Can Frank Riggs Rescind Common Core on Day 1? You bet he can!

Anyone who has heard candidate for Arizona Governor Frank Riggs speak or has studied his website knows that he has emphatically and repeatedly promised to rescind Common Core on Day 1.  (Note:  The name Common Core State Standards was cosmetically renamed by Gov Brewer "Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.")   

A recent, widely distributed document titled "2014 Arizona State Candidate Review" posted by Arizona Freedom Alliance on July 13, 2014 stated:  "But the primary thing we don’t like (about Frank Riggs) is that in every speech we have heard (many), he says “on day one, I will stop Common Core” and the crowd goes wild!  The only problem is that we are told he would have no authority to do that, even with an executive order.  It remains to be seen whether that is a promise he can keep."  (I added the bolding.)  

The AFA stands in strong support of Christine Jones for Governor.  I normally agree with and support the stands taken by the AFA.  However, this assertion is based on hearsay with nothing factual to support it.  Plus, it’s incorrect. 

Frank Riggs knew before he made his assertion that he was standing on firm ground.  When the defining moment arrives, would a Governor Jones be too misinformed, timid, and fearful to rescind Common Core?    

Here are the facts:

The MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) (see pages 60-63) states, "The effort is voluntary for states" and concludes "the undersigned state leaders agree to the process and structure as described above and attest accordingly by our signatures below."  It was signed in January 2010 by two state leaders:  Governor Jan Brewer and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne.  (This was long before the standards were even finalized.)  

While it might have taken Jan Brewer and Tom Horne to bring us Common Core, Arizonans are not bound by the decision of these former state leaders.  As Frank Riggs has stated, "The basic principles of contract law prevail.  The current Governor cannot bind her successor, and her authority expires on the day she leaves office.  If one party withdraws (rescinds the predecessor’s signature), the contract (MOA) is invalidated.  A new Governor has every right to rescind the Agreement, with or without anyone else’s signature."

Frank Riggs has made his position crystal clear.  Would Christine Jones assign staff to dig through the bowels of these "agreements and understandings" looking for bits of evidence to support why she can’t rescind it?  Which will it be?  Find evidence to support getting out of Common Core?  Or find reasons to dither and remain chained to it?

The problems with the MOA aren’t limited to questions about its repeal.  There are multiple problems with this "agreement," which have been analyzed at length in Mercedes Schneider’s Edublog post Exiting the Common Core Memorandum of Understanding.

Here are a few points.  (Bold highlighting is mine):

1.  The CCSS MOU includes no provision for exiting CCSS. 

2.   It also includes no wording in which states are bound to CCSS if the original signators no longer hold the positions of governor and state education superintendent.

3.   Since the CCSS MOU fails to include language binding states to CCSS if such states receive RTTT money (no doubt excluded so that USDOE might maintain it is not “forcing” states to accept CCSS in order to receive RTTT money), then even states that received RTTT money are able to exit CCSS and challenge any USDOE pressure to return RTTT money. If CCSS is truly not federally forced, then it will not pursue states choosing to be “state led” right out of CCSS.

4.   Regarding those two signatures on each state’s CCSS MOU:

If both signators no longer hold the positions of governor and state superintendent, then the MOU cannot bind each state. 

There is no need for legislative action to dispose of CCSS. In such cases, the current governor or state superintendent can formally declare a state’s exit from CCSS. USDOE has no legal recourse, and neither does a non-signator governor nor non-signator superintendent who might push to keep CCSS.

5.   If the current governor or state superintendent fail to admit no binding agreement for CCSS, then agencies can challenge them in court for supporting a contract created by those no longer in office.

Such is the case in New York. Former Governor David Paterson and former Education Commissioner Richard Mills sign the state on for CCSS. Neither is currently in office; so, the CCSS MOU is dead.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan can praise current New York Education Commissioner John King all that he likes for sticking by the Core. King’s name is not on the CCSS MOU; so, the situation is ripe for a lawsuit against King for attempting to uphold a dead contract.

More about that MOA

A close read of the MOA asserts that the CCSS would: 1) Be grounded in empirical research and evidence based.  (They weren’t.)  2) Be internationally bench-marked.  (They weren’t.)  3) Be state led.  (They weren’t.)  4) Prepare students ready for college, work, and competing in the global economy and society.  (They don’t.)  5) Be an open, inclusive, and  transparent development process.  (It was shrouded in secrecy.)  

Further, the USDOE promised to "provide input into the drafting of the common core and work as partners in the common core standards development process."  They did do that.  They asked for input and got it.  But they didn’t change the pre-written standards, based on that input.  .  

Rather than me prove to you my assertions above, which have been documented in tons of blogs, websites, Facebook sites, statements by teachers, psychologists, sociologists, advanced students, parents, etc., how about if Governor Brewer, John Huppenthal, the State Board of Education, or the Arizona Department of Education provide proof of their assertions.  

For starters, ask them these questions.  (I submitted these questions, and more, to the ADE months ago and never got a response.  Maybe you’ll have better luck.)   

1.  Please provide the names of the K-3 teachers who wrote the K-3 standards.  

2.  Please provide the empirical research data that proves CCSS was evidence-based.

3.  When and where were the CCSS field tested?  Please provide the data.    

4.  When and where were the CCSS internationally bench-marked?  Please provide the data.  

5.  Who wrote this ELA standard for Kindergartners?  (Put on your thinking cap.  Would a Kindergarten teacher write something like this?)  

“Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about Kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.  A. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others, taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).  B. Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges. (K.SL.1).” (See ACCS English Language Arts K-2, page 22.)

6.  Who wrote this Math standard for Kindergartners?  (How many standards do you see crammed into this "standard"?  Would a Kindergarten teacher write this?)

K.0A.A.2. Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g by using objects or drawings to represent the problem. 1)  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively.  3) Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.  4)  Model with mathematics.  5)  Use appropriate tools. (See ACCS Mathematics for Kindergarteners, page 10) 

See Also:

Memorandum of Agreement re Common Core as signed by Gov. Brewer and Superintendent Tom Horne. Just look at the sheer quantity of pages for this one item.  This is the new normal when dealing with the federal government.  It’s insane.    

What’s Wrong with Arizona’s Common Core Standards?  

Bring Back Local Control of Arizona’s Standards

Exiting the Common Core Memorandum of Understanding

Who Wrote the Common Core Standards?