Money, not education, was the driving force behind states adopting the standards, Bracken said in her presentation to the Bradley County Tea Party.
“You can’t say we did it for any other reason,” Bracken said.
Main concerns include changing the standards’ focus on federal involvement in their formulation, data collection on students and teachers, and questions about the quality of the standards themselves, she said.
Bracken said the standards use a new kind of geometry that has failed in other settings.
Bracken charged the creation of Common Core standards involved very little teacher input, the standards have never been tested and that they greatly deviate from current educational practices.
Memorizing multiplication tables and cursive writing are no longer required, she added.
Various committees worked on reviewing the Common Core standards on the federal level. A validation committee was formed to sign off on the standards. Five members would not sign a document validating the standards as being academically challenging and a good system.
Recent changes to laws that previously had protected students’ educational information from being shared without authorization now allow information to be shared with educational and governmental organizations without parental consent.
Bracken said parental consent is not mentioned in the documents outlining the data collection and how it will be used.
“Why is this program called Common Core? Could it indicate education for the common good or maybe Common Core is good enough for the common person? Common means ‘nothing special,’” Bracken said.
Concerns were also expressed that many of those who were on the Common Core committees actually worked for assessment based companies, such as Achieve. Bracken also expressed concern that the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers hold the copyright to the standards.
“Common Core is a cash cow. There are people [who are going to make] billions of dollars off of this,” Bracken said.
She highlighted businessmen such as Bill Gates and Pearson Education as those who stand to benefit.
Bracken said the Common Core standards highlight a “federal changeover of education.”
This changeover, she said, was begun in 1979 when the Department of Education was created. She said the switch to Common Core was encouraged by Race to the Top when states were offered grants to increase the challenge of educational standards. These initial standards were not Common Core. However, Bracken said as school systems moved to adopt standards that made students college and career ready, Common Core was the only option approved.
Tennessee legislators approved Race to the Top without knowing what the standards would be.
Bracken said although the federal government did not force states to accept Race to the Top or the Common Core standards, statements were made that states not moving forward to change educational standards might see a decrease in Title 1 funding.
While feedback was solicited from those outside the committees, Bracken said she questions whether the feedback received was considered in the improvement of the standards.
Bracken ended her speech with a list of questions.
“Why are companies like Exxon running commercials about Common Core?” Bracken said. “Why the push for charter schools?”
She commented that the switch to Common Core will also have an effect on private school and home-schooled students because the SAT and ACT will be changed to reflect the standards.
Bracken said she has months’ worth of research information backing her claims available to anyone who is interested.
Bracken and Tennessee Against Common Core are speaking with legislators trying to have the switch to Common Core reversed.
She said this can only be stopped at the state, not local, level. Bracken told those present that they needed to encourage their legislators to stop this.
"(It) has to be stopped in the next legislative session," Bracken said.
The Tea Party and the Liberty Coalition had invited local officials to the meeting through a local media ad. Bradley County School board member Nicholas Lillios attended the event.
“I want to listen to every group that has something to say about what they want for their education,” Lillios said.
He said federal funding is the smallest portion of educational funding and he wanted local input. Lillios said the presentation, in addition to others he has seen, gives him a base from which to ask informed questions.
Tea party member Dan Rawls expressed concerns about the local school board, specifically the lack of opportunity for public input at its meetings, during the event. This issue will be discussed by the school board at a work session in July.
“You now have at least two people on the school board who are listening to what you are saying,” Rawls said.
He said he hoped the school board would change its current policy not allowing andy communication from the audience except in preapproved cases during meetings.