Terry Falk

Common Core is Here to Stay

And the black helicopters are coming!

By - Nov 21st, 2013 04:04 pm
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“We are giving the schools the tools of tyranny, and we better be watching.” So declared Ken Van Doren from the Wisconsin Campaign for Liberty before the Wisconsin Select Committee on Common Core at a legislative hearing held in October.

Van Doren cited examples from textbooks aligned with the Common Core educational state standards that he claimed would make first graders into Obama-style community organizers and third graders into labor union activists.

Van Doren warned the committee of Bill Gates’ support of the Common Core. Gates has put millions of dollars into the development of the “engagement pedometer,” a device that wraps around the student’s wrist and sends signal to identify how engaged students are in learning. So Van Doren fears that schools will collect personal student data and send it directly to the federal government. Common Core is only the first step in the establishment of 1984-styled, Big Brother government.

Luther Olsen

Luther Olsen

It’s all nonsense, of course. “Some of those people have a loose association with the truth,” says State Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). Olsen may be the chair of the Wisconsin senate education committee, but he refused to serve on the special Select Committee on Common Core. So did the chair of the Assembly’s education committee, Representative Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake). Representative Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) quit the committee, considering it nothing more than a “roadshow” trumped up by conservative Republicans to support its right wing base.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are nothing more than a set of educational standards established by a consortium of state superintendents and boards of education. Presently 45 states plus the District of Columbia are on record in supporting the CCSS.

CCSS wants to set educational standards which require higher level thinking skills. So instead of just stating what a paragraph says, a student will be able to state the implication of that paragraph and how that information may be used in some application. Instead of just solving a mathematical problem, a student will be given a situation in which the student may have to create the mathematical problem to be solved.

The federal government was not directly involved in the standards development, but some critics fear the feds will ultimately co-op the states, and CCSS will become a federally mandated national standard. In fact, there is some justification for this position. The Department of Education has pushed compliance with the CCSS for states to gain funding for Race to the Top and waivers for compliance under No Child Left Behind.

But the most radical critics have been attacking the CCSS with accusations that the Gates Foundation, Obama, and the United Nations are attempting to create a “New World Order.” Under that dark scenario, we should perhaps worry that when teachers keep their classroom shades open, it’s so the black helicopters can check to see if they’re following the Core Curriculum.

Indeed, some charge that Common Core promotes everything from pedophilia to atheism. But they are confusing the standards with curriculum that is being written in alignment with the standards by local school districts, universities, textbook companies, advocates for various causes, and anybody who can word-process. With literally thousands of people writing so-called aligned curriculum, it is not difficult to find a handful of questionable lesson plans or textbooks.

Colleges and universities are pushing for the implementation of the Common Core. Textbook companies as well as the ACT and SAT college entrance test organizations all say they will align with the CCSS. In short, the movement is unstoppable.

Some liberals also oppose the Common Core. Noted anti-privatization, pro-public school education advocate, Diane Ravitch, fears that the CCSS will lead to nothing more than the narrowing of curriculum to classes preparing students for tests.

Milwaukee’s liberal educational publication, Rethinking Schools, also opposes CCSS, ranking it as no better than the No Child Left Behind standards of the George Bush administration.

But the far right and far left opponents of the Common Core are as likely to cancel each other out as to join forces in a united front against the CCSS.

And it wouldn’t matter even if the state of Wisconsin officially withdraw from the standards. That is because every conservative, liberal, libertarian or politically agnostic parent who wants to get their kids into college knows they are going to have to take the ACT because so many colleges require it. In fact, the state of Wisconsin is going to require that every student take the ACT just to graduate high school.  And the ACT is going to be aligned with the CCSS.

So it’s unlikely the legislature is going to undo its support for the Common Core, says Olsen. Why adopt something else, he says, when “our kids are going to have to take the ACT and SAT tests to move forward” and wouldn’t be properly prepared for the tests. “How ridiculous does that make Wisconsin look?”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently stated that he supports more rigorous academic standards than the Common Core, but no one knows what that means. Speculation is that Walker is trying to placate both the critics and supporters of CCSS as he eyes either reelection or a run at the presidency.

Concludes Olsen: “What Wisconsin should do is stay the course.”

Categories: Education, Politics

2 thoughts on “Common Core is Here to Stay”

  1. Jeff Jordan says:

    If you are the average citizen, no matter how much you try to stay in the discussions involving the direction that modern education must take in order to educate our kids for living in the new global society, much less make a living and support a family, you will become lost in a labyrinth of misinformation, suspicion, political belief, free marketing and self serving survivalism. Let’s not even mention the continuing war over who is going to write the history of how everything got this way. Same people at the same table, yelling the same things at each other for over thirty years.

  2. Tom W says:

    We spend too much time and money talking about curriculum and testing and not enough dealing with the real challenge for education, especially urban education, which is poverty. Until or unless we as a nation begin to address poverty as THE greatest challenge and threat to public education institutions, we are simply rearranging the deck chairs. Things such as food and housing security, health care, and transportation- all these create both challenges and opportunities for those who seek to educate young people. And we always seem to be unable or unwilling to think of such a comprehensive approach to poverty and ameliorate its effects on education.

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