By Sally Absher

On April 15, the Tennessean proclaimed “Tennessee phases out Common Core” Well, not really. It’s more lies and deception.

First they told us that these were “more rigorous” standards. It is interesting that rigor is defined as

a: (1) harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgement, (2) the quality of being unyielding or inflexible, (3) severity of life

b: an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty.

Fact: the standards were neither tested nor proven more effective than existing standards. Fact: there is no evidence that the standards are internationally benchmarked despite repeated claims to the contrary. Fact, five members of the validation committee refused to sign off on the standards.

This includes education standards subject matter experts Dr. James Milgram (math) and Dr. Sandra Stotsky (English). Milgram claimed that “The special interest sources were focused on making the math standards as non-challenging as possible… The Core Mathematics standards are written to reflect very low expectations.”

Stotsky said, “Common Core’s “college readiness standards for ELA and reading are simply empty skill sets… ’College readiness’ may be at about the grade 7 level”

In fact, Jason Zimba, one of the creators of Common Core, admitted, “Common Core defines ‘college readiness’ as ready for a nonselective community college, not a four-year university.”

Yet, despite mounting evidence of the shortcomings of Common Core, Zimba, together with the National Governor’s Association (via Achieve Inc.) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), who hold the copyright to Common Core, forged ahead. Microsoft’s Bill Gates and the multinational Pearson Corporation bought the support of the National Chamber of Commerce, PTA, and state legislators.

Common Core is one of the four pillars of the Race to the Top initiative, in which states competed for grant money. (The other pillars are annual high stakes student assessments, punitive teacher evaluations, and data mining, the collection of student academic, demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral data).

One of the key elements of the Common Core copyright, as adopted by 45 states, was that states cannot make changes to the standards.

So, in yet another attempt to put lipstick on a pig, state legislatures have been engaged in the fine art of “rebranding” common core.

Resulting in propaganda as reported in the Tennessean, which claims, “Tennessee is the latest state to phase out Common Core, joining Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina. At least there is an element of truth, as it continues, “Like its predecessors, Tennessee’s English and math standards have a new name, but still have roots in Common Core.”

Last year, state lawmakers, who saw the standards as federal overreach, pushed to repeal them. Instead, Gov. Bill Haslam authorized a review of the state’s English and math standards. The state developed a more rigorous (there’s that word again) review process to assess the standards, including two online public reviews, educator review and legislative input. What they did not include was input from actual educational standards experts.

Instead, we got a “set of new, Tennessee specific standards brought to us by the Standards Recommendations Committee, whose members were appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Speaker of the House and confirmed by the General Assembly. And the qualifications of this committee were…what?

Karen Bracken, founder of Tennessee Against Common Core, said in response to the story, “What we got was Common Core with a few tweaks and a new name. And the proof of this is forthcoming folks. Governor Haslam and all Governors knew last year the Every Student Success Act was going to be passed and they were also told that Common Core (renamed college and career ready standards) was to become federal law.”

“The tweaking of the standards was nothing more than the Delphi Technique used to make these people think they had a role in changing the standards. The script was already written. Do you really think Tennessee is going to face losing money by moving away from Common Core when ESSA now mandates it and our standards will have to be approved by the US Department of Education?”

“We are being lied to and deceived once again. Sad thing is most parents are all too happy to go back to sleep and believe this lie. BUT there are those of us that will not be deceived and are prepared to prove we were again deceived…This is our fight to stop Common Core all over again.”

Add to this a scathing review of Common Core by the Brookings Institution in its annual major report on Education. It finds that American children are receiving objectively worse academic instruction because of Common Core, citing the increase in nonfiction their teachers are assigning, and in a nationwide decline in students taking algebra in eighth grade as factors.

Further, it finds that there is no evidence that Common Core has “made much of a difference during a six-year period of stagnant NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] scores.” NAEP is the nation’s highest-quality set of large-scale tests, used widely by researchers as benchmarks for American kids’ abilities over time.