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Common Ground on Common Core

Common Ground on Common Core:

Voices from across the Political Spectrum Expose the Realities of the Common Core State Standards

Edited by Kirsten Lombard

When an ideologically diverse array of the nation’s top education activists and experts come together within the pages of a single volume to speak out against the Common Core State Standards and related initiatives in education, the magnitude of the issue couldn’t be more clear.

With a foreword by former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul.

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Description

When an ideologically diverse array of the nation’s top education activists and experts come together within the pages of a single volume to speak out against the Common Core State Standards and related initiatives in education, the magnitude of the issue couldn’t be more clear. An engineer, a social worker, a local school board member, an education blogger, moms, lawyers, and academic researchers—each of the contributors to this book’s 18 essays sheds light on a different crucial aspect of Common Core. Together the essays offer a highly informed and troubling picture of the dangers this controversial reform package poses to students, families, education, and society. They also demonstrate that real dialogue and cooperation across political lines is not only possible but, in fact, crucial, both in defeating false reforms and establishing true education pathways that honor students, parents, and teachers alike.


Edited by Kirsten Lombard


With a foreword by former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul


Pages: 436


ISBN: 978-0-9908809


Dimensions: 5.5" x 8.5"


Weight: 1.35 lbs (613 grams)


Binding: Trade Paper, Perfect Bound

Section 1. A Pre-planned “Solution”: Shafting the Public

COMMON CORE: A SILENT REVOLUTION IN EDUCATION POLICY

Shane Vander Hart

Section 2. A “Manufactured Crisis”: Manipulating the Public

CHALLENGING CORE ASSUMPTIONS: WHAT DOES U.S. PERFORMANCE ON INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENTS REALLY TELL US?

Christopher H. Tienken

Section 3. An Academic Fraud: Pretending at Rigor

AN INVALID VALIDATION OF THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS

Sandra Stotsky


HOW DID CHARLATANS EVER GET TO DESIGN NATIONAL ENGLISH STANDARDS, AND WHY WOULD WE RESPECT THEM?

Sandra Stotsky


THE COMMON CORE MATHEMATICS STANDARDS

R. James Milgram and Ze’ev Wurman

Section 4. An Educational Boondoggle: Standardizing Education

LEARNING WITH LEVIATHAN: OBJECTIFICATION, SURVEILLANCE, AND CONTROL IN A CONCEALED COMMAND ECONOMY

Jeffrey D. Horn


MARCHING TO THE BEAT OF A DIFFERENT DRUM: HOME SCHOOL SUCCESS VERSUS STANDARDIZATION AND THE COMMON CORE

William A. Estrada


COMMON CORE AND AMERICA'S PEOPLE OF COLOR

Ceresta Smith

Section 5. A Data Bonanza: Exploiting Child and Family Privacy

COMMON CORE AND THE THREAT TO STUDENT PRIVACY

Jane Robbins

Section 6. A Career Squelcher: Undermining the Craft of Teaching

TEACHING THE COMMON CORE IS NOT TEACHING

Kris Nielsen

Section 7. A Learning Killer: Stunting Students

IMPRESSIONABLE MINDS UNDER PRESSURE

Mary Calamia


COMMON CORE HITS HOME

Christine T.


CONSTRUCTING DISASTER: COMMON CORE, CONSTRUCTIVISM, HIGH-STAKES TESTING, AND CHILDREN WITH LEARNING DIFFERENCES

S. Wharton

Section 8. A Family Destroyer: Undermining Parental Rights

ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL

Karen Lamoreaux

Section 9. The Way Out: Saying No to False Reform

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF EDUCATION REFORM: CONFUSION, COMPLEXITIES, AND CONCERNS

Morna McDermott


JUST SAY NO: CUTTING THE CORE

Brian Medved


NAYSAYING, EMPTY PROMISES, AND TALKING TO YOUR NEIGHBOR

Jed Hopkins and Tim Slekar


LIBERATING EDUCATION

Marsha Familaro Enright

Contributors

Mary Calamia, LCSW, CASAC, is a psychotherapist practicing in Stony Brook, New York. She treats children, adolescents, and adults from more than 20 different school districts on Long Island. Mary partners with Jack, a 100-pound Labrador retriever who uses his own "special skills" to make the therapeutic environment feel safe and enjoyable for her most vulnerable clients. After testifying to the New York State Assembly Forum on Education about the mental health consequences of the Common Core, Mary took on a leadership role in the grassroots fight against the controversial initiative. Co-founder of Long Islanders United Against the Common Core, Mary speaks at educational forums and advocates tirelessly with legislators to eliminate Common Core from New York State schools.


