Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Common Core Curriculum

                What do you know about the curriculum known as Common Core?  I have read and heard things about this program that brought concern to me; therefore, I wanted more understanding of it.  The first thing that I wanted to know is if my state – Alaska – has adopted this curriculum.  According to this site, forty-five states and the District of Columbia - plus the territories of American Samoa Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands as well as the Department of Defense Education Activity - have adopted the Common Core State Standards.  The five remaining states which have not yet adopted Common Core are Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia plus the territory of Puerto Rico.  This information relieved my mind a little bit but not much because I have grandchildren living in two states that have adopted the curriculum. 

                Texas, one of the five states that rejected Common Core still has problems in its education system with its CSCOPE curriculum.  CSCOPE was designed by a private corporation as “instructional material.”  Because it is not “curriculum,” it escaped scrutiny until lately.  The Lessons are written by CSCOPE staff and former teachers and are not shared or accessed to parents.  An independent vigilant group known as CSCOPE Review discovered a lesson plan in which the Boston Tea Party was compared to “an act of terrorism.”  Students were also assigned to “design the flag for a new socialist nation.”  Texans are becoming more and more aware of what CSCOPE involves and hopefully will take proper action to protect the rising generation.

                I found this statement in my effort to gain more knowledge about the Common Core State Standards Initiative:  “The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt.  The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit bearing entry courses in two or four year college programs or enter the workforce.  The standards are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics in school.”

                The mission statement for Common Core State Standards  is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.  The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.  With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

                The above information sounds okay.  We want our elementary and secondary students to learn what they need to know in order to be prepared for college and/or career and to take their rightful place as responsible adults.  So why is there so much concern about what our students are being taught?  I believe we are being told something different than what is actually taking place.

                The Blaze reported some disturbing information being taught in upstate New York as part of a Common Core-aligned lesson on government and human rights.  A father said that “his daughter and her classmates are being taught a section on the 30 `universal human rights’ declared by the United Nations in 1945.  Those rights include the right to a nationality, and to change that nationality whenever you want to; the right to a job for everyone who wants one; the right to `social security’ (to be taken care of by the government when you cannot do it yourself); the right to food, clothing, housing and medicine; the right to work and join a union (One of the rights also states that you cannot be compelled to join an association.); the right to play.

                When this father of a fifth grade student at the public school sent an email to his daughter’s teacher questioning the lessons, he received a telephone call from the principal of the school.  During the telephone conversation, the father learned that the lessons are tied to the Common Core guidelines found on EngageNY;  the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights was being taught for about an hour each day over an eight-week period while the U.S. Constitution was part of another eight-week `government’ section, however only three weeks were spent studying it.  He was told that the principal believes that most public schools in the state are using this program as well as others from Common Core.  The principal also disclosed that he “was not happy about the curriculum mandates, but was powerless to do anything about it.  All of the decisions and directions came from the state.”

                The article at The Blaze said that the students were taught that they had many other “rights” such as the right to work; the right to equal pay for equal work; the right to just and favorable pay in order to have “an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection;” the right to “a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services;” “the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control; all children shall enjoy the same social protection whether they are born in or out of wedlock.”  The students are apparently being taught that “the government would be expected to provide just about anything a person needs from cradle to grave.”

                The father learned that the students watch videos – 30 short videos about each of the Human Rights - produced by the Church of Scientology.  This sounds like a possible violation of the oft-cited separation of church and state, but the attorney father had a greater concern.  His concern was that “a specific competing political policy (from the U.N.) is being taught in greater detail than the U.S. Constitution.”   A related concern was that “students are then being called to action and asked to sign a petition supporting a list of rights that have no legal standing in our country.”

                The Blaze continued their investigation by contacting the New York State Education Department.  They were referred to a basic information website for Common Core information, and their five questions have not yet been answered by the department.

                The Utah State Legislature passed a bill adopting Common Core and the governor signed it in February 2013.  In an article in the Deseret News, Oak Norton wrote:  “Common Core is the biggest education boondoggle foisted upon the American people, and it will prove to be worse as time goes on.  How will Utah students be better prepared than anyone else in the United States when they are being commonly trained for the same jobs?  …”

                A commenter on this article wrote:  “Those who study Common Core and don’t just accept the propaganda that is being shared by the education system, find there are no studies that are benchmarked, and no high standards but a form of dumbing down our education and our children.  A form of government control is being installed that will greatly affect our ability to make any kind of future change.

                “Common Core ignores your child’s uniqueness.  Common Core puts your child in a national database for cradle to grave tracking.  Common Core will prepare your child for technical school, but not all colleges.  Common Core math standards are lower than our old standards.  Common Core English standards reduce great literature reading in high school to 30% of reading, while 70% is for `informational texts.’  Common Core was not `state led’ or `internationally benchmarked’.  The players behind Common Core are large corporations aiming to massively grow profits by getting all students on the exact same new learning schedule.  You could rename this Corporate Core.”

                Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author, wrote about problems with Common Core.    “Variously motivated corporate interests, arguing that the core was being sloppily taught, organized a behind-the-scenes campaign to super-standardize it.  They named their handiwork the Common Core State Standards to hide the fact that it was driven by policymakers in Washington D.C., who have thus far shoved it into every state except Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia.

