The Common Core curriculum that has been adopted by most of the state educational systems is a mess. It’s a one size fits all solution to millions of children who are different, learn differently, live in areas that have different education needs, and for whom education may mean different things. Common Core strips literature out of the learning process, and focuses on “nonfiction” that is badly, politically skewed. It attempts to “teach to the test” — a pedagogy that bores the target audience and does not teach them anything…often including how to pass said tests. In fact, based on the curriculum Common core creates, the only real objective seems to be 1780s Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Rush, who in his A Plan for the Establishment of Public Schools and the Diffusion of Knowledge in Pennsylvania; to Which Are Added, Thoughts Upon the Mode of Education, Proper in a Republic. Addressed to the Legislature and Citizens of the State opines, “by producing one general and uniform system of education…render the mass of the people more homogeneous and thereby fit them more easily for uniform and peaceable government.”
Common core is the worst sort of lowest-common-denominator education, designed only to make statistical differences in “quantitative” performance…test scores. While No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are allegedly voluntary programs run by the states, the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers specifically set out to create “internationally benchmarked” standards in mathematics and reading. The kind of stats you can juke easily to gain all that juicy federal education grant money ($16 billion just to make Common Core fly) and save local, badly-run and bloated by union-protected administration from financial collapse.
The education results are not coincidental, but I would suggest intentional: to keep your children uninformed, unable to think critically, and servile…the better to render them fit for uniform and peaceable government. The sort of people that don’t question the political elite when they interfere in your business and lives.
Here you can find video of a recent American Enterprise Institute roundtable of the subject. In it, around 1:10:00 you’ll hear Mitchell Chester — education commissioner for the state of Massachusetts — who informs us that you taxpayers have “no right” to object to Common Core based on cost — it’s for the children!
Around 36:00 in this clip, you’ll see Chester Finn, President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, respond with derision to the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey, who asks about the federal government usurping the states’ roles in education under Common Core: conspiracy theory! Paranoia! The United Nations will come take over — oh, you silly people! Oh, wait…what did you write, Mr. Finn, on this?
…closely related to the blurring of national with federal is the expectation that Uncle Sam won’t be able to keep his hands off the Common Core—which means the whole enterprise will be politicized, corrupted and turned from national/voluntary into federal/coercive. This is probably the strongest objection to the Common Core and, alas, it’s probably the most valid, thanks in large measure to our over-zealous Education Secretary and the President he serves.
Let’s face it. Three major actions by the Obama administration have tended to envelop the Common Core in a cozy federal embrace, as have some ill-advised (but probably intentional) remarks by Messrs. Duncan and Obama that imply greater coziness to follow.
There was the fiscal “incentive” in Race to the Top for states to adopt the Common Core as evidence of their seriousness about raising academic standards. [buying off the states to do what the federal government wants]
Then there’s today’s “incentive,” built into the NCLB waiver process, for states to adopt the Common Core as exactly the same sort of evidence…
The third federal entanglement was the Education Department’s grants to two consortia of states to develop new Common Core-aligned assessments, which came with various requirements and strings set by Secretary Duncan’s team.
This trifecta of actual events is problematic in its own right, not because the federal government is evil but because Washington has become so partisan and politicized and because of angst and suspicion that linger from failed efforts during the 1990’s to generate national standards and tests via federal action.
What’s truly energized the Common Core’s enemies, however, has been a series of ex cathedra comments by President Obama and Secretary Duncan. Most recently, the Education Secretary excoriated South Carolina for even contemplating a withdrawal from the Common Core. Previously, the President indicated that state eligibility for Title I dollars, post-ESEA reauthorization, would hinge on adoption of the Common Core. Talking with the governors about NCLB waivers earlier this week, he stated that “if you’re willing to set, higher, more honest standards then we will give you more flexibility to meet those standards.” I don’t know whether he winked. But everybody knew what standards he was talking about.
It will, of course, be ironic as well as unfortunate if the Common Core ends up in the dustbin of history as a result of actions and comments by its supporters. But in March 2012 there can be little doubt that the strongest weapons in the arsenal of its enemies are those that they have supplied.
[Emphasis and comments mine]
Already, the Department of Education has moved in, taking charge of designing the assessments that Common Core will rely on. Your charter schools cannot opt out of Common Core, effectively destroying the most accessible of alternatives to crappy public education. And if you thought homeschooling might save your children from being turned into a good little apparatchik: “Even homeschoolers will also be affected by the standards indirectly since both the SAT and ACT are soon aligning to Common Core. Every homeschooled student with college aspirations will have to learn the national standards or be at a disadvantage in taking college entrance exams.”
And don’t you dare speak out against the dumbing down of the kids, teachers!
Certainly, don’t inform them about their rights!
Common Core is, at its heart, political — developed by Progressive think tanks like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and educational giants like Pearson Education, and forstered by the political elite at the state and federal level with the express intent of social manipulation and control. Conspiracy theory! Crazy talk! Except, why do you need some of the elements of Common Core’s “technology project”?
50 million students will have their own unique ID number, with demographic information like hair color, eye color, gestational age at birth (whether a child was premature or not), where the child lives and with whom, blood type, blood test results, birth marks; GPS location on the child while in the school, all of their test results linked to it or why you opted out of testing, your participation in educationally-funded programs (lunch, for instance or what bus stop and schedule the child uses)…and oh, did we mention the feds want to sell this data despite federal FERPA privacy laws?
Ultimately, Common Core — like much of the legislative action of the last two decades or so — is aimed squarely at creating an environment in which people are raised to genuflect to the political class and rely on the same to provide security and a livelihood, who are accepting of invasions of privacy, due process rights, and property rights. In other words, slaves, in all but name.