There was a forum in Knoxville for the Iowa House District 28 race between the incumbent, State Representative Greg Heartsill (R-Melcher-Dallas) and Megan Suhr, his Democratic challenger who is a lobbyist up the statehouse on a variety of issues except education.

Suhr was asked about Common Core.  You can watch the video here from Monte Goodyk or below (warning… the video will make you dizzy, literally, you may want to just focus on the audio):


She spouted off nothing but talking points. The basis of her position was a slanted news article written about a Common Core forum that was held with Marion County Republicans. The author of that article only wrote about things Tamara Scott said that he deemed controversial. I was also there, but nary a peep about the points that I made.

I’d like to point out that Megan Suhr was not there. I’d suspect most of the emails she received were from people reacting to the story who were also not there.

It is clear that Suhr is unaware that there is a growing number of teachers who dislike Common Core. Only 46% of teachers support Common Core according to a recent poll, 40% oppose – hardly “most” teachers.

Also her statement about the Common Core being just standards. They are, by design, standards that drive assessments and curriculum. Don’t take my word for it though ask the guy who funded the development and advocacy for the Common Core.

“When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well-and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better. Imagine having the people who create electrifying video games applying their intelligence to online tools that pull kids in and make algebra fun,” said Bill Gates to the National Conference of State Legislatures on July 21, 2009.

Perhaps Suhr lacks a basic understanding of economics, but this is basic supply and demand.  When, before any state repealed Common Core, you had 46 states with a new set of standards who joined an assessment consortia (Smarter Balanced or PARCC) whose assessments were going to be aligned to the Common Core.  That drives publishers not to mention who had many publishes, like Pearson, who were behind pushing Common Core.  Schools under these new mandates, when looking for new curriculum, looked for curriculum that would help them prepare their students for Common Core.

Now in some cases this is a total marketing ploy, but with most new math and English-language arts textbooks it likely is not.  It is the publisher’s interpretation of what Common Core requires.

If Suhr were at that forum she would have heard from me that the standards are not evidence-based.  It is simply data-less reform and my problems with the standards themselves.

Perhaps she and other Marion County Democrats who decided to paint Common Core as a fringe issue because of Tamara Scott will listen to the award-winning Principal of South Side High School in New York Carol Burris.  Burris is hardly conservative.

I know it’s easier to act like partisan hacks though…

Now Suhr’s assertion that we have Iowa Common Core Standards… yes we do have our own standards they are called Iowa Core and they include math, English-language arts, social studies, science and 21st Century learning standards.  In 2010 our math and English-language arts standards were largely replaced by the Common Core.  That is a simple fact.  The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers control 85% of the standards.  Iowa had to adopt them in whole, not in part.  States can add up to 15%.  That’s hardly state control of our math and English-language arts standards.  That was actually a concern that was brought up by the Iowa State Board of Education, but they proceeded anyway.

The minutes of the board’s meeting on March 11, 2010 reflected this.

Jeffrey mentioned there are concerns with the document. One concern deals with categorization by grade levels rather than age ranges or grade spans. Another concern is the stipulation by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the NGA that states need to adopt the standards word for word. Another concern deals with “skill and drill” in the language arts section. (emphasis mine)

Suhr also states these are not “federal” standards… she’s right they are not.  They are national standards.  The Feds did push Iowa towards adopting Common Core through the Race to the Top grant program as reflected in the minutes of the Iowa State Board of Education’s meeting on May 13, 2010.

The RTTT application will be submitted by June 1 and finalists will be notified in July. Fangman explained the process used to award the grants. There is approximately $3.5 billion left to be disbursed during this round of RTTT.

As part of the RTTT application, Iowa must adopt the Common Core Standards by August 2. Therefore, it is likely that the Board will be asked to take action at the July State Board meeting. During the June State  Board retreat, time will be taken to help build an understanding of what  this means with regard to the Iowa Core. (emphasis mine)

I don’t know, I think that’s pretty clear on what the Federal role was at the time.

Suhr seems to believe that conservatives are just against Common Core in order to turn President Obama into a bogeyman.  She obviously has not read my stuff because I’ve been far tougher on Republican governors than I have President Obama.  They are both to blame.

I just laid out documented facts about Common Core.  My encouragement to Megan Suhr is to actually do some independent research and not just stake out a position for Common Core just because Tamara Scott and Greg Heartsill are against them.  Also Tamara Scott’s Nazi comparison was ill-advised (and I have told her such) and made in reference to the mentor teacher program, not Common Core so Suhr didn’t even get that right.  But let’s not let facts get in the way of a convenient political narrative.

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