Common Core 101: What Is It and How Does It Affect Our Children?
Outraged parents. Fleeing teachers. Anxiety-ridden and medicated students. Fuzzy math. Crazy history
assignments posted on Facebook. Longitudinal databases. Silenced
community members at school board meetings in YouTube footage.
Newfangled public school pathways of college and career readiness under
the banner of "STEM" (science, technology, engineering and math) on a
wild, 21st-century, technocentric highway that's littered with
stakeholders who are up in arms over federally mandated testing,
national curricula alignment, data collection, and questionable content
packaged into one-size-fits-all education.
There's yelling and
screaming from all sides of the political spectrum about the educational
mandate known best as the Common Core State Standards Initiative
(CCSSI). It raises a lot more than emotions; it's a nationwide debate.
Proponents tout CCSSI as the greatest achievement since the Enlightenment, while opponents compare it to the Dark Ages, a deliberate dumbing down
of America, as Charlotte Iserbyt would say. Iserbyt was the Reagan admin
whistleblower who struck a major blow to the technological forerunner to
the tracking and data-mining age.
So what is Common Core?
Core is federally-led education introduced in the Obama
administration's 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ("stimulus
package") through a contest called Race to the Top (RTTT). States could
apply and compete for federal grant money. Four billion in federal taxpayer
dollars were offered with a catch:
Awards in Race to the
Top will go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yet
achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and
comprehensive education reform. Race to the Top winners will help
trail-blaze effective reforms and provide examples for States and local
school districts throughout the country to follow as they too are hard
at work on reforms that can transform our schools for decades to come.
with the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind (NCLB),"
criticized for its "high-stakes" strategy of always teaching to the test. In with
the Common Core, a uniform set of standards and curricula that, according to their critics, ratchet up the role of government in education, as well as student data collection,
teacher evaluations, and NCLB "empathetic" learning. The result is a Fed-led ed
cocktail constructed on the premise that our public schools are low
performing, broken, and lacking the kind of rigor necessary for students
to compete in the global marketplace.
Forty-five states and the
District of Columbia jumped onboard with CCSSI, intent to raise the
roof beam high on rigor to meet international benchmarks.
perk? A student could be in Ohio on Tuesday. Wednesday, the family moves to
Nevada. Theoretically, he'd pick up in math on the same next page. Wow, sign me up for that! And the online tech tools – they're
brilliant. Click on a standard. ProQuest K12 from SIRS (Social Issues
Resource Series) takes you to scrubbed content from premier education
provider of the Common Core, Pearson, the London-based conglomerate. Only problem is the info's on the school-sanctioned and cyberlocked
Common Core has raised a valid concern: what exactly are they teaching
Common Core was well pitched
as state-led and "voluntary." Even according to the US Department of
Education (DOE), public education is described as
"...primarily a state and local responsibility in the
United States... it is states and communities, as well as public and
private organizations of all kinds, that establish schools and colleges,
develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment and
Yet it's the DOE's actual role in education that prompted
opponents like Diane Ravitch, a two-year veteran of the education
department (1991-93) under Lamar Alexander and author of Reign of
Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to
America's Public Schools, to call the Common Core "NCLB 2.0."
Translated: No Child Left Behind on steroids.
out at DOE chief Arne Duncan, contrasting him with now-Sen. Alexander, whom she
characterized as "scrupulous about not interfering in local decision
making. He used his bully pulpit, as all cabinet secretaries do, but he
never tried to influence the choice of local leaders. He respected the
principle of federalism. Apparently, Duncan missed the class on
Duncan's not the only target of CCSSI critics. Robert Holland, senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, suggested in a
Baltimore Sun interview that one reason Common Core "[has] attracted so much opposition from both the right and left is that
it was developed in elitist fashion, bankrolled by the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation, presented as a fait accompli without public
hearings and then pushed hard by the Obama administration..."
in June 2010, CCSSI released the English Language Arts/Literacy and
Mathematics standards with promises of next-generation Science standards
by 2013 and Social Studies standards by 2017. Esteemed educators
handpicked to sit on the ELA and math validation committees, Drs. Sandra
Stotsky and James Milgram, didn't sign off on the standards, labeling
them as inferior.
Stotsky, who developed one of the nation's
strongest sets of K-12 academic standards and licensing tests for
prospective teachers, is now an outspoken staple on the "Stop CCSSI" circuit. Recently, in a Breitbart News interview, she discussed the
spin machine surrounding the standards, saying, "Everyone was willing to
believe that the Common Core standards are ‘rigorous,’ ‘competitive,’
‘internationally benchmarked,’ and ‘research-based.’ They are not."
