The news media failed to ask basic questions about the agenda behind Common Core, said a former member of the national committee that helped develop the controversial education standards.
Houstyn Lehman 5, works on math work as she waits for her mother in the gallery of the State House of Representatives Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. A proposal to delay further implementation of the state's Common Core standards was approved in the House on Thursday. (AP Photo/The Tennessean, George Walker IV )
“I don't understand why the media just collapsed. None of the basic questions were asked,” said Sandra Stotsky, who served on the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Systemic Initiative from 2009 to 2010.
Stotsky, a former senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education, objected to the standards being drafted and said the current backlash has resulted because they were written in secret by private organizations with no input from parents, teachers, state legislators or local school boards.
“Who developed them? Private organizations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is why reporters can't have access to any of the records,” Stotsky said Wednesday speaking at the Family Research Council in Washington on a panel about Common Core.
“They're not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. You can't find out who was chosen for what reasons by whom to be on the standards committee, who was chosen by whom and for what purposes and what salary for these standards writers, none of that information is available," she added.
The K-12 education standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officials, both private organizations for public officials funded by private companies and foundations. Thought adopted by 44 states and the District of Columbia, three states have repealed the standards, while most others are debating them.
“So, reporters should have learned a long time ago that there was going to be a spin to anything that came out of all those organizations supported by the Gates Foundation to promote it,” said Stotsky, an education professor at the University of Arkansas. “They should have been looking at an independent source of information. I don't understand why the media just collapsed. None of the basic questions were asked.”
She cited that no one developing these standards sought input from college educators about college ready standards. She added that the SAT exam and AP courses were going to conform to Common Core.
“We have complete corruption and damage to the entire fabric of education in this country in collusion with the U.S. Department of Education because all of this has been done in collaboration with the Department of Education,” Stotsky said.
Emmett McGroarty, the education director at the conservative American Principles Project, said tying the Department of Education's Race to the Top grants with the adoption of the Common Core standards was a power grab by the executive branch. But he said state boards of education readily submit to federal demands in order to get more funding.
Still, he agreed private interests are behind it.
“This really wasn't even the federal government driving this,” he said. “Common Core is owned by private associations, incorporated private associations that put a copyright on the Common Core and a disclaimer as to any damage it might cause. It reads like the back of a cigarette carton.”
“They're the ones who got massive funding from other private entities, the Gates Foundation, and convinced the incoming administration in December 2008 and in 2009 to take up this issue and to spearhead it because the federal government has become the tool of private interest,” he continued.
The standards' assertion of college and career ready might even be cause for concern, said William Estrada, director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association. He cited the goal of Karl Marx to have a “combination of education with industrial production.”
“It screams Common Core to me, where we say we have to have our standards of college and career ready, it smacks of that Soviet mentality, that we don't want to have kids get too much education,” Estrada said. “We'll have the elites decide who will go into academia and who will go into the assembly line work. That's not what our country was founded on.”