Dear Editor:

Posted

Many thanks to Rosie’s leadership, our local business, Monument Academy for the table decorations, and all the great community organizations sponsoring the Tri-Lakes Community Coming Together Thanksgiving meal. What a wonderful and heartwarming event.

Rosie’s served over 100 family participants a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and the welcoming Monument Board of Trustees and community volunteers replaced the chills of the windy morning with great food and warm Rosie’s smiles. In summary, the common feeling from all participants was heard many times, “we are so proud to be a part of such a wonderful community!”

Happy Holidays to all.

Gordon Reichal

Monument

Dear Editor:

Editor’s note: This letter is addressing John Mann, John Magerko, Mark Pfoff and Robb Pike, it has been edited for brevity.

Thank you for agreeing to let me send you some information at the last D38 School Board meeting on Nov. 21 regarding the Common Core program the board has adopted. While it is concerning that one or more of you admitted you didn’t know much about the federal Common Core program, I appreciate your honesty in the matter. I am hopeful that each of you will read my letter in its entirety. For convenience, I’ve included numerous links to information at the bottom of this note, but it is my desire that that you will research Common Core on your own.  

It is important to start out by noting that the parent, teacher and community concerns and objections to Common Core truly do transcend all party affiliation, all socio-economic levels and multiple geographies of the country.  

The reason I began researching this so feverishly is as follows:  “Across the country, more than a few troubling reports have emerged of biometric schemes being foisted on children, too. Of course, we’re all hearing about the iris scanning that is going on so that the kids don’t have to carry student IDs,” Black explained in the video, referring to just one of the schemes being used to identify children using their unique biometric data. In some areas, as numerous media outlets have documented, students are also being forced to supply their fingerprints to get their lunch.” Sound familiar? It should given this is the same program in which the D38 School Board did not appear to be aware that funding had been approved for a similar program at Bear Creek Elementary just a month ago. As I mentioned at the last D38 School Board meeting in November, these types of biometric initiatives are heavily tied in with the federal Common Core curriculum. 

In my opinion, there are several items that are important in understanding why Common Core is concerning to parents like me. The first is data mining and gathering of biometric data and the loss of local control while being straddled with mediocre education standards. 

It would take many pages to lay out all of the dangers to our liberty and educational freedoms contained in the Common Core State Standards initiatives. In brief, by adopting Common Core, local school districts have essentially been bribed by the State and Federal government to accept the copyrighted and thus, unalterable, Common Core standards. 

The standards were developed behind closed doors at the federal level by offering states millions in so-called “race to the top” money or exemptions from the failed No Child Left Behind program. In a nutshell, the Common Core program cedes curricular control to the federal government and takes it away from parents, teachers and local school boards. Beyond the educational mediocrity that Common Core standards further imposes on public schools, there are elaborate plans to use the required national assessments within the Common Core Standards as a tool to institute massive data collection about American school children that has nothing to do with education and everything to do with government intrusion and control.

A few of the hundreds of data points that will be collected on each child and his/her family per the adoption of Common Core include but are not limited to the list I bulleted below. I would ask you each to think about what these data points have to do with educating our children here in the Lewis Palmer School District?  

To track student performance and align the new curricula and testing systems, in May of 2012, Colorado was awarded a $17.4 million federal stimulus grant to build a statewide education data system, which debuts this school year. As required by federal Common Core requirements, Colorado signed on with one of two testing consortium companies: The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. In choosing PAARC, the state gives the testing consortium total rights to any information gathered on our children and families, and will feed all the information to the federal government through the Statewide Longitudinal Data System. As if that isn’t alarming enough, PAARC can also provide this information to third parties in the private sector for cradle to grave career agenda. Example InBloom, a nonprofit that began as “Shared Learning Collaborative” with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York. The Gates Foundation provided support to the tune of $100 million and JeffCO schools were ground zero. See information on recent resignation of JeffCO school superintendent, Cindy Stevenson as well as InBloom, which Jefferson County Colorado schools have now rejected and cut ties with.

