The Common Core academic standards at the heart of efforts to reform K-12 education is actually “part of a United Nations plan to have complete control of our educational system,” Jennifer Reynolds told a gathering of the Payson Tea Party last week.
Reynolds, co-founder of Arizonans Against Common Core, said the educational reforms backers say promote critical thinking skills are actually part of an insidious effort to promote “global citizenship.” She traced the roots back through the administrations of George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and said it represents part of the United Nations’ “Agenda 21” effort to create a world government.
She said that the conservative Republican Governor Jan Brewer, the Arizona Superintendent of Education and Senate Education Committee chair Rich Crandall (R-Mesa) have “been involved from the beginning.”
About 50 Payson Tea Party members listened attentively, including school board member Shirley Dye, who served as vice present of the local Tea Party chapter before her election to the board in November. She had invited the rest of the Payson School Board to attend the session. Both board president Barbara Underwood and board member Rory Huff attended the session.
Schools throughout the state are moving to overhaul their curriculums to implement Common Core, a set of guidelines that stress critical thinking rather than memorization of facts. Payson High School Principal Anna Van Zile participated in the committee that developed the national standards in English. The federal government has financed development of the standards for key skills students should master at each grade level, together with tests to assess mastery of those skills. The tests would make it far easier to measure student performance against a national standard.
Arizona has adopted the Common Core standards and abandoned the AIMS test, a high school graduation test of basic skills. Districts are supposed to adopt a new national test linked to the Common Core curriculum. However, the state hasn’t provided funding for the online testing and tracking system the program envisions.
ACT, one of the primary providers of college entrance exams, recently published a study that used college preparation tests taken by 250,000 11th-graders to determine how students nationally measure up to the Common Core standards. The testing service concluded that only one-third to one-half of high school juniors “are reaching a college and career readiness level.” Minority students across the board did even worse.
“These results indicate that we must begin immediately to strengthen teaching and learning in all areas of the Common Core,” the report concluded.
However, Reynolds said Arizona should revoke its approval of the Common Core standards, which she said represent an effort to push “globalization” and world government. The federal reforms represent an unconstitutional infringement on state’s rights, she added.
She linked the adoption of the national academic standards to Agenda 21, which refers to a 1992 resolution adopted by the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). A total of 178 countries voted to adopt a program that urges nations to adopt sustainable development policies. Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, in particular, has crusaded against Agenda 21.
The Arizonans Against Common Core Web site says, “Common Core is a Trojan horse and tied to the United Nations.”
Evidence for the UN link on the Web site includes:
• The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds research into educational reform including the Common Core standards and also works with United Nations programs — like the effort to reduce the incidence of AIDS worldwide. “Wake up and smell the Kool-Aid you have been drinking and wake up that you are being lied to!” said the Web site. “Common Core is part of the UN’s plan for complete federal control of our educational system and the ‘dumbing-down’ of America.”
• The Conservative Teachers of America concluded the Common Core standards would provide “unfettered access of our educational system by the United Nations.”
• UNESCO issued a statement promising to “work closely with global partners” in conjunction with the $1 billion the United States provides to support educational reform internationally.
• A portion of the United Nation’s “Agenda 21” includes principle 25 that seeks to “ensure access for all youth to all types of education, wherever appropriate,” and principle 36 that calls on the UN to review its educational programs and urges countries to “cooperate with each other and with various social sectors and population groups to prepare educational tools that include regional environment and development issues and initiatives,” according to the Web site.
During her presentation, Reynolds mocked the mostly conservative Republican leadership in the state that has so far voted to adopt the Common Core.
Another member of the group, Wes Harris, urged Tea Party residents to attend local school board meetings and insist that Payson schools abandon any move to implement the Common Core standards. He complained that hardly anyone attended the state legislative committee meetings where the state adopted various elements of the federal reforms embodied in Common Core.
“If you don’t get involved, you deserve what you get. Your school board has at least one conservative member (Dye). But most school boards are incestuous because they’re dominated by educators. The only way we can fix this is at the state level. We do not want a new world order as Agenda 21 gives us,” Harris said.