The first three segments of this series covered the initial philosophy and strategies of the Common Core project, the actual writing of the standards with comparisons to existing standards, the true level of involvement of the states and teachers in the process, and the arbitrary rush to get the standards approved.
Opponents Claim the Standards Will Dictate Curriculum and Impact Non-Public Schools
The CCSS does not set a curriculum. Rather, “The Common Core State Standards include sample texts that demonstrate the level of text complexity appropriate for the grade level and compatible with the learning demands set out in the standards.”1
However: As detractors so wisely anticipate, he who controls the test, also controls the curriculum.
Some very logical predictions:
“Everyone claims there’s all this local control and the ability for teachers to do what’s best for teachers,” said state Rep. Tom McMillin, a Michigan Republican who has led the push to eliminate the standards. “But as long as you have the assessment tied to the Common Core, you are teaching to the tests.”2
“Common Core supporters reject calling the standards “curriculum.” The standards are copyrighted (unchangeable), and they represent at least 85 percent of state standards. The remaining 15 percent flexibility to add content allows states to say they control the standards. This is like dictating that all new homes in America be built exactly the same and then letting homeowners add three family pictures to personalize it.”3
“Now that David Coleman4, the architect of the Common Core standards, has become president of the College Board, we can expect that the SAT will be aligned to the standards. No one will escape their reach, whether they attend public or private school.5
“Nationally applied tests including the SAT, ACT and AP exams are being brought into alignment with Common Core.”6
“Implementation instructions for the states written by the authors of the Common Core suggest that a national curriculum is the goal of the standards. NGA [National Governors Association] recommends that ‘States and districts…share the costs of developing new curricula and instructional tools and not each develop their own at greater expense for each.’”7
“Though the specific provisions of the Common Core only directly bind public schools, it is reasonably predictable that private schools that accept federal funding (through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, for example) may face a decision between foregoing federal funding and accepting the Common Core standards in the near future. Moreover, President Obama intends to condition funding from Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on states’ agreement to follow common standards ‘developed by a state-led consortium’…. The current impact of the Common Core on home and private education is revealed in the expanding state longitudinal databases, shifting college admissions expectations, newly updated curricula, and revised standardized tests. All these are fulfilling education historian Diane Ravitch’s prediction that “no one will escape [the Common Core’s] reach, whether they attend public or private school.”8,9
OK, So CCSS Will Eventually Dictate Curriculum. Is That So Bad?
The justifiable criticism about the quality of the CCSS has already been presented in Parts 2 and 3. More importantly, there needs to be a realization of philosophical bias in the allowable curricula and teaching methods — currently in practice.
For example, it has been found that “informational texts” (non-fiction) can be assigned because of their topical or political nature instead of because their complexity (which was a stated priority of CCSS). The National Council of Teachers of English published a book in 2011, English Language Arts, Grades 9-12, to show teachers how to implement the CCSS. Sarah Brown Wessling was the main author and was named 2010 Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers, a sponsor of Common Core.
Her “informational” preferences were described in the March 14, 2012 issue of Education Week:
“[Wessling’s] students are analyzing the rhetoric in books about computer geeks, fast food teenage marketing, the working poor, chocolate-making and diamond mining. They were allowed to choose books about those real-world topics as part of a unit on truth. Students are also dissecting the sources, statistics and anecdotes the authors use to make their arguments in books like ‘Branded’ by Alissa Quart and ‘Nickel and Dimed’ by Barbara Ehrenreich.
“Some readers may not know that ‘Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers’ is a 2003 trade book about marketing to teens, and ‘Nickel and Dimed’ is an anti-capitalist tract presented as a diary about the author’s three-month experiences as a low-wage earner.”10
At the same time, respected classics and important historical documents are relegated to ordinary status in many cases. For example:
“Under Common Core, classics such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ are of no more academic value than the pages of the Federal Register or the Federal Reserve archives — or a pro-Obamacare opinion essay in The New Yorker. Audio and video transcripts, along with ‘alternative literacies’ that are more ‘relevant’ to today’s students (pop song lyrics, for example), are on par with Shakespeare.”11
Common Core is also betting some of its success on the subtle.
“For example, place the proper punctuation on this sentence: ‘Government gives us our rights’.” Throughout these Common Core materials are messages that normalize things, in small impressionable brains, that may be contrary to your [read: the parent’s] worldview.12
The “Kick to the Stomach”
Finally, the gravity of the CCSS movement is described by an Arizona teacher (Brad McQueen, 5th grade) who was asked by his state’s board of education to participate in CCSS review in Chicago of the ELA standards. It’s what could be called a modern day version of “thought-crime” — a mere thirty years after Orwell’s book.
