Thursday, March 13, 2014

Common Core, the Crises and the Cure--Heads Up Parents

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Heather Crossin, an Indianapolis mom of 4, has become one of the nation's most outspoken parents in opposition to what we know as "Common Core" education standards.

Here's why.

Her 8 year-old daughter Lucy brought home some math homework. Looking at it, Heather noticed that the math focused on abstract concepts, even drawing pictures to solve problems, instead of practicing formulas.

She says, "I assumed initially it was just a bad textbook selection. I found out that was not the case."

When she inquired, the principal brought in a representative from Pearson, the publisher of the textbook, to explain the new Common Core-aligned textbooks.

She recalls her moment when the light came on:

"When parents still weren't buying what [the publisher's representative] was selling, our principal in frustration threw up his hands and said, 'Look, I know parents don't like this type of math because none of us were taught this way, but we have to teach it this way because this is how it's going to be on the new [standardized] assessment.' That was the moment I realized control of what was being taught in my child's classroom---in a parochial Catholic school---had not only left the building, it had left the state of Indiana. And to me, that was a frightening thought."

Here is an overview of the crises Common Core is creating and will create and the cure.

I have been following Common Core for some time. I have been disappointed in some who have initially supported it. I think some have supported it simply because they were not fully informed as to the scope and effect it has on education in America and parental rights. It also represents a massive intrusion of government into the lives of families.

I am convinced that those who now support and advocate for it know exactly what the result will be.

As a parent, grandparent or concerned citizen you must be informed, because Common Core has the potential to do to education, what Obamacare is doing to medicine.

I have drawn substantially from a number of sources, particularly the Heritage Foundation's research. Their recent article is the most current and informative.

Where did Common Core come from?

Common Core began as a broad, bipartisan effort of "education reform." The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers adopted it as a "high quality base for academic standards that any state in the country could use."

Common Core standards is a program that nationalizes testing. Textbooks are required to come into compliance with the program.

While it was originally presented as a choice, or option, it has been tweaked as it has been moved forward. States have also been given government incentives to adopt it.

Over the past several years it has become woven into the fabric of American education, but most parents are not aware of it.

Many governors and perhaps others who initially supported it, I believe, were unaware of its scope and consequences. Some, of course, knew exactly what it was about.

I also believe that anyone who supports it now, with the growing national exposure and awareness, would also support the level of government intrusion into the classroom, the child's life and the erosion of parental authority that Common Core represents.

While Indiana was one of the first states to adopt it, by June of 2012, 45 states, including Washington DC had begun implementation of it.

It's significant that Indiana would have been one of the first states to adopt it and has now become the focus of opposition. Indiana already had very high level of achievement in their state education system.

Once the process begins it is very difficult for a state to opt out.

Indiana is finding it very difficult to get out of the implementation process.

Legislation to "pause" the implementation failed twice in the state legislature before finally being passed a few months ago.

Now they are initiating a "review" which Common Core opponents believe will be biased and tainted by those in control who want the program fully implemented.

Parents and some state legislators have expressed a feeling of being excluded from the process.

Public hearings have been held, but those who oppose it in the legislature are "listening" but not "hearing" the opposition.

I've had that same feeling sitting in hearings in Olympia on various issues.

Arguments in favor of Common Core generally follow these talking points.

  • Education needs reform.
  • Standardized testing will help reform it.
  • Common Core is not perfect, but its a good start. We will improve it. It provides a base for each state to build upon.
  • A good teacher takes it and runs with it, using it as an opportunity, not a barrier.
  • We're lagging behind other countries. We've got to do something.
  • Standardized testing saves the taxpayers money.
  • Standardization allows states to share resources which also saves taxpayers money.

Why should I oppose Common Core?

First, it represents an alarming layer of bureaucracy and government control. There are 3 sets of laws that prohibit the federal government from prescribing the content of state curricula and assessments, however, the US Department of Education has strongly advocated and propelled Common Core more than any other single organization in funding the creation of standardized assessments.

The Education Department is offering waivers from the No Child Left Behind, while promising to adopt the Common Core's college-career readiness standards.

A number of leading educators say the Common Core does not make a student college ready.

Secondly, it has a philosophical bias. There are 3 philosophical threads that weave through every part of Common Core--statism, moral relativism and progressivism.

