“Common Core” or “Rotten to the Core” — You Decide

Common Core - Setting Standards

by Diane Rufino

Common Core is an educational curriculum being forced upon the states by the Obama administration, which is scheduled to be mostly implemented this year in the 45 states that have adopted it. Common Core eliminates local control over K-12 curriculum in math and English, instead imposing a one-size-fits-all, top-down curriculum that will also apply to private schools and homeschoolers.

Common Core was has been promoted in a manner that sounds good and commendable – “States working together to create national standards for education… standards that are designed to be robust and relevant in the real world.”  Common Core describes itself as “internationally benchmarked,” “robust,” “aligned with college and work expectations,” “rigorous,” and “evidence-based.”

Common Core proponents claim that it is not a federal mandate, instead using language like “state-led” and “voluntary.” The Common Core website asserts, “The federal government was NOT involved in the development of the standards.” It states that Common Core is not a national curriculum, but “a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed. If you go to the Common Core website, this is what you will find:  Common Core is focused in two areas: Mathematics standards and English Language Arts standards.  It was created by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

If the initiative sounds so hunky dory, why is there a growing resistance to this initiative in many states around the country, including right here in North Carolina?  Well, state and local groups who are bothering to do their homework and look into the details of Common Core have concluded that what the public has been told about this initiative has not been the truth. In fact, none of what the Common Core establishment is pushing is true.
For instance, even though the Common Core establishment is claiming that the NGA and CCSSO are behind the initiative, this is merely offered to give the public the illusion that the agenda is “state-led.” Common Core standards were actually initiated by private interests in Washington DC and not by state lawmakers. Both the NGA and the CCSSO are both DC-based trade associations (organizations founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry). In fact, most of the creative work was done by ACHIEVE, Inc, a progressive non-profit group based out of DC which has received much of its funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Bill and Melinda Gates are super liberals). The truth is that the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation planned and funded all the development, did all the reviewing, and is now involved in the promotion of the Common Core, including selecting most of the figures on the various development committees.

So, we see that Common Core was not, in fact, created by the states. But 45 states so far (including NC in 2010) have adopted the Common Core standards, so that must mean that the initiative is a good thing, yes?

Let’s see.

Even though the NGA is cited as the author of Common Core, the federal government has had a big hand in it. The Department of Education helped create Common Core, it has poured millions of dollars into two consortia that are created the national tests aligned with Common Core. The states who adopted Common Core did so primarily so they wouldn’t lose their “Race to the Top” federal funding and therefore have to come up with state funding for education. They needed to adopt Common Core to remain eligible for federal funding.  (“Race to the Top” is Obama’s education initiative, announced in 2009).  Right away we can understand why states were so quick to jump on the bandwagon.

So with this federal coercion and with the federal government involved, what does Common Core actually mean for the states?  Well, the Common Core establishment no longer claims that its standards are internationally benchmarked (no longer linked to competitive international performance). The website now claims that the standards are simply “informed by” the standards of other countries (although there is no clarification as to what “informed by” means).  The public school curriculum will be streamlined in both math and English language arts, but will not have any input by the individual states. Instead, the curriculum will be developed by private associations and non-profits based in Washington DC.  Fordham University, a proponent of Common Core, admits that several states had education standards superior to those advanced in Common Core and some states had standards that were at least just as good. This has led many to describe Common Core as a “Race to the Middle.”  It means that eventually, over time, the states will give up complete control over the curriculum in their public schools. They will not be allowed to make any changes to the curriculum or to the Common Core standards. Parents will have greatly diminished opportunity to get involved in the education of their children. The two private testing consortia, being funded by the US Department of Education, have admitted in their grant applications that they would use the money to create curriculum models for the nation.

What does this mean for our children?  It means that in many cases, the standards that were developed were not based on research, public dialogue, state input, or input from educators.  Nowhere is this fact more astoundingly true than in the case of the early childhood standards – more specifically Kindergarten through grade 3.  There were 135 people on the committees and panels that wrote and reviewed the Common Core standards. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood development expert. It means that children will be subject to a one-size-fits-all education scheme which assumes all students can learn in the same manner and at the same pace. Diane Ravitch, a historian of education and Professor of Education at New York University who has long advocated for national standards, says she cannot support Common Core because she fears it will cause a precipitous decline in test scores, based on arbitrary cut scores, which will have a disparate impact on students who are English language learners, students with disabilities, and students who are poor and low-performing. A school in the Mid-West had piloted the Common Core assessments and the failure rate rocketed upwards, especially among the students with the highest needs. He said the exams looked like AP exams and were beyond the reach of many students. When Kentucky piloted the Common Core, proficiency rates dropped by 30 percent. The Chancellor of the New York Board of Regents has already warned that the state should expect a sharp drop in test scores.  And there are even more serious concerns, which are addressed below. Perhaps the most importantly criticisms are the fact that its standards are not research-driven nor inspired and therefore not tested and the initiative calls for a massive invasion of privacy in order to collect data (“data mining”) and establish an inclusive file on students to document their educational (emotional, and psychological) development.

