Chairman of the Education Committee Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury conducted an excellent hearing on COMMON CORE
April 15, 2015
The hallway was packed with people waiting for the room to open; proponents on both sides were present. I was impressed with Woodbury's decorum at the meeting; she had an overflow crowd attentive. Assemblyman Brent Jones, who sponsored the "Repeal Common Core" BDR, testified obviously well informed on the problems, shortcomings and alternatives to COMMON CORE. His presentation was passionate and eloquent.
No one expects every person in an elected position to be an expert on all the hundreds of bills to be considered in 120 days. Legislators do depend on expert opinions. I must congratulate Brent Jones for arranging for Sandra Stotsky to call in and testify on April 1. She is a nationally recognized expert on COMMON CORE.
Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram were speakers at a Symposium we held at the Legislative Building on January 13. My company, the business being EDUCATION, invited them to come to Carson City. (They ARE the EXPERTS in LANGUAGE ARTS and MATH respectively). Approximately 700 people were at the Symposium or watching it as it happened.
Though the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) agreed to bring policy makers to speak on the Pro COMMON CORE side, they came instead to disrupt, divert, and discredit the event with cheap tricks of politics. I believe one of the biggest obstacles to communicating and discussion is Dale Erquiaga, Superintendent of Public Instruction, who behaves like a demagogic ogre. He called PK O'Neill before the Symposium and pressured him (I call it bullying) to insist that teachers be on the panel.
It's important to note it was the Superintendent of Churchill Country School District who requested a Symposium in Fallon after her School Board suggested she do her best to inform the public about COMMON CORE. Several joined with me and formed CITIZENS FOR SOUND ACADEMIC STANDARDS (C4SAS) to help Superintendent Sandra Sheldon with her symposium and present a similar symposium in CARSON CITY. The Fallon Symposium was scheduled for January 14, the day after the one in Carson City. We raised enough money to invite Drs. Milgram and Stotsky to Nevada. They wanted to come here in the dead of winter because they know Nevada's poor standing.
After the Carson City Symposium, Mr. Erquiaga issued a statement denouncing Dr. James Milgram, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and C4SAS. He said the NDE would not participate at the Fallon Symposium and instructed Superintendent Sheldon not to attend the Symposium she had requested. The symposium happened anyway, without them and without most of the School Board. Why, I ask you, have a school superintendent quashed by a power-hungry man who has no qualifications for the job his school buddy Brian Sandoval gave him knowing he was not qualified? The authority of Superintendent Sheldon was seriously diminished.
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Both Dr. Milgram and Dr. Stotsky responded to the denouncement, requesting an apology and more importantly, that the NDE be abolished and reconfigured. I must say, Dr. Stotsky spoke professionally and truthfully about the problems with COMMON CORE on a conference call into the April 1st meeting. The deafening silence in the committee room while she severely criticized the Nevada Department of Education was worth hearing. Reasonable people can disagree in civil ways, not with edicts and threats.
I received over 200 phone calls inquiring about the Symposium in Carson City. Many from parents, whose children are being used as pawns for political gain, from teachers too, disgruntled but afraid they will be fired if they speak out, and from members of the over 70% of citizens who pay for education through taxes but have no children in school. Many Americans share similar concerns; lawmakers are responding.
Michael Brickman of the Fordham Institute contradicted himself many times during his testimony to the committee; it was obvious he was paid a lot to say things he did not seem to understand. The woman in Las Vegas who became emotional about her child being "slotted" into the place Mr. Erquiaga thinks is right, was similar to many of the parents and teachers who are scared and who feel they are no longer teachers, but moderators.
I was shocked and truly surprised when Senator Scott Hammond came forward and spoke as if this bill was defeated. It sounded like sour grapes to me, because his similar bill was tabled by the Senate Education Committee. How can any elected official choose to consciously use children and language-limited parents for political gain?
COMMON CORE continues to be a very important issue to the people of Nevada. Assembly Bill 303 should warrant a vote. Governor Sandoval is one of the few governors who has never publicly talked about COMMON CORE, but instead has chosen underlings to do his bidding. It should be on his shoulders. He is promoting the diminishment of the family, reducing teachers from their professions, and spending way too many tax dollars for an education system implemented without transparency, trials, of funding. It should weigh heavily on his conscience, not yours.
Educate our children; do not indoctrinate them.
Ann Bednarski, B.A., M.S. CITIZENS FOR SOUND ACADEMIC STANDARDS