Core is like the convoluted plotline of a daytime drama, impossible to
explain in 25 words or less. That's why so many bloggers, news
organizations, and talk radio personalities cover it in manageable
bites. Ultimately, it lives up to the unfortunate axiom coined by Nancy
Pelosi when speaking about Obamacare in 2010: "We have to pass the
bill so you can find out what's in it." We have, one worksheet at a
In school work that comes home, we see how foundational
math, taught in a spiral fashion to build on concepts from grade to grade, is gone. This is replaced by math lattices, ladders, and linguistics-based
long-winded division and distributive property word problems loaded up
with social issues, like the "heroin habit" high school math homework
that made the rounds. This is only the tip of the iceberg and one
reason that critics like Michelle Malkin call it "Rotten to the Core."
When Common Core was originally introduced, the National Governor's Association (NGA) was
its "front man," only these governors weren't governors of any states. NGA is a private non-profit with the Center for Best
Practices that co-owns the Common Core State Standards copyright with
another non-profit, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
CCSS is copyrighted; its content cannot be changed. Teachers cannot write their own content. Proponents say there is no
content, but there are assessments. These must be testing something, and it
stands to reason that whoever controls the tests controls the curricula, and whoever controls the curricula, one fine day, controls the country.
For now, many deem Fed-led ed a failure – not good for the
kids, not good for the teachers. States like New York and South
Carolina lead the pack in efforts to shut down the test; they join
Wisconsin and Indiana parents and teachers who stand against centralized
education, preferring individual state standards.
and big bucks abound in Big Ed, though. CCSSO boasts a wow-list of
corporate partners on its website topped off by Microsoft,
Prometrean, Scantron, K12, Metametrics a.k.a. Lexile, Scholastic, Pearson
Education, Apple, and Amplify. Also on the list are the familiar philanthropic and
educratic faces: Bill & Melissa Gates (Foundation), Eli Broad, Jeb
Bush, Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Ayers, Achieve, Microsoft,
SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium, PARCC (Partnership for Assessment
Readiness for College and Careers), Pearson, InBloom, and the Annenberg
Foundation. There was Mike Huckabee. He was for the Core, but now no
more, he says.
One on NGA's massive corporate fellows list is
McKinsey & Co., whom David Coleman, president of the College Board, consulted prior to creating think tank Student
Achievement Partners, LLC. Although Coleman's never taught a class
K-20, he's busy aligning every high school assessment for college
(including high school equivalency GED) to CCSSI, with SAT
alignment to follow in 2016. Coleman's credited as CCSSI architect along with cronies math professor Jason Zimba and Education Analyst/Curriculum
Specialist Susan Pimentel.
They say nothing comes from nowhere. Common Core's no exception.
to November 11, 1992, before the Clinton Administration's Y2K
"Improving America's Schools Act," to an 18-page "Dear Hillary"
letter that resides in the Congressional Record. Penned by Marc
Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy
(NCEE) to then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, this letter may well be the
blueprint for the Common Core.
The letter was written one week
after Bill Clinton was elected president. Hillary served with Tucker on
the NCEE board. In it, Tucker outlined to Hillary the transformation of
the entire American system into "a seamless web that extends from cradle
to grave" and is the "same system for everyone," coordinated by a
"system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels"
where curriculum and job matching will be handled by counselors
"accessing the integrated computer-based program." The mission of schools would change from "teaching children academic basics and knowledge to
training them to serve the global economy in jobs selected by workforce
boards" in an outcome-based system "guided by clear national standards
of performance," set to "international benchmarks" that "define the
stages of the system for the people who progress through it." In this
"new system of linked standards, curriculum and pedagogy will abandon
the American tracking system." Best of all, college loans debt will be
forgiven for "public service." Sound familiar?
the need for community buy-in to sell the plan. He recommended to
Hillary that "...legislation would require the executive branch to
establish a competitive grant program for these states and cities and to
engage a group of organizations to offer technical assistance to the
expanding set of states and cities engaged in designing and implementing
the new system." Can you say Race to the Top?
Tucker described the
roll-out plan: "[As] soon as the first set of states is engaged, another
set would be invited to participate, until most or all the states are
involved. It is a collaborative design, rollout and scale-up program." The endgame was to "parallel the work of the National Board for College
Professional and Technical Standards, so that the states and cities
(and all their partners) would be able to implement the new standards as
soon as they become available..." The result was that the whole
apparatus would be operational in the majority of states within three
years from "the passage of the initial legislation." Common Core
implementation began in 2010.
In the "Elementary and Secondary
Education Program" portion of the letter, Tucker speaks directly to
Hillary: "so we confine ourselves here to describing some of those
activities [to restructure schools] that can be used to launch the
Clinton education program," noting that early childhood education
"should be combined with quality day care to provide wrap-around
programs that enable working parents to drop off their children at the
beginning of the workday and pick them up at the end." Universal
daycare, preschool to pre-kindergarten?
Congress passed every one
of the "Dear Hillary" letter ideas. Signed by President Clinton in
1994, the Goals 2000 Act, School-to-Work Act, and the reauthorized
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) were all funded through
federal taxpayer dollars and according to many are the very legislation that drives the
education machine's mandates at a federal level today.
Goodbye 3R's. Hello socially engineered education.
Very long story short, this is the Common Core.