Marsha Familaro Enright holds a Master of Arts in Psychology from the New School for Social Research as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Northwestern University. President of The Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute, Marsha is a 40-year advocate of a free society. An education entrepreneur, writer, and speaker, she developed the Great Connections Seminars, an innovative educational program for high school and college students, implemented in Chicago, Buenos Aires, and San Jose. In 1990 she co-founded Council Oak Montessori School for ages 3 to 15, named one of the best private schools in Chicago by Chicago Magazine in 2009 and 2011. Her writing, much of which is on view at the her Fountainhead Institute website, includes research papers on neuropsychology, psychology, philosophy, and education, reviews of novelists, political and historical commentary. She also served as editor of Ayn Rand Explained: From Tyranny to Tea Party (Open Court, 2013), which includes her own original material.


William Estrada began working for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) in January 2004 as a legal assistant. After obtaining in J.D. from Oak Brook College of Law, he began to direct HSLDA’s Federal Relations department and to serve as its federal lobbyist. As HSLDA’s representative on Capitol Hill, Will uses his passion for homeschooling to advocate for all homeschoolers before Congress and the federal departments. He has testified before Congress and met with senior officials from federal agencies and the executive branch. From October 2007 through December 2012, Will served as director of HLDSA’s Generation Joshua division, where he worked with young people who are passionate about making a difference in politics. He oversaw a doubling of Generation Joshua’s membership and an expansion of its reach and effectiveness. In July 2011, he also took on lobbying for ParentalRights.org as the organization’s director of federal relations, where he advocates before Congress for the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar and the California bar. Will and his wife Rachel, both homeschool graduates, reside with their son Dominic in northern Virginia.


Jed Hopkins is Associate Professor of Education at Edgewood College in Madison, WI. He received his Ph.D in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota in 2009. Hopkins began his teaching career in London, England, as an Elementary teacher almost thirty years ago. Since then he has taught at numerous levels from elementary through middle school as well as teaching pre-service and in-service teachers at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His teaching and research interests straddle literacy, teacher education, drama in education, and philosophy of education. He is particularly interested in existentialist philosophies, social linguistics and integrating the arts into teaching.


Jeffrey D. Horn is a father of four children, a grassroots activist, and a data scientist. Earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he also holds a master’s degree in mathematics and a Ph. D. in computer science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. A professional programmer, he works daily to build infrastructure that can be used to leverage Big Data in improving advertising, medical decisions, investing, and more. Very conscious of the tension that exists between technology and personal freedom, he has been educating and advocating against Common Core and high-stakes testing in Wisconsin for several years. Over the course of 2013 and 2014, he spearheaded an initiative to unite a variety of organizations and individuals on Common Core related issues for the purpose of sending several open letters to state-level public officials in Wisconsin. The letters ultimately helped to ensure a series of public hearings on Common Core at locations around the state in late 2013.


Karen Lamoreaux is a married mother of three and a small-business owner in Maumelle, Arkansas. A board member of Arkansas Against Common Core, Karen’s video-recorded opposition to the controversial reform package before the Arkansas Board of Education went viral on the Internet. Since then, Karen has been given a voice on Fox and Friends, the Willis Report on Fox Business, the Glenn Beck Show, the Pat & Stu Radio show as well as local television and radio networks in Arkansas. Together with her fellow coalition members, she travels statewide and regionally, educating other parents about the realities of Common Core and working toward its repeal by the Akansas State Legislature. She advocates for the preservation of parental rights as well as state rights in education. She has recently started homeschooling her children.


Morna McDermott has been working in, with, and around public schools for over 20 years. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Towson University in Maryland. Her scholarship and research interests focus on democracy, social justice, and arts-informed inquiry in Kindergarten through post-secondary educational settings as well as working with both beginning and experienced educators. Recent artwork and installations have emphasized the value of art as a “public pedagogy” in creating grassroots social-political-educational change. Tapping into this theme, Morna recently authored The Left-Handed Curriculum: Creative Experiences for Empowering Teachers (IAP, 2012). She is also one of the founding members of United Opt Out National, which has become a strong voice and conduit for advocacy against high-stakes testing. She currently lives in Baltimore with her husband and two children. For more of Morna’s thoughts and work, visit her blog educationalalchemy.com.


