Friday, February 28, 2014

Common Core & History - CCSS Dangerously Distorts the Mission and Practice of the Discipline

David Coleman's video giving a prescription for how to teach history should send shudders through everyone concerned with teaching or understanding history.

Watch the video, "Bringing the Common Core to Life," in which Coleman delivered his dogma for how history should be taught in the United States, on June 7, 2011 at the PARCC Transition and Implementation Institute at a Maryland convention center. Namely, he speaks to how we should study Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" and Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." PARCC is one of the two interstate consortia to administer Common Core tests on a uniform basis across states, hardly a neutral venue for proselytizing the Common Core orthodoxy. Insidiously, the Common Core machine has finagled its way into getting the same message into a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) site.

(Note the language. The language of the various individuals carrying out Coleman's project, whether duped/or complicit politicians, business leaders, labor leaders or school level professional development facilitators is undergirded by the notion that the CCSS are something to be supported as though they were a respected cultural group in the community. The blind devotion to the Common Core's precepts smacks of fundamentalism. Never is it questioned that the CCSS drives a corporate testing agenda conceived and pressed forward by the Gates Foundation, Pearson LLC and others. Never is it raised that the CCSS was conceived in a secretive process that evaded the democratic avenues of policy creation. Note also that in all these Coleman videos, whether at Vimeo or at PBS, viewer comments are disabled. What kind of world are we in when the indoctrinators can speak to us, but we the people cannot speak of the new orthodoxy that they are creating? Certainly, we are charting a terrible direction for our society.)

He apparently confuses historical documents as things to fixate over as though holy texts, rather as artifacts by which to critically review to understand history.

The fixation on viewing text for itself and refusing to consider context strongly rings concordant with the New Criticism school of literary theory. Note that in its formative period it was developed and mainly followed in the pre-World War II Jim Crow U.S. South, a place in which the power elite kept the mass of the population down. Wouldn't it fit in the elite's interests for people not to question literature, to probe context or to reflectively draw parallels and contrasts between text and the real world? Indeed, Coleman's new New Criticism is dangerous stuff indeed. Note well that the Wikipedia article for New Criticism cited criticisms that this trend "treated literary texts as autonomous and divorced from historical context, and that its practitioners were 'uninterested in the human meaning, the social function and effect of literature.'"

Former Ardsley, New York history teacher, Craig Thurtell wrote a helpful critique that challenges head-on the Common Core's dislodging of the history discipline's craft.
Do the Common Core Standards Flunk History?

History News Network, George Mason University, April 8, 2013

By now, virtually every public school teacher has heard about the Common Core State Standards (referred to here as CCSS, the Standards, or the common core). Set forth in their final version in May of 2010, they claim ["Pressure Mounts in Some States Against Common Core," February 4, 2013] to “represent a synthesis of the best elements of standards-related work to date and an important advance over that previous work.” (p. 3 of the CCSS) The CCSS have been adopted by 46 states so far for English language arts (ELA) and 45 for mathematics. They primarily address those two fields, but they fold other subjects, including history, into the ELA standards. As the Standards took shape, the National Council for the Social Studies expressed an understandable concern that they include a meaningful presence for social studies, but made no objection to their basic approach to reading and writing. The National Council for History Education was similarly concerned [in "FAQs Common Core State Standards and History Education"] about the role of history, but concluded that “[t]he Literacy Standards for History/Social Studies focuses [sic] on deep and critical, discipline-specific reading, writing, and thinking at grades 6-12.” Rearguard resistance notwithstanding, in the states that have adopted them, school districts are advancing toward implementation, with testing set to begin in 2014-2015.

The ELA Standards do represent an improvement over most state standards in the rigor of their learning expectations. But in spite of the apparent inevitability of the standards, scholars and educators have raised a range of criticisms. In a series of critical essays on education reform in the New York Review of Books ["Schools We Can Envy"], Diane Ravitch has pointed out that the standards have never been field tested, making their effectiveness unknown and nation-wide implementation premature. Others have raised more specific objections, including the obvious role of poverty in diminishing student achievement, which challenges the putative need for new standards; the inevitable proliferation of new tests that will be needed to measure performance; the deceptively central role of the U.S. Department of Education; the insufficient rigor of the standards; the fallacies of the “career and college readiness” exit standard; and the problems with the emphasis on “informational texts,” as the CCSS has termed the non-fiction reading material it favors.

Aside from the NCHE’s praise, however, few critics have evaluated the impact of the CCSS on teaching the humanities, or more specifically, on the teaching of history. It is my contention that the CCSS express an antipathy to the humanities in general and insensitivity to the practice of history in particular, and that this problem is closely related to their nonhistorical approach to historical texts. This approach also permits the allocation of historical texts to English teachers, most of whom are untrained in the study of history, and leads to history standards that neglect the distinctiveness of the discipline. If implemented as their authors intend, the common core will damage history education.

At the outset, I must note a few limits to my critique. I will discuss the impact of the Standards on history specifically, not the various disciplines that comprise social studies. Among these disciplines, history lays the strongest claim to membership in the humanities, but the problems I raise regarding the Standards and history have clear applications to the social sciences. Examples of the harmful consequences of the common core for history education could be multiplied, but I will limit myself to one representative illustration.

Why study history? This pursuit serves many purposes, but surely one of its fundamental objectives is to make us more human. Sam Wineburg, in his essential book Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, argues that history both enables us to situate ourselves in the present by making sense of how we got here, while also acquainting us with the often jarring strangeness of the past. This encounter with bizarre, brutal, and peculiar behavior humanizes by encouraging us to understand historical events and actors in their own terms and by leading us to the humbling recognition that, generations hence, we, too, may be regarded as curious, primitive, and benighted. It is uniquely the job of the historian to engage with the frailties as well as the strengths of historical actors, and to render the limitless past into understandable terms. These are eminently humanizing enterprises.

Such historical understanding results from the practice, or discipline, of history. The study of history requires the use of specific concepts and cognitive skills that characterize the discipline -- concepts like evidence and causation and skills like contextualization, sourcing, and corroboration. These concepts and skills are largely distinct from those employed in literary analysis. Both disciplines engage in close readings of texts, for example, but with different purposes. The object of the literary critic is the text, or more broadly, the genre; for the historian it is, however limited or defined, a wider narrative of human history, which textual analysis serves. Historical thinking and humanizing outcomes are linked. As with literary skills, the more deeply history’s concepts and skills are grasped the more profound are the humanizing consequences. And like the intellectual skills called upon in the study of literature, historical thinking skills are enduring, even more so because they are applicable to a wider field of contemporary issues.

