Calcasieu Parish, home to Lake Charles, has been fighting the good fight when it comes to Common Core and the PARCC test associated with it. Below is a letter written by Ganey Arsement in response to a pro-Common Core editorial which remarkably came out the SAME day as the Advertiser‘s pro-Common Core editorial. (I sense a pattern.) It was another example of an unnamed editorial blindly supporting a program based on no particular evidence other than retreaded arguments and soundbites provided by CC supporters. I responded to the Advertiser and Arsement responded to the Lake Charles paper. As paraphrased from a World War II saying, Common Core has awoken a sleeping giant.
Dear Editorial Board,
I am more than a little concerned that the editorial board has chosen to publish today’s opinion. I feel strongly that before forming an opinion on any matter, one is tasked with first reviewing the facts. It appears that the editorial board did not. If the board had taken the time to research the opposition to Common Core and PARC, they would have formed an entirely different opinion.
In addition, I challenge each and every member of that editorial board to take the 5th grade PARCC practice test. I hope you have the intestinal fortitude to post your results.
Let me start by saying that Common Core standards were not developed by a group of educators, administrators and governors. In fact, the writers of the standards have zero background in education. In general, the standards written at each grade level are astonishingly above the cognitive abilities of the children in that grade. A hundred years of research is proof of this. Despite esteemed educational researchers protesting the standards from the very beginning, 46 states adopted Common Core. As of this writing, 9 states have withdrawn and 4 are in the process. Some say that Governor Jindal’s attempt to withdraw is motivated by political aspirations. Perhaps, but I can tell you that his decision was greatly affected by the community efforts to stop Common Core in the this state. Why, you ask, are these states changing direction? It has nothing to do with not wanting standards. It is because the standards are inappropriate, and there is an enormous amount of unethical behaviors surrounding it.
Let me address the PARCC test that you proudly support in your editorial. Did you know that Louisiana does not have a contract with Pearson, the publisher of the PARCC test, and the test the children will be given is a “PARCC-like” test printed by another publisher. Your argument that this test will be a baseline is invalid. Next, the publisher, Pearson, promotes only one curriculum on its website to ready children for the PARCC test; Eureka Math (changed to Great Minds) and Core Knowledge ELA. Why does this matter? Because the curriculum is an atrocity. There are gaps in the lessons, misprints in the answers and it forces teachers to teach to the test. Here is something else you didn’t know. Of the three Common Core aligned curricula offered by the Louisiana Department of Education, only one provides money to districts to train teachers on how to use it. Guess which one.
Well, now we come to the money. Where does the money come from? In the last five years, the LDOE has received $10 million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The BMGF funnels millions upon millions of dollars to agencies to help ensure that the Common Core standards are implemented and the Pearson Recommended text is used, and the PARCC test is administered. Why? Because full implementation would guarantee a very profitable future for Microsoft as it would require his operating system and applications in every classroom in America. Here is a history lesson. Do you know what the first multi-million dollar corporation was? The American Business Machines corporation became so profitable selling its tabulating machine to Nazi Germany that it changed its name to International Business Machines, also known as IBM.
Who else gets money from BMGF? Probably some of your biggest advertisers. The Better Business Bureau, the Council for a Better Louisiana, Stand for Children; these are just a few of the non-profit organizations being paid to promote Common Core and PARCC.
I’d like to inform you that the movement in Lake Charles and Louisiana to remove Common Core and PARCC from our schools isn’t going anywhere. To underestimate it, or easily dismiss it, would be a mistake. In fact, it would be worth your while to do your homework. I assure that we have. In addition, I challenge each and every member of that editorial board to take the 5th grade PARCC practice test. I hope you have the intestinal fortitude to post your results.
Lake Charles, LA