Friday, January 17, 2014

Confronting the Common Core: Highlights

January 17, 2014, by Mary Grabar
More than 120 people drove through heavy rain to hear the panel discussion “Confronting the Common Core” in Gainesville, Georgia, on January 13. The event was sponsored by Concerned Women for America and American Principles in Action, and featured Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow at the American Principles Project; Dr. Terrence O. Moore, History Professor, Hillsdale College; and William Ligon, Georgia State Senator, Third District.
Common Core is “outcome-based education, round two.” Outcome-based education was the fad of evaluating students based on their attitudes and dispositions rather than knowledge.
The purpose of Common Core is to train students for entry-level jobs.
Terms have been redefined: “Rigor,” once associated with knowledge has come to mean the ability to grapple with something that doesn’t have a defined answer. “Critical thinking” now means the ability to be critical (usually of traditional ideas and values), instead of the ability to analyze.
Companies who are producing curricula and computer technology stand to make billions.
Claims that the standards were adopted by the states because they were adopted by the National Governors Association are false. The NGA is a trade association that has no legislative grant. It’s a quasi-governmental organization that does not release its membership list.
Much of the funding, primarily for marketing Common Core, comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with the low-ball figure of $170 million spent so far. Among the organizations funded are the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.
The “standards” are untested. The director of Achieve, the non-profit that designed the standards, said we would know the outcomes in 13 years. In other words, we won’t know if the standards work until we have an entire generation educated under them.
The new standards had no input from K-3 teachers. They flip common sense. Young children are asked to think abstractly, while high school students get simplified material. “Fuzzy math is back.” Science and social studies standards are coming soon.
The dangers of data tracking: Students will be tracked on over 400 data points that go well beyond academics, to such things as health and family voting patterns. Common Core calls for identical data systems between states, so in effect having a consistent federal data base, with various government departments of Justice, Education, Labor and others sharing data with each other.
Dangerous technology: “affective computing” and “interactive platforms.”
“The progressive’s dream is to know everything about every child so they can determine his future.”
Terrence O. Moore, “Appendix B looks like the Oprah book club.”
Terrence Moore was principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools, a K-12 charter school in Fort Collins, Colorado, whose high school was twice ranked the number one public high school in the state. He now is an advisor to the Barney Charter School Initiative at Hillsdale College, in addition to being a professor there. He is helping to set up a classical school in Atlanta.
Common Core is the opposite of great schools.
The timing of Common Core is “purposeful,” intended to prevent us from seeing what works with charter schools just as they’re being set up.
The name “Common Core” is used to the opposite of its meaning: to have a common list of works that are read and discussed. The name itself is intended to confuse.
The purported aim of “college and career readiness,” is a new concern among educators. “It has not been an aim while I’ve been in education.”
Another buzz phrase is the “21st century global economy.” But the founding fathers believed in an education based on the classics that prepared citizens for their eighteenth-century global economy.
Art and music are dying a slow death.
In regards to 21st century literacy, did people become illiterate after Y2K?
The standards are written in eduspeak (with terms like “scaffolding,” which means teaching and help), but they are failed pedagogical methods, like group work.
Appendix B of the standards, which offers suggested readings of appropriate text complexity, is window dressing with a scattering of classical authors intended to throw off critics.
We need to look at what was left out: Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Franklin, or anything inspired by Christian faith, such as Dante and Milton.
Complexity was determined, by Lexile Frameworks, so that The Grapes of Wrath is put at the third grade level. Professor Moore demonstrated the absurdity of assigning the novel to third-graders by reading a random passage.
“Appendix B looks like the Oprah book club.”
Common Core-compliant textbooks are disturbing. A passage on the Constitution is intended to mislead students on the intentions of the founders and the meaning of the Constitution. As in much of the historical material (now taught in English class), more space is taken up in the Common Core textbook by modern commentators than the original work. Such commentaries were filled with references to the founders being a “vicious” “master class.”
Rather than being presented accurately as a document intended to expand the franchise the Constitution is presented as “evolving.” Students are not even given the three-fifths compromise to read, but are directed toward a negative view of the founders through commentary. The goals are clearly ideological.
Similarly, for the fiction that is presented along with teachers instruction. With Kate Chopin’s short story, “The Story of an Hour,” teachers are told to give students leading questions toward a negative view of nineteenth-century marriage. (The story concerns the elation a woman feels upon hearing about the death of her husband.)
Common Core is about superficiality and urges political and social dogma. “If you control the stories, you control the regime,” Moore concluded by citing Plato. Learn more in his book, The Story-Killers: A Common-Sense Case against the Common Core, which I reviewed here.
Senator Ligon: Federal Control: Where do you go if you have a concern?
What is taught in Georgia should not be determined by forces outside of Georgia. Until 1985 education standards were determined locally. Federal control of curriculum means that citizens have no control. Where do you go if you have a concern?
A false crisis was created to sell the new standards. There was no standards crisis. In fact, new standards had just been created in 2008.
The state of Georgia spends $13 billion a year on education. The $400 million received in federal stimulus funds over a four-year period were a “drop in the bucket.”
The Common Core standards did not receive much input from Georgia teachers. Out of a total of 20,000 math teachers only 96 commented on the standard. Out of a total of 17,000 English teachers, only 142 commented. The vast majority of those commentors, however, disapproved of the standards.
The standards are not internationally benchmarked.
Senator Ligon is introducing two bills this session. SB 167 would withdraw Georgia from the standards and SB 203 would prevent data collection.

No comments: