By Lisa Esler
Isn’t it strange that since the Federal Department of Education was established in the late 70’s, education has been on a disastrous downward decline even though America spends more money on education than any other nation? I think most of us older folks would agree we learned the 3 R’s very well before the FED started “improving” education.
Over the past several years, schools across the country have been implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This is the latest centralized federal attempt to nationalize a new, one-size-fits-all, untested, convoluted teaching experiment with students as the guinea pigs.
These new Common Core Standards emerged from the wreckage of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. These two failed experiments are now part of the history of bad education reform along with the “Sight Reading” and “New Math” fiascos.
If the end goal of those who pushed Common Core was a truly honest attempt to improve education, wouldn’t they have used best practices from those states which were already proven to be successful? That did not happen. They also did not consult with Child Behavioral Scientists to see if the standards for each grade were age appropriate. In many cases, they are not age appropriate and therefore undue pressure is put on a child to perform above his developmental ability.
Furthermore, the standards were not state-led and voluntary as claimed by proponents. States have always been the laboratories of innovation and competition. Instead, a bunch of educrats and special interest groups got together and developed standards, ignoring concerns and alarms from professional, well-respected educators and psychologists. Just like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, in 2009-2010, CCSS was falsely packaged as rigorous, internationally-benchmarked standards. Because a large federal grant (bribe) was offered, Governor Rendell and then his successor Governor Corbett blindly accepted the standards, sight unseen, without consultation with our elected representatives in Harrisburg. Since then Pennsylvania has changed the name to “PA Core Standards” to ward off Common Core opponents but the standards are basically the same.
Opponents are worried that what was sold as minimal standards will lead to national control of curriculum in order to conform to the ‘Core Aligned’ tests. Bill Gates, who pushed for the CCSS through the financial generosity of his Foundation, said “when the testing is implemented, the curriculum will follow.” He even referred to students as his “customers.” He is absolutely right! Implementation of Common Core has created many “customers” for Microsoft and Pearson Publishing and the testing companies that are all salivating at the thought of the money they can make from the tests, new books and technology.
Great teachers are boxed in by new evaluations which are tied to the tests. They will lose their autonomy and creativity in the classroom since they will be forced to teach to the test. I don’t understand why more teachers, administrators speaking out!
Many parents know something has changed. Their kids are frustrated, have lost self-confidence and no longer like math. They tell me they can’t even help their elementary students with math homework since the old (simple) ways they use are now ‘incorrect’.
In addition to the manipulation of the curriculum and the tests, there is another aspect of Common Core which is known as “Core Data.” Are you aware that an enormous amount of ongoing data is being collected on our students and their families? At this time, it is unclear HOW all that academic and personal information will be used and, worse yet, uncertainty about who can access the data.
The potential for input errors and breach of privacy rights is daunting since the data follows every student from kindergarten through career.
Opposition to Common Core is growing stronger by the day. Our children’s education is far too important to be dictated by educrats and special interest groups in Washington that are counting their profits. Constitutionally, the federal government is prohibited from dictating curriculum. Let’s make sure education decisions are preserved at the state and local level with input from parents.
Please learn as much as you can about Common Core. There are many informative Youtube videos, Facebook Pages and Websites on the subject. Get informed, and if you agree with me, that CC is rotten to the core, speak up at your local School Board meetings.
Also, Common Core is one of those issues that cross political party lines. It seems that Gov. Corbett has recently requested a review of the CCSS by the Pennsylvania Department of Education but more needs to be done. Contact your State Senator and Representative. These politicians are hard at work worrying about the upcoming election yet not a peep out of most of them concerning one of the most basic responsibilities – the education of children.
Ask them where they stand on this important issue.
With your help, we can put an end to Common Core in Pennsylvania.