The media is filled with news about Common Core, both positive and negative, but many don’t know much about this federal initiative or what the outcome of mandated Common Core derived education could mean for the future of our nation. This two part series addresses the history, dangers and the Cure for the Common Core.
The Common Core Standards State Standards Initiative, more simply known as Common Core, is a national education program developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. In principle, Common Core has the laudable goal of ensuring that all high school graduates are either “college-ready” or prepared to enter the “working world.” In reality, though, it is an effort by state governors and education chiefs to prop up failing public schools and correct poor student performance by using standardized measures as proof of achievement. Under Common Core, traditional mathematics, English, classic literature and history are escorted out and a centralized, test-driven curriculum is ushered in. To boost test scores, class time is loaded with information and facts, but critical thinking, creative problem-solving, the handling of abstract ideas and analysis are marginalized. Inspiration, moral absolutes, love of learning and individual contributions are non-existent.
Attached to the Common Core Standards Initiative is a whopping $4 billion in federal funding from President Obama’s “Race to the Top” competitive grant program. This money is a carrot dangled in front of administrators responsible for educating tomorrow’s American citizens who are strapped by minuscule local school budgets and decreasing state funding. As a result, in 2010, 45 U.S. states implemented the Common Core.
Although Common Core appears anodyne, its mandate increases bureaucracy and centralization, removes parents from basic decisions and oversight of what their children are being taught and gives teachers little input on shaping curriculum to individual student learning styles. Common Core emphasizes standardization rather than individual learning.
Through Common Core, American students are being subjected to a “dumbing down” of educational standards. But most dangerously, Common Core denies the truth of our Christian heritage and Biblical form of government. Without the lessons of American history and the moral absolutes found in the Bible to guide them, America’s future citizens will lack the foundation to sustain our Republic and will become the prey of dictators and statists who will rob them of their liberty.
When Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in the 1830s, he found a very different view of education than that of Common Core. Tocqueville noted that the public schools were an extension of the home, family and community, and that Americans were very loyal to their schools, which at that time were fee based. He also commented that the oversight of schools was far removed from state or federal control, which was good because centralization of information makes freedom of thought illusory. In Tocqueville’s day, the public schools mirrored the government of our Christian Republic. The schools were built and supervised by the township, supported by parents and existed to create citizens prepared for self-government and liberty. This is in stark contrast to today’s Common Core that reflects centralization, bureaucracy, socialism and citizens groomed for dependency on government.
Fortunately today, thanks to efforts of a large number of outspoken parents, educators, communities and other organizations, many policy makers are realizing the devastating effects of Common Core and are rejecting the initiative. Several states that initially adopted Common Core have subsequently repealed it.
Common Core spells disaster for America and repealing it is an important first step. But the questions remain: What will replace it? What is the answer to America’s educational woes? How can we fix the broken public education system? How can our schools produce citizens that are able to reason and relate from a principled foundation in order to solve the pressing political, cultural, economic and foreign policy problems we face? How can we return to the moral bedrock and cherished traditions observed by Alexis de Tocqueville that made America great? How can we restore our Biblical Constitutional Republic?
For the answers to these questions, see Part II of The Cure for the Common Core
Dan Smithwick, founder of the Nehemiah Institute, diagnoses the problems with today's government education. Receive this audio CD and booklet with your gift today. Click here to learn more about how FACE is working for a cure for the Common Core.
Read more about the problems of the Common Core in William M. Ever's article "No Exit, No Voice: The Design of the Common Core" at the Heritage Foundation website.