US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has called criticisms of the Common Core State Standards “a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy,” but everyone is encouraged to take a close look at Common Core, weigh the positives and negatives, and decide the merit of the criticisms for themselves.

Not many people are aware of Common Core. If you would have asked the average person back in January of this year if they heard of it, maybe 20-25 percent would have answered in the affirmative. To make matters worse, 76 percent of teachers nationwide don’t think their states are prepared to implement Common Core and only 17 percent feel confident that the initiative will improve student education and performance.

The Common Core State standards are scheduled to go into effect in 2014 and the 45 states that have adopted the program are currently phasing in the programs reforms. As mentioned above, the standards so far are in math and English language arts, but they will extend to science and then history (social studies).

In the years to come we will be able to assess if the Common Core has indeed made students “college—and career—ready.” The only shame is that it requires experimenting on such precious young subjects.

My state of North Carolina adopted Common Core in 2010.  The state Board of Education adopted it unanimously because it didn’t want to lose the federal “Race to the Top” funding.  The state legislature didn’t vote on it, nor have they taken any serious steps to put the brakes on its implementation. North Carolina schools began implementing the math and English language arts standards in the fall of 2012, although Common Core will fully go into effect in 2014 when the tests (funded by the federal government) are provided.  At this time, most NC legislators think we are already too far down the road with Common Core and too dependent on federal education funding to break free and opt out.  Opting out would require one of two actions: (i) a decision by the state Board of Education (which would actually be feasible since many of the members who supported Common Core have been removed from the Board by newly-elected Republican Governor Pat McCrory and replaced with those who are skeptical of it); or (ii) action by the NC General Assembly to opt out (and refuse funding) or halt implementation. In April 2013, NC house members passé House Bill 733 (H.B. 733) which creates a 20-member committee to study the Common Core standards and to make a report to the legislature in 2014 and 2015 and to make a final report in 2016, at which time the committee will be dismantled. If the bill called for a 1-year study, critics might be able to conclude that NC legislators are serious about figuring out if Common Core is good for its students and stopping a potentially bad program, but since the study is much longer and since Common Core will continue to be implemented and more firmly entrenched during that entire time, the bill may simply be illusory.

What are some of the Criticisms of Common Core?

1).  The government is bribing the states with funding to adopt and implement Common Core.  Funding to the states from the federal government through the Obama administration’s signature school reform initiative, Race to the Top, is effectively tied to state” adopting Common Core. Further, the White House threatens to deny funding to states through Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to states that fail to adopt “standards that prepare students for ‘college and career.’” (Common Core is the only game in town when it comes to proposing wide national standards, so the general language fits the Obama administration’s intentions just fine.) Indeed, as reported by Education Week, President Obama’s proposal to tie re-authorization of the ESEA would require states to either join with their counterparts—as does the Common Core system—in adopting common standards or collaborate with state universities to establish education standards.

The ESEA is a United States federal statute enacted in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B Johnson’s “War on Poverty” which funds primary and secondary education and is historically the most far-reaching federal legislation affected education ever passed by Congress. However, the act explicitly forbids the establishment of a national curriculum and all of the federal legislation affecting schools following the ESEA (The General Education Provisions Act, the Department of Education Organization Act, the No Child Left Behind Act) were all solidly aligned on forbidding federal control over the curriculum. These laws have been frustrating for would-be education reformers, Republicans and Democrats. The Obama administration’s Department of Education, facing the same legal obstacles, worked with the NGA Center and CCSSO to develop standards states would be free to adopt but were tied to Race to the Top’s hundreds of millions of dollars to states that chose to adopt the Common Core. In a nineteen-page analysis of the legal standing of the Common Core State Standards, The Road to a National Curriculum, Department of Education documents are quoted directly, explaining “The goal of common K-12 standard is to replace the existing patchwork of State standards that results in unequal expectations based on geography.”

Worthy goal or not, the Department of Education’s intentions directly contradict the last fifty years of Congress declaring the school curriculum off-limits to the US government.