To what extent does the common core incorporate these purposes and practices into their proposed curriculum? The answer is very little; their intentions lie elsewhere. The Standards adopt an instrumental approach: Their ultimate objective is not the development of sensitive and discerning citizens but rather a career-and-college-ready high school graduate. They refer to “discipline specific content,” and “the norms and conventions of each discipline,” (60) but, the NCHE’s statement notwithstanding, the actual use of discipline-specific thinking must often be inferred, and suffers from telling absences. In fact, the Standards for ELA devote only a single, mostly non-discipline-specific page to reading in social history and social studies (61), and then apply their writing standards to social history/social studies, science and technical subjects in common, as if these diverse fields share the same modes of written analysis. (63-66) Their explanations of skills standards are abstract and remote from the specific practices of the historian.

The standards contained on page 61 of the ELA Standards suggest an author or authors un-versed in the practice of history. A close reading of the most advanced skills, for grades 11-12, reveals an uneven deployment of historical thinking skills, often to the point of disappearance. The first three standards, assembled under the vague heading “Key Ideas and Details,” are non-history specific. Number 1, for example, mentions the expectation that students will “Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole,” while numbers 2 and 3 ask students to “[d]etermine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas” and “[e]valuate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain,” respectively. These standards call for close reading and making connections, and refer to “primary and secondary” sources characteristic of history. But the first two skills suffer from an exclusion of sourcing and contextualization skills, typically the first cognitive actions taken by a historian examining a document. Number 3 focuses on the accuracy of a text, but not on how the text illuminates a broader question or narrative; there is no reciprocity between text and context. The standard is also not history-specific -- “actions or events” could be studied by political scientists, economists, or anthropologists.

Standard 4, under “Craft and Structure,” asks students to “[d]etermine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).” Once again, an exclusive focus on text prevents the standard from expressing a historical skill. To illustrate, Madison’s understanding of “faction” in Federalist 10 was shaped by a shared discourse among the American political elite during and after the Revolution, culminating in the debate over ratifying the Constitution. Madison’s essay was a part of that discussion, and “faction” consequently has a meaning that transcends Madison’s use of the term in Federalist No. 10.1 Confining students to an examination of his use and refinement of the term in the text of Federalist No. 10 amounts to little more than an intellectual exercise without this essential context -- that is, without establishing its relationship to and significance for a larger narrative. The standard fails the “So what?” test.

Standard 5, under the same heading, asks for a similarly non-contextual, and therefore nonhistorical, reading, but standard 6 -- “Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence” --= offers greater possibilities for historical analysis. There is a specific reference to history, and context appears to come into play. But how should a student go about evaluating the claims, reasoning, and evidence? The standard fails to mention the critical skills involved in such analysis: sourcing, corroboration, contextualization, inference, and others. Most fundamentally, what is the purpose of the exercise -- to develop a particular skill abstracted from historical content, or to develop that skill by applying it to a specific event in order to better grasp the event and the narrative of which it is a part? In other words, is the skill divorced from the content, in this case historical narrative, or integral to it? The standard prompts another “So what?”

The next three standards, under the heading “Integration of Knowledge and Ideas,” are better, though still not specific to history. Number 7 asks students to “[i]ntegrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.” This skill could apply to any discipline, though it is certainly useful to the study of history. But again, the specific skills called into play -- comparison, corroboration, and inference, for example, go unmentioned. Number 8 asks students to “[e]valuate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.” This standard calls most clearly on the historical skill of corroboration, but sourcing -- evaluation of the character and reliability of a source -- is an essential, but, for this standard, unacknowledged element of corroboration. Finally, number 9 asks students to “[i]ntegrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.” This standard asks for synthesis, but one should hope that the discrepancies are evaluated and, if possible, resolved.2

The history standards state what students must do, but not how, because they do not engage the distinctive practices of the discipline of history. They require students to marshal evidence, engage in close reading, make connections, and corroborate evidence -- all important skills and all important to the discipline of history. But they are so text-focused that for most of them document analysis becomes hermetic. Sourcing is absent except by inference, as is the closely related practice of contextualization. Both require the application of knowledge external to the text under study in order to amplify its meaning, and both are indispensable to historical thinking. Concepts like causation and chronology and skills like periodization and assessing significance are all missing. Humanizing practices, like empathy, recognizing the limits of one’s knowledge, and understanding the past on its own terms are nowhere to be found, even by generous inference. Although the CCSS must be credited with recognition of the crisis in literacy in the United States, their solution for history emphasizes a blinkered form of reading comprehension.

Why have the authors of the Standards adopted this narrow approach? One of its sources may be found in the subject area designated for the page: “History/Social Studies.” The authors’ approach suggests a confusion of purpose. “Social Studies” does not constitute a discipline; rather, it is a grouping of social science disciplines for K-12 grade levels that is rarely found in higher education. The combination has its origins in the Progressive era, a time when many, though not all, professional educators favored downgrading traditional areas of study like classical literature and history, as mass immigration transformed the U.S. population and led to advocacy of a more “practical,” less academic curriculum. Unfortunate consequences ensued, and now the CCSS has provided one more example.

Why does the common core lift history out of the collection of disciplines of which it has been a prominent part and separate it with a slash mark from that time-honored but problematic “field” of social studies? The authors of the Standards seemingly hope to achieve two purposes: They want to address the practices of history while at the same time applying those practices to the other social sciences. This explains, at least in part, the abstract and non-specific character of the History/Social Studies skills, and their remoteness from the habits of mind that characterize the discipline of history.

There is probably more to it, however. The authors of the Standards have concluded that “Students must be able to read complex informational texts in these fields [social studies/history, science, and technical subjects] with independence and confidence because the vast majority of reading in college and workforce training programs will be sophisticated nonfiction." (60) This fixation on textual comprehension may have caused them to lose sight of crucial understandings that lie outside of, but exist in reciprocal relation to, an assigned text. Their failure to acknowledge, in this statement or elsewhere, any distinctive, intrinsic value in the various disciplines reflects their utilitarian approach. “Informational texts” may be the common core’s signature contribution to education jargon, but to justify the recommended preponderance of such texts by citing the demands of career and college begs the question of the purposes of college and career (not to mention the question of which college and which career). The CCSS do not entertain the question, but one may fairly surmise the authors’ response: to get a good job, and, perhaps, at a further remove, restore American prosperity. Good jobs are, of course, hard to find these days, and therefore to be prized, but to reduce education to job training will actually diminish the intellectual capacities of high school graduates by ignoring the value of the humanities and their characteristic critical thinking skills to a discerning citizenry.

