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School Children and National Security

All across America, public officials swear up and down that Common Core education reform has been, and will be, state-led and locally controlled. No one is telling us that in early 2012, before the general public was even aware of Common Core, elite representatives of big-money corporations and high-level members of the political elite in Washington met in a privately funded think tank where they formally declared our children to be “human capital”—and uneducated children to be a threat to national security.

The 32 think-tank participants, organized as a Task Force by the Internationalist Establishment’s Council on Foreign Relations, included Linda Darling Hammond (of SBAC — “Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium” — fame), representatives of large Gates-funded foundations like the United Negro College fund, the Carnegie-sponsored Institute of International Education, Joel I. Klein of the News Corporation, and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The tangible product of their deliberations is a measly 121-page document titled “U.S. Education Reform and National Security.” It can be viewed at cfr.org, the official website of the Council on Foreign Relations.CFR TFR 68 Cover 20120313 AN B.indd

In this document, these self-appointed education gods bemoan the state of American education (presumably the result of the incompetent masses) without ever once giving consideration to the historical facts: (1) for nearly 200 years the entirely locally directed American education system was the envy of the world, and (2) as top-down federal meddling in education has increased, educational outcomes have consistently declined. If these dictocrats were sincere in their concerns, this historical evidence would demand that they put forward a very different solution from that called for in their 121-page document.

Their solution: the implementation of Common Core education and standards via a partnership between State Governors, corporations, and federal authorities; the use of federal dollars (our money) to incentivize (bribe) states into compliance with national education standards; and the oversight of local education by a broad coalition of corporate leaders, the federal Department of Education, the federal Departments of State and Defense, AND un-named federal intelligence agencies. This oversight is supposed to better prepare the human capital necessary for military service and national economic success.

Enforcement

How do they propose to enforce their top-down authority? Their scheme calls for intensive national evaluation (auditing) of teachers and schools. Audit focuses include: student mastery of Common Core content, mastery of “national security skills” (standards in science, technology, civics, etc.), and a vague statement about auditing the “characteristics of the school.” Where schools underperform, severe penalties are to be imposed, including the “reallocation of resources” (funding and human capital), the replacement of school leadership, and the top-down re-design or re-structuring of school systems.

While these penalties are to be imposed by State and local leaders, the audits are to be directed and published on the national level, effectively removing actual control over audits from state authorities and from the parents of the children who are affected.

I find the militaristic rhetoric of this private task force particularly alarming. Declaring education to be a national security issue (meriting oversight by intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense) lays the philosophical ground-work for a massive top-down power grab. History has shown that when education ceases to be about children and becomes an issue of national security the pretext for federal power becomes absolute. Those who resist or rebel against that power risk being labeled as enemies of the State.

Why We Should Be Concerned

Some may question why the recommendations of this private task force should concern us when they are just that — recommendations. First, this kind of high-level meddling and scheming in private forums provides no transparency to the general public. We are told only what they wish us to know. Second, those involved have clear conflicts of interest: They are the beneficiaries and Gods of the system they propose to impose on us. The power, control, and wealth, these corporacrats stand to gain — as long as Americans will meekly grovel before their statistics and criticisms for a few of our own tax dollars — are staggering.

Third, there is a consistent historical pattern over the past 100 years whereby American public policy is being shaped by corporacrats acting in collusion with high-level federal officials. The powers they seek to obtain and the process by which they are going about it are in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States, which clearly reserves both the direction of education and the establishment of public policy to the states and to elected representatives of the people respectively — not to political or corporate elitists.

The Take-Home Message

What is the take-home message? While many are busy obsessing over the details and drawbacks of Common Core, most remain blind to the bigger picture of what is happening. By simple definition these elitists are imposing a form of fascism on the American people that runs entirely contrary to the form of limited constitutional government established by America’s founders.  These insiders are using propaganda and big money to manipulate the American people into accepting their policies a piece at a time, while pretending that their schemes came straight from the grass-roots all along.

This deceptive power grab, now being carried out without our general knowledge or consent is unacceptable and dangerous. Public officials who sign onto these nefarious schemes are guilty of subverting the liberty of the people.   Inasmuch as any among us support and comply with these kinds of top-down power grabs, we are facilitating the destruction of our own liberty.

