BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett

Three years ago I wrote an article about the brainchild behind Common Core and his visit to Mississippi, a guy named Marc Tucker. The article hardly created a ripple in our state at the time. No one outside of educrat circles had a clue what Common Core was then, and none of our state legislators could tell you the difference then between Common Core and an apple core (unfortunately not enough of them can now either). A few months later that began to change when the article was picked up and referenced by educational freedom and parental rights advocates in other states across the country.

Fast forward to 2012 and after having written a bit more on the subject, how it was progressing and the dangers it posed, I received a call from Senator Angela Hill. A former science teacher and all around advocate for parental rights in education, Senator Hill was elected in 2011 to represent the people of District 40.

Senator Hill watches closely for anything coming out of the Mississippi Dept. of Education and had been pouring over MDE’s latest application for federal funding through the Obama Administrations ‘Race to the Top’ grants. Applying for the grants was a way for MDE to get out from under the aggressive benchmarks of the Bush Administrations ‘No Child Left Behind’, which the bureaucrats at MDE knew they would not meet. Not meeting those requirements meant a reduced ability to collect more federal money in the future, and the possibility of a vigorous attempt by school choice advocates at promoting parental control across the state to allow students out of an obviously failed system. But few people cared to look over the grant application document with any eye for detail.

Senator Angela Hill did.

What she found was startling. The document was confusing to most anyone who doesn’t make a living dealing with detailed policy and the bureaucratic jargon of government agencies, so it’s no wonder it got by many others.

Where Bush’s NCLB had demanded of government educators across the country some tougher benchmarks to bring minority and impoverished students up to par with the others, Obama’s RTTP was letting them off the hook by pushing any improvement well into the future. In essence allowing–in fact, planning–that expectations and therefore the education of minorities would be lower for generations of students. All state departments of education competing for the money had to do to get a piece of these new funds and to reduce the tougher benchmarks was to agree to implement “College and Career Ready Standards”. The only standards that fit that definition was something called Common Core.

Obama’s federal Dept. of Education was dangling the carrot of more federal money and the grant writers at MDE were ready to oblige. They had Governor Haley Barbour and a list of other state officials agree to sign off on the funding. Likewise, members of the states federal delegation in Washington jumped in line, and staffers fired up the auto-pens to sign off on the next opportunity to bring federal dollars to Mississippi, a process that has become so automatic that most of the Congressional delegation no longer even know when it happens.

But soon, Senator Hill would know. And very soon thereafter so did school choice advocate Senator Michael Watson and the rest of the newly formed Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition, of which I have worked as a communications advisor.

I, Senator Watson, Senator Hill and others began sifting through documents to find the connections. We found where MDE had crammed into a previous legislative appropriations bill a small line item for ‘teacher training’ that was, in reality, something necessary to receive consideration for the federal money and the NCLB waiver. All this happened without government education officials once alerting legislators about Common Core. Not once.

After Senator Hill contacted me, I asked that she send as much documentation as possible and that we go over it together. She obliged.

Senator Hill had to explain and repeat much of the educrat jargon, and allow me to read it several times to understand. Bureaucratic speak is purposefully confusing to the everyday common person.

ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber probably described it best when he was caught on camera recently talking about the government hiding items in bills because “the American people are stupid”. This is what the central planners do, they scheme right under our nose, because they know people aren’t paying attention.

The driving force behind what I do in terms of studying and writing about policy is to shine a light on just this kind of thing–the dishonesty, the lack of integrity, the illusion that politicians and bureaucrats are somehow smarter and therefore know what’s best for our families, our children and our communities.

It has taken over 3 years, but we have uncovered it when it comes to Common Core. This should give people the confidence to know we can do it with other government schemes. There is way more to be done; way more to uncover; way more to do to remove the illusion that people can’t be trusted to be in control of our own lives.

Common Core is the linchpin of a runaway bureaucracy

Imagine what someone in 1970 would have thought if you told them that in 45 years the government would determine through “Innovation Districts” and “Workforce Training Centers” what industries would be placed in our communities and what jobs would get special emphasis in a “global economy”.

Imagine what they would have thought had you explained that the government would control what courses are provided by colleges and universities through a government monopoly on accreditation.

Imagine what they would have thought of the idea that the government would force you to send your children to “universal pre-schools” and to government approved K-12 schools that would test your child’s abilities and psychological profile to determine what career path is best for them, then share that data with corporations and “other agencies” to attempt to fit students into the best jobs for their skillset.

Imagine what people from 1970 would have said had you told them then that by 2015 the government was going to run a cradle to grave system that placed citizens in the jobs that nameless, faceless bureaucrats determined they were best suited to serve.

What would they have thought? They probably would have thought like many disengaged people think today, that this sounds preposterous, that this couldn’t happen in the U.S. But every one of the above points are either a reality or near reality today, and Common Core is the linchpin of just such a system.

As I wrote about Marc Tucker in 2011, the whole story felt like something out of a George Orwell novel. Heck, it still does! But when you look at the facts compared to the plan that is exactly what has happened. They have reduced our freedom by building the chains that shackle us one link at a time.

And here we are. Do we finally begin the hard work to end it now? Or do we accept that it is too far gone? Once the government bureaucracy has full control of education they control the future. At that point, our course will be set, determined by “the system”.

If your answer is that you are willing to fight for your children and grandchildren’s future–indeed, your own–then you should be at the state capitol on January 6 and let’s say together with one loud voice, “No!”

Common Core is but a part of a larger plan that is further along than most people understand. We may not get too many more chances.

About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, government agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett

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