By Bob Dean
It’s ironic that while we are watching Egyptians half way around the globe fight for democracy, we are being denied democracy right here in the state of Washington. Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos of the 37th district, chairman of the house education committee, is refusing to have a hearing on HB1891, a bill to delay the adoption of the Common Core State Standards on math and English. This is a monumental decision by our state and it deserves to have an up or down vote from the legislature.
The legislature is playing a sly game, because they have never voted on the Common Core. Instead they voted to give our State Superintendent Randy Dorn the power to provisionally adopt the Common Core last August so we could look better on our application for the Race to the Top funds. Unfortunately, we never got a dime of RttT money.
Even so, Dorn was given the right to make the decision on Common Core. The legislature added a clause in the legislation, SB6696, that stated the adoption could be made permanent by Dorn after the 2011 session if there were no objections by the education committees. Thus, the Common Core State Standards can be adopted without ever being voted on by the legislature. If this move turns out to be a big mistake they can blame it all on Randy Dorn for making this historic change in our state education system.
I have given long technical arguments about why the Common Core standards would be bad for our state in earlier blogs, but the bottom line is just this: The people for the CCSS want to nationalize our education system. They want to give away the rights of the citizens of Washington to affect the education of our children and give it to a very small group of unelected people in Washington DC. This small group of people (CCSSI) was formed and financed by Bill Gates and then put under the auspices of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Counsel of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The governors and the state superintendents really have very little input to this group. Any state only has one vote to make any changes or to resist what they are doing. While a state could back out of the association, once we start down the CCSS road it would cost hundreds of millions to reverse course. This is even worse than federal control because these people are insulated from any public vote.
Washington State had the worst math standards in the nation for more than a decade. It was the citizens of Washington who finally forced OSPI and the legislature to dump our old standards and begin the process of rewriting our standards. Washington now has some of the best math standards in the nation. There is absolutely no justification to make this change based on the merit of the CCSS and there is no reason to take away the rights of Washingtonians. This is about nationalizing our education system pure and simple.
A decision of this magnitude begs for a vote from the full legislature. Win or lose we do not want the legislature to be able to slip the CCSS through under the radar. Many who voted for SB6696 did so for other reasons. They were unaware of what the CCSS were all about. We want an up or down vote on the CCSS. Washington citizens deserve to know who it is that is giving away their rights. That is what HB1891 is all about.
Please call the legislative hotline at 1.800.562.6000 and tell your legislators that HB1891 deserves a hearing. Even better, email Representative Santos right now at, firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her that Washingtonians don’t want democracy to be denied and she has no right to keep HB1891 from being heard. After you email her, call her legislative number at 1.360.786.7944 (Olympia) and give her the same message, but be prepared for a grumpy voice at the other end of the line (not hers) because she is getting hundreds of calls from all over the state.
Bob Dean is math department chairman at Evergreen High School, Vancouver, WA. He was a State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel Member; on the OSPI Standards Revision Team; and is a member of the Where's the Math? Executive Committee.
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