Home > Education > Some takeaway notes from the Common Core event in Eureka

Some takeaway notes from the Common Core event in Eureka

May 14, 2014
Dr Pesta speaking at a Common Core event in Eureka, SD

Dr Pesta speaking at a Common Core event in Eureka, SD

This last Saturday there was a Common Core event in Eureka, SD, titled Dangers and Threats to American Liberty and Education. The event featured Dr. Duke Pesta, who is the FreedomProject Education Academic Directory. Before going on it is worth noting this event happened just after the ND event, in which Dr Pesta’s character was personally attacked by a ND Department of Public Instruction (DPI) spokesman. It should be noted that the DPI spokesman attacked Pesta personally instead of actually trying to offer proof that Pesta was wrong on any particular portion of Common Core. Having seen his presentation in Erueka I can attest the fact he provided sources for all the information he provided. All sources can be found on the FreedomProject Education Common Core page. Since Dr Pesta included so much information I will just focus on a few takeaway notes from his presentation.

Over the period of two hours Dr Pesta went into great detail about various aspects of Common Core. Most of the presentation was spent looking at the implementation of Common Core. A common assertion used by those advocating Common Core is that is was created by the Governors. I have always found this to be an odd claim, and one that has been debunked many times. Even it if were true that the Governors ‘created’ Common Core (which it wasn’t) I agree with Dr Pestat that it would be odd to trust a group of politicians who have little or no direct experience in education to create new standards. In South Dakota do we have enough trust in the education standards knowledge from Governor Daugaard to create new education standards? It is mind-boggling that anyone could even consider it to be true that the Governors created Common Core.

The true source of the standards, according to Dr Pesta, is two DC lobby groups. The first is the National Governors Association (NGA). The NGA is not a place where governors meet and come up with great ideas. Actually the NGA is a way for special interest groups (including the Federal government and corporations) to lobby laws and regulations directly with state Governors. Many politically active Democrats within the state love to demonize a similar group ALEC, which overlooking groups such as NGA (they also ignore NCSL & CSG). This comes directly from the NGA website about corporate sponsors in the NGA:

With an annual contribution of $20,000, companies that participate as Corporate Fellows invest in finding solutions to tomorrow’s public policy challenges.

Twenty thousand dollars is small change for large corporations to pay to get direct access to the nations Governors. It should also be noted that the NGA meetings are done in secret. This from the NGA website:

Like most associations, NGA’s meetings are the business meetings of the organization. These are meetings for NGA members – not meetings for the general public.

So corporations can pay to get direct access to the meetings, and federal agencies are allowed to attend and lobby, but we the people are not welcome at these meetings. The very fact that many Common Core proponents, including SD Governor Daugaard, mention NGA as a source of Common Core should make anyone wonder about who really pulled the strings on this massive education initiative.

The other source of the standards is the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). CCSSO is a non-profit that brings politicians, state and federal education bureaucrats, and businesses together to create education policies. Effectively they are a lobby group for corporations that have an interest in the education industry.

One of the craziest things about the NGA and CCSSO being the ‘source’ of Common Core is that these two lobbying groups actually own the copyright on the standards. As Dr Pesta pointed out, the individual states are not allowed to remove or change any parts of the standards once adopted. All the states can do is add up to 15% of unrelated standards. Yet none of that extra 15% will be on the standardized testing. If a state wanted to change any of the standards they would have to pressure the copyright holders (NGA & CCSSO) that changes were needed. It is unlikely the lobby groups would make any changes that were not first approved by their corporate sponsors.

During his presentation Dr Pesta made a statement I think is worth repeating: “By definition education is standards”. The very steps taken to create a curriculum and test on the material is in fact a type of standards. What people are truly pushing for when advocating Common Core is national centralized testing standards. Along that line I thought is was appropriate for Dr Pesta to mention that Common Core is No Child Left Behind “on steroids”. Both federal initiatives handcuff teachers into utilizing outcome-based education. Teachers are going to have to teach to the tests. That is not the best way to get the best potential from each student. Actually high-performance students will fare quite poorly under such a system. Dr Pesta noted it is easy to lower to the standards to get more people to achievement, but it is hard to raise them for a few students that make the rest look bad.

Dr Pesta also noted that few teachers or administrators were surprised by the changes being implemented in Common Core. This is because education has been headed this direction for the last few decades. To parents just waking up to what is going on in the schools this appears to be a huge change. Yet to teachers and education administrators this is simply one more little step in the direction they have been headed. Those of us opposed to Common Core must keep this in mind. When we ask schools to reject Common Core we are asking them to stop everything they have been doing for years and go a different direction. Parents have not been involved in education for a long time. Having parents suddenly getting involved and attacking Common Core will make teachers and school administrators feel as if they are being attacked. Anyone opposed to common core has to find ways to fight against Common Core while maintaining a good relationship with teachers. In the end we all want what is best for our children. Attacking those that are willing to make their career out of teaching our children is the wrong way to go.

As I close this post I would like to thank Dr Pesta for coming to a small South Dakota town in order to pass on the information he has collected about Common Core. I would also like everyone reading this to take the last piece of advice Dr Pesta gave the group. He said that nobody, including him, should be trusted as the source of information for all things Common Core. Each person should research for themselves what he and others are saying about Common Core. I think that is great advice for almost any subject.

PS. I forgot to take a head count at the event. But the headcount I was able to get from my phones pictures (mostly blurry dang-it) I count just under 60 heads. Not bad for a small town event.

Categories: Education Tags: ,
  1. May 14, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Based on your summary, Pesta left out textbook companies/testing companies. To the best of my knowledge, the person most responsible for writing the Core is David Coleman who now heads the College Board, the organization responsible for the SAT test.

    The Core has never been about what can and should be learned; it has always been about what can be tested profitably.

    • May 14, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      He did go into that. Honestly he packed enough info into two hours to fill a book.

      Before this event I didn’t realize Coleman’s switch to the college board was so sudden. I also didn’t realize how close to a monopoly Pearson is. I knew it was big. But even some of Pearson’s ‘competitors’ are actually owned by Pearson, they just didn’t change the name.

  2. Merlyn Schutterle
    May 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    We really need to be all headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, we don’t know which direction is best. I do support the idea of outcome based education.That way we know when we meet the objectives. The problem is the time factor. Most all students can reach complete mastery, but they can’t all reach it at the same time. If they don’t master in the officially desired time period, they are simply advanced to the next level at some lesser degree of mastery even though they are not ready and will likely get farther behind. They don’t really ever “catch up.”

    • May 14, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      And I disagree. I don’t think everyone headed in the same direction is necessarily good. I think it would be better to have an education system that focuses on tapping the best potential of each student. Each person is different and has different strengths. Utilizing those strengths is what will give each individual an advantage in life.

      • Merlyn Schutterle
        May 14, 2014 at 8:49 pm

        Well, you are wrong. We need to ensure that students can read, write and compute. They need an understanding of how our country works- especially how corrupt it is and how it got that way. We need to ensure they understand the court system and how lawyers, judges and people with power corrupt it. We need to eliminate the meaningless pledges we make to the flag instead of the constitution, We need to try to make them critical thinkers. Religions and political parties will never allow that.

        As I explained, we are not making sure our students are utilizing their best strengths.We are locked into a system of powerful institutions – colleges and universities, who will never let us advance to the next level because the money feeds them, and they have power with the politicians.

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