Archive for September, 2013

Common Core-uption

Common Core is now a common topic; who has not heard of it? But it must not be allowed to stand as common practice. In future posts I will detail the origins and designs of Common Core and the people behind it. To get started I want to share the gist of the final message to my education colleagues before my retirement from a teacher training career this month.

For years we had been hounded by the national accreditation agencies to dance to their ever increasing demands for standards that they agree with and data that prove that we are doing their bidding. Believe me, the threat of non-accreditation is a very big stick. It would mean that none of our education graduates could receive teaching credentials. Formerly competing accreditation agencies are now merging into one monopolistic national (common!!) agency that is totally integrated with Common Core. And this Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CAEP) has an “assessment” plan for monitoring what colleges are doing that completely overreaches the proper professional practice of testing and evaluation.

There is, of course, a reason for the obsession with assessment. It leads to complete control and standardization, to the detriment of learning. All the national educational institutions are now on the same sheet of music. They are putting on the pressure for a fully nationalized approach to education. States, districts, and colleges will have no power to decide our own course, make their own professional decisions, or simply do their best work. They will be nothing but cogs in the machinery. National control exterminates all the good qualities of a professional: judgment, initiative, knowledge, accountability, etc.

This control will lead to a more dangerous end later on: They will begin to change the curriculum in ways that many find antithetical to American values. There are already hints of that direction if you read carefully the CAEP documents and especially the Common Core with which the CAEP has explicitly allied itself. Consider as one example the idea that colleges should purposely recruit teachers of various sexual orientations. More broadly, Common Core moves away from the view that education empowers individuals through explicit knowledge, skills, and thinking ability to the view that education is about shaping society and turning out students who can collaborate, but may not know anything on their own, students who buy into the approved views of how to address local, regional, national, and international problems–students who, to put it bluntly, are indoctrinated in the litany of the left.

Ask yourself: Haven’t we known for years now what good teaching is? What value does Common Core add? Nothing, unless you value control–national control–because (in their thinking) people in the field just can’t be trusted to do it right, we have to force them. And there you have it: Freedom or force, the age-old choice.

In a recent secondary education meeting Common Core was mentioned, and someone remarked, “Well, that’s political.” As if it politics were tabu! Yes, it is politics. It is the politics of whose ideas about education are going to prevail in society. Both parents and educators have a vital stake in the outcome. Shame on us for not putting Common Core front and center in all our dealings with and about schools.

Now, we may not all agree on the role of government and schools in our society–some may be thrilled that the left controls education. I would be thrilled with just some honest, even-handed neutrality.

I close with one example of how the national education industry is quietly achieving its indoctrination purposes. A common ¬†textbook, The Americans, from the national education publisher AMSCO, summarizes the Second and Third Amendments to the Constitution as follows: “grant citizens the right to bear arms as members of a militia of citizen-soldiers and prevent the government from housing troops in private homes in peacetime.”

What is not wrong with this text? Its intent is clearly to link the Second Amendment with an anachronism (when was the last time the government tried to put troops in your home?), such that these amendments have nothing to do with modern society and can easily be done away with. Never mind the most egregious falsehood: The government does not grant us our rights in the first place. They are our own unalienable rights.

If we care about what the next generation is learning about who they are and how they are to live, we cannot allow Common Core to stand. Please get involved. Ask your children what they are learning. Read their textbooks. Look at their homework. Visit the school. Join your PTA and wake it up. Be uncommonly engaged.