Tag Archives: Common Core

Sen. Lee Bright Schools MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Common Core

When Chuck Todd interviewed South Carolina Senate candidate Lee Bright about Common Core, it quickly became clear the MSNBC host had no understanding of citizens’ criticisms of the program. His arguments clearly reflect the pro-Core talking points which are emerging in the face of increased scrutiny of the national education standards. The focus of the interview was not just Common Core, but also Monday’s “Don’t Send your Child to School” protest.


Todd’s most predictable point was insinuating that Lee Bright’s speaking at a protest rally while his own children were in class at their public schools was hypocritical.  He also argued that a protest involving pulling children out of class for one day was detrimental to the children’s own education.  Bright had never advocated that parents pull their children out of school, though he has been one of South Carolina’s most vocal CCS opponents.

Regarding the standards, themselves, Todd insisted that the program was an initiative which sprung from the states, and that the federal government had almost nothing to do with the program.  That’s not true, though, as the initial push for the standards came from the National Governors Association, meaning that it was a centralized, national organization with relatively few people and no state-by-state legislative input.  The Federal Government has played a crucial role in pushing CCS forward by bribing states to implement it with the chance of Race to the Top funding.

Todd also indicated that Common Core raises standards, though it has actually significantly lower them in the majority of states. Dr. Duke Pesta argues that Common Core creates “competent drones” instead of free thinkers. Students are voicing their concerns about the program’s lowered standards, potential politicization, and unconstitutionality.

Todd asked Bright if he thought there should be no federal baseline at all, at a time when the U.S. seems to be falling behind educationally, “especially in science.”  When Bright said that a federal baseline would not help, Todd responded by asking “So you would be ok if one of the fifty states essentially said ‘Math is optional’?”  The argument was, as Bright said, absurd, but it’s also ironic given the criticism that CCS math standards place little emphasis on finding the correct answer to problems.  That is certainly not the way to make America competitive in math on the international level.

Instead of centralizing education in the way that many other state responsibilities have been unsuccessfully centralized, Lee Bright advocates adding competition to the education system.  Todd argued that private schools are competition because people can choose to go to them instead of public schools, but Bright countered that it’s not true competition because those schools don’t receive government funding.  Essentially parents have to pay for public schools regardless of where their children go to school, but they can choose to also pay for private schools with no government assistance.  Many people cannot afford that.

States which have implemented this type of voucher system have actually raised their test scores.  Thirteen states, plus Douglas County Colorado and the District of Columbia have implemented voucher systems, and those states and districts have gotten higher standardized test scores at a lower cost than other areas of the country.  Even other countries, like Sweden, have successfully implemented voucher systems.

Chuck Todd seemed to intend his interview of Lee Bright to show that Bright was a hypocrite for sending his child to school while speaking at an anti-Common Core rally on a day some parents were choosing to keep their children out of school in protest of the program.  To the contrary, it revealed the dishonesty of CCS supporters’ arguments in favor of the program. On Monday, Bright showed voters in South Carolina that he is willing to take on issues that families care about and has a voting record that matches his rhetoric.

It was obvious that Chuck Todd did not understand the issues centered around Common Core other than the talking points from his producer, but at least Todd has heard of the program. Bright’s opponent, Sen. Lindsey Graham never even heard of the Common Core program until he was asked about it in September.


Student Records Easily Hacked: Security Breach Triggers Common Core Rebellion from Teachers and Parents

According to Long Island Newsday, Suffolk (N.Y.) Police and Sachem School District are investigating a suspected security breach where a hacker was able to access and leak to a web forum personal student data, including medical and disciplinary records.

That student database is linked to the Common Core standards and the longitudinal collection of student data associated with Obama’s Race to the Top, which offered school districts $4 billion in grants if they chose to participate in the program.

According to The Journal News, in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam counties, N.Y., the database uploads to Web cloud run by inBloom, a non-profit group funded by the Gates Foundation and supported by Amazon.

