For many, the trouble with arguing for or against Common Core is that education is complicated. How many of us have ever studied school standards or curricula? Compared and contrasted teaching techniques? Know how much it costs to run a public school district?
How are we supposed to have a strong opinion regarding Common Core when we are overwhelmed with information that is navigated mostly by professional educators?
I don’t work in education. I don’t pretend to be an expert in education. I am however, vested in education. I have three children under 10 years of age. I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.
…sorry. I had to do it.
I strongly oppose Common Core.
I oppose Common Core for one reason…. and only one reason. Are you ready? Here it is: Common Core is nationalized education. Do you trust the Federal Government with the education of your kids? I don’t.
But Common Core is not nationalized education
Here is the first line of the first page (after the cover) of the Race to the Top (RttT) Executive Summary.
“It’s time to stop just talking about education reform and start actually doing it. It’s time to make education America’s national mission.”
– President Barack Obama, November 4, 2009
“Common standards” is mentioned 14 separate times in this RttT executive summary.
“But”, you say, “Common Core is not RttT.”
Okay, let’s look at the programs at play…
Race to the Top (RttT) is a federal competitive grant program offering $4.35B to states that go along with the national education plan. It is Obama’s double down to the much maligned No Child Left Behind program.
Common Core is a set of national education standards developed by National Governors Association and Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Magically, Common Core standards are compatible with RttT specifications. Therefore, states can opt in RttT and select the Common Core for their standards and be eligible for a piece of the $4.35B federal bribe funding. Considering that Common Core was developed by State trade groups, was there ever any doubt that it would be chosen to go with the national program?
Thus, an illusion has been created that this is an education program crafted by the states (Common Core). This gives people false comfort that there is some local input on education and that we can opt out whenever we choose. In reality, this is nationalized education where the bar of standards is set nationally and the penalty for opting out is a loss of millions of dollars in federal funding. “This is yet another example of the government using money stolen from the people to bribe states into obeying federal dictates.” Dr. Paul.
False choice for each State
False Choice #1 Choose nationalized education and get millions in federal funding
False Choice #2 Choose not to join nationalized education and not get federal funding
Real Choice #3 Choose not to join nationalized education and give us our tax dollars back so that we can locally craft our own educational standards & curriculum
What about PARCC?
PARCC Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (for those like me living one of the 18 states + DC that have enlisted PARCC) is a non-profit that has kindly offered to develop and pilot testing to assess state readiness for RttT and Common Core. PARCC is being considered as a replacement to existing tests, such as MCAS in Massachusetts. Not so coincidentally, PARCC’s 16 member Governing Board contains one Dept. of Education bureaucrat from 16 of the 19 states /DC. This may have something to do with PARCC receiving $200M in federal grant money AND being “chosen” by those states to pilot the testing.
PARCC has been a hot issue in my community. My oldest child and her class have been selected for the PARCC pilot testing. They are exempt from MCAS testing with other peers in her school. Here are the PARCC “highlights”…
- Testing will be spread out among several academic days. Each pilot test is a subset of questions (not the whole test). Each pilot test is not more than 3 hours. Most kids are only testing one of the two PARCC components (info here).
- Testing is mandatory. Massachusetts state legal counsel has advised that parents do not have permission to opt out.
- Test results will not be shared with the schools or the parents
- Test results are shared with the each student’s State DOE. PARCC does not share results with the Federal Government. However, in the future states may need to report test results to the federal government in order to be eligible for the grant money. In addition, it seems plausible that each state would share the test results with other public & private organizations in the education business.
Parents in my community, and statewide, are speaking out against the Massachusetts education bureaucracy. People strongly oppose the idea that some bureaucrat is going to tell them what they can and can’t do regarding their children. This “opt out” issue should be troubling for citizens of all political stripes. In addition, people are concerned about parents not being allowed to see test results while the state and (maybe) federal governments (and perhaps other organizations) will see the results.
The protest over PARCC is not about PARCC
This is a symptom of the broader problem; People overwhelmingly reject the one-size-fits-all national (& state) approach to education. Educational decisions should be as local as possible. I want educators in my community along with me and all the other parents to make the decisions for our children. No bureaucrat thousands of miles away will ever make better decisions than we can make together.
Why not trust the Federal Government?
I am embarrassed for you if you need me to explain this to you. I’ll keep this quick. The US is $17 Trillion Dollars in debt. We are addicted to war. We are addicted to spending. Members of Congress are beholden to corporate masters at the expense of the common man. Laws, regulations, licensing, and tax codes are all crafted for the benefit of big donors and big corporations. Capitalism has been replaced by Crony Capitalism.
Common Core is not total nationalized education. I get that. But the arrangement between RttT, Common Core, and the financial incentives therein puts us one step closer to national control – from which we will never return.
Don’t be fooled for one moment that the integrity of national education is not susceptible to corruption. Whitney Houston jokes aside, Washington DC is corrupted by money like crack addicts are corrupted by a warm spoon.
What if Common Core is a world class set of standards?
I don’t care. I am not opposing Common Core based on standards. I am opposing Common Core based on the method of oversight. I do not trust the Federal Government. Therefore, the merits and demerits of Common Core are of no consequence to me. If Common Core is a world class program, then I would ask my school district have a look. My school district, along with me and my fellow parents in my community, can decide to adopt all, part, or none of the Common Core elements. Other school districts can do the same. I won’t decide for them. They won’t decide for me.
What about those that oppose Common Core based on the standards?
If you oppose Common Core based on your dislike for the standards, then you and I have a problem. Sure, it is nice to have others oppose Common Core with me. However, if you oppose Common Core based on standards, then you are signaling that a national standard could be crafted for which you would support. This is a problem for me. I don’t trust the Federal Government. My position is unmoved based on standards or curriculum content. I want control and decisions regarding education to be as local as possible. We may join forces to oppose Common Core today… but tomorrow I take the same fight to you when the standards of your choice is foisted upon me.
Chart my argument
As you can see in the chart below (yes, these are low budget graphics), parents have more control over the quality of their kids’ education when the decision makers are local. Have you ever tried to lobby the US Congress for change? How much money do you have? Congress is beholden to their corporate masters and their deep pockets.
If you are with me, don’t be baited into silly debates regarding standards & curriculum quality of Common Core. Such is irrelevant. We are fighting over control. We don’t trust the Federal Government with education. Keep the control of education local where your voice to influence educational decisions is strongest.
Show them all the beauty they possess insiiiiiiiiide.
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