Monday, September 9, 2013

Common Core...a Primer, and Why it should matter to you.

I have noticed a trend lately amongst my friends.  Now that schools are underway again, lots of parents are finding themselves looking straight down the barrel toward some major changes at their child's school.  Parents are complaining that their child has more homework than ever before.  And what's with all the writing?  and the new way they're teaching math?  Parents maybe aren't sure what's happened, but they are definitely noticing that there has been a shift...and it's pretty drastic.

So, I decided to put together this blog post, compiled originally from a conversation on facebook, to serve as a little primer.  Common Core 101, if you will.  Now, there are certainly many, many people out there who have written exhaustively about the subject, in much more eloquent terms.  I will be linking to several of those sources throughout this post.  But my intention is simply to give a starting place to those parents, teachers, students, and concerned citizens who may be wondering, "What's this all about?"

I have some very strong opinions about The Common Core. It's pretty sinister. Seriously...bad, bad stuff...and although in the homeschool world, parents are in an uproar about it, I find that very few public school or private school parents in my circles know anything about it. Unfortunately, we homeschoolers have been forced to learn about it because many of our trusted curriculum publishers have chosen to align with the new we were placed in a position of having to do a TON of research before we choose what to use in our families!  Many in the homeschool world believe that no child will be able to escape the Common Core, eventually including, unfortunately, homeschooled kids. Some believe that these standards may give the federal government power to intervene and even outlaw homeschooling altogether. 

By the way, have you seen what's happening in Germany?

First and foremost, let me say this:  although the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been adopted in forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, the matter is far from settled.  As a matter of fact, many States are fighting back!  For a look at what's happening in your particular state, take a look here:

You see, the CCSS were not the brainchild of trusted educators across the country.  They were not the result of years of research into the most effective way to educate our students.  They were not even approved by the state or local governments, and no vote was ever taken before they were adopted.  

The US Department of Education, under President Obama, offered very large incentives to states to adopt these nationalized standards under a program called "Race to the Top" the tune of millions and millions of dollars to each state. So a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington convinced a bunch of bureaucrats in those 45 states, DC, four territories, and the DOD to adopt these standards...WITHOUT ANY PROOF that they are superior...without any field testing...and WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM ACTUAL TEACHERS. Of course, this is an overreach of federal power under the Tenth Amendment.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

The Federal government has absolutely no business telling teachers in your hometown how or what to teach. But that's what they're doing...down to pushing for only certain teaching methodology.

When you are ready to delve into it deeper, check out Michelle Malkin's work on the issue. She has done exhaustive writing about the issue. It's very in-depth, but very good! Here's part 1 of the series.

Now, I will preface this with a warning: Michelle Malkin is oftentimes quite partisan.  She makes her living as a political pundit and blogger.  But this issue did not come about on the shoulders of Democrats or Republicans alone.  These standards are part of a much broader movement by the Progressives in both parties, and every American should be outraged, no matter their personal political ideology. 

There is a serious progressive political agenda behind the standards. Their stated goal is to prepare student for the workforce. But, at what cost? Classic literature is being government documents, that would be something along the lines of reading a publication by the department of Housing and Urban development. Seriously. Who needs Romeo and Juliet? Huck Finn? Atticus Finch? The thing is, you know...there is a certain "shared culture" that we have in the West...a set of knowledge that means when I say "Romeo and Juliet", certain images come to mind: A crossed lovers..."Oh, Romeo, Oh Romeo, wherefore art Thou, Romeo?" But under CCSS, this would no longer be considered important. Instead, the ideal would be that say, mentioning "HUD publication 2674" (I'm just making that title up) would evoke that same sort of shared knowledge. Really? THAT'S what we care about?

CCSS radically changes the focus of Mathematics. It's more important now that children understand the PROCESS than that they get the right answer. And the thing is...they're using totally new and unnecessarily confusing processes to get to the answer. It's actually quite ridiculous, as you can see in the short video demonstration below,but they rely a lot on calculators to actually get correct answers...rather than teaching kids arithmetic. Sort of the same as arguing that it's no longer necessary to teach kids to spell, since computers have spell check.  This is just ONE example of  Math the Common Core way.   You an find many more examples by searching for "everyday math" on YouTube.

Good luck as a parent trying to help your kid understand. And if your fifth grader would prefer to find the answer by the quicker and much more straightforward method of long division? Well, they would be marked WRONG. Even if they get the correct answer..if they can't do the gobbledygook CCSS method, then they will be wrong.

Now mind you, if they figure the problem using the CCSS method, and come up with the incorrect answer....they would still be counted as CORRECT as long as their methodology was CCSS approved.


