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Enthusiasm runs high at sold-out anti-Common Core forum

A panel discussion called Kevin Kookogey Presents Confronting the Common Core last night drew an energized crowd of about 600 people, mostly in opposition to the national standards that are being implemented in school systems throughout Tennessee and other states.

Panelists emphasized the “dangers” of centralized control from the federal government in the implementation of Common Core, the “dumbing down” of educational standards and data mining of student information.

Kookogey, the former chair of the Williamson County Republicans, organized the event, which received a boost of publicity when conservative personality Glenn Beck broadcasted information about the event. Tennessee Freedom Coalition, Heritage Action for America and Tennessee Eagle Forum co-sponsored the event.

Jamie Gass of the Pioneer Institute, Lindsey Burke of the national conservative group the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Bill Evers of the Hoover Institution, Emmet McGroarty of the American Principles Project and Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project served as panelists for the two-hour presentation.

“Common Core further entrenches the federal government into education in schools,” Burke said. “Every inch of government comes at the expense of local control.”

Burke said that during the past 40 years the federal government’s intervention to improve education has fallen flat, as the nation continues to lag behind other countries in math and reading.

She said pressure to obtain federal funds from the Race to the Top program contributed to states adopting Common Core standards prematurely.

“In 2009, the [Obama] administration dangled [$4.35 billion] in front of cash-strapped states,” she said – as an incentive to adopt Common Core before the final draft was available, while receiving the option of a waiver for No Child Left Behind.

Gass said the standards lack important aspects of classical education such as a rich literature component and high-quality math standards.

“Classic literature teaches students to be human, and algebra one is the gateway to higher math,” he said. Evers also concurred that math standards are subpar contrary to the standards’ proclaimed “rigor.”

Robbins discussed the dangers of school systems’ data collection process and databases that could be used for the federal government’s own purposes. She said that the federal government intends to “capture, analyze and use student data from Pre-K to the workforce,” including healthcare history, family income, religious affiliation and school disciplinary action. 

“Ask about the forms that you fill out,” she advised parents.

From the ardent crowd responses throughout the rally-like event evident by periodic applause, cheers and the occasional “Amen,” Robbins said, “This is looking like a mass movement.”

Last night’s meeting came on the heels of Monday night’s forum organized by county and state leaders in education who defended Common Core. Some in the audience of that forum shouted at the speakers multiple times, criticizing the event’s organizers for not featuring open-mic question-and-answer session. Last night’s event ended with an open-mic session for questions, which elicited applause and cheers from attendees.

“Congress has not voted on a single piece of Common Core,” said Kathy Danner Williamson County Commissioner, District 4,  after the meeting. “I think that the intent of Common Core was good – just not the delivery. I think that the state should opt out.”

“Because of Common Core, I am taking my children out of Williamson County Schools, and I am home-schooling them,” Hannah Tiblier said.

“I’ve had enough when the federal government goes for my kids,” said Barbara Sturgeon, whose children attend private Catholic schools. “We need citizen-driven government. My community is supposed to be in charge of what my child is taught.”

Posted on: 5/1/2013


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