By: Brent Parrish
There has been a lot of talk and news lately about Common Core (CC)—specifically, the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), i.e. national standards for education. Whether you have children in school or not, CCSSI affects every American, in one way or the other. One could say Common Core represents a radical bureaucratic “revolution” in education. Although proponents claim Common Core is a States’ or local initiative, it is, in many ways, a great “bait and switch” that flew underneath the radar of many Americans.
There are several reasons I decided to write on the subject of Common Core standards. The primary reason was to ask the who, what, why, where, when and how. I know a number of people don’t know much about Common Core. As a matter of fact, the other night I heard Bill O’Reilly say on his show on Fox that he didn’t know much about Common Core standards. Ironically, O’Reilly was also discussing the possibility of Jeb Bush as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. Jeb Bush is a prominent figure behind Common Core, which I will get into later.
A well-informed and educated populace tends toward a well-informed electorate. A sick culture will produce a sick body politic. Teaching children and young adults how to think, and not what to think, is what I believe the goal of learning and education should be. But the very paradigm and definition of “learning” is being redefined in the Common Core standards. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” The authors of Common Core understand and comprehend Lincoln’s words quite well.
Secondly, I discovered quite a bit of interlock in my research into the philosophy and ideology of Marxism with the current proposed Common Core standards. Additionally—and some would say, naturally—I experienced this same interlock phenomenon in examining the aims and goals of the United Nations—specifically, the goals of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), among other U.N. initiatives, particularly those concerning “climate change” and “environmental sustainability,” i.e. Agenda 21.
The interlock between Common Core and educational goals and initiatives laid out earlier in the Twentieth Century by progressive educators like John Dewey, Charles Hubbard Judd, George Counts, Stanley H. Hall—and even Soviet psychologist Lev Vykotsky, whose theories on learning are based on the communal process (now lovingly referred to as “collaborative learning“)—is quite compelling.
Writing this article has been challenging on several fronts. Not only are there numerous educational issues surrounding CC, there are also a plethora of social, cultural and economic issues swirling around the debate on Common Core. Many of these social, cultural and economic components have already been folded into the Common Core curriculum, hence the controversy.
When one studies who the major players are behind Common Core, I would say more on the left support CC than on the right. But you really have to throw out the right-left paradigm, in my opinion, when it comes to CC. Common Core is not a right-left thing, per se; it is a progressive, globalist, collectivist thing. There are members from both the right-side and the left-side of the aisle who have a stake in pushing Common Core standards, for various reasons and motives. Some of them might be described as the “usual suspects,” but others might surprise you, as we will see later in this article.
Since my intent is to try and provide a detailed, yet concise, overview of the who, what, where, when, why and how on Common Core, while exploring a bit of the philosophy and historical origins behind CC standards, and the corroboration of CC standards with the aims and goals of Marxists from my own research, I decided it might be best to structure the article by stepping back into time from the present to the past—meaning, by first looking at the who, what, where, when, why and how of Common Core, and then exploring its origins, aims and goals.
For those who wish to research Common Core further, a good deal of information contained in this article has been drawn from the following sources: Karen Bracken, Robin Eubanks, Dr. Peg Luksik, Michael Chapman, Orlean Koehle, Glenn Beck—among others I will be citing throughout the article. (FYI: If you follow the links, you can watch or listen to their presentations on CC.)
Question: What are the Common Core standards, and which States have signed up for it?
In a nutshell, Common Core is nationalized education—a federal, top-down approach to education based in “Constructivism,” i.e. Postmodernism. It is sold as a set of “rigorous” and “internationally benchmarked” standards that will supposedly bring uniformity in education across state lines. Although proponents of CC cannot seem to define “rigor” or “internationally benchmarked” standards.
Common Core standards are a list of what children should know in English Language Arts (ELA) and math in grades K-12, and replaces existing State standards. Science standards are almost left out—specifically, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects. Proponents claim CC will only affect ELA, math, and how testing (a.k.a. “assessment”) is performed. But, in practice, Common Core goes far beyond just English and Math standards.
According to the latest stats in my own research, 45 States have adopted the Common Core standards.
The Common Core standards were adopted by the States (and in some cases before) release on June 2, 2010. By 2011, 45 states had officially adopted Common Core. Yet, by 2013, 62% had never heard of Common Core.
The two D.C. organizations that commissioned Common Core are the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO). The CCSSO has sponsorships located in each State. It is worth noting, in consideration of the claim by proponents that Common Core is simply a local initiative, the NGA is a trade association, not a government agency. Although CCSSI sounds as if it were a voluntary States’ initiative, Common Core is a “national program, written by a national team.”
There was no state or national debate, and no Congressional or state legislative approval was given before implementation of CC began. Forty-six state governors thought they were getting a “free lunch” when they volunteered their states as Common Core participants. The governors were enticed with the promise of federal funds for their states.
The NGA has received the majority of its funding from the federal government. Both the NGA and the CCSSO have also received heavy grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I’ll have more on the NGA, CCSSO and the Gates Foundation when we look at the who’s-who behind Common Core a little later.
There was very little public comment on Common Core or any real research done prior to its adoption. The members of the Common Core validation committee were required to sign non-disclosure agreements. There was only one ELA expert, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and one math expert, Dr. Jim Milgram, on the validation committee, and neither one of them would sign off on it.
