"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How Do I Find the Truth? Follow the Money and Read the Grant Documents

I have had many people say, "I've heard so many conflicting stories about ________________.  How do I find out what is really the truth?"

When it comes to government, one of the best ways is to read the grant applications.  Common Core and the idea of 'Common Standards' has been involved in a handful of formal, legal documents, all tied to money from the Federal Government.  It stands to reason that IF you are receiving money for something, the best way to determine what will ACTUALLY happen, is to read what the money is supposed to be used for.

This is horribly boring reading, but many people involved in researching Common Core have spent the time looking at 1) The State Fiscal Stablization Fund (SFSF), 2) The Race to the Top Grant (RTTT), 3) The ESEA (No Child Left Behind or NCLB) Waiver, and 4) The Statewide Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  All four contain four things:

1. Common Standards and Assessments
2. Improving Teacher Effectiveness (not really professional development, but tying teacher pay to the tests.  Teachers now have high-stakes testing, as well.)
3. Improving Low-performing schools (really shutting down neighborhood schools and turning them over to a 'higher-level' for management--without elected representation--a semblance of 'privatization')
4. Pre-K to College and Career Data Systems

Here is a MUST READ analysis of the Race to the Top Grant Application.  I don't care what side of this argument you are on, it is important to know WHAT we were, and are, committing our state to.  You may feel the merits outweigh the strings, but shouldn't we proceed with full knowledge of both?


This is where 'rigorous' and 'internationally benchmarked' come from.  They are the promises ("benefits") the Federal government is making to the states about what the Common Standards WILL BE.  Note what "state-led" really means in this application.  This is how we know WHAT we were being expected to do.  Even though Utah didn't win any money with Race to the Top, it outlines the details of what Utah was signing on to when it adopted Common Core and all the rest.  Because we have received money for the remaining 3 grants, listed above, we are still tied in to all those same requirements.  (See a nice graphical presentation here:

Since the RTTT Grant application was over 400 pages long, I doubt any of the State Board members read it, at the time.  They were placing trust in their staff and their administrations.  However, they were committing you and me to what they signed.  It, nicely, outlines who has really been in charge in this 'more rigorous standards' process. 

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