An open letter for Michael Moore to check into Common Core

Dear Mike,

We met at a DGA event.  I shook your hand, I thanked you for all your work for humanity. I meant it.

I wasn't aware of Common Core until my kids started coming home with these questions in tests like "When did Xbox first show up on the scene?" My wife began to research it in great detail, and she's the one who has suggested, prodded me to bring this up to you.

I was not aware of any of the politics around Common Core - and have not come to this argument as a libertarian, a seperatist, a communist, or any of the lovely epitath's that have been flung at those opposed to Common Core. I'm a filmmaker, I've made documentaries, you could say I'm left of the left - whatever that means.  I believe in common sense, and I care about humanity.

The headline for this story is "Bill Gates Buys Education."  If you're not up on Common Core, and you do the research you'll find one fella behind the nation's adopting this new system.  Whether it's Bill personally, or just a corporate behemoth, I don't know.  I do know that he's behind every study that's been done, he's behind every lobbyist in DC that got this passed, he's behind the whole kit and kaboodle.

Oh, other's are involved - Michael Milken and his After all, it's a profitable venture.  A close friend of mine worked for him and did not sign the heavily "non disclosure" dox that they force everyone to sign over there - but saw first hand what was afoot.  If you buy the process, then you own the process, then you control the message.

I have a cousin who is the head of his teacher's union back east. He put it this way: "They send you these convoluted tests that are created by programmers - created and graded by computers - and they're designed to make your school look stupid or behind the curve. Then they sell you software to upgrade your school, to make it smarter, so it's part of the curve." Pretty simply put.

At the core of Common Core is the idea that Asian countries are ahead of us in education because they emphasize math.  So the entire curriculum was tossed out in favor of this "diminish reading and playtime" in K-12 schools in favor of math questions.  Then, with the help of programmers (called "interns" as they don't have any requirements to be teachers) they programmed what these new tests will be.  That's why thousands of teachers in NY state went ballistic and protested. That's why Louis CK has taken to the airwaves to say these tests are "stupid." That's why teachers are resigning across the nation because they're being forced to not teach - but to program.

Allow me to return to Bill Gates for a moment. If you haven't seen it, Bill has publically acknowledged that he dislikes teachers.  Why, I don't know. But he has repeatedly said to the effect "older teachers aren't valuable" and that bascially anyone with a basic knowledge can do what they do - and that getting rid of the old teachers, allows students to focus on what they want to do, like learning to code.  So there is a rationale for this Common Core - which again, if you look into it, you'll find was passed without anyone paying attention to who was funding it.  Bill is more clever than the Koch brothers, as he knows how to create entities that don't seem to be his.  But I've done the research, and every single think tank involved was funding by him in large part.  Every single entity I've come up against that is promoting Common Core is somehow connected to him.

I also know that on the other side, there are tea partiers, the Glenn Becks of the world, who hate the President, hate government and would like to see it all burned to the ground.  It's unfortunate that I happen to be on the same side of the coin as these people I vehemently disagree with - but for whatever reason it's come to be, that's where I stand.

And as a filmmaker who has the resources and passion to tell this story, I'm glad to be able to share it with you.  Maybe it's a Frontline piece.  But there's such a human issue involved, with teachers quitting, being fired, being harassed, that its worth pointing a camera towards.  I'd make the film myself, but just don't have the resources to do so.  And you do.

Here's an article about a teacher who quit over it:

Here's the post I wrote yesterday and posted on my FB page:

"The Common Core concept is simple and insidious. Bill Gates is on record stating teachers are overpaid and should be set aside. The reason Louis CK mocked these new tests is because a computer writes them and grades them too.

Its the same thing that happened to the Italian eyeglass industry. China came and bought up all their equipment, then hired italian experts to teach their techies to run it. The eyeglass industry disappeared overnight - now all Italians do is put in the screws in the glasses so they're "assembled in Italy."

The same concept is being applied to education - Milken invested heavily in private education ( because whoever controls the tests (or the teaching or the information) controls the students.

Bill Gates invested in every level of Common Core from developing it to paying the lobbyists to get it passed - school systems are now forced to buy apps and software that teach kids to purchase their product. Schools are sold confusing tests, then have to purchase software to help them get a higher percentage of correct answers. (I'm not making this up, just search for some of the sample questions. Its like having Big Pharma sponsor school lunches with ads for Prozac on the walls.)

I just attended a DARE graduation program where kids said "I pledge to not do drugs so I can learn to code when I grow up." Not one teacher or astronaut in the bunch. All professional sports and tech jobs - little do they know they'll be shuffled into the job they're supposed to take by the data from these Common Core  tests which will follow them through their lives.

Get it? Code so you can have a place in the giant machine built by Gates, designed by Gates and will pay Gates. Meanwhile teachers disappear like Italian eyeglass designers because they're useless cogs in the computer program. Why have a teacher when a program will impart the same knowledge? Why have a teacher when an energetic intern can teach the same code?

There's nothing wrong with learning to code. But there's something wrong with eliminating the teachers who give shape and context to the human spirit. They've designed an educational system devoid of humanity. 

And one day they too will be tossed aside for the next revolution, which decides (like the "cultural revolution" in China did) that "Elites" and "teachers" have to be sent into the fields to learn to farm.

We can only opt out for so long, eventually we have to opt in to prod our political leaders and administrators to see who is pulling the strings behind this insidious policy. My two cents."

So Mike, you've got a lot of issues that you can focus on - perhaps ones with more heart.  But to my mind, this story is a metaphor about where we've been, and where we're headed.  Instead of asking "how can we make a better country?" we asked "How can we get more people into the job market?" Instead of asking "How can we help children to become better learners?"  we asked "How can we code tests so we don't need teachers anymore?"  Instead of asking "What's the best course for a better country?" we allowed it to be "What's the most profitable way to run education?"

You see? 

I hope you do.

Best of luck in all your endeavors, and I think an investigation into this is worth your effort.  And you'll teach a few things too.




It's A Wonderful Afterlife

Here's my latest "Flipside" book talk "It's A Wonderful Afterlife" given at the upstate NY iands (international association of near death studies) group.  Because of the topic, this could never be a Ted talk - they just don't consider this stuff science. But it's 80 minutes of an adventure unlike any adventure you've ever heard before.


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