Brian Medved ran for and won a seat on the Board of Education in Germantown, Wisconsin, in 2013. Since Brian's election, Germantown's board has become the first in the state to enthusiastically – and unanimously – reject the Common Core State Standards. The board is now working to develop its own Germantown Model of Academic Standards, a process in which Brian is actively involved. Germantown’s standards development process may be tracked on the Germantown School Board website, where the resulting standards will also be accessible to all. Brian continues to work to remove Common Core from the state of Wisconsin and across the country, believing that it is detrimental to learning. He maintains his own website to that end. In his personal life, Brian owns a construction business, as well as owning and managing rental properties. He is the father of four boys, two in college and two in high school. His wife is his high-school sweetheart, inspiration, and soulmate, and also happens to be an outstanding educator.


R. James Milgram is Professor of Mathematics Emeritus at Stanford University. An internationally recognized mathematician, he helped author the pre-Common Core California Standards, and was the math reviewer for the Curriculum Focus Points book series (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2006 - 2011). Dr. Milgram is one of only three mathematicians to be awarded the Gauss Professorship (1989) at the University of Göttingen in the last 40 years. In 2000, he was also awarded a Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, rarely granted to mathematicians. In the U.S. Dr. Milgram has held the prestigious Ordway Professorship at the University of Minnesota, the Regents Professorship at the University of New Mexico, and has given many named lectures at top American universities. Dr. Milgram served on the validation committee charged with overseeing the development and writing of the Common Core standards, the only member of that committee to hold a Ph.D. in mathematics. He has also served on the NASA Advisory Council and the National Board for Education Science, which oversees all research at the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Milgram received his undergraduate and master's degrees in mathematics from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Minnesota.


Kris L. Nielsen has worked in education for approximately a decade and is an expert on national education "reform." He holds a master’s degree in education, with emphasis on child development and motivational learning. He is a dedicated activist against corporate education reform. Upon leaving a post as a science teacher at a school in North Carolina in 2012, Kris penned a resignation letter concerning the hidden and serious circumstances that daily plague students and teachers in the current education environment. The letter went viral globally in the space of a week. Kris has since written two books on issues within the education system and the need to find a better way, Children of the Core (CreateSpace, 2013) and Uncommon (CreateSpace, 2013). He continues to work diligently to inform parents and citizens about the real dangers that are already resulting from the failure to create an environment in which teachers can authentically teach and students can truly learn. He has also helped lead parent and student opt-out movements in New York, Colorado, and New Mexico. Kris blogs at At the Chalkface.


Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project in Washington, D.C. In that position she has crafted federal and state legislation designed to restore the constitutional autonomy of states and parents in education policy, and to protect the rights of religious freedom and conscience. Her essays on these topics have been published in various print and online media. With Emmett McGroarty she co-authored the APP/Pioneer Institute report, Controlling Education From the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America, and with Joy Pullmann and Emmett McGroarty the Pioneer Institute report, Cogs in the Machine: Big Data, Common Core, and National Testing. She has published numerous articles about the problems with Common Core, including those of intrusive data-collection and threats to student privacy, and has testified about these issues before the legislatures of nine states. She is a graduate of Clemson University and the Harvard Law School.


Tim Slekar began his career in education as a second grade teacher in Williamsburg, VA and later taught fifth grade in York, PA. He attended the University of Maryland at College Park where he earned his Ph. D. in social studies education. During his studies, he worked with seventh and eighth grade teachers in the city of Baltimore. He has published his research in some of the top educational research journals including Teacher Education Quarterly, Theory and Research in Social Education, and the Journal of Thought. He recently became the dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. Prior to accepting that position, Dr. Slekar was at Pennsylvania State-Altoona for ten years, where he was responsible for building an elementary education program and leading the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences. His wife, Michelle, is the CEO of the Slekar household. Together, Tim and Michelle are the parents of Luke and Lacey.


