Children for Sale

Children for Sale

By Alyson Williams

No more decisions behind closed doors!  Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.

In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children.  It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No  other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was  complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d  heard about it.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common  Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!

Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this  decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free, has ultimate authority over decisions that directly affect my children’s  intellectual development, privacy, and future opportunities. It is not even an accurate representation  of my initial reaction to the flyer. I say it to make a point  that I didn’t realize until much, much later… this isn’t just an issue of education, but of money and control. Please allow me to explain.

That first day my husband picked up the flyer and asked me, “What is Common Core?” To be honest, I had no idea. We looked it up online.  We read that they were standards for each grade that would be consistent across a number of states. They were described as higher standards, internationally benchmarked, state-led, and inclusive of parent and teacher in-put. It didn’t sound like a bad thing, but why hadn’t we ever heard about it before? Again, did I miss the parent in-put meeting or questionnaire… the vote in our legislature? Who from my state had helped to write the standards? In consideration of the decades of disagreement on education trends that I’ve observed regarding education, how in the world did that many states settle all their differences enough to agree on the same standards? It must have taken years, right? How could I have missed it?

At first it was really difficult to get answers to all my questions. I started by asking the people who were in charge of implementing the standards at the school district office, and later talked with my representative on the local school board. I made phone calls and I went to public meetings. We talked a lot about the standards themselves. No one seemed to know the answers to, or wanted to talk about my questions about how the decision was made, the cost, or how it influenced my ability as a parent to advocate for my children regarding curriculum. I even had the chance to ask the Governor himself at a couple of local political meetings. I was always given a similar response. It usually went something like this:

Question: “How much will this cost?”

Answer: “These are really good standards.”

 

Question: “I read that the Algebra that was offered in 8th grade, will now not be offered until 9th grade. How is this a higher standard?”

Answer: “These are better standards. They go deeper into concepts.”

 

Question: “Was there a public meeting that I missed?”

Answer: “You should really read the standards. This is a good thing.”

 

Question: “Isn’t it against the Constitution and the law of the land to have a national curriculum under the control of the federal government?’

Answer: “Don’t you want your kids to have the best curriculum?”

 

It got to the point where I felt like I was talking to Jedi masters who, instead of actually answering my questions, would wave their hand in my face and say, “You will like these standards.”

I stopped asking. I started reading.

I read the standards. I read about who wrote the standards. I read about the timeline of how we adopted the standards (before the standards were written.) I read my state’s Race to the Top grant application, in which we said we were going to adopt the standards. I read the rejection of that grant application and why we wouldn’t be given additional funding to pay for this commitment. I read how standardized national test scores are measured and how states are ranked. I read news articles, blogs, technical documents, legislation, speeches given by the US Education Secretary and other principle players, and even a few international resolutions regarding education.

I learned a lot.

I learned that most other parents didn’t know what the Common Core was either.

I learned that the standards were state accepted, but definitely not “state led.”

I learned that the international benchmark claim is a pretty shaky one and doesn’t mean they are better than or even equal to international standards that are considered high.

I learned that there was NO public input before the standards were adopted. State-level decision makers had very little time themselves and had to agree to them in principle as the actual standards were not yet complete.

I learned that the only content experts on the panel to review the standards had refused to sign off on them, and why they thought the standards were flawed.

I learned that much of the specific standards are not supported by research but are considered experimental.

I learned that in addition to national standards we agreed to new national tests that are funded and controlled by the federal government.

I learned that in my state, a portion of teacher pay is dependent on student test performance.

I learned that not only test scores, but additional personal information about my children and our family would be tracked in a state-wide data collection project for the express purpose of making decisions about their educational path and “aligning” them with the workforce.

I learned that there are fields for tracking home-schooled children in this database too.

I learned that the first step toward getting pre-school age children into this data project is currently underway with new legislation that would start a new state preschool program.

I learned that this data project was federally funded with a stipulation that it be compatible with other state’s data projects. Wouldn’t this feature create a de facto national database of children?

I learned that my parental rights to deny the collection of this data or restrict who has access to it have been changed at the federal level through executive regulation, not the legislative process.

I learned that these rights as protected under state law are currently under review and could also be changed.

I learned that the financing, writing, evaluation, and promotion of the standards had all been done by non-governmental special interest groups with a common agenda.

I learned that their agenda was in direct conflict with what I consider to be the best interests of my children, my family, and even my country.

