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Common Core Curriculum Explained by Florence-Carlton Trustee Candidate Bill Hester



April 30, 2013
The Scent of Danger Some of you have seen a bronze statue with that title. A mother Grizzly is standing on her hind legs with her two large paws shielding two cubs who are assuming the same pose as their mother. Her head is raised upward and her nostrils are flared. There is something in the wind that instinct tells her may be a mortal threat. In a very real sense, we may be in circumstances that are the same as that bear and her cubs. There is something in the wind that we hardly understand but our instincts tell us that we may be in danger. I am speaking about something that is named “Common Core”. It has such a benign sound and the stated objectives are so logical and reasonable that none should be alarmed. In brief outline, Common Core is a radical change in our approach to education from Kindergarten through grade 12 which is being quietly implemented in Montana and some forty five other states. The entire process starts with the adoption of a common set of learning standards in the various subjects starting with Language Arts and Mathematics and later expanding to include the other major subjects. The progress in learning these subjects will be measured by tests that will be the same for every student throughout the states that have adopted the Common Core. The promise is that students will have a more demanding classroom experience and be ready for college when they graduate from high school. I ask you, what could be so threatening in what is described above? Since the first Montana schoolhouse was established in the mid 1800’s, the control of the educational process was the responsibility of the local citizens. With statehood, there was expansion and sharing of that responsibility with the state government through the Department of Education and the Office of Public Instruction. In other words, the state excercised sovereign authority in concert with the local school boards. The federal role was financial funding which was modest at first but gradually grew to billions of dollars. We are now finding out what that financial “help” from the federal government may cost us. If we accept the government’s money for education, it is a well settled fact that the federal government can attach conditions to that money. It is no secret that “Common Core” has very generous federal funding and thus, they can exert a very heavy hand in the entire process of educating our young students. Is this another aspect of the “Fundamental Change” that was promised by President Obama? Will ObamaCare now be followed by ObamaEd? I don’t have an answer to that question but what I do know is that there is an immense change in the wind known as “Common Core” that is now in the early stages of implementation. We also know that the citizens of this state are mostly uninformed about it, and our elected school boards, senators, and representatives seem to know little and have not played any significant role in its development. Most troubling is that if “Common Core” is centralized control of education in its early stages, we may see local control diminished never be to be reclaimed. It may be that after a careful examination and understanding, we will accept this change but what is critical now is that we do not accept “Common Core” until such careful analysis takes place and our elected officials, backed by an informed body of Montana Citizens have the opportunity to have their voices heard. For information on this most important issue I suggest you visit www.opi.mt.gov; and http://stopcommoncore.com/myths-facts/ to get both sides of this question. You may need to stand on your own hind legs and raise your voice to get the appropriate recognition but this is one issue that demands your attention NOW! Contact those men and women you have elected to represent you and let your views be known loud and clear. We share with that Grizzly bear the same instincts, that which is most precious are our offspring. We should never do anything which harms them or diminishes their freedom! William Hester M.D. Florence, Mt. VOTE BILL HESTER FOR TRUSTEE 2013