2). It uses a one-size fits all approach. The Common Core standards were founded on a severely flawed idea – that every child can learn the same way and at the same pace. It assumes that every child across America will “be on the same page at the same time.” Let’s say, for example, that your child has a learning disorder. He or she will be left behind, as Common Core has no provision for helping those that can’t keep up.

The proposed standards focus exclusively on teaching isolated reading and math skills starting in kindergarten. Academic learning is separated from social, emotional, and physical growth. But theory, research, and experience tell us that meaningful learning in young children does not come from rote skills. Children build knowledge through hands-on experience with materials, peers, and teachers in meaningful ways that relate to what they already know, to their developmental levels, and their interests. If adopted, the national standards will lead to more rote learning by all young children, but especially our poorest young learners who are in overcrowded classrooms with less qualified teachers who will have to resort to more direct instruction rather than hands-on, experiential learning. Even if we did see better test scores after an implementation of national standards, it’s unlikely that children would be able to apply the skills learned by rote to real-life situations, use them to solve new problems, or discover the satisfactions inherent when learning is meaningful. This will set young children up for failure later on when they go to college when transfer of knowledge and self-motivation become crucial to school success.

3).  In many cases, the Common Core standards are lower than already existing state standards.  Approximately 15 states have existing English language arts standards that are higher than the Common Core standards while most experts agree that ALL states have existing math standards that are higher than Common Core math standards.

So, will Common Core improve the education of our school children?  Asking states to lower their standards does not instill confidence that education will be improved.  So far, the projections and experiences leave one reasonably skeptical.

Consider the case of Massachusetts. In the 1990’s Massachusetts conducted school reforms that, within a few years of their adoption, caused math and verbal SAT scores to improve from below national averages to the state finishing first in all four categories of the National Assessment of Educational Progress by 2005. The state’s reforms are also helping narrow race- and poverty-based achievement gaps.  NAEP data show that between 2002 and 2009, scores for African-Americans and Hispanics on both fourth- and eighth-grade ELA testing improved more rapidly than those of white students. In 2008, educational standards expert E.D. Hirsch Jr. said, “If you are a disadvantaged parent with a school-age child, Massachusetts is . . . the state to move to.”

But under pressure to join the Obama administration’s Race to the Top, Massachusetts began to back away from its successful reforms. The concern is that by adopting the Common Core—the only way to qualify for the federal benefits tied to the Common Core—Massachusetts has to lower its existing standards. Texas, California, Virginia, and Minnesota face similar concerns.

4).  Up until forty years ago, this nation had the best system of education – both K-12 and colleges and universities – in the world. One of the traits that made American education great was its diversity. Elementary and secondary school students can choose among private, parochial, public, technical charter, virtual and home schools. College students can choose from an array of 2-year associate or technical colleges. Students wanting to attend a four-year institution have options ranging from small private liberal arts colleges to large public research universities. The diversity in institutional type, curriculum, and governance has been a hallmark strength of American education. That diversity has helped to produce the best system of education in the world. Since when is our diversity a bad thing?

Yet uniformity (and NOT diversity) is what Common Core is all about. The CC program is sold on the idea that national standards will improve education for all.  That’s only true if the new standards are proven better than existing standards. The standards are marketed as a combination of the best practices and “internationally benchmarked.”  The truth is that the standards are NOT internationally benchmarked, nor are they research-based. The standards were not developed by educators nor by researchers. They have never been tested and they are to be taught according to unproven methods of instruction. In some cases (e.g., Massachusetts, California, and Virginia, as mentioned above) the standards may be inferior to existing state standards. In the case of Massachusetts, in order to adopt CCS the state had to scuttle academic standards that were widely regarding as the best in the country. It is true that in many states Common Core Standards were equal to or inferior to state standards. How is forcing a state to adopt inferior standards good public policy?

5).  Common Core will require “Data Mining,” which is a huge invasion of an individual’s right to privacy.  States who have adopted Common Core to continue being eligible for Obama’s “Race to the Top” federal funding  will be obliged to implement a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) used to track students. They will track students by obtaining personally identifiable information which will involve a huge violation of privacy. The information collected will not only include the student’s test scores and perhaps other measures of academic proficiency, but will be much more extensive, including demographic, emotional, and psychological data.  How will some of this data be collected?  Students will be extensively questioned, while being observed by facial-monitoring equipment and by sensors strapped to their bodies. They will also be neuro-psychologically tested. In its February report, the US Dept. of Education displayed photographs of the actual technology that will be used on students, when the department’s plan is fully implemented. What they call the “four parallel streams of affective sensors” will be employed to effectively “measure” each child. The “facial expression camera,” for instance, “is a device that can be used to detect emotion…. The camera captures facial expressions, and software on the laptop extracts geometric properties on faces.” Other devices, such as the “posture analysis seat,” “pressure mouse,” and “wireless skin conductance sensor,” which looks like a wide, black bracelet strapped to a child’s wrist, are all designed to collect “physiological response data from a biofeedback apparatus that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration.”   So far, 24 states have agreed to a deal with the government to receive a $20 million grant in exchange for implementing such data mining.