Yes, I had concerns about the standards themselves, but suddenly that issue seemed small in comparison to the legal, financial, constitutional and representative issues hiding behind the standards and any good intentions to improve the educational experience of my children.

If it was really about the best standards, why did we adopt them before they were even written?

If they are so wonderful that all, or even a majority of parents would jump for joy to have them implemented, why wasn’t there any forum for parental input?

What about the part where I said I felt my children had been sold? I learned that the U.S. market for education is one of the most lucrative – bigger than energy or technology by one account – especially in light of these new national standards that not only create economy of scale for education vendors, but require schools to purchase all new materials, tests and related technology. Almost everything the schools had was suddenly outdated.

When I discovered that the vendors with the biggest market share and in the position to profit the most from this new regulation had actually helped write or finance the standards, the mama bear inside me ROARED!

Could it be that the new standards had more to do with profit than what was best for students? Good thing for their shareholders they were able to avoid a messy process involving parents or their legislative representatives.

As I kept note of the vast sums of money exchanging hands in connection with these standards with none of it going to address the critical needs of my local school – I felt cheated.

When I was told that the end would justify the means, that it was for the common good of our children and our society, and to sit back and trust that they had my children’s best interests at heart – they lost my trust.

As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.

When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.

Finally, I learned one more very important thing. I am not the only one who feels this way. Across the nation parents grandparents and other concerned citizens are educating themselves, sharing what they have learned and coming together. The problem is, it is not happening fast enough. Digging through all the evidence, as I have done, takes a lot of time – far more time than the most people are able to spend. In order to help, I summarized what I thought was some of the most important information into a flowchart so that others could see at a glance what I was talking about.

I am not asking you to take my word for it. I want people to check the references and question the sources. I am not asking for a vote or for money. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe with all my heart that a decision that affects the children of almost every state in the country should not be made without a much broader discussion, validated research, and much greater input from parents and citizens than it was originally afforded.

If you agree I encourage you to share this information. Post it, pin it, email it, tweet it.

No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.

 

Flowchart (Click to enlarge)

 

Flowchart Sources

 

Thanks to Alyson Williams for permission to publish her story.

This was first posted at Common Core:  Education Without Representation.

23 Responses to Children for Sale

  • DALANE ENGLAND says:

    With all due respect to every person that has anything to do with common core, please do your homework! The lower standards are the least of our worries. Why should everyone lose thier privacy and have their data stored by the Federal government? Why would we ever settle for anyone outside of our state to have any say or influence on our education and decisions. The evidence is there and not hard to get. Please dont believe rhetoric. Please do not believe what those who are benefiting from CC say, do your due dilligence! This is about our children and our personal liberties. You will really miss them when they are gone.
    Thank you.

  • Tiffany says:

    I too have met the Jedi masters. I called the State School Board to issue a complaint about Common Core. I heard that there is nothing I can do, it’s here to stay. I made the point that in Davis County where I live, 90% of students to take the A.P. Calculus test pass and most pass with very high score for the last TWENTY + years. I was told that other districts weren’t as successful. Oh, I suggested, I’m sure the teachers in the Davis School District would be willing to share their program with the rest of the state. We went around and around, but got nowhere. I am tired of being told that I don’t know what is best for my child. I am tired of taxes. I am tired of the constant infringement on liberty and privacy and I am tired of being lied to by the USOE!

  • Rhonda says:

    There’s another problem that I think is the real root:
    Our nation USED to have a natural ‘common core’.
    Now we don’t. Deep down, we know this and are searching for something to unify us.
    Some citizens still have it, but they are being silenced by an increasingly vocal and controlling group.

    Our common core was our belief in the Bible and its attendant moral teachings. A belief that we are ultimately, individually responsible to God for all that we do, think, and become. In the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, under the definition of “education”, we find “Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”

    That earlier common core has been displaced by a more common belief that God is irrelevant and therefore government must serve His function of accountability.

    I believe the only way to recover from this- to recover our freedoms to truly govern ourselves- is to relearn these basic core principles. As we learn them, teach them to our families and those within our influence, others will see that government on this level is unneeded. The answer is in turning back to God. We have to be diligent in searching out truth- thank you, Alyson!- but we first have to know how to tell the difference between *truth* and the *distorted* truth. And then we need to be vocal about it. Light chases darkness away. Thank you to those who are walking in truth, searching, and vocal!

