Thursday, August 14, 2014

Common Myths About Common Core

     Let me begin this post by saying I do not believe that the federal government should have any role in education. I think it is clear that since education was nationalized in the United States in 1978 with  President Carter's creation of the Department of Education, the education system in this country has failed miserably. I think nationalized education only leads to localized ignorance. Education has been transformed from a system that prepares children for successful adulthood, to a system designed to gain benefits for teachers and their unions.
     The preceding being said and understood, I think there have been many misconceptions, and much ignorance, about Common Core. The idea of Common Core was created by some individual states Governors who wanted to ensure that all students were receiving a minimal standard of instruction in math and reading. The idea germinated in the early 2000s became the metrics for the Obama administration's Race To The Top initiative as part of the 2009 stimulus package. While the Common Core standards are not a panacea for fixing what is wrong with education in the United States, neither are they a pariah to that system.
     Common Core is a set of recommended goals that students at different grade levels are required to reach. They do not include a curriculum, recommended methods, or materials for reaching those goals. Common Core provides no oversight to textbook publishers, therefore the latter are able to stamp their materials with the Common Core label. Local school districts then tell concerned, and sometimes upset, parents that the materials are part of Common Core. The implementation of the Common Core standards are left to the states and local school districts.
     The Common Core standards are what we use to expect from our students and teachers decades ago before teaching became a union function. The problem that Common Core espouses to address is the fact that according to American universities, forty percent of all incoming college freshmen do not have the skills to succeed in college level courses. And this sad state of public education in this country is a direct result of its nationalization, and its main emphasis being transferred from the child to the teacher.
     So while Common Core is not the nefarious plot that some are making it out to be, it also is not the remedy to what ails our education system. For that we need more competition and privatization. The more localized the control over education, the better the results. That is why homeschooling has the best results; one can not get more localized than educating in the home. Vouchers for charter schools have been shown to improve education greatly, the competition for education dollars being a great incentive for the schools to provide a better result that is student-centered. In the final analysis, I do not think the Common Core standards will do much to help, neither do I think they will do much to harm. Concerned parents would do well to address education problems in their local schools and not expend energy fighting federal standards whose effect are neutral at best.


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