“Personally Identifiable Information” will be extracted from each student, which will include the following data: parents’ names, address, Social Security Number, date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc. On the other hand, according to the SLDS brief, “Sensitive Information” will also be extracted, which delves into the intimate details of students’ lives:
1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or parent;
2. Mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
3. Sex behavior or attitudes;
4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior;
5. Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
6. Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; or
8. Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).

Students’ personal information will be submitted to a database managed by inBloom, Inc., a private organization funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The fact that Common Core Standards require children’s personal information to be provided to a database that can be expected to sell or share the data to unspecified companies is worrisome to many parents and educators. “It leads to total control and total tracking of the child,” said Mary Black, curriculum director for Freedom Project Education, an organization that provides classical K-12 online schooling. “It completely strips the child of his or her own privacy.”

6).  The curriculum replaces the classics with government propaganda. According to the American Principles Project: “They de-emphasize the study of classic literature in favor of reading so-called ‘informational texts,’ such as government documents, court opinions, and technical manuals.” Over half the reading materials in grades 6-12 are to consist of informational texts rather than classical literature. Historical texts like the Gettysburg Address are to be presented to students without context or explanation. Professor Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas criticized the English Common Core standards as “empty skill sets that weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.”  The most significant change for English CCS is a requirement that 50 percent or more of class readings in grades six through 12 be from “informational” or nonfiction texts. Advocates say the change in reading material will better prepare students to be college ready.  But the changes will mean the curriculum will no longer include many of the classic works of literature. Professor Stotsky says the move will limit a student’s exposure to great literature and limit the opportunity to think critically and communicate, skills that are vitally necessary for success in college and also for success later in life.  Professor Stotsky also points out that there is no research to suggest that college readiness is promoted by informational or nonfiction reading in English high school classes

The math standards are even more dismal.  Most experts say that Common Core math standards are worse than all existing state standards.  The initiative calls for less content —  less emphasis on geometry, multiplication, algebra, and calculus.  Mathematics Professor R. James Milgram of Stanford University, the only mathematician on the Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the math standards, because they would put many students two years behind those of many high-achieving countries. Other education experts agree. For example, Algebra 1 would be taught in 9th grade, not 8th grade for many students, making calculus inaccessible to them in high school. The quality of the standards is low and not internationally benchmarked. Common Core denies this on its website as a “myth,” but Professor Milgram’s opposition contradicts this.

In math, much of the criticism is focused on pedagogy.  Under Common Core, students will be asked to explain the “why” of a problem before merely performing the calculation. The changes result in needlessly complicating the teaching of basic math to students who are unlikely to have the context to properly understand such queries.  The changes have serious consequences. First, it means standards will be taught by teachers who are still grappling to understand the curriculum and not familiar with ways or resources to successfully teach various subjects.  Second, the changes also mean children will not learn traditional methods of adding and subtracting until the fourth grade. Multiplication skills will likely be delayed until fifth or sixth grade. Because of the back-loading, students who might normally have the opportunity to take calculus while in high school won’t have the time to do so because the number of prerequisite courses is started too late. Do these changes improve a student’s math skills and really represent a better curriculum?

The Common Core website, of course denies that its curriculum tells teachers what to teach. The site, in fact, claims that is a myth: “These standards will establish what students need to learn, but they will not dictate how teachers should teach.” This is like saying, teachers will be required to teach sex education and evolution, but they can choose whether to teach it using assignments, movies, class discussion or reading.  Teachers will, more than ever, teach to the test only. It will be to the child’s benefit (and to the teacher’s benefit) not to teach him/her critical thinking and problem solving, but rather to memorize desired information (teaching to the test only) since the measure of education will be the test scores. It will be the dumbing down of our children. The measure of a successful teacher will be the test scores as well.

