Why Common Core Won't Work
The debate over Common Core in public schools is not about education, but rather about the institutionalization and homogenization of education. Common Core runs counter to the roots of American greatness and accepts instead the dreary and familiar cant of the Old World and its demand that people be viewed and treated collectively.
What made America great? The very rudimentary and unorganized public education system that was dedicated exclusively to the three Rs helped, but giants like Franklin – a brilliant scientist, an incomparable polemicist, a writer for the ages, and a very shrewd and successful businessman – had no formal education at all. Yet Franklin was the American most revered in Europe.
Lincoln, another internationally admired leader, also had very little education. Lincoln, like Franklin, had a facility with language and analytical genius that none of the bureaucrats involved with Common Core or public education in general could ever match. Lincoln lacked schooling, but he schooled himself magnificently. His grasp of English came from absorbing Shakespeare and the King James Bible. His gifts in law and politics came from constant observation of human nature and very deliberate thinking.
What made America rich? Edison gave the world so many inventions, each of which dramatically affected human life, that it is almost impossible to overstate his transformation of our world. Henry Ford had a woefully inadequate education (the gaps in his knowledge of history, for example, were jaw-dropping), but he, like Edison, utterly transformed and enriched America. Carnegie and Rockefeller, both men with less education than most Americans, also built incredibly efficient and productive industries.
Europe, intent upon only putting the “right sort of men” into the important positions in industry, science, and business, never accomplished what rambunctious and independent America did. Instead, Europeans have picked and poked at our “cowboy” mentality, our bumpkin culture, and our unbridled society. The experiment of America, however, proved that valuable education is nearly always self-education, and that the organized process of examinations and credentials doesn’t matter.
What is odd about the Common Core fetish is that we have been down this road more than once before. Almost sixty years ago, the federal government deemed it vital to our national interest to crank out many more college graduates. If the goal was simply to crank out college graduates, it worked – but there was no new explosion of creativity or competence in science and industry.
What we were doing was mimicking the Soviet Union, which had long graduated vast armies of physicists, engineers, agronomists, statisticians, chemists, and other disciplines of hard science. Russian students were also immersed in foreign languages, especially English. This “threat” to America proved almost comically flawed. Huge armies of college graduates – and these folks really were competent in their disciplines – failed utterly to even dent the enormous lead that America had in every area of science and industry.
A few decades later, the same people with heavy vested interests in making all education formal education, all formal education public education, and all public education guided by whip and bribe from Washington, warned that European and East Asian nations did a much better job of educating their children and preparing them for useful careers. Forty years ago, the same data about how deficient our children were in math and science were trotted as proof that we were headed for disaster. Kids in Japan and Korea went to school for much longer periods and had much more homework. German and French children also were force-fed much more valuable skills and knowledge than our weak and lazy students. And so on.
The record in the last forty years, however, has shown just how little this matters. Americans, almost five decades after the current Common Core argument was made, still are the most productive in the world. America is still the richest major nation on the planet. Despite shouldering most of the burden of defending the free world, letting our notional “allies” off the hook, we prosper.
The slackening in our growth rates and in our innovation successes have come not from too few educated people, but from the artificial constraints of political correctness and the subordination of common sense to the intolerant dogma of Earthism. The growth of wildly inefficient and even destructive government has invented poverty in America, however well the new poor know math or English.
Common Core won’t work, or rather, it will work in exactly the same way the Ku Klux Klan eighty-five years ago intended – when it strongly supported the creation of a Federal Bureau of Education, with cabinet level status, and when the Klan sought an end to all non-public education. Centralized control and homogenization in the national interest is what both the Klan and the “Kommon Kore Kurriculum” have sought.
America has never needed this. The individual freed and self-directed is our strength and our hope.