“My turning point came when in answer to questions I had about a student writing sample, my Common Core handler blurted out, ‘We don’t ever care what the kids’ opinions are. If they write what they think or put forth their opinion then they will fail the test.’
“I have always taught my students to think for themselves. They are to study multiple views on a given topic, then take their own position and support it with evidence. ‘That is the old way of writing,’ my Common Core handler sighed. ‘We want students to repeat the opinions of the “experts” that we expose them to on the test. This is the “new” way of writing with the Common Core.’
“I discovered later that this was not just some irritated, rogue Common Core handler, rather this was a philosophy I heard repeated again and again. I pointed out that this was not the way that teachers teach in the classroom. She retorted that, ‘We expect that when the test comes out the teachers in the classroom will imitate the skills emphasized on the test (teach to the test) and employ this new way of writing and thinking.’ This was a complete kick in the stomach moment for me.”13
The Left’s agenda is coming through loud and clear.
Oscar A. (Tony) Rubio is a writer who merges the lessons of history with current events to suggest a better path. This Cincinnati native resides in Clermont county and believes that our national mood would be improved if we listened to more Big Band and Jazz. He is certain that we must take action on the local and state levels now if we are to realize our hope that the White House will be occupied by the party which respects human life, the Constitution and Natural Law beginning on January 20, 2017. Tony blogs at www.cartaremi.wordpress.com and www.sportuoso.wordpress.com.
All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.
2 – “Lack of classroom testing, cost, quick approval worry Common Core critics, by Philp Elliott, Associated Press, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765644769/For-critics-of-Common-Core-educational-folly.html?pg=all, 1/3/2014
3 – “Will Common Core dictate math and ELA curriculum?,” by Kay Bivens,http://www.lakewyliepilot.com/2014/05/18/2428546/will-common-core-dictate-math.html, 5/18/2014
4 — “In 2007, David left McGraw-Hill and cofounded Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit…played a leading role in developing the Common Core State Standards in math and literacy. David left Student Achievement Partners in the fall of 2012 to become president of the College Board.. He has been recognized as one of Time magazine’s “11 Education Activists for 2011”. https://www.collegeboard.org/about/leadership/david-coleman
5 — “Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards,” by Diane Ravitch, 2/26/2013,http://dianeravitch.net/2013/02/26/why-i-cannot-support-the-common-core-standards/,
6 – What Texans need to know about Common Core education standards,” by Jeffrey Weiss,http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20140623-what-texans-need-to-know-about-common-core-education-standards.ece, 6/24/2014
7 – taken from “8) Does the Common Core lead to a national curriculum?”,http://www.hslda.org/commoncore/topic8.aspx, with the NGA quote from Grossman, Reyna, and Shipton, Realizing the Potential, 25, accessed June 8, 2013, http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/1110CCSSIIMPLEMENTATIONGUIDE.PDF .
8 – taken from “7) Will the Common Core Impact homeschools and private schools?”, http://www.hslda.org/commoncore/topic7.aspx, which referred to “Preparing Students for College and the Workforce,” White House, 2010, accessed June 4, 2013,http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/education_standard_factsheet.pdf ; see also “Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies (Title I, Part A),” U.S. Department of Education, accessed June 17, 2013, http://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/index.html .
9 – Ibid., which referred to Diane Ravitch, “Why I Oppose the Common Core Standards,” Washington Post, February 26, 2013, accessed June 10, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/26/why-i-oppose-common-core-standards-ravitch/
10 – from page 20 of “How Common Core’s ELA Standards Place College Readiness at Risk”, by Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky, a Pioneer Institute white paper No. 89 September 2012, http://heartland.org/sites/default/files/commoncoreelastandards.pdf
11 – “Rotten to the Core (Part 2): Readin’, Writin’ and Deconstructionism,” by Michelle Malkin, http://michellemalkin.com/2013/01/25/rotten-to-the-core-part-2-readin-writin-and-deconstructionism/, 1/25/2013
12 – “Common Core: Just Standards or Deceit?”, by Mary Anne Marcella, http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/11/common_core_just_standards_or_deceit.html, 11/20/2014
13 – “A scathing interview with a 5th grade teacher who was in the room when Common Core was being created,” by Benjamin Weingarten, http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2014/05/22/a-scathing-interview-with-a-5th-grade-teacher-who-was-in-the-room-when-common-core-was-being-created/, 5/2/2014