EDITORIAL/Common Core smells rotten
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 1:00 AM
The Common Core State Standards Initiative, an effort by the Obama administration to set national standards and test public schools, turns a blind eye to the unique nature of teaching and learning, especially to the fact that education is a quintessentially local issue.
Cash-starved states like Mississippi were bribed into the program by tying acceptance to education funding and waivers in exchange for adopting unseen instructional standards.
As a result, many states have been required to commit to a dumbed-down and amorphous curricular "alignment."
While there's been some pushback nationwide in places like Alabama, Oklahoma and Georgia that have now withdrawn, Mississippi remains committed for now.
Philadelphia and Neshoba County schools have cheerfully embraced Common Core.
Proponents of Common Core - including some in the media - have tried to minimalize critics by saying it's "tea party members and other small-government conservatives" who are opposed, but the reality is that serious educators and policy makers across the nation have legitimate concerns.
We're fine with local school boards participating in the conversation about how to make standards and academic content taught in American classrooms better than ever. But standards for all handed down from a centralized authority isn't the answer.
Children are failing because no one is ultimately held accountable - not parents, not teachers, not school administrators.
Students are failing because those responsible are failing. Until we solve that problem, "common core" is meaningless.
Quit funding the education establishment and instead fund parents and children.
The notion that all students should learn at the same rate across the country is socialized education.
Common Core allows the Obama administration to aggressively push its way into state and local decisions about schooling.
It's a stealthy federal takeover of school curriculum and standards across the country.
Syndicated columnist and author Michelle Malkin reported earlier this year that Professor Jonathan Goodman of New York University found that the Common Core math standards imposed "significantly lower expectations with respect to algebra and geometry than the published standards of other countries."
Malkin wrote that under Common Core, as the American Principles Project and Pioneer Institute point out, Algebra I instruction is pushed to ninth grade, instead of eighth grade, as commonly taught. Division is postponed from fifth to sixth grade.
Prime factorization, common denominators, conversions of fractions and decimals, and algebraic manipulation are de-emphasized or eschewed, Malkin reported. Traditional Euclidean geometry is replaced with an experimental approach that had not been previously pilot-tested in the U.S.
Jamie Gass and Charles Chieppo of the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank, say the federal intrusion in schools brings standards that are academic-lite.
For example, the Common Core ignores the novels of Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton and Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn," they said.
"Common Core recycles a decades-old, top-down approach to education. Its roots are in a letter sent to Hillary Clinton by Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, after Bill Clinton's presidential victory in 1992," they wrote in May in The Wall Street Journal.
"The letter laid out a plan 'to remold the entire American system' into a centralized one run by 'a system of labor-market boards at the local, state and federal levels' where curriculum and 'job matching' will be handled by government functionaries."
Under Massachusetts' former standards, Common Core's English standards reduce by 60 percent the amount of classic literature, poetry and drama that students will read, they wrote in the Journal.
Common Core was voluntarily adopted by the state of Mississippi in 2010, but this intrusive initiative deserves more careful scrutiny. Common Core smells rotten.