Ceresta Smith is a twenty-six year veteran educator who has taught grades 6 through 12 in reading, language arts, and beginning and advanced television production. She earned her National Board Certification in Adult/Young Adult English/language arts in 2002 and now serves as a teacher leader and mentor. In September of 2008, Ceresta moved from a school deemed “high performing” to serve as a teacher leader and literacy coach in a school deemed “low performing.” While there, she became a 2009 – 2010 recipient of a Jordan Fundamental Grant. The grant facilitated the implementation of Text Titans, a literacy-building initiative she designed, funded by basketball great Michael Jordan’s philanthropic non-profit, which honors teachers who motivate and inspire students toward achieving excellence. As a committed educator and activist, Ceresta also founded the Concerned Teacher Coalition in 2009 to address the inequities in Miami-Dade County’s predominantly African-American public schools. One of the original organizers of Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action and a sought after public speaker, she continues to champion public education in her roles as steering committee member of Save Our Schools and administrator for United Opt Out National, an organization that advocates for an end to punitive high-stakes testing and on other key education issues.


Sandra Stotsky is professor of education emerita at the University of Arkansas, where she held the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan and holds a Ph.D. in reading research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. From 1999-2003, she served as Senior Associate Commissioner (a professional position) at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she was in charge of developing or revising all of that state’s K-12 standards, teacher licensure tests, and teacher and administrator licensure regulations. She served on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from 2006-2010 (a citizen position) and on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel from 2006-2008. From 1991-1997, she also edited the premier research journal of the National Council of Teachers of English, Research in the Teaching of English. She has published extensively in professional journals and written several books. From 2009-2010, she also served on the Common Core Validation Committee, where she was one of five members who would not sign off on the standards as being internationally benchmarked, rigorous, or research-based.


Christine T. worked in special education for more than fifteen years, first as a teachers' aide and then as an applied behavior analysis specialist. When she started a family, she took time off to raise her two sons. After her boys had reached school age, she returned to school to study social work, aspiring to work with drug and alcohol addicts as a rehabilitation counselor. She has currently put her education on hold in order to homeschool her youngest son. She lives with her family and two dogs in New York State, where she is an avid reader and writer. In their spare time together, she and her family enjoy spending a great deal of time in active outdoor pursuits.


Christopher H. Tienken, Ed.D., is an Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University. His research focuses on curriculum and assessment policies and practices. His latest book is The School Reform Landscape: Fraud, Myth, and Lies (Rowman and Littlefield, 2013). The international honor society Kappa Delta Pi awarded him the 2013 Truman Kelley Award for Outstanding Research. For more information on Chris and his work, visit his website.


Shane Vander Hart is the founder and editor of Caffeinated Thoughts and also writes extensively about the Common Core State Standards for Truth in American Education. He founded Iowans for Local Control in order to fight against the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards and advocate for education liberty in his home state. Vander Hart has twenty-one years of youth ministry experience. As part of that experience he served as both dean of students and teacher in a private Christian school in Indiana. In 2012 he launched 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media and communications consulting business. Vander Hart and his family reside just outside Des Moines, Iowa, where they homeschool their three teenage children.


S. Wharton is the parent of two school-aged children in Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Emerson College as well as a Master of Science degree in counseling and college student development from Northeastern University. In 2010 she undertook graduate work at the University of South Florida to become a counselor in private practice, and is currently a registered mental health intern. Before moving to Florida, she worked as a personal counselor, career counselor, academic advisor, and freshman seminar instructor in university and community college settings in Massachusetts. Some of her career-exploration publication work has been presented professionally and distributed to guidance professionals nationwide. For three years she taught a course in success skills for college and life. Her students regularly rated her highly for lessons that they could apply practically. Ms. Wharton is committed to high standards in education but believes that such standards must remain under local control if K-12 students are to receive tailored instruction that benefits their learning needs.


