Call me ignorant, a pompous blow-hard, or dim-witted if you like, but I think Common Core is the best thing ever to happen to public education, and sadly it is going to fail. Common Core will die, murdered in the night by its jealous cousin, who, like all jealous cousins, is overly emotional, highly volatile, prone to over-exaggeration, and is a bit of a conspiracy freak. It is sad to think that something good can be killed by good intentions gone awry because of ignorant fear and mass-hysteria, but that is what we are seeing right now with Common Core and I think will lead to its doom. As its corpse is dragged out of the room, its jealous cousin will dance a jig as our education system stutters back its advancement a few decades. To begin let me explain, apart from the hysteria and misinformation that abounds, what Common Core really is, who the detractors are, and where are they mistaken or confused.
As a caveat, and in the nature of full disclosure, I fully am basing my position on what Common Core claims to be, and those teachers inside the system that have experienced it first hand. I am fully aware that I might be being lied to, and that Common Core might change from what it is now, or detractors might be able to change its course, which will all affect the validity and benefit of my analysis. Therefore I am going to proceed, since I have not seen or received any substantive and convincing information or critique (as of yet) to the contrary, as if what my research has turned up is based on truthful participation from the Common Core framers, and the assumption that they will stay further true to their promised word.
Bless me reader for I have sinned! I have seemingly taken a stand against my fellow Christians and Conservatives by endorsing Common Core (fact is often opposite of what appears), as I know to them I seem like the German Church in its full embracing of Hitler: a fool who is duped by a great evil which will spell the doom of us all! Surely the Common Core is another example of our Country’s great fall into Socialism especially since it has a Socialistic word in its very name! Surely our Country, if it stands for anything, stands against anything that is common…wait is liberty common? What about defense against aggressors is that common?
Many detractors of Common Core are Homeschoolers, but of course not all are, but many in my circle is (and Christian too, but perhaps it is because my circle is small). Being an ex-Homeschooler myself allows me the benefit of critiquing their critique from the inside, having experienced all they have experienced, and sharing their concerns and many of their views. Lets face it, will a Homeschooler be happy with any sort of education outside of Homeschooling? Surely there are some very good private schools that educate children just as well as Homeschooling would or better isn’t there? Or perhaps it is only because of money that people Homeschool and their choice is between Homeschooling or Public school? May I humbly suggest that some Homeschool purely out of ideology, others out of finance, and others out of educational needs? So one cannot categorize Homeschoolers into just one category. Before you blast me as anti-homeschooling, I actually am not, but for the most part I am pro-homeschooling with caveats, but that discussion is for another Blog.
Surely, homeschoolers are naturally going to be against any “public” type of education, and while I share their concern for “socialization” in regard to its negative effect on personal liberty, belief, free speech, and the like, just because something is “socialized” doesn’t mean it actually is going to negatively affect liberty, belief, or speech. If the government required, for an example, that every citizen learn basic math, which surly is a socialization of some sort, is that requirement a bad thing? Of course such a requirement is some sort of limitation on liberty (but so are laws like not murdering, driving the speed limit, and not stealing another’s property), but its positive benefit helps the person more than the liberty they lost hurts them. Of course righteousness is not only found in a zero-sum game of end results or even means, but some kinds are, like the ones that help society function in a healthy meaningful way. In this world you will need to give up some of your personal liberty for the benefit of others, I’m considered conservative because I think that decision needs to be made mostly and primarily by you, the individual, and not by others (namely the government or society), but if you do want to live in a “civilized” society, your membership requires a little of your willing loss of a little personal liberty, by which you gain much more benefit to yourself than what your little liberty cost you, but again such subjects are for other Blogs. My point in short is that I believe a society’s best interest is in its education of its members, I guess the real argument is how should a society educate its members, the homeschoolers say leave it up to each family to do it themselves. Many conservatives (especially those of the anti-Core stance) too would benefit as well by considering my arguments here.
