How to Get Your State Party to Oppose Common Core
On January 24, 2015, a miracle happened in Washington State. The Washington State Democratic Party became the first Democratic State Party in the nation to pass a resolution opposing Common Core! This is huge because Washington State is not only the home state of Bill Gates, it is also the home state for the SBAC Common Core test. If Washington state pulls out of Common Core, it could bring the entire project crashing to the ground.
We realize that several Republican controlled states have already rejected Common Core. But it is much easier for a Republican controlled state to reject Common Core than it is for a Democratic controlled State to reject Common Core. All Republicans have to do is call it “ObamaCore” and blame the entire thing on those “Damn Democrats” and Republicans will jump at the chance to get rid of Common Core. For example, the Washington State Republican Party passed a resolution opposing Common Core over a year ago. But not all states are Republican states. Nor do children come with D's or R's stamped on their foreheads. For a Democratic state to pass a Resolution opposing Common Core requires going against a sitting Democratic President and also going against nearly the entire Democratic Party political leadership – who are all aligned with Obama and Arne Duncan just as Common Core tests and Common Core books are (supposed to be) aligned with Common Core standards.
A Brief Lesson in Political Organizing
For parents and teachers living in Democratic controlled states and wanting to escape from the death grip of Common Core, we would like to explain how this miracle happened – so that you can use this process to pass a similar resolution in your state. First, we have been working on this issue for nearly a year. So it will take a lot of patience and determination to overcome the wealthy billionaire controlled wing of the Democratic (or Republican) Party. Do not expect overnight success. You should write a well organized resolution that takes no more than one page. Our successful resolution is at the end of this article if you would like to read it. Feel free to copy it. Unlike Common Core, it is not Copyrighted!
Second, it is helpful if at least some members of your group are already members of your state's Democratic Party. One of us, David, has been a Precinct Committee Officer (PCO) in the Democratic Party for more than 14 years in East King County, near Seattle Washington.
The other of us, Elizabeth, is a new PCO for a different legislative district in North Seattle, Washington. Even if you do not like politics, you should join your local Democratic or Republican party and start attending monthly party meetings in your legislative district. You will find that most people in grass roots politics care about our kids and about the future of our country just like you.
Third, it is helpful if you have passed other resolutions at various levels of the Democratic or Republican Party in the past and have at least some idea of how the process works. We have previously passed SIX resolutions in the State Democratic Party before the Common Core Resolution. These include resolutions in favor of a State Public Bank, restoration of Glass Steagall Banking Regulations, Getting the Money out of Politics, and Restoring a Fairer GED test. So this was our seventh successful resolution. But it was also by far the hardest to pass. So try to connect with people who know how the resolution process works. It is essential to start at the legislative district level. Start with your own legislative district. Attend several monthly meetings. Get to know the other folks attending the monthly meetings.
Fourth, find parents and teachers whose kids are struggling with Common Core. Most kids are having a terrible time. Ask these parents and teachers to help you pass a resolution in your legislative district. After you pass a resolution in your legislative district, work on passing the resolution in neighboring legislative districts. Eventually, we were able to get the Resolution Opposing Common Core passed in four legislative districts in Washington state.
Fifth, also join your State Party Progressive Caucus or some other statewide caucus in your political party. Look for folks who really support public schools and are opposed to the billionaires privatizing and taking over public schools. The more wealthy democrats are called “New Democrats.” These are the folks who are in it for the money and are paid off by the billionaires. The benefit of having the resolution passed by the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party is that these folks are often extremely long time Democrats and they really know the ropes and how to get things done – despite the opposition of the corporate or “New Dems” wing of the Democratic Party. Many are also on the County and /or State Resolutions Committees.
Sixth, the next task is to get the resolution considered by the County Resolutions Committee. It is helpful if you have friends on this committee and/or can get to know the members of this committee.
Seventh, the next task is to get the resolution considered by the State Resolutions Committee. This group only meets three or four times per year. There are lots of rules that have to be met to get a resolution considered by the county committee or the state committee. These rules are usually posted on the County Democratic Party website and/or the State Democratic Party website.
Eighth, get to know your progressive State Party leaders. These are elected representatives who care more about kids and parents and teachers than about keeping billionaires happy. We are lucky in our State to have State Senator Maralyn Chase in our corner. Having a well respected leader of the State Party on your side will help because the billionaires will certainly have some state party leaders on their side.
Ninth, get some upset parents and upset teachers on your side. We were very lucky to meet a group of upset teachers called Washington Bad Ass Teachers, who understood that Common Core is very bad for kids. These parents and teachers played a crucial role in helping us get the last few votes we needed to get the resolution passed because thankfully teachers are still highly respected in our state and state delegates were willing to listen to these teachers talk about how Common Core harms kids.
Tenth, build a website where parents, teachers and State Party delegates can go to learn more about why they should support your resolution. We built a website called “Weapons of Mass Deception (dot) org. To learn more about how to build your own website using a free platform called Joomla, visit one of our other websites: https://buildyourownbusinesswebsite.org/
Strategy At the State Party Meeting
After getting the resolution passed at a legislative district meeting and or a county meeting, it is forwarded to the state party for consideration at the next state party meeting.
You need to go to this meeting a day in advance – because the State Resolutions Committee usually considers resolutions the evening before the main state party meeting. Bring a one page flier of no more than ten reasons why those on the resolutions committee should vote for your resolution. Arrive to the committee meeting early and make sure that everyone on the committee gets a copy of your handout. In Washington State, there is usually about 30 people on the resolutions committee. Your state may be bigger or smaller than our state.
The first task of the resolutions committee is to “clean up” your “poorly written” resolution. Do not argue with them. They have been writing resolutions and cleaning up resolutions for years. Let them fix your resolution. They know what they are doing. The second task of the resolutions committee is to decide whether to recommend that the main group “pass” or “not pass” or “table” the resolution or send it to the main body “without recommendation” so it can be debated by the main body.
Because Common Core is very controversial in Democratic states, do not be surprised if it is passed to the main body without recommendation. That was what happened to us. The state resolutions committee usually meets on a Friday night and the main State Party meeting is the following afternoon from 1 to 4 pm. We prepared about 300 handouts to pass out. These were 40 for the Resolutions Committee plus 60 for the Progressive caucus meeting on Saturday morning plus 200 to place on chairs at the main state party meeting 30 minutes before the meeting is scheduled to start. After attending the progressive caucus meeting on Saturday morning, meet with your group of parents and teachers. Hopefully, they will have signs and their own handouts to pass out at the main meeting. Hopefully someone experienced with the process should explain what will happen at the state party meeting.
The goal is to get your team to the meeting before it begins and pass out the fliers with one on every chair. Then have parents and teachers on your team circulate around the big room as the state delegates begin to arrive.
The goal of each parent and teacher is to talk with just a few delegates before the main meeting is called to order. You will have about 20 minutes after the delegates arrive. There were 8 of us and with each talking to about five delegates for about 4 minutes each. Together, we were able to share our stories with about 40 out of the 200 delegates. Our goal was simply to “tip” a close vote in our favor. As you approach a delegate, ask them if they have heard of Common Core and if they have decided how they will vote on the resolution.
Most delegates will be undecided and will usually give you a couple of minutes to explain to them why they should vote for the resolution. If a delegate has already decided, then move out to someone who is undecided. Do not waste these precious minutes trying to convert someone whose mind is already made up. If a delegate does not support the resolution, then just chalk it up to “Bill Gates and his billions in corporate propaganda.”
