Common Core Standards: Throwing Gasoline on a Fire

Common Core was sold to the public as a way to improve public schools.  Arguably, it's the opposite.

First of all, the people in charge have been in charge for 85 years.  They have proved themselves to be architects of mediocrity and decline, nothing else. 

Second, Common Core locks in place bad ideas that have plagued us for decades.  Sight-words in reading, Reform Math curricula in arithmetic, Constructivism in the teaching of knowledge, and many other failed theories and methods beloved by left-wing professors.

Third, Common Core Standards give federal bureaucrats more power.  Communities will have less flexibility.  It's everything a totalitarian government wants.

The essential flaw in Common Core was stated in 2010 by Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a Democrat.  According to the Virginian-Pilot: "Kaine argued that the federal rules for standards were focused on 'strategies and approaches, not content outcomes.'"  Precisely.  The so-called experts love tweaking theory, not making sure that children learn.

Sixty years ago, the Education Establishment smugly bragged, "We don't teach history.  We teach children."  That's the switch Gov. Kaine is talking about.

For thousands of years, schools were concerned with one thing: teaching content.  John Dewey and the Education Establishment adopted the opposite approach.  Content is the unwanted guest at the funeral.  To hide the shift away from sound practice, public schools are adrift in a fog of propaganda and sophistry.

For example, Common Core contains one of the biggest flip-flops in the history of education.  A few years ago, teachers were told to teach each child differently.  Now the Common Core dogma says every teacher must teach the same things in the same way, across the country.  

For a second example, Common Core is full of weird techniques.  One dictates that children must read more dull instructional texts, not literature.  But it's stories that draw children into reading.  (Look at what adults read for fun.)

A third example is called Close Reading.  The idea is that children, many of whom can hardly read, will spend days rereading short, difficult passages.  This gimmick covers up the fact that many children cannot read easy passages fluently.

A new book, Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon, by attorney Robin Eubanks, "details extensive evidence ... that education became an invisible and purposeful means of restructuring the West, especially the US, away from individualism and capitalism towards a more collectivist orientation in the future. A goal that guides the actual Common Core implementation[.]"

The fraudulence of Common Core was revealed four years ago, when the website first appeared.  

Consider students in second-grade arithmetic.  What would be a reasonable standard that everyone understands?  Try this: "Children can count to 100.  They can add and subtract two-digit numbers."  Only 13 words.  Parents can quickly evaluate how their children are doing.  Perfect.

But here are actual Common Core Math Standards for second grade (read as much as you can stand):

In Grade 2, instructional time should focus on four critical areas: (1) extending understanding of base-ten notation; (2) building fluency with addition and subtraction; (3) using standard units of measure; and (4) describing and analyzing shapes.

1. Students extend their understanding of the base-ten system. This includes ideas of counting in fives, tens, and multiples of hundreds, tens, and ones, as well as number relationships involving these units, including comparing. Students understand multi-digit numbers (up to 1000) written in base-ten notation, recognizing that the digits in each place represent amounts of thousands, hundreds, tens, or ones (e.g., 853 is 8 hundreds + 5 tens + 3 ones).

2. Students use their understanding of addition to develop fluency with addition and subtraction within 100. They solve problems within 1000 by applying their understanding of models for addition and subtraction, and they develop, discuss, and use efficient, accurate, and generalizable methods to compute sums and differences of whole numbers in base-ten notation, using their understanding of place value and the properties of operations. They select and accurately apply methods that are appropriate for the context and the numbers involved to mentally calculate sums and differences for numbers with only tens or only hundreds.

3. Students recognize the need for standard units of measure (centimeter and inch) and they use rulers and other measurement tools with the understanding that linear measure involves an iteration of units. They recognize that the smaller the unit, the more iterations they need to cover a given length.

4. Students describe and analyze shapes by examining their sides and angles. Students investigate, describe, and reason about decomposing and combining shapes to make other shapes. Through building, drawing, and analyzing two- and three-dimensional shapes, students develop a foundation for understanding area, volume, congruence, similarity, and symmetry in later grades.

That's only the "Introduction" for second grade.  There's much more.  Is anyone impressed by such logorrhea?  What parent can declare, "Oh yes, my child can do that"?

It's difficult to imagine an intelligent person reading this jargon and still supporting Common Core.  Rhetoric like this screams: "Welcome, suckers." 

Virtually all the Standards suffer from 1) murkiness, as in the verbiage above; or from 2) unreality, as in the sort of Standard that glibly announces that every child will be college-ready, career-ready, and a lifelong reader.  Most children will be none of the above.

Finally, what does all this blah-blah-blah accomplish?  It makes all previous textbooks obsolete.  Cha-ching!  Education as social engineering, education as cash cow.  Which is more offensive?  You don't have to decide.  You have both on steroids.

Imagine the tedious, incoherent textbooks that will be based on those so-called Standards.  Imagine the tests that students will have to endure to show that they have unscrambled the scrambled.  Imagine all the teachers in the country going back to school to learn how to teach this malarkey.  Imagine the Department of Education coming after private schools and homeschoolers, forcing them to use this stuff.  Every bit of it, as seen in the long quote above, violates the first rule of education, which says: start with the simple, gain mastery, move gradually to the complex.  First, count to 10, then to 25.  Elementary school kids don't need to know number theory or that numbers are base-10, which suggests base-8, etc.  Even to mention this is disruptive and sadistic.

Indeed, wallow all day in this recent headline: "Principals say Common Core tests make little kids vomit, pee their pants." Sadists rule.

In short, Common Core is a Pandora's box.  Not tested, not voted on by the community, all of it expensive and destructive.  Common Core is like ObamaCare: too much regulation, too much government power. 

What do you get when you throw gasoline on a fire?  You get more fire, more smoke.  Less house. 

And you get this: "One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, 'This is too hard,' and 'I can't do this,' throughout his test booklet."  Tell that kid to thank Obama and Arne Duncan.

QED: every state should withdraw from Common Core.

Bruce Deitrick Price analyzes educational theories and methods on his site

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