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Integrity should be a national standard PDF Print E-mail

Dear Editor:

I have to admit that the more I delve into various matters of national importance and consequence, the more I am offended and dismayed by what is intentionally presented for consumption by our political class.

And although I realize that integrity usually takes a back seat when it comes to a politician’s main objective of steering thought, we as followers will continue to reap exactly what we allow to be sown.

In yet another determined effort by one of Wisconsin’s elected officials to cast a positive glow on the embattled Common Core State Standards (CCSS), State Rep. Mandy Wright, in the March 19 “What Others Say” column on this opinion page, stated: “When it became obvious that this was not just a state, but national issue, Wisconsin’s leadership collaborated with national efforts and, as a result, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers officially adopted the CCSS in Wisconsin in 2010.”

Yet, in a speech later that same year, Barack Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan had a much different take when describing just how Common Core was embedded in the states, when he revealed: “On K-12 education, our theory of action starts with the four assurances incorporated in last year’s economic stimulus bill. Each governor in the 50 states had to provide an ‘assurance’ that they would pursue reforms in these four areas — in exchange for their share of funds from a Recovery Act program designed to largely stem job loss among teachers and principals. The first assurance was that states would work toward developing academic standards.”

Wright then states, “Local school districts have the option of adopting CCSS, and all 424 public school districts have chosen to do so.”

But the reason for unanimity is that by design, school districts were effectively blocked from bucking the system since Common Core was never built to be solely about standards, i.e., learning goals for students. The companion component, mandatory standardized testing directly aligned to the national standards, not only measures student achievement specific to the standards, but is the new and revolutionary method for evaluating teacher and school performance nationwide. In other words, one element could never properly function without the other.

Wright continued, “At a public hearing I attended in Wausau, conspiracy theories abounded regarding the collection of biometric and personal data, none of which are a part of the adopted English, reading and math standards in Wisconsin.”

To drive this last point home, Wright’s candor is akin to a person boasting that they just won $1,000 gambling without mentioning the fact that they lost $1,000 in the process. Everyone involved knows that individual standards have nothing to do with driving personal data collection. However, with funding from the same stimulus bill mentioned earlier, the federal government awarded some $360 million in grants to two testing companies to develop the aforementioned national tests that go hand in glove with the Common Core standards. Together, the standards and testing form the complete package known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

And since Wisconsin’s computerized testing is under the control of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), Wisconsin is legally bound to SBAC’s Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Education pertaining to student-level data, which as­serts, “The grantee must provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the state level to U.S. Department of Education or its designated program monitors, technical assistance providers, or researcher partners, and to the U.S. Government Ac­count­ability Office and the auditors conducting the audit.”

When will integrity be re-embraced as a national standard?

Frank Gabl

Prospect Heights, Ill.,

and Eagle River

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 9:43 AM

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