7).  Common Core is a Nationalized Federal government takeover of our Education system which runs afoul of the Tenth Amendment, as education is a right reserved to the States.  The government certainly doesn’t have the power to create a one-size-fits-all take-over of education on all levels yet it uses its power of conditional spending to achieve the same purpose (an end-run around the Constitution).  Though educational grants tied to “Race to the Top” and now “Common Core,” the federal government is doing what is expressly prohibited by the Constitution: directing, supervising and controlling the curriculum, and dictating its direction. Government commandeering of education is a States’ Rights issue. If the federal government has enough money to bribe the states to adopt its policies with taxpayer money, then the government is clearly overtaxing the American people. It should tax less and allow the states to tax more so at least the states can use its people’s money to serve their interests.

8).  The Federal Government has standardized the education curriculum that will apply to all public schools, charter schools, private schools, Christian schools and homeschooling. No one is safe from this new mandate.

The Common Core standards do not “technically” affect homeschoolers or even private schools for that matter, unless they receive federal funding.  However, the big concern for home schools and private schools is that if the adoption of the CCSS leads to a national curriculum and ultimately national testing it will pressure them to teach their students according to the standards as well. Recent statements from the College Board announce that they are making the move to changing the SAT to reflect the CCSS as well. If the SAT is based on one curriculum, this move will seriously affect private school and home school students who take the SAT. This may also cause colleges to accept only students who have an education based on the CCSS. Essentially, the future is wrought with questions for homeschoolers and privately educated students if the Common Core Standards are nationally implemented.

9).  Common Core will force consistency and uniformity across the nation. As long as the States are bribed and coerced into adopting a national one-size-fits-all education scheme, then education in general will suffer severely because the states, as 50 independent laboratories of experimentation, will be precluded from trying to innovate and improve education and find solutions to the problems that plague our current education system. In other words, this imposed uniformity will stifle the innovation that federalism fosters.

10).  Common Core changes the mission of the public education system from teaching children academic basics and knowledge to training them to serve the global economy in jobs selected by workforce boards.  Theoretically, we could see a lot of  corporate and lobbying involvement. Lisa Harris, a retired teacher and education activist, says that what she sees with Common Core is that instead of children being encouraged to succeed and excel to the highest level they can, the agenda is to replace the system whereby child chooses his/her career or determines where he/she wishes to pursue with one where the workplace or the career chooses the child. And then they track the students all along the way to slot them into whatever the workforce needs are (compare to Communism). With Common Core, the child will be railroaded into a particular career based on emotional and psychological data and then tracking them. As one analyst put it: “We are all born free and our lives are like an unfinished canvas. It is if we are all artists with a blank canvas. We are born to live and paint our masterpiece. It should be we ourselves who paint that masterpiece and not the government telling us what to paint.”

11).  Common Core will also track teachers – compiling data, testing them, and keeping files on them. Teacher tracking information will be made public on school websites. Ordinarily, this would be a good thing and help keep teachers accountable to the education of children, but one has to wonder what kind of data the government will track and whether it will be presented fairly and reflecting the true ability of the teacher’s abilities or just his/her ability to “teach to the tests.”

12).  Common Core is the ultimate liberal “bait and switch.” Obama, the ultimate “transformation” president, has baited the states with “Race to the Top” federal education funding. The Race to the Top funding follows the “No Child Left Behind” funding. States have become dependent on the  federal funding and in this time of economic distress, have little opportunity to either raise state taxes or find other ways to raise funding for education (to separate themselves from the Race to the Top). While the government has the states dependent on federal funding for education, it has made the “switch.”  The Obama administration has switched to Common Core standards. With these standards, and especially with the teaching of informational texts rather than classics which involve analysis and critical thinking, the indoctrination of America’s youth will proceed with warp speed. The Father of Communism, Vladimir Lenin, said: “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Common Core appears to have all of the earmarks of the old USSR’s programming system for children – with several new innovative and chilling twists, of course. History has shown that state-run information control, which begins with education, has always lead to disastrous results (USSR, Germany, Cuba).

In fact, the U.S. Department of Education has already started a Common Core “technical review process” of test “item design and validation.” The test writing stage is where the specifics of content, or in this case progressive ideologies, are inserted. Test questions need content and context, and since Common Core is about subjective processes, the content can be added without ever notifying the public. This is where the sleight of hand can come in. After content is tied to test questions, textbook manufacturers can write the necessary content into their products, the teachers will have to teach from the progressively-driven textbooks, and the circle will effectively be complete. Herein we see the dirty little Common Core secret: If the government can control what is tested then it controls the curriculum.

