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Is California “Common Core Unrest State #23”?

December 21, 2013

In response to my post, UPDATE: Common Core Unrest in 22 States, I received the following comment:

You should include California. It is the sleeping giant that no one is paying attention to and here is why: First, this past summer, California Republican Party overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning Common Core. Based on your above analysis, this alone would qualify the state on your list. Second, Gov. Brown has repeatedly stated he is opposed to any government-controlled standards and testing. He just said it again just this past week. Third, California received no Race to the Top grants for K-12. Therefore, CA would have no RTTP money to worry about and could reallocate state Common Core funds to spend on teachers and schools. Fourth, California is a “local control state.” This means that any school district may reject Common Core. Awareness and revolt is growing here (California has been lagging other states) and with the 2014 election year coming, watch the sparks fly, especially in Republican dominated school districts.

Indeed, California is still under the defunct No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements– which Duncan decided to use in to hold California hostage when the state decided in September 2013 to revamp its standardized testing because the old tests did not complement the new Common Core (CCSS) (for which CA accepted no RTTT money).

California is also the only state in which Duncan has blatantly ignored federalism and waived NCLB for select districts within a state.  (Duncan’s “waiving” NCLB is in itself shaky since NCLB is a federal law.)  As Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss reports:

While new [California] tests aligned with the Common Core are being designed, state officials want to replace the old tests with a limited version of the exams that are coming in 2015 — but only in those districts that have the technology to administer the exams, which are to be done on computers. That makes infinite sense, too. Because this is an experiment, California officials don’t want the scores of the tests to be included in an official measure of school quality.

But here’s the problem: The No Child Left Behind law, which Congress was supposed to have rewritten in 2007, remains in force and mandates annual exams. To implement this plan, California would need a waiver  from the U.S. Education Department exempting it from No Child Left Behind mandates. Duncan began offering waivers from the most onerous NCLB mandates in 2011 to states that agreed to implement reforms he liked, and 34 states and the District of Columbia obtained them.

Now he is offering to let those states and the District renew their waivers, but, again, only by pursuing reforms he likes. California sought a NCLB waiver, but Duncan rejected its application on the grounds that the state would not agree to use students’ standardized-test scores to evaluate teachers — an assessment method that many experts say is unfair. But get this: Eight school districts in California banded together to apply for an NCLB waiver — agreeing to using scores to assess teachers — and Duncan this past summer agreed to give them one. That meant the federal government was bypassing the state government to control the accountability systems of individual school districts. [Emphasis added.]

It should come as no surprise, then, that at the October 2013 California Republican Convention, delegates formally resolved to reject CCSS:

This weekend at the California Republican Party State Convention delegates overwhelmingly pass a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards, language below:

Resolution ( F2013-2) to Oppose and Eliminate Common Core Education Policies in California

Whereas the federally-promoted Common Core national curriculum-content standards in math and English (and now the related Next Generation national standards in science) water down what has been expected academically of California’s K-12 students;

Whereas the Common Core tests will collect extensive data on students, and the Obama administration has turned upside down federal regulations that previously protected student privacy;

Whereas Common Core is accompanied by federally-funded tests, and the Obama administration’s promotion of national standards and national tests violate federal statutes that protect us against a national K-12 curriculum;

Whereas Common Core and Next Generation are national efforts at one-size-fits-all uniformity and, as such, go against our system of competitive federalism under our American Constitution;

Now, Therefore Be It Resolved, by the Republican Party in convention on Oct. 6, 2013, in Anaheim, California, that the Republican Party call on state legislators, the State Board of Education, and local school board members to sever ties with, not participate in, or align with Common Core and Next Generation when it comes to adoption of standards, teaching materials, or tests.

The California anti-CCSS resolution was co-authored by  Bill Evers of Stanford University’s Hoover Institute. The other co-author, Randall Jordan, is a member of the Tea Party California Caucus.

Now, Duncan and other supporters have tried hard to make any rejection of CCSS to appear to be all Tea Party. However, keep in mind that Duncan bypassed the State of California in offering NCLB waivers directly to a handful of California districts prior to the formal drafting of this resolution. Furthermore, the resolution was voted on and approved by the entire California Republican Convention.

Consider this timeline:

In September 2013, California appealed to Duncan for NCLB waiver for what is clearly unfair testing using defunct NCLB tests on RTTT standards and resulting curriculum. Duncan wanted all students tested using assessments that did not fit.

In October 2013, the California Republican Party officially rejected CCSS.

In November 2013, Duncan expanded his list of CCSS “enemies” to include “white suburban mothers” who cannot seem to come to grips with the CCSS-induced realization that their children aren’t “brilliant.”

Thus, Duncan is willing to swing his CCSS-protective bat beyond the Tea Party, taking aim at those apparently-delusional white (yes, he did say that) suburban mothers.

It seems that this CCSS unrest across America has become too pronounced for Duncan to sell as “a Tea Party issue.”

Based upon my findings in this post, I must agree with the commenter who wrote that California is experiencing CCSS unrest.

The number of states evidencing CCSS unrest is indeed 23.

That is half of the CCSS “adoption” states (and DC), folks.