The standards for social studies/history do compare unfavorably with the new historical thinking skills developed by the College Board for its Advanced Placement history courses, created as part of the AP history program’s new and welcome emphasis on historical thinking. Although the AP rubric concentrates on skills and neglects important historical concepts, it is firmly rooted in the practices of the historian. Four broad skills are given substance through the articulation of their components. For example, Skill 1, “Crafting Historical Arguments from Historical Evidence,” includes the components “Historical argumentation” and “Appropriate use of relevant historical evidence.” Regarding the use of evidence the rubric explains:
Historical thinking involves the ability to identify, describe and evaluate evidence about the past from diverse sources (including written documents, works of art, archaeological artifacts, oral traditions and other primary sources), with respect to content, authorship, purpose, format and audience. It involves the capacity to extract useful information, make supportable inferences and draw appropriate conclusions from historical evidence while also understanding such evidence in its context, recognizing its limitations and assessing the points of view that it reflects.
Unlike the standards for History/Social Studies, the AP expectations demonstrate familiarity with the work of historians and emphasize the importance of sourcing and contextualization. By noting the limitations on knowledge and interpretation and the irreducibility of conflicting views, the rubric also engages with the humanizing purposes of history. Skill 4, Historical Interpretation and Synthesis, confirms the integration of reading comprehension with historical understanding, at best a tenuous relationship in the CCSS treatment of history. The other two skills and subordinate components are similarly rich and integral to the study of history.

The common core’s history standards may not be irretrievably flawed, however. Teachers familiar with the discipline of history will be able to infer and extrapolate from the generic formulations on page 61 to justify a rich and stimulating curriculum. Unfortunately, such a favorable outcome is not assured; the CCSS text is open to more than one interpretation. To assess the potential consequences of the Standards for history education, it is illuminating to examine how an adopting state has gone about implementing them. In New York, a state-sponsored website called offers “exemplar” lessons in ELA and math, and workshops have been organized across the state to assist in the implementation of the Standards. The ELA exemplars demonstrate a careful fidelity to the common core. In a piece published in the Washington Post last March ["Teacher: One (maddening) day working with the Common Core"], Jeremiah Chaffee, an English teacher in New York, explained his dissatisfaction with the lesson on the Gettysburg Address he and his colleagues were asked to develop using an EngageNY exemplar. [EngageNY has since removed this "exemplar" from the site.] His complaints included the exemplar’s scripted lessons and instructions to read the speech to students without affect, but his main objection was the exemplar’s insistence that teachers permit no contextual knowledge to enter into student consideration of the Address. Indeed, the exemplar advises teachers that “This close reading approach forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge, and levels the playing field for all students as they seek to comprehend Lincoln’s address.”3 History teachers will quickly register several objections to this statement. Shouldn’t contextual knowledge be valued, not derogated as “privileged”? As Chaffee asked, can students really be expected to forget their outside knowledge? Wouldn’t student sharing of that knowledge “level the playing field”? And what if their contextual knowledge is inaccurate, in which case, shouldn’t it be explored and clarified at the outset?

All the “Guiding Questions” provided on Lincoln’s Address are “text-dependent,” and most of them demand a literal, as opposed to interpretive, understanding of the text. A few examples illustrate the approach:

“What does Lincoln mean by ‘four score and seven years ago?’”

“When Lincoln says the nation was ‘so conceived and so dedicated’ what is he referring to?

“What if Lincoln had used the verb ‘start’ instead of ‘conceive?’”

“What four specific ideas does Lincoln ask his listeners to commit themselves to at the end of his speech?”

“What does the word ‘dedicate,’ mean the first two times Lincoln uses it, and what other verb is closely linked to it the first two times it appears?”

These questions reveal an aversion to interpretation of the speech’s historical significance, consistent with the Standards’ emphasis on information extraction.

A page of the exemplar is devoted to explaining why “non-text dependent questions” like “Why did the North fight the Civil War?” and “Did Lincoln think that the North was going to ‘pass the test’ that the Civil War posed?” divert students from text comprehension:
Answering these sorts of questions require students to go outside the text, and indeed in this particular instance asking them these questions actually undermines what Lincoln is trying to say. Lincoln nowhere in the Gettysburg Address distinguishes between the North and South (or northern versus southern soldiers for that matter). Answering such questions take the student away from the actual point Lincoln is making in the text of the speech regarding equality and self-government.”
But the exemplar offers weak examples of “non-text dependent questions.” The first one is too broad to be effective in the context of a discussion of this speech, and, if taught in a history class, would already have been addressed. The second question is unanswerable. There are, however, many obvious and important “non-text dependent” questions that would enhance student appreciation of the speech. For example, how might contextualization help explain what Lincoln meant by “a new birth of freedom?” This question might elicit discussion of how the Emancipation Proclamation, issued nine months earlier, invested the phrase -- and the speech -- with indispensable meaning. Such an approach should be apparent to U.S. history teachers.

In fact, no historian or history teacher could read the Gettysburg Address in the manner insisted upon by the exemplar, which should, at minimum, remand it to the drawing board. Its admonitions against a historical approach reveal a disheartening ignorance of historical thinking. In the hands of the common core’s New York exemplarians, the Address is to be utilized as an “informational text.” Here we come to a portentous implication of that term: the divorce of reading comprehension from historical meaning. This alienation of meaning opens the whole undertaking to a deadly tedium. Sequestered from historical meaning, what is there to remember from such a lesson? As Chaffee concluded, the Gettysburg lesson “was intellectually limiting, shallow in scope, and uninteresting.”

Situating the Gettysburg Address lesson in a U.S. history class and employing the tools of the historian would offer students a far better opportunity to grasp the significance of the speech and make their own meaning out of it. History relies on chronology, which is essential for understanding causation. By the time of a Gettysburg Address lesson, students would already be familiar with the causes and outbreak of the Civil War, and banishing this context would be absurd. A close reading of the speech could proceed with reference to this context, as well as other skills of historical cognition like sourcing and corroboration. The Address offers dramatic evidence of how the war’s aims had shifted from the limited objective of preservation of the Union to the revolutionary objective of preservation through emancipation. EngageNY’s approach obstructs such an understanding.

