Over two weeks late per SB 812’s requirement for the first meeting to happen, Governor McCrory finally made his Common Core commission pick: Ralph A. Peek.
You can read the press release here. Mr. Peek has multiple conflicts of interest, which I’ll list further on in this article. First, the initial meeting for the commission is set for Monday, September 22nd from 2-4. Details here. Second, here is the full roster of appointees:
- Ms. Tammy Covil, New Hanover
- Dr. Jeffrey Isenhour, Catawba
- Ms. Katie Lemons, Stokes
- Ms. Denise Watts, Mecklenburg
- Ms. Ann B. Clark, Iredell
- Dr. Laurie McCollum, Rockingham
- Ms. Jeannie A. Metcalf, Forsyth
- Dr. John T. Scheik, Wake
State Board of Education Members
- Chairman William “Bill” Cobey, Durham
- Dr. Olivia Oxendine, Robeson
- Mr. Andre Peek, Wake
About Mr. Peek And Those Conflicts Of Interest
1. Ralph A. Peek (Andre Peek) is an IBM executive.
Why is that important? IBM was one of the businesses who signed off on the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) commitment to Common Core letter. In NY, Governor Cuomo also picked an IBM executive for their ‘review’ panel. The NY panel recommendations were pro-core and generally what one would expect given the leanings of said panel members. Lenovo, which acquired part of the former IBM Personal Computing division and has a base of operations in North Carolina, does apps for Common Core. One of the North Carolina Board Committee for Education (NCBCE) board members who serves alongside Andre Peek is from Lenovo.
It is worth noting that Lou Gerstner, former IBM CEO, is involved in Achieve, Inc. and has been a proponent of Common Core from the start. Note the mild threat in the passage from Truth In Education below, which I have highlighted:
“In a March, 1997 article published by Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D. it states, “in March 1996 then N.C. Gov. Hunt and five other governors along with six CEO’s adopted a policy statement at the National Education Summit then calling for the states to establish internationally competitive standards, assessments tools and accountability systems within two years”. (Notice the presence of “leading governors” on the Achieve, Inc., board allows one to call Achieve a “state-led” organization and by the same token, one might also call Achieve a “business-led” organization since its board is also comprised of “business leaders.”)
It went on to say “the policy statement also indicated an entity called “Achieve” would be established to “measure and report each state’s annual progress in setting those standards.” Although the Standards would be “voluntary”, one of the CEO’s, IBM’s Lou Gerstner, Jr., said his company is the largest in North Carolina and companies could easily threaten not to open plants in states that didn’t comply”.
2. Mr. Peek is the Chair of the North Carolina Board Committee for Education (NCBCE).
The NCBCE has strong ties with the Hunt Institute as it was created by Hunt 30 years ago. The Hunt Institute is one of the biggest purveyors of Common Core promotion andpropaganda and has received millions in Bill Gates Grants to do so.
*IMPORTANT: NCBCE is a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s “Hire Standards” Coalition.
The only purpose of “Hire Standards” is to promote Common Core. This represents a major conflict of interest for Mr. Peek.
The NCBCE was very excited when North Carolina adopted Common Core:
North Carolina Adopts Common Core State Standards! Read about it at www.ncbce.org
— NCBCE (@NCBCE) June 4, 2010
The NCBCE, being business oriented and promoting ‘workforce’ skills, has paired with groups to do Common Core Webinars. One such webinar paired with State Farm Insurance, which referenced a larger agenda called “Upgrade America“.
“Upgrade America” is an initiative found on the website ‘Biz4Achievement.org’ and the messaging toolkit for this initiative is littered with Common Core.
If you dig into the “Biz4Achievement” site domain registration, you get this:
Registrant Name:The Alliance for Excellent Education Registrant Organization:The Alliance for Excellent Education Registrant Street: 1201 Connecticut Ave Registrant City:Washington Registrant State/Province:DC Registrant Postal Code:20036
Alliance for Excellent Education is a major Bill Gates Grant recipient to the tune of over $16 million dollars.
Another webinar was with the North Carolina PTA. Good to know our membership dollars are promoting Common Core, right?
