Common Core Education Standards and Assessments Discussed at Hultgren Seminar

At Congressman Randy Hultgren’s “Common Core Summit” there were three people critiquing the new educational standards adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education in 2010 and one in favor.

Common Core Panelists

From left to right, the panelists are opponents Erin Raasch and Ben Schwarm, moderator Bruno Behrend and proponent panelists Mike Petrilli and Ben Schwarm.

The outspoken proponent was conservative think tank Fordham Institute Executive Vice President Mike Petrilli. He was paired with Illinois Association of School Boards Deputy Execute Director Ben Schwarm on the proponent side of the room, but Petrilli seemed pretty lonely during most of the presentation.

Mike Petrilli

Mike Petrilli

In any event, Petrilli, who served in the George W. Bush Administration, offered this challenge:

“I dare you to find one [standard] that you disagree with.”

(Link to the English standards here. Link to the math standards here. On the right hand side of the page under “Standards” one can find four appendices, three for English and one for math.)

He said that Illinois’ mid-1990’s standards were weak and the Common Core replacements were stronger.

He bemoaned math standards that had high school graduates having to take remedial courses in junior college.

Bob Bowdon, Executive Director of Choice Media, who directed the movie “The Cartel” about the education industry in New Jersey, and Erin Raasch, founder of, composed the avowed opponents to Common Core.

While most attention has been paid to the Standards, all seemed leery that the Assessment portion of the program could end up causing unintended consequences.

Bob Bowdon

Bob Bowdon

Bowdon attacked the top down model, arguing that “centralization” would limit competition when innovation in education was flourishing in various states, e.g., 90% of schools in New Orleans are charter schools.

“Why would you want national standards?”

Raash attacked false advertising by proponents.

She pointed particularly to the claim that the Standards had been “Internationally benchmarked.”

Erin Raasch

Erin Raasch

She said the national web site had taken down that claim.

When I looked at the ISBE web site, I found the claim at the bottom of the page.

Raasch agreed on the threat to competition.

“They’re forgetting about market forces.

“Common Core will destroy school choice.”

Common Core Internationally Benchmarked

Erin Raasch said the claim of Common Core being”internationally benchmarked” had been removed from the national web site. The assertion still remains on the Illinois State Board of Education web site.

No one seemed to have an answer to where adequate funds would be found to allow all students to take Assessment tests simultaneously on computers.

Petrilli pointed out that three approaches tried so far to improve education had not worked:

  • Putting a lot of money in
  • Certifying teachers
  • Lowering classroom size

He argued that society should “focus on results and otherwise free you up on how to get to them.”

Suzie Morrison

Suzie Morrison

Dr. Suzie Morrison, Deputy Illinois Superintendent of Education since 2007, gave a history of Common Core in Illinois, stressing that it resulted from state superintendents coming together and deciding that working together on new standards made more sense than each of them doing it separately.

She said the new standards are “fewer, clearer and expectations are higher.”

Petrilli revealed that Illinois’ old standards had been graded “D” for reading and math, while the new one for English got a “A-” and the new math standard received an “A-.”

Bruno Behrend, Executive Director of For the Good of Illinois and a Senior Fellow for Education Policy at the Heartland Institute, moderated the affair.

A couple of hundred people attended the McHenry County College event.  From the audience reaction, I concluded that the majority were questioning the new standards.


Common Core Education Standards and Assessments Discussed at Hultgren Seminar — 11 Comments

  1. Why would anyone question Commie core?

    Be good little communists and take your medicine.

    This government is a total joke.

    Too bad none of this is funny.

  2. Once again there is a lot of huffing about recreating the wheel.

    Part is because the unions do not want charter schools, the education industry is running out of others to blame for its failures, the public is tired of having its money blown on more and more bunk, the public is learning a lot via the Internet and the old pitches are just hot air meant to keep us quiet.

    For decades there have been successful places like Mass. even though it can also improve.

    Other countries without our resources are kicking our backsides.

    Essentially, it has been more beneficial for the industry to ignore the idea of doing what is working somewhere and tinker with it later.

    This other nonsense, hand wringing, and moaning about more money being needed was mostly so they could get awards and raises and have jobs and benefits for life

    It reminds me of Gere razzle dazzling the reporters and the public in the movie Chicago.

  3. Less psycho babble and touchy feely stuff needs to be incorporated.

    Getting the right answer is important not just drawing symbols and getting applause.

    OH WHY BOTHER trying to make sense, we know what needs to be done, we just don’t want to hear it or do it.

