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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.

Author

Anthony Cody
Anthony Cody

Anthony Cody worked in the high poverty schools of Oakland, California, for 24 years, 18 of them as a middle school science teacher. He was one of the organizers of the Save Our Schools March in Washington, DC in 2011 and he is a founding member of The Network for Public Education. A graduate of UC Berkeley and San Jose State University, he now lives in Mendocino County, California.

Comments

  1. Amy Hepburn    

    Great piece! Thanks for getting the real news out to people!

  2. Lloyd Lofthouse    

    This is great news. Thanks for sharing.

  3. The War Report on Public Education    

    Thanks for the breaking news. Way to go Washington! Way to go Anthony Cody for the excellent journalism. Great job teachers- the students of WA state are lucky to have such amazing activists that can rally and push back against what has already happened in other states. #2015YearoftheStudent. Catch Susan DuFresne and other WA heroes LIVE on The War Report on Public Education internet radio show- Sunday, January 25th at 2 pm P/4 PMC/5E discussing the War in Ed in Washington State. A Victory for Washington- 🙂 Great day!

  4. David Spring    

    Anthony, Thank you for reporting on our great victory for the children, parents and teachers here in Washington State. Our state is not only the home of Bill Gates, it is also the home state for the high failure rate SBAC Common Core test. Thanks to the passage of this resolution, there will now be a bipartisan bill introduced in our state legislature. If it passes, it could be the end of both Common Core standards and the SBAC Common Core test. For more information on the process we used to transform the Democratic Party in Washington state, folks interested in doing the same in their state can read our article about it at this link:
    http://weaponsofmassdeception.org/latest-news/14-8-3-how-to-get-your-state-democratic-party-to-oppose-common-core

  5. Sharon    

    THANK YOU!! It’s time to stop the child abuse!! Because that’s exactly what common core is!! Bring back parental rights!! Freedom of speech and how about some common sense!! Your on your last legs common core!!!

  6. Andrew Chiu    

    This action by the Democratic Party in my old home state gives me hope that people are beginning to see that Americans across the political spectrum can find common ground on Common Core. If we unite on issues of bipartisan concern on principles that we hold in common, “We, the People” can stop the authoritarians and allied racketeers behind this monstrous scam at the expense of our children! Now lets do something to stop the exportation of American jobs so our kids will have a future.

  7. Ann Cronin    

    May this resolution be just the beginning! It restores my faith in the Democrstic Party. I am ready for action as a Connecticut Democrat. Anyone with me?

  8. Erik Benson    

    That is fantastic. Now we keep the opt out idea front and center for a grass roots message, concrete, from the people, for districts and state admins to hear.

  9. Thom    

    Too scared to “like” due to reprisals. That is another problem.

  10. rbeckley58    

    Here I thought Washington was only famous for growing apples and PC’s. Way to go! Well, Oregon’s famous for growing grass seed. Anyone here want to set up an irrigation system?

  11. Shelli    

    One can always Find Some good in all things! What Common Core did for our children is to create thinkers and problem solvers rather than promoting lazy learners. It also taught them to formulate opinions and making them justify those opinions. ..a.k.a. creating viable arguments. Yes, there were flaws with C.C. but there were definitely pro’s to this program. I was truly beginning to witness a whole new movement of “thinkers” who were demonstrating stamina and perseverance in actual problem solving strategies. My students exhibited more ownership and pride in their learning than in past years. Although, we shouldn’t put all of our educational eggs in one basket through common core, I do feel the need to pull some of this teaching material into our daily instructional delivery such as incorporating the Mathematical Practices as these are life skill applications the kids need in their learning strategy tool boxes!

    1. Lloyd Lofthouse    

      Shelli,

      Standards were already in the works at the state level, and about half the states already had or were developing their own and learning from each other. In time, most of the other states would have adopted standards from another state or developed their own.