Governor McCrory sat down with Mr. Peek at the NCBCE Annual meeting 2014:
Video description: Governor Pat McCrory sits down with NCBCE Chair André Peek to talk about education and workforce development.
McCrory’s main theme in the video was that business needs to tell education what talent they need.
McCrory actually says at one point, “You can dictate the education curriculum for what you need…”
Shorter: Business should dictate what is taught?
Mike Mitchell was in the audience. Mitchell co-authored this News and Observer article defending McCrory on education with Peek.
At about the 21:22 mark, McCrory talks more about ‘getting to the people developing the curriculum’ and then points to his education adviser, Eric Guckian who is working with ‘the house and senate’ in ‘keeping standards high’. McCrory blames bad implementation for Common Core’s failings, ignoring all of the evidence the standards themselves are awful. McCrroy says we “have to keep these high standards… we have to.” At which point, the audience and Peek applaud loudly.
By the way, Eric Guckian is a Teach for America Alum and Pro-Core advocate.
It got worse. Just after the 22:10 mark, Peek proudly states the NCBCE has stated that they support the Common Core Standards and they are “standing behind it”. Immediately following that remark by Peek, McCrory tells a story about how he talked to Mrs. Gates on the phone the other day. McCrory says it’s ‘the brand of Common Core’ that is the problem. That Common Core is being blamed for whatever goes wrong in a school. McCrory then turns around and blames testing for the problems — amazing lack of self-awareness there.
3. Mr. Peek is on the board of directors for the Eastern NC branch of Teach For America.
Teach For America is a large proponent of Common Core. Teach for America has received millions from the Gates Foundation as well. In fact, over the last ten years, Teach For America has received over $12 million, much of which is directed a “College Ready” including Common Core promotion.
Peek has been involved with Teach For America for some time. Here’s a snippet from Business NC from 2009 where even then ‘Workforce’ was the theme:
Peek: I participate on a board for Teach for America, and I had some young teachers over to our house in the summer. They were all very comfortable with technology. They said there are a couple of classrooms in their schools that have all sorts of technology — SMARTboards and so forth — yet it isn’t being used. The teachers just didn’t really know how to use it. So while the state has invested in — and business community has contributed for — technology, the teacher wasn’t really enabled to use it. We need to close the gap on that. Let me give you an example of how. IBM has almost 5,000 retirees just in North Carolina and a workforce of about 11,000-11,500. One of the ways we’re leveraging that asset is by assisting some employees in the transition into teaching careers. People who are technology-savvy can get out into the classroom. We’ve got another program called MentorPlace. It uses technology to connect protégés — teachers or students — with subject-matter experts.
4. Peek is an NC Forum Member
For those unfamiliar with NC Forum, they are a Who’s Who of Pro-Common Core in NC that includes Superintendent Atkinson, multiple chamber of commerce persons, former legislators and Gene Arnold. Gene Arnold admitted on an episode of NCSPIN that the Chamber was going to blackmail legislators by withholding donations should they not support the Common Core.
5. Peek was part of NC DPI’s Race To The Top Introductory Video.
I was unable to locate the video on DPI’s site, however the transcript survived:
What’s in it for our communities and businesses?
- Better prepared students entering colleges,universities and the workplace
- Higher skilled graduates for science, mathematics and technology careers
- Increased graduation rates
- More meaning fully involved future citizens
– Andre Peek,NC Business Committee for Education
We see Race to the Top as a tremendous win for North Carolina. Our businesses in North Carolina
Depend on a strong, motivated and talented workforce in order for us to be competitive in today’s
Global economy and to succeed. The idea that North Carolina’s going to have the tools and resources
And investments required for us to continue to be strong and competitive is just a terrific win for both
Businesses and our communities in North Carolina. We are excited to have young people to be better
Prepared to join the workforce. One of the things that we have learned is that a motivated employee is
a successful employee, and one of the ways to be motivated is to understand exactly what you want to
accomplish–the context of education, how that actually prepares you to be in the workforce. And that
gives you the tools and motivation needed in the jobs that we have available for employees.