Even before the early November security breach, parents and teachers were concerned about data collection and the potential of sharing it or stealing it.

The Journal News reported that more than 20 districts in the Lower Hudson Valley have pulled out of New York’s participation in the federal Race to the Top initiative, hoping that doing so will allow them to withhold certain data. Since the state has said that this strategy will not work, districts are now writing to inBloom directly and requesting that their student records be deleted.

A dozen parents in New York City even went so far as seeking a restraining order to protect their children’s data.

These concerns aren’t limited to school districts in New York. According to The New American, schools in Delaware, Colorado, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina have committed to “pilot testing” and information dissemination via sending students’ personal information to the inBloom database.
The New American reports, “The fact that Common Core Standards require children’s personal information to be provided to a database that can be expected to sell or share the data to unspecified companies is worrisome to many parents and educators. ‘It leads to total control and total tracking of the child,’ said Mary Black, curriculum director for Freedom Project Education, an organization that provides classical K-12 online schooling. ‘It completely strips the child of his or her own privacy.’”

VIDEO: High School Senior Slams Common Core

Common Core was passed by governors and bureaucracies with little accountability or democratic oversight, so it is only as the program nears implementation that its many problems have drawn attention.  Now, more and more people are speaking out against the program.  Students, teachers and parents across the country are voicing their concerns about the program’s lowered standards, potential politicization, and unconstitutionality.

Last week, one of the more noteworthy voices of opposition came from a Knox County student named Ethan Young, who spoke at a local School Board meeting.  In just over five minutes, Young discussed problems with the creation of the Core, its educational standards, and the harmful constraints the program would place on teachers.

“Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves — pleading, screaming and trying to say to us that we teach to free minds. We teach to inspire. We teach to equip, the careers will come naturally” said Young.

Though at first glance it would seem the initiative came from states, “in reality it was contrived by an insular group of educational testing executives,” a partnership of the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve Inc, a Gates-funded non-profit.  Even the two academic content specialists involved refused to approve the final standards, with one publicly stating that “the standards left students with an empty skill set,” Young explained.  It was neither created democratically nor by educational specialists.

Young’s primary concern, though, came from the national testing requirements.  “Much like No Child Left Behind,” he quipped, “the program promises national testing and a one size fits all education, because hey, it worked really well the first time.”  The standards, designed for an industrial education model, treat both students and educators as little more than numbers.  Tests don’t take into account the interaction at the heart of the teacher student relationship, damage teacher self-esteem, and force teachers to do things which are not beneficial to their students.

“As a student [it’s] like watching your teacher jump through flaming hoops to earn a score.”  Even forgetting all of the ideological problems of common core, treating education as a bureaucratic endeavor rather than a personal one will never work on a practical level.  It won’t engage students or teach them to love learning.  “I mean, why don’t we just manufacture robots instead of students?  They last longer and they always do what they’re told.”

Ethan Young’s concerns echo those expressed online and at PTA and School Board meetings across the country, from liberal strongholds like New York City to more conservative areas like Utah.  Some point to Young’s concerns, and some are put off by sexually explicit texts.  Others are concerned by data mining, or simply its expense.  In fact a growing movement spread via social media would protest Common Core nationwide by declaring November 18 “Don’t Send Your Child to School Day.”

Common Core’s problems range from its creation to its implementation, and cover both ideological and practical issues.  The program went largely unnoticed while it was being created and as states were bribed to adopt it, but with the recent wave of scrutiny a number of states have already dropped or attempted to drop the program.

Gun Rights Group Executive Calls For End To Common Core Due To Anti-Second Amendment Concerns


Nashville, TN–

The Tennessee Firearms Association, Inc. has called for Tennessee legislators to stop or at a minimum delay implementation of the Common Core standards in Tennessee due to concerns about the teaching materials and testing concerning the Constitution, specifically as regards the Second Amendment.