      For instance, when the CCSS arrived—with all its damaging mandates directed from the top in D.C. that were designed to destroy democratic public education and turn our children over to corporate Charters—California had been developing its own set of standards for a decade starting in 1999 with all stakeholders involved: teachers, children, parents, etc. The testing started about a year later and adjustments, compromises and improvements were an annual process. I didn’t leave teaching after thirty years until 2005, and I was there during the early years.

      In fact, some states had standards that were better than the CCSS and those were trashed for what turned out to be a flawed, inferior product that was adopted by most of the states unseen and untested thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes called grants from Bill Gates in addition to the billions that Arne Duncan dangled like a carrot for a horse from the DOE.

      Thanks to those bribes and carrots, CCSS didn’t exist when most of the states signed on.

      The standards under development in California were also in use during the development stage, and the annual results were returned to the schools in record time so teachers could join together in teams to study and plan based on strengths and weaknesses the results of those tests revealed. I know, because I was in those meetings as a specialist hired by the district guided us through all the data that came from Californian’s standardized tests to see where we should focus our efforts and discover where we were strong.

      The biggest difference is that California’s standards were developed by real educators and not businessmen and economists tied at the hip to Pearson.

    2. Not a sheep    

      “Stamina” and “perseverance”…hmmm…sounds familiar. Buzz words we have been instructed to use in our schools on a daily basis with our children. Really, all across the country, teachers are being “trained” on what to say and how to say it. How can we create critical thinkers and problem solvers when we are treated like a herd of sheep?

  12. Sarajane Siegfriedt    

    I wrote the resolution because I recognized that the reasons Democrats oppose CCS are quite different from those some conservatives have. We are most concerned that the tests associated with CCS are set to label teachers, schools and school districts “failures,” setting them up for takeover by charter schools as a step on the road to complete privatization of our public schools, which are the bedrock of our Democracy. People in Seattle are used to lionizing the Gates Foundation for their humanitarian work in public health, so it’s very hard for them to hear that Bill Gates has poured millions into the creation and adoption of CCS without a shred of evidence that it will close the achievement gap. When Washington State fully implements the CCS tests this year, and 2/3 flunk, as they did in NY and KY, there will be an uprising of parents across the spectrum. Meahwhile, we are concerned that CCS serves corporations who want graduates to be college ready, but virtually ignores the needs of 2/3 of high school students who don’t go to college. The only “career ready” we can see in the curriculum is propagandizing for a military career.

    1. David Spring    

      Sarajane, Thank you so much for your help. We could not have done it without you! I agree that Democrats oppose Common Core for different reasons than Republicans. Democrats oppose corporations taking over their schools while Republicans oppose the federal government coming in and taking over their schools. Regardless of the reason, all parents want local control over their public schools. Thank you again for working so hard on this issue and so many other important issues that matter to the people. You are a saint!

  13. Dale Lidicker    

    Excellent. I hope the CCSS becomes a dim memory.

  14. Mark Young    

    Common sense is trumping common core….SAAAwEEET!

  15. Mark Young    

    ….and a big thanks to Sen., Chase!!

  16. john matrix    

    Not good news. The common core standards are better than the current standards. And kdis that adapt to it will be much better off than kids who don’t.

    Perhaps a better solution is to allow parents/kids who want the new standards to continue to abide by it. Let those who want to return the old ways the choice to do so…

    1. David Spring    

      I do not believe that anyone who actually read the new Common Core standards, written by Wall Street consultants – and compared them to the prior Washington State Standards, written by teachers and child development experts – would claim that Common Core standards were better than our prior standards. I recommend going to our website: weapons of mass deception dot org and reviewing the differences.

      1. Lloyd Lofthouse    

        The Fordham Institute claimed that the Common Core standards were better than 37 states in math and 39 in ELA. This claim was made July 21, 2010. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Fordham Institute has been linked to the corporate reform movement and is a tool of the reform movement to privatize the public schools for profit.

        In addition, it doesn’t matter if the Common Core standards are better, because the crime is the rank, yank, fail and close schools agenda linked to the CCSS promoted and funded by Bill Gates and driven with a sledge hammer by Arne Duncan to rank and fire teachers in addition to failing children and then closing public schools turning education over to the private sector.