13).  The role of education is not to teach students what to think in preparation for job placement. The role of education, the proper role, is to teach children HOW to think, how to process information, how to analyze, interpret, and infer, and how to solve problems. Proper education teaches children and  young adults to think in order  to deal with the ever-changing circumstances of our rapidly changing world. Trade school and career institutions, on the other hand, are the proper environment to be trained for job placement. Teaching specifically for job placement becomes obsolete as quickly as the technology of today yields to the new of tomorrow.

14).  The Common Core model is an untested model. It has not been field-tested anywhere.  There is no evidence to support the theories upon which the Common Core experiment is built. Diane Ravitch, one of the most voices in education and a long-time advocate of national standards, cites this as one of her strongest criticisms of Common Core.

15).  The promoters of the Common Core standards claim they are based in research. They are not. There is no convincing research, for example, showing that certain skills or bits of knowledge (such as counting to 100 or being able to read a certain number of words), if mastered in kindergarten, will lead to later success in school. In fact, two recent studies show that direct instruction can actually limit young children’s learning. At best, the standards reflect guesswork, not cognitive or developmental science. Moreover, the Common Core Standards do not provide for ongoing research or review of the outcomes of their adoption—a bedrock principle of any truly research-based endeavor. It’s bad enough to set up committees to make policy on matters they know little or nothing about. But it’s worse to conceal and distort the public reaction to those policies. And that’s exactly what happened.

Likewise, the standards, in many cases, were not designed by those who professionals who are most qualified to offer input. As mentioned above in the summary of  Common Core, standards that were developed were not based on research, public dialogue, state input, or input from educators.  The standards for Kindergarten through grade 3, for example, were designed and reviewed by 135 people, with not one of them being a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood development expert. The National Association for the Education of Young Children, the foremost professional organization for early education in the U.S, had no role  in the creation of the K-3 Core Standards. More than 500 early childhood professionals, including educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers (including many of the most prominent members of those fields), signed a joint statement of disapproval of the standards – The Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative.  Their statement reads in part: “We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children…. The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades….”  The statement’s four main arguments are actually grounded in what science has clearly taught us about child development…. facts that any education policymaker should and need be aware of:

(i).  The K-3 standards will lead to long hours of direct instruction in literacy and math. This kind of “drill and grill” teaching has already pushed active, play-based learning out of many kindergartens.

(ii). The standards will intensify the push for more standardized testing, which is highly unreliable for children under age eight.

(iii). Didactic instruction and testing will crowd out other crucial areas of young children’s learning: active, hands-on exploration, and developing social, emotional, problem-solving, and self-regulation skills—all of which are difficult to standardize or measure but are the essential building blocks for academic and social accomplishment and responsible citizenship.

(iv). There is little evidence that standards for young children lead to later success. The research is inconclusive; many countries with top-performing high-school students provide rich play-based, nonacademic experiences—not standardized instruction—until age six or seven.

16).  Several states are concerned about the effect of public-private partnerships on true capitalism (competition and efficiency) and on individual representation. The emphasis that Common Core puts on “job placement” puts the focus of our education system primarily on the economy and not on the well-being of our children. Evidence for this lies in the fact that many education experts point out there is no evidence to support the theories upon which the Common Core experiment is built.

What is a public-private partnership? What purposes were they supposedly created to serve?  Public-private partnerships (PPP) describe a government service or private business venture which is funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies. They really amount to economic control and they are a key component to the design of a collectivist system. (See Dr. Steven Yates, professor of Philosophy at the Mises Institute; Dr. Yates often speaks and writes about the undermining of our free enterprise economy).

17).  At its “core,” Common Core is a social engineering experiment. Common Core’s lead architect, David Coleman, explains that the initiative is all about standards. It’s about preparing students for a competitive work force in this developing age. But just as we can understand a program or policy by looking at its architect (Ezekiel Emmanuel and the IPAB, or “death panel” created by Obamacare; Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood; Obama and the administration’s hostility to religion; Adolf Hitler and the final solution, etc), a look at Coleman’s background is equally enlightening.

David Coleman says he believes in the value of a liberal-arts education. The problem is nobody asked what a liberal-arts education means to him. Reading his background puts new meaning to the word “liberal” in liberal arts. American Thinker did an expose on him. Coleman lives in trendy Greenwich Village and was educated at Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge universities (all liberal). He has never been a classroom teacher and wants to replace traditional subjects with broad learning. He believes there is “a massive social injustice in this country” and that education is “the engine of social justice.” His upbringing is certainly in line with this progressive mindset. His mother and greatest influence, Elizabeth Coleman, president of Bennington College in Vermont, is of the view that school curriculum should be designed to address “political-social challenges.” She emphasizes an “action-oriented curriculum” where “students continuously move outside the classroom to engage the world directly.” In short: indoctrination through propaganda in education as the vehicle for social transformation.

