GOP Group Takes Aim At Common Core Curriculum, State Dept. of Education

Dr. Mary Byrne
Dr. Mary Byrne

On Thursday, Oct. 17, Dr. Mary Byrne, speaking for the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, enlightened about 75 members of an audience interested in the controversies surrounding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  This event was sponsored by the Douglas County Republican Committee. A few notable attendees included State Senator Mike Cunningham, Representative Lyle Rowland and Brian Wilson, Ava R-1 superintendent of schools.
The CCSS is a federally sponsored program which sets new educational standards for our children across the nation and in Missouri. Dr. Byrne, in an interesting Power Point presentation, made the case that CCSS is an illegal overreach by the US Department of Education into our local education. These national standards (which, she said, the federal government is forbidden by law to create) were developed by a group of progressive educational “reformers” in D.C. and released under the auspices of two Washington trade groups. These standards are untested, unproven and unsupported, both academically and fiscally. Our state representatives had little or no meaningful input into the development process.
The Missouri Constitution requires the State School Board to obtain legislative approval to change the state’s curriculum. They did not obtain this approval prior to or after signing on to CCSS. Our state representatives had little or no meaningful input into the development process.
Two consortia, SMARTER Balanced and PARCC, which are paid for by the Department of Education with stimulus funds, have developed on-line assessments that are slated to replace our MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) test, but at greater cost. Estimates put that cost at more than two times the MAP test costs. Because they are on-line tests, they will require school districts to massively ramp up their technology inventory at a time when school districts are already struggling to meet their existing operating costs, and the state has not met its funding formula obligations for education.
CCSS proponents said only English and math standards were being crafted. They said the development of social studies and science standards might be far down the road. The reality is that social studies standards are already written and expected soon. Both these subjects have the potential to contain ideology with which local school districts may not agree.
If home schoolers and private schools accept any federal funding they will also be forced to accept CCSS. If the designers and proponents of this program have their way, all standardized tests (ACT, SAT etc.) will align with CCSS, forcing private schools and home school families to teach to the test or risk being unfairly evaluated for college and scholarship opportunities. SAT is already being revised to conform with CCSS, and ACT is soon to follow.
There is a high implementation cost for Missouri – the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s estimate is $389 million, as yet unaccounted for by the legislature or local school districts.
CCSS is part of a broader federal effort to collect huge amounts of personal student and family data. This data, like that collected through the new health care mandate, will be shared among federal departments and private entities who claim a need to know for educational purposes. The on-line tests and tracking information will allow a bureaucrat to funnel your children into either vocational or academic programs, which will predetermine their career choices.
Dr. Byrne says, “We must get this unfunded mandate out of our state before it is too late. Time is running out.”  She urges every citizen to get informed, educated  and involved with this issue and invites you to sign on with her organization’s website: MOAgainst
The next Douglas County Republican Committee sponsored event is scheduled for Nov. 14. The topic will be “ObamaCare.”