Thursday, February 13, 2014

Our Children Are Not "Common" Core

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Bill Gates said yesterday in USA Today, "Last month, Melinda and I published our foundation's annual letter, about myths that block progress for the poorest. We focus on myths about global issues, like the myth that foreign aid is a big waste, but when it comes to domestic issues we're in the grip of mythology, too. And these myths aren't just wrong; they're harmful, because they can lead people to fight against the best solutions to our biggest problems."

What myths are harming us and causing us to fight against the best solutions?

Well, he said, "Take the example of America's schools. Right now, 45 states are implementing new academic standards, known as the Common Core, which will improve education for millions of students. Unfortunately, conversation about the standards is shrouded in myths."

He said, "I want to explain why Common Core is among the most important education ideas in years."

Gates says the "standards" are "similar to those used to guide teachers for years, yet Common Core Standards are inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market."

Not everyone agrees with Gate's assessment of the Common Core Standards.

Yesterday, 42 US House members announced that they have signed onto a Resolution condemning the Common Core State Standards as "destructive to American education."

There is growing concern about the Common Core agenda.

Is Bill Gates right? Are these concerns based merely on myths? Or are there legitimate concerns?

Gates says these myths are standing in the way of progress in education, and hopes they will not prevent Common Core from becoming the solution to the problems in education.

He identifies 3 myths that are "shrouding" progress in education.

Myth: Common Core was created without involving parents, teachers or state and local governments.

In fact, the standards were sponsored by organizations made up of governors and school officials. The major teacher unions and 48 states sent teams, including teachers, to participate. The Gates Foundation helped fund this process because we believe that stronger standards will help more students live up to their potential. Each of the 45 states that have adopted them used the same process used to adopt previous standards.

Myth: Common Core State Standards means students will have to take even more high-stakes tests.

Common Core won't necessarily add to the number of annual state tests students take. States will introduce new math and language arts tests based on the standards to replace tests they give now.

What's more, unlike some of today's tests, the new tests will help teachers and students improve by providing an ongoing diagnosis of whether students are mastering what they need to know for success after graduation.

Myth: Common Core standards will limit teachers' creativity and flexibility.

These are standards, just like the ones schools have always had; they are not a curriculum. They are a blueprint of what students need to know, but they have nothing to say about how teachers teach that information. It's still up to local educators to select the curriculum.

In fact, the standards will give teachers more choices. When every state had its own standards, innovators making new educational software or cutting-edge lesson plans had to make many versions to reach all students. Now, consistent standards will allow more competition and innovation to help teachers do their best work.

Americans want students to get the best education possible. We want schools to prepare children to become good citizens and members of a prosperous American economy. The Common Core standards were carefully conceived with these two goals in mind. It would be a shame if myths and misunderstandings got in the way.
Clearly Mr. Gates has a vested interest in seeing Common Core adopted nationwide. He significantly funded it.

Jeff Duncan (R-SC), a sponsor of the Resolution (HR 476), denounced the use of federal coercion to lure states into adopting the Common Core Standards. (The link includes the names of those who have signed on to HR 476 as of yesterday).

He said yesterday, "Parents and teachers alike are alarmed by this top down approach to education that wrongly ties education money for states to the adoption of academic standards that do not fully reflect the values of South Carolina. Beyond the most important constitutional issues with federal education standards, many education leaders have been raising concerns with the content of the standards themselves."

He said the implementation of Common Core has been privately funded primarily by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, underscoring the alliance of big government political elites and corporatists in this academic initiative.

Duncan said, "Classrooms cannot and should not be coerced into adopting federal academic standards. That's not just my belief; it's federal law."

Representative Duncan and the 42 other elected officials who have already signed on to HR 476 are not only on the side of the law, but on the side of a growing number of concerned parents and families.

The problems with Common Core are myriad, and they are not myth.

There is much to be learned about the Common Core Standards, because great effort is being made to help the public understand what impact Common Core Standards will actually have on education in general and your child in particular.

One excellent, well documented review of Common Core has been posted on the Home School Legal Defense Association website. I strongly recommend you spend some time reviewing their research and become informed. It can help remove the "shroud."

These questions are asked and answered in depth, with documentation:

1. What is Common Core?

2. Is the Common Core already being implemented?

3.. How is the federal government involved in Common Core?

4. Does the Common Core have a philosophical bias?

This is a summary of their answer to that question:

Three philosophical threads weave through the Common Core—statism, moral relativism, and progressivism. The statist goals of the Common Core are implicit in the lockstep uniformity that is the central thesis of the program. Relativism’s influence on the Common Core is evident in the open-ended and research-based assessment questions and the expansive new student tracking systems, ideas which have been strongly promoted by relativist Howard Gardner. Progressive educator John Dewey argued for standardized curriculum to prevent one student from becoming superior to others and envisioned a workforce filled with people of “politically and socially correct attitudes” who would respond to orders without question.3 Workforce readiness is one of the Common Core’s main goals. 

5. Does the Common Core provide individualized education?

6. Is there any evidence that centralized education works better than decentralized education?

7. Will Common Core impact home schooling and private schools?

8. Does the Common Core lead to a national curriculum?

9. Does it matter that testing is being aligned with the Common Core?

10. Does Common Core include a national data base?

11. Who supports Common Core and why?

12. Who opposes Common Core and why?

Common Core is a step---no, a leap toward more government control over our children.

I'm reminded of the words of Karl Marx: "The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions."

It was Valdimer Lenin, the communist revolutionary who said, "Give me two generations and I will take the country without firing a single shot."

I'm also reminded that Proverbs 22:6 teaches us, "Train up a child in the way he should go; and even when he is old he will not depart from it."

And what is "the way he should go?"

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise" (Duet. 6: 5-7)

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Pro-Active. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.