The math standards began being implemented in 2012. I saw this in the school where I was working last year.

The Common Core teaches to the lowest common denominator, and gives classroom teachers no discretion as to how to adapt the concepts to best meet the needs of their students. Teachers are once again, forced to "teach to the test", and students with special gifts, interests or talents will be left twiddling their thumbs. Reimbursement for schools is directly tied to the measures of their performance with CCSS, so, as we know...where the money is will become the priority. What will happen to the arts? Literature? Poetry? And, is it fair to kids who are already struggling in under-performing schools (read: KCMO public schools) to have even *more* weight placed on standardized testing and unproven teaching methods.

The CCSS leaves very little wiggle room for the individual district, school, or classroom teacher. Common Core standards are very deliberate in their desire to present revisionist history, to undermine parental authority in the home (the parent is deliberately presented as the antagonist throughout aligned curricula), and children are exposed to and indoctrinated by ideas from the earliest ages. (ie: mandatory sex ed starting in KINDERGARTEN) Many experts agree that the expectations in the CCSS are developmentally and emotionally inappropriate for young children.

 David Coleman, the man who was the head of the development of the CCSS--the architect of the standards-- is now sitting as the CEO of The College Board (funded by Bill Gates). Those are the guys who write and develop the SAT...and you guessed it. The SAT is already being rewritten to the CCSS standards. So those children whose parents choose to homeschool, or choose private school, or who choose to try and opt their public school kid out of Common Core (yes, I guess you're supposed to be able to do this...but I can't see how it can work practically) will be facing a serious disadvantage when it comes to college admissions, even if they are brighter and better prepared for actual University level study. And yes, the ACT is also re-writing as we speak.

 And finally, and perhaps most concerning of all, tied directly into CCSS is a HUGE, and I mean HHHHHHHHHUUUUUUGGGGGGGGEEEEEE amount of data mining. They will be keeping VERY detailed files on every student...including "biometric identifiers" (look that up if you want to be scared out of your wits)  Again, Michelle Malkin lays it out better than anyone I've seen: 

Victoria Jackson makes an interesting case here about the very serious concerns to our very existence as a Republic, and the very sinister nature of government data mining.

And finally, whether you love Glenn Beck, or you hate him, you owe it to your children to watch this video, in which Glenn lays out in great detail the plans for data mining and biometric tracking of your children.  Did you know they plan to keep files including information such as religion, voting status, family income, blood type, hair color, birth weight, extracurricular activities, homework completion, and hundreds more "data points" on each and every child?  And further, did you know that the CCSS allows the school to SHARE this information with just about anyone they deem fit...WITHOUT parental consent??  Watch, as Glenn shows in the video below the exact wording from the government documents themselves.  Grab a cup of coffee..this is long, but vitally important!

So, what's a parent to do?

If you choose to leave your children in public school, here is the opt-out form that you can submit to your child's school for their permanent file. Even though we homeschool, I am actually printing this out and keeping it in my own files for my kids here at home. Just in case we need it at some point in the future to defend ourselves...God forbid.

Get involved!  Check out The Educational Freedom Coalition on facebook.  Write your senators and representatives.  Voice your concerns to your school board, your principal, and your child's teachers.  Pay attention to what's being taught in your child's classroom, and discuss with them openly any concerns you have about materials that are opposed to your family values and beliefs.

If you can...consider homeschool.  You are already equipped with everything that you need to teach your children.  Rules and regulations for homeschooling vary from state to state.  Learn and comply with the laws in your state.  If you want more information on how to get started, feel free to contact me!Anyone who is looking with open eyes can see that this is a massive overhaul with very specific purposes. And the worst of it is this: THERE ARE A LOT OF REALLY GREAT TEACHERS OUT THERE IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Many of you are my personal friends.

Please, teacher friends..hear me on this.

I know there are a LOT of you who really love teaching, and who go above and beyond every day to make learning exciting for your students.   God Bless You for that. I pray that you will be strengthened and encouraged...If what you're seeing in the new standards isn't sitting right with you...If you are afraid to speak up to your administration or even to your fellow teachers...YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

There are millions of parents, fellow educators, and concerned citizens out here who are worried about the shackles being placed around your feet by this terrible program! Stand up! Speak out! And carry on! We're with you! And we're counting on you!

1 comment:

  1. thank you so much for your easy to read commentary on common core. I am adding this article to my list of START HERE to learn more about Common Core. Here is California there needs to be MUCH MORE education on this topic. Home schoolers and public schoolers alike are just grossly uninformed. Teachers are telling them it will all be ok next year just a bump in the road...