Last week, I participated in a hearing for a Georgia House study committee regarding HR 550, which created the state House Study Committee on the Role of Federal Government in Education.
The purpose of the committee was to study “the federal government’s role in public education and whether a recommendation should be made that the United States Department of Education be abolished.”
The main focus of the hearings, however, was Common Core and none of the developers of this initiative were on the list of participants. Why they weren’t is the question that Congress itself needs to take up.
Indeed, I had been asked to address the role of Common Core’s Validation Committee, the flaws in its English language arts standards, and whether they in any way resembled Massachusetts’ former first-rate ELA standards, which they did not. The surreal aspect of this hearing, however, was that none of the developers of the Common Core project – officials of the National Governors Association, Achieve, Inc., or the Council for Chief State School Officers – were planning to provide their testimony.
Many Georgia department of education staff had already testified, and they clearly didn’t know much beyond the talking points they had dutifully prepared. None had been involved in the development of the Common Core standards and the formulation of its reach into every state’s education policies.
Why were Stanford mathematics Professor James Milgram and I regularly testifying and answering questions put to us by state legislators, in state after state, but nowhere to be seen and questioned were the people responsible for Common Core’s standards and tests, and the policies of the federal government pertaining to their adoption?
I asked about this in the opening remarks of my testimony.
My question was clearly not an idle one, and it elicited a response. The next day Rep. Carl Rogers, committee co-chairman, had this information sent to me:
If you are in touch with Dr. Stotsky again, please advise her the committee did reach out to the original people behind the common core state standards: Bill & Melinda Gates; Vicki Philips; Gene Wilhoit; Michael Cohen; Judith Rizzo; David Coleman; Jason Zimba; Susan Pimentel; Stefanie Sanford; Arne Duncan; Margot Rogers; James Shelton; Joanne Weiss; Matt Gandal, but made no headway in any of them agreeing to participate.
I appreciated Rep. Rogers’ response, but it only raises far more important questions: Why weren’t the right people there testifying and answering questions? Who can compel them to tell us truthful details (under oath) about the purpose and nature of this project?
Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. is Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas.