By DEBORAH GERTZ
HUSAR Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Hands raised when Anne Gassel asked how many in the audience had heard of common core.
The number dwindled when Gassel asked how many had heard of the education standards before six months ago -- or knew the planning for common core began in 2008.
That's a concern for Gassel, co-editor of the Missouri Education Watchdog blog and co-founder of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core.
"Implementation of the standards will be 100 percent funded by the public, who was never asked if they wanted this," Gassel said.
Gassel was a featured speaker Thursday night at "Confronting Common Core," a public meeting attended by about 120 people at the Kroc Center and promoted by illinoisminutemen.com, an organization fighting the introduction of common core state standards into Illinois schools.
"There's so many sides to common core. There are pros to it, but we feel the cons outweigh pros," said Becky Vogel, one of the meeting organizers. "We just felt parents need to realize and it needs to be made clear to them what is going on with common core."
The standards lay out a detailed set of skills students are expected to achieve in various subjects at various grade levels. The goal is to establish a "common core of knowledge" that all students across the nation will have upon graduation.
"Everything in all the documentation for common core nationally talks about preparing children to be global citizens, preparing them to compete in the global workforce. It really describes what is a jobs program, not education," Gassel said.
To meet the common core vision, Gassel said, children will have a data set tracking school performance along with demographic and biometric information.
"Businesses will come and go into a child's record to find employees. You won't go look for a job, the job will come look for you in the future," Gassel said. "On the surface that sounds appealing, and a lot of people will like that, but they forget the corollary to that is you can't go look for a job. You have to wait for someone to come find you."
Add to that the cost, she said, and there could be a rude awakening for both taxpayers and legislators.
"They're telling American children how they're going to learn, what they're going to learn, and you never even knew this happened probably -- and you're going to pay for it," said Gretchen Logue, another featured speaker Thursday who is a Missouri Education Watchdog blogger and co-founder of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. "It's a public-private partnership. That's what education is today, but the public has been taken out of the equation. It's not representative government."
Quincyan Lyle Nichols said he's read about the common core and has concerns.
"I think the people who are trying to initiate common core are giving many taxpayers a bill of goods. What it's presented as is not really what it is," Nichols said. "I'm concerned about the federal government taking total control of education so school boards, PTAs and superintendents will have very little if any input into curriculum. I don't think that's right."
Jan Leimbach, another Quincyan, just joined the Quincy School District Curriculum Committee, where common core has become a topic of regular discussion.
"I want to familiarize myself with both sides," Leimbach said.
Many people don't know about common core -- or about Agenda 21, a comprehensive plan developed by the United Nations in 1992, said Dottie MacQueen, another featured speaker Thursday and an activist and blogger from Joliet.
Agenda 21, MacQueen said, targets "control of our lifestyles by pushing people into denser urban populations, thereby eliminating cars.
"This is all based on a hoax, on a lie, that climate change is man-made ... that we're going to save the planet by making people's lives smaller."
Land-use plans can further that agenda, MacQueen said.
"People across the nation are just going to have to pay more attention to what their city councils are doing," she said. "If a comprehensive land plan comes into being, people should be involved in it. They should be in communication with local officials, let them know if it's a plan they're in favor of or something they feel is violating their constitutional rights."