Ze’ev Wurman is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Between 1995 and 2007, he participated in developing California’s education standards and state mathematics assessments. From 2007 to 2009 he served as a senior policy adviser with the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. Throughout the development of the Common Core standards in 2009-2010, Wurman analyzed the mathematics drafts, both for the Pioneer Institute and the State of California. In 2010 he served on the California Academic Content Standards Commission, which evaluated the suitability of the Common Core standards for California. He has authored evaluation reports on the Common Core for the Pioneer and the Pacific Research Institutes and professionally evaluated other state and national standards. Wurman has spent four decades in the electronic and semiconductor industries. Currently he is an executive with Monolithic 3D, a Silicon Valley semiconductor start up. He holds 15 U.S. patents and is the recipient of the Israel Security Prize (E. Golomb). Wurman holds bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

From Sandra Stotsky's essay, AN INVALID VALIDATION OF COMMON CORE'S STANDARDS

Who chose the standards writers and what were their qualifications? In the absence, to date, of official information from these three private organizations, it seems likely that Achieve, Inc., and the Gates Foundation selected most of the key personnel to write and review the standards. The CCSSI was officially launched in the spring of 2009.[1] In July of that same year, the names of the twenty-four members of the Standards Development Work Group (Work Group), designated as developing the two sets of high school-level “college-and career-readiness standards,” were revealed publicly in response to complaints about the CCSSI’s lack of transparency.[2] Almost all the members, it turned out, were on the staff of Achieve, Inc., and three other test/curriculum development companies—American College Testing (ACT); College Board (CB); and America’s Choice, a for-profit project of the National Center on Education and the Economy, or NCEE. The Work Group also included four of the six grade-level standards writers: Jason Zimba and David Coleman, both identified as partners in a business enterprise called Student Achievement Partners; Susan Pimentel, identified as a consultant to Achieve, Inc., as well as a founder of StandardsWork; and William McCallum, a mathematics professor at the University of Arizona, also identified as a consultant to Achieve.


Not only did the Work Group fail to include any high school mathematics teachers, it failed to include any English professors or high-school English teachers. How could legitimate standards in either subject be created without the very two groups of educators who know the most about what students should and could be learning in secondary mathematics and English/reading classes? Because the twenty-four members of the Work Group labored in secret—without open meetings, sunshine-law minutes of meetings, or accessible public comment—their reasons for making the decisions they did are lost to history.


The names of individuals in a much larger Feedback Group did include an English professor and one high school English teacher and one mathematics teacher. But it was made clear that the members of the Feedback Group would have only an advisory role—final decisions would be made for English language arts (ELA) by the English-teacher-bereft Standards Development Work Group. Indeed, Feedback Group members’ suggestions were frequently ignored without explanation, according to the English professor in the Feedback Group.


The absence of relevant professional credentials in each standards-writing team helps to explain the flaws in the grade-level standards. The “lead” writers for the grade-level ELA standards, Coleman and Pimentel, had never taught reading or English in K-12 or at the college level. Neither has a doctorate in English or reading, nor had either of them ever published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction.[3] Neither had engaged in literary scholarship or research in education; they were virtually unknown to English language arts and reading educators and to higher education faculty in rhetoric, speech, composition, or literary study. A third ELA standards writer originally listed as part of the three-person grade-level standards-writing team—James Patterson, a staff member at ACT—dropped out of the limelight early on. What role he played is unknown.


Two of the lead grade-level standards-writers in mathematics had relevant academic credentials for the subject. Zimba was a physics professor at Bennington College (now retired), while McCallum was, and remains, a mathematics professor at the University of Arizona. However, Phil Daro, the only member of this three-person team with K-12 teaching experience (middle school mathematics) had been an undergraduate English major; he was also on the staff of NCEE. None of the three had ever developed K-12 mathematics standards before.


Who recommended these people as standards-writers and why, we still do not know. No one in the media commented on their lack of credentials for the task they had been assigned. Indeed, no one in the media showed the slightest interest in the qualifications of the grade-level standards-writers or the members of the Work Group, even though it was obvious that most of the latter group were connected to test/curriculum development companies.



[1] See, for example, Laura Bruno, "NJ Joins Effort to Draft US Math Regs: National Math Standard Doesn't Add Up," Groups Say, Daily Record, June 3, 2009

[2] National Governors Association, Common Core State Standards Development Work Group and Feedback Group Announced. Press Release, July 1, 2009

[3] Nor is it clear in what subject Coleman received a degree from his studies in England as a Rhodes Scholar. No curriculum vitae has ever been attached to any biographical information offered by CCSSI or the College Board, which hired him as president in 2012. It should be noted that the CB has received large grants from the Gates Foundation in recent years.

From Christopher Tienken's Essay, CHALLENGING CORE ASSUMPTIONS: WHAT DOES U.S. PERFORMANCE ON INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENTS REALLY TELL US?

