The Un-Duping of America

Sarah Perry

6/21/2014 4:02:00 PM - Sarah Perry

Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma has done what might once have been improbable, and signed a bill removing from the Sooner State every vestige of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Oklahoma is just the latest state to mount a legislative revolt against Common Core. It appears the scales are off the eyes of an increasing number of Americans, those who were made to believe that federal meddling in education was best for their children, best for commerce, and perhaps most critically, their own idea. They were sold whole cloth on the concept that all state educational benchmarks needed to be chucked in favor of an initiative that arose from corporate edu-crats whose interests were intrinsically tied to the standards themselves; standards that in the words of Bill Gates, Common Core’s money man, were geared toward creating a “large uniform base of customers.”

Indiana led the way when it formally withdrew from the Common Core State Standards Initiative in March. In an effort to retain federal funding and No Child Left Behind Waivers, Gov. Mike Pence substituted standards “by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers” that were nothing more than a simple re-branding of the previous Core material.

Despite this, Indiana’s withdrawal is proving to be the critical crack in the fed-led education dam. On Indiana’s heels, law makers in South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, and Oklahoma have taken up the cause, and passed legislation to withdraw from the Core Standards.

South Carolina’s Gov. Nikki Haley made clear her enmity for the Standards from the start, stating that she would continue to fight implementation of the Core “until it’s no longer part of our school system’s curriculum.” On May 30th, she made good on that promise, signing into law H 3893 that required the development of new, non-Core standards by the 2015-2016 academic year.

Shortly thereafter on June 5, Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma signed HB 3399 nullifying Common Core in her state. As the chair of the National Governor’s Association – the organization that co-sponsored the initiative and holds the copyright to the Standards – her decision to dump them is a political wild card. The bill ensures the standards are meticulously compared with previous Core standards so there isn’t a back-door re-introduction, as per Indiana. Fallin stated, “What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president’s plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing and teaching strategies.”

HB 1061 was filed in North Carolina with the strong support of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest who also serves on the state education board, and who has made vocal his support for the elimination of Core standards in favor of those drafted from scratch by the State Board. Similar legislation is currently under consideration in the Senate. While Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon hasn’t indicated which way he leans on his state’s bill, if ratified, the legislation would allow teachers to continue using any recently adopted standards while a committee of educators, parents, and business leaders develops new standards to be put into effect in two years. Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal has revised his original position on Core, and is now considering executive action to withdraw his state from the Standards and the PARCC testing consortium that would administer uniform tests based on those standards, stating: "We can have rigorous standards without giving control to the federal government. Parents deserve a voice in this debate."

And on it goes.

It may well be that the privacy-violating databases required by the Core program are tipping the scales against it. The Department of Education’s Faustian report of February 2013 elucidates federally funded and mandated student databases that not only include academic information, but can similarly be used to create a personal dossier comprised of “health-care history, disciplinary record, family income range, family voting status, and religious affiliation.” The DOE report seeks to catalogue “attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability,” under the guise of tracked and tailor-made academic rigor.

If this period of American wakefulness has taught us anything, it’s that despite the lure of language like “rigorous” and “benchmarked,” or the pledge of success in “college, career and life,” We The People will only be fooled once.