Feds Admit to Coercing Common Core at the Local Level


By Heather Callaghan

Many activists against the use of the uber-complicated and convoluted Common Core curriculum have pinpointed its corporate pushers. But how were the pushers allowed to run rampant – and why the rush to use this particular curriculum? Ask the angry teachers – they were just reeling from No Child Left Behind when all of a sudden it was time for a nonsensical frustrating curriculum that left parents bewildered, more standardized test hoops to hop through and the selling out of private, student data to third-parties.

Indeed, there was nothing organic about the development and forceful push for schools to make the Common Core switch.

Dr. Susan Berry fills in the missing puzzle piece with a little known and recent revelation:

In a remarkable admission, the former director of the Race to the Top (RttT) competitive grant program and chief of staff to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the federal government “forced” full support for adoption of the Common Core standards from each state by requiring its governor, chief state school officer, and head of the state board of education to sign off on the grant application.

Joanne Weiss, who is now an “independent education consultant,” writes at the Stanford Social Innovation Review that the RttT grant program, funded through President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill in the name of helping low-income, poor-performing schools, “offers lessons in high-impact grantmaking that are applicable not only in education but also in other fields.”

And it wasn’t a for-profit kind of program for schools – it was waving money to severely cash-strapped schools and saying “do this to get to the ‘top’ or fall to the bottom.” Worse, incentives were unleashed on foundations and private businesses to push everyone “on board.”

Ms. Weiss somewhat boasted of the four tools that helped bring Common Core “to the top” so to speak.

They are: pressing for approval and endorsement of the top three education leaders in each state (governor, chief state school officer and the state board of education’s president). Getting all kinds of district-level school administration signatures – even union leaders, but making sure they had no veto power. Community incentives! Getting buy-ins from stakeholders like business and parents’ groups, foundations and community organizations and teachers’ unions. Finally, forcing the above mentioned parties to meetings and make the case for reviewers – also to make sure everyone was fully committed to the plan.

(But it’s all for the children…)

She even spoke in terms of aggression – her tools were “deployed,” all parties were to “reform,” “we forced alignment,” “we imposed,” “we required,” – one wonders whether the duped parties ever felt like they were being squeezed by a boa constrictor.

Attorney and activist Jane Robins says that this admission “blows the lid off” any presidential candidate’s claims that the states were leading the Common Core process but were “hijacked” by the federal government.

She told Breitbart:

Not only did the states have to toe the line in all these areas to have a shot at the much-coveted federal money, but they had to alter their own decision-making structures to comply with federal dictates. …— it was planned from the start. Presidential candidates should retire the misleading talking points.

Commenters to Ms. Weiss’ admission noted the conflict-of-interest having the US Department of Education directing local education (illegal). They note that two parties have been completely left out of the equation – parents and teachers! Additionally, they find it shameful that RttT money which is taxpayer money is not actually helping struggling schools and certainly not helping with education by stoking a Hunger Games type competition.

Save the serenity of students, parents and teachers – share this article!

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

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15 Comments on "Feds Admit to Coercing Common Core at the Local Level"

  1. From what I gather, it was kinda like obummer care, we have to pass the bill to see whats in it, they gave them grants without them even knowing what common core was and then when some didn’t like it they said to bad you took the grant money, NOW some states act like they have gotten rid of common core, but they haven’t they just change the name so people will “believe” they have! The states should have NEVER taken money before they knew what it was! This is how the people get screwed by not only the fed gov but also the state!
    common core is nothing but an indoctrination tool, so inless you want your children to be good little slaves, you better do something!

  2. The headline and article use the word coersion.

    “Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to act in an involuntary manner by use of intimidation or threats.”

    1. Applying for funding from the Feds was voluntary, not involuntary
    2. Requiring that top officials agree on applying for funds is not coercion.
    3. Non Common Core programs which meet the standards were also eligible for funding.

    Common Core has curriculum and is managed on the local level. The Federal Government offered financial aid to states which adopted Common Core standards (ie more critical thinking, less rote programming, etc) or other programs which also promoted higher standards. Offering aid is not coercion by any definition.

    This article, therefore, uses rhetoric which is, at base, a form of lying. I checked the links in the article and in no way do they support the hysterical rhetoric about coercion and force.

    No one is forced to adopt Common Core, which is run at the local level. A state which adopts a program which meets the standards is also eligible for funding. So states have 3 options (force means NO options): 1. adopt Common Core and develop means to implement goals 2) adopt another program which raises standards and 3) reject the whole program.

    Is there an incentive? Yes. Is incentive coercion? No. Can incentive be applied to other than Common Core programs? Yes.

    Does this article pander to ignorant anti-government elements and lies about the methods used to incentive adoption of education programs with higher standards? Yes.

    • Dale Ruff, the eternal contrarian. lol. Don’t take that the wrong way; you are clearly a critical thinker, and I respect you for that.

