Part. 1 Fact vs Myth
When I first envisioned writing this I thought a single condensed blog would do the trick. My researches quickly revealed it would take more. I thought I knew a lot about the subject, but as always, I delved into it to make sure. One reason is that when you follow the media, any media, you can get confused rather easily. One side promotes one thing while the other espouses something else. I hope to clear up some of those misconceptions.
Just what is Common Core? The basis of Common Core is simple. It is a mandate to have the students in public schools take a series of ‘standardized tests’. No Big Deal, right? I mean we all took standardized tests in primary and secondary school. The rub come from the formulation of those tests which requires teachers to to teach some very strange and objectionable things to our children. They must do this if they want the children (and the school) to make a decent showing on the tests. This decent showing criteria is part and parcel of the school funding issue. The worse you you rate on the tests the less you receive in federal funding. That is a simplistic view, but basically accurate. More on this aspect later. First we need to delve into the facts of the Common Core mandates.
Let’s dig into some of the myths and corresponding actualities.
Myth . Common Core (CC) was a state-led initiative.
This is not at all true. The CC was begun in Washington D.C. with no involvement from the states. The initiating organization was a group of people brought together by Bill gates and his organization according to my research. They did decide that they needed to appear to be a populist movement so they went to the National Governors Association (NGA) (a trade association that doesn’t include all governors) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), another DC-based trade association. Note here that neither of these trade associations had any authority from any state to act in their behalf. Achieve, Inc., a DC-based nonprofit that includes many liberal education reformers was the chief architect.
Myth . Under Common Core, the states will still control their standards.
Nope. In fact the standards are written so that the states must accept the standards “word for word” . They can not change or delete anything. They do have the ability to add content, but that content will not be covered in the tests.
Myth . The federal government is not involved in the Common Core scheme.
Do really believe this one? Here are the facts. The U.S. Dept. of Education has poured millions of dollars into cohersive tactics to force the states to adopt the CC and they act as the enforcement agency. They have made it very tricky to ‘opt out’. One of the reasons it is so hard to pass a state law to do so. During the last 10 or so years it has become necessary for states to have federal funding for their schools. Sorry that is just the way it is. I will attempt to write about that another time giving the reasons.
Myth . The Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked.
No information was presented to the Validation Committee to show how CC stacked up against standards of other high-achieving countries. In fact, the CC establishment no longer claims that the standards are “internationally benchmarked” – the website now states that they are “informed by” the standards of other countries. There is no definition of “informed by.”
Myth . Common Core is only a set of standards, not curriculum; states will still control their curriculum.
The whole point of the standardized tests is to drive the curriculum. In order for the students to pass the tests the teachers must teach the subjects in the tests and teach what the tests will cover. The math used in the tests have nothing to do with the way current math is taught and understood by either the common man or the colleges that teach math, much less the sciences that depend upon math. One drafter of the CC math standards stated, CC is designed to prepare students for a nonselective two-year community college, not a four-year university. That is only one example. I don’t have time or space to go into all of them, but stop by your school one day and ask to check out a history text. That all by itself will dismay most. Even the testing consortia being funded by USED admitted in their grant applications that they would use the money to develop curriculum models. There is so much more from English to literature that would put the entire country behind other competing countries.
Myth . We need common standards to be able to compare our students’ performance to that of students in other states.
Pardon my blunt words, but that is just so much BS. We already have that. In the lower grades we have standardized tests, National Assessment of Educational Progress, that are administered and the content is reviewed annually. In High School there is ACT and SAT.
I have a dear friend that is a welder by trade with no college. My friend has a son just entering the grades where CC is used. He told me that upon viewing his son’s home work he was afraid that nothing was being taught in either math or English that would allow his son to even go into the trades where math is a part of the everyday work. Proper English is, of course, helpful when dealing with customers and all sorts of people that he interacts with every day. Even his son’s reading skills are sadly lacking for his age. My friend tells me that his son is being taught to memorize words. No phonetics to aid in both spelling and pronunciation. Just rote memorization.
There is so much more about this subject to cover, but I think a solid grounding in the facts are necessary prior to exploring the full ramifications of this federal governmental intrusion into our way of life.