Mrs. Coleman founded a social justice initiative – the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (she called it a “secular church”) – “which invites students to put the world’s most pressing problems at the center of their education.” She was a professor of humanities at the far left New School for Social Research, which was begun by progressives in 1932 and modeled itself after the neo-Marxist social theory of the Frankfurt School. She fights for “social values,” and a “secular democracy,” saying “fundamentalist …values (are) the absolutes of a theocracy.”

The foundational philosophy of Common Core is to create students ready for social action so they can force a social-justice agenda. Common Core is not about students who actually have a grasp of the intricate facts of a true set of what E.D. Hirsch would call “core knowledge.” Common Core is about, as David Feith would say “an obsession with race, class, gender, and sexuality as the forces of history and political identity.” Nationalizing education via Common Core is about promoting an agenda of Anti-capitalism, sustainability, white guilt, global citizenship, self-esteem, affective math, and culture sensitive spelling and language. This is done in the name of consciousness raising, moral relativity, fairness, diversity, and multiculturalism.

Common Core is not actually about standards, it’s about gaining control over the education system in a futile attempt to create a Progressive utopia using the important sounding academic umbrella of “standards.” But ask yourself, haven’t educators always had standards, guidelines, or benchmarks to guide curriculum?  What is different all of sudden?  The difference is that we have an administration that has put progressive secularism at the top of its agenda.  All we need to do is connect the dots.

Is there a rush to put a stop to this initiative?   YES.  The standards are set to go into effect this year. If states don’t opt out, then they turn their backs on one of their absolute most critical responsibilities – the exercise of a sovereign STATE function in the education of their children. It isn’t acceptable to pawn this responsibility off on the federal government and it is offensive, in light of the Tenth Amendment, to accept federal bribe money to implement its instrumentalities of indoctrination. Education involves state values and unique demographics, but overall demands that parents’ reasonable expectations are rewarded with an education that is as exceptional as possible and one that isn’t described as a “Race to the Middle.”  In North Carolina, for example, our state constitution puts great emphasis on the importance of a good education. Finally, If enough states don’t resist the initiative, then College Boards will alter the SAT to reflect the Common Core standards and college admissions will be skewed towards this fundamental transformation of American education. The official dumbing down of Americans will have taken place.

Five states so far have dropped out of Common Core – Nebraska, Alaska, Texas, Virginia, and Minnesota – and now Kansas and Oklahoma are taking measures to drop out. Oklahoma just passed a bill (House Bill 1989) which would prohibit the sharing of its students’ personal information. And Indiana has recently passed legislation that puts a pause on the implementation of Common Core in the state so that legislators, parents, teachers and school boards can have the time they were denied previously, to actually vet and analyze the Common Core agenda. Indiana’s Governor Pence, skeptical of Common Core, says the standards are less rigorous than Indiana’s prior standards and adopting them would mean giving up too much power over the setting of standards.



Heritage Foundation Conference (panel discussion) on Common Core: “Putting the Brakes on Common Core” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=P40GaKlIwb8   (Panelists included Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation, Jim Stergios of Pioneer Institute, Ted Rebarber of Accountability Works, Heather Crossin of Hoosiers Against Common Core, and Christel Swasey. Michele Malkin was a guest speaker)

Bob Luebke, “Common Core Will Impose an Unproven One-Size-Fits-All Curriculum on North Carolina,” Civitas Institute, March 18, 2013. Referenced at:  http://www.nccivitas.org/2013/common-core-imposes-one-size-fits-all-curriculum/

Bob Luebke, “Common Core: Worse Than You Think,” Civitas Institute, April 11, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.nccivitas.org/2013/common-core-worse-than-you-think/

Dean Kalahar, “Common Core: Nationalized State-Run Education,” American Thinker, April 12, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/04/common_core_nationalized_state-run_education.html

Mallory Sauer, “Data Mining Students Through Common Core, New American, April 25, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/education/item/15213-data-mining-students-through-common-core

Rachel Alexander, “Common Core Curriculum: A Look Behind the Curtain of Hidden Language,” Christian Post, April 18, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.christianpost.com/news/common-core-cirriculum-a-look-behind-the-curtain-of-hidden-language-92070/

Data Mining, on the Glen Beck Show –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NjqOBEc3HU

Valerie Strauss, ” A Tough Critique of Common Core on Early Childhood Education,” The Washington Post, January 29, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/

Reality Check: The Truth About Common Core –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdiCGgxj58

Kelsey Rupp, “The Twisted Nature of Common Core,” Carolina Journal, April 1, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://carolinareview.org/2013/04/the-twisted-nature-of-the-common-core/

About forloveofgodandcountry

I'm originally from New Jersey where I spent most of my life. I now live in North Carolina with my husband and 4 children. I'm an attorney
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13 Responses to “Common Core” or “Rotten to the Core” — You Decide

  1. Thank you for the information. Everyone needs to be informed of this terrible, controlling communistic type od “education” that dumbs down students and replaces foundational values and creativity and freedom with boring control which will make our institutions a farce.

