Common Core Not Dead Pennsylvania Wise?

Joanne Yurchak has expressed skepticism regarding claims made by State Rep. Bill Adolph (R-165) to a contingent from the Delaware County Patriots, Aug. 28, about the death of Common Core in this state. Below is here letter to State Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48)

In our view skepticism is a very good thing and Common Core should be watched until it is buried with a stake in its heart

Thank you, Joanne.


Common Core not dead Pennsylvania Wise? Keep watching the banks of the Susquehanna.

West Chester, PA 19380
August 29, 2013

Senator Mike Folmer
Chair, Senate Education Committee
400 S. 8th Street
101 Municipal Building
Lebanon, PA 17042

Dear Senator Folmer:

I spoke to you briefly before the hearing on the Keystones at the
Valley Forge Middle School, expressing my extreme concern about the
implementation of Common Core in Pennsylvania. I told you that Iíd done a
great deal of research on this issue and you asked me to send you my
information. I am attaching some of my writings here. Please let me know
if you would like digital copies and I will send them to you.

Before continuing, I wish to express my genuine gratitude at the fair
and transparent manner in which youíve conducted the hearings. I
attended both the May 15 Common Core Senate hearing and the August 26
Keystone Senate hearing and was tremendously impressed with your
professional manner and respectful treatment of all presenters and
senators. The exceptionally well-organized hearings enabled me to
understand so many features of this complicated issue that I never would
have known had I not attended them. I also appreciate having the
opportunity to view the proceedings in their entirety on your web site.

Although I feel that I now am quite knowledgeable about Common Core, I
continue to be confused and extremely disturbed by information and
opinions that are continually bandied about. For instance, just today,
the following report was stated on a reputable local blog:

Bill Adolph (R-165) told a† contingent from the Delaware County Patriots , this morning, Aug. 28,† that  Common Core is likely dead in Pennsylvania.
He said that a draft of Pennsylvania academic standards being
considered by the State Board of Education will specifically include the
wording ìThere will be no required reading lists and curriculum will
remain strictly a local decision by our school boards.

He noted the name of the standards will be changed to PA Core
Standards. He distributed a memo from State House Education Committee
Chairman Paul Clymer (R-145) that in the standards ëthere will be no
national tests or assessments, except if one is deemed necessary for
special education students and then only in consultation with parents,
teachers and other interested parties.

My understanding is that there were stipulations tied to the Race to the
Top money that we received from the Feds when the State Board of
Education, bypassing the State Legislature, signed on to the CCSS
initiative. Are we giving the money back? What is going on? Personally, I
think that whoever dreamed up changing the name to PA Core Standards
did it to confuse CCSS opponents. (Iím sure you weren’t involved in what
I think is likely a Machiavellian scheme.) As far as I’m concerned, a
pickle by any other name would taste as sour!

I speak from the perspective of a parent and grandparent who is a
firm believer in public education and also as an educator who has taught
in a public high school and also for decades in several local colleges
and universities. My two children were educated in the Rose Tree Media
School District and my four grandchildren currently attend elementary
and middle schools in Delaware County.

As more information comes to light regarding the CCSS, many
knowledgeable individuals believe that its implementation will
unquestionably have deleterious consequences, both fiscally and
educationally. Far more disturbing to me, however, is the fact that the
rightful influence of parents, teachers, and local school boards in
formulating educational decisions will be supplanted by bureaucrats in
WashingtonÖ an incontrovertibly egregious assault on individual
freedoms! It is essential that our legislators act IMMEDIATELY to put a
STOP to this federal power grab before its mandates become so entwined
in our educational system that we cannot disentangle ourselves from it.
With your ìpower of the purse,î you have the ability to STOP this. I
respectfully urge you to do so.

On its face, setting ìrigorousî educational standards and attempting
to hold students and teachers accountable by tying assessments to these
standards SEEMS like a positive effort. However, as always, the ìdevil
is in the details.î In the attachments included with this letter, I have
provided some information that has been helpful to me in understanding
this complicated and crucial educational issue. These include:
A summary of basic facts about the CCSS, including concerns of its opponents and my personal commentaries.
An eight page summary of basic information of the CCSS with personal commentary included.
A copy of an opinion article by Frances Fulton that was published in the
York Daily Record entitled: “Common Core State Standards: A Threat to
Our Values.”

This article mentions a letter that the CEO of Exxon-Mobil wrote to
Governor Corbett, “reminding him of the money that Exxon-Mobil brings in
to PA.” I have attached this letter as well. I find it reprehensible
that someone in Mr. Tillerson’s position would attempt to interfere in
PA’s educational system and hope that Governor Corbett is not influenced
by this inappropriate pressure. It makes one wonder what OTHER unknown
forces are pushing the Common Core agenda and WHY they are doing so.
A copy of an E-Mail that I sent to all West Chester School Board members
that contains information that indicates that implementation of Common
Core in PA will result in lessening or eliminating the influence of
parents and local school boards on the education of Pennsylvaniaís

It is unfathomable that our legislators would be so short-sighted and
fiscally irresponsible as to allow the implementation of a massive and
costly federally controlled educational initiative such as the CCSS when
there is no empirical evidence that it will improve our educational
system and student learning outcomes, and when there is almost a 100%
certainly that it will result in massive unfunded mandates and huge
fiscal burdens for our taxpayers at a time when PA is on the verge of a
fiscal crisis. I strongly urge you to do everything within your power to
reject the CCSS for PA, and stop its implementation indefinitely — not
just change the name! I also urge you to return the money that weíve
received from the federal government so that we are not obligated by
their mandates and regulations. Local districts and parents should be in
charge of our studentsí education — not bureaucrats in high places!

Very truly yours,

Joanne Yurchak

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