By Steve Gunn
DALLAS – Thus far, opposition to national Common Core math and English standards has been sporadic and disorganized throughout the nation.
But the people at TheBlaze TV, Glenn Beck’s national network, are trying to address that problem by educating the public about Common Core and encouraging grassroots organizations to fight implementation of the program in their various states.
Beck and his allies hosted a meeting of concerned citizens in Dallas last week, to determine the best way to educate the public about the problems of Common Core that cause the most concern.
Common Core are national math and English standards that are being implemented around the nation with strong encouragement from the Obama administration. On the surface it’s designed to standardize learning in key subjects for the nation’s k-12 students. Proponents say it will help students learn at a deeper, more critical level. In short, it’s designed to teach them to think, rather than simply memorize information for tests.
But a growing number of critics say Common Core would take control of public education away from local communities and states, “dumb down” the curriculum by having kids study fewer subjects, and invade personal privacy by collecting and storing data about individual students.
Thus far 45 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the Common Core effort. But in most cases the states signed on under pressure from the Obama administration, which listed acceptance of Common Core as one criteria for states to receive millions of dollars in federal aid.
In most states, citizens and their elected lawmakers had no say in whether to sign on to Common Core. State boards of education generally gave the green light, without any sort of legislative approval.
The backlash against the lack of public debate has been growing. For instance, state legislatures in Indiana and Wisconsin have put the brakes on implementation of the program until they and taxpayers can take a closer look and see what they’re getting into.
The legislatures trump the state boards of education because they would provide the money for implementation of the program. If lawmakers don’t ante up, there will be no Common Core in their states.
The “time out” called by state lawmakers will allow citizens to learn more about Common Core and share their opinions with their elected representatives before final decisions are made.
That’s where Beck’s group hopes to have an impact.
Members of that group appeared on Beck’s afternoon television program Thursday to discuss possible strategies for waging the battle on a national level.
“Common Core is kind of nebulous to most people – they’ve heard about it but they can’t define it,” said David Barton of Wallbuilders, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving traditional American ideals. “What are the key points that will resonate with most Americans?”
Key points for Americans to consider
Kyle Olson, publisher of EAGnews.org, played a key role in the meeting. He suggested that one little-known aspect of the Common Core agenda – a plan to gather and record a host of data about each K-12 student in the nation – will be enough to get parents rightfully upset.
Examples include “blood type, voting status of their parents, religious affiliation, income – things that have nothing to do with their children’s education,” Olson said.
“When you talk to parents and tell them about the amount of data the government is poised to collect on students, it wakes them up and turns them against it,” Olson said.
Olson believes one reason the government wants so much information about students is so bureaucrats can control the educational experience for students and guide them in particular directions.
“They want a planned economy,” Olson said, and part of that will include tracking students’ grades and interests and “putting them on a path toward a career,” instead of allowing students to determine their own destinies as they go through life.
One parent at the meeting said he was troubled by the thought of the Obama administration making fundamental decisions about the type of education children will receive.
“Do you want the same government that has given us Eric Holder, Benghazi, (the) IRS enemies list, Fast and Furious, Obamacare – do you want that government to take control of what your precious child is going to learn in school?” said the parent, who was not identified.
Barton added that the federalization of education is a key talking point against Common Core.
“It’s not the role of the federal government to tailor education – it goes first to the parents, second to the local community, and third to the teachers and local schools,” he said. “They want to federalize things more than they already are, and that’s not going to be accepted in America. We have a long record to show that federalization doesn’t help.”
Another parent, Tammy Slaten of Georgia, said she was motivated to act by the treatment she received by the principal of her child’s school.
She said she used a telephone list to start contacting other parents about Common Core and gather their opinions. She said she also questioned her child’s teacher about the program.
In response she was summoned to the principal’s office, where she was told not to contact other teachers.
“She (the principal) told me, whether it’s good or bad, they work for the state and they are going to implement this,” Slaten said. “She wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to start some sort of grassroots movement.
“I told her, ‘You are the lead educator at my child’s school, and the quality of education for my child and other children is not your top priority? Your priority is a bureaucrat in Washington?’
“I decided I’m going to fight against it.”
With opposition growing, Beck indicated that it’s time for various groups around the nation to get organized. He said he’s asked FreedomWorks, a non-profit organization promoting personal liberty and limited government, to take the lead in that respect.
Whitney Neal, an official with FreedomWorks, said her organization has established a website – commoncorefails.com – as a “portal” of information for those concerned about the program. She said the site will help Common Core opponents find and communicate with each other, coordinate efforts and share resources.
With enough education of the public and a coordinated effort, Common Core can be defeated, according to Barton.
“If the grassroots will stand up, draw a line in the sand, and say ‘These are our kids, these are not your kids, they don’t belong to the federal government, they belong to us,’ this can happen. I think Americans are going to stand up and we can whip this,” he said.