An Open Letter to Michael Petrilli
Anne and I were at the Capitol yesterday for a press conference about the passage of HB1490. We talked to various legislators about the bill and plans for next year. It was a full day and we have ideas for more legislation next year to ensure even greater local control for schools. Just like a small child learning to walk, legislation is “one step at a time”. We’ve made the first step in regaining control of the educational direction/development of Missouri education by Missouri parents, teachers and educators, not private non-governmental organizations copyrighting standards and assessments the state has been mandated to use.
Michael Petrilli of Fordham issued a press release yesterday while we were in Jefferson City, claiming that this bill will result in nothing more than a “rebranding” of the standards. From Truth in American Education:
Fordham Institute released a statement from Mike Petrilli, who is their executive vice president and they call “one of the nation’s most trusted education analysts” (according to Fordham & Bill Gates), spinning yesterday’s Common Core vote from the Missouri Legislature:
The Missouri state legislature reached a compromise to move forward with the implementation of Common Core Standards while continuing to determine their own state-specific program. Their vote illustrates that states are, in fact, in charge of standards, and maintains Missouri’s commitment to raising the bar. As a graduate of Missouri’s public schools, I hope that the state’s lawmakers don’t let politics complicate learning in the classroom. In the end, I suspect that any ‘college and career ready’ standards adopted by Missouri will be quite similar to the Common Core, and at least as rigorous. Children in the Show-Me State deserve nothing less.”
First, Petrilli seems to insinuate that opponents said that states could not vote themselves out of the Common Core. They can (and should and quickly too!). Second the plan is to replace the standards, there was no plan to determine their own state-specific program until the Missouri Legislature weighed in. This is a loss for Common Core advocates, plain and simple. The compromise was in place in an attempt to secure Governor Nixon’s signature. Should he veto this bill he could very well end up with an override of this bill or one that is even stronger. The Missouri Legislature has already voted to override 13 vetoes by Nixon this term.
Third, as far as a rebrand goes, that is a potential concern and one we will be watching. Anne Gassel of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core said in a released statement, “We would have liked the language to be a lot stronger in terms of rejecting the Common Core State Standards. We will have to rely on the professional integrity of those selected to be on the various work groups to really focus on what is best for our students and teachers and not be swayed by outside political or financial interests.”
Mr. Petrilli may have lived in Missouri at one point in his life but he currently lives on the East Coast. I don’t know how he knows what Missouri citizens need or even think when he doesn’t live in the state. I haven’t seen a survey done by Fordham to determine what the people of Missouri want in their educational development/delivery. Apparently Mr. Petrilli’s version of government is that of a centralized authority determining what students should know and the use of national standards. To my knowledge he has not asked Missourians what Missourians want in their public education development/direction.
I believe the parents, teachers, taxpayers and students who are Missouri residents have a better idea of what is happening in Missouri schools than Mr. Petrilli does in Washington, DC. The workgroups resulting from HB1490 will have parent representation on it, a rather important stakeholder group ignored and overlooked in CCSS development via the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Oh, and wait! The workgroups called for in HB1490 will include Missouri teachers! We had Missouri teachers on the CCSSO feedback group of the standards, but none on the development standards writing groups. In fact, most of those people were not teachers at all, rather, they were test developers.
Mr. Petrilli doesn’t know the parents and taxpayers who have been fighting against Common Core and he doesn’t know the individuals from The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core who have been traveling statewide speaking at schools, churches, townships and conferences providing information about Common Core that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and superintendents won’t tell you. He doesn’t understand that these individuals are traveling on their own dime and don’t receive Gates or Chamber of Commerce grants to deliver a certain message to continue to receive funding. Our members travel the state to deliver the truth about the initiative, rather than promoting an untested theory for financial consideration. We don’t have any funds to hire public relations cheerleaders to spread our message. We truly are a grassroots organization that wants to give all the CCSS facts to parents so they can decide if this is an appropriate use of their tax dollars to private organizations to deliver public education.