Why do the CCSS assign history texts to ELA teachers? Chaffee, the English teacher who criticized the Gettysburg Address lesson, did not pose this question, but many English and history teachers have. Apparently, once texts are redefined as informational, they can be severed from their disciplinary moorings and moved around the curriculum like interchangeable parts. According to the CCSS, ELA teachers enjoy a “unique, time-honored place ... in developing students’ literacy skills,” (4) so the Standards simply assign them texts recognized as important by other disciplines. As part of ELA’s new responsibilities for historical documents (for grade 11 only), the Standards mention The Federalist Papers, presidential addresses, Supreme Court opinions and dissents, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century “foundational documents” including the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address -- all delegated to English teachers. (40) Only James Madison’s “Federalist Number 10” is mentioned on the History/Social Studies page. For grades 9-11, Appendix B adds fifteen US history documents to the ELA list and three for History/Social Studies. (Appendix B, 10-13)

This disproportionate delegation of responsibility endangers both disciplines. For history teachers, it means that English teachers who are untrained in the study of history will assume significantly greater responsibility for crucial historical texts. Because they need not concern themselves with teaching vast expanses of history, ELA teachers can devote more time to these documents than most history teachers can afford, and their lack of training in history combined with the Standards’ emphasis on ahistorical reading comprehension risks confusion and diminishes learning.

English teachers should be disturbed, too. Most of them study and teach ELA out of a love of literature and the arts, but they will search the common core in vain for guidelines on symbolism, imagery, or metaphors. Students will be expected to read widely in literature, but in the new world of the Common Core Standards, the dazzling turns and leaps of the human imagination are subordinated to the barren extraction of information. English teachers cannot find the prospect attractive.

The CCSS appear to be unstoppable, so how might teachers who object to them proceed? First, discontent with the Standards has apparently been strong enough to cause three states (Minnesota, Massachusetts, and South Carolina) to consider withdrawing from them, and pressure is mounting [Peter Wood, "The Core Between the States" in "The Chronicle of Higher Education," May 23, 2011] in three others to withdraw. Political options may remain viable. Exemplar lessons like New York’s may be improved. As noted, history teachers can interpret the Standards to advance the aims of history thinking. But the Standards appear to leave little freedom to venture from their fundamental approach. Under the heading “What Is Not Covered by the Standards,” the authors assure teachers that they do not specify how to teach, that content is still open, the suggested texts are incomplete, and so on. Still, any improvisations must be “consistent with the expectations laid out in this document.” (6) Testing will soon strengthen those expectations. Teachers are capable of creative recalcitrance, however, especially when asked to inflict bad pedagogy on their students. History and ELA teachers may find themselves agreeing with Jeremiah Chaffee and his colleagues at the end of their training in New York’s common core exemplars: “[W]hen it came time to create our own lessons around the exemplar, three colleagues and I found ourselves using techniques that we know have worked to engage students -- not what the exemplar puts forth.” Do rejections like these mean the common core has flunked history? A failing grade seems too harsh; after all, the Standards do ask students to read closely and think hard. A C+ more accurately measures the room for improvement.


1: See the discussions in Gordon Wood, The Creation of The American Republic, 1776-1787 (New York: Norton, 1969), 58-60, 402-403, 503-505, and Woody Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution (New York: Hill and Wang, 2007), 8-9, 10, 172.

2: I am ignoring standard 10, a generic reading comprehension skill.

3: There's a video [the aforementioned PBS video] of common core author David Coleman similarly banishing context from a lesson on Martin Luther King’s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

Related Links

Alan Singer [historian and Professor of Secondary Education, Hofstra University]: "Gilder Lehrman's Flawed History of Emancipation" [History News Network, April 8, 2013. In the article Singer emphasizes that "Common Core has students doing careful reading of primary source documents without providing them with an adequate background or with alternative viewpoints that would support real analysis."]
Singer makes another important critique last November in The Huffington Post, "A Serious Flaw in Common Core."
The strict focus on the text directly corresponds with the literalist thinking of strict constructionists' reading of the Constitution. The latter group, as does Coleman, insist on reading texts for their words alone, and refuse to consider the period in which texts were written.

Note how the language of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoes the relationship between reader and literature that David Coleman insists upon:
"I am first of all a textualist . . . If you are a textualist, you don't care about the intent, and I don't care if the framers of the Constitution had some secret meaning in mind when they adopted its words. I take the words as they were promulgated to the people of the United States, and what is the fairly understood meaning of those words."
Singer aptly concludes his essay:
In the end, despite claims by advocates for Common Core, there is no universal timeless interpretation of a text. Meaning then and now is something that we debate, not uncover, while supporting our views with evidence from both the text and from the world. We can only interpret a text as 21st century human beings. Given our different experiences and social positions we may likely arrive at different answers about its deeper meaning.
See also Singer's "Reading Without Understanding -- Common Core Versus Abraham Lincoln" in the Huffington Post.

Aside from the conservative implications, is it not very contestable as to whether we must engage in a narrow reading of documents? We are being forced to adhere to the Common Core, under threat of getting bad ratings from supervisors. But is not all of the compulsion to conform very disturbing as to the idea of free thought, individual will and democracy? Is this not a moment in which we allowing ourselves to get bullied into groupthink in an effort to be professionally compliant with state directives?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Schneider Dissects Sue Pimentel's Role in Common Core Drafting; Exposes How 3 People Were Main CCSS Architects

[In this article Schneider probes Tim Pawlenty's and Sue Pimentel's roles in launching and hatching the Common Core, at Progressive Magazine's Public School Shakedown site.]

