Photo courtesy of Glen Dalgleish

The Kansas City Star reported that the House Appropriations committee approved an amendment for $8 for tin foil in next year’s Education Budget.  The money was to be used for “two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology.”  The proud sponsor of this insulting amendment was Representative Mike Lair of the 7th district. It was added to make a point that “some lawmakers aren’t too pleased by what they consider to be paranoia about new Common Core standards for public schools,” according to the Star.

The opponents of Common Core have offered reviews by content experts including two national experts, selected by the Common Core State Standards Initiative themselves for the validation committee, who refused to sign off on the standards because they were grossly insufficient to deliver on the claims of college-and-career readiness put forth by CCSSI. They have quoted official agreements signed by state officials, videos of comments made by CCSSI writers about the problems with the development team and the standards, and even Missouri’s own statutes which have been ignored in the adoption process. If that is the new definition of paranoia then I fear our entire legal system is in need of football fields worth of aluminum foil.

The disrespectful labeling of your opposition is a Saul Alinksy tactic to discredit them. It also usually signals that you have no countervailing facts on your side.

Representative Lair likes to trot out his 38 years as a teacher as reason for people to listen to him. But his math skills seem have gotten a little rusty since he entered public office. At a recent study group at the capitol, representatives from the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core presented their facts about common core: its origins (which CCSSI does not dispute); its lack of empirical evidence to support its efficacy; and state statute which should have prohibited their adoption. Lair, who attended this presentation, claimed more experience than the two presenters. He called the presentation a “Glenn Beck” conspiracy-styled report. The presenters had 35 and 33 years experience respectively in education. At most he had a 3 year advantage over the one presenter. However, combined, their experience was almost twice his. In addition, both presenters had advanced degrees beyond his, expertise in teaching children with learning disabilities and career experience developing curriculum and standards which he does not possess.

He also demonstrates typical government inefficiency by recommending $8 for foil that would only cost the thrifty shopper $5.80.

Is it paranoia to be concerned when you ask DESE how they can change the standards if they find them problematic and get essentially no response? They have never been able to supply the process by which the standards will be updated, nor have they supplied an explanation of  how Missouri would even be able to participate in updates of the standards while staying within compliance of our statutes. They can’t, because the standards are copyrighted, the development process is “confidential”, and if the stated goal is to have common standards with other states, then we have zero incentive to even try to change the standards.

The 450+ people at the capitol yesterday aren’t paranoid Rep. Lair. They are upset by having their children trained by the kindergarten standard which says, “With support and guidance from adults, respond to questions and suggestion from peers and add details to strengthen the writing as needed.” Emerging writers are having to wrap their heads around “strengthening” their writing and providing critiques of their peer’s writing. They are also learning to be very concerned about and responsive to the criticism of their peers, at an age when most parents are wisely counseling their children not to worry so much about what other children think or say (remember sticks and stones?).  This is not paranoia Rep Lair. This is cold hard fact.

Ironically, Rep. Lair says on his own candidate website that the reason his constituents should vote for him is because he has spent years teaching how, “America’s unique political system operates and how important it is for them (students) to participate in it.” Strangely he doesn’t really like when people participate in the political process by talking to their representatives about their concerns and sense of voicelessness in the process of developing education policy for their children. His website also says he “knows firsthand the vital role that teachers, coaches, and parents play in the life of every child and how the education they provide will largely determine a young person’s ability to be successful members of society.” (emphasis added) Apparently this is a lie. He would like parents to go home and shut up when it comes to their children’s education. How odd then that he is unwilling to consider that the promoters of the common core standards would similarly lie about the ability of the standards to deliver on a promise.

Lest Rep. Lair think that the opponents of common core can’t take a “partial joke,” we’d like to take a moment to use new common core math to determine how many tin foil hats his amendment would provide.

[4th grade common core lesson] 450 parents attend a statewide rally opposing common core standards. Two 50 foot rolls of tinfoil are provided to protect the attendees from unspecified influence to their craniums.  There are 325 attendees with large heads, 75 with medium heads and 50 children. Using these partial instructions and limited facts – How many attendees would still see black helicopters. Explain your answer using drawings and estimation.


Answer: None of the attendees would see black helicopters, because their concerns are not unfounded.

If you would like to contact Rep. Lair’s office to participate in the political process which he values so highly, and let him know what you think of his amendment, you can reach him at 573-751-2917  or

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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