“The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken”

The headline on the lead editorial in this morning’s Charlotte Observer (June 11, 2013) almost made me laugh out loud because it sounded so much like the Wizard of Oz telling people to ignore what is happening behind the curtain.

The headline reads “Don’t fall for myths about Common Core.” The editors then follow their usual method of defending one of former Governor Jim Hunt’s educational schemes – they simply refuse to report any facts that don’t fit their fiction. Since Common Core is definitely the current flavor of Governor Hunt and his friend Marc Tucker’s grand plan, why not look at Hunt’s actual record?

Based on my personal experience dealing with Jim Hunt and his associates, in North Carolina our former Governor has operated like the Wizard of Oz for years, playing the political game to perfection. And through all those years, the North Carolina press has operated more like his PR agency than legitimate news people.

Unfortunately for Hunt and his allies, the internet has permitted news to escape from the newsroom. As the pieces of Common Core were assembled, the press buried inconvenient facts and they stayed buried. This time it may be a little harder to keep the public in the dark.

For all the years Hunt held office, his mantra was raising standards. But the facts don’t support that fiction. In 1977, during Hunt’s first term as Governor, the standard for a high school diploma was set at the 6th grade level. Now, though that standard was theoretically raised to the 8th grade level in 1995, anyone looking at what is actually being taught knows that neither standard was real. Actual achievement is worse now than before Hunt started “raising standards.” For example . . .

Before Hunt came to office, students were taught to write English sentences in cursive and even how to diagram those sentences. During Hunt’s time in office, the UNC Schools of Education started teaching teachers not to correct the spelling, grammar, etc. of elementary school students because it would “stifle their creativity” and they could be taught those “details” later. They put cursive out to pasture as not needed since computers would replace writing.

In both cases, the educational elitists making these decisions forgot to mention them to parents or the general public. As a parent who learned of the dishonesty firsthand, after real damage had been done, I don’t care how often Jim Hunt and his allies crow about high standards, because I know what they say is meaningless propaganda.

After Hunt quit running for office, he wrote a book, First In America, promoting his educational vision. A couple of sentences on page 55 stand out. “We weren’t candid about how things were going. We didn’t change the situation. That’s dishonest and that’s wrong.”

Hunt was blaming society, but most members of society were simply trying to earn a living and raise a family. Hunt was promoting himself as the education governor. He and his allies were running North Carolina’s schools.

Jim Hunt and his associates have never told the public the truth about what they were actually doing. What the public sees is completely different from what is happening behind the curtain.  As Hunt said himself, “That’s dishonest and that’s wrong.”

But let’s leave for another day the gory details of the grand plan. The only point for today is a simple one:

When people with a history of  lowering standards and deceiving the public claim they care about high standards, why would anyone believe them?

And if you doubt Hunt approved giving a high school diploma to a child who couldn’t pass a ninth grade test, a copy of the Charlotte Observer’s lead editorial from January 30, 1995, is provided to document that sad bit of history. The Observer, of course, was praising Hunt and promoting his program, but that doesn’t change this key fact they unwittingly documented: From the beginning, Hunt’s competency tests were used to deceive the public.

Common Core’s claim of higher standards is unbelievable to anyone who knows the true history of Hunt’s misuse of testing to deceive parents and the public.

Hunt’s History on Standards

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If all I knew about Common Core came from reading the papers

If all I knew about Common Core came from reading the papers, or even magazines, I might believe it was a good idea.

If I had not had direct contact with former Governor Jim Hunt’s team for many years, I might believe June Atkinson, North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, when she says Common Core opponents aren’t being truthful.

Unfortunately for Governor Hunt and Ms. Atkinson, I’ve spent enough time in Raleigh and Chapel Hill to see firsthand how they and their associates say one thing while doing another. I absolutely do not trust the Jim Hunt team on educational issues. Since that team and the James Hunt Institute are key players in pushing Common Core, count me a dedicated opponent.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice – not happening.

As a parent, I trusted our public schools. They betrayed that trust. And I set out to learn what happened. I did, and over the next few weeks I hope to share what I learned on this site.

For starters, I learned that North Carolina’s “experts” had put in place a curriculum that worked for those running the system but was a disaster for students. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s press has acted more like a lapdog than a watchdog when it comes to exposing who profits from mismanaging the UNC Schools of Education and the Department of Public Instruction.

Want proof? Let’s start with something simple. As a legislator, I held a well-attended press conference at the General Assembly at which I documented the fact that DPI had intentionally misled parents and the public for years by claiming fourth grade writing scores were improving when they knew fourth grade writing skill was declining. How did they get away with it? They used a fourth grade writing test that didn’t include the mechanics of writing in the score – little things like spelling, punctuation, capitalization, correct use of parts of speech were ignored.

In other words, a child could be getting A’s in writing when they didn’t have a clue how to write a proper English sentence.

The State Board of Education knew what I said was true, and the press was provided ample documentation, but both groups circled the wagons to keep parents in the dark.

If Ms. Atkinson wants to discuss dishonesty, perhaps she would like to explain to parents why they were told their children were being taught to write when that was so very far from true.

Common Core – Rotten at the Core

More to come . . .

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