Fraudulent Claims

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently warned the nation that the entire U.S. public education system is in a state of dangerous stagnation and needs to follow the path of standardization set out by policies and programs associated with the Race to the Top (RttT) grant program. That path includes the Common Core State Standards (Common Core). Just after the December 3, 2013, release of the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, Duncan asserted: “The PISA is an important, comparative snapshot of U.S. performance because the assessment is taken by 15-year-olds in high schools around the globe. The big picture of U.S. performance on the 2012 PISA is straightforward and stark: It is a picture of educational stagnation. That brutal truth, that urgent reality, must serve as a wake-up call against educational complacency and low expectations.”[1]


In making this statement, Duncan advanced three empirically unsupportable claims: (1) the results from over sixty nations and cities are comparable; (2) those results accurately describe the quality of the U.S. education system and the education systems in other countries; and (3) the results relate directly to the economic strength and future of countries who took the PISA. In fact, Duncan and others are advancing these fraudulent assertions, and thereby indiscriminately peddling international test rankings, in order to bolster the implementation of policies that seek to standardize and centralize curriculum and testing in public schools.

The Push for Standardization

Implementation of the policies and programs that attempt to standardize, centralize, and homogenize public education in the United States continue to accelerate. The Common Core standards, published in 2010, are the most recent example of a program created from the ideology that standardization and centralization can effectively improve student achievement on state, national, and international assessments and improve global economic competitiveness.


Proponents of Common Core impose strong claims that the standardization program will make U.S. students better able to compete with their peers abroad. They most often point to ranks and scores on international tests to argue that American students are lagging behind their peers worldwide in academic achievement and warn that this lag is weakening overall competitiveness.


I would instead argue that the need to implement Common Core in all public schools does not exist, nor does any evidence for its effectiveness. In fact, data suggest not only that the achievement of American students on international tests is quite robust but also that the United States is one of the most competitive nations on the planet as evidenced by the output of its workforce, which was largely educated prior to the standards-based era.

Privately Developed Standards

Two private trade organizations, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) facilitated the proliferation of state adoption of these standards for mathematics and English Language Arts, without input or approval from parents or taxpayers. Representatives from these organizations claim, with great hubris, that the standards will prepare all 50 million public school students for the approximately 4,400 American colleges and universities and, further, make them globally competitive in any one of tens-of-thousands of careers, some of which have not been invented yet. The NGA and CCSSO proclaim on the CoreStandards.org website that the standards are: “(a) [r]esearch- and evidence-based, (b) [c]lear, understandable, and consistent, (c) [a]ligned with college and career expectations, (d) [b]ased on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills, (e) [b]uilt upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards, and (f) [i]nformed by other top performing countries in order to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society.[2] They also assert that “[f]or years, the academic progress of our nation’s students has been stagnant, and we have lost ground to our international peers.”[3]


The NGA and CCSSO spokespeople insinuate not only that the empirical evidence supports the standards’ claimed effectiveness, but also that American students are unprepared to compete globally, lagging behind their international peers academically in ways that will impact the U.S. economy. To bolster their claims of lagging achievement, they cite results from international mathematics tests: “Findings from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) and other studies [such as PISA] concluded that the traditional U.S. mathematics curriculum must become substantially more coherent and focused in order to improve student achievement.”[4]


The NGA and the CCSSO also claim that the Common Core mathematics standards will improve academic competitiveness on international tests. “What is important to keep in mind is that the progression in the Common Core State Standards is mathematically coherent and leads to college and career readiness at an internationally competitive level.”[5]


In essence, then, the NGA and CCSSO identify the need to implement the Common Core due, in part, to low U.S. student achievement on international tests of mathematics and an overall lag in global economic competitiveness. Yet, U.S. student achievement on international tests of mathematics is not as woefully inadequate as vendors of the Common Core might want us to believe. Moreover, U.S. workers educated prior to the standards-based era are some of the most competitive workers on the planet. Evidence drawn from work I have previously published on this topic, allows me to provide a counter-narrative to the public education “crises” pandering in which vendors and supporters of the Common Core regularly engage.



[1] Arne Duncan, The threat of educational stagnation and complacency, December 3, 2013.

[2] National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), About the Common Core State Standards, 2014.

[3] Ibid.

[4] NGA and CCSSO, Frequently Asked Questions, 2014.

[5] Ibid.

