Common Core, Quo Vadis?


Filed Under Latest News on May 12 

Attacks on the Common Core (CC) curriculum are coming fast and furious from a variety of directions. Several states like Missouri and Indiana, and many more, are deciding whether to opt out and parents around the country are angry and students are frustrated. The criticisms are many but can be grouped around several focus points: Botched implementation, inadequate methods and standards in math, and the forced introduction of a radical social justice agenda that nationalizes the education system and tramples state and local rights. From Mexican American comedian Louis C.K. to Michelle Malkin, commentators have come out against CC and it’s problematic introduction.

Who actually put together CC? According to Dean Kalahar that honor goes to Achieve, a group that worked with the National Governor’s Association and was funded by The Gates Foundation. The goal was to promote “college and career readiness for all students.” Several decades of studies showing underperformance by American students compared with peers in other countries, like Japan and Taiwan, created a building anxiety amongst educators and academics, and some in the business community, that the country was falling behind. George W. Bush introduced standards testing with No Child Left Behind and now we have Common Core. What went wrong? All the criticisms are worth listening to but beyond the sometimes disturbing details of how CC is changing the classroom is a basic contradiction in CC itself. What purports to raise Elementary and High School standards is also a vehicle for progressive, even radical, reshaping of how children are educated. From apparently encourgaging children to express anger as a first step to social action, to allowing wrong answers in math as long as the student can explain his or her logic, we have a clear attempt to encourage the type of thinking that contradicts the goal of graduating students able to compete successfully in the global economy. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s jab at “white mothers” is hardly reassuring in this matter. Diversity mandated from an elitist core is not the type of diversity that made the nation the cradle of innovation and creativity for the entire world. If it’s left standing, CC advocates have to decide if they want to raise standards in a flexible manner that recognizes local needs or impose federally mandated political correctness on students across the country. In either case, voters may decide, governor by governor, if they agree.