I posed this question almost a year ago, and today I ask again – do you know what Common Core is?
Common Core, the biggest change in education in US history, is underway, and yet it continues to fly mostly under the radar. If your child or grandchild is in a public school, it is almost certain that he or she is already caught up in this total overhaul of our public education system. Even if you don’t have children involved, you should be concerned because most citizens feel that education is the linch-pin to the success of our nation and way of life.
“Wait a minute,” you might ask. “If Common Core is such a big deal, why haven’t I heard anything about it?” And that is a very important question. Did your school ask you whether you wanted to implement Common Core? Were you involved in deciding what is important in your child’s education? Whenever a major government program is kept secret – especially one that will have such a major impact on your children – you should wonder why.
Here are the basic tenets of Common Core:
- national standards will be applied to make education homogeneous across the country
- teaching methods and content will be focused on preparation for college and careers, rather than the attainment of general knowledge and skills
- courses will encompass more “rigor” (higher level learning)
- content will be technical rather than general; reading materials will be primarily non-fiction; history and philosophy will be limited and focused; and emphasis will be placed on how students learn rather than acquisition of facts
- teachers will become facilitators of group projects and discussions rather than classroom leaders and producers of information – students will collaboratively determine what they should learn and what the correct answers are
These intentions sound good. But like every process change, the devil is in the details. There are so many unanswered questions: if content is homogenized, how will students learn special and individual skills? If the primary instruction model is group work, will introverted students be left behind, or will competitive students be held back? Are we abandoning the building-block approach to knowledge that has traditionally established the foundation for higher learning? Are elementary students capable of determining what they should learn? Will schools cut back on the foo-foo to allow the necessary time to make this work?
And perhaps the biggest question of all: will parents, teachers and local school boards have any control over content, or will our schools become federal government factories spitting out ideologically cloned kids? Look back to pre-war Germany to see how dangerous top-down control of education can be. Defenders of Common Core insist that there will be a great deal of local control. Have you seen any yet? All decisions to this point have been made by a small, elite cadre of educational theorists, government wonks, and profiteers lined up at the Bill Gates money trough.
North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest has it right – he says let’s slow down and take a good, hard look at Common Core before we just jump in, with no questions asked:
As a school board trustee I barged in and studied Common Core up close and personal, alongside the teachers. Although they had no choice in the matter (the train had left the station), many of them were not sold on the idea. An article in Education Week illustrates just how tough the leap from “zero to ten” is going to be. More teachers are now speaking out, and questions about Common Core are beginning to appear in the mainstream media.
Supporters of Common Core say conservative critics are uninformed and unnecessarily cautious – we are roadblocks to progress. We need hope and immediate change! Don’t ask questions, just trust us!
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
So, don’t ask me no questions
And I won’t tell you no lies
So, don’t ask me about my business
And I won’t tell you goodbye
Don’t Ask Me No Questions – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Here’s an EARLY Lynyrd Skynyrd clip (1974, before the plane crash). Look behind them – that’s a SERIOUS back-line of amplifiers!