  • PEGGY COX says:

    I DON’T SEE THIS ANY DIFFERENT THEN ANYTHING ELSE BEING TAKEN AWAY FROM US, EXCEPT FOR THE BIG FACT THAT IT IS EFFECTING OUR CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN AND GREAT GRANDCHILDREN. AND THAT’S WHEN WE MUST BAND TOGETHER TO SAVE OUR FAMILIES. THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THAT NO ONE IS DELIBERETLY LISTENING AND THEY DON’T CARE WHAT WE THINK OR CARE ABOUT. THEIR WHOLE AGENDA IS TO RULE AND REIGN OVER THE INNOCENT AND DELIBERTLY TAKE AWAY OUR CHILDRENS RIGHTS FOR FREEDOM, AND TEACH THEM TO BELIEVE INFORMATION THAT THEY CAN BRAIN WASH THEM INTO BELIEVING DUE TO THEIR INNOCENT MINDS. AND WE WILL RECIEVE IN RETURN, CHILDREN WE WON’T EVER RECOGNIZE. WHEN WE HAVE A TYRANT RULING OVER OUR LAND AND FOLLOWERS WILLING TO SUCCUMB TO HIS REGULATIONS AND ENDORCEMENTS ON SCHOOL ISSUES, WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT PULLING THEM OUT OF THESE SCHOOLS AND FINDING NEW LEVELS OF TEACHING AND UNDERSTANDING. BUT UNFORTUANETLY WE HAVE NO LEADERS WHO ARE CHRISMATIC ENOUGH TO FORCE THEIR HAND, AND SO WE FIND OURSELVES ONCE AGAIN AT THE HAND OF SACRIFICING ALL THAT WE HAVE WORKED HARD TO KEEP FROM HAPPENING, MAKING IT’S WAY INTO THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM AND TEACHERS WILLING TO TEACH SOCIALISTC PROPAGANDA.

  • Kat says:

    Nazi’s believed in a common core education program for their youth and was able to control Germany and most of the surrounding nations.

  • Max Jamison says:

    What ever happened to returning funding and control of our children’s education to the individual states? Oh, I forgot. “You lost that election.” (No, we only lost the Presidential election.) I don’t recall abdicating local control of our children’s education in favor of lock step, one-size-fits-all national education. (This reminds me of how the National Socialist Party (Nazi) took over Germany by first controlling ALL of the children’s education. Can you spell propaganda?) I’m all for MINIMUM national standards, but that doesn’t mean we cannot EXCEED or customize them on a local level if we want. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we should not be able to share better ideas. Hmmm…. Isn’t that what charter schools and tuition grants were supposed to do?

  • Lynn Norton says:

    I am sending this info to all my children & gch for my ggch. I live in Idaho and we are trying to get Common Core out of Idaho. Tkx for your efforts.

  • Cameron S says:

    Is there a petition on petitions.whitehouse.gov? If not, let’s start one. That’s a good way to get the word out there more.

  • Stuart Harris says:

    This is just one of many problems in our current society. Our grandparents should never have allowed socialist (public) education to get a foothold in the US. If you really want to do something, you’ll need to band people together and raise enough money to start or buy your own radio station or newspaper. Until you have major influence in the media, you will not be successful in turning things around.

    • M Wiley says:

      Glenn Beck has done just that. I first heard about Common Core on his show 2 days ago (Mar. 14, 2013), and became active for the first time in my life in a cause such as this one. You might want to search his website for more info, and give thanks that he’s spreading the word to help us all.

  • Kathrine Holyoak says:

    I fail to find the “conspiracy” nor the need for panic. Someone, somewhere always has & always will set the education standards for students. That’s not new. It is naive to think curriculum was ever developed from a grass roots process hashed out and agreed upon in town hall meetings and then collaborated at a state level, then a national one. It’s simply not how it works. Only in a dream world does ANY group of educators, parents & elected officials EVER agree on policy & procedure on a broad consensus even if they had the luxury of unlimited time and studies. Data can be manipulated to fit any agenda. The time burnt trying to find common ground will be consumed while an entire generation of children grows up anyway, and if anything were ever agreed upon it would be outdated. Someone, somewhere had to take the bull by the horns and do their level best. I don’t have a problem that CCS did not start at a town hall meeting and progress upward. Not logical, not feasible and not any more effective. Some group will always make the judgement call at the top, even though others likely have much insight add.

    I am a mother of 4 children who believes in the public school system thought it is not perfect. You should continue to be aware and actively advocate in your system to improve it. I am also one of 5 members of our local school board. I do share concern on the emphasis of “teaching to the test” and a school/student/teacher’s summative evaluation being exclusively the test score. It takes the creativity and spark out of learning which dampens both good teachers and good students.

    However, the flip side of it…. having a more uniform curriculum, which is not dependent on which district, let alone which state your child lives in (or moves to in the middle of their academic career) is a step in the right direction. Testing does increase accountability, and when education is funded by public taxes, it owes some results to the public.

    Your energy would be appreciated and better spent by becoming involved in your local district. Each district has a panel of parents asked to help make curriculum choices for their district (adoption of textbooks etc). You could ask to serve on that committee. Though your district will still be bound to the Common Core Standards, there is still some flexibility on which texts you adopt to develop them.

  • Katherine, it is only because you haven’t done much research that you don’t feel alarmed yet.

    I don’t know you, but I know from your comment that this is the case. The CCSS movement is not like-minded educators finding common ground. It’s not even about collaboration; it’s about who holds the levers of control. Please do just a little bit more homework before deciding that all is well in Common Core land.

    I would ask you to try to get to the bottom of a few questions, as a school board member especially. (How else will you be able to responsibly answer the concerns of your constituents?)

    For example:

    •Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core and its tests?
    •What is the amendment process for Common Core standards if we find out they are not working for us?
    •Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been proven to be of superior quality and that they are internationally benchmarked? (See http://vimeo.com/58461595 )
    •Where can I see for myself evidence that Common Core’s transformations (deleting cursive, minimizing classic literature, moving away from traditional math, etc.) –will benefit our children?
    •What is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system?
    •Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
    •I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
    •Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, I missed the invitation to discuss this before it was decided for me and my children; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
    •The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…“
    — In light of this, please explain why our nation’s states have agreed to such intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing. See http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

  • Alyson says:

    Kathrine,

    I really appreciate your taking the time to read my article and to leave a comment. It sounds like we have a lot in common. I also have children in the public school, am on the school’s community council, am “active” as you suggest in my local school district, and try to follow legislative policy closely.

    One of the most touted benefits of Common Core is that it is supposed to encourage “deeper” exploration of concepts and “critical thinking.”

    Maybe we should be giving less lip-service to critical thinking and show our children by our examples what critical thinking looks like. By that I mean a willingness to consider opposing views, different philosophies and discussing things without resorting to labeling ideas that differ from our own as “conspiracies.” While I don’t desire to spread panic, certainly I was writing with a sense of urgency that I hope will encourage more to take a closer look and educate themselves on these important decisions that will affect our schools and our budgets for a long time.

    My goal is not to have everyone agree with me, but to raise awareness of the fact that there is NOT broad consensus about these reforms and where are leading (as some in authority have advertised.)

    Consider this article by a University professor of language arts:
    http://heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources%5CE02123%5CNewkirk_Speaking_Back_to_the_Common_Core.pdf

    Or this public debate between two high-profile education reformers:
    http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

    Or the findings of a professor who was given a prestigious award for his research:
    http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Newsletters/JSP_Winter2011.FINAL.pdf
    http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Journals/AASA_Journal_of_Scholarship_and_Practice/Winter_10_FINAL.pdf

    And there are literally hundreds more like these.
    Agree or disagree, but at least be aware that what is happening here Utah and across the nation is perhaps more than an uninformed fringe movement… as in this press conference held last week in the Georgia Senate where two of the content experts who were on the validation committee for the standards testified as to why they would not sign off on them:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ODz4X0GO-Fk

    Or the testimony of the former Texas Commissioner of Education who shares his experience of being pressured to adopt the standards with the Georgia senate:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WcpMIUWbgxY

    Or a statement opposing the K-3 standards, signed by more than 500 early childhood professionals because they are not developmentally appropriate: http://www.edweek.org/media/joint_statement_on_core_standards.pdf

    Or, just take a look at this map learn more about what is happening in a growing number of states already pulling back from some of these reforms:
    http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/states-fighting-back/

    I am always encouraged to meet other moms who are active on the “front lines,” keeping an eye on issues like over-testing, labeling kids based on homogenous assessments, and balancing accountability with freedom – and the accompanying joy of learning and teaching based on individual needs. Thanks again for sharing your views. I hope this helps you better understand mine.

