Common Core: Just Standards or Deceit?

There are many things that concern this parent and teacher involving the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the least of which is the actual standards themselves. My work as a teacher exposes me directly to what seem to be underhanded acts of educational tyranny. My friends, family, and co-workers, preoccupied just trying to get their children and students prepared for the “rigorous” set of Common Core Standards, don’t notice the red flags. While they are focused on how to achieve success with Common Core, I am losing sleep over what I see and what I fear may be the endgame.

Today, the testing of CCSS is being used to ultimately transfer local control, in violation of the Tenth Amendment, to the federal government. With that transfer comes the possibility that this power in the hands of the federal government could be used for worrisome purposes. Would the federal government use this power to mold the minds of children by defining moral values? Would they attempt to influence the beliefs of the citizenry through messages hidden in texts? Would they push and try to normalize a leftist agenda that contradicts the beliefs of most Americans? Would they use data to track our children through adulthood using hundreds of data points? Would they keep a watchful eye on children across America, via I-pads and other devices, and know who to re-educate? Would they divide students who are willing and able to comply from those who will not accept their worldview? Would they indoctrinate for the common good of a centralized controlled government? Would America become a nation, not of achievers and innovators, but of mediocre workers to be utilized for the collective good of the state?   

Evidence is showing that much of this is already happening. For example, teachers across America are forced to use Common Core compliant materials (textbooks, modules, performance assessments, et al) via an evaluation system that punishes them if they don’t comply. (See, American Thinker, October 3, 2014, “Common Core Teacher Evaluations: Ensuring Conformity in Every Classroom").  The “Common Core compliant” materials are sought by teachers, school districts, and parents because they trust that using them will ensure that their children perform well on the “rigorous” Common Core assessments.  One thread woven through these “common core compliant” materials is moral relativism.  My fifth-grade class read a book called Sounder. This book has been around many years, but it illustrates just how simple it is to train children to think a certain way. The book tells the story of a poor black sharecropper, and presumably takes place in the south in the 1940s. The man loves his wife and children. He is extremely poor. He is terribly exhausted. He works gruelingly hard, but he just can’t get anywhere. He hunts every day with the family dog but food is still difficult to come by. It’s easy to empathize with the character, a man who is doing the right thing and getting nothing for it. One day he comes home with a ham. His wife is worried because she knows he didn’t buy it.  Despite this, the family enjoys the ham for days. Even the dog gets scraps. Eventually, the police come and arrest him for stealing the ham. Suffice to say, the punishment is severe. The dog is even shot by the ruthless (white) police. I won’t give away any more of the book. After reading this story, children who agreed that stealing is wrong under absolutely any circumstances, now are not so sure. Maybe it is okay to steal to feed your family. Then, after reading the book, the children may be asked to write an opinion essay in which they address, “Under what circumstances is it okay to steal?” The premise being that stealing can be justified. In addition to the textbooks themselves, you can find examples like this hidden within Common Core compliant math word problems, quizzes, assessments and even sentences. (For example, place the proper punctuation on this sentence: “Government gives us our rights”.) Throughout these Common Core materials are messages that normalize things, in small impressionable brains, that may be contrary to your worldview. Throughout these Common Core materials are values that are being taught that parents might protest if they were made clearer. Parents, are you okay with this?

There are more tentacles to Common Core, and admittedly, some of the standards seem benign. (For example, “Students will understand how characters react to challenges in the story.”) However, the purpose of Common Core is not revealed in the standards. It is revealed in the view that there are no absolute truths or values. It is revealed in the teaching of “higher order thinking” which is attained when a child no longer believes in right and wrong. It is revealed in the view that all that is new is better than what comes from previous generations of knowledge, and much more. Common Core is not just a set of standards. That we very well may have been deceived and that we fell for it with such unflinching obedience, and that there is the potential for total control in the hands of a few who may or may not exploit it, is what keeps this teacher and parent up at night.

Mary Anne Marcella received a B.A from New York University and an M.S in Elementary Education from Lehman College. She lives with her family in New Canaan, CT. She is a parent and public school teacher who cares about her children and her students. Her views are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of others in the education field. You may contact her or twitter Maryanne@maryannemercog

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