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Elois Zeanah-Letter to Gov., Senators, Reps about Common Core PDF  | Print |  E-mail

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A Frank Discussion And Challenge to Alabama Republican Legislators

Dear Republican Legislators:

May I speak frankly?   Your Republican constituency is asking why conservative legislators are not shouting from their soap boxes to repeal Common Core – just as actor Matt Damon’s mother, an early childhood education expert, is asking, “Why isn’t everyone marching in the streets protesting this?”  No issue is more important for our families and our state than protecting our children from indoctrination and propaganda, loosening of moral values, an invasion of their privacy, dumbed-down curricula, and the loss of parental control over education.  We know Republican Legislators care about our children’s education and wouldn’t knowingly give away parental control and state sovereignty over the values our children learn in school.  But that’s what Common Core does. 

Alabama activists can answer the question posed by Matt Damon’s mother:  Common Core was written in secret and parents were kept in the dark about Common Core until it was implemented; parents remain unaware until their children start having problems in school, and then they get angry.  We cannot, however, answer the first question.  It appears that some legislators want to dodge the issue by hiding behind the state superintendent and two school board membersThat’s not an option any longer, however.  Legislators who choose to kill the bills or let time expire as an excuse to not act, are actually making a choice to voluntarily offer up our children to federal bureaucrats and private interests and cede parental and state control over education policy in Alabama.

"The Alabama Constitution vests the duty to provide for public education 'squarely upon the shoulders of the Legislature' as the Supreme Court of Alabama observed. (Ex-parte James, 836 So. 3d. 813 at 85 (Ala. 2002). 

We understand the desire to trust those in education positions, but we also believe in President Ronald Reagan’s caution to “trust but verify”.   In this case, the state superintendent and two board members are misleading you when they say the adoption of Common Core does not cede control over education.  We have given you irrefutable proof, including documents from their own Alabama Department of Education, that their claims are false; but apparently you’re not reading them or you want to remain in denial.  Ask yourself this simple question:

How can Alabama retain full control over education decisions when the Department of Education had to change Alabama standards, curriculum, assessment, testing, etc. to comply 100% with Common Core dictates – and Alabama cannot change or delete anything but must implement every word of Common Core exactly as written?  Achieve, Inc., the writers of Common Core, even provided a measuring “tool” to Alabama to compare its standards to Common Core with the mandate to change anything that did not measure up precisely.  This is retaining control?

I was troubled yesterday to hear that an Education Policy committee member sent a candid message to advocates for children who support repeal that he trusted Dr. Bice and would vote accordingly, regardless of what evidence we presented or even if it meant his defeat next year.  This statement was made despite the facts that Dr. Bice supported the board’s adoption of Common Core without alerting the Legislature that it would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, which legislators must provide, at a time when the state is broke, and that Dr. Bice has misappropriated $50 million of ARI and AMSTI funds without the knowledge or approval of the Legislature.  As a lay person, this strikes me as an abdication of responsibility and a willingness to let the state superintendent and board run roughshod over the Legislature.  If one legislator feels this way, how many others feel similarly?  It was this candid admission that prodded me to write this frank letter.

The State Superintendent, by the way, is not a neutral party.  Legislators need to understand that Dr. Bice is, in essence, a LOBBYIST for CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers), a trade association.  He is a member of the Washington-based CCSSO, which received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation to write/promote Common Core, and which with NGA has copyrighted Common Core.  Fordham Institute President Chester Finn described CCSSO as a major and long-term member of the liberal movement on federal education policy which has an “ancient and cozy relationship with the U.S. Education Department and can be counted on to do its bidding.”  (Chester Finn, This Isn’t Only a Test, supra note 296) 

We urge our Legislators to be independent thinkers and to do their oversight duty under the Alabama Constitution.  Frankly, I and others don't understand why a supermajority Republican legislature would want to duck this issue.  It's an opportunity to stand up for what Republicans believe!

