KINGMAN - Cassandra Mooneyham didn't pull any punches recently when she questioned the need for the new Arizona Common Core Standards.
Mooneyham, a mother from Lake Havasu City who home-schools her children, presented her fears to the Kingman Republican Men's Club during a luncheon at Dambar & Steakhouse. Mooneyham said she has extensively researched Common Core and is concerned about the loss of local control over education, the $15.8 billion cost of the program in Arizona over seven years and the massive invasion of student privacy.
The club will provide a platform for opposing views on Common Core at 11:30 a.m. June 17 at Dambar & Steakhouse, 1960 E. Andy Devine Ave. The event is open to the public, and $3 admission will be charged each participant, who can purchase lunch individually from the restaurant. Speakers will include State Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, one of Common Core's chief proponents, and Jaime Molera, a member of the Arizona State Board of Education.
"In Arizona, $4 billion a year is spent on education, which is half of the state's annual budget," said Mooneyham. "What kind of say can you have as a parent if you have to follow the Common Core curriculum? The local school boards already have their hands tied by the state, and parents are getting removed from the equation."
The Common Core standards were created by a consortium of teachers, business leaders and education experts from 46 states, including Arizona, to toughen up standards for math, English and writing from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Arizona Common Core standards are based on the national Common Core standards and were adopted by the state Board of Education in 2010 - without input from the Arizona Legislature. The education board has the authority to adopt new standards and assessments without the legislature's consent.
Common Core is scheduled to take effect this fall. But first, the state must replace its current achievement test, Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards or AIMS, with a new assessment. The education board estimates the new assessment - called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC - will cost about $26 per test, which must be taken completely online.
Mooneyham said Common Core is being phased into schools in three steps - teachers are being trained to implement the standards, the PARCC test is still being written for the upcoming school year, and data-sharing with the federal government will begin once school starts. Mooneyham said students' medical, mental health, motor vehicle, sexual preference, family income, welfare participation and other information will be collected and analyzed.
"The information maintenance is a little scary," said Mooneyham. "There are 1,500 categories they're looking to explore now, and they're considering the addition of more. They say they're doing it because the information will help them prevent problems and provide early intervention. It sounds good, but it's not the government's responsibility to do that. And everyone knows this information can be stolen, hacked and hijacked."
Laurence Schiff, president of the club, said he enjoyed Mooneyham's presentation and learned a lot from it. Schiff said her facts were researched and organized, offering him more information to make a better decision. Schiff said he is opposed to Common Core because he believes it is the "dumbing down" and centralizing of education across the nation.
"What I didn't know until listening to Cassandra is that so much information will be collected on students and given to the government," said Schiff.
Mooneyham said she would like to see the legislature define Common Core's focus and parameters, and use the existing standardized tests until a better plan can be created for the state. State Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, attended Mooneyham's presentation, which she has heard several times, and said she has been sharing the same information about Common Core with her constituents and the legislature.
"I think parents and communities need to get back involved in their school systems," said Ward. "I think there's not enough data out there to have Arizona jumping into Common Core like it is. I believe education needs to be local. We need to think before we enter into something this. It's good to see people wake up and get involved. We don't need a nation of sheep."
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