State employee launches personal attack against Common Core critic

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James “Duke” Pesta (

BISMARCK, N.D. – As the Common Core experiment continues to crumble, its supporters appear to be getting more and more thin-skinned.

Last week, an official with North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction went to unusual lengths to smear the character of Common Core critic James “Duke” Pesta, who was visiting the state “to give public speeches and briefings to lawmakers exposing the dangers of the Obama administration-pushed nationalization of schooling,” reports


Pesta, who teaches English at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, has given some 170 “talks” in 29 states detailing why he opposes the Common Core learning standards. The professor does not charge fees for his speeches.

In advance of Pesta’s visit to the Peace Garden State, Dale Wetzel – a spokesman for North Dakota Superintendent of Public Schools Kirsten Baesler – used an anonymous Gmail account to distribute a series of “talking points” to legislators and media figures that portrayed Pesta as a money-grubbing opportunist who only opposes the nationalized math and English learning standards in order to drum up interest in an online K-12 school that he’s associated with, reports.

One of the talking points referred to Pesta as “a traveling salesman who is bad-mouthing Common Core to sell his own educational product.”

In reality, Pesta is one of the most articulate and thoughtful critics of the K-12 learning experiment.

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