More on the Common Core: Achieve, Inc., and Then Some | Public School Shakedown

More on the Common Core: Achieve, Inc., and Then Some | Public School Shakedown
By Mercedes Schneider
December 3, 2013 - 10:01 am CST

More on the Common Core: Achieve, Inc., and Then Some
December 2, 2013
I hesitate to publicly confess that I find reading tax forms interesting, but it is true– especially as concerns the many nonprofits that are imposing their wills upon the American classroom. The IRS 990 offers much information on a nonprofit in a concise format, not the least of which are a nonprofit’s salaried individuals, board members, primary expenses, donors, and solvency.
I have written a number of posts related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In this post, I examine a key organization in the creation of CCSS: Achieve, Inc. Whereas my reading Achieve’s tax documents served as the launch for this post, it certainly did not stop there.
Allow me to show you.
“State-led” Achieve
According to its website, Achieve, Inc., was founded in 1996 “by leading governors and business leaders.” The effort was well financed, with Achieve registering $2 million in total assets in 1997. By 2001, Achieve’s total assets increased to $9.4 million.
Note that the presence of “leading governors” on the Achieve, Inc., board allows one to call Achieve a “state-led” organization.
By the same token, one might also call Achieve a “business-led” organization since its board is also comprised of “business leaders.” However, calling Achieve “business-led” is not as effective a term as “state-led” for the promotion of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
In 2001, the Achieve board of directors included six governors and CEOs of six corporations.
All six corporations were connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group now known for its model legislation in favor of the privatization of public education and itsdecision to reverse its anti-CCSS stance.
Yep. It certainly serves pro-CCSS purposes to conceal the “business-led” element of the governor-CEO, Achieve hybrid.
Why, Achieve is nothing more than a little ALEC: Half electeds, half privatizers with the money to influence electeds.
Furthermore, “state led” is a manufactured term designed to falsely connote the “grass roots emergence” of CCSS.
CCSS is anything but.
Achieve and Its “Common Benchmarks”
In 1998, Achieve began benchmarking standards; in 2001, it joined Education Trust, the Fordham Institute, and National Alliance of Business to launch the American Diploma Project (ADP) referenced in the Common Core Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governors and state superintendents signed as part of the Race to the Top (RTTT) application.
According to the Achieve, Inc., website, the purpose of ADP was “to identify the ‘must-have’ knowledge and skills most demanded by higher education and employers.”
It appears that the CCSS skeleton– the ADP benchmarking– was created in 2004, the direct result of a “groundbreaking report” from ADP:
2004: The American Diploma Project releases “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts.” This groundbreaking report – the result of over two years of research – identifies a common core of English and mathematics academic knowledge and skills, or “benchmarks,” that American high school graduates need for success in college and the workforce. Education Week later named “Ready or Not” one of the most 12 influential research studies.  [Emphasis added.]
“Over two years of research” might be sufficient to determine a set of benchmarked outcomes for high school graduates; however, such paltry research would be little more than a thrown-together, drive-thru empirical effort upon which to base a comprehensive set of K-12 English and math standards.
Perhaps this is why CCSS Validation Committee Member Sandra Stotsky never could seem to get anyone to produce the “research” upon which CCSS English Language Arts (ELA) is supposedly based. Perhaps the only “research” is that which is connected to ADP.
A methodical research effort for a set of K-12 standards should at least follow a cohort of students through the set of standards in question.
At least thirteen years is needed. Otherwise, one might argue that the research was hastily conducted in order to advance another agenda– such as the ASAP privatization of public education.
So, in 2004, Achieve, Inc., already had a set of ”common expected outcomes for high school graduates.” The CCSS MOU refers to Achieve’s ADP. Thus, the framework for the ”common standards” had already been determined.
Achieve would also be principally involved in translating ADP benchmarks into CCSS standards.
Classroom teachers were not included among those principally involved in the development of ADP benchmarks.
Neither would classroom teachers be among those at the CCSS development table.
Tim Pawlenty: “Leading” Both NGA and Achieve
In June 2008, National Governors Association (NGA) Chair and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty led the National Governors Symposium in North Carolina with former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt. Among its determinations, the Symposium produced the following:
High, rigorous standards are the foundation of a strong education system. Content standards specify the knowledge and skills that students need at each grade level. These standards must be supported by an aligned and clearly articulated system of curriculum, assessments, teacher preparation and professional development, textbook selection and appropriate supports for students. 
As it happens, in 2008, Pawlenty was the vice-chair of the Achieve board of directors. In 2009, he became co-chair.
Also in 2009, Achieve received $20.9 million from the Gates Foundation; $2 million from the Carnegie Foundation, and a combined $2.6 million from five ALEC corporations (GE, Prudential, Nationwide, Lumina, and State Farm).
GE also donated $1 million to Achieve in 2010 and 2011.
Pawlenty represents a connection between both NGA and Achieve in this well-financed, “state-led” push for “common standards.” The Achieve website refers to “leading governors.” Pawlenty is apparently one of these.
How few governors does it take to “lead” a democracy right out of its own democratic processes?
Possibly only five– the number of governors on the board of Achieve in 2008– or seven– the number of governors on the Achieve board in 2009.
The CCSS MOU actually tells the two signators– the governor and state superintendent– that by signing, they are “agreeing to be state led.” Thus, “state led” means, “You will follow the lead of the ‘leading governors and business leaders.’”
And why are these governors and state superintendents signing this CCSS agreement?
For RTTT money– and not nearly enough to implement CCSS.
The Real CCSS Workers vs. The Window Dressing
According to Stotsky, NGA was reluctant to reveal the members of the Standards Work Groups. In July 2009, it did so. The members of the “work” groups chiefly represented three agencies: Achieve, ACT, and College Board:
The initiative is being jointly led by the NGA Center and CCSSO [Council of State School Officers] in partnership with Achieve, Inc, ACT and the College Board. It builds directly on recent efforts of leading organizations and states that have focused on developing college-and career-ready standards and ensures that these standards can be internationally benchmarked to top-performing countries around the world. [Emphasis added.]
CCSS is not a set of standards that were negotiated by stakeholders. CCSS is the modular home of standards; its frame was prefabricated in 2004 by Achieve. The resulting “work groups” add two testing companies to the mix in order to “develop” standards based upon the ADP frame. Thus, CCSS development was chiefly a corporate enterprise. No wonder the reluctance to publicize work group membership.
The July 2009 NGA announcement also includes information on the feedback group membership, and it mentions the validation committee. These two groups are little more than window dressing. In short, it “looks good” for NGA and CCSSO to “involve experts.” However, the “experts” did not develop standards:
The final step in the development of these standards is the creation of an expert Validation Committee comprised of national and international experts on standards. This group will review the process and substance of the common core state standards to ensure they are research and evidence-based and will validate state adoption on the common core standards. Members of the committee will be selected by governors and chiefs of the participating states; nominations are forthcoming. [Emphasis added.]
Recall that Stotsky asked for the ELA research and never received it.
However, she did get the runaround.
Sue Pimentel
