Gov. Ducey to Arizona Citizens: "Please Get Involved in the Process to Remove and Replace Common Core"

In his desire to get rid of and replace Common Core, Governor Doug Ducey called for a meeting of anti-Common Core leaders.  That meeting occurred on Tuesday, April 28, and was attended by Gina Ray, Jennifer Reynolds, Lisa Fink, Lisa Hudson, Anita Christy, and others.  State Board members Jared Taylor and Chuck Schmidt also attended. 

Governor Ducey reminded everyone that he had asked the Arizona State Board of Education to begin the work of replacing Common Core in Arizona.  On April 27, the State Board initiated a process to do this.  Click  HERE for details on the public process.  Click HERE to apply to be a part of the process.  (The deadline to submit your application to participate on the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC) is May 6.) 

Gov. Ducey was very clear that he wants to “get rid of Common Core.”  He wants Arizona’s children to have something of value after twelve years of education, and he indicated that he wants this group of leaders to be an active part of the process of creating new Arizona Standards. 

He noted that the process beginning in early May and ending in approximately one year will be transparent, and there will be many opportunities for public forums.  

In answer to questions, Governor Ducey stated that he has no intention of “rebranding” Common Core.  He was adamant that Arizona can lead the nation in developing its own high quality standards.  He stated many times that this group, as well as teachers, parents, and other Arizona citizens should take part in the process.   He urged everyone to get involved and make our case.

When he was advised that two of the nation’s foremost standards writers, Dr. Susan Stotsky (English/Language Arts) and Dr. James Milgram (Math) had spoken in Arizona, and that Dr. Stotsky had offered to assist Arizona, free of charge, he welcomed her help.  (Note:  Following the meeting, Ms. Reynolds contacted Drs. Stotsky and Milgram, and both agreed to assist Arizona in developing new high academic standards, free of charge.)

Gov. Ducey listened to many concerns from the group, including how Common Core is not just a set of standards, but also a system that gathers and distributes Personally Identifiable Information (PII).  The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has always emphatically stated that they do not collect PII.  Ms. Hudson advised him that, through an independent investigation, she learned that not only does the ADE gather PII, but it also has a “Data Request Review Board” set up to consider and grant requests for this information.  Entities that are allowed to receive this information on Arizona's children include “any person or organization, including doctoral and master's degree candidates, university faculty, independent researchers, and private and non-profit organizations.”  Click HERE to read the handbook titled "Requesting Personally Identifiable Information or Data from the Arizona Department of Education."

The meetings of the Data Request Review Board are not open to the public.

This practice is especially egregious, because ADE continues working to improve its State Longitudinal Database (National Education Database).  Arizona parents will find it hard to trust Arizona's schools that no longer guard their children's privacy and honor parental rights.  Gov. Ducey also learned from Ms. Hudson that, through an Executive Order, President Obama made some disturbing changes to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).  FERPA was intended to protect student privacy and honor parental rights.  Following President Obama's changes, it does the opposite.  Now PII can include both biological and biometric characteristics.  Also, the list of those who can obtain the data has been expanded.  Thus, a host of non-governmental entities may obtain this highly sensitive data, all without the knowledge or permission of parents.  Click HERE to see changes to FERPA. 

Gov. Ducey heard that Common Core has resulted in the loss of local control, because the standards truly dictate curriculum, as well as the nationwide assessments.   He was advised that one size fits all has been hurting entire populations of children throughout Arizona, and that new standards must be flexible.    

He learned that Arizona’s children are being tested far too much, and teachers spend weeks to a month preparing for all the testing.  This takes away from academic learning.  Parents and students are being threatened by school administrators for opting their children out of AZMerit, the high stakes test.   The assessment’s value in measuring academic performance is questionable. 

He also learned that many of the standards, especially K-3, are developmentally inappropriate.  Even though the Common Core writers were warned, In March 2010, by 500 early childhood development experts to suspend their current drafting of standards for children in kindergarten through grade three, the Common Core Standards were released anyway. 

Gov. Ducey wants very much to get rid of Common Core and replace them with Arizona’s own high quality academic standards.  He is urging the citizens of Arizona to get involved and be a part of the process.  Attend public meetings.  Use social media.  When the time comes to comment on draft standards, make your voices heard.