Get out your paper and pencil, you will be reading some information that you will want to ask your elected representatives about. (All the memorandums can be found in the WYDOE archives: 2007-2011 are on the upper left hand corner, to find the memos for a specific year, click on the link for that year.) Ideas on how to take action are at the end of this article.
Acronyms to know: WDE and WYDOE- Wyoming Department of Education, BOE- Board of Education, CCSS- Common Core State Standards, SBAC- Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, RttT- Race to the Top, NCLB- No Child left Behind, ARRA- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NGA- National Governors Association, CCSSO- Council of Chief State School Officers, MOA- Memorandum of Agreement, MOU- Memorandum of Understanding, OSEP- Office of Special Education Programs, IDEA- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
In February of 2009 former Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jim McBride, sent out a memo (2009-032) to all the school district superintendents in Wyoming. The first paragraph reads:
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes significant funds for Wyoming schools. Commonly referred to as the “stimulus bill,” ARRA will provide $54 million in funds via Title I and IDEA that will flow directly to schools districts… The Wyoming Department of Education is working closely with partners at the federal level to implement ARRA in our state.”
*The stimulus bill (ARRA), required states to participate in the Race to the Top (RttT) initiative, and in order to apply for the RttT grant money, each state had to agree to implement the not yet written CCSS.
On March 23rd, 2009 Mr. McBride sent out Memo 2009-ARRA3 the second paragraph says:
“The primary fund streams that are being handled at this time are the Title I, IDEA and State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The timeline for these funds to begin flowing to the states is the end of March to mid April, although only about 50 percent of the funds will be released at that time. The second half will be released on specific conditions and reporting that will be established by the U.S. Department of Education in the fall.”
Does that last sentence sound state led to you?
On March 30th, 2009 Mr. McBride sent out memo 2009-ARRA4 the first paragraph on page 2 says:
“WDE continues to work with the United States Department of Education, the office of Senator Mike Enzi, and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to determine the best and legal uses of ARRA funds.”
*in conjunction with the National Governors Association (NGA) the CCSSO wrote the Common Core State standards.
On June 19th, 2009 Mr. McBride sent out Memo 2009-095 the first paragraph reads:
“The Wyoming Department of Education, and Governor Dave Freudenthal have agreed to Wyoming’s participation in the national “common core standards” effort. This project is a cooperative effort between the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governor’s Association. Wyoming is one of 49 states committed to participating in the process. Governor Freudenthal signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on May 8, 2009.”
September 25th, 2009 the WYDOE sent out a memo (2009-150) to all WY school district superintendents and curriculum coordinators saying that the first draft of the CCSS were available for public viewing until October 21st, 2009.
In January 2010 during a Wyoming State Board of Education teleconference the following was reported:
“WDE Grant Update – Jim McBride stated the Race to the Top Grant application is complete and will be sent tomorrow [Jan. 15th, 2010] morning. The grant award would be $162 million with $81 million for school districts. Right before Christmas , the Department applied for a data grant for $11 million. He feels our chances for receiving either of these grant awards are excellent.”
By the way, we did not get the Race to the Top money.
On March 12, 2010 this memo (2010-052) went out to school district superintendents, principals
curriculum coordinators, and instructional facilitators:
“Drafts of the K-12 Common Core English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards were released for public comment on Wednesday, March 10, 2010. The comment period will be open only until April 2, 2010. The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) would like to encourage all school districts to provide opportunities for Wyoming educators and educational stakeholders to discuss and provide feedback on these standards. The standards and a feedback survey are located on the Common Core State Standards Web site”
On July 2nd, 2010 Alan Moore, Director of Standards and Assessments, sent out a memo (2010-124) to all school district superintendents, curriculum directors, school principals, and instructional facilitators in the state of Wyoming. The subject of this memo was “Adoption of the Common Core State Standards”. The first four paragraphs state:
“On June 16, 2010, at its meeting in Riverton, the Wyoming State Board of Education voted to adopt the Common Core State Standards to be included in the next revision of the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics.
The motion to adopt was “[t]he Wyoming State Board of Education approves the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics in the next revision of the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards to be completed by December, 2011. The Common Core State Standards will comprise at least 85% of the revised Wyoming Content and Performance Standards in each of these two content areas.”
The Board considered recommendations and comments from several sources including a public online survey which was open between March 26 and April 30, 2010. In Casper, the Mathematics Standards Review Committee met May 14-15, 2010, and the English Language Arts Standards Review Committee met May 21-22, 2010.
As indicated in the motion, the Common Core Standards will be included, in their entirety, in the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards, but additional benchmarks may be added. The Standards Review Committees School District Superintendents will continue their work to review and recommend revisions to the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards through December 11, 2011, after which, the State Board of Education will be asked to adopt revised Wyoming Standards.”
On Oct 6, 2010 (Entered into Nov. 29, 2010) then Governor Dave Freudenthal, and then Superintendent of Public Instruction Jim McBride, signed the “Memorandum of Understanding [of the] Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium [and the] Race to the Top Fund Assessment Program: Comprehensive Assessment Systems grant Application” This testing consortium (one of the two choices required when a state chose to implement the CCSS), is almost impossible to get out of:
(click on image to enlarge)
On May 14th 2012, a memo (2012-083) with the subject “Common Core State Standards Implementation Status Survey” went out to School District Superintendents, Curriculum Directors, and K-12 School Principals in WY (from Julie Magee; Standards Supervisor Standards, Learning and Accountability Division), the second and third paragraph says:
“On April 27, 2012, the State Board of Education voted in favor of adopting the revised standards for health, mathematics, and language arts. The revised standards include the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in mathematics and language arts.
The Wyoming Department of Education would like to assess how many districts have already begun implementation of the CCSS. This will help the Department provide relevant professional development opportunities to assist districts with implementing the new standards.”
It is very obvious when looking at the timeline that the Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are not Wyoming led initiatives. There are far too many strings and stipulations attached, and if this truly was ‘state led’, there would not be a need for either. Wyoming should chose, without bribes, the standards we expect our children to achieve, our state, and our children are unique, and our standards and subsequent curriculum need to reflect that.
So what can you do with all of this information?
• Write to your legislators, our Governor, and the State Board of Education and ask them why there are federal strings and mandates in this “state led” initiative.
• Ask how much the implementation of the Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will cost the citizens of Wyoming.