Monday, May 5, 2014


The attack on Common Core is building. It is not an argument or discussion being made by educators to improve but are made to destroy it. The attacks have taken on a decidedly political nature. The need for Common Core is clear; the current system when left to town boards, school districts, counties, and states did not work. Nonetheless, Common core needs to be discussed on it merits.

I sometimes scratch my head in wonder, is there anything we can do in the United States to make things better without the “radical hate the government” element entering the picture. They attack Bush, they attack Obama, and they attack the secretary of Education. Does there always have to be some political gain or loss? The health care debate was the same; the free enterprise system failed and the government had to step in to make it work. Just as we were talking about the best way to keep Americans healthy, we are talking about finding the best way of educating our children! Isn’t the United States founded on the premise that everyone has an equal opportunity? Doesn’t that start with every child being given an equal chance in educations? Doesn’t that mean our children are a national resource.

More and more, the pile of articles based on “hate” for the federal government is climbing while the actual logic applied in those articles seems to be deteriorating. I read and reread the complaints of teachers and others about the program. Those that ring hollow are the ones that challenge government’s involvement in anything; they insist that educators leave education to locals, which has proved a failure, as just mentioned. The next group of complaints center around those who focus on cutting taxes to save “their” hard-earned dollars and not spend it on someone else’s kids, and then there are those who want to make money by privatizing schools. Sprinkle in a few segregationist, a few religious extremist, and some well meaning parents who want to pick and chose schools so their children can attend a better schools then everyone else’s children. I consider the last category to be among the valid arguments made about the program because their aim is to make the program as good as it possible can be even if it is for a select few.

The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, directed the design of the program to correct what many, including me, see as failures in our K-12 educational system. There are geographic and economic regions in the country—some within walking distance of one another—where the educational system is deplorable and others where it is excellent, unfortunately the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) suggests the deplorable out number the excellent; by far. To publish a list of suggested standards is clearly an attempt to make things better for everyone. I was shocked to read where a teacher said Common Core lowered standards; this is like saying Common Core is like having a race to find out who we have to cripple so they are the same as everyone else. In addition, teacher after teacher is afraid of testing children because educational administrators will see the results, which is tantamount to saying, “I do not want my boss to find out that I do not know that I am not doing my job.” Teaching is sweaty palm profession, especially the first few years; if it isn’t, perhaps you have chosen the wrong profession. Perhaps you should consider taking a course in why tests are given and how to write and administer test.

I will say this to all the “hate” the government types. The government is there to do what we cannot do for ours selves; individually, we do not have the money, the space, the time, the interest, or the knowledge. Collectively, we do. I would hope we have the will to make Common Core work or create something better that will put America in first place in the world, which can only happen if we, teachers and parents, discuss, debate, and fight about Common Core rationally and in depth. All I ask is that the American people, especially the parents, stop and think about what Common Core aims to do. Education cost money and good teachers cost money; the American people deserve to receive an honest return on every tax dollar spent. However, if people refuse to pay taxes to starve out public educations, they will have destroyed a great nation, and we will end ups with generations of educational failures—we have enough of those writing letters declaring Common Core was designed by Obama to cripple children intellectually, just as Bush designed NCLB—to make them puppets of the federal government.  

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