  1. Jerry Heverly permalink

    Though I am sympathetic to the CCSS cause there is need to give some balance to this post.
    1. The Republican party is almost to the status of a third party in California presently with no state-wide office holders and less than one third of each legislative branch. The Tea Party has minimal influence on public affairs. Certainly that could change but right now the Democratic governor is extremely popular and there seems no groundswell of support for a GOP comeback.
    2. The state has allocated one billion dollars for CCSS preparedness. My district has already “spent” that money, i.e. they published a detailed budget showing where every penny will go. Reversing this sort of expenditure would be very complex.
    3. I follow California education news carefully and I have never heard one word from any district about withdrawing from CCSS. On the contrary the waivers noted in the post came because all of the large urban districts were much more CCSS friendly than the state government. This is how they got the waivers.
    4. Yes, California is still on NCLB but the whole program is virtually dormant. I haven’t heard of any schools being put on NCLB probation this year. And since the state testing (called CST) was ditched there will be no scores to use for NCLB sanctions. It is still possible that Duncan will withhold federal funds because Brown refuses to use test scores to evaluate teachers but it would be a risky step politically. I suspect the Republicans would trumpet such an event as evidence of federal (Democratic) bullying. It would give the weakened GOP an issue in the next election.
    Alas, I think California is actually one of the biggest CCSS boosters in the nation.

    • The fact that Duncan is willing to bypass the state and grant NCLB waivers to districts could certainly haunt him– if not in California, in other states on the fence about CCSS and skittish about federal intrusion into state education affairs.

      Since the California Republican Party has formally resolved its anti-CCSS position, I include California as evidencing CCSS unrest. As is true of the other 22 states on my list, we will see where it leads in the upcoming legislative session.

    • Hi Jerry. We believe this is all because parents in CA are COMPLETELY in the dark. Our point is that, regardless of the number of Republicans (~3-4M Republican voters in the state), in the Republican dominated districts, the Republicans running for office in 2014 will be forced to open the Common Core can of worms and awareness will be raised. With that awareness, one could argue that, California, of all the states, had the FEWEST reasons to switch to Common Core. Our standards were already among the best in the nation, we had a decade of successful testing and results across all demographic groups, despite high immigration. ALl this, plus California got no K-12 RTTP money. So why in the world would CA continue the switch to Common Core? No logical reason, outside of politics and because Arnold signed it in 2010, when we had the budget mess and CA was desperate for the fed money. Gov. Brown didn’t like Star (he didn’t come up with it, so there you go), to save face and to get the NCLB money, may need to run Smarter Balanced, but delay, stall and have them account for almost nothing. Perhaps speaking out of both sides of his mouth: “Common Core is needed, but it doesn’t do any good”?? Then perhaps, he’ll keep the standards and the materials, and eventually get rid of the Smarter Balanced tests altogether in favor of something else. We believe the unrest will come to light and grow in 2014, but we shall see.

  2. Jerry Heverly permalink

    Sorry, I meant sympathetic to the anti-CCSS cause.

  3. Hi Mercedes, thank you for considering and agreeing with our suggestion to add California to the list. The unrest has been quietly growing, but has been unseen and/or ignored by school administrations and the media. It will grow once more parents (and teachers) become aware of facts and no longer buy the propaganda & sales pitch coming from Sacramento, special interest groups and local school administrations.

    More facts will be forced to come out with Republican campaigns, and some Democrat campaigns, for those running in 2014. It won’t be just “white, suburban moms” who will object, it will be moms and dads of all races who do not want California to spend $1.2B in taxpayer money (including Prop. 30 money) just to LOWER our standards. Where is the REAL Prop. 30 money for schools and teachers?:

    Contrary to Arne Duncan’s assertions that parents will not like Johnny’s score on his Common Core test, California’s state standards and tests, in place for 13+ years now, are about a year AHEAD of Common Core, especially in math. What Californians won’t like, Mr. Duncan, is spending $1.2B in California taxpayer money just to fail Johnny for a year so that he can slow down for your expensive tests. When one-size doesn’t fit all, it doesn’t always mean the size is too tight.

    California parents (and teachers) will also not like it when they learn more about California’s “CALPADS” longitudinal student database:

    Nor will parents like the 2010 CA state law that encodes a “cradle to grave” tracking mission starting in PRE-K through the workforce:

    “Create robust data systems linking prekindergarten, K-12, higher education and workforce data…” CA SBXB5 1, Sec. 1(d)

    Nor will teachers like the California proposed equivalent to track teachers, CALTIDES. Interestingly enough, CALTIDES website now says “this project has been defunded”:

    Perhaps the teacher version will return after 2014 elections. Here’s what that same CALTIDES page used to look like, before they apparently “got rid of the evidence”:

    Yet, apparently it’s still OK to collect, share and probably soon, sell, data on our kids–as one San Diego district apparently thought it could do to pay for Arne Duncan’s expensive visit:

    California may be the sleeping giant on Common Core that will wake up in the 2014 election year. Thanks again!

  4. AZ Republicans don’t like Common Core, so the Supt of Public Instruction (who is a politician, and not an educator) renamed them College and Career Ready standards to make them more palatable to the Republicans who dominate state politics here. He also is considering a break in school ratings for a year as AZ transitions.

    • Yes, or delay until after the 2014 elections. The phrase “Common Core” is toxic in Republican, and perhaps soon Progressive, politics. Hopefully voters will see past the smoke and mirrors.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Schneider: Common Core Pushback in 23 States | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Schneider Responds to Honig on California and the Common Core | Diane Ravitch's blog
  3. Kings Park BOE and the AFT Are Wrong About The Common Core | Kings Park Advocates for Education
  4. A Veteran Teacher Asks: Why Does NEA Still Support Common Core? - Living in Dialogue

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