Just as troubling, many parents, school boards, educators and politicians have a concern with Common Core education standards. In February 2013, the Department of Education said “Critical Factors to Success in the 21st century:  Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance.” While these are not bad traits for students to have, it appears that Common Core does not promote, and therefore sacrifices, achievement, proficiency, accomplishment and excellence. There are numerous professors, mathematicians, professionals and prominent educators who have spoken outwardly about the designed curriculum for Common Core – I’ve included only two below out of many that were actually on the Common Core validation committee, but who would not sign off on the Math and English standards.  

University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky, and a member of the Common Core validation committee who would not sign off on the English standards, developed Massachusetts’s widely praised English Language Arts standards. “The fatal flaws in the Common Core English Language Arts standards went unnoticed because more than 45 state boards of education and/or their governors hastily adopted the standards in 2010, in some cases long before they were written or finalized,” she wrote an issue brief here:  http://herit.ag/VyknPo Stanford and NASA mathematician James Milgram served on official common core validation committee and refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core. “I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry.  Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…  They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.”

Based on this commentary or testimony, there is nothing that suggests to me the Common Core standards are “rigorous.”  

One of you once suggested to me “Common Core is a set of minimum standards everyone must meet and we can always require more.” This is wholly untrue.  It would be outright naïve to think we could simply supplement the curriculum with our own standards. The tests are set to be administered by PAARC in Colorado TWO to FOUR times during each school year – basically at a minimum once each semester or as often as every 2.5 months.  With testing occurring often during the school year, teachers will only be able to focus on the Common Core curriculum and standards, and not much else.  Moreover, the testing is what will drive the curriculum – not the other way around.  Given the federal government owns the testing, they will dictate the curriculum here locally. And lastly, the tests are copyrighted by the federal government.  Meaning, they cannot be altered.  Again, we will be unable to modify our testing standards.  If you connect all of these dots together, the conclusion is that the federal government will dictate standards and curriculum, and localities will have lost their ability to tailor curriculum to meet the needs of their student populations in any meaningful way. In the state and local adoption of Common Core, we’ve handed over our local control. 

Just this year, the Douglas County Colorado School Board rejected Common Core standards.  “The members stated that the District’s leadership team has reviewed the Common Core Standards, and determined that they do not meet the expectations the District has for all of our students. The district leadership has been working alongside teachers for more than a year to create the GVC, and they believe that their locally grown curriculum will best prepare our students for the college or career of their choice in the 21st century—and that the Common Core will not. The board officially resolved its general opposition to a one-size-fits-all application of the Common Core Standards, because local school districts should retain broad latitude in establishing customized, rigorous and high standards and guidelines for the maximum educational attainment of all students in their specific communities.” 

Finally, I am a rational and thoughtful parent who doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories.  However, I believe Common Core is surreal-like and Orwellian. I’ve read the program documents (all listed in links at the bottom of this note) and they are quite complex.  “George Orwell warned against this kind of abuse of language in his essay, “Politics and the English Language.” Orwell argues that authors should write as clearly and simply as the material allows. He criticizes authors who use “pretentious diction” to give “an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments.” Authors can use big words and convoluted sentences to make readers feel stupid. In this case, the Common Core literature may intimidate administrators, teachers, and parents to accept the new educational regime.”

Common Core maintains its vision is to produce improvements in education, health and the workforce.  It is a coincidence the federal government wants to produce these improvements just as The Affordable Care Act is ready to go online right about the same time Common Core is to be fully implemented? It seems obvious that Common Core is not about educating our nation’s children, but about training them.

Setting aside that Common Core is unconstitutional in its violation of the 10th Amendment, violates the Colorado State Constitution or that it violates the Colorado Charter Schools Act of 1994, Common Core, in its attempt to nationalize education, will most surely have a negative impact on all our students in D38.  

I would like to better understand the recommendation of the D38 School Board for Common Core adoption and implementation. Could you provide me with a contact for specific information I am looking for if it is not readily available? Also, I would like to better understand where each of you stands on this program.

Sincerely,

Traci Burnett

Monument