Friday, February 12, 2010

Asked & Answered on Common Core Standards
That was then, This is now!

Folks, last year Laurie Rogers of Spokane asked:
the federal government,
the governor's office and
OSPI about the national standards.

She got nothing from the federal government, despite a formal request for public information.

From the governor's office, she received heavily redacted documents and a referral to Judy Hartmann, who wouldn't call her back. Laurie persisted and Ms. Hartmann finally agreed to talk. She told her on the record that BEFORE the state signed on to the national standards, the state would follow the same process as our own standards - the standards would have to pass muster with the SBE, the superintendent, and the legislators.

On August 3, 2009, also after a formal request for public information, Laurie finally received this from Alan Burke, OSPI:

"I received your request for information regarding the common core standards initiative led by NGA and CCSSO. Responses to each of your questions are provided below:

1... Is this effort supported politically, practically or financially by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) and/or the White House?

This question should be directed to the US Department of Education or the Obama Administration for an appropriate response.

2... How has the public been notified of Washington's participation?

Education leaders in Washington State have been notified about the CCSSO/NGA initiative for common core standards in regional and statewide meetings. The general public has been notified through press reports about the initiative.

3... The NGA/CCSSO talks about an "ongoing development process that can support continuous improvement of this first version." Will there therefore be an annual cost to taxpayers?

It is unknown to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) if there will be annual costs to taxpayers related to the development of the common core standards.

4... Does OSPI support the section in the MOA called "Federal Role"?

Once the common core standards are analyzed by OSPI with respect to their alignment to current standards for our state and a decision is made about Washington’s participation in this effort, a decision will be made with respect to accepting federal assistance.

5... Washington just revised its standards at a cost upward of $1.6 million.

Why is this state participating in this new movement?

What will be the cost to Washington taxpayers? If the cost is nothing, what kind of participation is it?

Washington has not decided to participate in implementation of the standards conceived of by this movement. OSPI has agreed to study the documents produced by CCSSO and NGA as the process evolves. Additionally, any costs to taxpayers is unknown.

6... Under what specific authority did Superintendent Dorn sign Washington on to this movement without public notification, input or consent?

Washington has not made a commitment to implement national standards; we have agreed to study the documents produced.

7... Who advised Superintendent Dorn on this effort? When did Washington State receive notice of this movement? How long was Washington given to decide whether to sign the MOA?

CCSSO is the organization advising OSPI about this movement, and OSPI first received notice on April 17, 2009. States were given approximately 3 weeks to sign the MOA.

8. Under what conditions will Washington refuse federal incentives to implement these new national standards? Who decides?

The decision process and conditions which would result in refusal of federal incentives to implement the proposed national standards is unknown at this time.

9. States had to agree that the CCS would represent "at least 85%" of the state's language arts and math standards. What happens if they only like 40%?

Adoption of the common core state standards is voluntary for states; if a percentage sharply greater than 15 percent of the proposed national standards are not acceptable, OSPI will not implement the standards in Washington State.

10... Will current federal funding be grandfathered for states that reject the CCS?

Federal fiscal impacts of not implementing common core standards are unknown at this time.

11. Once most of the states adopt these national standards, how will parents assess the standards to see if they're rigorous enough?

The process for parental review of the proposed common core standards is unknown at this time.

12. In this process, there appears to have been no public notice, no public comment, no public vote. When will voters have a say?

The process and timeline for public comment on the proposed common core standards is unknown at this time.

13. The MOA talks about a National Policy Forum comprised of "signatory national organizations" that will share ideas and build "public will and support."

Who are these organizations? Please contact CCSSO or NGA for an appropriate response regarding this information.

How will additions and deletions to this forum be made and announced? Unknown

How will the public be involved in this forum? Unknown

As this national movement progresses, I expect that public communications will become appropriate should Washington decide to take any formal action.

Alan Burke, Ed.D.

Deputy Superintendent K-12 Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

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