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.