Bob Dean

Washington Legislature is poised to give away their legislative control over Education

Consumer Education 101: What do you say to a salesman who tells you that he will give you double the quantity of your purchase but you must buy right now? Answer: You don’t say anything…. You run like Hell!

The Washington state legislature has made a lot of bad educational decisions but the one they are about to make tops the all time list. The legislature is about to allow a small group of unelected people in Washington DC to take over control of our state math and language education. This group is also working on adding national control of science and social studies education.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is supposedly a group formed by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to write and control national math and language standards. However, the Genesis of this group was not from the NGA and CCSSO, it was the brainchild of a small group of educational reformers financed by Bill Gates. Gates, who made his wealth by using monopolistic business practices in the computer industry, is now trying to put his image on our education system by using his immense wealth to outflank the public and those who understand that our diverse national education system has been the strength of this nation not a weakness.

The state legislature passed HB6696 during the 2010 session which contained a provision allowing State Superintendent Randy Dorn to drop our new nationally ranked math standards and provisionally adopt the Common Core math and language standards written by the CCSSI. No matter that this decision was made by the legislature before these standards were even written. No matter that we are abandoning the hundred million dollars that we just invested into writing and implementing our new standards. When Gates and money are on one side and logic is on the other, common sense doesn’t stand a chance. He already proved that fact with his disastrous small school initiative.

The adoption of the Common Core Standards by individual states is voluntary as long as you understand that by not adopting them the Obama administration won’t seriously consider giving cash strapped states any of the Race to the Top funds (RttT). States also will be left out of any participation in the development of the national assessments being created by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) if they don’t adopt the Common Core Standards by December of this year. You would think that if these standards were justified on merit and their adoption was really beneficial to this nation, the NGA, CCSSO, CCSSI and the Obama administration wouldn’t be resorting to high pressure sales tactics in order to sell national standards to an unsuspecting public.

Unfortunately, our democratically controlled legislature has so far taken the bait. In fact, they are hooked so bad that they won’t even allow a vote on whether or not to adopt the CCSS in the legislature this year. Instead, they are willing to allow last year’s vote on HB6696, given before the CCSS were even written, to be the only vote. This means that the legislature is giving away their legislative authority over assessments and standards plus removing the ability of citizens to impact what is taught in the schools they pay for, without even having a public debate on the biggest change ever to be made to public education in this state. Shame on them!

On the bright side, at least they are providing government and civic educators all over the state a searing lesson on what poor government looks like and giving them a definitive example of exactly what government should not do.

Bob Dean

Math Teacher Singer/songwriter

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