The Cape Tea Party invited Gretchen Logue to speak Tuesday evening at the Cape Girardeau Public Library on Common Core Standards, a set of educational standards that have been adopted by 45 states and that will be fully implemented in Missouri schools in the 2014-2015 school year.
Logue is co-editor for Missouri Education Watchdog and an education researcher with the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. She used research and government documents to better show the audience various aspects of Common Core.
Logue began by explaining that the federal government has a part in the implementation of the Common Core Standards, though it wasn't directly involved in writing the standards. She pointed to the stimulus bill, showing it allotted $4.35 billion to the U.S. Department of Education to fund the Race to the Top Grant and the Testing Consortia.
"Your Department of Education funded Common Core," she said. "If you've been giving money to do a job, are you going to write something that is so antithetical to what the funder wants you to do? No, you're going to use those funds for what the funder wants."
Logue also said the federal government will be able to receive individual student data now. Logue pointed out that while Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act only allows aggregate student data to be handed over to the federal government, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is able to release individual student data, teacher data and principal data to the consortia.
"[DESE] will tell you that our state isn't sending any information to the federal government, but the state signed the memorandum with the consortia to send the information to them," she said. Logue said the consortia then signed a memorandum to hand the information over to the U.S. Department of Education.
Logue also pointed out that the two groups that created Common Core Standards, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, own the copyright. States are allowed to add 15 percent of their material to the standards if they wish.
"They're giving 15 percent wiggle room, and you can teach about Mark Twain," she said. "And what's going to happen is teachers are going to teach Mark Twain, but students are not going to be assessed on Mark Twain, and if your kids aren't doing well in math or they're not doing well in English, you're going to drop the 15 percent because you want those assessments to be as high as you can hit because it's your job on the line."
Logue also discussed how this would affect student in parochial and private schools, along with families who home-school.
She said if students don't know the curriculum aligned to the assessments, they probably won't do well on the SAT if it is modeled after those standards.
"We have to get out of the mindset that education is hard," Logue said. "It's education. Home-schoolers do it all the time. Do we need choice architects to tell Missouri how we're going to do education?"
Debra Jenkins is a mother of two, one senior and one seventh-grade student, and she home-schooled both.
Jenkins said she's concerned about Common Core because the standards ultimately will affect all the schooling in the state.
"If we're teaching everyone how to color in the lines, how are we going to get those entrepreneurs that think out of the box if we're teaching them to think only in the box?" she asked.