While establishing national minimum learning standards may appear to be a noble purpose, accomplishing this has already produced textbook cases of political intrusion.
Common Core was conceived five years ago under the auspices of the National Governors Association to replace a hodgepodge of individual state learning standards. The primary intent was to advance math and science achievement levels of American students who, on average, score below those of other developed countries.
Strongly supported by the Obama administration and the Department of Education, the program’s original adoption by 44 states has led to new student performance tests which will commence in the 2015-16 school year.
Seventeen states, including Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia declined participation from the beginning, and others are now dropping out. Indiana and South Carolina have already withdrawn, and Oklahoma recently scrapped Common Core math and English standards along with the federal money that was attached. States must adopt them in order to qualify for “race-to-the-top” funding.
As Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin who signed the bipartisan exit bill explained, “Federal overreach has tainted Common Core. President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to eliminate state education standards.”
Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Janet Barresi, who is committing her agency to develop new standards, observes: “At one time, as it was emerging from Republican and conservative ideas from individual states, I did support Common Core. [Then] as it became entangled with the federal government, however, Common Core has become too difficult and inflexible.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is currently arguing with his state superintendent about withdrawing, and a Missouri bill to dump Common Core now awaits the governor’s signature.
Many critics argue that the new Common Core standards are actually less rigorous than those applied in a number of states. They point out that math standards barely cover basic geometry or second-year algebra, and that literary classics are all but ignored in English classes. Experience under the “No Child Left Behind” program enacted in 2002 shows that many students have not reached proficiency levels stipulated even in states with weak standards.
Worse, growing public resistance to Common Core relates to charges that it is fostering partisan political ideologies masquerading as education.
Take a third, fourth, and fifth grade language-arts lesson plan developed around the book “Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope” for example. It reads: “Before dawn each morning Barry rose — his mother’s voice driving him from dream land. ‘Time for learning English grammar and the Golden Rule. Be honest, be kind, be fair’, she taught him.”
Educational standards for English lessons ask fifth graders to edit sentences describing job duties of a president. A lesson work sheet titled “Hold the Flag High” asserts that “[The president] makes sure the laws of the country are fair.” This doesn’t quite square with our Constitution wherein responsibilities for creating laws falls with the Congress, while making sure laws are fair falls with the judicial branch. It is the executive branch’s role to administer them.
Other troubling passages state that “The wants of the individual are less important than the well-being of the nation,” and “the commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.” Here, placing the well-being of the nation above the “wants of the individual” also runs counter to basic principles set forth in our Bill of Rights. Instead, it echoes the ring of an old Marxist axiom: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
A science portion called “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas” reinforces scientifically unsupportable alarmist claims that “Human activities such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise of Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming).” Not mentioned is the inconvenient fact that global temperatures have been flat over the past 18 years despite elevated CO2 concentrations.
Adding lots of science fiction fright, one reference source states that “The impacts of climate change may affect the security of nations. Reduced availability of water, food, and land can lead to competition and conflict among humans, potentially resulting in large groups of climate refugees.”
Speaking of a truly scary reality, former Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West correctly observes that “With Common Core and the takeover of college loans, the federal government essentially controls your education from kindergarten on.” He reminds us that a true danger is that we are witnessing one of the 10 planks laid out by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifest — complete control of education — being nailed in place.
Before buying into buying into Common Core, consider the real core of the bargain. Fully expect dumbed-down “one-test-fits-all” standards and “one-education-fits-all” conformity which violate the very core of America’s uncommon values.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax,” and his professional aerospace work has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel-Canada. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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