“We are already seeing textbooks and teaching assignments that are a part of Common Core intentionally or recklessly misrepresenting the Second Amendment in schools across the country,” noted John Harris, Executive Director of the TFA, “and we want to insure that the liberal anti-gun agenda is not allowed to invade Tennessee schools.”

Harris cites examples of Common Core textbooks and teaching assignments that have misrepresented the Second Amendment right to bear arms as limited to a “member of a militia of citizen soldiers.” “That is NOT what the Second Amendment says, nor is it what our Founders intended,” Harris pointed out in releasing a letter to legislators calling for them to support stopping or at a minimum delaying implementation of Common Core in Tennessee schools. Other Common Core lessons have instructed sixth graders to eliminate provisions of the Bill of Rights and have taught that police have the right to confiscate guns in violation of the Constitution.

It is now beyond dispute that Common Core supporters are advancing propaganda as historical fact and doing so in instances where the United States and Tennessee Supreme Courts have made clear that the facts and law are simply not what Common Core claims. For example, one AP History book written in furtherance of Common Core makes false representations concerning the 2nd Amendment that are directly in conflict with both US and Tennessee Supreme Court decisions.  Those misrepresentations falsely claim that the 2nd Amendment is a collective right, if at all, and not a pre-existing individual right that those constitutions recognize and protect.  It omits the Constitutionally enumerated right to “keep” arms and it disregards the state constitutional provision guaranteeing the right of citizens to “wear” arms (See, Art I, Sec. 26, Tenn. Const.)

“We are certain to see more examples of attacks on fundamental constitutional principles as the liberal agenda that is at the core of Common Core is revealed in more assignments and testing materials,” Harris stated. “If it makes sense for Republicans to oppose the immediate implementation of ObamaCare in Washington with promises of repealing it, it makes sense for conservatives in Tennessee to stop or delay implementation of ObamaCore in our schools until we are sure it is right for us.”

Tennessee adopted the common core standards in 2010, which are expected to become fully implemented during the 2014-2015 school year.

Harris' Email To TN State Legislators
Harris’ Email To TN State Legislators

Well funded forces oppose Harris and others who are against common core. In fact, those forces are lobbying the Tennessee legislature just as hard, but with an added cash bonus. A couple months ago we reported on how the founders of the Ayers Foundation are lobbying legislators in Tennessee to push through common core. The foundation has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Obama administration to advance common core in Tennessee. The founders have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to Tennessee GOP legislators for their re-election campaigns.

You can read that story HERE.

Maryland Parent arrested for challenging Common Core

At a Towson, Maryland school board meeting on Thursday, a parent attempting to ask questions about Common Core was arrested and charged with second-degree assault of a police officer.  The event was recorded by another parent, and later related by yet another to Michelle Malkin.  Robert Small focused on the lowering of educational standards in his complaint, saying “You are not preparing them for Harvard,” but rather a community college.

The meeting was a question-and-answer session organized by Superintendent Dallas Dance, but – as is becoming increasingly common – questions were submitted on paper and select questions were answered, rather than allowing parents to stand up and speak.  This format allows for the censoring of questions, and indeed the questions answered by the meeting’s panel were, according to the person videotaping, “softball” questions.

“In a nutshell, it was an hour and a half long and the first hour was Dallas Dance, Lillian Lowery, a PTA leader, and a teacher from Cantonsville High School basically tell us how great this was going to be.”  Multiple parents in the room had already shown frustration at the question selection when Small stood up and began to ask challenging questions.  He spoke briefly before being escorted out by security and arrested.  “He was just a dad trying to get some information about his children’s education and ended up in jail for not sitting down and shutting up,” the letter said.

Common Core has been the subject of increasing scrutiny in recent months as it grows closer to being implemented in most states in the country.  The federal system of education standards was always criticized for being unconstitutional, and was thrust upon states in a manner completely lacking transparency or accountability, but it was only recently that the problems with the curriculum itself have been revealed.

