About 60 people came to the “Stop Common Core” meeting at the Thousand Oaks Library on Monday night, Aug. 26. Lydia Gutierrez, an educator and current candidate for state superintendent of public instruction was scheduled as the primary speaker, but she cancelled. Tracy Dunbar, a founding member of Citizens United for Responsible Education (CURE), Lynn Geraci, a homeschooling mom from Pasadena; and Debra Tash, editor of the Citizens Journal of Ventura County spoke in her place. The event was coordinated by Liberty Christian Academy (a private school in Thousand Oaks) and publicized by the Conejo Valley Tea Party.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was created in the Spring of 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which speakers at the meeting consider “special interest D.C. trade associations.” The purpose is to establish a national school curriculum in the English language, arts and math. The first draft was released in March 2010, followed by a final draft in June 2010.
According to literature published by the American Principles Project and made available at the meeting, most of the curriculum was created by Achieve Inc., “a D.C.-based nonprofit that includes many progressive education reformers who have been advocating national standards and curriculum for decades.” To date, 45 states have agreed to participate. Implementation of the program is scheduled to begin in the 2014/15 school year at public K-12 schools and many private schools.
Although many people are unaware of Common Core, many others who have heard of it are still unfamiliar with the details. But there was no dissent at the meeting. All speakers agreed that the program is complex, costly, far-reaching and not properly vetted. Most also see the long arm of the federal government behind the initiative and connect that to their sense of encroaching globalism.
“What should we do to get the federal government out of education?” a man in the audience asked.
The audience applauded and Dunbar recommended speaking to their legislators to get part of the program unfunded. Some of the controversy revolves around the government tying access to Race to the Top federal education grants and No Child Left Behind waivers with school district implementation of Common Core. One brochure distributed at the meeting questioned the government’s tactics. The parents also expressed concern over the data collection component.
Other concerns involve $1.6 billion slated for implementation in financially strapped California, and biased political indoctrination through the use of books like Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. According to Dunbar, “You can mess with my money or my husband’s job, but don’t touch my children.” Tash warned of United Nations-sponsored campaigns like the Global Education First Initiative of 2012 that plans to “foster global citizenship.” She spoke at length of the connection between years of United Nations efforts to standardize and globalize education and Common Core.
The homeschooling parents were very vocal.
“Right now we are getting the carrots, but I don’t doubt that pretty soon we will be getting the stick,” said Jennifer McCarthy, who runs the nonprofit Liberty Christian Academy home school group in Thousand Oaks. The speaker also warned of a congressional bill known as S. 1094 or the Strengthening America’s School’s Act, which could redefine the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
When asked if many of her peers are worried, Geraci said, “It’s still a big unknown.”