Pearson exec slams opponents of Common Core as supporters head to court to prevent Mass. vote

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A video in which a former textbook publishing executive defends the controversial federal Common Core educational standards and says that its creators aim to marginalize teachings of America’s founding principles became public last week, just days before Common Core supporters filed suit in Massachusetts court to stop voters here from deciding whether the state should jettison the standards.

The video, produced by Project Veritas, the self-described guerrilla journalism organization that specializes in producing undercover videos, features former Pearson Education marketing executive Kim Koerber saying, “Dead white guys did not create this country,” and ripping into conservatives who want schools to teach the U.S. constitution.  “You should know a little bit about it,” Koerber says, But “you shouldn’t have to memorize the thing.”

Koerber goes on to say that education should be biased in favor of a liberal agenda because “the progressive bias is the more educated you are, the better you are, and the conservative bias is the less they know, the better they are going to be.”

“People that are not educated, Fox TV viewers think that Common Core comes from the educated liberal groups and that’s why they are against it,” Koerber says in the video.

Contrary to Koerber’s assertions, however, Common Core is opposed not only by conservatives, but by an unusually bi-partisan coalition of parents, educators, and activists.

Diane Ravitch, a liberal ed reform advocate, says she opposes Common Core because she believes it is developmentally inappropriate and is “designed to enrich big corporations like Pearson and the dozens of other entrepreneurs now sucking public money out of the schools.”

The National Education Association (NEA), one of the nation’s largest teachers unions, has objected to the creation of the Common Core standards without teacher input.

Others object to the program on the ground that it imposes a one-sized-fits-all approach that is not appropriate for all states.

Proponents of Common Core, including Koerber, say they are necessary to equalize schools nationwide, better prepare students for work and college, and help pupils prepare to compete globally.

In 2010, Massachusetts became one of the first states to adopt the standards, which were developed by the National Governors Association.  Like many states, Massachusetts adopted the standards in order to improve the state’s chance of winning a chunk of the federal government’s $4 billion pool of “Race to the Top” money.

Upon implementation, however, there developed a groundswell of opposition to Common Core among Massachusetts parents and teachers who came to believe that the new program’s emphasis on skills detached from substantive content watered down previously strong curricula at Massachusetts public schools.  Activists say Common Core has led Massachusetts schools to abandon reliance on memorization of math facts and traditional algorithms while simultaneously reducing the amount of poetry, drama, and classical literature taught in English classes.

Last year, a group of Massachusetts citizens opposed to Common Core launched a campaign to put the standards on the November 16 ballot. The proposed ballot question asks Massachusetts voters whether the state should keep Common Core or revert to the state’s own pre-Common Core standards.

But on Friday, supporters of the current educational regime filed suit to prevent that vote from taking place.

In their filing, plaintiffs asked the state court to keep the referendum off the November ballot, claiming that the question is vaguely worded and never should have been certified by Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State Bill Galvin.

The Project Veritas video featuring Koerber is the group’s third in a series of undercover videos on Common Core and the textbook industry produced by the group.  See the others here and here.