Common Core: An Uneven Playing Field
Many parents, teachers, legislators and citizens are fighting against the Common Core juggernaut. Some are becoming disillusioned and fear they might never overcome the well-planned and well-financed takeover of American education that was orchestrated by those who would eliminate local control and institute a one-size-fits-all federal education system.
Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Pearson Education, and hundreds of education systems who have and will continue to gain financially from the restructuring of American education are formidable enemies for parents and a few legislators to fight.
In some states, legislators and other leaders are on the side of students and parents. In others, parents worked as hard as possible to institute better standards but have met with limited or no success.
In New Jersey, parents and teachers convinced legislators in the state House to stop Common Core. But before the state Senate could pass the bill, Gov. Chris Christie stepped in with an executive order to create a “committee to review” Common Core. Gov. Christie issued this edict in spring of 2014 but he has so far failed to appoint even one review committee member. It would be difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the governor’s scheme was and remains a means to allow Common Core to remain in New Jersey.
Oklahoma passed and Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill aimed at dumping Common Core. But the “steering committee” that will design new standards is controlled by the state board of education. So far, no member of the committee is a teacher or other professional who could provide expertise on standards. It is feared that Oklahomans will suffer the fate of Indianans who refuted Common Core only to see it come back with slightly different wording. Similar ersatz changes to Common Core may be underway in South Carolina and in Missouri.
So far no state that adopted Common Core has approached the matter of better standards seriously. States could adopt Massachusetts’ superior standards, which Massachusetts sadly ditched in favor of Common Core.
What the CC Status Quo Means For Students
Common Core is not internationally benchmarked, it is not evidence-based, it is not “rigorous,” and it will not prepare students for competitive four-year universities. Common Core proponents have followed a set of talking points and most of the media has parroted their lies.
The “College and Career readiness” that is called for by Common Core is “workforce-prep” and not meant to create an educated and informed populace.
The way CC math is being taught is confusing for young students. Being forced to write sentences to explain why they gave the answer they did is ridiculous. But in Common Core math the explanation is more important than whether the student gave the correct answer. The Heartland Institute’s Joy Pullman says, “[Common Core] mandates explicitly require kids to learn the least efficient ways of solving basic problems one, two, and even three grade levels before they are to learn the traditional, efficient ways.”
Older students will not have a chance to attend great colleges because the coursework schedule doesn’t allow them to complete calculus by 12th grade.
Common Core’s Appendix B for English Language Arts suggests that students read such books as The Bluest Eye by Tony Morrison, Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, and Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. These books should not be suggested reading for high school students because they contain inappropriate subject matter and disturbing events. Yet, they are Common Core staples. The standards ignore excellent classical literature in favor of modern, lightweight, and sometimes “trashy” fiction, along with a heavy reliance on non-fiction “informational texts,” which are frequently little more than leftist political indoctrination.
There are many reports from parents and teachers that students are frustrated and stressed by the complicated and poorly designed standards. Third graders are forced to take almost ten hours of tests when their state uses the PARCC testing consortium. (Washington Post, 9-28-14) The hours upon hours of tests that are required by Common Core are simply too much for young students. Most of the school year will be spent preparing to take the tests. The standards and the tests drive the curriculum. Children will learn to hate school when they are under duress because of developmentally inappropriate curriculum and tests.
What Parents Face
Parents have been ignored, belittled, maligned, and have no choice but to accept Common Core or pull their children out of schools. Even many private and parochial schools have succumbed to Common Core.
In North Carolina, there was a 14% increase in homeschooling for the 2013-14 school year. Much of this is due to parents having chosen to escape Common Core and its mandates. (News & Observer, 8-13-14)
Parents are unable to protect their students from the invasion of their privacy by the Common Core-mandated collection of personally identifiable information that is no one’s business beyond the family, along with the dissemination of students’ private information to for-profit corporations. Parents can’t opt out their students from this invasion of privacy in most cases.
Common Core’s confusing “fuzzy” math is not just bad for students’ understanding of math. It creates a gulf between them and their parents when parents are unable to direct their children to complete homework that is illogical and fails to follow the common algorithms for completing such problems. Since this way of doing math is illogical, untested, and not approved by mathematicians, it seems an intentional way to create a gulf between parents and children. Why are Common Core math standards purposely attempting to make that involvement more difficult for American parents?
Big Profits for Big Ed
Common Core is a financial windfall for those who develop and provide education programs and computers to schools. Most Common Core tests are taken on computers so every student will need access to one.
Billions are being made by companies that provide software and curriculum aligned to Common Core.
The Wall Street Journal reports that some Common Core testing companies are filing lawsuits against each other, claiming unfair bidding processes were used in certain states (11-12-14). It remains to be seen how the bid-rigging lawsuits will turn out for the complainants. But the Journal reports that for the companies, testing students represents a “$2.46 billion-a-year U.S. testing market.” No wonder they are struggling to get in on the bonanza.