 

SBAC Concerns Need a Fair and Open Hearing Now

New Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing (now being called the ISAT in Idaho — someone thinks we won’t notice the change) has elicited an unprecedented negative response from students, parents, and educators all across the country. Local students have nicknamed it the “SweatBAC.” A friend of mine, who has administered standardized testing to elementary students for the past six years, recently resigned out of frustration with the SBAC.

My friend witnessed the transition between tests and saw a dramatic difference in the student response to the SBAC, as opposed to the ISAT. With the fact-based, multiple choice ISAT, students knew what to do and could move through the test. With the SBAC, many young students cannot even identify the subjective questions buried in the texts, let alone make abstract inferences and answer with an essay containing supportive evidence from the text. Yet, they cannot move to the next question in the 3 ½ hour English testing without providing an answer to the question they can’t identify. These students sit feeling stupid, some of them in tears, as they are required to spend hours completing developmentally inappropriate tasks without support.

My friend could no longer bear to participate in a process which is causing so much emotional pain and psychological damage. She sees no benefit to this subjective test as a measure of knowledge, feels it to be a counterproductive waste of precious time and public money, and is bothered by the lack of information about ‘who’ grades the tests ‘how’ and ‘what’ data collected from testing is being used for. She resigned mid-year.

The difficulties my friend witnessed are NOT “just the result of inadequate preparation.” Early childhood experts all across the country have come forward stating that these tests are developmentally inappropriate. I have a son who suffered a severe brain hemorrhage as a premature infant. Consequently, we have worked closely with the National Association for Child Development, an organization that has a decades-long resume of cutting-edge research in brain development and incredible success helping children and adults learn. These professionals are frustrated by the havoc being wreaked in the minds of many of their clients who are being subjected to what they identify as developmentally inappropriate, and even damaging, educational methods in the name of the Common Core.

State Legislatures Have Withdrawn

What’s more, since its hasty implementation, seven state legislatures have already reconsidered their involvement with the SBAC consortium, have been convinced of its problems, and have withdrawn their participation.

Carol Burris, New York State Outstanding Educator in 2010 and New York State High School Principle of the Year in 2013, thoroughly reviewed the Common Core and identified 5 reasons she believes it is disastrous for education. Included among these — Common Core standards contradict what we know about how young children learn, including decades of research on early reading development; and Common Core tests are unreasonably difficult and will result in unfair consequences to children.

Here in Idaho, the Madison School District superintendent has questioned the validity and costs of the SBAC. He found another option for his school district which had a much more solid research basis, more valid results, and will save his district approximately $10,000 over the cost of administering the SBAC. He has announced that his students will not be taking the SBAC test.

Top-down Pressure to Comply

But the top-down pressure to comply with the educational monopoly granted to this Common Core aligned testing consortium is staggering. Parents are being told that they have no legal authority to withdraw their child from taking this test. Districts are required to administer this test to 95% of their students, regardless of their circumstances or special needs, or risk “losing stars” and federal money. The SBAC has become a graduation requirement. Those seeking an alternative route to graduation will find that even the GED test has been re-written by the same consortium that compiled the SBAC.

As these SBAC tests have been implemented the pass rate has plummeted by as much as 80% in some states. Yet, instead of re-examining the tests, the steam-roller pressure to enthrone them continues. Even colleges and universities are under top-down pressure from the federal government to align their college admission standards to federal standards for financial aid, eliminating other traditionally-accepted admissions options and making these tests mandatory for admission to higher education as well. This big-fisted monopoly over education at all levels makes past monopolies look like a game of croquet as opposed to rugby. This unprecedented top-down pressure is a gigantic, flashing, red indicator that these are NOT parent-led, voluntary changes.

That so many have caved to this top-down coercion without protest is disappointing; but the way that our state leaders have responded to the concerns being raised is completely unacceptable. When Idahoans introduced bills requiring debate and discussion regarding the SBAC, state leaders have killed these bills in committee, refusing to allow them to even come to the floor. The plug-your-ears-and-turn-your-back response of these state leaders to our substantial, valid concerns is inexcusable. With only a short time left in the legislative session, It is high time that state representatives and all concerned citizens use their influence to demand that bills like SB 1070 and SCR 106 are given a fair and open hearing.

