An Ontario, Ohio school board member urges all American parents to “follow the money” on Common Core.
Richland County’s Marianne Gasiecki warns that state departments of education are intent on undermining “local control” laws when it comes to opting out of the new standards.
“It’s all about the money,” Gasiecki told Breitbart News during an interview.
As a Republican who founded the Mansfield Tea Party and serves as state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, Gasiecki helped organize the student opt-out from the Common Core-aligned tests a year ago. This January, she was elected to the Ontario school board.
“And I have been a thorn in their side,” she said. “But what I’m experiencing is being experienced across the country.”
According to Ohioans Against Common Core (OACC), the Ontario public school district recently received a letter “in response to inquiring what repercussions may result if the district acted upon their ‘local control’ and opted out of the ‘voluntary’ Common Core standards.”
“As you’ll read, the reform game is rigged with punitive penalties – for every player at every level – thus preventing any real or practical defection from the State and Federal regime,” writes OACC.
According to the letter, signed by Brian Roget, associate director of the Office of Curriculum and Assessment of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE):
Because of the alignment of the academic content standards to assessments and to the end of course examinations, the most obvious concern is that a district decision to not adopt a curriculum based upon the new learning standards will affect student scores on assessments. Poor performance on these assessments will impact building and district rankings on the report card, the ability of students to master the end of course examinations and graduate, and teacher performance under the teacher evaluation system.
At the student level, poor performance on certain assessments can result in a child being retained in the third grade or being unable to meet graduation requirements. At the teacher level, poor performance by students will affect a teacher’s evaluation and could result in consequences for the teacher.
At the district level, a poor performing school building (depending upon whether the performance falls below standards set by the specific statutes) could end up being an EdChoice eligible building, or could be required to conduct school improvement activities. To the extent that students cannot meet the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, a district will have to bear the cost of providing the required remediation. If a district’s overall performance is low enough, the district may end up subject to the supervision of an Academic Distress Commission.
Before making a decision about whether or not to adopt curricula based on Ohio’s new learning standards, your district should carefully compare the new learning standards to the existing academic standards and to review the model curricula. The department can provide you with comparison documents if that would be helpful. The greater the extent to which your district reflects the new learning standards, the more aligned your district will be to the assessments administered to your students, which will lessen the potential for any negative impact.
In a recent editorial at Richland Source, Gasiecki dismissed latest threat: Schools will lose funding if students opt out of the Common Core-aligned testing.
“False,” she said. “There is nothing in the Ohio Revised Code tying a child’s test to funding… All this coercion makes sense when you learn that the ODE received $4.5 million, and the National Assoc. of State School Boards received $3.3 million from the Gates Foundation, for implementation of CC.”
Gasiecki traced how taxpayer funding is being spent on Microsoft products, and questioned the motives of textbook publishers such as McGraw Hill and Pearson, who reportedly profit from taxpayer funding of new textbooks aligned with the Common Core standards.
“Pearson has purchased a bio-behavioral testing company so they can do more behavioral testing in the schools,” wrote Gasiecki. “Why is a textbook company getting into the bio-behavioral testing business? Think about it.”
A mother of two – one is a senior in the local public school and the other is homeschooled – Gasiecki has a four-year accounting degree and a background in finance.
“I had always gone to school board meetings. I was never rude, but I started pressing them on the Common Core,” she explained. “I asked, ‘What did you do to vet this Common Core?’ All I got was a ‘deer in the headlights’ look.”
Gasiecki said she continued to become more vocal, “hammering” the board of education, and urging more people to attend meetings and get involved.
“The board was clueless,” she stated. “The superintendent and the state board of education were running the show.”
Gasiecki said, however, that, gradually, more people began to listen to what she had to say.
“I come from a conservative-leaning community,” she continued. “I knew a lot of teachers and had volunteered in the schools for years. When teachers started to hear how vocal I was against the Common Core, they began to get behind me.”
On October 14, the Ontario local school board meeting had a packed house, said Gasiecki, who added she could hear grumbling going on throughout the meeting.
“We went from an A-rated school district to a C-rated district over a couple of years,” she elaborated. “When I asked the superintendent nine months ago why this was happening, he replied, ‘It’s not.’ Yet, the day before the October 14 meeting, he issued a report showing the decline to a C-rated district.”
Gasiecki said at school board meetings she found that other board members couldn’t answer questions about the Common Core standards.
“They hadn’t done their homework,” she said. “They didn’t really know what it was about.”
Gasiecki has also found that she has been targeted for her outspokenness on the controversial education initiative.
On October 9 – Constitution Day – she reported that she went into the elementary school in her district to bring activity books about the Constitution for the kids.
“The superintendent went ballistic over this, and listed eight grievances she had with me,” Gasiecki explained. “She called a special board meeting to address the grievances against me, that I’m too involved from day to day.”
Gasiecki stated she suggested the board address the specific issues about the fact that she went into the schools, so that the people attending the meeting could hear about them.
“The people in the chairs were furious, and I ended up getting more support,” she said.
Gasiecki views the current struggle with the Common Core as the latest stage of a “snowball effect” of progressive education policy that began a century ago.
“When you follow the money, you see that state departments of education have received millions of dollars, and now they have to push Common Core in any way they can,” she said.