The latest issue of the AFT American Educator publication contains an article that presents “Myths of the Common Core” and responds to each one with “facts.”

Tim Farley, principal of the Ichabod Crane Elementary/Middle School in Valatie, New York, did not agree with the publication’s definition of the facts. Here is his rebuttal:

The magazine contains an “informational” article about the Common Core standards. Over the past few years, AFT has received millions of dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has invested heavily in the development, evaluation, and dissemination of the Common Core. Below each of the “Myths of the Common Core”, AFT has enumerated some “FACTS.” What I have added to each “Myth/FACT” is what I consider to be the “TRUTH” (or information that was conveniently left out).

1. “The standards tell us what to teach.”

FACT: The Common Core State Standards define what students need to know. How to achieve that is up to teachers, principals, school districts, and states. Teachers will have as much control over how they teach as they ever have.

TRUTH: When teachers’ jobs are literally at stake, they will inevitably “teach to the test” or teach what is being demanded by their administrators. Many teachers in NYS are being directed to use the poorly designed scripted lessons/modules from engageNY.

2. “They amount to a national curriculum.”

FACT: The standards are shared goals, voluntarily adopted. They outline what knowledge and skills will help students succeed. Curricula vary from state to state and district to district.

TRUTH: The standards are not “shared goals”, just as they were not “voluntarily adopted”. The CCSS were written and developed by a group of non-educators and the architect was David Coleman. The only two content specialists (Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgrim) served on the Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the standards because they were not good enough. As for the curricula varying from state to state, I find it difficult for AFT to back up that claim. However, whatever curricula are available, they are aligned to the developmentally inappropriate designed CCSS.

3. “The standards intrude on student privacy.”

FACT: Long before the Common Core, some states already had data systems allowing educators and parents to measure student achievement and growth; those states remain responsible for students’ private information, whether or not they’ve adopted the Common Core.

TRUTH: No one is disputing that some states/school districts had data systems allowing parents and educators to measure student achievement and growth. What parents are concerned about is that NOW this sensitive data is being given to third party vendors and stored in a “cloud”. Third party vendors like inBloom (financed by Gates) take no responsibility for any student information that may be compromised.

4. “The English standards emphasize nonfiction and informational text so much that students will be reading how-to manuals instead of great literature.”

FACT: The standards require students to analyze literature and informational texts, with the goal of preparing them for college and work.

TRUTH: The concern from educators is HOW MUCH emphasis is being placed on informational text on the CC-aligned state tests. Student results on these state tests could result in the loss of the teacher’s JOB. Where do you think the emphasis will be?

5. “Key math concepts are missing or appear in the wrong grade.”

FACT: Moving from 50 state standards to one means some states will be shifting what students learn when. Educators and experts alike have verified that the Common Core progression is mathematically coherent and internationally benchmarked. And now, students who move across state lines can pick up where they left off.

TRUTH: Again, Dr. James Milgrim (the only math specialist that served on the Validation Committee) refused to sign off on the standards. The CC math standards were NOT internationally benchmarked, and if you go to the Common Core State Standards website, you can see that they corrected that claim to now read, “relevant to the real world”. The standards were never internationally benchmarked.

6. “Common Core is a federal takeover.”

FACT: The federal government had no role in developing the standards. They were created by state education chiefs and governors, and voluntarily adopted by states. States, not the federal government, are implementing them.

TRUTH: The CCSS were created by NGA and CCSSO (two lobbying groups financially supported by Gates) and mostly written by David Coleman. States that “adopted” CCSS were the same states that accepted Race to the Top (RTTT) funds in the false belief that the money being “given” would help stop the laying off of teachers. Adopting CCSS was a requisite for “winning” RTTT monies. This also allowed states to receive a waiver from the unfair and onerous NCLB requirements. What they call “voluntary”, I call “extortion”.

7. “Teachers weren’t included.”

FACT: Lots of teachers were involved in developing the standards over several years, including hundreds of teachers nationwide who served on state review teams. Many teachers are pleased to report seeing their feedback added verbatim to the final standards.

TRUTH: Again, I would like to see proof of that claim. Technically speaking, there were teachers “involved in the process”, but their role was perfunctory at best.

8. “The standards make inappropriate demands of preschoolers.”

FACT: They were written for grades K–12. Several states added their own guidance for preschool.

TRUTH: When you have developmentally inappropriate expectations for Kindergarten students, wouldn’t the logical thought be that the expectations for Pre-K students rise to a level that is also developmentally inappropriate? And, although not in its implementation phase yet, there are plans for a P-20 initiative developed by the Data Quality Campaign (financially supported by Gates).

9. “Common Core accelerates over-testing.”

FACT: The standards say nothing about testing. Some states are falling into the trap of too much assessment—by testing before implementing or rushing to impose high stakes. Others, however, are taking a more sensible approach. Before administering new tests, states must get implementation right.

TRUTH: It is RTTT that demands over-testing. If your state accepted RTTT money, you adopted CC AND agreed to the over-testing of students. If your state did not accept RTTT, then your state is still held to the NCLB mandates which require over-testing of the students.

10. “Rank-and-file teachers don’t support it—and their unions sold them out.”

FACT: At least four national polls, conducted by the AFT, the NEA, Education Week, and Scholastic, show that teachers overwhelmingly support the standards, though some haven’t had the time or tools to implement them correctly. Unions support the Common Core because their members do.

TRUTH: AFT polled 800 teachers. (I strongly recommend you read this: ( to see all of the results that AFT left out. NEA’s poll surveyed 1200 teachers. Again, please read the full survey results to see what data was left out (

Part of the information from these two polls that AFT neglected to print was that teachers overwhelmingly support a moratorium on the student test results being tied to their effectiveness rating. The other piece that was left out was that most teachers felt that they did not receive enough “training” for the implementation of CC. The large sums of money from Gates to NEA, AFT, and NYSUT were earmarked for Teacher Professional Development. I have two questions. One, why are Teachers’ Unions receiving money to provide professional development? Isn’t that the job of the school districts? Also, since they have received so much money for this purpose, why don’t teachers feel that they haven’t had enough training?

Lastly, my question to AFT is, “Whom do you represent, Bill Gates or your teachers?” You cannot have it both ways.


Tim Farley

Kinderhook, NY