Where were you, Bob Kefgen?

Bob Kefgen, Michigan Association of Secondary Principals

The second hearing in the Michigan Competitiveness Committee on HB 4192 was held on March 15.  Bob Kefgen, Director of Government Relations for Michigan Secondary School Principals testified against the bill.  During his remarks (archive here) Kefgen asked proponents of HB 4192 several direct questions that he claims he has not been given any answers.   As a proponent of the bill, I’d like to take a few moments to answer them.

Kefgen’s questions are in bold and the reply follows,

Which of the Michigan standards they have a problem with?
We have a problem with ALL of the Common Core standards which some are now calling “Michigan standards,” the Next Generation Science Standards now called “Michigan Science Standards” and the pending adoption of the Michigan Social Studies based on the C3 Framework.    Attached to each standard is a data code which tracks our children throughout their educational trajectory.  Data collected on our children through these codes is driving the academic and career decisions of our children from cradle-to-career and violating their privacy.  Remember it was Dr. Paul Salah who actually admitted in the first hearing on HB 4192 that Common Core is more than just standards.

Debating individual standards misses the entire goal of common national standards.   Such questions are a diversion from the GOAL of common standards which is data tracking and credentialing of students to guide them toward careers that meet the needs of the workforce.  (For more info see:  Digital Badges and Your Child’s Future)

Whether they participated in the original process in 2009-2010?
Yes, I participated in the original process in 2009 and prior.   I began a blog, SpunkyHomeschool, in 2006 that was largely dedicated to informing parents about the coming national standards now known as Common Core and the impact they would have on education in our state.  I wrote and spoke against the adoption of the ACT with WorkKeys as part of the MME and how it relates to job profiling through portable credentialing of students.  I continued blogging, speaking, and informing people about the process as it continued from 2006-2009   Here is a post from 2010,  “National Standards out June 2.”  In that post, I wrote,

Common Core State Standards, otherwise known as National Standards, will be officially released tomorrow. All other previous content from the website has already been removed leaving a single message,”The Common Core State Standards will be available at this link Wednesday, June 2 at 10 a.m. Please check back at that time.”

Now it will be up to individual states to adopt the standards. With dollars in hand, the Obama administration is working overtime to get the states to “compete” for the money and to adopt the standards. Maryland has already decided to adopt them but Virginia has opted out. Time will tell what the others will do.

Hastily, without much public discussion or debate, the Michigan State Board of Education adopted them three weeks later.   The effort to stop the standards now changed to repealing the standards.  We were there in 2009-2010.

Whether they participated in the 17 hours of testimony that this body held about four years ago when Rep. Kelly headed a sub-committee to take testimony?
Yes, I and many others participated in the 17 hours of testimony that Rep. Kelly held in the summer of 2013.   The catalyst for those hearings was HB 4276 introduced by then Rep. Tom McMillin in the spring.  Hearings were held in the House Education Committee chaired by Rep. Lisa Lyons. (See photo at left)  The testimony of Melanie Kurdys, Karen Braun, as well as national recognized experts Sandra Stotsky, Ze’ev Wurman, and others can be viewed here.
Karen Braun testifying on HB 4276 in 2013
By 2012, parents across the nation were learning the truth about Common Core and its data collection scheme for workforce development. They wanted it OUT of Michigan and still do.   The political uproar led to a “pause” in the implementation of Common Core and the hearings chaired by Rep. Kelly that summer.   We attended and participated in the hearings.   Lawmakers were hearing from their constituents that they wanted Common Core stopped but their voice was drowned out by the special interests such as GLEP and others. A resolution was crafted but the issue was toxic to lawmakers.  No lawmaker wanted to go on record supporting Common Core.  In the end, resolution S-4 was gaveled through the Senate by voice vote.  With no roll call, Senators were safe from any backlash and Common Core implementation began in earnest.   Undeterred we pressed forward and continued to inform parents and work to stop Common Core and related standards from adoption.  We were there in 2013.

Whether they participated in the redevelopment of the state’s science standards?
Yes, we wrote and spoke about concerns and flaws with the adopting common science and social studies standards beginning in 2013.   In a post “Next Generation Science Standards.”   I wrote,
Like the Common Core math and English Language Arts Standards, the states that adopt them do not own them.  The Next Generation Science Standards have trademark and copyright restrictions.   Also similar to Common Core,   the NGSS process was completed behind the scenes and a collaborative effort managed by Achieve, Inc.    Michigan is a “lead state” in the development of the standards.
We also attended and participated in the MDE info sessions held around the state.   Despite the fact that there was little opportunity for public input, we attempted to ask questions at those sessions and here on our website.  We never received any replies.   The Next Generation Science Standards or so called, Michigan Science Standards were adopted last year.
The social studies standards were pushed back and are still pending.   We were there in 2014 -2016.

Whether they are participating in the on-going process that Senator Colbeck is participating in on our state’s social studies standards?
Once again the team at Stop Common Core was the catalyst for the delay in adopting the social studies standards.   At the MDE info sessions in 2015, Tami Carlone was as able to discuss the social studies standards with State Board member Eileen Weiser.  Weiser admitted in a voice mail to Carlone  that the development of standards was always an internal process.
“This has always been an internal process from the state ed dept to the schools, that now that we are seeing the wisdom of opening it up to parents, low-and-behold these are really solid comments.”  (see related post:  It’s a Republic, Ms. Weiser if you can keep it!)

The MDE and the State Board were finally in 2015 now seeing the wisdom of involving parents.  That’s a stunning admission and significant to the question about where were people in this process!  Public input was NOT a part of the process in adopting the Common Core or anything else for that matter. Despite this admission, the on-going process for social studies is NOT an open process.   Attempts to engage Senator Colbeck regarding the standards especially as it relate to data codes and collection have not been successful.   Further the State Board of Education considered grants for digital badges to be developed aligned to the new standards.

Mr. Kefgen, we are a part of the process and have been all along.   We are at this point in supporting HB 4192 to repeal and replace because we have been shut out and silenced, not because we have been absent.  The hearing that you participated on March 15 was no exception.   There were many at the hearing on March 15 ready to testify in support of this bill but they were NOT given the chance because the selection of testimony was determined by the chair.  We are not paid lobbyists or employees of the state.  Most of us take  time away from our “day job” to participate in the process and attend hearings.  We will continue to be engaged to stop common core and removing Michigan students from the centralized P-20 workforce development system.

We were there every step of the way Mr. Kefgen, which leads me to wonder,  “Where were you?”