An interesting member of the CCSS English Language Arts (ELA) work group is Sue Pimentel. In 2006 200720082009, and 2011, Achieve paid Pimentel’s company, Sue Pimentel, Inc., Hanover, NH 03755, for “consulting.” Pimentel’s presence on the CCSS ELA committee and her close relationship with Achieve raise questions about the exact process for selecting work group members (and who did the selecting). Given that Achieve has an established set of “common benchmarks” for framing CCSS dating back to 2004, and given the presence of those “leading governors” on Achieve’s board, one can conclude that there was no objective (much less publicized) means of selecting CCSS work groups.
Pimentel is considered “a chief architect” of Achieve’s ADP benchmarks.
Pimentel’s CCSS presence also provides a bridge between Achieve and the unidentified “partner” on the CCSS work groups: David Coleman’s Student Achievement Partners (SAP).
In this brief Education Nation speech ( on the supposed development of CCSS, Pimentel is introduced as a “founding partner” of SAP, the national-standards-writing company founded by David Coleman and Jason Zimba. Pimentel’s introduction as an SAA ”founding partner” contradicts the information released by the NGA on its work group composition. In that 2009 release, Coleman is identified as SAP “founder,” and Zimba, as SAP “co-founder.”  However, Pimentel is identified as being “co-founder” of StudentWorks and associated with Achieve.
The SAP website has recently rewritten its history to include Pimentel and to even overtly state that the three were “lead writers” in CCSS:
Student Achievement Partners was founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. 
SAP cannot rewrite all of its history and insert Pimentel. Considerthis 2011 announcement of a CCSS presentation by Coleman:
David Coleman is founder and CEO of Student Achievement Partners, LLC, an organization that assembles leading thinkers and researchers to design actions to substantially improve student achievement. Most recently, David and Jason Zimba of Student Achievement Partners played a lead role in developing the Common Core State Standards in math and literacy. [Emphasis added.]
No mention of “founding partner” Pimentel, though she was present for CCSS, and in a “lead role” as a CCSS ELA work group member– with her affiliation listed is as “co-founder” of  StandardsWork and as an ELA consultant with Achieve.
The Pimentel-SAP connection is also absent from this 2011 GE Foundation bio:
…Susan now works closely with fellow authors of the Common Core Standards David Coleman and Jason Zimba of Student Achievement Partners in supporting the faithful implementation of the Common Core.
Before her work as a lead writer of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy, Susan was a chief architect of the American Diploma Project Benchmarksdesigned to close the gap between high school demands and postsecondary expectations. Since 2007, Susan has served on the National Assessment Governing Board, an independent, bipartisan board that sets policy for the national assessment. In addition to several articles, Susan is co-author with Denis P. Doyle of the best-selling book and CD-ROM, Raising the Standard: An Eight-Step Action Guide For Schools and Communities[Emphasis added.]
Again, no mention of Pimentel as a 2007 founding partner of SSP.
However, as previously noted, she was a “chief architect” of the ADP benchmarks– yet another place where classroom teachers were not.
Back to Pimentel and SAP:
Why alter history to include Pimentel as an SAP “founding partner”? Why not just state that she was with Achieve and later joined SAP?
I believe it is to give a female face a founding leadership role to a predominately-male-led CCSS effort. I think that declaring Pimentel as being associated with SAP is an effort to legitimize SAP’s (NGA-undeclared) place at the CCSS table. Pimentel is a female speaking to an audience from a profession that is primarily female, and that is good public relations for selling the CCSS product.
2011, Sue Pimentel, and Student Achievement Partners
In examining Pimentel’s consulting history with Achieve, I noticed that Pimentel is not listed as a consultant on Achieve’s 2010 990(classed by the IRS as 2011 for tax year 07-01-10 to 06-30-11).
That same year, SAP “became” a nonprofit and filed a 990– in order to process a $4 million grant from the GE Foundation– the purpose of which is (of course) the advancement of CCSS:
Student Achievement Partners work is designed to ensure successful implementation of the Common Core Standards in classrooms across the country. Student Achievement Partners will work closely with teachers to develop tools that will help them be more effective. Student Achievement Partners will make all resources available at no cost to educators at our website:
“Tools” and “resources” are carefully chosen words. Sure sounds like SAP is offering the only missing piece in the standards–>curriculum–>assessment process that the NGA declared to be its full intention in June 2008: curriculum “assistance.”
And GE is willing to foot the bill so that SAP can offer this “help” for free.
(In 2011, SAP actually filed the 990 twice: Once on 01/17/13, with Amy Briggs listed as COO, and a second time, on 02/01/13, with Celeste Hogan listed as CFO. It appears that the second filing was necessary since Briggs neglected to sign the last page of the return.)
Pimentel’s Education Nation Speech
Throughout her Education Nation speech (, Pimentel refers to a standards-writing ”we” whom she defines as six individuals, three in ELA and three in math. She continues by saying that these six individuals had advisory groups and that in the end, 48 states had “state teams of teachers” involved in CCSS.  Pimentel attempts to paint a picture of teachers nationwide coming together and exercising meaningful influence over CCSS development, but this directly contradicts the CCSS MOU and the designation of Coleman, Zimba, and Pimentel as CCSS “lead writers.”
Pimentel insists that teachers were consulted and heard in the development of CCSS. However, any teachers involved in CCSS were clearly on the fringes of the CCSS process. Teachers could form state groups and advise all that they wanted. So what? Is this “48-state teacher ‘involvement’” supposed to somehow offset the inner-circle influence of NGA, Achieve, SAP, College Board, and ACT upon CCSS?
Coleman, Zimba, and Pimentel are clearly three of the six CCSS ”chief architects.” All three are supposedly “founding partners” of a national-standards-writing company offering a set of inflexible standards licensed by NGA and CCSSO and tied to corporately-created, high-stakes tests.
Whatever Happened to Those CCSS Math “Anchors”?
In her Education Nation speech, Pimentel refers to a deadline of November 2009 to produce standards, and she notes that these standards were poorly received. Based upon this timeline, she must have been referring to the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS)– a smaller set of standards supposed to “anchor” the larger CCSS.
It seems that only the CCRS for math were made public; here are two drafts of the proposed math anchors, one from July 2009, and another, from Sept 2009.
The anchors were supposed to precede CCSS– in order to “anchor” CCSS. However, CCSS math has no anchors on the CCSS website.
It’s as though CCRS for math never happened.
In contrast, the CCSS website does include ELA anchors. However, the ELA anchors were not offered to the public for review.
So. The CCRS (anchors) for math were publicized and found wanting. Therefore, they were simply abandoned. End of discussion and lesson learned by the CCSS “lead architects”: No public comments allowed for the ELA anchors. Just post them.
Bringing It to a Close
The contents of this post reinforce the reality that CCSS is the result of a few attempting to impose a manufactured standardization onto the American classroom. At the heart of CCSS are a handful of governors, millions in philanthropic and corporate dollars, and a few well-positioned education entrepreneurs handed the impressive title of “lead architect.” The democratic process is allowed entrance into this exclusive club, but only for show. The place for democracy in CCSS development is standing room only, and that near the exit.
Fortunately, democracy gets edgy when relegated to the cheap seats. Achieve, NGA, Pimentel, Pawlenty, and other CCSS peddlers might deliver their best sales pitches; however, the truth is that CCSS is in trouble in statehouses and boardrooms across the country.
Future generations of educators will study CCSS as a colossal education blunder.
Names like Achieve, NGA, and SAP will be forever connected to the CCSS humiliation.
[For essential analysis of the drafting of the Common Core State Standards, and the forces behind it, see this blog's The Common Core and GatesEducation Commercialization Complex.]

