This week, conservative activist James O’Keefe released the latest in a series of hidden-camera videos, which shows a former textbook publisher employee saying, “Dead white guys did not create this country.” According to a WND article, the video contends that “Common Core pushes an elitist, progressive agenda of global warming, gun control and other liberal-left positions on America’s children.”
To start, Common Core State Standards actually only consist of math and English standards – not science or history. On top of that, the video is of a former textbook publisher employee discussing materials used in Texas – a state that chose not to adopt the Common Core State Standards. A memo from Karen Nussle last year states, “Opponents have thrown the kitchen sink at the Common Core, including accusations that Common Core promotes Islam and compares George Washington to Palestinian terrorists… These kinds of general misunderstandings are fed by some leaders who now find themselves misaligned with the public on high education standards as they compete to out-pander each other in an attempt to connect with vocal, partisan activists.”
And that’s exactly what O’Keefe is trying to do: confuse viewers by spreading misinformation.
As with the first two videos from Project Veritas, these claims are patently false. In a statement on behalf of the Collaborative for Student Success about O’Keefe’s previous video, Blair Mann called the comments “offensive.” Mann adds that the video “underscores the importance of states and local school districts exercising fully their control over decisions involving books and curriculum.”
In a piece published in the Washington Times, former Alabama Governor Bob Riley explains he ran into confusion about his grandson’s textbooks. He says the solution is in local control of curriculum and materials, which Common Core State Standards fully support.
“I have always believed that the government that governs closest governs best,” Riley writes. “[With Common Core] if an Alabama parent or group of parents has an issue with a specific book in their local school, they do not have to lobby Washington for change. They don’t even have to call Montgomery. All they have to do is tell their concerns to the local school administration.”
Across the country, state and local leaders have largely taken on the responsibility of ensuring classroom materials align with the rigor of Common Core State Standards and meet their students’ needs. Nationwide, more than two-thirds of school districts report their teachers are designing curricula aligned to the Common Core, and half said the district is doing so, according to a Center on Education Policy study.