More details on the CC validation committee:
One goal often cited in the Common Core standards is to make students college-ready and career-ready by providing them with “21st Century Learning Skills” necessary for a “global economy.” A great deal of ambiguity surrounds just what is meant when a student is assessed to be “college-ready” or “career-ready,” but it appears to be grounded in a communitarian mindset. A lot emphasis is given to the notion of “life-long learning,” i.e. the process of “continuous improvement,” and “global citizenship.”
The new purpose of education under the Common Core standards appears to be the total transformation of society toward a more sustainable future. Knowledge, understanding and comprehension are no longer the primary purpose of learning under the new Common Core standards, but rather redefining “learning” as changes in values, beliefs, feelings or behaviors—sweeping out knowledge and independent thought.
Common Core proponents want students to think about and appreciate all the problems of our current society so that you perceive the need for fundamental transformation in society and the economy, and in the culture at large. Robin Eubanks of InvisibleSerfsCollar.com describes it this way, “If you see conceptuality, [proponents] want to provide the concept … by concepts they tend to mean oppression, racism, sustainability, animal extinctions—things you can relate to through emotion, not facts.” Creativity and innovation is to be grounded in emotion, not logic and rationality. Emotion trumps logic … “this is what you should believe” … “continuous improvement.”
And this is where the semantic manipulation comes in: terms like “critical thinking skills” or “higher-level critical thinking” (red flags) come to define the point where the student has fully accepted the radical changes in values, beliefs, feelings and behaviors that the Common Core standards require, or demand.
One of the requirements of good “global citizenship” is acceptance of the concept of “shared responsibility” or “shared sacrifice”—meaning: responsibilities must be shared by governments, schools and businesses in order to create a more “sustainable” world. As Michael Chapman states in his presentation on the links between UNESCO, Agenda 21 and Common Core, “It’s not fair for to have your wants me until the entire world has its needs met.” (Emphasis on need.) Barack Obama has expressed similar sentiments by his belief in “collective salvation”—and it all revolves around wealth redistribution, and the Marxian definition of equality and fairness.
The language (ELA) component for Common Core is proposing grade school students focus about 50% of their time studying information and data (such as reading EPA manuals), and the rest of their time on traditional literature and language skills. But, by the time they reach high school, they are to spend only 30% of their time on subjects like literature and the balance of time on informational texts like Labor Department regulations—information vs. knowledge. Not only is knowledge being swept away, but the most important part of teaching knowledge is being tossed aside—the student’s understanding and comprehension of knowledge.
In the math component for CC, Michael Chapman points out, the Common Core standards does not define mathematics as a self-existing truth discovered by man, but rather a social construction to meet society’s need. There is no right or wrong answer. We simply dialog to a consensus on what we would like the answer to be based on the “common greater good.” This is where we get bizarre concepts like “radical math,” which essentially equates to “social justice,” i.e. redistribution. The answer to the equation can be whatever we want it to be, as long as no animals or minorities were offended or hurt in the process (cf. sarcasm).
The lynchpin of Common Core is systematization, centralization and data collection. Common Core can be described as a “digital learning program to be used to create ‘commonality’ in curriculum in all States,” according to Orlean Kohle. And it is all the proposed data-tracking and data mining that are proving to be one of the most controversial and disturbing aspects concerning the Common Core standards.
The push within Common Core is that all learning should involve computers, not in your mind. The CC documents reflect, if knowledge is in a computer, instead of your brain, you are weaker and more malleable; it becomes more difficult to create the mental scenarios necessary to determine consequences; it weakens conceptualization. Once again, rational, linear, logical thought is discouraged, information vs. knowledge. These concepts are primarily derived from research conducted by Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky.
One rather pernicious document published by the U.S. Department of Education entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century” (download here) recommends using a myriad of sensors and data-collection techniques to monitor students.
The Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance document also reveals the federal government will monitor things like voting status, healthcare status, family income, religious affiliation, extracurricular activity, along with hundreds of other attributes.
Wait a minute? Doesn’t the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevent the government from collecting personal data on me and my children? Obama’s amendment of FERPA takes away the privacy of students and teachers, and allows the federal government to create a nationalized database.
Question: How did all this sneak under the radar?
Barack Obama was sworn into office in January 2009. One month later the $759 billion stimulus bill was passed—the stimulus written by the Tides Foundation, Apollo Alliance and Van Jones. The president promised the stimulus package would be used for reducing the unemployment rate, and for “stimulating” and “creating jobs.” But the stimulus was used to bypass Congress, thus becoming the president’s personal piggy bank, and allowing him to pay off his cronies and fund his pet projects.
The U.S. Department of Education—the prime bureaucracy behind Common Core—was appropriated $4.35 billion dollars to create the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition. The first phase of RTTT began in November 2009. Applications for RTTT grants were due in January 2010, just one month later. To successfully apply for RTTT, States agreed to the Common Core standards … sight unseen.
The federal government threatens to withhold Title I grant money for education to States who do not adopt and comply with Common Core standards. So there are many incentives to join and punishments for not joining. Additionally, it is difficult for a State to leave once they have signed up, due to the exit rules agreed upon during adoption of the national standards, and changes are difficult since all other States must be in agreement.
In Part 2, we will take a deeper look at the questions, who is behind Common Core, where did CC originate, what are CC’s ultimate aims and goals, and much more!