Third Part in a series of Three- by Pam Danz. When a Bad Man offers you candy to get into his car, you hesitate, even if the candy itself is completely wholesome. Sure, educational methods do come and go and you may want to try them out. (Taste the candy.) Unfortunately Common Core is not just the flavor of the day in curricula. It isn’t just a new way of teaching that might help our children; it shifts the power to determine how to educate our children away from home, community, and state to the Federal Government. And we all know how well the Federal Government handles social engineering. Think: the IRS, the Post Office, Amtrak, the EPA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Obamacare, etc. Do you really trust those guys to guide your children’s education?
But another government grab at the powers reserved to the people and the states is not the only thing to fear in the Common Core Standards (CCS). The candy itself is not wholesome. The Common Core math standards fail to meet the content targets recommended by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, the standards of leading states, and our international competitors. In English Language Arts, Common Core standards are inadequate. There is no authentic critical thinking in the one-size-fits-all standards. They do not guarantee to turn out students who are able to excel in the global market place because they do not teach creativity. They have not been beta tested and may very well be a tremendous waste of money. Full implementation may cost far more than any state can afford. The standards were created with the funding of persons and corporations who stand to profit by their implementation. They teach socialism under the guise of “human rights.” The CCS also expose our children to the possibility of an incredible invasion of their privacy.
More and more information is coming from mathematical experts to refute the CCS in math. According to Dr. Christopher H. Tienken writing in the Journal of Scholarship & Practice, Winter 2011, the mathematics curriculum sequences embedded in the standards are nothing more than rehashed versions of the recommendations from the 5 Vol. 7, No. 4 Winter 2011 AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice Committee of Ten in 1893 and the Committee of 15 in 1895. They did not lead to a renaissance in mathematical skills then and look as if they won’t now. The standards now exclude certain Algebra 2 and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college, essentially re-defining “college readiness” to mean readiness for a non-selective community college. They abandon the expectation that students take Algebra 1 in eighth grade. (This expectation is based upon what high-performing countries expect of their students, and has pushed about half of America’s students to take Algebra 1 by eighth grade). The Common Core math standards also require that geometry be taught by an experimental method that had never been used successfully anywhere in the world. The Common Core math standards do not teach least common denominators; delay until sixth grade fluency in division; eliminate conversions between fractions, decimals and percents; and adopt a new definition of algebra as “functional algebra” that de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation. (Butcher, McGroarty and Finne in a May, 2012 white paper)
The English Language Arts (ELA) are also poorly represented. The Common Core “college readiness” ELA standards can best be described as skill sets, not fully developed standards. As such, they cannot point to readiness for a high school diploma or four-year college coursework. Skill sets in themselves do not provide an intellectual framework for a coherent and demanding English curriculum. The Common Core document expects English teachers to spend over 50% of their reading instructional time on informational texts in a variety of subject areas, something English or reading teachers are not trained to teach. This requirement alone makes it impossible for English teachers to construct a coherent literature curriculum in grades 6–12. The ELA Common Core Standards will impair the preparation of students for competing in a global economy. (Butcher, et.al, 2012) There is also a notable lack of English Literature examples, thus short-circuiting the very cultural literacy that national standards ought to guarantee.
The CCS, by their very existence, stifle educational innovation. They freeze what and how teachers may teach in place. There is not even any mechanism for grassroots correction of mistakes and inaccuracies found in the materials. But far worse, the CCS penalize original thinking. You must think as the standards demand or you will not do well in school. China is trying to dig itself out of the results of its standardized education system. Chinese children regurgitate their standards very well, they just don’t innovate. Compare the number of patents coming out of China to those from the USA, for example.
There has been no testing to determine if the CCS will lead to our students being more competitive in the global marketplace. According to Dr. Christopher H. Tienken, 2011, Common Core State Standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended and unintended consequences of their impliamentation. There is also no determination as to how much it will cost each state to fully implement the CCS. It would have been far wiser to test out the standards in a couple of states and see how their standards did, and if successful, THEN impose the standards upon the rest of the country. If we tried out new drugs by manipulating the entire population into taking the drug without preceding the drug-taking with human trials we could all be sick as dogs instead of healthier. If Big Pharma acted as the government is acting, all the sick people would then be charged billions for the privilege of being sick.
Common Core was funded in a big way by Bill Gates who will profit from the sale of the computers needed to do the testing. Common Core was initiated by private interests in Washington DC without proper representation from the states. The National Governor’s Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State school officers may sound like official government organizations but they are not. They are private trade organizations that are not transparent nor held accountable to the people. The state Governors sit on the board of the NGA; they do not do the research or writing. In fact, both organizations receive money from the federal government as well as private entities. States pay dues to both the NGA and the CCSSO and then these private organizations turn around and lobby the states to push forth their agenda.
New examples of a socialist slant in the CCS keep popping up on the internet and space prevents any kind of a complete listing. Google “Common Core Socialist Agenda” and you will find page after page of fascinating reading. There is discussion of how the CCS sets up a painful cognitive dissonance in a child’s mind between parents, community, and churches on one side and the educational establishment on the other.
Much like Obamacare, personal information will be centralized, when the assessments for Common Core are complete. It seems unwise to expose our children to having all their records easily hacked. If a child were diagnosed as dyslexic in the second grade, but subsequently learned how to read effectively, it would be a pity to have his records available to a potential employer who might think he was damaged goods because of something that was overcome in the 5th grade.
All in all, the CCS are a bad idea, untested and adopted under duress. We need to do a great deal of thinking about them before we proceed any further.
Pam Danz lives in Flat Rock, NC and used to write for the Radford News Journal in Radford VA. Along with several other careers she has a Masters Degree in Education with experience teaching from Middle School through college.