Since then, multiple states have pulled out of Common Core, with even more ready to follow suit.  The math program does not demand correct answers, just justification of answers, and the English program emphasizes “informational texts” (which at best are more suited for social studies courses, and at worst are outright propaganda) rather than classic literature and analysis.  Even the literature is sexually explicit and comes with ideologically biased questions.

Third graders are taught to argue using emotionally charged language, and even to use such tactics against their own parents.  The text of the Constitution has even been altered in textbooks adhering to the program’s standards, and in textbooks written by the College Board, which administers SAT and AP exams, and which will revise its own exams to adhere to the standards even in states in which they are not accepted.  In addition, the program involves data mining of a wide variety of education and non-education-related topics, such as beliefs and disciplinary history.

This is a perfect example of the kind of tactic advocated by Agenda 21.  Written and pre-censored questions remove accountability, and have grown increasingly popular in recent years because of this, but this format is very easy to oppose.  Robert Small simply stood up and spoke, and drew attention to the issues, and though he was arrested, that arrest only drew more attention to the situation.

Exclusive: Common Core Paying Off Republican Politicians?

Tennessee recently made national headlines for a single city spending $5.2 million to align with the standards of Common Core.

“The new Common Core standards being implemented in states around the country are bringing unforeseen expenses to local districts, like a Tennessee city that had to borrow $5.2 million to buy iPads and laptops for kids as young as kindergarten,” reports Fox News.

The Murfreesboro, TN city council just recently approved the bond issuance last Thursday with a unanimous vote.

So, who exactly is pushing Common Core in the state of Tennessee? Perhaps one of the largest groups lobbying for Common Core in the state is the Ayers Foundation. Jim and Janet Ayers, founders of the organization, are extremely active in Tennessee politics. The Ayers Foundation is in many ways a political think tank. In 2012 the foundation was given a $1.2 million grant to push Common Core standards into the state of Tennessee. If Common Core is successfully implemented in Tennessee, the Ayers foundation is sure to prosper even more.

Emails were recently discovered that show Janet Ayers lobbying the Tennessee state legislature to accept and institute Common Core in the state of Tennessee (pictured below).

Ayers Email










The above addressees are an entire list of the Tennessee state legislature.  Mrs. Ayers urges the entire legislature to side with the few unpopular, establishment GOP politicians in the state of Tennessee who are pushing Common Core. You will notice in the addressee list state senator Jim Tracy (R). Tracy is running for US Congress in Tennessee’s 4th congressional district where he lives. This is the same district that is home to the above referenced city of Murfreesboro, TN, which just spent $5.2 million of money that they did not have to push common core standards.

As it turns out, Jim and Janet Ayers are some of senator Tracy’s largest donors. They both donated the maximum legal amount to Tracy’s campaign just 2 months before this email went out.

Senator Tracy's FEC Filings Showing Donations From Ayers Family.
Senator Tracy’s FEC Filings Showing Donations From Ayers Family

There seems to be a clear lobbying effort in the state of Tennessee from those who seek to benefit from federal dollars, which would funnel in behind a full implementation of Common Core standards being implemented in the sate.

Tracy has attended a meeting in the past, which was geared towards “stopping Common Core” in the state of Tennessee. The meeting was also attended by the very legislators now pushing the standards. Chairman Gresham (who supports Common Core as noted in Ayers’ email above) was also at the meeting, but is pushing hard for the state to implement Common Core regardless of citizens lobbying against it.

The recent lobbying effort and $10,400 donation have raised many eyebrows in a state that is consistently fighting to maintain its conservative identity.

The Most Dangerous Domestic Spying Program is Common Core

Earlier this year, revelations about the Department of Justice spying on the Associated Press were quickly followed by revelations that the NSA was collecting phone data on all Verizon, and then all American cell phone, users.  Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing drew yet more attention to the issue, and domestic surveillance programs have remained a top issue in people’s minds ever since.

While Americans focus on institutions like the CIA and NSA, though, programs are being implemented which would lead to a much more institutional way of tracking citizens.  Obamacare is one of these, but Common Core Standards – the federal educational program – is the most eyebrow-raising.

