In response to a recent op-ed by William Bartle, education policy director for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, I would like to point out some conveniently ignored truths regarding Common Core.

Mr. Bartle, with either willful ignorance or contempt for the "regular class," has lacked the integrity to offer full disclosure in his April 18 piece titled "Nothing sinister about Common Core." The title itself screams "nothing to see here."

I offer a public response to Mr. Bartle in order to enlighten him with the facts and further educate him on honesty in communication.

Fact: William Bartles' organization, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, has received three separate grants from the Gates Foundation to sponsor Common Core. These three grants total $935,859.

I wonder why he failed to mention this.

Fact: The president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is Joan Benso. Why is she important? Well, another fact that must have slipped the mind of Mr. Bartle is that Joan Benso has a husband named Thomas Gluck. Are you ready for this? Mr. Thomas Gluck is executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units. His organization also received grants from the Gates Foundation to support and promote Common Core. His grants totaled nearly $2 million.


The conflict is glaring, but I'm sure the elitist few have their reasons. After all, it's for the children. It must be a difficult job as education director for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children to sacrifice facts and honest disclosure for corporate interests in a federal takeover of education. The documentation from the commonwealth stating that Pennsylvania Core Standards and Common Core are the same thing is vast and abundant. It's a wonder the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children can't afford a fact-checker or staff researcher with all that Gates Foundation money. Somehow a "regular class" proletariat such as myself was able to locate these documents, and at no cost. I'll be happy to share them with you if you want to get caught up on the facts.

Mr. William Bartle stated with such confidence that there is no federal control of education due to Common Core. That is a lie. In order to even apply for the federal grant money (wow, more money?) we had to have agreed to the federal Common Core standards and Common Core-aligned resources (technology, text books, etc. ...).

Additionally, to apply for the SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems) grant, we had to have first implemented a "womb-to-workplace" data collection system. Sounds sinister, huh? What's even scarier is that those aren't my words. The term "womb-to-workplace" was used multiple times by the commonwealth on the actual grant application. I'm sure these details slipped his mind as well.

Now that we've identified the conveniently ignored facts that William Bartle, fancy shmancy policy director of the bought-and-paid-for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, left out of his op-ed, let's discuss what Common Core in Pennsylvania means to the taxpayer.

In Pennsylvania, Common Core is a regulation, not a law. This is because our state Constitution (remember this document, Mr. Bartle?) requires any cost to the commonwealth associated with changes in education be put through the legislative process. That means it would be subject to amendments, alterations and a host of other political shenanigans in which the resulting bill could be something that is not aligned with the federal requirements for the Race To The Top federal grant money. Also, any actual law that involves federal control to our local education system would violate the 10th amendment as well as the General Education Provisions Act. Regulations seem convenient. This way no elected or publicly accountable official can tinker with Common Core.

The ridiculous description offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in describing the cost of Common Core is that it will be ... are you ready for this? ... cost-neutral. This is efficiency at its finest, considering the Boston-based Pioneer Institute placed the cost to just implement Common Core in Pennsylvania to be at least $650 million. Luckily, the commonwealth doesn't have to pay for this because it is cost-neutral (pause for laughter). That's right folks. The cost will fall squarely to the local level. What's that you say? Your local school district doesn't have that kind of money to implement Common Core? Thankfully, the hard-working property owners of Pennsylvania will be there to foot the bill. Taxpayers, say hello to the unfunded mandate.

What have we learned today? The president and CEO, Joan Benso, of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children received nearly $1 million from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core. Thomas Gluck (husband of Joan Benso) is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units and has received nearly $2 million to support and promote Common Core.

William Bartle, education policy director for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, writes an op-ed from behind the curtain on April 18 to assure us that there is nothing sinister about Common Core.

It takes some decent money to support Common Core. It only takes common sense to oppose it.

We the taxpayers, the parents, the citizens of the regular class know better than this. We know that our children and the educational decisions to be made regarding our children should be managed at the local level, not through federal standardized tests and curriculum.

We can do better than the money takers. There are far more of us than there are of them. Let us be heard.

— Ryan M. Bannister is a member of Pennsylvanians Against Common Core.