Oklahoma moms respond to the Gates-funded Fordham Institute’s pleas to keep Common Core

June 5, 2014

Restore Oklahoma Public Education Restore Oklahoma Public Education

Restore Oklahoma Public Education was formed in 2008 as a public education watchdog. Since 2010, ROPE has concentrated on educating parents and legislators about the Common Core State Standards and the loss of student privacy occurring with federally subsidized State Longitudinal Database Systems.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Monday I was ecstatic to find that, while I was leaving for Ohio to participate in an anti-Common Core rally, Michael Brickman from Fordham Foundation (located in Ohio) was coming to Oklahoma to give Governor Fallin 6 reasons why she should not sign HB3399 – the repeal and replacement of the Common Core State Standards in Oklahoma.

Common Core blocksI feel it important to address each one of their points:

1. The Fiscal and Educational Costs of Repeal

This is particularly vexing.  When was there EVER any notion of cost mentioned with the establishment of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in any state?  In fact, that’s been one of opponents largest concerns – how much will this cost.  The National Conference of State Legislators doesn’t know.  Governing magazine doesn’t know.  In fact, even Oklahoma’s own legislators couldn’t have known what it would cost to implement the CCSS because they were passed into state law before they were even fully written and prepared for public view. You can’t estimate cots of an initiative for which you’re not fully familiar, but now we’re going to cry foul on costs?

Oh yes, there were a number of organizations which provided some reasonable estimates early on in the process – one even locally adapted – but these got very little discussion – as though it seemed easier to just ignore the thought and see if it would go away.  Representative Gus Blackwell attempted to bring a Task Force to bear for study of the costs of Common Core in Oklahoma during the 2013 legislative session, but that bill was blocked from a hearing on the floor after passing the rules committee resoundingly.

2. Avoid A Shortsighted Political Takeover

Truly, this is rich.  The Common Core were installed in Oklahoma by Governor Brad Henry (D) in order to get State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and a Race to the Top Grant from the Obama Administration.  Republicans were willing participants in this initiative, Senator Clark Jolley and former Speaker of the House, now Secretary of State Chris Benge chief among them.  What in the world could be more shortsighted than a Republican legislative majority allowing the takeover of Oklahoma education via a set of education ‘reforms’ being offered by the Obama administration as carrots for federal education control – especially when they hadn’t been studied or reviewed.  Yes, the Jeb Bush-backed Foundation for Excellence in Education provided talking points for many ‘reform’ ideas, and maybe that was just enough to pacify Republican legislators into following their lead, but there is no doubt nary a single legislator did, or could have, known exactly what was in the standards when they were placed CCSS into Oklahoma state law.

3. Ready to Compete Through Higher Standards

I will concede this if anyone will please, please find me where any specific study (not paid for by Bill Gates) has shown these to be higher standards than Oklahoma’s.  In addition, please find me specific studies that point to even the notion that the use of Common Core standards are going to be the deciding factor in how well Oklahoma students compete in the global economy.

Though certain you will, you will also find studies that have concluded that the factor making the largest difference in a child’s education is his/her TEACHER.  The Fordham Foundation graded every set of educational standards in the country and compared them to the CCSS (thanks to a fat check from Bill Gates) – including Oklahoma’s.  It speaks directly to the political football the CCSS have become that the Fordham Foundation – after grading Oklahoma’s previous educational standards (PASS) to be on par with CCSS – is now printing a retraction and providing various reasons and excuses as to why they now wish to change their mind and throw Oklahoma standards under the bus.  Well, of course they want to make that analysis go away.  Anti-Common Core forces have used that analysis to show how silly it is to say that PASS aren’t appropriate for College and Career readiness and won’t prepare students to compete in a global economy – as if that’s all important in the education of a child anyway.

4. An Opportunity to Demonstrate Political Courage

Yes, it is VERY courageous to do exactly what nearly every state in the country did all at the same time for the same initiatives to get a shot at the same money.  How many times did your mother tell you, “If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”  This is yet another argument that drives right at the heart of the Anti-CC argument.  It actually takes political courage NOT to do the same thing the majority of the country is doing.  It actually takes political courage to say, “Whoops, sorry, we didn’t research this initiative very well and now we realize we’ve made a mistake.  Please forgive us and let’s try to work together to go in a different direction.”

Who says this kind of stuff other than an entity bought and paid for by the Bill Gates Foundation?

5. A Political Advantage with Most Voters

Interesting.  The candidates for 2014 office in Oklahoma to whom I have spoken and who have commissioned a poll on Common Core have reported results showing public support for CCSS is nearly nil.  Oh yes, there is supposedly a new poll that says four star Republican voters are for CCSS, therefore any political candidate opposing CCSS could be summarily tossed, but the questions doesn’t ask, “How do you feel about the Common Core State Standards?”, it says, “How do you feel about higher standards?”   Only the truly delusional candidate and/or most out of touch policy wonk could spin that to mean Common Core.  Good grief, even despite the fact our Secretary of Education is out explaining to the public that us white moms are mad because we’ve found our kids aren’t as brilliant as we think they are, most parents WANT higher standards for their children.

Tony Bennett was the first CCSS casualty.  He was beaten by Glenda Ritz, an unknown Democrat candidate, losing his bid to be re-elected as Indiana’s State superintendent in 2012.  Republican governor/possible presidential candidate Bobby Jindal has changed his tune on CC because his state GOP has made it an issue (just like Oklahoma and other states) – same thing with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.  A recent race in Ohio saw a long-time establishment Republican lose his seat over CCSS and Common Core supporter Governor Nathan Deal is behind his Democrat challenger in Georgia’s gubernatorial race.

Establishment Republicans can sit in their Ivory Towers and pray to the Gods of the polls to save their elections should they continue to beat their chest about Common Core, but that is exactly what they have been doing and why the ‘brand’ has become tarnished enough to prevent Mitt Romney from becoming POTUS in 2012.  There are moms all over Oklahoma – and the nation – who, after seeing their kid in tears at their kitchen table are prepared to vote like they may never have voted before.  These votes are wildcards that can’t be determined by voter roles and the establishment candidates know this – at this point it’s safe to say Common Core supporters are simply blustering for effect.

6. Opponents Will Not Be Satisfied

Here is another fascinating view from the edge.  Is there a way to even rationalize this ‘reason’?  We crazy ‘opponents’ won’t be happy with anything.  Never mind that we have said we want standards – high standards – it doesn’t matter because we want them to be created inside the state where we live by actual state citizens.  Apparently Oklahomans are too moronic to create something College and Career ready for our own kids.  That job is reserved for national non-profit organizations not populated by educators or parents!  Never mind we local plain Jane parents have a vested interest in creating the highest standards in the nation in order for our kids to be the best they can be – we’re just ignoring laundry and cleaning and husbands to wage a political fight – to cry about having higher standards because our kids weren’t as smart as we thought they were after all.

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