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cuomo Has Written Off the 2016 Primary / His Common Core Missteps Will Let Hillary Clinton Bury Him

The earlier drafts for this piece had the headline, Has Cuomo Come to His Senses Early Enough on Common Core or Will Hillary Clinton Overtake Him?

POSTSCRIPT: GOP leading Democrats for the 2014 elections --front page of New York Times.

POSTSCRIPT: 13 GOP-controlled states are pushing universal pre-Kindergarten; while Cuomo's pre-K program is questionably universal.

Obviously, the answer to the first part of this sentence is a resounding "no."  Following three years of stolid, unquestioning support for the Common Core States [sic, more like, "National"] Standards and the powerful program for data mining of New York State schoolchildren, inBloom (run by Wireless Generation, which is owned by Murdoch's News Corp. education subsidiary, Amplify; speaking of Education Commercialization Complex, Amplify runs ARIS, New York City's parental link to student "acheivement data"), New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been one of the strongest devotees to the Common Core. His gestures aimed at appearing like he's back-pedaling from the Common Core, will fool no one. Suspicions are that the panel that he chose to "study" the Common Core is stuffed with CCSS allies.

Sure, he will be able to coast into reelection, with his campaign donation war-chest that he's been stuffing since day one in the governor's mansion in Albany. And helping him is that has generated no serious effort to build a campaign for a credible Republican opponent.

Yet, consider how he'll look, coming into the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. This won't be 1996. Millions of Internet-savvy primary voters will be Googling "Cuomo Common Core." And of course, they'll encounter his early unbridled enthusiasm (from 2010 to early this year) for Common Core, and his later disingenuous attempts to distance himself from Common Core and New York State educational policy, putting the blame on the State Education Department or the Legislature. The upshot of all of this is that Common Come-skeptic parents and educators will see straight through his spin and Cuomo's name will be mud. Cuomo probably never realized how politically toxic the Common Core is. He probably never gave much thought to how his silence in the face of the town hall uproars captured in video might not sit well with voters.

As I've argued previously in "Is Gov.Cuomo Trying to Dodge the Common Core Ball," the Common Core and all of its ancillary testing and commercialization ramifications will be THE domestic snake in the grass issue for voters nation-wide in the 2014 off-year reelections. My prediction is that smart Republicans will be able to mercilessly tar Democratic politicians with this issue (even though the hatching of Common Core began before pres. Obama took the oath in 2009). This issue means that the Democrats can kiss good-bye any gains they expect to make in state and national legislative races. Watch out for critical partisan realignment as it could get worse with Democrats losing seats to Republicans on a grand scale.

Odd, with all the rumored desire that Cuomo has for the White House, you would think that he would have considered this. We can imagine that the Gates, Pearson, News Corp., etc. money was just too inviting. In the quid pro quo department, just remember this report of Cuomo's giving a plum place in the State Education Department to Pearson: a five year contract at $32 million for Pearson Education to administer state tests.

The Hillary Clinton factor
If Hillary Clinton can just keep mum about the Common Core, except to just say scathing things about it, she should have a cake-wake of a time in the 2016, letting Cuomo self-immolate. You think that CCSS has been a hot issue for the last half year? Just wait, until more state legislatures and Congress hold hearings on the travesty of Common Core.

Remember the 2008 presidential primary races? Clinton said no to No Child Left Behind. Obama? He gave us Race to the Top, which has been NCLB on steroids.

It is an important reminder to return to 2008 to see how Obama was to the right of Clinton on NCLB. Nicolas Lemann in The Washington Monthly noticed this back then. If she had the good principles to oppose NCLB, it is conceivable that she will have the sense to oppose Common Core, and, we would hope, Race to the Top.
Barack Obama could have called for eliminating No Child Left Behind, as Hillary Clinton did (although she voted for it in 2001), for liberal reasons: too much testing and teaching to the test; too little funding and teacher autonomy. He didn’t.

Her talk at a Keene, NH primary campaign gathering in 2007 is tremendously refreshing. She "gets it" about the tested subjects, English and Math, crowding out other subjects, and the need for more projects instead of a singular focus on testing. It is not too surprising that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsed Clinton for the 2008 presidential contest. Her 2007 Keene talk makes it clear that she would be able to utterly crush Cuomo into chalkdust on education "reform" --if she chooses. Unfortunately, she does give a pitch for broad (national?) standards. Though this last point is a misstep, we would hope that in the 2016 campaign she would realize the disaster that Common Core and Race to the Top have been.