Unless you believe in pure autonomous education in an isolated homeschool setting, where no information is ever shared, no standards are ever put forth, and no expectations made on the educators for how much or how little they are to educate their pupils in relation to anyone else, education of the masses requires some sort of socialization (meaning centralization). Even homeschoolers usually join a group that advises them on what to teach, when, how much, etc. so why is that ok for homeschoolers, but not any other educational system? Even a private school system requires some sort of centralization, otherwise what would our society look like? Think of the problem of moving cities or states and wanting to move your second grader to a new school, how do you pick the school (or the school pick you) that will best continue your child’s education without being too far ahead or behind their current level, and don’t get me started in picking a college or job in the future. The only answers to this question is centralization of standards or homeschooling (where your child never changes schools or teachers because both are you and your house). Many lines of reasoning can fall prey to the slippery slope fallacy, which is why we have the ability to reason with wisdom: we can pursue a course that if pursued too far will slide into destruction, but with wisdom we can say thus far and no further.
This is where Common Core comes in and it is nothing new. Our country has already had standardization, “socialization”, or centralization (what ever you want to call it) in education for a while now including those who wish to homeschool. My point is this: to be against Common Core, even as a homeschooler, based solely on it being centralized is naive, foolish, and is not going change how education is done in the country in principle, but may help usher in a worse system than the Common Core one you are already and prematurely seeking to murder. This is precisely one of the key areas Common Core is seeking to address, that we want a standardization of education to the highest quality, but currently everything is so lose and not organized (and may I argue inherently flawed) that some States (a minority) are much better at educating their children than others (a majority). Is the solution to this problem to encourage more State independence or adherence to a common standard? Yes, I know it might be an oversimplification but when talking large concepts it is often helpful to boil it down to the two most relevant. Remember this Blog isn’t meant to be a philosophy of education blog as much as a comment on Common Core.
Our country’s education system sucks, according to Global standards, yes we are not the worst, but we are not near the top especially when it comes to Math, and Science. Surely “everyone” will agree that we do need to improve our education system as a nation? This is Common Core’s goal.
Let me set the picture straight. Common Core is not a government system. It was not created by the Government, it is not controlled by the Government (outside of the fact the Government controls everything in some fashion due to laws and regulations). Simply what I am getting at here is that Common Core isn’t a vast governmental conspiracy, it hasn’t been corrupted by the Government, it hasn’t even been influenced (in the creation of the Standards it puts forth) by the Government. Common Core is neither Liberal, nor Conservative, it is a set of Educational Standards put forth in hopes that States will like them and adopt them.
Because America hasn’t been the bastion of great education that her upbringing should have developed, especially on the Global front, educational experts, and business owners decided that Her educational system needed help so they, through decades of research both at home and Globally, helped create better Standards by which our nation could unite our education around, but since Common Core isn’t tied to the government, adoption by any State is optional and not forced by the Government, even if money might be tied to it (although how the money is tied or isn’t tied is a discussion for another time, but one I think that really isn’t as important as many detractors make it).
Unlike many other educational systems (like the old system Common Core seeks to replace and homeschooling), Common Core has the benefit of decades of research taken from around the Globe, and the freedom to reinvent itself through the unity of many experts across a wide range of fields, experiences, and skills (again this isn’t a slap against Homeschooling per-say but a further discussion should be brought for in a Blog about Homeschooling). If one simply starts reading the Standards, or talks to a teacher having to teach them, one will find that they are at least as good or better than most any other Standard in use today across America.
The detractors would like you to believe that Common Core is a vast conspiracy of the Government to indoctrinate its people to a certain belief, but it simply is not true. Common Core actually doesn’t tell anyone what beliefs to teach, but simply basic standards to teach to (when to learn 2+2=4) and what kind of things should be taught (critical thinking through key historical documents like the Founding Documents of this Country). Common Core doesn’t require one to learn anything about Homosexuality, and it isn’t anti-religious. In these things it is neutral, simply asking teachers to teach key things like critical thinking and reading comprehension, but doesn’t require any certain material to do so. Yes, it does recommend or give examples of good material (like Founding Documents), but it doesn’t require specific documents to be read, or specific text books to be purchased.
The problem many have with Common Core actually isn’t really a problem with Common Core but publishers who put questionable material in their books, material that is Common Core aligned, but not value aligned to its customers (like Textbook creators put in pro-homosexuality which isn’t the value of many Christian educators or students). In this example the problem the educators or students would have with that text book isn’t one with Common Core, but with the authors (publishers) of the text book itself. The simple solution for a homeschooler or private school (or even public school) would to simply switch publishers of the text book to one with values more closely aligned to themselves, not throw out Common Core.
