Monday, 13 June 2016

Louisiana Re-brands Common Core in Attempt to Dupe Citizens

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State officials in Louisiana tried to deceive citizens last week by approving what amounts to, essentially, a glorified name change for the deeply unpopular Common Core education standards pushed by the Obama administration. Basically, policymakers re-branded the scheme as “Louisiana Standards,” while pretending that there had been some “revisions” to the widely loathed education-nationalization effort. However, according to experts and activists involved in the process, the politically toxic national education standards imposed on state governments with federal funding and pressure remain almost entirely intact in Louisiana, despite the new name. Similar scams by government officials have taken place in states across the country.    

The re-branded Common Core standards were approved by lawmakers last week, following years of raging controversy across the state. Despite a handful of dissenters, both the state house and state senate education committees approved the “new” standards, with some analysts saying the lawmakers were misled to believe that a vote against the fraudulent "re-branding" was a vote in favor of what critics call "ObamaCore." The state's education board also approved the re-branding. “There was a lot of time and a lot of hard work that was put into adjusting these standards, perfecting these standards and truly making them Louisiana standards,” claimed Jim Garvey, chief of the federally funded Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) that helped impose Common Core on the state in the first place. Some 9,000 hours were allegedly put into the re-branding effort.

The governor, whose approval was also required to keep the re-branded Common Core in Louisiana government and charter schools, approved the scheme as well. “We can now all pull together and focus our energy and resources exclusively on increasing student achievement,” said Democrat Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in a statement, perhaps hoping that the statewide outcry over Common Core would suddenly disappear now that the scheme had a new name. Edwards took over from former Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican who had sought to quash Common Core with an executive order and lawsuits, and promptly began his work to cement the controversial scheme in place.

Among other components of the saga, Edwards quickly dropped a lawsuit by the state of Louisiana against the Obama administration's Department of Education. The suit accused the education bureaucracy of violating the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by trying to compel states to adopt Common Core and surrender control over education to Big Brother in Washington. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything,” Jindal said at the time, saying the scheme had become a federal plot to “nationalize curriculum.” “These are big government elitists that believe they know better than parents and local school boards.”

Amid the uprising among parents, teachers, taxpayers, and others, Louisiana officials created a “review committee” dominated by Common Core apparatchiks to supposedly “review” the standards and revise them. Officially, the panel changed some 20 percent of the Common Core standards in English and Math as part of its revisions. However, according to experts, activists, and an analysis of the changes, less than three percent was actually changed, said educator Ganey Arceneaux, an education activist from Lake Charles who runs the Educate Louisiana service and testified against the re-branded Common Core standards.

“The rewrite is not a rewrite. It is a rename,” he told The New American in response to questions. “What really happened was the department of education anticipated that they would be forced to enter a compromise, so they initiated the review in advance and selected the committee which was filled with pro-Common Core supporters. They have asserted that 20 percent of the standards have been revised, but an analysis shows that less than 3 percent were changed.” And even those changes were largely meaningless, critics said.  

As a solution, Arceneaux suggested getting rid of Common Core and the re-branded version of the scheme, and getting the establishment out of education policy. “The chamber of commerce and its corporate members, along with billionaire philanthropists, need to butt out of education, and we need to scrap the standards in their entirety in favor developing appropriate standards that are created and vetted by qualified people in Louisiana,” Arceneaux continued. Among other financiers, population control zealot and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who signed a global education deal with UNESCO, dumped billions of dollars into creating and pushing Common Core.

The veteran Louisiana educator also noted that each and every person who spoke in favor of the standards has at one point been compensated to support, promote, or implement Common Core. “They support the 'New Louisiana Standards' for the same reason that we oppose them,” he said on Educate Louisiana. “They are one and the same.” Similar dynamics have occurred in state legislatures across the country.

And indeed, other analysts have come to similar conclusions. At EdWeek, for example, which has served as a reliable apologist for Common Core and Fed Ed generally, Liana Heitin highlighted some of the alleged “revisions” to the allegedly “new” Louisiana standards. “In many cases, the alterations really aren't more than slight tweaks — for example, a new 5th grade reading standard says students will 'utilize information from multiple print or digital sources' instead of 'draw on information from multiple print or digital sources,' as it's worded in the common core,” Heitin explained. She found just four new standards, including asking students to recognize the value of pennies, nickles, and dimes.     

Angela Alef, with the education-focused Louisiana group The People, LLC, slammed the fraud, too, and highlighted its broader implications in the ongoing education debate raging across the state. “The rewriting of the standards has taken away one of the main arguments against the Common Core,” she told The New American, adding that the standards were really “workforce training” rather than what is traditionally thought of as education. “In Louisiana, a main complaint has been that the standards are not 'Louisiana Standards.' This process has changed little except for the name: literally from 'Common Core' to 'Louisiana Standards.' So, no one can ever again complain that we have Common Core or that Louisiana doesn't have its own set of standards.”

In fact, Alef and others had warned of precisely such an outcome years ago, and the implications are troubling. “Since the 'new standards' have now gone through the APA [Administrative Procedures Act] process, our state education board and legislature can say that the public had their say and both bodies agreed to 'change' the standards by dropping Common Core,” Alef added in her statement. “Of course, all that is being dropped is the name. This is the definition of 'rebrand' that we have seen happen in every other state that has 'changed' their standards.” In reality, little to nothing has actually changed.

But the problem is deeper. Even before Common Core was imposed, Louisiana had another troubling set of “standards” similarly aligned with national and global objectives such as “workforce training,” Alef explained. “So, what these three sets of standards represent are actually common workforce standards,” she said. “A set of common workforce standards is what is needed in order to guarantee a workforce for the global elite's economy. This is how those who are 'investing in our children' are guaranteed that their future workers will have the same minimal academic education; life skills; and attitudes, values, and beliefs. This, by the way, is the conceptual basis for tax-funded school choice and it is also communism.”  

In Louisiana, amid the debate on the new name for Common Core, teachers were sharply divided on the alleged revisions. Louisiana Association of Educators chief Debbie Meaux, for example, testified that she could not take an official position because members were divided on the issue. Meaux did recommend a yearly review process to uncover and resolve problems. However, for now, analysts say Louisiana appears to be stuck with Common Core.

Of course, Louisiana is only the latest state among many in which policymakers tried to dupe citizens into believing Common Core was gone. Indiana, South Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida, and numerous other states have suffered from similar fraud. However, parents and teachers have shown no signs of giving up or buying into the deception. Instead, as the horrifying effects of Common Core continue to expand, so does the opposition to the standards. No doubt the same will hold true for Louisiana.

But even though it is true that Common Core is what its critics say — dumbed down, inappropriate, nationalized and globalized pseudo-education — it is only the latest step in a long-term process that has been going on for generations. The root of the problem is much deeper than Common Core or Obama. And America's liberty and future literally depend on the danger being identified and dealt with.

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more, and co-author of Crimes of the Educators. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU.

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