Common Core Killing the Creative Spirit

We wanted proof Common Core has serious shortcomings, and now we have it. A professor of Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College has begun the process of dissecting student essays promoted as examples of what CC strives for in its standards and subsequent influence on curricula.

Anthony Esolen says the best essay of the bunch has no integrity, just a mechanical spouting of information that contradicts itself. And this essay was subject to teacher reviews. The professor says his disagreement with the essay doesn't have to do with organization or style as these are done well, but with the truth. He asserts that the more "mechanical" writing becomes, the closer it moves to providing an incubator for lies.

From Esolen's article in Crisis Magazine:

Yet the writer of the best essay in the CCC lot violates these moral directives all the time.  He pretends to know what he cannot possibly know.  He affects certainty without actually troubling to look at what he is certain about. 


For the mechanics, the crucial thing is that the author presents "evidence" for his claims, and not whether the evidence is really evidence, or whether the pieces of evidence are consistent with one another, or whether the author draws just conclusions from the evidence.  They apply the rubric of their very badly written checklist: the author "develops the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience's knowledge of the topic.

What kind of substandard standards have education change agents been pushing on schools? Not only have major textbook manufacturers infused their books with Common Core language, but every student in America will be affected because all testing will be CC compliant.

Law Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame recently penned a letter signed by 132 Catholic college professors in opposition to the adoption of Common Core by over 100 Catholic dioceses across the country. Prof. Esolen was one of the signers. Here's an excerpt from the letter describing Esolen's concerns:

...he [Esolen] "provided testimony to a South Carolina legislative committee on Common Core lamenting its "cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form." He further declared, "We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women."

Professor Esolen has promised to continue to investigate the practical details of why Common Core aligned curricula and texts are subpar, and he will keep us posted.

Ann Kane is North Carolina State Editor of Watchdog Wire, a blog of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity