Common Core Controversy

Common Core Controversy

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is a set of educational standards for each grade level (K-12) that are intended to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so that teachers and parents know what they need to do to help their students and children. There are currently only standards for Math and English, and they incorporate both content and skills standards.

The official authors, publishers and copyright holders of the Common Core State Standards are the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Since its inception in 2008, forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro, with the approval of the State Board of Education, signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2009 permitting Missouri to work with other states on the development of the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics. The Missouri State Board of Education (not the Missouri legislature) adopted the Common Core State Standards on June 15, 2010 with full implementation expected during the school year 2014-15.

There will be a new set of assessment tests aligned with the Common Core Standards. Because the tests are computer-based, schools will need adequate computer technology and bandwidth available to conduct the assessments.

Both ACT and the SAT have announced that these tests will become aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

Missouri has allied itself with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to develop the Common Core assessment tests for Math and English, which will replace the current Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests for these subject areas.

There are a number of groups opposing this initiative for a variety of reasons, including ParentalRights.org, MissouriEducationWatchdog.com, MOAgainstCommonCore.webs.com, The American Principles Project, Concerned Women of America, National Coalition of Organized Women, UtahnsAgainstCommonCore.com, and PioneerInstitute.org.

While CCHR does not particularly endorse nor oppose CCSSI, there may be ramifications in the mental health field about which you may wish to know.

The main objection voiced that might relate to CCHR interests is that these standards raise the prospect of privacy violations and data mining of private student information. The fear is that this data could include such items as family income, religion, family voting history, mental health screenings, and disciplinary actions. (In fact, current data reporting already includes disciplinary actions.)

Currently the Missouri Department of Education collects 119 data points for each student. These are a combination of requirements from Missouri state law, Missouri state Department of Education, court rulings, federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act, and federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

While the Common Core Standards officially do not contain data collection or reporting requirements, the means of assessing students and the data that results from those assessments are up to the discretion of each state. There is also a separate data collection effort called the Common Core of Data which is a program of the U.S. Department of Education, although this ostensibly uses aggregate statistics only and not individually identifiable information.

A less well-known, hard to find and disturbing bit of information comes from the CCSSI co-author Council of Chief State School Officers web site, which lists one of its prime principles as “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation,” referring to making the data collection and reporting systems provide more data that is tied to individuals rather than aggregated solely as statistics.

In a 2009 interview with Charlie Rose, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan advocated having healthcare clinics associated with schools. He also indicated that schools should be the center of community life and be open 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, 12 months a year. When not operating strictly as a school, they should be partnered with community service organizations to operate the facilities and hold various programs.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a Fact Sheet January 19, 2012 called “Unlocking the Power of Education Data for All Americans,” announcing a number of public and private data collection and reporting initiatives.

It is certainly no secret that the White House strongly supports mental health efforts in schools. Quoting from the White House blog:

“The budget supports initiatives to help teachers and other adults identify early signs of mental health problems and refer young people to services they may need, and to advance new state-based strategies to prevent young people ages 16 to 25 with mental health or substance abuse problems from falling through the cracks when they leave home. The budget will help 8,000 schools implement evidence-based behavioral practices to improve school climate and behavioral outcomes for all students.”

We’re not particularly prone to cry “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” having stirred up enough fireless smoke ourselves. All we’re really saying here is, there might be something to watch about all this — dig a little deeper when the news media says how wonderful some new program is, especially if it involves an area already infiltrated by the psychiatric industry such as education.

For more information about harmful psychiatric influences in education, download the CCHR reportHarming Youth — Psychiatry Destroys Young Minds — Report and recommendations on harmful mental health assessments, evaluations, and programs within our schools.”

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