Where the heck did Common Core come from?

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Stimulus money propelled rush to judgment in just two months

By Kim Fink

Editor’s note: This analysis of Common Core comes to us as a two-part series. Look for Part 2 next week.

Where did Common Core come from? In 2009, the federal government’s Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, dispersed $435 billion of stimulus money to fund the Race to the Top competition, with North Carolina receiving $400 million.

Another incentive for states to seek Race to the Top grants was a tempting prospect — a possible waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirements.


To compete for this grant money, the states had to agree to adopt Common Core — sight unseen!

How did this happen? The application for the grants was released in November of 2009. Completed applications were due in just two months, by January of 2010. Our state was desperate for education money for education.

Our legislators were not in session during November and December, so the decision to apply for the grant was made by Gov. Perdue and the Department of Public Instruction Superintendent, June Atkinson.

The standards were released in March of 2010, two months AFTER applying for the grant. In June of 2010, the final draft of the Common Core Standards was released and the school board had until August for their final vote.

The North Carolina State Board of Education voted on June 2, 2010, to adopt Common Core. This decision was made during summer vacation with little involvement from local districts, principals, administrators, teachers or parents. According to the John Locke Foundation, there was only one participant from North Carolina involved in development of Common Core – Jere Confrey, a math professor at N.C. State University.

These standards were adopted all at once, statewide without being field-tested. There was no evidence to suggest that Common Core Standards would be successful, and the most recent two years of end-of-course, end-of-year tests validate the continuing problems with these standards and assessments.

Common Core was not “state-led” but rather a collaboration between The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (whose President, by the way, is our own Dr. June Atkinson! Anyone see any conflict of interest here?)

These two groups jointly own the copyright to Common Core.

A firm known as “Achieve Inc.” actually “wrote” the standards. Both of these organizations are trade associations, with official sounding names. These organizations are non-elected, non-accountable, and not obligated to operate by the “Sunshine Laws” that allow transparency of meetings.

Next week, in Part 2, we follow the money that helped to promote Common Core.