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MT: Common, to the Core

Isn’t it interesting that all the “Montana Teacher of the Year” recipients support Common Core?

Common Core is an untested, unpiloted program that is going to cost the state of Montana an estimated thirty four million dollars to implement.  Nationwide the cost is expected to exceed sixteen billion dollars over the next seven years.  According to the Montana Office of Public Instruction, Montana was at or exceeding the current standards before adopting Common Core, so my question is why on earth would we adopt an untested, unpiloted federally run education program whose costs are exceedingly high?  It is wise to be smart with the taxpayers’ money, and Common Core is not a smart use of taxpayer money.

We have schools that are in great need of physical repair.  We have schools that are overcrowded, and as a result, we need to build more schools to make the teaching environment student friendly. My children attend a school where there is a 34:1 student to teacher ratio and not enough money to hire another teacher.  In this type of environment, learning is said to be more difficult, so why wouldn’t we spend money on our critical needs instead of throwing money to an untested, unpiloted program?

Most proponents have the same talking points and claim that the Common Core standards are “rigorous,” “evidenced-based,” and will make students “college-ready.”   However, it is important for the state of Montana to have all the facts.  Common Core is a lowering of standards in math and English language arts. Curriculum experts believe the Common Core standards are below average and only prepare students for a community college rather than a four-year university. We do not want to fund another untested program that only prepares students for a community college level of readiness.  

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the premier authority on English language arts standards says, “Common Core’s standards for grades 6-12 do not reflect the core knowledge needed for authentic college level work and do not frame the literary and cultural knowledge one would expect of graduates from an American high school.” Dr. Stotsky also states, “… there is little else with respect to content in lower grades.”  Also, Dr. James Milgram, the only mathematician on the validation committee says, “The Common Core math standards will place our students about two years behind their counterparts in high performing countries.” In other words, the Common Core math standards will slow down the learning process.  Dr. Milgram refused to sign-off on the math standards.

Furthermore, the right to privacy has been a bulwark of America since her inception. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protected student and parent privacy. However, this act has been gutted through regulations, thus putting student privacy at risk. Common Core is another attempt to create digital DNA on our students.

The Common Core means a loss of local control, a loss of parental rights, a loss of privacy and a high dollar tax burden. The Common Core is an experiment destined for failure.

This article first appeared in slightly different form as a Letter to the Editor in the Billings Gazette


Tonya Shellnutt

Tonya Shellnutt is the State Director of Montana for Concerned Women for America. Concerned Women for America is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with over 500,000 members nationwide and over 2,100 members in Montana. Tonya became connected to CWA through a book she wrote, Woman Power Revolution. It is about feminism from a conservative viewpoint and her personal story that brought her there. CWA has since endorsed her book.

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Categories: Education, Must Read, Opinion


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