  4. I wonder what the astronauts on Apollo 13 would have the said if the answer doesn’t matter as much as how they got to the answer! Foundation 1st!

    The answer does matter. People will make better decisions when they are given all the information not at the last minute with “Trust us, we are the experts.”

    We all must get involved now. Enough of “The operation was a success but the patient died”.

    And on using spell check and not worrying about knowing how to write, if you type in helpfesk for helpdesk (f next to the d on keyboard), you may see HELPLESS as the correction.

    I “quess” it is getting it “rite”, I mean “write”, no I mean RIGHT.

    What to I mean?

    I’ll leave it up to you.

    Can’t wait until the aps come out on taking new computerize tests.

    And the advertisements.

    “This question brought to you by….”

  5. I am just as concerned about the children taking their tests on the computer.

    How does a computer measure creativity in writing?

    What rubric could be created for that?

    How does a computer measure imagination?

    Will the tests be strictly multiple choice?

    That could yield a “guess” factor.

    Will the curriculum teach cursive writing? Writing for various needs and purposes?

    Something about Common Core affects my common sense!

  6. First and foremost, Rep. Hultgren is to be commended for hosting the event.

    Common Core is going to have a profound impact on education, and far too few people are aware of its existence.

    While I, too, favor high standards for education, there’s nothing to be gained by having standards imposed on a nationwide basis.

    The panelists were unanimous in saying that Illinois’ standards were insufficient, but if they aren’t good enough, the people of Illinois have it within their power to enact better ones.

    Massachusetts, for example, has been held out as a state with standards which were better than the Common Core.

    Did Illinois policymakers examine the Massachusetts standards to see what could be implemented here? If not, why not?

    It’s been said many times that the states are laboratories of democracy.

    Nothing says “democracy” more than parents and local school boards determining for themselves how to educate their kids.

    Indiana has taken the bold step of stopping the implementation of Common Core until the questions raised last night, and many others are answered. Illinois must do the same.


    Has anyone actually tried to use this page?

    Tough to maneuver.

    The map of states who adopted (back in 2010, who knew this was going on!) has NOT been updated with states pulling out or delaying.

    True transparency involves who, what, when, where, why, how.

    Easily accessible, consistent, and timely.

    If such a good thing, why the delay getting info, not letting local school districts decide, and now starting to use advertising and new “jobs” to make the pitch to our kids? Whatever happen to school board, parents, and the Parent/Teacher organizations?

  8. If they hadn’t gone and attached Federal funding to this ‘curriculum’ it would have been an entirely different situation.

    What school can say no to funding?

    So even though this was ‘optional’ it really wasn’t.

    One thing they are sort of neglecting to discuss is sure, Math is one thing- but take a look at American history, western Civ., civics, etc. Even current textbooks are wrong in many cases and present history with a rather skewed account.

    Some texts actually completely omit the 2nd Amendment when talking about the Constitution, and in some states books have been modified to reflect more of a muslim Islamic perspective.

  9. Two different male teachers in different but comparable high schools assigned me the same book to read, interpret, and report on… So, i did.

    The first teacher gave me a top of the line grade and bragged about what I wrote to the class. The class did not appreciate the praise.

    The second teacher gave it a barely passing grade and a terse comment on the paper. Those classmates thought I did not belong at their grade level.

    It was the same paper turned in to two different teachers within about two months. Go figure.

    My unquestioning belief in teachers and the business of education pretty much ended and I was just a kid at the time. Adulthood brought further exposure to the rest of the games being played and the giant egos some in education carry around.

    I expect to be told that we will no longer grade anything and that everyone gets a gold star even if it is just a way to boost teachers’ salaries, etc.

    Less bricks and mortar please.

    Eliminate tenure.

    Less trying to be the NICE teacher and more to teaching what needs to be learned to survive and make a better world.

    Start term limits on school board members, we can’t afford them and their power trips.

  10. In the big picture, what’s the point?

    Common Core is just another social education experiment.

    We won’t know if it’s bad until a generation of kids pass through and get to the real world – at which point the next “Edu-Fad” will slip into the mainstream.

    In the meantime, middle class America can’t afford to send kids to college because the families arent’ rich enough or poor enough. So what’s the point of college readiness if one can’t afford to pay for it?

  11. I made the comment about the standards not being “internationally benchmarked.”

    After being questions, this claim has been revoked when it was discovered that the standards were internationally reviewed but not properly benchmarked against the standards of other countries.

    Thanks to everyone who attended and are engaged in this debate.

    I apologize if my statement caused any confusion.

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