        Throw out the testing mandate linked to the CCSS and then follow Finland’s example by offering one voluntary test taken near the end of K – 12—a test that does not rank teachers, fire teachers, fail students or close public schools.

        In Finland, the teachers are trusted to pick and select what standards they will teach and the methods and material they use. There are no scripted lessons. There are no mandated texts or material mostly from one company, Pearson.

        To learn more about how Finland does it, read this from the BBC

        “Finnish parents obviously claim some credit for the impressive school results. There is a culture of reading with the kids at home and families have regular contact with their children’s teachers.”

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8601207.stm

        1. David Spring    

          Lloyd, I agree that even if the Common Core standards were “better” than Washington state standards, they would still be a crime against our children. I am familiar with the Fordham analysis and you are right in noting that they are funded by the same people who fund Common Core. But even they rated Washington state standards as being better than Common Core. So the idea that Washington state should trash our prior standards for Common Core is absurd on all counts.

        2. Lloyd Lofthouse    

          I think California’s standards—that the state had been developing organically starting in the 1990s through the interaction of children, parents, teachers, administrators and elected representatives for about a decade—were also much better than the CCSS.

          But even with all the money, effort and time developing and implementing CA’s standards that were designed to provide feedback to schools and teachers helping teachers and school sto identify areas of the curriculum that needed more attention, California abandoned that investment the same year that Arne Duncan and Bill Gates bribed the states with grants and dangled the carrot of promised money from the DOE if the states would sign on to the CCSS before those standards had even been written.

          Once David Coleman recruited Bill Gates, the writing was on the wall and it seems there was no way to stop the tsunami that Bill Gates, with help from Arne Duncan, unleashed on the United States.

  17. Michele Moore    

    Well I’m a conservative Republican and I agree with the Democratic side in this take over with the Corporate world. But the worst thing I’ve seen is how they are manipulating the new History books to leave out key items of our history and how great America is. I also don’t feel that the Gay agenda should be forced into the schools. In California sometime in the late 1990’s there was a push to put books in the schools libraries about the Gay lifestyle and it was put to an abrupt halt then. It is against my religious freedom to have this continually beaten into our children as a natural thing and how we should be accepting of all people. It’s not the natural process of life and science. (this is my opinion) Kids will be kids and they pretty much do a lot more experimenting these days….they like boys one day, and girls the next. It’s crazy out in the world today. What you do in your bedroom with who you “love” isn’t my business and I don’t want to know about it. It seems like it’s in your face these days and it’s only going to get worse with the new health books and ‘sensitivity classes’ they want us all to take. Another scary issue is the state, (CPS) taking away children if the parents don’t follow through with this Common Core program. And I’ve read some things where the parents will be forced to take classes in order to be able to help their kids out with all this crazy homework. Where did these ideas come from? This sounds like communist China, and the Nazi’s regime.
    One last thing, when I watched Obama introduce Arne Duncan and heard him say, “maybe we can get some of these big corporations to help out with education”…..I was floored. That right there says it all. 2009 and I’m sorry to say that all the problems in our country today is because of one man….our Prezident….which is just wrong. Have you heard him praise anyone? Only the wrong people in my humble opinion.

  18. joan    

    DID YOU TRY TO FIND 1 PIECE OF INFORMATION ABOUT SMARTER BALANCED ONLINE, SINCE THEY MOVED TO UCLA IN CA–ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2014?

    SB HAS SHUT OFF THE PUBLIC. NO MORE AGENDAS, MINUTES, DECISIONS, CONTRACTS, ETC ONLINE.

    THE SBAC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IS WORKING IN PRIVATE W/O ANY PUBLIC OVERSIGHT.
    YET BILLIONS OF PUBLIC FUNDING GOES TO SBAC? HOW DOES THAT MEET DEMOCRATIC INTENT?

    SBAC IS DICTATING TO PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND TO ALL MEMBER STATES W/O ANY OVERSIGHT. SOMEWHERE THERE HAS TO BE A LEGISLATOR IN 1 MEMBER STATE WHO FINDS THIS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

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