In Part one posted on Thursday, August 30 -- The IEA continues to hold hostage with a heavy hammer -- addressed was the influence of the Illinois Eduction Association (IEA) in regard to contract negotiations which have broken down between the District 115 board and high school teachers.
It is only fitting that residents and taxpayers of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff would be focused at the moment on the union imposed strike called for on September 12th by Lake Forest High School teachers.
What has certainly slipped under the radar is an awareness that Lake Forest School Districts 115 and 67 have signed on to what is known as the Common Core State Standards Initiatives, with its promises to "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them." www.corestandards.org
My first encounter with the Common Core program was when I attended a District 67 school board meeting on May 22 of this year, although The Common Core State Standards Initiatives date back to 2009 with an announcement by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers that they would be developing Common Core standards and assessments.
At the May 22 board meeting, a report by the Education Committee indicated that NWEA had made initial changes to their tests this year in order to begin preparing schools for the new tests that would measure national Common Core practices in 2014. http://www.lf67.org/schoolboard/minutes11_12/MinRegMtg52212.pdf
At the time there was curiosity about the nature of Common Core, but I neglected to find out more about what it was and what its application would mean applied to Lake Forest School Districts 115 and 67.
Recently I contacted two individuals who are extremely knowledgeable about school issues throughout the state of Illinois and asked for their input on Common Core: Chris Jenner and Lennie Jarrett.
Chris Jenner is an Education policy watchdog, two term Cary D-26 board member, board secretary, and policy committee chair, while Lennie Jarrett is an Education Watchdog and founder of For Our Childrens Future . Both are well qualified to speak on public school issues and do so frequently.
I was told to check http://www.corestandards.org only to discover that Common Standards is a federal education program that has presently been adopted by 45 states and three U.S. territories.
A map appeared on my screen telling me that Illinois had signed on to the federal Common Core State Standards Initiatives on June 24, 2010. States so far not signing up to adopt CCSS are Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia. www.corestandards.org/in-the-states
In response to several question asked of my contacts, I was informed how CCSS (Common Core State Standards) is being pushed by the Obama administration and by others who favor the nationalization of curriculum.
Not surprising is that Common Core is enthusiastically supported and aided by teacher unions, including the IEA.
One of my questions to Chris Jenner and Lennie Jarrett dealt specifically with Lake Forest Districts 115 and 67: "Why would Lake Forest School Districts be so eager to sign on to CCSS?"
Comments shared by Jenner and Jarrett are noted below:
"It is being pushed with money incentives, but that money is already drying up, leaving districts with high costs to buy the new curriculum."
"Many Illinois districts are headed in that direction, having already signed or who will be switching to Common Core, in what could be described as "herd mentality." In my own D-26, the administration is acting as if it's a foregone conclusion. There weren't any board discussions about whether we should go in that direction."
"One thing to watch for it the costs associated with implementing CCSS. We're being told it will cost $500,000 for new English books alone for his rather small district."
As a member of The Heritage Foundation, I searched its website for further insight. Heritage has for over 30 years been confronting challenges facing this nation (www.heritage.org)
Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute think tank. As such it communicates with Members of Congress, key congressional staff members, policymakers in the executive branch, the news media, and the academic and public policy communities through sharing its extensive research as a respected and well-known national organization.
The Heritage Foundation published the following article on April 16 of this year, "States Must Reject National Education Standards While There Is Still Time." http://www.heritage.org/research/resports/2012/04/states-must-reject-national-education-standards-while-there-is-still-time
Written by Lindsey M. Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education in the Domestic Policy Studies Department at The Heritage Foundation, the article is a must read for concerned citizens and definitely a must read for Superintendent Michael Simeck, board members who head education committees, and teachers within Districts 115 and 67 who deal with curriculum development..
The following excerpt from Lindsey Burke's article is especially telling:
"The push to nationalize the content of what is taught in every local public school across American is riddled with problems. First and foremost, the constitutional authority for education rests with states and localities, not the federal government. National standards and tests are unlikely to increase academic achievement, will not fix the fundamental misalignment of power and incentives that defines education today, will lead to the standardization of mediocrity, will create significant new expenses for states, and will significantly grow the federal in education."
To learn what is in store for schools in Illinois who have signed on to Common Core, be sure to read: "The New Illinois Learning Standards Incorporating the Common Core." www.isbe.net/common_core/default.htm
The target date for the implementation of the Common Core assessment program throughout the state of Illinois is set for the 2014-2015 school year.
Might you find Common Core as a replacement curriculum in Lake Forest School Districts 115 and 67 as questionable as I do?
There is still time to register your complaint against implementing a federal education program that should have no place in the Lake Forest School System.
Attend scheduled school board meetings to let your opinion be heard.
The federal government is not known for its ability to succeed in much of anything it takes charge of. Education is too important to allow standards to be dictated at the federal level in Lake Forest Districts 67 and 115.