You also need to meet with the State party delegates who will each give a two minute speech in favor of the resolution. You need at least two and hopefully three speakers qualified to speak. These folks will likely be state committee delegates from the legislative districts that passed your resolution earlier in the year. They need to not only know about the drawbacks of Common Core, they also need to be able to speak clearly. It is also helpful if they are well known and well respected by other members of the Democratic Party. So choose wisely. We were lucky to get Sarajane Siegfriedt, the chair of the King County Legislative Action Committee and member of the State Resolutions Committee to speak in favor of the motion. We were also lucky to get Brian Gunn, the chair of the State Progressive Caucus to speak in favor of the motion. Brian said, “Corporations are looking at our children as commodities. We’re allowing corporations that produce these materials and sponsor these tests to treat our children as sources of income...a source of profit. And that source of profit is our own children.”
Our final speaker was Richard May, a leader of the Whatcom County Democrats who is also a parent. Richard spoke of the negative impact Common Core had on his two daughters.
Richard said that “Common Core sucks... All of the parents and teachers in Bellingham hate it.”
Do not be surprised if the wealthy wing of the party tries to sabotage the issue. In our case, the leaders of the party read a letter from a well known state senator urging the group to vote against the resolution. She warned the group that should this resolution pass, it would make passing a state budget and getting school funding much more difficult. This of course was a lie. Common Core costs our state more than 300 million extra dollars for the tests and books. But the goal of the billionaires is not to tell the truth. It is simply to deceive the public.
Next was the big vote. We thought it would be very close – especially after the letter from one of the leaders of the democratic party was read. As it turned out, we won the vote by a two to one margin – with more than 120 state party delegates voting to ignore their own state party leaders and ignore their own President and support our resolution.
The other good news is now that Common Core is officially opposed by both the Republican and Democratic Party in Washington State (perhaps the first time we have ever agreed on anything), there will be a bill introduced in the state legislature halt Common Core in Washington State. In our opinion, the most crucial element of our success was the presence of real parents and real teachers speaking from their hearts about how Common Core harms their kids.
The other important factor was the year we spent building our team and building support one person at a time and one legislative district at a time within the Democratic Party. Common Core is an extremely complex issue that has billions in marketing used to fool parents. It takes one on one talks to overcome this marketing blitz. But we proved it can be done. We hope you have as much success in your state as we had in ours. Below is a copy of our successful Common Core resolution. Be sure to visit our website to learn more about the drawbacks of Common Core. Here is the link.
Resolution Opposing Common Core State Standards
WHEREAS the copyrighted (and therefore unchangeable) Common Core State Standards are a set of controversial top-down K-12 academic standards that were promulgated by wealthy private interests without research-based evidence of validity and are developmentally inappropriate in the lowest grades; and
WHEREAS, as a means of avoiding the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment prohibition against federal meddling in state education policy, two unaccountable private trade associations--the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)--have received millions of dollars in funding from the Gates Foundation and others to create the CCSS; and
WHEREAS the U.S. Department of Education improperly pressured state legislatures into adopting the Common Core State Standards and high-stakes standardized testing based on them as a condition of competing for federal Race to the Top (RTTT) stimulus funds that should have been based on need; and
WHEREAS as a result of Washington State Senate Bill 6669, which passed the State legislature on March 11, 2010, the Office of the Superintendent of Instruction (OSPI) adopted Common Core State Standards on July 20, 2011; and
WHEREAS this adoption effectively transfers control over public school standardized testing from locally elected school boards to unaccountable corporate interests who stand to profit substantially from CCSS; and
WHEREAS the Washington State Constitution also calls for public education to be controlled by the State of Washington through our elected State legislature, our elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction and our elected local school boards; and
WHEREAS implementation of CCSS will cost local school districts hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for standardized computer-based tests, new technology, new curricula and teacher training at a time when Washington is already insufficiently funding K-12 Basic Education without proven benefit to students; and WHEREAS some states have already withdrawn from CCSS;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we call upon the Washington State legislature and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to withdraw from the CCSS and keep K-12 education student-centered and accountable to the people of Washington State.
What is Next?
Once you have managed to change the official position of your state party, the next step is to write and pass a law in your state legislature to match the intent of the resolution. That is the subject of our next section.