From Mary Calamia's essay, IMPRESSIONABLE MINDS UNDER PRESSURE

“I’m never going to school again. I just can’t do it anymore.”


The little girl sat on my couch, her feet barely reaching the floor. Arms folded, her chin determined, she was adamant. It was time to move on from elementary school and enter—well, whatever phase of life an 8-year-old might think she is ready for. Her mother sat next to her, clearly struggling to hold back the tears.


“Don’t cry,” I silently pleaded, “whatever you do, please don’t cry.” I am not sure who I was more concerned about—the mother or myself.


My yellow lab, Jack, bless his furry little heart, chose this exact moment to climb up on the couch and rest his head on the little girl’s lap, trying to nuzzle some joy into this very sad child. She remained stoic, despite his best efforts.


“Why don’t you want to go to school anymore?” I asked.


“Because I’m stupid. I’m the stupidest kid in the class.”


*** *** ***


I am a licensed clinical social worker in New York State and have been providing psychotherapy services here since 1995. I work with children, adolescents, and adults from all socioeconomic backgrounds representing more than 20 different school districts on Long Island. Coincidentally, almost half of my caseload consists of teachers, purely by virtue of my referral sources.


Over the years, I’ve worked with children growing up in the worst conditions—some living in drug infested neighborhoods with parents who were struggling with addiction, legal problems, and poverty. I also worked in a juvenile corrections facility with girls who came from equally horrific backgrounds, resorting to the most unspeakable acts just to survive. I’ve even worked with kids who had every reason to hate school and refuse to attend, like bullying victims, children with separation anxiety, and kids who struggled with academics and never seemed to “get it right.”


Nothing prepared me for the Common Core.


Until this point in my career, school has been the one stabilizing force I could offer to my young clients as they work through their psychosocial stressors. Even students who hate school because they do not perform well have strengths that we can capitalize on; I could always rely on the schools to help them to identify them and give them the tools they need to build their confidence. We could work together, school personnel and therapist, to devise a plan to get food to a student who lives in poverty and solace to a child who was experiencing emotional problems. I have always worked closely with the schools to intervene with bullying situations…


...but what do we do when the educational system has become the bully?

The depth of scholarship, diversity of opinion and precision of analysis presented here make Ms. Lombard’s book, quite simply, the best single resource for understanding and fighting back against Common Core that exists. Any parent, teacher, activist or concerned citizen owes it to himself to pick up a copy and become educated on what is turning out to be a defining issue for our times. - Logan Albright, Policy Analyst, FreedomWorks (See full review in the Washington Times)


Taken together, Common Ground on Common Core may be the single most devastating indictment of the standards to date. For one, through the tragic stories of parents and teachers, the book puts a human face on the real damage that is being inflicted on children — the suffering, the stress, the emotional harm, the dumbing down. It also offers a chilling window into what the future might look like if Americans do not rise up and put a stop to what the establishment has in mind. - Alex Newman, Investigative Journalist, The New American Magazine (See full review in the New American Magazine)


Lombard has laid a thoughtful presentation of why we must have a slow, deliberate government that always asks who will benefit when we implement any new programs but especially in education. - New York State Senator George Latimer (D-District 37, Rye, NY)


A brilliant, diverse compilation of essays, which forever will put to rest the notion that Common Core critics emanate exclusively from the Right Wing. - Dr. Gary Thompson, Author of Cracking The Da Vinci Code of Cognitive Assessment of African-American School-Aged Children and Director of Clinical Training, Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center


After just a few pages, I realized that this is the book we all need to read, and I hadn’t even gotten to the essays. While reading the editor’s note, I came across this statement…"In truth, our problems almost all stem from Big Biz and Big Gov working hand in hand." This is what I have complained about myself! [It's] a recipe for disaster, and yet they have managed to sell it to us as a positive thing. Common Core is another such beast…Each [essay] is logically written, without using the inflammatory emotional terminology so often found in political discourse. They are all extensively annotated with source documentation and well-researched. - Gail Nelson, Editor in Chief, Learning Tangent Magazine ( Full Review )


Parents, are you fighting the Common Core? Do you need ideas, facts, and arguments to push back against Big Business and Big Government? Then this book, with chapters by experts from across the political spectrum, is for you. - Nicholas Tampio, Associate Professor of Political Science, Fordham University