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.

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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.

Wetzel’s hit job on Pesta’s character was exposed by journalist Rob Port, who successfully traced the email address – [email protected] – back to the government official.

Wetzel has since fessed up to his underhanded deed, but he maintains he did really did nothing wrong. Wetzel maintains that he created the Gmail account and sent the email on his own time and with his own personal computer, and that he acted entirely on his own with no involvement from DPI leaders.

He even stands by his assertion that “money” is Pesta’s sole motivation for opposing the nationalized learning standards.

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Pesta called the attack “pre-emptive targeting.”

“They are trying to preclude discussion by character assassination and wild insinuation,” Pesta told “Being involved in this kind of political discourse means you’re going to get blowback from the powers that be. However, that does not justify out-and-out lies about character or motivation from people who have never bothered to inquire with me or done any research into the legitimacy of the allegations.”

The news site adds that Wetzel’s dirty tricks campaign isn’t impressing North Dakota residents. They’re angry “that a supposed public servant” would make “vicious and false accusations against a private citizen (who is) seeking to educate his fellow Americans” about the controversial Common Core standards that were cemented in place well before most Americans had any idea what they were.

Some North Dakota residents are calling for Wetzel’s firing and for the recall of his boss, Superintendent of Public Schools Kirsten Baesler, who has accepted responsibility for the scandal, the news site adds.