The Madison County Record Jan. 28, 2015, 11:54am

To the Editor:

Several weeks ago Rev. James Meeks announced on WLS 890 AM (Chicago) talk radion that he had been chosen by Governor Bruce Rauner to be the new chairman of the State Board of Education. During the interview Rev. Meeks’ said, “We have to have a Common Core Curriculum in the state of Illinois.”

Meek's statement set off alarm bells within me.

Although Meeks, a Democrat, headed the Senate Education Committee while in the state senate, and bucked his party by advocating for vouchers and charter schools — a noble and outstanding thing to do — Meek’s unconditional support for Common Core is unacceptable.

Having been chosen by Governor Rauner to reform education, how can Rev. Meeks say that the Common Core Curriculum is really the pathway to education reform? Are Meeks and Rauner so out-of-touch that they are unaware Illinois started to adopt the Common Core standards in 2010 and fully implemented them last school year?

Starting this spring, PARCC tests linked to Common Core standards will be used in school districts across the state. The tests will be given to students in grades three to eight, but only partially rolled out in high school because the state board of education had its budget request for assessments cut by $10 million. PARCC test are now being questioned as to their value in Illinois school districts. The ACT exam has been a state mandated assessment for high school juniors in recent years and doubles as a college entrance exam.

Being out-of-touch might be a plausible excuse, but it is evident that both Governor Rauner and Rev. James Meeks need to be educated on what Common Core is all about, which will not be an easy task. Why is this so? The Illinois Education Association (IEA), as a progressive organization, fully supports Common Core. It also has tremendous clout in getting what it wants as a Democrat-aligned organization.

As shared by Joy Pullman, research fellow for the Heartland Institute, in her recent booklet, “Common Core: A Bad Choice for America:"

"Some advocates of Common Core insist it is not a curriculum and that it will promulgate an academic curriculum based on great works of Western civilization and the American republic. But the standards are being used to write the tables of contents for all the textbooks, used in K-12 math and English classes. This may not technically constitute a curriculum, but it certainly defines what children will be taught, especially when they and their teachers will be judged by performance on national tests aligned with these standards.

"Initiatives related to Common Core include teacher evaluations, since many states tie teacher ratings to student performance on tests; school choice, because many school choice states require participating private schools to administer state tests; nearly all learning materials, because these must now correspond to Common Core; and college entrance exams including the SAT and ACT."

Following is shocking information about a teacher, Dr. David Pook, who helped write the controversial Common Core State Standards. Dr. David Pook is a professor at Granite State College in Manchester, New Hampshire. He’s also the chair of the History Department and one of the authors of the Common Core standards. Pook’s role is documented at the pro-Common Core website,, which confirms that he worked closely with Susan Pimentel and the Council of Chief State Officers in drafting the Core Standards for English Language Arts. What is more, Dr. Pook currently has several projects underway with Student Achievement Partners on work aligned with the CCSS.

As a guest at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Dr Pook opened up on his reasons for participating in the creation of the Common Core standards. In the video posted by Campus Reform, the audience can be heard gasping and laughing, stunned and revolted by this comment by Dr. Pook’s:

"The reason why I helped write the standards and the reason why I am here today is that as a white male in society I am given a lot of privilege that I didn’t earn."

Dr. Pook went on to say that all kids deserve an “equal opportunity to learn how to read,” the same advantages he had. Ironically, as Campus Reform notes, the Derryfield School where Pook works does not use the Common Core State Standards and has a student body that is 91 percent white.

Below are some basic facts about Common Core for Governor Rauner and Rev. Meeks to consider, both having endorsed the disaster that is Common Core:

- Common Core gives the federal government the power to collect extensive data from students including Social Security numbers, records of school attendance, supposed learning disabilities, religious affiliation, disciplinary records and parent’s income information.

- Regarding the claim that the Common Core standards were developed by top leaders in states, this is false. The standards are owned and copyrighted by two private trade associations in Washington, D.C. and were drafted by essentially five people. The standards were then submitted to a “validation” process that was little more than a rubber stamp. The only two content experts on the Validation Committee, Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, were so disgusted by the charade and by the deficiencies of the resulting standards that they refused to sign off on Common Core.

- The Common Core standards have never been tested or piloted anywhere, and indeed are acknowledged to be considerably less rigorous than many of the state standards they replaced. Kids are being used as human guinea pigs on untested standards, all in the hope that Common Core is the magic bullet to solve our education problems.

- In English language arts, Common Core replaces content knowledge with what Dr. Stotsky labels “empty skill sets” that will not prepare students for authentic college coursework. The standards also diminish the study of classic literature in favor of nonfiction “informational text” of the type students may find in their entry-level jobs (after all, Common Core consists more of workforce-development training than genuine education). This theory – that exposure to technical manuals rather than great stories will make students better readers, and ultimately better employees – is not only preposterous on its face, but refuted by all available research.

- The Common Core math standards are even less likely to achieve the lofty results touted by the Chamber authors. One of the lead authors of the math standards admits that they are not designed to prepare students for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) studies in college. How could they, when they include no trigonometry or calculus and stop with an incomplete Algebra II course? And as Dr. Milgram of Stanford University points out, Common Core’s mandated “reform math” techniques stand in stark contrast to the traditional techniques employed by the highest-achieving countries. The Gates Foundation gave over $7 million, much of which has gone to promote Gates’s pet education project – the Common Core national standard

The truth about Common Core is obvious to all who are willing to take the time to evaluate the untested educational program. Common Core is very racist and very political. As stated by Dr. Pook early on this this article, his aim was to balance the scales because he, and many others, were benefiting from some mythical ‘white privilege‘ that was not earned.

As Jason Dewitt of Top Right News notes:

Common Core is not only about irrational and bizarre math problems as some might think. Make no mistake, this program is about indoctrinating our children into a leftist way of thinking which includes destructive ideas such as the embracing of Islam and normalizing sexual promiscuity.

Is it any wonder that states are rejecting and suing the federal government over Common Core? 45 states signed on to Common Core education standards in 2010, sight unseen. States, however, are starting to rebel and are taking action. As of September, 2014, Oklahoma and Indiana have dropped Common Core, with Oklahoma having its No Child Left Behind waiver revoked in retaliation. South Carolina and Missouri have taken strong steps toward replacing Common Core, while North Carolina seems to have found a compromise in which they’d merely tweak the standards. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been doing everything in his power to drop the standards, though so far to no avail. He’s currently embroiled in a lawsuit against the US Department of Education.

Nancy Thorner
Lake Bluff, Ill.

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