Bill Gates was one of the leaders of Common Core, putting his personal money into its development, implementation and promotion, so it’s unsurprising that much of this data mining will occur via Microsoft’s Cloud system.

Even the Department of Education, though, admits that privacy is a concern, and that that some of the data gathered may be “of a sensitive nature.”  The information collected will be more than sensitive; much of it will also be completely unrelated to education.  Data collected will not only include grades, test scores, name, date of birth and social security number, it will also include parents’ political affiliations, individual or familial mental or psychological problems, beliefs, religious practices and income.

In addition, all activities, as well as those deemed demeaning, self-incriminating or anti-social, will be stored in students’ school records.  In other words, not only will permanently stored data reflect criminal activities, it will also reflect bullying or anything perceived as abnormal.  The mere fact that the White House notes the program can be used to “automatically demonstrate proof of competency in a work setting” means such data is intended to affect students’ futures.

Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that data collection will also include critical appraisals of individuals with whom students have close family relationships.  The Common Core program has been heavily scrutinized recently for the fact that its curriculum teaches young children to use emotionally charged language to manipulate others and teaches students how to become community organizers and experts of the U.N.’s agenda 21.

Combined with this form of data collection, it’s easy to envision truly disturbing untruths and distortions making their way into the permanent record.

Like Common Core, states were bribed with grant money from the federal government to implement data mining, and 47 states have now implemented some form of data mining from the educational system.  Only 9 have implemented the full Common Core data mining program.  Though there are restrictions which make storing data difficult on the federal level, states can easily store the data and allow the federal government to access it at its own discretion.

The government won’t be the only organization with access to the information.  School administrators have full control over student files, and they can choose who to share information with.  Theoretically, the information could be sold, perhaps withholding identifying information.  In addition, schools can  share records with any “school official” without parental consent.  The term “school official,” however, includes private companies which have contracts with the school.


NSA data mining is troubling because it could lead to intensely negative outcomes, because it opens up new avenues for control, and because it is fundamentally wrong.  Common Core data mining, tracking students with GPS devices however, is far, far scarier.

It gives the government the ability to completely control the futures of every student of public education, and that will soon extend to private and home schools.  It provides a way to intimidate students – who already have a difficult time socially – into conforming to norms which are not only social, but also political and cultural.


“Yes, Common Core is a federal takeover of education!”

Last week activists in South Carolina voiced their opposition to the expansion of Common Core in their state. They believe that Common Core is another federal overreach that takes away yet another freedom in America.

There has been a growing battle in American over education for decades.  The “right” has advocated school choice and parental involvement – like in charter schools – and educator accountability as solutions to the problem of diminishing standards.  Meanwhile, the progressive “left” has promoted increased centralization, teachers unions and related policies. 

School Building

Common Core is another step toward the centralization and complete takeover of education under the federal government.  Education has always been controlled at the state level.  Curricula, educational standards, and teacher accountability have all been regulated at the state level, and each state had its own institutions and structures to govern those regulations. 

Common Core will eliminate all of that.  The program is a set of academic regulations set by the federal government.  Technically, states adopt the standards voluntarily, but financial incentives and changes to related policies – like SAT, ACT and GED tests – make it difficult for states to continue following their own programs.  South Carolina opted into the program in 2010, but it won’t be fully implemented until the 2014-2015 school year. Concerned citizens are demanding their state withdraw immediately.

The first, most basic problem with Common Core is that it’s expensive.  South Carolina, like many states, was motivated to implement it by the possibility of additional federal funds.

Philip Bowers is the 2012-2015 S.C. Speaker of the House’s Business Appointee, and was part of the Board of Education when Common Core was implemented. 

Bowers told Benswann.com, “Common Core came along around the same time as the Race to the Top and they dangled the money in front of the state and said ‘If you’ll adopt the Common Core, we’ll give you some money, or potentially give you some money.’ That changed our priorities …this is a federal overreach and I was concerned for many reason… I voted against it.”

