Aug. 9, 2013
To the editor:
Gov. Parnell released a letter dated Aug. 8 responding to misinformation on Alaska education policy. He references documents from 2009 and blames Mark Begich. Gov. Parnell rejected the Common Core State Standards in 2009. If I had I thought Gov. Parnell supported them, I would never have lent my efforts toward his election in 2010.
I was shocked that Parnell not only entered the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium agreement in April but also allowed the arranged affairs that led to the adoption of the Common Core. Commissioner Mike Hanley’s announcement of the Smarter Balanced memorandum of understanding came after the Legislature gaveled out for the year. This is key, because the Alaska Constitution, upheld in Moore vs. Alaska, states that the Legislature, not the Department of Education and Early Development and not the local school districts, determines education policy in the state of Alaska. A change this vast should have gone to the Legislature.
The record since 2009 casts a different light.
• A June 7, 2012, letter from University of Alaska President Patrick Gamble to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan details how Achieve Inc. was hired by the state of Alaska to gain support and implementation of the Common Core in Alaska. That document states:
“Alaska Department of Education and Early Development staff coordinated with Achieve Inc. in the initial planning stages of the standards revision process in 2010. Staff from Achieve reviewed Alaska’s revision plan and provided feedback via phone conversations and teleconferences. Achieve provided critical guidance for consideration of appropriate stakeholders, identifying key decision makers, and process-specific tasks, which Alaska incorporated into the review.”
• Scott Norton, strategic initiative director of the Council of the Chief State School Officers, wrote on Jan. 22, 2013, that “analysis showed that the final Alaska (English/language arts) and math standards track nearly exactly with the Common Core, employing the same structure and language used in the CCSS, with nearly all the CCSS being used verbatim in the Alaska standards.”
• The MOU signed by Gov. Parnell required the adoption of nearly identical standards to enter the consortium.
The documents are online at stopalaskacommoncore.com.
Barbara Haney, Ph.D.