Granting such monopoly power to any consortium is wrong. Granting it to a consortium that straps us with developmentally inappropriate, unsound educational practices is a betrayal of the public trust.

The Common Core Cabal Strikes Again

The Common Core Cabal has struck again, this time to the tune of 61 million Idaho tax-payer dollars, as was reported on the front page of the Morning News, March 25, 2015. This money was reportedly “wasted” on a student data tracking system which, incidentally, Idaho agreed to implement as a part of Governor Otter’s federal “Race to the Top” application. Idaho didn’t win the Race to the Top, but we did get a bill for a 61 million dollar Student Data Tracking System that didn’t really work.

The article conveniently blames this incredible waste, which comes at a time when many Idaho schools are struggling just to meet basic expenses, on the Luna administration, which is long gone. It then quotes Senator Tim Corder reassuring us that our new state superintendent, Sherri Ybarra, can count and spell (as if Tom Luna couldn’t) and so we can all feel secure that this fiasco will not be repeated. It appears, then, that this 61 million dollars is just water under the bridge.

There are a lot of angles to this story. I could write a whole book documenting concerns related to the Student Data Tracking System, which is intended to gather personally identifiable data on every student from pre-school up through college and career. These concerns include: the privacy issues, the lack of parental access and oversight, the significant likelihood that it will be a financially lucrative gold-mine for corrupt government cronies, etc. There are many reasons to oppose the creation of this system in the first place.

Ignoring the Truly Significant

However, the thing that struck me about this story was the part that was minimized and NOT shared. The article very briefly mentions that, in addition to poor administrative decisions, the system we paid for was never designed to serve as a statewide system. It also briefly mentions that it was purchased from a company called Schoolnet, a New York company owned by British-based publishing giant Pearson.

Why is this significant? Pearson has partnered with the Gates Foundation as one of the primary corporate funders and promoters of Common Core reforms.   I know — some will falsely claim that the student data tracking system has nothing to do with the Common Core standards. But the fact is that the authors of the standards — those who own the copyright — have published articles on their own web-site outlining a five step plan for education reform. These reforms include the adoption of the Common Core standards AND the implementation of a national student data tracking system as interlocked parts of a five-step reform package. Other steps include teacher training reforms, curriculum alignment, and new school accountability measures (testing, etc.).

Pearson and the Gates Foundation have been behind the Common Core wave from the start. They have learned to play corporate cronyism to the hilt and they are riding the American tax-payer hard, financially benefiting from almost every aspect of the five-step education reforms they are pushing. Pearson, the largest educational publisher and on-line book company in the world (how about some new Common Core aligned curriculum in every classroom?), also launched the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) consortium which is writing new Common Core testing (more money) and sells software for districts to use (and more $) in administering tests, and provides internet bandwidth (still more $). They also provide conferences and training to help states roll out Common Core (more profit). And they apparently sell Student Data Tracking Systems with price tags in the tens of millions.

News reports of Pearson rolling out inadequate products and receiving slaps on the hand for illegal corporate/non-profit activities are not hard to find. For example, in December of 2013, the Washington Post reported that Pearson had agreed to pay a 7.7 million dollar settlement after the New York Attorney General found them guilty of using their non-profit foundation to generate tens of millions of dollars for their corporate arm. Pearson’s non-profit foundation was used to develop products and curriculum aligned to new standards, all tax-exempt.   These products were then being sold — for profit.

What’s more, their tax-exempt foundation was flying public officials to extravagant international locations for conferences where Pearson’s corporate employees would meet with them and assess the needs of the states the public officials represented — so that they could sell them Pearson products. When Pearson was called on the carpet for their illegal activities (bribery and extortion) they claimed ignorance and paid a measly settlement into a fund to train teachers (hardly a loss on their part).

