February 11, 2014

Common Core Opponents tell Legislature that Children are Not Common, Not Cars

Mike Donnelly, HSLDA’s attorney for Michigan, stands with member Stephanie Huffaker and her daughters, Olivia and Isabel, after testifying against the Common Core.

The Michigan Joint Education and Appropriations Subcommittee heard testimony from HSLDA’s attorney for Michigan affairs, Michael Donnelly, who warned them that they doom families to a dismal educational future if they continue down the Common Core approach.

Donnelly, along with nearly 30 state education officials, lobbyists, and parents, testified before the committee for over two hours on what form of educational assessment Michigan should adopt. After beginning to implement the Common Core, the Michigan Legislature “paused” last summer in order to “study” the issue. After several public hearings, the legislature adopted a controversial joint resolution to allow the Michigan Department of Education to move forward and implement the Common Core.

Speaking Out

On February 5, the committee of over 35 House and Senate legislators met to hear from the public about adopting the Common Core-related assessment developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The SBAC, which Michigan joined, is one of two consortia of states that have formed to provide Common Core tests. The other is called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Career or “PARCC.” Although several education groups appeared to support Common Core, the parent testimony was decidedly anti-Common Core.

Stop Common Core in Michigan held an event prior to the hearing. Homeschooler Karen Braun organized the event and said she was pleased with the turnout.

In spite of the blizzard-like conditions an enthusiastic group turned out to hear why Common Core is a bad idea. Attendees said that hearing Donnelly and Hillsdale College Professor Terence Moore, author of StoryKillers, was worth the difficult drive.

“Stop Common Core in Michigan is grateful for those who attended and presented,” Braun said. “We remain committed to working to insure that we retain control of our educational system.”

People, not Machines

Donnelly told the legislators that children were not cars and shouldn’t be treated like them.

“Is education about the creation of voters who will vote for your party?” he asked. “Is education about the creation of skilled ‘career-ready’ workers who are able to operate machinery, swing hammers and compete in the ‘global economy’? Is education about the creation of ‘college-ready’ children who go on to post-secondary education and then enter the ‘global workforce’ as a competitive advantage? Are these the motivating goals of education?"

He continued.

“Michigan is the proud home to America’s automotive industry, but I suspect you don’t really want to treat children like cars. The Common Core system treats teachers like assembly line workers, schools like factories, children as raw material and parents as shareholders. You don’t want that kind of a system,” he said.

Donnelly’s full testimony can be read here.

The video of the testimony is also available. Donnelly’s testimony along with a number of homeschool and public school parents and children can be seen starting at 1:30.

Parent Perspective

Homeschooling mother and HSLDA member Stephanie Huffaker, along with her two daughters, Olivia Huffaker and Isabel Huffaker, testified before the committee. Mrs. Huffaker told the committee that she was disappointed that the legislature was moving forward with Common Core.

“My husband, who is a physician, would go to jail if he wrote a prescription for medicine that wasn’t backed up by years and years of research and study. I still have not seen any research on Common Core that demonstrates it will be effective. Are our children’s education worth at least that?” she asked. “I urge you as fellow parents and lawmakers to trust parents more. Where do we go if there is a problem with these federally controlled test? We, as Michigan citizens, don’t have control or input over the content of the Common Core tests.”

Her daughter Olivia, age 14, objected to Common Core on the grounds that it treats children as too “common.”

“I am concerned that Common Core and the SBAC assessment system will make it harder for me as a homeschooler to get into college or get scholarships,” the teen said. “Common Core takes away our liberty of education and treats children as common. Why do you want to treat us as common? I thought being different was a sign that you are your own person and don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Shouldn’t Michigan parents be making decisions for Michigan kids?”

HSLDA is in the fight against Common Core because we believe it will harm homeschoolers. We also believe that a one-size-fits-all, top-down education system is bad for children and bad for our country. Learn more at our Common Core website and stay tuned for HSLDA’s revealing documentary entitled “Building the Machine” coming soon. Join HSLDA and enter the fight for freedom.