Florida one of 46 States Tied to Common Core in 2009?

In June 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA) held an education symposium in which NGA outlined its plans for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money. Twenty-one governors attended; so did US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The following information is included a part of that June 2009 report:

At the Symposium, Secretary Duncan made an important announcement regarding these [ARRA] funds: $350 million of the Race to the Top (RTTT) funds has been earmarked to support the development of high-quality common assessments.With 46 states and three territories already signed on to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association-led initiative to develop a set of common core standards that are fewer, clearer, and higher, this announcement was greeted  enthusiastically by Symposium participants. [Emphasis added.]

That’s fishy: In June 2009, NGA reported that 46 states and three territories had already signed on to the NGA- and CCSSO-led Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

CCSS would not be finished for another year (June 2010).

RTTT would not be announced for another month (July 2009).

And now, in March 2014, we have former Florida Governor Jeb Bush urging states to “stay the course” with CCSS.

Stay the course?? According to NGA, 46 governors signed on to the race before there was a course and before there was even a race.

That’s dumb.

It’s 2014. CCSS is electric. What is a governor (or former governor) with 2016 presidential aspirations to do?

Bush is apparently putting the full force of his political clout behind CCSS via commercial ads.

However, not all Republican governors are doing so.

Take Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, for instance.

In May 2009, Jindal and then-State Superintendent Paul Pastorek signed the CCSS memorandum of understanding and included it as part of Louisiana’s RTTT application, dated January 19, 2010  (appendices are here). The following statement is from page 52 of Louisiana’s Phase 1 RTTT application:

On May 14, 2009, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and State Superintendant Paul Pastorek signed the Memorandum of Agreement with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) to participate in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).

Jindal– who was quick to sign Louisiana on for a not-yet-existent CCSS– and who thought the majority of Louisiana’s school districts would be lured along by the possibility of federal funding– is playing “cautious, silent.”

Ever mindful of his own political career, Jindal offered the following noncommittal statement regarding CCSS to the Baton Rouge Advocate on March 21, 2014:

In general, we think we should have strong standards as a state. We don’t think we should be going backwards on standards.

Which standards should “we” have, Bobby? The former Louisiana standards, or the current, amalgamated CCSS?

(I’m thinking that is the royal “we.” “We” tend to follow only what serves “us,” not what benefits Louisiana citizens.)

As to that May 2009 CCSS MOU:

It was no good, at least initially, without the support of the local school districts.

Louisiana has 69 school districts. Only 26 districts are on record as voting in the affirmative to adopt CCSS (see page 52 of the Louisiana RTTT application appendices).

This was a problem for Jindal and Pastorek. They counted on Louisiana districts’ buying into the already-signed CCSS MOU.

As St. Tammany Parish School Board (Louisiana) member Mary K. Bellisario recalls in a March 21, 2014, email,

In 2009 and early 2010, “to participate in the CCSS initiative” literally meant for each state to compete against the other states for the RTTT money–which of course was the impetus for the CCSS initiative.  Better to use the RTTT funding as the carrot, rather than Common Core itself.  This was the 3-hour debate in our board room the night we voted it down – how much funding were they talking about (the state couldn’t tell us that night), and how committed would we be to standards which weren’t even written at that time.

Most importantly, what would those standards say?

At first it was felt at LA DOE (where Pastorek was then superintendent) that all would go well, that each parish would vote in favor (after all, who would turn down “free” money?), and then the state could apply [for RTTT].

They (La DOE) were stunned when so many parishes voted no. 

The deadline in March for Round 1 of RTTT was fast approaching, and they lacked a major component (see page 18) of the application—a large number of cooperative parishes.

Too bad for them that so many parishes had total distrust of Supt. Pastorek! That was a major reason many of them turned it down.

There should be media sources after March which refer to the altering of the “participation” process at the national level. After the first round’s submissions in March 2010, the rules were relaxed so that a state could “participate” by being signed up by their governor and state supt. regardless of what individual counties/parishes determined.

Ironically LA didn’t win any [RTTT] money in the second round, either. 

But because we were now “participating,” we got the Common Core standards, whether we wanted them or not.

Bellisario continues in a separate email:

In early January 2010, St. Tammany Parish had to vote. … 

Pastorek was sure LA would get the RTTT/Common Core simply by applying and listing those parishes which had voted yes.  (Eventually 28 parishes and RSD schools did vote yes.) 

It wasn’t until sometime in late May or early June that the state officially adopted them via Jindal’s signature.  

We had thought we were safe — until Jindal and Pastorek signed up the entire state, once LA failed to get the RTTT money in early spring, because not enough parishes had signed up.  … 

After that, the rules were changed so that a governor and a state supt. could jointly sign up a state [for CCSS].

Jindal and Pastorek did exactly that. [Emphasis added.]

Louisiana’s application for RTTT funding was rejected. Among the application’s  reviewer comments is the following statement regarding the low participation by local school boards as concerns a section on the grading rubric, Translating LEA(local education agency) participation into Statewide Impact:

The hope is that non participating LEAs will adopt best practices through RTT. No evidence is provided that peer pressure will compel non participating LEAs to change. No evidence was given to support the idea of non participating LEAs making the shift on their own. [Emphasis added.]

Peer pressure??

That certainly does not sound very “voluntary.”

Common Core Lord of the Flies.

The “state-led” CCSS was initially supposed to be informed by the democratic process– one in which a state’s local school boards could vote on CCSS adoption. Then, when that did not yield the “right” response, the democratic process was conveniently discarded for the corporate-reform-style of “forced volunteering” under the sham name of “state leading.”

Allow me to add that the language of the CCSS MOU stands alone as a commitment to CCSS not contingent upon RTTT funding. Therefore, a governor’s and state superintendent’s signatures bind the state to CCSS. (Note: this so-called “agreement” violates Subpart 2, Section 9527 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act {ESEA}.)

In CommonCoreSpeak, the “state” is the governor and the state education superintendent.

In June 2009, NGA had it right when they called CCSS “NGA and CCSSO-led.”

Sometimes, however, Arne still needs to intervene in order to tie as much of the USA as is possible to his education privatization project. Thus, in 2012, Duncan decided to bypass the state and allow districts to deal directly with USDOE in applying for RTTT money.

If the state will not “lead” districts into corporate reform, USDOE is willing to dismiss the state.

And so, this is the manipulative game against which numerous states are fighting in the 2014 legislative session.

Jeb is pushing.

Bobby is squirming.

And somehow, in the midst of all of this education exploitation, America continues to be a world superpower.

Amazing, isn’t it?

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