Harvard Law School grad Jane Robbins has penned a blistering dismissal of the Common Core Standards defense published by five former Florida state GOP chairs. Writing for American Principles Project, Robbins effectively dispatches with seven false assertions the republican power brokers make in the letter they wrote to Florida republican legislators.
Five former Florida Republican Party leaders have urged the state GOP to ignore the parents and teachers who object to the centralization of education through the Common Core State (sic) Standards. Like other Common Core proponents, they repeat the talking points; like the others, they fail to produce evidence to support their statements. Below is a point-by-point response to their claims:
The nation’s Governors recognized this [education] problem almost 15 years ago and began a process that eventually led to states collaborating on the Common Core State (sic) Standards.
The claim that the Standards resulted from a “state-led” process is misleading at best. In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation pledged $60 million to inject their education vision, including uniform “American standards,” into the 2008 campaigns. In May 2008, the Gates Foundation awarded the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy a $2.2 million grant to promote the adoption of national standards.
Soon afterwards, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), two DC-based trade associations, began accepting foundation grants to start the Common Core Initiative and propagate the Standards. In December 2008, to provide guidance to the incoming Obama Administration, NGA, CCSSO, and their DC-based contractor Achieve, Inc., set out their vision for the Common Core Standards in a document entitled Benchmarking for Success. This report, as well, was funded by the Gates Foundation. The Benchmarking report argued for “a common core of internationally benchmarked standards” and cited the creationof Common Core as a joint project of NGA, CCSSO, Achieve, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the Hunt Institute.
The Florida leaders’ claim that Common Core was “state-led” implies that these organizations had grants of legislative authority from individual states. In fact, the Common Core Initiative was a plan of private groups being implemented through trade associations. Since 2007, NGA, CCSSO, and Achieve accepted more than $27 million from Gates alone to advance the Standards and the connected data-collection and assessments.
Even if the process had been state-led, one might ask, so what? Why should other states have a vote in what Floridians teach their children? Why should California or New York or any other state have any input into what goes on in Florida schools? Florida parents and teachers recognize the dangers of this, even if politicians don’t.
Common Core is not a federal dictate or national mandate. States are free to adopt the standards or to not adopt them. And, if they have already adopted them, they are free to drop out at any point.
The federal government was deeply involved in “persuading” states to adopt Common Core, by tying the Standards’ adoption to the chance to receive federal grants through the Race to the Top competition. A state that refused to adopt Common Core and the aligned assessment lost 70 points in the competition (out of 485 possible points). This meant the state had no hope of compiling enough points to receive a grant (and in fact, no state was awarded a grant without adopting Common Core and the national test). During a time of deep recession, few states were willing to forego the chance at federal money – regardless of the strings attached. If the Common Core proponents were honest, they would admit that they never could have convinced enough states to sign onto the national standards without the federal “persuasion.” The U.S. Department of Education (USED) reinforced the desirability of retaining the Standards by linking No Child Left Behind waivers to their implementation. So states have kept the Standards to increase their chances for more federal favors. But they are certainly free to drop out, and we encourage them to do so.
Read the rest here.
Unlike Robbins, it’s doubtful than any of the Florida Five are experts on Common Core. They’ve just offered themselves up as tools to deliver what’s become a deceitful public relations campaign by supporters. Consider the way the Florida Five introduced their letter:
Like many of you, we have been following the conversation regarding a new education reform initiative soon to arrive in Florida schools – the Common Core State Standards.
Unfortunately, there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation about the movement to raise academic standards, especially among our fellow conservatives. As former chairs of the Republican Party of Florida, we wish to share our view on this effort and what it will mean for Florida’s students and our state’s future.
Robbins has unmasked the Florida Five as the ones who are spreading misinformation.