Campus Scenes

Common Core: The Obamacare of Education

States are rethinking this train wreck.

By 11.26.13

UPI
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At least a dozen states are now delaying or rethinking their implementation of the new Common Core educational standards, as opposition from parents and teachers grows. No wonder: Initially, teachers thought Common Core was just another educational fad destined to soon be replaced by the next new idea. But they've found instead that Common Core is an educational track that parallels the Obamacare: both are designed to “fundamentally transform” America, both were conjured up out of audacious incompetence, both are products of ideological thinking rather than experience and common sense, and both are guaranteed to produce disastrous consequences.

Like Obamacare, Common Core was forced onto the public as a naked federal government takeover. Common Core usurps state and local governments, based on the dubious idea that the local rubes can’t be trusted to understand and meet the needs of their own children. Common Core was developed without state legislative involvement or authority, without involvement of curriculum or content specialists, and it was never voted on by anybody. Instead, it began with progressive educational insiders in Washington, D.C., was developed by Achieve, Inc., a group of progressive education reformers, shaped by commercial vendor NCS Pearson, Inc., and funded primarily by Bill and Melinda Gates through numerous foundations, organizations, and coalitions. At the last minute, two D.C.-based trade associations, the National Governors Association and the Council of State School Officers, were brought in to give the appearance of local and state involvement. Common Core has been implemented primarily through billions in federal “bribes,” because states had to accede to it in order to receive “Race to the Top” grants or waivers for “No Child Left Behind.”

This federal takeover of education is yet another instance of Washington elites expanding the scope, size, and reach of the federal government and its bloated, wasteful, imperious, and very often incompetent bureaucracy. So what that three federal laws prohibit the federal government from setting the education curriculum of the various states? So what that any reasonable common sense reading of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights leads to the conclusion that the power to set education standards is reserved to the states? So what if they ignore their oath to uphold the Constitution? Yet, Common Core cannot be changed by state legislatures or state school boards, nor can taxpayers or parents have a voice in the local schools under Common Core; instead, these “standards” were forced onto local schools before any details were known (remember “we have to pass the bill to know what is in the bill”?) and without state legislative approval or public hearings.

Some experts on the validation committee ultimately refused to sign off on the English and Math standards — one gave the English standards a “D” grade and another called the Math standards a “joke.”  Critics say both English and Math Common Core Standards teach “empty skill sets” and claim they require only about a 7th grade level education for high school graduation. Others report that students won’t learn the necessary literary and cultural foundations for authentic education or for success in college. Instead, some experts say that the goal is to produce “workers,” not “educated, thinking citizens.” The “lessons” in Common Core peddle propaganda, even in grammar exercises and math problems. Parents are reporting disinformation, distortion, and disparagement of American capitalism, exceptionalism, and opportunity. In short, Common Core appears to be as much about indoctrination as it is about educating our youth and providing them the skills needed for both informed citizenship and productive careers. “Informational texts” (actually leftist political essays or comics) replace “creative or classic literature.”

As we learn more about Common Core, we find it’s very intrusive: high-tech data tracking will make private personal data available to any “researcher” who claims to have an “audit or evaluation” goal. Massive databases, containing as many as 400 data points about each student, will track children’s individual and family information from preschool through career. 

The cost of this fundamental transformation of American education is exorbitant, $16 billlion, with numerous open-ended, unfunded mandates for things like professional development, testing, and new, high-tech instructional materials. This will, of course, be paid by state and local districts, with costs dwarfing any “Race to the Top” grants that were awarded for adopting the Common Core standards. And, naturally, these estimates won’t begin to touch the actual costs when all — slush funds for politically-favored vendors, paybacks, fraud — is said and done.

Already, 45 states, D.C., and four U.S. territories have built educational curricula based on Common Core. But, as reality is coming to light, some states are withdrawing, and others are refusing to participate. More and more teachers are speaking out about the unrealistic and unfinished nature of Common Core; national education commentators are weighing in on the classroom havoc around the country. Meanwhile, the federal government is aggressively pushing to add Common Core standards for science and social studies.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan dismisses criticism of Common Core, complaining that “white suburban moms” oppose new standards because they want to continue believing that their underperforming children are brilliant — injecting the same race and class conflict that is being used so mendaciously to try to squelch criticism of Obamacare.

Sadly, the train wreck that Common Core is generating in our education system, like Obamacare in the nation’s health care system, amounts to severe and lasting damage that will take years to reverse.

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About the Author

Janice Shaw Crouse, author of Children at Risk and Marriage Matters, is executive director and senior fellow at Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute. She received an “Abolitionist” award from the U.S. State Department and a Global Leadership Award for her work on international issues.