Common Core Standards, in my words

apple and school books

I think it is fair to say that many who are talking about the Common Core Standards haven't actually read them. As with most things published by government entities, the Common Core Standards are a pile of jargon, guaranteed to induce drowsiness if not an actual coma. I can say this because I have actually read them. ALL of them. Don't try this at home without coffee and chocolate.

Why create Common Core Standards? The concern is that kids across the country are learning different things at different times. We can't have that. Children must be smooshed into cookie cutter clones of mediocrity. There will be NO individuality allowed, no room to grow and develop at a natural, healthy pace. We obviously can't trust teachers to do their jobs without micromanaging their classrooms, and we certainly can't trust parents. Parents, even those who graduated from a government school, can't possibly know what it takes to teach a child basic skills and to function in society. Plus, if we let parents raise their children, kids might turn out differently. Again, this is A Big No-No.

Just wait a second - I get it. We want every child to have the same opportunities. It seems to make sense that every school in the country would have the same course of study and the same curriculum. Families move from one district to another, and from one state to another. When this happens, a common standard would allow kids to move more seamlessly from school to school. Standardized tests would have more meaning because we've standardized the material, the teacher, the classroom, and the students. We're just being practical, right? To compete globally, it makes sense that we don't have 50 different sets of standards for the students in our country.

However, in a society that often claims to value individuality, diversity, and sings "You Are So Beautiful to Me" and "You are Perfect" at the top of our lungs, we sure are spending a lot of time and money-making sure that no one is unique, and we are doing it in the name of 'unity' and 'equity'. No wonder kids are confused.

Common Core Standards currently include new guidelines for  Mathematics and Language Arts. This begs the question - What was so different about what each state was teaching their students that we need to spend billions of dollars rewriting standards and curricula? Were there classrooms where kids were learning 2+2=5? That it's ok to end a sentence with a preposition?

The lions, the tigers, the bears. Oh my.

So. . . what are the Common Core Standards? Simply put, they are to serve as clear-cut goals for every classroom in America to follow so that students are ready to enter college after graduation or get a job.

Uhmmm. . . what have schools been doing for the last 100 years? Thumb wrestling?

The Common Core Standards are a masterful statement of the obvious. First grade Language Arts standards for reading literature include such priceless gems as:

  • Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
  • Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

WOW! Why hadn't we thought of that before? It's AMAZING!

I know, I know- I'm typing with my sarcasm hand again.

Who created these standards? Basically, the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. Why are they the best people to create and spearhead this effort? Your guess is as good as mine. I'm still trying to figure out why Lay's has a Chicken and Waffle Potato Chip. What I do know is that these groups have no legislative power or special qualifications for writing national educational standards. They are Washington D.C. based trade associations. I suspect it is a ploy in order to be able to say that these aren't federal standards. 

"Can you say plausible deniability, boys and girls?"

The NGA and CCAAO also received the cooperation of The National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

And we are supposed to believe that the federal government was not involved in designing the CCS? I haven't mentioned yet that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has poured millions into Achieve and the Common Core. This sounds very philanthropic. But if you look at the Common Core closely, and the technology that will be needed to administer it, Microsoft and other 'donating' businesses will more than make their money back. It's an investment all right, but one that will pay off for the Gates, not for our nation's students.

We are told that each state is individually signing on for this, with the federal government simply offering incentives to those states who cooperate, such as NCLB waivers and Race to the Top funds. So . .  they are just standing back and handing out lollipops to all the good little states who comply, while withholding federal support from schools who don't. This way the federal government can claim that they are not mandating standards.

All these funds are taxpayer dollars, by the way, that leave our hands, our school districts, and our states, and flow into the federal government's coffers to then be given to those who bend over to polish the Obama Administration's shoes. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

What you need to know is that many states signed on before they had even seen the Common Core Standards. Some essential components of the standards, such as national testing, have still not been completed. Why are states adopting an expensive overhaul of the education system when they have not even examined what they are buying? Did I mention that they are using taxpayer dollars for all this?

How are the Common Core Standards different from current and previous standards? They are basically the same, or lower than current standards. They claim to have used the "highest state standards" in the U.S., as well as being influenced by the standards of other "high performing countries around the world".

I think the technical term I'm looking for here is "hogwash".

pig

When we use the term 'standards', we think we are talking about general concepts connected to a timeline. We assume schools and teachers will have flexibility in how they utilize the Common Core Standards, and that they can still choose their own curriculum and resources for their classes. However, once adopted, teachers and schools are not allowed to change any standard, or add more than a small amount of material to the standards. The Common Core Standards are owned and copyrighted by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. Those who write the rules run the show, and the NGA and CCSSO will now be in charge of our children's education.

Don't forget that textbook publishing is a billion dollar industry, and the CCS will drive publishers to create new nationally accepted textbooks which schools will then be coerced into buying. With taxpayer dollars.

What does all this mean to us as parents? 

It means that Common Core Standards is just another bad idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas. It isn't the magic bullet, the genie's lamp, or your fairy godmother. It is an experiment, with our nation's children as guinea pigs. It is going to cost billions in taxpayer funds to implement, and those with the most control will NOT be the local school board or the state in which you live. A testing system is still in the process of being created, and will require schools to invest in computers, technicians, and regular upgrades (say, who owns Microsoft again?). A national database with your child's personal information on it will be available to anyone who claims to have an 'educational' interest, because this is a really big pie with many sticky fingers in it.

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