Common Core Series Conclusion: Let’s Return to Education that Works

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Common Core State StandardsArticle 8 in a series on Common Core Standards

by Celeste Busby

Contrary to what many people in Virginia believe, Virginia does have Common Core (CC). It has been added to both the English and math Standards of Learning (SOL) and according to a statement on the Virginia Department of Education website, the math standards are “fully aligned with the national Common Core State Standards [CCSS] and meet national and international benchmarks for content and rigor established by organizations such as the College Board.” The international benchmarking is questionable! If it comes from the fact that CCSS were added to the SOL, that benchmarking didn’t happen according to statements and testimonies by Drs. Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, members of the CCSS Validation Committee. But, it may be possible that Virginia did do its own international benchmarking — just not sure about that.

In addition, CC is coming in the “backdoor” in a couple of ways. CC teaching materials are available in teacher supply stores and departments, plus on the Internet. College entrance exams, like SAT and ACT have been changed to reflect CC information and methods, so students will need to know that.

Return to Education that Works

The “Greatest Generation” that our American society has ever produced (born 1910 to 1945), grew up and went to school from about 1915 through the 1940s with the very last ones going into the 1950s. Those living during the Great Depression (1930 until early 1940s) existed on very little during those terrible times. (My mother used to tell how she walked to school barefoot in the snow one day. Thankfully, a teacher saw to it that she did not come home barefoot.) People from the “Greatest Generation” went on to win World War II and the Korean War. They are responsible for inventing or developing many of the conveniences and life-saving devices that we use today, for the most part, without the benefit of computers like we have today. They received a traditional education with students being individually responsible for their learning.

From about the late 1950s until today, our schools have been suffering from education reform that has not provided much improvement. This so-called “reform” correlates with the downward turn of U.S. student performance that has been basically flat-lined since 1970. (See CATO Institute chart.) The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” comes to mind.

But, reform and “fix” we did — for decades and decades with social justice and progressive indoctrination and Outcome-Based Education (OBE) that included:

  • New Math or “fuzzy math,” instead of Traditional Math.
  • Whole Word Language with drawing lines around the shape of words to learn to spell, in place of phonics that actually worked.
  • Rote learning (think memorization of the Times Tables) was eliminated.
  • Cursive penmanship was eliminated.
  • Learning emphasis changed from individual responsibility for learning to group learning, with the group given a grade that one or two students actually earned for the whole group.
  • Grades given for attitude and behavior.

Professor Mary Grabar teaches English at Emory University. In her article, “Common Core’s End Game: Redistributing Grades,” she states that the “end game” for CC is to redistribute grades “by lowering the standards, by assigning points for behaviors and attitudes instead of academics, and by grading students as a group, instead of individually.” She also refers to Karl Marx’s dictum, “To each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Having emigrated from a Communist country, she is familiar with anti-American attitudes.

Tests Dictate Curricula

The people behind these different, education reforms want to “fundamentally change our country,” and they have figured out that by changing the tests, they can get done what they have been trying to do for decades. Tests dictate the curricula. The recently released Advance Placement U.S. History exam, or APUSH and AP History Test, as it is also called, is a prime example of this. College Board, a private company, produced it without any input from local school districts. The founding of our country, the writing of our Constitution and the great people who were responsible for it all have almost been totally eliminated from the new test and the corresponding teaching materials. In addition, the rest of our history has been re-written in a very biased and negative way by people who apparently don’t like our country.

This isn’t the first time that these same people behind education “reform” have tried to re-write our American history. According to Jane Robbins from American Principles Project, it was tried back in the 1990s, but it was so “politically correct and anti-American that the U.S. Senate voted 99 to 1 against it.” 

Ever since I first read about the Common Core State Standards, or Common Core as it is commonly called, I have been saying that it is Outcome-Based Education on steroids. Now, Jane Robbins, backs that up in her video. OBE was a failure in past decades and apparently is a failure now, as Common Core.

The “proof is in the pudding.” Just a couple of examples are New York state and Maryland. New York has had CC for two years.  Only 31 percent of the students passed the end-of-year tests last spring. In Montgomery County, Md., 3,713 students failed the final exam in Algebra I — that’s 82 percent of the students who took Algebra I. Students were given an additional fifteen percentage points on their report cards, but they still had to attend a summer school class in order to pass the course.

National Standards Are Illegal

National standards like CCSS are illegal. They break three federal laws, plus the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.  CC isn’t more rigorous; it’s mediocre and more confusing. Bridging the learning gap between students, really just lowers the need for top students to perform at the best of their ability. Despite all the money thrown at public education from 1990 to 2013 on OBE and other fads, National Association for Educational Progress charts show that there was only an increase from two percent to nine percent in math proficiency for top students whereas for bottom performing students there was an increase from 52 percent to 74 percent. How about these results for proof that bringing the bottom up also dumbs the top down? Is there any reason to think that CC will be different?

Teachers used to be allowed to be creative and to make learning fun and interesting; they had control of their class. Now, with CC they are only allowed to lecture, or impart their knowledge on a subject, for fifteen minutes per class. Teaching to the test is the norm, because — right or wrong — tests are now used to evaluate how well the teacher is teaching. “One-size-fits-all” is the education attitude. While not written as CC, current attitude dictates that poor behavior by students in class is to be tolerated. In the long run, top students may “tune out,” because it is not challenging enough. Other students may drop out because of the confusion. This is supported in a This Week in Education article “Thompson: Common Core will Double Dropout Rate, Says Carnegie Corporation.”  

Lies about the Need for STEM-Trained Workers

We apparently aren’t being told the truth about the need for more workers with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training, either. While Microsoft’s founder, Bill Gates, is calling for more visas for high-tech workers, the Microsoft company will be cutting 18,000 jobs over the next several months. The most recent U.S. Census reported, “Only one in four STEM degree holders is in a STEM job.” There is no “credible evidence to support the IT industry’s assertions of labor shortages.” In fact, some feel the false shortage reporting may be to drive down salaries for high-tech jobs. Others feel the issue may be over-recruitment by colleges and universities due to the fact that they receive more funding for these courses. It’s likely both.

This will be my last article in the series on Common Core, although I may do updates from time to time, and I do plan to write on other education issues.

A NOTE TO PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS AND GUARDIANS:  I urge you to get involved with your schools, attend school board meetings, and learn all that you can about what is happening in education. Read up on people like Marc Tucker, Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Ayers, Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton and others to see what their real motives are for education. Push back on poor math teaching methods and porn on school reading lists, as other parents in Virginia have done and are doing now. Learn to recognize good education versus Outcome-Based Education or Common Core education and watch for political indoctrination and anti-American indoctrination in your children’s textbooks and other school materials. Join education advocacy groups to help fight for better education for your children. If there isn’t a group near you, start one. We need quality education that produces independent, motivated and intelligent American citizens who will be able to compete in a global economy.  That is different from producing “global citizens” that are likely trained to “follow.” Above all, stress the importance of good education to your children, for being informed and independent provides the pathway to a better life.

Check out these education websites to keep abreast on Common Core:

NATIONAL: Truth in American Education
American Principles Project                                                                     

VIRGINIA: Eye on Virginia Education (EVE):
Virginia Education Coalition (VEC):                                                       

For a list of where states stand on CC, today, check out:

Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

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