Conservatives must stop playing the "politics of polite" and require that Common Core standards be repealed in the State of Illinois. If Common Core is allowed to be fully implemented, it will be the end of privacy, choice and freedom in this nation. The promise of liberty will be undone in less than a generation.
It serves no one well to feign diplomacy so as not to ruffle the feathers of progressive policy wonks. We've seen how fine "polite" has worked in stopping Obamacare. Sadly, half the supporters of this illegitimate takeover of education standards by the federal government are progressive leaning Republicans who seem unfazed by the fatal synergies created in the program…the same synergies that our Founding Fathers railed against when adopting the world's principal model for the separation of powers. To suggest that Common Core is simply Obamacare for education doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the unilateral control over American children that this cluster of bureaucratic nightmares represents.
The readers of Illinois Review already know what an utter disaster Common Core is. You are not the people who need to be reached regarding this issue.
Most Americans have never even heard the term Common Core – not because they don't care about their children's education, but because the changes that are occurring were written by private foundations behind closed doors with minimal accountability or communication to the public. There was no desire to inform parents of the federal takeover of education that is about to befall American children. A taxpayer would need to be extraordinarily alert to the changes that are taking place with lightning speed within schools across America and most people just aren't that tuned in.
Joy Pullmann is a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News. Joy has interviewed and produced podcasts with many of the leading figures in school reform. She previously was the assistant editor for American Magazine at the American Enterprise Institute. Joy explains the Common Core conundrum like this. Common Core fails on many levels because it seeks to control and manage the content of what children will learn even though local municipalities are better suited to deal with and react to a community's education requirements. It reaches well beyond No Child Left Behind which merely required states to test students. The DOE now actually sponsors the tests that determine for the states if students are meeting federal math and reading benchmarks.
This means that the DOE will be influencing national standards for curriculum even though it is illegal for the federal government to fund, control or influence testing. In addition, the DOE has agreements with states that are signed on to Common Core to allow federal access to data coffers regarding student performance. The DOE will have child-specific data about students and will be able to share that information with any agency of the federal government.
When officials say that this only refers aggregate data, please keep in mind that this is not what signed agreements state.
Joy Pullmann specifies that no one outside the government knows what data might ultimately be required by the DOE because that information has yet to be made public. What we do know is that the potential threats for data-mining which these agreements expose your children to are massive. Per Ms. Pullmann, "Common Core delivers a national platform for providing mounds and mounds of extremely detailed information about students." That platform facilitates the communication of data – from grades and aptitude to health records…and even school lunch purchases. Common Core then provides a shared language for gathering multiple forms of data into one system. That is what the technology component of Common Core promises to do for your child's privacy and yours.
Ah…technology! And don't we all wish that children would put down those darned books once in a while and focus more on electronics?
Students, through the Common Core modifications, will be exposed to learning methods that will seem like games to them, and while they are playing around at matching words or working math problems? They will actually be taking tests without their knowledge using algorithms that are not dissimilar to those being used by Google or Facebook in order to extract information about them.
Joy Pullmann refers to this as "video game learning." All the while, the computer will be tracking their moves, their mouse clicks, their right answers or their mistakes. It will possibly determine proficiency in a subject, yes. We can all agree how fantastic that is, but it will also determine more granular and nebulous characteristics within a student's personality like persistence, self-motivation and self-discipline.
That data will then be transmitted to third party facilitators and in this way, the DOE will be able to circumvent student privacy laws because once that information is outside the jurisdiction of the states, those privacy laws no longer apply.
Also…say goodbye to HIPAA for your children and possibly for yourself depending on whether or not your child has a 504 status or an IEP. If for any reason you filled out a medical history for the school that your child attends, if for any reason that information included family medical history, that information is protected under education and not medical privacy laws.
Now to the DOEs influence over learning standards:
The Common Core math modifications take us to an extreme by teaching conceptual math at a very young age thereby diluting and deemphasizing the basics which are necessary to fully master the subject. We will fail to secure the foundation from which all arithmetic originates by focusing on algebraic expression or calculus at a very young age and in a vacuum thereby diminishing a child's ability to deal with computations unless she has a calculator.
No – you need to think about this. At what age are children required to have calculators as part of their back-to-school supply list? Have you considered why that is and what a crutch this will become?
The Common Core language arts alterations take us to the same extreme by teaching reading comprehension with an emphasis on informational texts over literature. This is done in an effort to level the playing field for students who don't share common background knowledge and find themselves at an academic disadvantage. Instead of taking the time and giving these children the gift of foundational information which ultimately leads to cultural cohesion within our society, they are taught the complexities in vocabulary and human interaction through training manuals and instructional pamphlets which don't require them to apply context to what they are learning...like math, they will be learning language arts in a vacuum.
And it bears repeating that all of this will happen in support of technological innovations in education that not only further displace parental authority over curriculum, but also remove teachers, local boards and the states from any process improvement. If a parent notices that her child is struggling with the DOE's chosen method of teaching, she can't go to the teacher because the teacher has no control over such decisions. She can't go to the state. She can't even grab the textbook and figure out a way to adapt the lesson so that her child can understand because textbooks are now obsolete.
So you possibly wonder how children can be expected to successfully maneuver through such minor complications like ACTs and SATs when learning requirements have been so drastically reduced. Not to worry. It turns out that standardized college entrance exams won't be acting as a barrier for students entering college much longer because one of the lead architects of Common Core is now in charge of the College Board and will be adapting tests to meet the sky-high standards set by Common Core…such high standards that colleges and universities have promised to accept students two years behind the current academic norms to make up for high school seniors graduating at high school sophomore levels.
Schools will be graduating a less competitive workforce, but more importantly it will produce a less competent citizenry. Joy Pullmann explains it this way:
"I don't believe that the public education system exists to graduate people who are set up to enter the workforce. We naturally want public education to cooperate in turning out a productive, economically viable human being, but the reason that public education exists is for a broader purpose than merely turning out a workforce that meets the demands of Big Business. Public education exists to graduate citizens. We need people who are voters. We need people who can look at the difficulties that our nation faces and who can join with their fellow voters in making wise decisions."
As Ms. Pullmann puts it, Common Core completely sidesteps the question of citizenship by making education a private matter that presumes education is an inalienable right for allowing individuals to get higher paying jobs. In reality, public schools were created for teaching our children civics, history and a basic understanding of economics so that they might better understand the how this country was founded and why our form of government and economy is preferable to competing systems. Common Core will circumvent the original intent of public education and will explode costs by doing so. It will graduate less informed, less civically minded students who will not be able to think independently of the technological resources to which they are being made slaves.
If you would like to learn more on the subject of Common Core, please check out the Heartland Institute's website where you can access informational videos and writings by Joy Pullmann as well as other education experts. Look for our next post featuring conservative women who are redefining feminism with an interview with Stacy Mott of Smart Girl Politics.