Common Core 101: What Is It and How Does It Affect Our Children?

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 historyassignments posted on Facebook. Longitudinal databasesSilencedcommunity members at school board meetings in YouTube footage.Newfangled public school pathways of college and career readiness underthe banner of “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) on awild, 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 contentpackaged into one-size-fits-all education.

There’s yelling andscreaming from all sides of the political spectrum about the educationalmandate 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 downof America, as Charlotte Iserbyt would say. Iserbyt was the Reagan adminwhistleblower who struck a major blow to the technological forerunner tothe tracking and data-mining age.

So what is Common Core?

CommonCore is federally-led education introduced in the Obamaadministration’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“stimuluspackage”) through a contest called Race to the Top (RTTT). States couldapply and compete for federal grant money. Four billion in federal taxpayerdollars were offered with a catch:

Awards in Race to theTop will go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yetachievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, andcomprehensive education reform. Race to the Top winners will helptrail-blaze effective reforms and provide examples for States and localschool districts throughout the country to follow as they too are hardat work on reforms that can transform our schools for decades to come.

Outwith the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind (NCLB),” criticized for its “high-stakes” strategy of always teaching to the test. In withthe 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 edcocktail constructed on the premise that our public schools are lowperforming, broken, and lacking the kind of rigor necessary for studentsto compete in the global marketplace. 

Forty-five states and theDistrict of Columbia jumped onboard with CCSSI, intent to raise theroof beam high on rigor to meet international benchmarks.

Bestperk? A student could be in Ohio on Tuesday. Wednesday, the family moves toNevada. Theoretically, he’d pick up in math on the same next page. Wow, sign me up for that! And the online tech tools – they’rebrilliant. Click on a standard. ProQuest K12 from SIRS (Social IssuesResource Series) takes you to scrubbed content from premier educationprovider of the Common Core, Pearson, the London-based conglomerate. Only problem is the info’s on the school-sanctioned and cyberlockediPad

Common Core has raised a valid concern: what exactly are they teachingthe children?

Common Core was well pitchedas state-led and “voluntary.” Even according to the US Department ofEducation (DOE), public education is described asUnited States… it is states and communities, as well as public andprivate organizations of all kinds, that establish schools and colleges,develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment andgraduation.”

Yet it’s the DOE’s actual role in education that promptedopponents like Diane Ravitch, a two-year veteran of the educationdepartment (1991-93) under Lamar Alexander and author of Reign ofError: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger toAmerica’s Public Schools, to call the Common Core “NCLB 2.0.”Translated: No Child Left Behind on steroids.

Ravitch lashedout at DOE chief Arne Duncan, contrasting him with now-Sen. Alexander, whom shecharacterized as “scrupulous about not interfering in local decisionmaking. He used his bully pulpit, as all cabinet secretaries do, but henever tried to influence the choice of local leaders. He respected theprinciple of federalism. Apparently, Duncan missed the class onfederalism.”

Duncan’s not the only target of CCSSI critics. Robert Holland, senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, suggested in aBaltimore Sun interview that one reason Common Core “[has] attracted so much opposition from both the right and left is thatit was developed in elitist fashion, bankrolled by the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, presented as a fait accompli without publichearings and then pushed hard by the Obama administration…”

Backin June 2010, CCSSI released the English Language Arts/Literacy andMathematics standards with promises of next-generation Science standardsby 2013 and Social Studies standards by 2017. Esteemed educatorshandpicked to sit on the ELA and math validation committees, Drs. SandraStotsky and James Milgram, didn’t sign off on the standards, labelingthem as inferior.

Stotsky, who developed one of the nation’sstrongest sets of K-12 academic standards and licensing tests forprospective teachers, is now an outspoken staple on the “Stop CCSSI” circuit. Recently, in a Breitbart News interview, she discussed thespin machine surrounding the standards, saying, “Everyone was willing tobelieve that the Common Core standards are ‘rigorous,’ ‘competitive,”internationally benchmarked,’ and ‘research-based.’ They are not.”

CommonCore is like the convoluted plotline of a daytime drama, impossible toexplain in 25 words or less. That’s why so many bloggers, newsorganizations, and talk radio personalities cover it in manageablebites. Ultimately, it lives up to the unfortunate axiom coined by NancyPelosi when speaking about Obamacare in 2010: “We have to pass thebill so you can find out what’s in it.” We have, one worksheet at atime.

In school work that comes home, we see how foundationalmath, taught in a spiral fashion to build on concepts from grade to grade, is gone. This is replaced by math lattices, ladders, and linguistics-basedlong-winded division and distributive property word problems loaded upwith social issues, like the “heroin habit” high school math homeworkthat made the rounds. This is only the tip of the iceberg and onereason that critics like Michelle Malkin call it “Rotten to the Core.”

When Common Core was originally introduced, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) wasits “front man,” only these governors weren’t governors of any states. NGA is a private non-profit with the Center for BestPractices that co-owns the Common Core State Standards copyright withanother non-profit, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Yes,CCSS is copyrighted; its content cannot be changed. Teachers cannot write their own content. Proponents say there is nocontent, but there are assessments. These must be testing something, and itstands 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 thekids, not good for the teachers. States like New York and SouthCarolina lead the pack in efforts to shut down the test; they join Wisconsin and Indiana parents and teachers who stand against centralizededucation, preferring individual state standards.

Big businessand big bucks abound in Big Ed, though. CCSSO boasts a wow-list ofcorporate partners on its website topped off by Microsoft,Prometrean, Scantron, K12, Metametrics a.k.a. Lexile, Scholastic, PearsonEducation, Apple, and Amplify. Also on the list are the familiar philanthropic andeducratic faces: Bill & Melissa Gates (Foundation), Eli Broad, JebBush, Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Ayers, Achieve, Microsoft,SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium, PARCC (Partnership for AssessmentReadiness for College and Careers), Pearson, InBloom, and the AnnenbergFoundation. There was Mike Huckabee. He was for the Core, but now nomore, he says.

One on NGA’s massive corporate fellows list isMcKinsey & Co., whom David Coleman, president of the College Board, consulted prior to creating think tank StudentAchievement Partners, LLC. Although Coleman’s never taught a classK-20, he’s busy aligning every high school assessment for college(including high school equivalency GED) to CCSSI, with SATalignment to follow in 2016. Coleman’s credited as CCSSI architect along with cronies math professor Jason Zimba and Education Analyst/CurriculumSpecialist Susan Pimentel.

They say nothing comes from nowhere. Common Core’s no exception.

Flashbackto November 11, 1992, before the Clinton Administration’s Y2Kletter that resides in the Congressional Record. Penned by MarcTucker,  president of the National Center on Education and the Economy(NCEE) to then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, this letter may well be theblueprint for the Common Core.

The letter was written one weekafter Bill Clinton was elected president. Hillary served with Tucker onthe NCEE board. In it, Tucker outlined to Hillary the transformation ofthe entire American system into “a seamless web that extends from cradleto grave” and is the “same system for everyone,” coordinated by awhere curriculum and job matching will be handled by counselorstraining them to serve the global economy in jobs selected by workforceboards” in an outcome-based system “guided by clear national standardsof performance,” set to “international benchmarks” that “define thestages of the system for the people who progress through it.” In thisthe American tracking system.” Best of all, college loans debt will beforgiven for “public service.” Sound familiar?

Tucker understoodthe need for community buy-in to sell the plan. He recommended toHillary that “…legislation would require the executive branch toestablish a competitive grant program for these states and cities and toengage a group of organizations to offer technical assistance to theexpanding set of states and cities engaged in designing and implementingthe new system.” Can you say Race to the Top?

Tucker described theroll-out plan: “[As] soon as the first set of states is engaged, anotherset would be invited to participate, until most or all the states areinvolved. It is a collaborative design, rollout and scale-up program.” The endgame was to “parallel the work of the National Board for CollegeProfessional and Technical Standards, so that the states and cities(and all their partners) would be able to implement the new standards assoon as they become available…” The result was that the wholeapparatus would be operational in the majority of states within threeyears from “the passage of the initial legislation.” Common Coreimplementation began in 2010.

In the “Elementary and SecondaryEducation Program” portion of the letter, Tucker speaks directly toHillary: “so we confine ourselves here to describing some of thoseactivities [to restructure schools] that can be used to launch theClinton education program,” noting that early childhood educationprograms that enable working parents to drop off their children at thebeginning of the workday and pick them up at the end.” Universaldaycare, preschool to pre-kindergarten?

Congress passed every oneof the “Dear Hillary” letter ideas. Signed by President Clinton in1994, the Goals 2000 Act, School-to-Work Act, and the reauthorizedElementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) were all funded throughfederal taxpayer dollars and according to many are the very legislation that drives theeducation machine’s mandates at a federal level today.

Goodbye 3R’s. Hello socially engineered education.

Very long story short, this is the Common Core.

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