Republicans say they seek to decentralize power as much as possible.  Common Core is more central planning and attacks federalism.  It moves education away from the founding principle that parents and states, not federal government, should control local education.

Republicans say they are the law-and-order party.  The refusal to repeal Common Core sanctions President Obama’s end-run around our constitutional system and his violation of federal laws, which forbid federal control of what children learn in school, and usurps state education sovereignty. 

Republicans say they want a quality curriculum.  Education experts and conservative think-tanks are concerned that Common Core dumbs down curriculum; that the definition of “college ready” means preparing students for two, not four year, colleges; and that the one-size-fits-all program harms individuality and innovation, and produces robotic behavior.  As one of the creators of Common Core admitted, Common Core treats children like machines in a factory to be programmed.

Republicans say the best way to improve education is through choice/competition and innovation.  Common Core annihilates choice and competition and permits little innovation.  The much-touted AAA passed recently by the Legislature sounds good but it cannot be implemented unless Common Core is repealed.  Tax credits will make no difference in the quality of education, since Common Core is a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all education reform, and states which adopt Common Core have no choice but to implement 100% of Common Core exactly as it is written.  This will impact all schools and reduce the academic quality of education in the best of schools.

Republicans say K-12 education should be free of indoctrination and propaganda.  Common Core converts Alabama’s traditional education system to a new politicized system based on liberal/progressives’ ideology.  Many education experts have spoken to this fact and it has been proven by examples of textbook and classroom assignments.  As Charles Krauthammer wrote in his November 6, 2012 article, Election could change history’s trajectory:   “Obama’s intention has always been to …. transform America.  He would do it in three areas:  health care, education, and energy.”  Common Core is the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s education reform.  If there were any doubt as to Obama’s goal for Common Core, his U.S. Department of Education Secretary made it clear in his statement that Common Core is a “revolution” and the purpose of Obama’s education reform is to help in the “battle for social justice”.

Republicans say they are against redistribution of wealth.  Obama’s ultimate goal is a massive redistribution of tax resources by taking money from better-off suburban schools and giving it to less-well-off urban schools.  “President Obama’s Department of Education has established an Equity and Excellence Commission, charged with finding ‘ways to restructure school finance systems to achieve equity in the distribution of educational resources and further student achievement and attainment.”  (Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of “Spreading the Wealth:  How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities.”)

The Alabama Legislature is citizens’ last chance to defend Alabama values and our education rights under the Tenth Amendment.  If the Legislature fails to repeal Common Core, it condones the action by the majority state board of education (Gov. Bentley, Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters being the holdouts for local control and parental rights) to cede control of Alabama’s education policy to bureaucrats and special interests outside of Alabama.

Please don’t abdicate your responsibility to the state superintendent and board of education and cede control over education to the federal government and private interests outside Alabama.  Alabama’s children need your intervention and protectionDon’t offer them up to the federal government and private interests who call our children “human capital”!

We beseech you to follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan, who refused to further expand government control over its citizens.

Next week opens a new chapter.  New bills have been introduced in both the Senate and House.  Time remaining in this legislative session is short, however.  There’s still time to put our children first and repeal Common Core if there’s a commitment to protect our children and parental control over education.  If the will is absent and you let time expire, your non-action is a decision to VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP OUR EDUCATION RIGHTS and cede control over our children’s education to entities outside Alabama.  We know you don’t intend to do that.  But just as ignorance of the law is no excuse, the failure to understand the consequences of your actions is no excuse to forsake our children.  We know you’re busy and have a lot of pressure on you, but we can get you within minutes any information/documentation you want to prove that Common Core DOES CEDE CONTROL of education rights for Alabama parents and the state legislature.  The past few weeks have given you time to question claims made by the state superintendent and two board members, and we feel confident that upon examination of the facts, you will do what’s right by our children and our state.

Please don’t forsake our children but do your duty to protect them by voting to rescind and defund CCSSI!

Elois Zeanah