                “This was done with insufficient public dialogue or feedback from experienced educators, no research, no pilot or experimental programs – no evidence at all that a floor-length list created by unnamed people attempting to standardize what’s aught is a good idea.

                “It’s a bad idea.  Ignore the fact that specific Common Core State Standards will open up enough cans of worms to keep subject-matter specialists arguing among themselves forever.  Consider instead the merit of Standards from a general perspective:  1) Standards shouldn’t be attached to school subjects, but to the qualities of mind it’s hoped the study of school subjects promotes.  Subjects are mere tools …. Teachers should be held accountable for the quality of what they produce, not how they produce it. 

2) The world changes.  The future is indiscernible.  Clinging to a static strategy in a dynamic world may be comfortable, even comforting, but it’s a Titanic-deck-chair exercise.

3) The Common Core Standards assume that what kids need to know is covered by one or another of the traditional core subjects.  In fact, the unexplored intellectual terrain lying between and beyond those familiar fields of study is vast, expands by the hour, and will go in directions no one can predict.

4) So much orchestrated attention is being showered on the Common Core Standards, the main reason for poor student performance is being ignored – a level of childhood poverty the consequences of which no amount of schooling can effectively counter.

5) The Common Core kills innovation.  When it’s the only game in town, it’s the only game in town.

6) The Common Core Standards are a set-up for national standardized tests, tests that can’t evaluate complex thought, can’t avoid cultural bias, can’t measure non-verbal learning, can’t predict anything of consequence (and waste boatloads of money).

7) The word `standards’ gets an approving nod from the public (and from most educators) because it means `performance that meets a standard.’  However, the word also means `like everybody else,’ and standardizing minds is what the Standards try to do.  Common Core Standards fans sell the first meaning; the Standards deliver the second meaning.  Standardized minds are about as far out of sync with deep-seated American values as it’s possible to get.

8) The Common Core Standards’ stated aim - `success in college and careers’ – is at best pedestrian, at worst an affront.  The young should be exploring the potentials of humanness.”

                Brady concluded his article thusly, “Future historians (if there are any) are going to shake their heads in disbelief.  They’ll wonder how, in a single generation, the world’s oldest democracy dismantled its engine – free, public, locally controlled, democratic education.
                “If they dig into the secretive process that produced the Common Core State Standards, most of their questions will be answered.”

                I asked my daughter-in-law – a former teacher who is active in the PTA at her children’s school – what she thought about Common Core.  She told me basically the same thing that Brady wrote in his article.  Teachers do not like Common Core because it stifles their teaching ability.  Teachers who simply teach to standardized tests are not meeting the needs of individual students. 

                Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh, an educator with experience living under communism in Romania, also wrote about the problems of Common Core.  She shared some history about the birth of the U.S. Department of Education on October 17, 1979, and how education in the United States has changed over the past thirty-three years.  “People’s patriotic behavior and protectiveness of their culture, of their language, of the capitalist system in general that made them the most prosperous nation on earth, began to erode more and more overtly.  Among the culprits were teachers who advanced personal socialist agendas to impressionable youth who believed every word they said.”

                Dr. Paugh wrote later in her article:  “Apparently, standardized tests `fail to produce a valid and reliable measurement of what significant minorities of students actually know, especially students with disabilities, English language learners or those from varied cultural backgrounds.  Without accurate measurement, accountability systems are not only ineffective, they are unethical.’  (Core Standards)

                “Education must be `collective’ (code word for communism).  If students are not equal, self-esteem is hurt.  Grades and diplomas should be equal for unequal work in order to achieve social justice in education.  Individualism is discouraged yet it is rugged individualism that has made this country great.

                “Common Core is much worse than I had envisioned.  The American Principles Project (conservative think-tank) found that Common Core is one variable in the larger plan to track children from birth to work.

                “Michelle Malkin discovered that the 2009 stimulus package contained a `State Fiscal Stabilization Fund’ offered to states for a `longitudinal data system (LDS) to collect data on public-school students’ such as health, family income, religion, and homework.

                “Glenn Beck’s The Blaze described a 44-page DOE report which indicated the possibility of implementing through Common Core monitoring techniques such as `functional MRIs’ (scanning and mapping a child’s brain function), `using cameras to judge facial expressions, electronic seats that determine posture, pressure-sensitive computer mouse, and a biometric wrist wrap.’

                “It will be a fascistic world if every person will be forced into a government-dictated and enforced, dumbed-down mold, where everybody is equally intelligent, equally capable, equally trained, equally able, and equally educated with a diploma on the wall that is not worth the paper with the fancy intaglio printing on it.”

                After studying just a little about Common Core, I believe it is the progressive/socialist/communist way to gain control of the rising generation.  I urge parents to become very involved in their children’s education.  I suggest that you consider home schooling your children.  If you are not in a position to do this, I encourage you to be very active in their education.  Make sure that you know what your children are learning and be prepared to counter every bit of indoctrination they receive in their schools. 

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