The Common Core school standards imposed on teachers by Washington bureaucrats have been rejected by multiple states, targeted by lawsuits and criticized as more indoctrination than education.
Now parents are being given a turn to take a whack at the one-size-fits-all program that relegates George Washington to a half a sentence and compares the Declaration of Independence to a high-school romance breakup letter.
The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center is urging parents to opt their children out of the restrictive regulations and requirements, providing forms to make the process easier.
“The opt-out form is based on the constitutionally recognized fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children and on federal statutes which were designed to protect student privacy,” said Richard Thompson, the chief counsel for the organization.
“Our Founding Fathers recognized the dangers to our freedoms posed by centralized control over public education. However, today, all but a handful of state governments, enticed by millions of dollars in federal grants, are voluntarily inviting the federal government to take control of our public schools, imposing untested educational standards and obtaining personal information on children and their parents which would make any totalitarian government blush with envy,” he continued.
“We must ever keep in mind, ‘The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will become the philosophy of the government in the next.’ Clearly, Common Core is a threat to individual privacy and liberty, and to our constitutional republic,” he said.
His group has posted online a sample form to help parents meet the requirements of Michigan state law, where Thomas More is located. The group suggests it can be used as a template by attorneys preparing similar forms in other states.
The form, above a line for a parent’s signature, states “in accordance with the fundamental constitutional rights of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching and education of their children, and the relevant state and federal statutes, I hereby request my child… be exempted and excused for the school year… from the following check marked activities.”
There are options to exempt a student from “any and all standardized testing or activities required by law, under which individual student data are collected and/or shared with the federal government or other entities outside of the local school district; or are used for the purposes of school, student, or teacher accountability, including but not by way of limitation to, academic, achievement and annual tests, state-wide performance assessments and Common Core State Standards aligned assessments and pilots, computer adaptive testing and assessments designed by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).”
There’s also an exemption from “tests, assessments, or surveys not limited solely to proficiency in core academic subjects.”
Other checkbox options include tests that measure “values, attitudes or beliefs” as well as “any survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning my child, myself or other members of my family.”
Such information could relate to “political affiliations or beliefs,” “mental or psychological problems,” “sex behavior or attitudes,” “legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers,” “religious practices” or “income.”
It forbids: “The collection, tracking, housing, reporting, selling, or sharing with any party outside of the local school district, of non-educational related information on my child or my family, including, but not limited to: religion, political affiliations, biometric data, psychometric data, and medical information. Biometric data includes fingerprints, retina and iris (eye) patterns, voiceprint, DNA sequence, facial characteristics, handwriting, and any other unique physical identifying traits. Psychometric data includes, but is not limited to: personality traits, attitudes, abilities, aptitude, social and emotional development, tendencies, inclinations, interests, and motivations. ”
Thomas More noted the flood of criticism against the federal administrative program.
For example, the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization promoting “faithful Catholic education,” said Common Core is “nothing short of a revolution in how education is provided, relying on a technocratic, top-down approach to setting national standards that, despite claims to the contrary, will drive curricula, teaching texts, and the content of standardized tests.”
“At its heart, the Common Core is a woefully inadequate set of standards in that it limits the understanding of education to a utilitarian ‘readiness for work’ mentality,” the Cardinal Newman Society said.
The standards were created under the sponsorship of the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
While the stated goal is to make educational standards consistent across the nation, problems include political and “inappropriate assignments,” links to for-profit corporations, advertising inside of tests and the elimination of input from local school boards.
A major concern is the development of a database detailing private information on every student. The 400 individual data points for each student include health conditions, religion, voting status, income, likes and dislikes.
The information,”through a complicated network of contracts and agreements, can then be shared with the federal government, contractors, researchers and other outside agencies.”
“Testing corporations can then analyze the test data, produce recommendations for how to ‘remediate’ student weaknesses, and then sell that information back to states and school districts,” the law firm said.
The Truth in American Education blog is endorsing the opt-out effort.
“Now is the time for parents to protest this intrusion by opting their child out of Common Core for the 2014-2015 school year,” the blog said. “Congress did NOT pass legislation requiring Common Core standards to be implemented nor did Congress require that standards, curriculum, and tests be aligned.
“If parents allow the U.S. Department of Education to force policy upon the public as if that policy were law, the parents will be surrendering more than parental involvement to the federal government. How soon will it be before all parental rights are ceded to the federal government?”
Opposition to the federal mandates has come from the Heartland Institute, the Home School Legal Defense Association, Eagle Forum and others.
Fox News has reported Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in federal court over the issue.
The allegations are that the Department of Education illegally manipulated grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core standards.
WND reported this week one of North Carolina’s largest school districts condemned the College Board’s new Advanced Placement history curriculum, which has direct ties to Common Core, calling it a deeply biased, inaccurate and revisionist version of American history.
David Coleman, known as the architect of the Common Core national standards and its chief pitchman, is the president of the College Board, a private company based in New York that owns the SAT and ACT exams as well as the Advanced Placement, or AP, exams and curriculum.
“Coleman is now re-writing every College Board product to align with Common Core,” said Meg Norris, a retired public-school teacher in Hall County, Georgia, and an anti-Common Core activist in that state.
The College Board not only owns the AP curriculum but it administers the AP standardized tests nationwide to K-12 students, measuring their readiness to attend college. Coleman’s ties to the controversial Common Core national education standards and the AP course’s new take on American history has come under fierce criticism.
National Review reported the College Board under Coleman is “politicizing” the teaching of American history.
Officials in North Carolina reported last week that in light of the Common Core influence, home schools in the state rose 14.3 percent. The state reports there are 98,172 homeschoolers in the state.
Governors in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana and Louisiana have taken steps to distance themselves from Common Core, either by working with their state legislatures or by taking unilateral action.