Big reservations about the Clintons
Of course, there's little love for the Clintons from this spot. After all, it was on her husband's watch that the US economy moved toward the Dowton Abbey we economy we have today.
Some of this, particularly the ascendant financial sector, to the neglect of other sectors, such as manufacturing. Note this summary cited in Democratic Underground:
It progresses through the Industrial Revolution to a late-Victorian English ruling elite that was smug, narrowly educated and scientifically illiterate, rich from the financial sector but with a manufacturing base that had been increasingly starved for the capital to keep up with the technological pace of change.
(Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warned recently that the U.S. economy is moving in the Downton Abbey direction. I've got news for you, Larry. We've already transitioned into that condition; and odd that you bring this issue up, as others have noted it happened on your watch.) Bill Clinton initially criticized NAFTA, but soon after supported it and other free trade moves, such as granting Most Favored Nation status to China, joining the World Trade Organization, signing onto the 1994 General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. For these reasons and others Jane White rightly termed Clinton the Outsourcer-in-Chief. And of course, we cannot forget that Bill Clinton signed the bill repealing the Glass-Steagall Act.

All told, it would be nice for Cuomo to remain in the race. Let centrists Cuomo and Clinton battle for the unprincipled corporatist center. This way Elizabeth Warren or Howard Dean would stand a better chance as the progressive dark horse candidate.

POSTSCRIPT: GOP has an edge over the DP for 2014 elections, so the New York Times tells us on front page of February 27, 2014 edition. Gee, do you think that Common Core "State" [National] Standards will do anything to help the GOP this fall?
You wonder how many opinion poll and voting booth losses it will take for Democratic Party bosses to realize that they have a toxic monster on their hands. (Yes, CCSS was due to start regardless of whether John McCain or Barack Obama won. But Obama put huge emphasis on it with the Race to the Top program.)

POSTSCRIPT: 13 GOP-controlled states are pushing pre-Kindergarten; while Cuomo's pre-K program is questionably universal.
Think Progress has reported that 13 Republican-controlled states, including Deep South states as well as reliably Republican plains and western states such as Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Yet, Cuomo is pushing a program that turns out not to be truly universal. He is channeling pre-K funding to municipalities through a competitive grant program. The only twist is that as Capital New York reports, "Few districts apply for Cuomo’s competitive education grants."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Teacher support for Common Core at ‘critical juncture’

Teacher support for Common Core at ‘critical juncture’

Political Pro, Stefanie Simon, Feb. 20, 2014

Read more:

A teacher is pictured. | AP Photo
The share of teachers with reservations about Common Core has increased. | AP Photo
The rollout of the Common Core academic standards is at a “critical juncture,” as teachers are increasingly skeptical of the initiative — and could turn against it in large numbers, scuttling its chances of success, the president of the nation’s largest teachers union said Thursday.
Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, told POLITICO that he intended to sound a very loud alarm bell when he wrote an open letter this week warning that implementation of the Common Core has been “completely botched.”

Read more:

The union has been polling its members and conducting focus groups all winter. Early results indicate that enthusiasm for the academic standards has slipped since a poll of NEA members last year found that 26 percent endorsed the Common Core wholeheartedly, 50 percent backed it with reservations and 13 percent didn’t know enough to form an opinion.

Overall support “hasn’t diminished that much,” but the share of teachers who have reservations about the standards has notably increased, Van Roekel said.

What’s more, teachers are deeply frustrated. Asked how this school year has gone so far, large numbers say it’s been worse than previous years. Much of that distress, Van Roekel said, is because implementation of the new standards — which aim to change the way math and language arts are taught at every grade level — has been “completely botched” in most states and school districts.

“We could lose” the teachers’ support altogether, Van Roekel said. “We haven’t yet. But we need to do a course correction or we’ll lose them.”

Losing teacher endorsements would be a serious blow for supporters of the Common Core standards, which were written by state organizations and nonprofit groups and have been heavily promoted by President Barack Obama.

Common Core promoters might be able to win on the policy front, keeping the standards in place in most of the 45 states that have adopted them, even without teacher union support, said Jeffrey Henig, a professor of education and political science at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

“But if they’re sincerely envisioning this as a redirection of American education, they need to have teachers working with them, not hiding under their desks or protesting in front of the school,” Henig said.

Indeed, supporters of the Common Core have long said they’re counting on teachers to promote the standards to parents and help quell a growing opposition movement on both the left and the right.

Van Roekel said he still believes his teachers can serve as effective ambassadors for the Common Core — but only if they see changes in their classrooms, and quickly. Their No. 1 plea: More time and more resources to help them make the transition.
“You don’t bull-through-the-china-shop your way through this,” Van Roekel said. “No. You take the time to do it right.”

Supporters of Common Core said they’re eager to work with teachers and are confident most educators are still on board, despite a recent rebellion in New York and Van Roekel’s urgent warning, sent Wednesday to the NEA’s 3 million members.
“All the polling I’ve seen is teachers supporting the standards,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped write the academic guidelines.

Proponents of Common Core also dismiss public anger — including moves to scrap the standards in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and elsewhere — as insignificant and blown out of proportion.

“Just as a small minority of the public opposes Common Core, a small minority of teachers do, too,” said Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute, which supports the standards.
Until recently, that was probably true, Henig said.

Most teachers had high hopes, he said, that the Common Core would help them move away from a narrow curriculum dominated by prepping kids for multiple-choice standardized tests. They loved the standards’ emphasis on problem solving, critical thinking, analysis and discussion.

Yet the Obama administration has pushed a tight timetable that meant many states rolled out Common Core at the same time as they introduced tough new teacher evaluation systems and pioneered new exams. Teachers overwhelmed by the changes — and frustrated at a rollout schedule that gave them little time to write new lessons or find curricular resources — came to see the Common Core as a disruption, and a menacing one at that, Henig said.

“That’s turned into the beginning of a pretty substantial backlash among many teachers,” he said.
To get teachers to rally behind the Common Core, Van Roekel said, states need to bring educators in to review and possibly revise the standards; come up with the resources to buy new curricular material; and give teachers time to collaborate on strategies for integrating the standards in the classroom. He also called for a two-year moratorium on making high-stakes decisions, such as teacher job performance ratings, based on student scores on the new Common Core exams.
“We have to make a course correction to be sure we do this right,” Van Roekel said, “so we don’t lose the most positive thing we’ve done in education in America.”

Read more:

[Common Core ELA was not by educators from any level; Common Core Math was from college professors, not from any K-12 educators. The impetus came from some CCSSO, NGA and Acheive Inc., the latter of which has changed into Acheive the Core. Notice how until a few months ago Acheive websites referred to no physical address for the organization, and afforded no way to contact them.]