Flunking Common Core

After watching former Education Secretary, William J. Bennett, on Fox News Sunday (Feb 1) defending Common Core against its growing number of detractors, I’m drawn to protest and must ask some simple questions, ones that I hope every parent is asking.

If Common Core are ONLY Standards:

• Why then has the curriculum and testing changed?
• Why then has the data collection process been so dramatically altered and expanded?
• Why has recess been eliminated in some schools in order to give more time to teaching and testing?
• Why do so many states (24) have pending anti-Common Core legislation?
• Why did Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina withdraw from Common Core?
• Why has the new math become such a joke among parents and comedians?
• Why are our schools pulling teachers out of the classroom for retraining?
• How can curriculum be locally controlled when tests are nationalized?
• Why are the Feds giving “exemptions” to every state that is using Common Core — even states like California that supposedly took it “voluntarily”?

Bennett echoed the patronizingly nauseating simplistic rhetorical talking point retort “have you read the standards?” as if that would answer all the concerns of the parents and opponents.

When nearly 60% of all parents polled oppose Common Core and 70% of teachers according to a Gallup poll say the Common Core implementation was a complete failure.  I think we have a consensus.  You’re on the wrong side Bill.

Of course, everyone is for high standards.  But it is simply a myth that Common Core are those higher standards — let alone “only” standards.  And let us not forget that standards themselves do not produce better educated children, good teachers and good curriculum does.

This gets us to the crux of the issue.  Bill Gates when rolling out the idea of Common Core to a national audience in 2009 speaking before the NCSL (with his billion dollar backing) said “We’ll only know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.”  He then said “Secretary Arne Duncan announced that $350 million of the stimulus package will be used to create just these kinds of tests — “next-generation assessments aligned to the common core.”  Catch that, success is when “curriculum” and “tests” are “aligned” to the Common Core.  The testing drives the curriculum.

How is it that they were creating tests aligned to the standards when the standards had barely been written?  How is it they were writing tests for a curriculum that wasn’t yet written?  How is it that this is supposedly a locally controlled process when the Federal government is creating the “nationalized” tests?  And how is it locally controlled when the Federal government is the one determining whether or not schools and districts fail or pass?  Did someone know in advance what curriculum was going to be taught?  Are the standards, curriculum and tests aligned or not?  Of course they are, it’s all just a shell game and it’s evolution is ongoing.

The Common Core are not just Standards, they are skills and methods that drive curriculum and testing.  Common Core is a packaged deal.  Think of it as a restaurant.  The standards are the menu, the kitchen the classroom, the cooks the teachers, the ingredients the curriculum and the meal served, the final exam.  When the tests are aligned to the curriculum and the curriculum to the standards the goal is achieved.  So the standards are simply the means to the ends.

The Standards are simply the front end of the train that so many proponents claim has “left the station.”
The Standards do in fact drive the whole process and thus are more than simply a singularity as the proponents try to claim.  The goal is not education but training, it is not knowledge, it is preparation.  It takes autonomy and customization or special attention away form the school  and the teacher and turns their job into facilitators creating cookie cutter students.  Special needs students, minorities as well as higher achievers are the most harmed by this homogenized system.  It may make things more equal — since one of the proponents goal has been stated to be “social justice.”  But that will only make education more equal because everyone will now be floundering together.

In forum after forum proponents of the Common Core have claim success won’t be known for perhaps 12 years.  So the bottom line is an entire generation of kids are guinea pigs to this educational experiment?  If this was a process within the medical field it would be declared malpractice and abolished..  And contrary to what your PTA might tell you the Common Core remains untested and unbenchmarked.

If Common Core are HIGHER Standards:

• Why did Jason Zimba, (author of the Common Core math standards) say the Common Core is not sufficient for STEM and is a “minimal definition of college readiness.”
• Why did James Milgram, (writer of California’s previous highest rated math standards) as the only qualified math standards expert on the Common Core validation committee reject the CC math standards?

Parents and teachers are living the nightmare of Common Core every single day in the classroom and in the living room, struggling through convoluted homework with their children.  Administrators and bureaucrats can say all they want, but parents and teachers are dealing with the reality of it every day.

Despite the circling of wagons by many Republicans to defend and protect Jeb Bush (and his support of Common Core) — now that he is running for President — the valid questions parents have, remain.

Once the new assessment testing begins in the spring I’m sure the anger of parents wanting more answers will only grow.

Parents should not forget they can legally Opt-Out of these assessments by downloading forms from the Pacific Justice Institute’s web site at www.pacificjustice.org/

With any luck Common Core will be gone before the next Presidential election.
__________
David is a perpetual student of religion, politics and American history.  He lives in Southern California with his wife and their three children.  Writer, thinker, speaker, blogger, he is the author of many articles as well as the book, The Conservative Directory – The Little Black Book of the Cultural Counter Revolution (1994).  The book was honored with praise from Charlton Heston, Bay Buchanan, Joseph Farah among many others. You can follow him on Twitter @cogitarus.  He’s available for speaking engagements upon request.

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About @cogitarus

Defending the liberty our Creator endowed upon us, our Constitutional principles, American exceptionalism, culture, heritage and history with truth and reverence -- while engaging the deceptive and dangerous views of utopian fools.
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