      While your dictionary definition of coercion is quite right, it only tells half the story. It is also possible to coerce someone by withholding something desirable. So, I disagree with your statement that “Offering aid is not coercion by any definition.” Again, it only tells half the story. Refusing to provide aid to someone (who needs it) if they do not do your bidding is obviously coercive.

    • Also, I fail to see why you emphasize the distinction between “adopting
      common core,” and “meeting common core standards.” Teachers
      don’t seem to see this as a meaningful distinction. No competent front-line educators are
      opposed to teaching critical thinking (if that’s why you seem to support common
      core). Also, your claim that common core = higher educational standards is
      presented without evidence. So it can easily be dismissed without evidence.

      • Common core standards are not just set higher but also are intended to encourage understand not just how to solve a problem in many ways but to understand the soluitions. It works to set standards which move away from rote learning (one method, one correct answer) and to encourage critical thinking skills.

        Any program which can meet these standards is eligible for funding. If a program is designed which encourages a deeper approach to problem solving and critical thinking, it can apply for funding.

        What is you evidence that “Teaches don’t seem to see this as a meaninful distinction?”

        Here are two critical facts:

        ” Common Core State Standards are not a national mandate or a national curriculum. States voluntarily chose whether or not to adopt the standards and retain full authority for implementation, preventing the possibility of a federal takeover. State leaders, accountable to their constituents, can withdraw their states from the standards at any time.” Clearly, that is not coercion, as the article states.

        “Fact: A Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, study showed that Common Core State Standards are superior to standards currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English. For 33 states, the new standards are superior in both math and reading. The shared standards will Increase accountability by providing transparent data that allows for true comparisons across state lines.”

        “According to an analysis by ACT(American College testing), three-fourths of young men and women entering college “were not adequately prepared academically for first year college courses.”

        So the evidence that Common Core mandates higher standards comes not only from the Federal Dept of Education and the over 40 states which have adopted it but studies by both conservative, liberal, and professional organizations.

        Clearly you are unfamiliar with Common Core or you would not have dismissed the idea that it raises standards. To dismiss commonly known and available information is to endorse darkness and ignorance. The goal of Common Core is to produce citizens who will not make such errors in their thinking.

  3. Stupid stupid stupid… One cannot “force” a signature EVER. It is against the law and this article simply indicates these people were BOUGHT once again…. When you have not morals you have no moral value…

  4. Thank you for the great reporting. And clearly it shows the candidates have no interest in our young people and only giving lip service.

  5. You write “I reject your claim that refusing to offer an incentive is coercion.” Then you write, “If I say I will only feed your hungry children if you do what I say, that would be coercion.” Refusing to feed the children in your example is precisely “refusing to offer an incentive,” which you just rejected (in your first statement) as coercion. Which is it? Your accusation of me being the one who is confusing the meaning of words is like getting called out on semantics by Humpty Dumpty.

    You state that common core “…works to set standards which move away from rote learning (one method, one correct answer) and to encourage critical thinking skills.” That’s all fine and good, but it’s really nothing that competent teachers don’t do already. The problem with common core is that is reduces the teacher’s flexibility and ownership of the educational process. It increases dependency on publisher and corporation produced curriculum and assessment. It leaves little room for education; to draw out and support the development of student’s unique talents. It leaves little time for teachers to realistically prepare thoughtful curriculum or accommodate for developmental differences. Instead it promotes a highly prescribed and rigid training of children. And as school become more rigid, it becomes more alienating for kids who aren’t geared toward scholastic achievement.

    • You fail to follow my logic. I give an example where food is used as a bribe to coerce obedience. Then I point out that this is not the case with Common Core, which states are free to accept or reject or propose their own model for funding. And the clincher is that several states have backed out, something a starving person would not do.

      I laid out this logic to show that I understood that in certain cases mortal need (such as starvation or the urgent need for medical treatment), lack of delivery could be seen as coercion.

      I did this to show that, when urgent need is required, the logic changes, and I then point out, which even you would agree, whether a state accepts or rejects Common Core, or devises its own program, is not a case of mortal urgency.

      I suggest you reject knee-jerk reactions and seek deeper understanding, as I took pains to explain my argument.

      You say” As schools become more rigid….” without any idea of what is actually happening in schools or that the Common core concept is to take the rigidity out of education (the right solution, the right answer, the correct answer) and make education more creative and with deeper roots in not only coming up with the “correct” answer but understanding the process.

      I doubt if you have spent any time in a public school in a long time since your repeat several memes for which there is no evidence.

      Even children who are not”geared”for scholastic achievement can do better and will benefit from learning a broader approach to problem solving and critical thinking. I don’t think you know what you are talking about.

  6. Obviously, the coercion was wrong. Please stop referring to Common Core as a curriculum – it’s not. They are standards and schools have options on how and what to teach those standards. The preamble to the Common Core says multiple times that it is not a curriculum and knowing lots of schools and teachers implementing Common Core, I have seen how this is tru.

  7. Two words: Home School

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