Local Republican leaders are warning the Cobb County Board of Education about a vote scheduled today on the purchase of millions of dollars of textbooks they believe will tie the system into the Obama administration’s nationally prescribed Common Core curriculum.
This month the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution denouncing the Common Core State Standards, while Saturday local Republican districts, such as District 6, representing parts of Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties, followed suit.
“I believe it would be very wise for our education leaders to thoroughly examine all the ramifications of choosing to implement the Common Core curriculum and not be shortsighted to fill a budget shortfall,” said state Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb), chairman of the Cobb Legislative Delegation.
Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy said he believes the general public is unaware of the ultimate goal of Common Core.
As for the school board, “I would really ask them to be extremely cautious and do their due diligence in finding out about the Common Core curriculum and not take the word of the publishers because they’re just out to sell textbooks,” Dendy said.
State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), said he opposes the rollout of a national education curriculum.
“Common Core is a careful effort to camouflage the implementation of a national curriculum,” Setzler said. “Control of curriculum is control of ideas and it’s just too delicious of a prize for the political left not to make it their business to control that process.”
Setzler and Dendy said when it comes to a subject such as math, there’s not a great worry of injecting a particular ideology in the textbook since two plus two is always going to equal four. But it’s in the other subjects where historical revisionism in favor of political correctness can come into play, they said.
“When you go and intentionally attempt to change people’s understanding and impression of history to influence their values and ideals, you begin to fundamentally change America,” Hill said.
Georgia’s funding issue
Georgia became attached to the Common Core agenda when former Gov. Sonny Perdue, long lambasted by critics for slashing public education dollars, accepted President Obama’s federal Race to the Top funding.
But Setzler said there’s no reason the state can’t extract itself from Common Core, “By opting out of Common Core and setting internationally benchmarked standards that we Georgians set for ourselves that does not make us beholden to any authority outside of Georgia.”
One of the masterminds behind the program is Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, Dendy said.
“He has put millions of dollars into this Common Core, and he’s extremely liberal,” Dendy said.
And then there’s the communist Bill Ayers, founder of the terrorist organization called The Weather Underground, Dendy said.
“The publishers of textbooks, schoolbooks really went from quite a few down to three or four basic publishers, and Bill Ayers sits on the board of directors for two or three of those,” Dendy said. “Now what does that tell you? Of course the textbook publishers are promoting this Common Core because it would mean that they could produce the same textbook for the entire country.”
J.D. Van Brink, chairman of the Marietta-based Georgia Tea Party, said his organization is reviewing the topic in order to take a formal position.
“We have started to look at it, and what we see we do not like,” Van Brink said.
One of Van Brink’s objections is the top-down federal approach to education.
“It’s not a federal responsibility. It is nowhere in the Constitution,” Van Brink said. “It is a state and local responsibility, primarily local. Here’s the problem of course. The federal government dangles this money in front of the states and the local governments and says, ‘hey, if you want this money, you’ve got to do X, Y and Z, and in order to get the money a lot of the time states do X, Y, and Z, and it’s not just with education of course. It’s with transportation, the list goes on and on and on.”
As for the school board’s vote today, Van Brink said, “I think it’s reasonable to delay until we can talk about it some more. I think that’s a very reasonable position.”
Former state representative and retired Cobb School District teacher Roger Hines of Acworth, said, “I wish governors would take a different stand on these things, but they like federal money. I think that’s absolutely what it is. I tell you in my day we did without a lot of things and we still can if we have to. We’re just moving toward federalization of stuff and I wish we would do it different.”
During the past legislative session, Hill said he and other senators sponsored legislation that would withdraw Georgia from the Common Core National Education Standards and prohibit the student data collected under it from being shared outside from the state.
“The Legislature had several major education measures before it this session … and perhaps the impression that the time may be on our side before this is mandated, contributed to the bill not being considered,” Hill said. “While we’re out the remainder of this year, I and others continue to diligently explore the ramifications of the Core Curriculum and the impact on the state of Georgia and expect to renew our efforts for Georgia to make sure any education measure is best for our students.”
Cobb Board of Education member Kathleen Angelucci said what concerns her is that Common Core was agreed upon by Perdue and the state superintendent of schools without input from the local school districts or the legislature.
“They made the decision, and what bothers me is the fact that there was really no true input by teachers or communities,” Angelucci said.
Angelucci and a group of educators and residents recently had a two-hour meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal to share their concerns.
“I came away from the meeting feeling that the governor really has already made up his mind,” Angelucci said.
In her meeting with Deal, Angelucci said the governor favored the Common Core program because he was concerned about the students on Georgia’s military bases having a consistent education.
“And I see what he’s saying, but I don’t think at the end of the day that it’s worth us giving up our state sovereignty,” Angelucci said. “We’re the ones that should say what curriculum our students have. And once you sign that away it’s very difficult to get it back, and as a Republican governor I was very surprised to find out that he was willing to buy into it and continue to support it.”