When one understands the scope and nature of the corrupt cronyism which is the impetus and core of current education reforms, it seems ludicrous that this most recent 61 million dollar loss of tax-payer dollars is being chalked up to one ignorant public official who is nowhere around. Meanwhile the current administration is giving Pearson a free pass and continuing it’s love affair with Common Core reforms.

Surely the data tracking software was purchased with the understanding that it would perform as a statewide data collection system. Clearly it was not what it was marketed to be. Now, our public officials, evidently hesitant to challenge the corrupt system they have participated in, are mildly walking away.

It’s time to get educated about education reforms. Until the people, in general, become aware of and unwilling to tolerate the corporate/federal cabal that now has public education by the throat, we will continue to pay through the nose — not just in dollars, but in the quality and content of our education, and, ultimately, in the loss of our own personal liberty and the ability to have local control over the education of our own children.

Also by Julianne Young:  SBAC Concerns Need a Fair and Open Hearing Now

Monthly Action Report Excerpts re Common Core

October 2014 Action Report

“Getting to the Core of Common Core”

“The longitudinal student data tracking systems which are currently being put in place in states all across the country will compile personally identifiable data on every student. That means that a student’s test results, academic and disciplinary records, and even personal information about students’ personal and family life are being plugged into a database that will follow them their entire lives.” — Julianne Young in a new DVD 

Idaho Chapter Leader Mrs. Julianne Young has researched and developed a blockbuster new presentation on a topic dear to her heart — education.   Julianne graduated from Idaho State University with a bachelor’s degree in education.   For this latest presentation, she had done masterful work in researching and organizing what those concerned about Common Core should really be looking at.

Julianne supplies a unique and vital perspective missing from the national “debate.”   In particular, she points out that Common Core is just one recent manifestation of a much bigger agenda that has plagued education for decades. And she insists that the real threat driving Common Core cannot be defeated without addressing the bigger picture.

So impressed were we with Julianne’s message that we invited her to come to Colorado Springs and allow us to make a DVD of her presentation. A DVD would enable all members to spread her message as part of a campaign opportunity.

For starters, we urge members to familiarize themselves with the presentation.   Note: The DVD is provided as a bonus to anyone who contributes to our Fall financial appeal.

Once members are familiar with Julianne’s message they will likely be eager to share her presentation with others.   That will mean ordering additional copies — for sale at group meetings or for lending.   Excellent prospects for either might include: 1) “conservative” members of local school boards; 2) local citizens who have expressed concern over Common Core; 3) home-schooling parents; and 4) parents who have children in government schools. Standard FFS DVD quantity pricing applies (see the Tools & Products page on our website).

The nationwide momentum behind Common Core, supported by billions in federal money, has properly alarmed many Americans, even though they see only a small part of the picture. Exposing the Core of Common Core, by hosting presentations and organizing outreach, is an excellent project for local chapters.

Action Summary:  View and share the “Getting to the Core of Common Core” DVD (available for purchase and as a bonus for responding to the Fall financial appeal).

 

November 2014 Action Report

Common Core “Standards”

“The nationwide momentum behind Common Core, supported by billions in federal money, has properly alarmed many Americans, even though they see only a small part of the picture.” — October Action Report

Members who contributed to the Fall financial appeal received Freedom First Society’s new Getting to the Core of Common Core DVD as a special “thank you” bonus.   This outstanding presentation by Idaho Chapter Leader Julianne Young provides vital perspective missing from the “conservative debate.”

A National Power Grab

“Conservative” leadership addressing Common Core generally adopts the narrow, reactive focus Julianne Young warns against, as though Common Core were an isolated problem. For example, an April 2013 National Review online report stated:

“The federal government has spent billions to move Common Core forward, and it has put billions more on the line. Unfortunately, parents, teachers, tea-party activists, and governors have every reason to believe Common Core represents major, unprecedented federal intervention into education.” [Emphasis added.]

However, as Julianne points out, Common Core is not unprecedented federal intervention but merely another major step in a planned power grab spanning most of a century.

Not surprisingly, a brief search of the Internet turns up dozens of state organizations that have been formed to fight Common Core. Unfortunately, experience shows that single-issue organizations are generally ineffective, because they decide to ignore the big picture of what they are up against.