We aren’t beholden to the The Gates Foundation, the ACT, SAT or other special interest groups, all whom have an intense interest on having Common Core implemented. What’s in it for them? A financial windfall and data mined student information. When you are not receiving money from groups to craft a message in a certain manner to sell your product, you are free to tell the truth about what Common Core entails: the loss of freedom of states, local districts and mandates voters/legislators never get to approve or discard. CCSS creates no voter/legislative accountability to taxpayers, even as it is their money these organizations are using.
He doesn’t understand that many parents don’t want Common Core for their children and are concerned about the lack of information and even downright hostility coming from their superintendents and school boards. He doesn’t understand that Missourians are folks who like the truth about what their children are learning, why they are learning certain material and appreciate having a voice in the direction of their local schools.
He doesn’t acknowledge that Missouri actually had high standards before CCSS was adopted according to the governor, Commissioner of Education and Former USDOEd Secretary Margaret Spellings. Taxpayers want to know why all of a sudden Missouri went from providing “outstanding” education and education being a state/local responsibility to a educational program controlled by private Washington DC organizations. We prefer to teach what we think is appropriate without an arbitrary 15% rule on adopting “above the standards”. Missourians figure they are the drivers of their own destiny and don’t need DC organizations to determine their path or future.
Mr. Petrilli writes:
In the end, I suspect that any ‘college and career ready’ standards adopted by Missouri will be quite similar to the Common Core, and at least as rigorous. Children in the Show-Me State deserve nothing less.
Children in Missouri deserve nothing less than politicians, bureaucrats and administrators following the rule of law. They deserve lawmakers, a Governor, a Commissioner of Education and State Board members who follow the law and state statutes. They deserve the State Educational Agency (DESE) to function as an advisory agency (as set out in statute) vs a regulatory agency that increasingly punishes school districts for not being able to meet impossible benchmarks set by that same state agency. They deserve local school boards who will determine the best educational direction/delivery for their students and reclaim their power from DESE.
They deserve the truth about Common Core from the CCSSO about the funders, the fact that they are not “state led”, they are not internationally benchmarked nor will make students STEM ready, they cannot be modified/changed, they are not “just standards” and that they create underfunded debt for states.
Our children deserve much better than Common Core. They deserve Missourians who really care about them as children rather than viewing them as statistical data points for a think tank to determine who is “failing” and who is “succeeding” based on assessments not from Missouri. They deserve honesty and truth from educational policy groups about what Common Core is, who is funding it (and why), rather than a presupposition that we will simply “rebrand” CCSS in the state.
We are the “Show-Me” state. We didn’t like what we were shown by the educational elites and we don’t kindly take to unsupported theories masked as factual statements. Mr. Petrilli, please take Missouri off your list of disappointment and concern. We’ll do just fine without your hope that we will do what you think is best for us. Go bother some other states and leave us be.
Some very gracious readers commented on our efforts in MCACC sent us their thoughts (below) on HB1490. On behalf of all of us in the Coalition, thank you, thank you, thank you and just wait until next year! Please sign up as a member of the Coalition to reclaim authentic local control of legislation here.
Again, you ladies are busy restoring my faith in both humanity and democracy! You know my story: advanced degree in math, 30 years of math teaching experience — I wanted to like common core because I heard the propaganda: deep conceptual understanding of fewer topics. But — when I read it, I was shocked to find that “no, it’s sloppily written and more topics, earlier, and why ? ” So I investigated: how did this come to be/ why is it such poor quality, and how do we seek to mend it ? I found this huge corporatist effort to hijack our public schools….you know, I am old enough to remember when “local control” was considered (by some) to be a euphemism for allowing clearly racist policies to continue….it is a sad irony that loss of local control in education will hurt our brothers and sisters of color even more than it will hurt members of the White class. So I am doing what I can to work for really high quality standards in math. I might suggest that we start with the Missouri math learning goals written by Missouri educators and Missouri math professors that were pending in 2008, and likely would have been adopted to replace our admittedly-not-so-great GLEs / CLEs if the Common Core hadn’t come in to place Missouri within this anti-democracy national standardization of education movement. These standards are high quality and show that Missouri can do it!
Please carry on this good work, and on behalf of myself, my students and my children — thank you, thank you, thank you!
The fight isn’t over, not by a long shot, but thanks to these ladies it is far, far past the point of having just begun.