Bowers listed some of the expenses of the program.  Common Core tests are administered via computer, whereas South Carolina’s standardized tests are currently administered via paper and pencil.  State schools currently lack the computers and bandwidth to administer the tests at one time.  This will not only create the tremendous financial burden of adding many new computers to every school in the state, but before that happens, tests could be administered over the course of 12-20 weeks every year.  This will not only create unequal situations for different students, it would also disrupt classroom time.

The bigger problem, though, is that Common Core is, indeed, a federal takeover of education.  America is a country founded on the principle of separate states, and this has been very beneficial for the country.  States can learn from each other’s policies, what works, what doesn’t.  The people who implement policies remain more accountable, so the policies remain closer to the people.  Perhaps most importantly, states can maintain cultural diversity and a sense of closeness to their unique roots.

All of these benefits will be lost with the Common Core system.  The more standardized education is – particularly when it “teaches to a test” the way Common Core would encourage – the less intellectual diversity will exist.  On a more personal level, as Bowers put it “why should we be common when every child is special?”


Bowers states that there is no evidence that Common Core standards will be higher.  In fact, some of these standards have been very controversial.  For instance, the Language Arts standards state that 70% of texts read by high school seniors (and 50% over the course of their educational careers) must be “informational texts” instead of classic literature.  Not only would this fail to teach students basic literature and poetry analysis, it opens the doors for blatant propaganda.

These standards were largely written by special interest groups behind closed doors in Washington, D.C.  These groups only spoke about the actual standards in vague terms, and gave minimal information before the decision was made to implement the program.

Governors had a two month window to adopt the policies, and those two months occurred while state legislatures were out of session.  As previously referenced, this adoption was heavily incentivized using taxpayer money, but that wasn’t the only motive to adopt the policies.  In fact, the head of the College Board, which administers college admissions tests as well as Advance Placement exams, was a key figure in the development of Common Core, and those tests will change to fit the standards.

This will not only force students at public schools in states which adopted Common Core to learn to those criteria, it will also force anyone who wants to go to college, whether they went to public, private or home school, in or out of a state which adopted the program to adhere to them.  It’s not difficult to see how this will affect the intellectual landscape of the country and force unwilling people to alter their educational programs.  This centralization occurs at a time when the U.S. is seeing more and more diversity in education, such as the rise of charter schools, it would stop that progress.

Another freighting aspect of Common Core is that it will involve gathering data from students and their families.

Recently international criminals hacked into South Carolina’s IRS records that resulted in over 3.6 million Social Security numbers being compromised. The idea of allowing the state to collect sensitive and personal information into a database is something South Carolinians vehemently opposes. This information will include religion, beliefs, income, voting status of their parents, competencies, biases, medical information, psychological information, and a history of school discipline.  Few of these are related to education, and none should be tracked.

As Philip Bowers said “We changed simply because we thought we might get a little money from Race to the Top, and now we’ve started down this path and no one wants to stop and take a second look.”

Benswann.com asked Sheri Few, President/CEO  of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education if she thought that Common Core was indeed a takeover of education, and if so, what can other states do to oppose this federal program.

“Yes, it is a federal takeover of education!” Few said. “The Common Core testing consortia funded by the US Department of Education (by “shovel ready” stimulus money) are developing the assessments for Common Core, which will drive classroom instruction. We all know teachers are forced to teach to the test because assessments are intended to reflect their performance. States were also coerced into committing to Common Core standards before they were even finished writing the standards with federal grant opportunities (also funded with stimulus money) and No Child Left Behind Waivers. Data mining is one of the greatest concerns along with the costs associate with the assessments. States would be wise to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced and PARCC testing consortium if they don’t want to incur huge expense and if they want to protect personal student level data. The consortia’s contract with the feds requires them to provide student level data to the federal government. States need to work with their legislatures (who were bypassed in the process of adopting CC) to repeal the adoption of the standards and to protect student data.”