Teachers always describe their class this year as being much different than those in previous years.  Some children are visual learners, some are audible learners, and some children have to touch and feel to learn… and effective teachers have learned to modify their teaching approach and curriculum to adapt to the needs of the particular class makeup.   Soon the ability to do this will be a thing of the past!

In the last three years the US has witnessed a sweeping effort known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).  The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) dramatically alter how educational systems are governed and how standards and curricula are developed.  There are many, many serious concerns about this approach and the resulting curricula.

For instance, within the English Language Arts (ELA) standards, one method uses “cold reading”.  Cold reading asks students to engage a text cold, without any context or background whatsoever. The rationale is that this is what students must do on standardized tests. This cold reading strategy is devoid of all historical perspective forcing students to rely solely on the text.  Students are reading in a vacuum and this curriculum lends itself to indoctrination of the students.  For instance, a cold reading exercise might state emphatically that the global warming is a scientific truth and ask the students to describe the ramifications.

The Common Core’s mathematics standards fare no better. Grant Wiggins, a widely respected curriculum and assessment expert stated in Education Week , “the mathematics components of the CCSS are a bitter disappointment. In terms of their limited vision of math education, the pedestrian framework chosen to organize the standards, and the incoherent nature of the standards for mathematical practice in particular, I don’t see these taking us forward in any way.”  Even more troubling is the fact that his sentiments are echoed by one of the writers of the CCSS math standards, William McCallum who said, “the individual standards aren’t very high” and “are not up to the standards of other nations.”

Additionally, Common Core fails to account for regional differences in interests and sensitivities. CCSS student testing and materials have been kept a virtual secret and states know neither what they will look like nor how they will be delivered. Potenzmittel ohne Rezept.  Local teachers had zero input into the creation of CCSS curriculum, materials, and testing yet they are the very people who will be delivering the curricula.  Furthermore, teachers will have to “learn as they go” because the training on Common Core is woefully inadequate.  Even so, students and teachers will be held accountable on a national basis for student outcomes on those tests from day one.

Teachers have commented that the CCSI is a direct assault on their autonomy, that some of the standards and accompanying materials are not well reasoned and are directed only to the needs of low achieving students.

Mathew Chingos and Grover Whitehurst of the liberal-leaning Brookings Institute identified an area of concern. When it comes to selecting CCSS curricula, “publishers of instructional materials are lining up to declare the alignment of their materials with the CCSS standards using the most superficial definitions”.  In other words, the “alignment” declaration is based on not-well-defined criteria.   For some this is a huge economic concern.  School districts that are now being required to obsolete current textbooks and buy “aligned” text books.  However, due to the “most superficial definitions” cited by the Brookings Institute, the school districts may, some point in the near future, be forced to replace the new books because they are “not aligned.”  How expensive will this be?  Textbook replacement is a huge budget item for all school systems and schools do not replace textbooks on an annual basis.

CCSS is an expensive gamble all around.  The estimated cost for a typical seven-year implementation roll out is approximately 16 billion dollars across participating states. This is a very rough estimate and it could be much higher given that CCSS is 100% untested.

Even more than the staggering price tag, the more detrimental costs will be the loss of what has always made our educational system unique among nations: our long tradition of state and local autonomy.  The “Who decides?” on educational issues should be the local school boards and committees comprised of parents and community members.

Imagine a decade or two from now when Common Core has been fully implemented for many years. If you have concerns, questions, and comments about a textbook in the local school district, whom would you contact?   It would probably be a nameless, faceless, unelected bureaucrat in DC who will tell you to go to the web and have a nice day.

Would we even have 3 minutes to speak in front of a School Board about our concerns with Common Core?  Probably not! By that time, school boards will be deemed obsolete.

 

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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