Idaho’s Superintendent of the Year

With permission from

This is one brave superintendent. He’s also a thinker. A rare commodity these days. Dr. Geoffrey Thomas from the Madison School District was the lone dissenting vote against Common Core while he served on the Governors Task Force.  Stephanie Zimmerman, an Idaho activist against Common Core, spoke with him and asked him to share his concerns in a letter she could publish. Here’s what he had to say.

At the concluding meeting of the Idaho Governor’s Education Task Force, I voted “No” when asked if we supported Common Core State Standards. I voted “No” for a host of reasons and if another vote were to be held today, I would still vote no. Here is why: (My views are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my district or Board of Trustees)

CCSS were not developed by Idaho or any other “state;” CCSS was funded by the Gates Foundation which spent $ 250 million to “encourage” states and influential organizations to embrace CCSS i.e. $ 6 million to the NEA and $ 5 million to the AFT $ 14 million to the Chief State School Officers and $ 9 Million to the National Governors Association.

CCSS were written by David Coleman of Achieve Inc. with no parental input and precious little classroom educator involvement or representation.  Mr. Coleman actually applied to become a teacher in NYC and was rejected; now he is the most powerful man in US public education. (Just another situation where a non-educator being funded by other non-educators are dictating the direction of public education)

Mr. Coleman and his co writers are also closely affiliated with testing organizations which stand to profit immensely through CCSS / SBAC implementation

There was no field testing or pilot testing of CCSS of any standard in public school classrooms. This fact is truly astonishing and alarming. Would an Idaho farmer trust his / her entire crop and livelihood to untested seed potatoes?

There was no experimental or control group used to evaluate the quality or efficacy of the standards. Again, this is truly astonishing! Without even conducting a rudimentary voluntary study, Idaho has blindly embraced what essentially amounts to an experimental set of standards.

CCSS could truly be the educational silver bullet that will solve all problems including halitosis, but we simply don’t know, because no one took the prudent measure of actually conducting the necessary research first. Could you pass any research class at college without citing your sources and by merely hoping that your assertions were correct?

There is no inclusionary language for differentiated instruction (remediation or acceleration) Remediation in Math is absolutely vital regardless of the depth or rigor of study.

As teacher/ principal evaluations will be tied to student outcomes, I have deep concerns regarding the inevitable forthcoming national assessment that will truly narrow and straight jacket the curriculum for classroom teachers

I am deeply troubled by the low passage rate of students taking the SBAC. With states like New York scoring at a 38 % passage rate for general population students and a 17 % passage rate for minority students making a test that hard is tantamount to institutionalized child cruelty.

Until this year, there was no funding provided by Idaho to implement the curriculum or provide in depth training for teachers. Therefore Idaho either did not care enough to pay for CCSS or we simply did not have the money. Either way, this raises an enormous red flag to me.

There is no current curriculum aligned to CCSS anywhere in the USA. Anyone who says differently is either lying or trying to sell you something. One week after CCSS was unveiled, curriculum vendors were touting their wares were CCSS aligned.

To date, I have not been provided satisfactory answers to any of these above mentioned concerns.

I hope this has helped. I love public education. I love public education the way it once was where great trust and decision making was placed in the local classroom. Public school should be a safe emotional and intellectual environment where parents and teachers work hand in hand to assist young people to become life long learners and productive citizens.

Thank you again Mrs. Zimmerman for the opportunity to discuss CCSS.


Dr. Geoffrey M. Thomas

Madison School District 321

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