In this climate, aggressive member action can make a unique and incisive contribution. Chapters should be making plans to use this new wake-up tool aggressively.   We have recommended ordering additional copies — for sale at group meetings or for lending.   As we suggested last month:

“Excellent prospects for either might include: 1) “conservative” members of local school boards; 2) local citizens who have expressed concern over Common Core; 3) home-schooling parents; and 4) parents who have children in government schools.”

We urge Chapters and members to adopt a dual strategy with the DVD: 1) Use it to create interest in Freedom First Society among good prospects for membership; and 2) share it with local opinion leaders who are confronting Common Core.

Our standard DVD prices apply: Individual copies are $7 each, 3 to 9 copies $5 each, 10 or more copies $3 each, plus a flat $3 shipping and handling per order, regardless of quantity.  Note: A generic flyer for promoting presentations comes with each order.

 

January 2015 Action Report

The Core of Common Core

“The Common Core standards were developed in 2009 and released in 2010. Within a matter of months, they had been endorsed by 45 states and the District of Columbia….

“Joel Klein and Condoleeza Rice chaired a commission for the Council on Foreign Relations, which concluded that the Common Core standards were needed to protect national security….

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed the standards, saying they were necessary to prepare workers for the global marketplace. The [Establishment’s] Business Roundtable stated that its #1 priority is the full adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards.” — Diane Ravitch, “education historian,” in a speech to the Modern Language Association on January 11, published in the Washington Post, 1-18-14

 In our November Action Report, we urged Chapters and members to adopt a dual strategy with the “Getting to the Core of Common Core” DVD: 1) Use it to create interest in Freedom First Society among good prospects for membership; and 2) share it with local opinion leaders who are confronting Common Core.

Note: A generic flyer for promoting presentations comes with each DVD order.

 

February 2015 Action Report

The Core of Common Core

 As The President Makers amply demonstrates, anyone who seriously threatens the Insider agenda will not gain the presidency anytime soon. Lawmakers who play the presidential race game are helping to perpetuate the Great American Myth — the deception that Americans can make real change by electing the candidate for president who makes the most sense on the campaign trail.

Accordingly, we are disappointed that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has made a bid for the presidency.   Many conservatives will undoubtedly find comfort in Paul’s opposition to Common Core. In a swing through New Hampshire (Reuters, 1-14-14), Paul argued that it would be better for local schools to develop their own standards, thus fostering innovation: “If you have a national curriculum and rules, you’ll never get to these new ideas.”

The Reuters report further noted:

“Paul’s position against Common Core distinguishes him from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the Republican who has come closest to officially declaring his presidential candidacy and who has expressed support for the standards…..

“Paul added that if elected, he would eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, a sentiment that drew applause from the audience.”

Not mentioned are the forces that quietly persuaded so many states to adopt Common Core. Allowing them to remain hidden from public scrutiny will not defeat their agenda.

Fortunately, our Idaho Chapter Leader Julianne Young has provided a great service by exposing those forces with her masterful Getting to the Core of Common Core presentation (available on DVD from Freedom First Society). Julianne shows that Common Core is not an isolated “mistake” of flawed planning, as most politicians would prefer to treat it.   Rather, Common Core is just one part of a long-term collectivist battle to control the education of America’s youth, as a foundation for a subservient socialist society.

While it is refreshing to hear a senator advocate the elimination of the unconstitutional U.S. Department of Education, we note that “conservative” presidential candidate Ronald Reagan did so decades earlier. Yet, as president, his administration never even entertained such a step.

The Department of Education is so well entrenched and so important an accomplishment for the Insiders that it will not be reversed simply by a political position statement. The American people will first need to understand the subversive danger the Department truly represents.

Federal Control No Rose Garden

Rotten to the Core” (Boston Herald, 2/28/10)

FFS: This devastating critique of the Common Core project for national education standards comes surprisingly from the Boston Herald Editorial Staff.  Nevertheless, it misses the key point:  The federal government has no proper role, constitutional or otherwise, in providing funding to education and prescribing standards.  In fact, a quick way to improve standards would be to get the federal government out of the education business.