  • Louise says:

    Kathrine-

    Let it go. Some people are just determined to be paranoid and think conspiracy.

    Thank you for your voice of reason! Breath of fresh air.

  • Laurel says:

    I can’t help but think how much of this (and yes, this comment may offend, but please think about what I’m saying) has to do with parenting changes over the decades. SO QUICKLY, our children are becoming more entitlistic, more self-centered, less respectful, less motivated, downright lazy … Sure it manifests in test scores, but what can the teachers do? Their hands are so tied with not being able to discipline, having to jump through these federal hoops, making deadlines so they don’t lose their jobs … Pathetic.

    One personal example I’d like to share is within just five years of itself, within this same rising generation. I held a 3.5 hour birthday party with close to 30 (yes, THIRTY) 6-year old children at my house for my oldest son. This was nine years ago. It was just me and my sister, no parental help, and yet, it went off without a hitch; the kids cooperated, everyone had a blast, and they even helped clean up. I’d totally have done it again.

    Until I actually tried doing it again with my next son! This time there were only about ten of them. The kids wouldn’t cooperate for games, they kept leaving the group and literally snooping in my house, trying to steal things, they were loud, obnoxious, asking if they could have my son’s presents … It was ridiculous! I had to send one home and the rest trashed my home! This was only four years ago.

    What is the difference? Parenting, plain and simple. We’ve allowed the mindset of letting ‘the village’ do our jobs. Common Core has nothing to do with anything. It’s parental involvement and investment.

    We’re raising a generation completely dependent on what they can GET, rather than what they can contribute.

  • Kristie Swisher says:

    I so agree with you, Laurel. I am a mother to 4 adult children, who were raised in the 80s and 90s, and am a mother now to an 11 yr old, and the difference in attitudes that permeate our society is just disgusting. Yeah–we have an entitlement generation who thinks they should be handed everything without working for it…never being allowed to fail…being so politically correct and “equal” in everything we are ruining our children and our society. Why not just have robots? I honestly think it is coming to that if some get their way. Parents are not allowed to be parents–they have so little power now…teachers and other, what used to be “role models” in my day, have had their hands tied to teach and role models nowadays are some cartoon character on tv or in a video game, or some ignorant singer or actor drunk on their own fame. We have only to visit history to see what happens when a society allows everything to be acceptable and ok…it falls, just like Rome…just like Sodom and Gomorrah.

  • Valerie says:

    Thanks so much for that chart! I discovered many links in the “Flowchart Sources” are now broken. Here’s an update:

    *Updated links:

    Page 1
    $1 million to PTA to organize parent endorsement of Common Core:
    http://www.pta.org/about/content.cfm?ItemNumber=972

    Page 2
    $3 million to ASCD to promote Common Core with educators:
    http://www.ascd.org/news-media/Press-Room/News-Releases/ASCD-Awarded-Gates-Foundation-Common-Core-Grant.aspx

    $20 Million in Grants for projects aligned with Common Core:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/gates-education-games_n_854431.html

    $3 Million to Pearson for digital instruction resources:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/education/28gates.html?_r=0

    Bill Gates Endorsing Public/Private Partnership of Common Core:
    http://www.gatesfoundation.org/media-center/speeches/2009/07/bill-gates-national-conference-of-state-legislatures-ncsl

    Page 4
    Pearson on profits from Common Core:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303674004577434430304060586.html

    Pioneer Institute on Costs of Implementing Common Core:
    http://pioneerinstitute.org/opeds/what-goldilocks-can-tell-us-about-the-cost-of-implementing-the-common-core/

    Page 5
    Pearson uses its non-profit foundation and money given to CCSSO to pay for decision- makers travel:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/education/inquiry-into-school-officials-travels-paid-for-by-pearson.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/education/new-york-attorney-general-is-investigating-pearson-education.html?sq=winerip%20pearson&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=1&adxnnlx=1325277442-%202cBF28a/l1fOmt8cxo/iJQ

    Page 7
    NO EVIDENCE to support assumptions and claims that economic success depends on or even corresponds to education as measured by standardized tests:
    http://thebellnews.com/2013/01/07/debunking-the-common-core-the-emperors-new-clothes-narrative/

    • Oak Norton says:

      Wow, thanks. We’ll look into that. A lot of things that we have publicized have disappeared from the web later including government documents.

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