  2. Robin Case Nixon says:

    Diane,   This article is great — or should I say, you’ve done an excellent job of writing it — the concepts isn’t great.  If you don’t mind, I would like to share it with others.  Also saw you posted on RWPC face book  page and I am going to share from that also.  THANKS!   Robin

    “Life is God’s novel.  Let Him write it.”

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  5. Danae Hartsell says:

    Sounds like Hitler all over again

  6. Pingback: “Common Core” or “Rotten to the Core” — You Decide | Why I Homeschool

  7. great post, very informative. I ponder why the other specialists of
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  9. “Likewise, the standards, in many cases, were not designed by those professionals who are most qualified to offer input…standards that were developed were not based on research, public dialogue, state input, or input from educators.”
    As a teacher in California who has been at the forefront of pedagogical change, and the implementation of CCSS for TWO YEARS, I am flabbergasted. EXCUSE me? What have my colleagues and I been doing, DISTRICT-WIDE, for 2-years?! For what did my school just earn a glowing 6-yr WASC review? Oh! I know! WASC too must be part of that “futile attempt to create a Progressive utopia using the important sounding academic umbrella of “standards.” Huh? Talk about propaganda and gobbledygook! The ‘communist scourge’ again? Really? Again, an ‘outsider’ — an ATTORNEY no less! — presumes to read a couple of articles and (perish the thought!) homeschool her children and that makes her an expert on what is taking place in my classroom? In my District? With my test scores?!
    Nobody who had actually bothered to READ the CCSS could make a statement like, “…education via Common Core is about promoting an agenda of Anti-capitalism, sustainability, white guilt, global citizenship, self-esteem, affective math, and culture sensitive spelling and language.” What?! Absolutely NOWHERE in the CCSS are any of the above concepts considered! Furthermore, in the same diatribe you claim that, “…until forty years ago, this nation had the best system of education – both K-12 and colleges and universities – in the world. One of the traits that made American education great was its diversity;” while at the same time you denigrate CCSS for being “done in the name of consciousness raising, moral relativity, fairness, diversity, and multiculturalism.” Soooooo…are you ‘for’ or ‘against’ individuality in education? You have an issue with ‘global citizenship?’ Sustainability?! By what standards are you measuring basic human responsibility if THOSE issues bother you?!
    But, instead of asking yourself the tough questions, you sarcastically wonder,” haven’t educators always had standards, guidelines, or benchmarks to guide curriculum?” Seriously? CLUE-PHONE: the previous standards don’t work! You just pointed out that it’s been FOURTY YEARS of tanking intellectual growth for our youth! “What is different all of sudden?” you ask? All of a sudden?!? We are NOT the leader in education by ANY global measurement standards…that was 40 years ago and the countries beating the pants off of us are actually the ones doing the drill-and-kill, while successfully joining the literacy realm of the 21st century and beyond!! By what exactly has education been twisted so out of shape in the ensuing 40-years? I would argue that it’s the outspoken-minority –those people who know little-to-nothing about the realities of the classroom—throwing their knee-jerk- two cents in that has brought us to this point. (Ironically, the very same type of one-sided, uninformed argument that the CCSS specifically attempts to correct.)
    Maybe, in the interest of balanced discourse, rather than an uninformed –or, perhaps, an incompletely informed– opinion based on skewed rhetoric we should allow for the possibility that the “…difference [isn’t] that we have an administration that has put progressive secularism at the top of its agenda;” but, is in fact a simple matter of people actually synthesizing all sides of the issue, ” [and, all] we need to do is connect the dots:” our system is broken and it needs to be fixed. This year. Today. Now. By people who know what they are doing.
    (And we, actual EDUCATORS, are really hard at work doing just that.)

  10. Gary Webb says:

    Thank you for your work. We need to work together to defund Common Core in NC. We need to inform our communities of it’s dangers. I will use this information to inform parents and teachers in my community through letters to the editor.

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