 1999, however, Illinois state Sen. Obama was the Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on its board until 2001.
Why didn’t Obama celebrate this example of leadership in either of his autobiographies or use it in response to his election year critics?
If President Obama did boast of his leadership role at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge he would also have to acknowledge his close relationship with the unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers, in whose house Obama launched his political career. Obama spent his entire 2008 presidential campaign downplaying his relationship with Ayers, whom he described as just a “guy in his neighborhood” that he never knew very well.
Wealthy philanthropist Walter Annenberg funded a national education initiative in the mid-1990’s to reform education. Bill Ayers, domestic terrorist and founder of the Weather Underground that bombed the Pentagon, was the key force behind attracting Annenberg’s millions to Chicago to create the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
Ayers is one of those 1960’s radicals whose actions were completely rejected by American society. After barely escaping a prison sentence on a technicality, he disappeared into the world of academics to rehabilitate his image.
But like many of his pony-tailed has-been compatriots of the sixties, Ayers cannot help but infect everything he touches with his radical, putrid ideology of American oppression while living on his capitalism derived trust fund.
Ayers became the head of the “collaborative,” which directed education policy for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and worked in partnership with Obama who, as chairman of the board for the CAC, handled the money. The purported goal of the CAC was to reform education.
What Obama and Ayers actually did was channel $100 million to countless groups whose goal was radicalization of education rather than true reformation. Sounding a bit Common Core-ish?
Rather than giving money directly to Chicago’s schools, Bill and Barack poured millions of dollars into radical groups like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and Ayers’ own Small School Movement, which focused less on student academics and more on student activism and victimhood.
In the final analysis, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge was more of a failed experiment than an actual education reform success. It ended with “no visible improvement in student performance” according to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge itself.
David Coleman and Jason Zimba, both architects of the Common Core standards, were also in Chicago around that time, burnishing their education reform credentials. They negotiated a $2 million agreement with the Chicago Public Schools’ CEO, Arne Duncan, to package student data with their new company, Grow Network. Duncan would follow President Obama to Washington D.C. to become his Secretary of Education and main Common Core advocate.
Eventually Coleman and Zimba would sell their Grow Network to McGraw Hill, a textbook company, before writing the Common Core Standards. After the standards were written, they formed Student Achievement Partners to push states to implement the Common Core with an $18 million grant from General Electric (GE). Many people who are associated with the Common Core somehow become powerful money magnets.
Coleman has since moved on to head the College Board, which runs the SAT college admission test. Here Coleman is aligning the SAT college admissions test and college admission standards with the Common Core, while simultaneously dumbing the SAT test down to ensure an “expanded opportunity to attend college” for all.
To make kids “college and career ready,” Coleman wants to lower the bar for college admission, not raise the bar of achievement. These Common Core people and their contradictions are like viruses continually mutating and replicating as they spread their infection of homogenized education disguised as “equity.”
President Obama decided to reconstitute this Chicago team in Washington D.C., where they formed his education reform machine, the Common Core. They are using similar tactics on a national level as they employed in Chicago. They always purport to do one thing like “increase college and career readiness” when their actual agenda is the centralized control of education, so they can use it to push their social justice agenda.
Federal law prohibits the federal government or its employees from “exercising any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum…of any educational institution or school system.”
Obama’s Common Core machine is financing a multitude of private front groups, like the National Governor’s Association (NGA), to launder millions of federal dollars toward the end game of controlling our kids’ minds through control of the educational process.
The Common Core group insists that states “voluntarily” adopted the new standards back in 2010 as part of a “state-led” initiative, in a desperate effort to make it appear that the federal government didn’t provide any sort of “direction, supervision, or control” over the country’s school curriculum, in violation of federal law.
Liberal activist Diane Ravitch tried this same tactic during her tenure at the U.S. Department of Education back in the early 1990’s, just before her national curriculum scheme was torpedoed with the help of a vigilant Lynne Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Obama’s version of a national curriculum, Common Core, seems to be following Ravitch’s failed blueprint and is already arousing similar opposition from the conservative grassroots.
Ravitch also made the mistake of focusing on the politically charged area of social studies/history, where she “re-imagined” history through her muddied social justice glasses, in her attempt at a national curriculum. Obama learned from Ravitch and has his Common Core focus on the skill areas of reading, writing, and math, officially leaving social studies and science to a later date.
A federal take-over of education by any other name would smell just as putrid to Constitutionalists across the country, who believe in local/state control, as well as parental rights and choice with regard to educating their children.
It doesn’t matter if this scheme lives in Chicago or Washington, D.C. Progressives in both the Republican and Democratic parties will always push for increased federal control over our lives, so there’s no point in waiting for them to give up the fight. We need to take a cue from the Mama Grizzlies rising up across the nation and take the fight to the Common Core and ultimately let them hear our roar at the ballot box in November.