The statist goals are implicit in the lock step uniformity that is central to Common Core. Progressive educator John Dewey strongly advocated for standardized curriculum. He said it would create uniformity and prevent one student from becoming superior to another. Dewey envisioned a workforce filled with people of "politically and socially correct attitudes" who would respond to orders without question. (John Dewey and the Decline of American Education. Wilmington Pub.)

Third, Common Core leads to nationalized curriculum. Textbooks are already being rewritten to comply with the standards. This, of course, is "necessary" in order to help students be prepared for nationalized testing.

Although there are laws that prevent the government from issuing curriculum, it is not difficult to imagine this administration by passing these laws, "to help the students."

Fourth, Common Core will by design create a national database to track student scores on assessments. The authors claim a database is essential for the continuing improvement of the program and to track its success.

These massive databases are already being built. In 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation used $17 million to launch inBloom, a company that has built a $100 million database to track students from kindergarten through college. The database identifies students by name, address and often, but not always, by social security number.

There is much more, but this along with the link above can give you a general awareness of what Common Core is about.

Keep in mind over 62% of Americans had never heard of Common Core standards when this current school year began.

What can we do?

1. Continue to be informed. More and more information will become available. Share what you know with other parents and families in your community, church, school, etc.

2. Be in touch with your state legislators. Find out what is happening in your state in regard to Common Core. The Heritage link above gives you more detail and maps that show where various states are in relation to Common Core.

This link is information that will give guidance if you want to get involved in your state and with your legislators in this regard.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.


  1. Common core is a complicated subject and Gary's synopsis is quite lacking.

    But we can learn quite a bit about this battle simply by looking at who's for it and who's against it.

    For it: Bill Gates Foundation, scientists, educators, etc.

    Against it: Koch brothers, religious right, right wing talk radio

    In other words, 'Oh dear, science is coming! science is coming!"

  2. I find this very helpful. I was not aware of much od this. Thank you Gary.

  3. 9:11 Actually Gary has linked all the information you mention in previous articles about Common Core.

  4. Here is the truth: my son is a math instructor at a large university.....he is one of several teachers who teach remedial classes in college algebra.....his failure rate is over 60% REMEDIAL CLASSES AT THE COLLEGE LEVEL THEY MAKE MISTAKES IN ADDING AND SUBTRACTING!!!!! These are the best and brightest in America??????? He said some kids have to take the remedial classes three times....not because they are dumb, but because they never mastered basic materials and did not receive a complete training in basic math and algebra. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTIBLE.

  5. Instead of common core, why not return to common sense instead?

    This nation was built on freedom rather than control. Free people can do better in my opinion, and I believe Americans have proved that in the past.

    It seems to me that we are being choked by government control as they seem to think that their job is to "fix" everything.

    What's wrong with hiring what people believe to be the best teacher they can afford, and asking them to do the best they can to educate?

    "But where's the standard, where's the norm?" you may ask.

    I wish doing the best we can would be the norm among both students and teachers.

    It seems to me that teachers and parents could invite higher educators to come and talk about where in their opinion, (if anywhere) that students that come into their classroom lack.

    If he really cares about education, about higher learning, I would think he would be happy to tell them all about it, that is, if he really isn't happy about the quality of education students have that come into his classroom.

    Then parents and teachers could both do what they can to better prepare students. Maybe it would be a good idea for a higher educator to talk to the students themselves about the things he sees that lack, and things they can do to be better prepared.

    I, as an American, would find that sort of common sense a lot more interesting and maybe even fun. I think it might help connect people where connections should be made.

    Wasn't that the whole idea of the PTA anyway?

    We don't have to have a common standard that can be measured by test scores. Don't they have enough of that already in schools? All we need is good teachers doing the best they can, and students who do the same, and if they are well connected with the educators in the places of higher learning, shouldn't they be prepared?

  6. It seems to me that many a potential good student might be inclined to drop of common core because their education is being meddled with.

  7. I see the first commenter has no good argument so makes fun of people who disagree with him. This is their tactic because it often works well. It won't work here.
    Local control of schools has been a reason for pride and excellence. We are not stupid at the local level and the feds are real smart. If their plan (common core) is so great why don't they put it out for use without strings attached?

    1. This issue is way too complicated to argue in a sentence or two. But here's a stab at one big truth. I think the real opposition is the unspoken one that you dance around - that private schools and home schoolers would have to teach genetic evolution along with other science you don't want your children to know. As I said, science is coming!

  8. Jesus is coming.


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