By Anthony Cody.
The Central Committee of the Washington State Democratic Party has passed a resolution that roundly condemns the Common Core standards. This is the first time a statewide Democratic Party committee has taken a public position against the Common Core, and it happened in the back yard of the Gates Foundation, which has provided the funding that made the national standards project possible. This could signal a sea-change for the beleaguered standards, because up until now, political opposition has been strongest in the Republican party.
More than 200 delegates representing 49 legislative districts, from 29 counties, gathered at the Red Lion Inn in the state capital, Olympia on Saturday, Jan. 24, where there was a showdown between “new Democrats” and a scrappy coalition of education and labor activists. Activists mixed in with the delegates, and carried homemade signs expressing their opposition to the Common Core. They also arrived early and made sure there were flyers on each chair carrying their message.
David Spring is a leader of the Democratic Party for East King County near Seattle. He helped organize for the vote, and says,
This was a huge victory for the children, parents, and teachers of Washington State to have the Washington State Democratic Party – the first Democratic Party in the nation to vote against Common Core. It is our hope that this is the beginning of the end for Bill Gates in the Common Core scam. This was the grassroots – the rank and file of the Democratic Party – who said NO to Common Core. They deserve all the credit, along with you teacher activists.
Senator Marilyn Chase, reached at her home during the legislative session in Olympia, said she supports the resolution. She explained, “I love kids. I don’t like high stakes testing and I don’t like Common Core.” David Spring said her support was of great value. “Marilyn Chase is a leader of the Washington Democratic Party and she represents North Seattle in the Washington State Senate and this was huge to have Marilyn supporting a resolution.”
Seattle area teacher Susan DuFresne describes how teachers organized for the vote:
We got to speak to the members before the meeting convened. We carried our signs around and spoke to members who were on the fence. We also handed out copies of Common Core: Ten Colossal Errors, with “what to do” on the other side. [downloadable here: CommonCoreflyer] This tipped the scales in our favor.
Three delegates spoke in favor of the resolution, and three against. Brian Gunn, state committee man from 31st legislative district and chair of the Progressive Caucus, speaking to the assembly, said,
We have to take into account corporations are looking at our children as commodities. This is a moral issue. We’re allowing corporations that produce these materials and sponsor these tests to treat our children as sources of income. So I think it is very important that we look at that aspect of this, because everything that is part of the commons — things that everyone needs — is looked at to a large extent as a source of profit. And that source of profit is our own children. What is at stake is their education and their opportunity to have a good life — to make a decent standard of living in their future lives. We have to see that as a moral issue, and not cede that responsibility away from the place where it belongs, which is hopefully our state schools and our state teachers — and allow THEM to make the choices about what the standards should be (applause).
When the vote was taken, roughly two thirds of the delegates voted in favor of Resolution 707.
Update, Jan. 25, 2015: Some of those who made this happen have posted a useful article entitled “How to get your State Democratic Party Committee to Oppose Common Core.”
Below is the text of the resolution that was passed, in its entirety.
Resolution Opposing Common Core State Standards
WHEREAS the copyrighted (and therefore unchangeable) Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of controversial top-down K-12 academic standards that were promulgated by wealthy private interests without research-based evidence of validity and are developmentally inappropriate in the lowest grades; and
WHEREAS, as a means of avoiding the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment prohibition against federal meddling in state education policy, two unaccountable private trade associations–the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)–have received millions of dollars in funding from the Gates Foundation and others to create the CCSS; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Department of Education improperly pressured state legislatures into adopting the Common Core State Standards and high-stakes standardized testing based on them as a condition of competing for federal Race to the Top (RTTT) stimulus funds that should have been based on need; and
WHEREAS as a result of Washington State Senate Bill 6669, which passed the State legislature on March 11, 2010, the Office of the Superintendent of Instruction (OSPI) adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on July 20, 2011; and
WHEREAS this adoption effectively transfers control over public school standardized testing from locally elected school boards to the unaccountable corporate interests that control the CCSS and who stand to profit substantially; and
WHEREAS the Washington State Constitution also calls for public education to be controlled by the State of Washington through our elected State legislature, our elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction and our elected local school boards; and
WHEREAS implementation of CCSS will cost local school districts hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for standardized computer-based tests, new technology, new curricula and teacher training at a time when Washington is already insufficiently funding K-12 Basic Education without proven benefit to students; and WHEREAS some states have already withdrawn from CCSS;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we call upon the Washington State legislature and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to withdraw from the CCSS and keep K-12 education student-centered and accountable to the people of Washington State.
Submitted by Sarajane Siegfriedt, Resolutions Chair.
What do you think of this resolution in the state of Washington?
Featured photo by Keitha Bryson.