Another complaint I hear often is that Common Core is Federalizing all of our education, but how can it if it is only providing Standards in 2 areas: Math and ELL (English Language Learning)? Common Core is both a private and State led initiative, that is it is a private organization that has many States backing its Standards as better then what they currently have, it is not funded nor lead or developed by the Federal Government.
Almost every person I know who is pro Common Core is against its centralization of testing and the data-mining behind that, but they are all mistaken and uninformed. There is no Centralize testing required by Common Core nor developed by Common Core. Rather, just like it is today, all testing and the data created there-in is in the hands of each State, their own goals and standards, and will continue to be so into the future under Common Core. The Federal Government doesn’t have access to this information. Although I do find many of those who complain about data mining in school tests to be hypocrites since they willingly let Google and Facebook data-mine themselves and their kids, At least they aren’t the government right?
Common Core doesn’t dictate how each School needs to implement it, nor does it impair the teachers ability to teach each subject. In fact, it allows teachers more freedom to teach their students to their best ability. The States are all in control of how they implement Common Core and can opt out at any time they want.
Look, I fear the Federal Government’s take over of anything too, and don’t want them educating my children, but isn’t the best solution one where a 3rd party creates such a good Education Standard that every State adopts it willingly? If having some sort of National standard for key aspects of education is a good thing, then what option is the best for creating that Standard? Either it is created by Government or it isn’t. Personally I think the best solution is one created outside of the Government, but each State willingly adopts it don’t you? I think you would agree unless you are for no standardization and which each State (or even City…household?) create its own standards for education, or you are a Socialist and think only things done by the Government are good.
I fear many states like Texas, in order to be different or just plain stubborn, by rejecting Common Core are actually going to harm their education of their children and thus the future of their State as an economic power. If States decide to be islands of education, how will that affect the children that move into and out of the State, want to be educated or employed by entities outside of the State? I think educational islands will, in the long run, be harmful to those who grow up there.
After doing my research, (have you done yours or do you just blindly trust your preferred talk-show host, pastor, social commentator, politician etc.?) which has been reading both pro and anti-Common Core sources and talking with teachers on both sides directly (and originally being against Common Core) I think Common Core is the best thing that has ever happened to our country’s educational system (but that doesn’t mean it is the best possible thing, often it is choosing between the lesser of two evils or two less perfect things). It will improve our children’s education and thus their success in the World economy. Our productivity as a Nation will improve. The cost to educate our children will go down (after the immediate implementation costs). A family’s ability to move across States, and still have their children well educated, will improve. That family won’t have to fear that their second grader will be too far behind or ahead of the new class. Employers will be able to trust that their local high school graduate is up to the task or the University able to trust the education that came from the high school across the river, because there are better standards these Schools adhered to in educating the children. And this great boon, benefit, betterment to our educational system will die in it sleep before it has had a chance to fully mature. Murdered by the same prophets that predicted its death, easy to be a prophet when you fulfill your own prophecy.
Precisely because our educational system has created people who cannot critically think for themselves, who would rather listen to a so called expert than study an important subject themselves, who are quickly duped by emotional and by relevantly empty arguments and propaganda, who bring down our national standing on educational charts, who’s shortsightedness and idealism will lead to only mediocrity, and who will ultimately spell the demise of the very mother who raised them. What a beautiful and grotesque image of the ultimate demise of the people who cut off the hands that feed them. Has our education system performed so poorly that those recipients of it are so quick to see its flaws, and yet unable to provide a solution? If we cannot see the betterment for ourselves in Common Core, then perhaps we cannot be bettered, but are only able to complain of our situation with no power to do anything about it.
This is why I fear Common Core will ultimately fail. Its opponents are so wrong, and yet so powerfully vocal and emotional that they have created a mob mentality combined with the inability of most the educated to reason properly so that they will win the day against reason and fact. They will not let Common Core the time to even fail on its own, but rather prophecy its untimely doom as they sharpen the knife that will be shortly plunged into its still growing heart and the murders will gladly cheer its murdered cousin’s successor: Governmental tyranny because that is the only master who can control the mob. I hope I am mistaken.
If you would like to do further reading I recommend the Common Core site, a pro-Core site, and an anti-Core site and decide for yourself what is really true. I am also open to criticism and more information as I can be completely wrong and duped just as you can, but don’t take my word for it study it yourself!
Core site: http://www.corestandards.org
Pro site: highercorestandards.org
Anti site: http://fightcommoncore.com