The Chamber of Commerce’s Presentation to the Missouri State Board of Education
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The Missouri State Board of Education heard Common Core opponents and proponents on January 14, 2013. You can read about the presentations here from stlpublicradio.org. Unfortunately we were told by the Board it would not be live streamed and we do not have video.
There was a mom in the audience who is not in favor of Common Core and she took notes from the presentation. Here is her take on the Chamber’s presentation:
I took a few notes and I will share them.
Cheryl Oldham, Vice President of Education Policy for the US Chamber gave the presentation. Those attending noticed the lack of any power-point presentation or any such “21st century” technological tool that would aid us in our understanding. Ms. Oldham proceeded to tell the state board there are three reasons the Chamber supports Common Core: (1) CC is an elevated set of standards; applicable in the real world. It is not a curriculum. CC is the what, curriculum which stays locally is the how. (2) CC brings nationwide clarity, certainty and a consistent set of goals for all students. Having that is key because we are such a global society today. Comparability is the reason why our military supports the standards. Now a student in Massachusetts can move across the state to Colorado and know they are learning the same thing at the same time. (3) CC is on par with international standards. Warning, if you are holding out for evidence to support any of these three reasons, please breathe now otherwise you will pass out.
Ms. Oldham then went on the express that Common Core is just common sense. She told us (1) Common Core will not centralize authority over schools. Although the federal government did offer incentives to the states through RTTT grants, please don’t be fooled, the federal government is not involved. (2) Common Core will not dumb down our current standards. Insert Thomas B. Fordham Institute reference here and how they say the CC ranks better than MO standards. (3) Common Core will not allow big government to snoop on our children and collect information on them. If you are thinking right now you want some proof of that, just trust her. Her word is her bond, I’m sure.
She then proceeded to tell the board that the healthcare, social sciences and STEM industries will see the biggest jobs growth in Missouri by 2020. Ms. Oldham wrapped up her presentation and board members were allowed to ask questions. Board member Charlie Shields asked Ms. Oldham to share her thoughts on the notion that education is shifting to a vocational focus rather than educating for the sake of knowledge. Ms. Oldham STRONGLY disagreed with that notion. Enough said! Board member Mike (not sure his last name) started talking and I tried to write down his question however I got lost along the way. He referenced something about what she would do differently in advocating needed education policy to which she responded that the notion that we aren’t like everybody else which sets us apart in how we work toward that.
MEW note: This comment caught my ear as well. From the news article:
“We don’t have a ministry of education,” Oldham said. “We’re not like our global competitors. We don’t do that, and we don’t want to do that.” What Ms. Oldham didn’t say is that Finland has had some of the highest scores, mandatory schooling does not begin until age 7 and teachers have enormous autonomy in their classrooms. Actually, that “ministry of education” seems to work better for students and teachers than the public/private educational partnership we have now: private entities writing educational standards funded by the Federal Government.
Board president Peter Herschend asked her to comment on the Core’s opponents’ position that there is a built in philosophy of governmental structure. Ms. Oldham responded by stating she was struggling in how to respond to that thinking. She mentioned she couldn’t connect Marc Tucker’s Dear Hillary Letter and Goals 2000 plan with the Common Core standards outcome based educational goals. She fumbled around a bit and then Mr. Herschend asked if he could offer a summary of what he thought she was trying to say. It went a little something like this: Those philosophies are of little or no impact in the standards as they are written today. She confirmed that indeed that was what she was trying to say.
Mr. Herschend then asked her to comment on the position that CCSS is above rigor at the PreK-3 grades and below rigor at the high school level. Ms. Oldham, speaking then as a mom of young children, disagreed with that notion. She made sure to note she had a PreK child and elementary age child so she only had her kids to make this decision, but what they are doing isn’t too rigorous. Ms. Oldham did wonder where Dr. Effrem got her analysis.
OK, so I had a little fun with it but in the end, that’s what I remember. DESE was tweeted the day after the presentation, asking what they were posting regarding the pro-CCSS side. No response. Why there was no reference to any anti-CCSS presentation taking place and again no response. I wonder if I should let Ms. Oldham know DESE and Commissioner Nicastro called the Common Core State Standards the floor not the ceiling…
This is how a citizen heard the Chamber present its support of the standards to the State Board. The talking points sounded as if they had been taken directly off the CCSSI website’s FAQs. There was no research and/or documentation provided (unlike the presentation against Common Core in which a notebook of documentation was given to each Board member) and Ms. Oldham’s understanding about the rigor of the standards is from her experience as a mother, not from studying the standards or providing academic research about their efficacy.
Note from the npr.org news account Ms. Oldham’s title: Cheryl Oldham, vice president of education policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Wouldn’t you think the VP for Education Policy would be able to deliver an academic argument on the standards? She likes them as a mom? That was the extent of her rigorous explanation on support of the standards in and of themselves. Don’t you think she would be able to articulate a rebuttal to the Marc Tucker “Goals 2000” connection to CCSS without the State Board President having to articulate her thoughts?
I had a conversation in the hall afterward with Brian Crouse of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He appeared with Ms. Oldham but had little to say during the presentation. He was insistent in our conversation that the standards were field tested and piloted. He told me they had been piloted at the time they were adopted. I still need to contact him to determine his source for that information. Maybe if CCSS is “on par with international standards” as Ms. Oldham previously testified, he can provide the research performed on those international standards’ pilot testing research as it is my understanding the CCSSO/NGA version of the standards weren’t even written when they were adopted by Missouri. How unwritten standards could be piloted and field testing is a mystery to me.
Missouri Coalition Against Common Core is preparing a rebuttal to Ms. Oldham’s presentation and we will publish here on MEW when completed.