Common Core: Designed For Failure

In my previous article, I tried to illustrate the origins of Common Core and why it will ultimately fail.  In this entry, I wish to demonstrate how detrimental Common Core is since it does a serious disservice to students and teachers initially, then parents and ultimately taxpayers and society in general.

The obvious fault lies in the fact that this is being held out as an attempt to revamp student academic performance on a national basis via a top-down paradigm while claiming it is not a federal effort.  To make this claim, the proponents and writers of Common Core used the National Governors Association as cover to foster the idea this is a state-level initiative.  It is anything but that as evidenced by its very name.  The NGA did, in fact, call for a re-evaluation of educational standards and they did eventually give their blessing to Common Core, but they were hardly the main voice behind it.

To illustrate how silly that argument is, the federal Department of Education has disbursed billions of dollars to testing companies whose test gauges proficiency with Common Core principles and standards- not state-established standards.  The primary beneficiary is Pearson, an educational textbook publisher based in Great Britain, who had been trying to gain a foothold in the United States for years.  In fact, Pearson was a primary lobbyist in 2000 that eventually resulted in No Child Left Behind legislation.  Yet, they faced serious obstacles from domestic textbook publishers and software companies because too much was left to the states.  If those obstacles could be removed and a national curriculum could be adopted, they would gain an advantage.  Realizing there would be serious political opposition to a national curriculum, the best way to go about this would be in a stealth manner and that is where Common Core enters the scene.  Whether knowingly (which would be liberal fascism at it worse) or unknowingly (which would be stupidity or ignorance at its worse), the federal government effectively forced Common Core upon states through the Race To The Top program under Obama’s stimulus bill.  This writer tends to believe in the liberal fascism theory given the fact that billions of federal tax dollars have since been steered towards Pearson.

Furthermore, in order for a state to get out from under the onerous mandates of NCLB and obtain a waiver, they basically had to adopt Common Core.  Thus states were getting hurt from two angles.  Being strapped for cash in the wake of the recession, the government offered them RTTT funds provided they adopt Common Core.  If they decided to save money through a NCLB waiver, they had to adopt Common Core.  Either way, 45 states adopted Common Core.

The entire scheme is also based on a series of lies.  For example, its proponents note that the states can control classroom content.  However, if the test that will establish whether the standard is met is tied to teacher effectiveness and their evaluation, the teacher will simply adopt the Common Core “suggestions” to the detriment of a more well-rounded curriculum.  They are not necessarily forcing any particular book upon the teacher in an overt manner, but they are certainly leading teachers in that direction.  And that is a serious problem.  On the one hand, the teacher unions are demanding that anyone who furthers their education and adopts and practices unique, new and innovative techniques in the classroom be financially rewarded while on the other hand Common Core steers them in an entirely opposite direction.

Furthermore, the standards drive the curriculum.  David Coleman was the primary writer of the Language Arts standards.  David Coleman has exactly zero classroom experience.  He is an educated egghead who “theorizes” about educational reform.  He is also now President of the College Board, the entity that administers the SAT and ACT, the two primary tests for college admission.  He is likewise changing those tests so that they now align with Common Core standards.  This places additional pressure on teachers to adopt Common Core part and parcel and that means the associated textbooks, software programs, and “suggested” reading lists.  This is a “voluntary” program with a very large invisible gun to the head of teachers, administrators and students.

One need only look at who established these standards.  Of the 15 experts on the math standards, only three had any experience in a K-12 classroom and only one as recently as 2009 when the standards were established.  Furthermore, only one was not affiliated with an educational for-profit foundation or corporation.  On the language arts side, five of the 15 experts had any K-12 classroom experience, but all five were high school teachers and none were actually teaching high school in 2009 when the standards were devised.  Also, none of the 15 language arts “experts” taught language arts or even an ESL class in K-8 schools and, in fact, none had elementary school teaching credentials.

Which leads to another detrimental aspect of Common Core: its ignorance of a child’s ability.  For example, things originally taught in third grade are now compressed into second or first grade where the child is exposed to a concept their brain is ill-equipped to fathom.  I venture barely half of kindergarten children know how to tie a shoe let alone understand the concept of fractions, but they are supposed to know basic fractions before leaving kindergarten.  Additionally, certain grade levels (that is, ages) have specific shortfalls when it comes to intellectual functions.  This compression of the curriculum is disguised as a “strengthening” of standards when in actuality it is recipe for demonstrated failure so that the corporate educational complex can swoop in with their new textbooks, teacher seminars and software to help- and make a profit.  A true standard, for example, for a third grader would be knowing that 3×9=27 and if you don’t know that, you don’t deserve to be in fourth grade.  Rote memory which worked remarkably well for years when it came to mathematical formulas and operations as simple as multiplication is now discarded in favor of “critical thinking.”  Why should a third-grader be required to critically think why three times three is nine?

And when it comes to parental involvement which is the one factor that teachers with actual classroom experience will tell you makes a huge difference between the have and the have-not students, they are largely cut out of the equation.  They cannot help children with their homework unless they know what is expected of the child vis-a-vis Common Core.  That is another detrimental aspect of this: we want parents to be more involved in their child’s education, then we deliberately, through  stealth means, eliminate the parent from their child’s education.

In conclusion, a major detriment is the profit motive behind Common Core not only through its testing regimen, but by forcing a one-size-fits-all set of standards and curriculum upon students and teachers while cutting parents out of the equation.  At the very point we should be encouraging greater parental involvement, we are constructing very strong obstacles against that involvement.  Is it any wonder there is frustration among students, teachers and parents?  That is the ultimate detriment: the fact that Common Core is a race to the middle and that helps no one.