I’ve pointed out many times over the last year that the Common Core federal standards/testing/curriculum racket is a grave threat to school choice. Big Government Republicans such as Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee pay lip service to increasing school choice and supporting charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling. Yet, they have been among the loudest GOP peddlers of the Common Core regime thrust upon schools who want nothing to do with it.
While the Common Core corps continues to denigrate opponents as “special interests” who are “manipulating” parents, I continue to hear from parents and educators in my home state of Colorado and nationwide whose only “special interest” is academic excellence. Derek Anderson, principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins, Colorado, wrote to me about the existential threat his charter school faces:
Ridgeview Classical Schools is a K-12 charter school that offers a classical, liberal arts education to approximately 800 students. We were established in 2001, and we have generally been one of the top three schools in Colorado since opening. Our most significant issue with Common Core and the PARCC exams is that we feel we will lose the autonomy and other protections granted to us when Colorado adopted its Charter Schools Act in 1994.
As I’ve noted, PARCC is the behemoth, federally funded testing consortium (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which raked in $186 million through President Obama’s Race To The Top program to develop nationalized tests “aligned” to the top-down Common Core program.
…From the conversations we have had with various legal counsel, it does not appear that we have a legal option. We are required by our charter to take the PARCC beginning in 2014-2015, and the PARCC is truly the enforcement mechanism that will coerce schools into adopting the Common Core curriculum. We cannot do this. It is entirely against the mission and philosophy of our school.
…For a school like Ridgeview, Common Core presents an almost existential dilemma. Our mission and philosophy are irreconcilable with Common Core’s…
According to Anderson, at least two other charter schools in Colorado — James Irwin in Colorado Springs and Douglas County charter school program — have joined Ridgeview in adopting a resolution opposing Common Core. Here’s the resolution Anderson’s school adopted earlier this month (PDF). It is a model statement that sums up the concern of parents, educators, and administrators of all colors and backgrounds (looking at you, Arne Duncan) who have dedicated their lives to providing a rigorous academic education to their children.
Ridgeview Classical Schools
Resolution Concerning Common Core and PARCC
Assessments Adopted by the Board of Directors on 3 October 2013
WHEREAS, parents in Colorado were granted the ability to choose the education they felt was suitable and appropriate for their children, and that this was acknowledged by the state legislature as a right in the Colorado Charter Schools Act of 1994, specifically granting local control over schools to include “diverse approaches to learning and education and the use of different, proven, or innovative teaching methods,” and allowing “the development of different and innovative forms of measuring pupil learning and achievement;”
WHEREAS, Ridgeview Classical Schools have successfully pursued and proven the value of rigorous academic standards in a program that combines academic and character education, as well as an appreciation of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful that is possible only through a classical, liberal arts curriculum that treats the individual student as an end in himself and as the inheritor and future steward of a rich legacy dominated by the ideas and values of our Western heritage;
WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards, while potentially exceeding previous state standards in certain respects, do not accurately assess the rich curriculum that has been conveyed to Ridgeview’s students, nor does it value any of the intangibles that make up much of a liberal arts curriculum;
WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards run contrary to the idea of education being either a private or a local matter, and are contrary to the idea of the states as “laboratories of democracy,” as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis articulated in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann (1932) in describing how a state may, “if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country;” and that the Colorado Charter Schools Act effectively chose to provide precisely such a laboratory when it noted that “different pupils learn differently and public school programs should be designed to fit the needs of individual pupils and that there are educators, citizens, and parents in Colorado who are willing and able to offer innovative programs, educational techniques, and environments but who lack a channel through which they can direct their innovative efforts;” and that charter schools like Ridgeview are the innovative programs that legislators had in mind;
WHEREAS, Ridgeview Classical Schools has reviewed the content standards of the Common Core and found them wanting as well as identifying the ineffectual protection of student’s privacy and the exceedingly expensive technological requirements necessary to administer the tests, and found the Common Core and its associated assessments to be of significant disadvantage to Ridgeview’s students and community;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Ridgeview Classical Schools board of directors hereby express their general opposition to the imposition of the Common Core State Standards for two reasons: (1) because charter schools should retain greater autonomy than would be provided for under Common Core; and, (2) because Ridgeview is able to pursue a better education for its students that is more rigorous, less costly, less intrusive, and more accountable. Ridgeview remains, as it always has, committed first and foremost to its students, and to fully living up to its mission and philosophy.