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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Posted: Jul 23, 2013 5:10 PM
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From Breitbart, Monday, July 22 2013. See

By Dr. Susan Berry

Though most states in the country adopted "Common Core" education
standards in 2010, many American parents still know little about them.

At the same time that teachers' unions have joined forces with the
institutional left on many issues, and more of children's basic needs
are being met by public schools via meal programs and, more recently,
Obamacare's school-based healthcare centers, uninformed parents could
be abandoning significant parental rights to education by not
questioning what is at the heart of the Common Core.

Joy Pullmann at The Heartland Institute finds the public's lack of
knowledge of the Obama administration's Common Core initiative
particularly disturbing. In an era in which those who value
Constitutional limits to government have been critical of the Obama
administration's overreach in many areas, Pullmann observes that the
cause for concern is warranted:

Debate should never be discouraged by appeals to what experts say
they know or claims that the "general public" is somehow too stupid
or lack the proper credentials to make informed choices. Parents
whose children will be subject to these new requirements and citizens
who will pay for the standards, associated tests, and myriad related
initiatives deserve to know what they contain and to have a say in
whether states adopt them.

Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City public schools and
current vice-president at News Corp., and Sol Stern, author of
Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School
Choice, have both been around the block enough in the area of
education. Both men support the Common Core State Standards and are
critical of both conservatives like Pullmann and the Heritage
Foundation, as well as "some hard-liners on the educational left" who
oppose them.

In a Wall St. Journal op-ed in May
], Stern and Klein described Common Core as "one of the most
promising education initiatives of the past half century." They went
on to say that, "if implemented properly, they [Common Core
standards] can better prepare students for college-level work and to
gain the civic knowledge that is essential for democracy to prosper."

Stern and Klein took to task the "progressive education thinking that
has dominated the public schools over the past half-century," and the
pedagogical approaches favored by liberals (i.e., "child-centered;
"teaching for social justice"). They argued that these educators on
the left are opposed to Common Core's "rigorous academic content"
that threatens to "undo" the progressives' "watered-down version" of

At the same time, Stern and Klein claimed to be "puzzled" over the
"fervid opposition to the Common Core by some conservatives,
including tea party activists, several free-market think tanks and,
most recently, the Republican National Committee."

One of the primary objections by conservatives to the Common Core
standards is the view that the Obama administration is intent on
controlling what is taught at each grade level in schools across the
United States. According to the Heritage Foundation, the Obama
Department of Education "has used its flagship 'Race to the Top'
competitive grant program to entice states to adopt the K-12
standards developed by a joint project of the National Governors
Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers

Heritage goes on to say that, in its 2009 Blueprint for Education
Reform, the Obama administration suggested that adoption of the
Common Core standards could be a qualification for states wanting
future Title I funding for low-income schools. Many conservatives
considered this an unconstitutional overreach by the federal
government into an area reserved historically to the states.

In response to this objection, Stern and Klein argued that the Common
Core standards were, in fact, written by both the NGA and the CCSSO,
with financial backing of private foundations, including the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, an arrangement they refer to as
"constitutional federalism at its best."

Claiming that the federal government is not "forcing" states to
comply with the standards - else, how could some of them opt out of
them - Stern and Klein asserted that conservative critics have
overlooked that Common Core supports educating students about the
nation's founding and the basis for constitutional government in the
United States.

Pullmann, however, disagrees, and points out that all math and
English textbooks, as well as national tests - to be taken by all
students - are expected to align with the Common Core, thereby
pressuring states into adopting them if they want their students to
"succeed," based on what is viewed "successful" by the Obama

Pullmann asserts that some advocates of Common Core insist that the
standards are "not a curriculum" and that they will promulgate "an
academic curriculum based on great works of Western civilization and
the American republic." [see

She argues:

But the standards are being used to write the tables of contents for
all the textbooks used in K-12 math and English classes. This may not
technically constitute a curriculum, but it certainly defines what
children will be taught, especially when they and their teachers will
be judged by performance on national tests that are aligned with
these standards.

Adding up all the intricacies of the Common Core standards, Pullmann
sees no other way to characterize them other than as "a national
takeover of schooling."

She cites research in the Journal of Scholarship and Practice that
demonstrates how the standards will infiltrate every aspect of K-12
education. They will "form the core curriculum of every public school
program, drive another stronger wave of high stakes testing, and thus
become student selection criteria for K-12 school programs such as
Title I services, gifted and talented programs, high school course
placement, and other academic programs."[see

Pullman states that the "domino effect" of the standards will hit
teacher evaluations, since many states tie teacher ratings to
students' performance on tests. In addition, Common Core will affect
school choice, since many states that have passed school choice laws
require private schools to administer state tests.

Furthermore, college entrance exams, including the SAT and ACT, would
now correspond to Common Core, an aspect that would also impact
homeschoolers who desire entrance to college. Would they, too, need
to use the Common Core standards in order to successfully pass
college entrance exams?

Pullman summarizes, "People who characterize Common Core as anything
other than a national takeover of schooling are either unaware of
these sweeping implications or are deliberately hiding this
information from the public."

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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