Mark Ellis
Core values
Common Core Curriculum Unites Parents in Opposition
By Mark Ellis
October 15, 2013

"Why can't Johnny read?" was the question parents of school-age children used to ask about their child's education.

Now, thanks to the sweeping new federally-enabled curriculum takeover known as Common Core, K-12 parents are waking up all over the nation to ask, "Why is Johnny being dumbed-down, data-mined, and propagandized by my school district?"

That's right, Common Core, the big-government curriculum that Governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee was for before he was against. The statist education plan that has been adopted in 45 states. Nine states have subsequently asked to opt out of the program. Indiana has jettisoned it.

If conservative talk radio and the right wing press is any indication, Governor Huckabee and other conservative notables who initially supported Common Core are experiencing a come-to-Jesus moment. And the devil is in the details.

It wouldn't seem possible that there could be another major program, like the Affordable Care Act, which could be characterized as having been passed so we can see what's in it.

But every affected U.S. school district and state signed a "memorandum of understanding" when the concept for Common Core was rolled out in 2010, without knowing the content of that curricula. That includes Oregon, under the leadership of Governor and Department of Education head John Kitzhaber.

The ostensible reasoning? That standardization is good, and helps to ensure that our school-age kids are held to meaningful standards throughout the public education system. Standards which will direct students into what Common Core deems to be the proper channels for their talents, and equip them for the challenges of the marketplace.

But somewhere on the way to full implementation of Common Core, the vast education streamlining started to experience extreme drag.

Created in the shadows of 2009's supposedly stimulating and progressively weighted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Common Core has already exhibited some strong negatives. When initial program testing was administered in New York City, 70% of the children flunked the test. Education experts are predicting similar results in Oregon.

Developed by a private-sector trade organization which took its cues from various state education organizations, Common Core is a privately-owned curriculum, and for that reason is immune to emendation. Once your district has brought it in, you own it. Or, as some parents have come to believe, it owns you.

Birth certificates, blood tests, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and Social Security numbers are but a few of the divulgences children in Common Core districts have been required to provide as part of the enrollment process.

In late September, Lidia Larson and Macey France, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer respectively for Stop Common Core in Oregon, spoke at a Patriot Talkers Toastmasters event in at Standard TV & Appliance in southeast Portland.

Larson evoked the eye-opening Family Rights and Privacy Protection Act (FERPA) amendment which allows pretty much any person or entity involved with the public education of children access to the personal records of any student. And often leaves the parent out in the cold.

"The Department of Education, the Housing Authority, and the Department of Homeland Security will all be sharing your child's personal information, including medical records," Larson told the Toastmasters group.

It is estimated that it will cost 202 million just to implement Common Core in the state of Oregon, which translates to 1.3 million per district. Following that will be a series of costly testing regimens, administered and performed with astronomically expensive computer programs. Nationally, there is no way to estimate how much will need to be spent reeducating teachers so they can in turn reeducate. All new textbooks will have to be written to jibe with Common Core's curriculum.

At the Patriot Talker event attendees were brought up to speed on how Common Core was initially sold as nationalized standardized curricula for English grammar and math, but appears now to be rife with politically correct, covertly and overtly anti-capitalist propaganda. Oregon's education czars bought in to the program, and are now weighing the possibility of implementing Common Core science in the schools.

France brought an example from her daughter's homework assignment, in which the student was expected to make twelve dots in answer to a math problem, instead of writing the number twelve.

"One teacher told me that the idea is to get the child to the point of tears," said France, "thereby getting the child under control."

Larson has children in the Oregon Public Trails District – which offers the controversial curriculum – and what she has discovered has inspired her to speak out and become active.

Indeed, perusal of some elements of Common Core's official curriculum has proven a revealing and troubling read for millions of parents across the nation.

One middle school math textbook contains story problems about sweatshops and labor practices, conjuring up images of a surreptitious "social justice" math. Marxism and socialism will be taught in such a way as to suggest parity with capitalism, and multiculturalism is force-fed out of all proportion to actual reality in the United States.

Teachers will have limited opportunity to provide counterargument to this onslaught of counterintuitive progressive material. Schools may offer 15% of content outside the Common Core dictates, but, as Larson pointed out, "{Teachers} will be teaching to the tests."

Event organizer Kay Bridges kicked things off with sobering introduction and an even more sobering Common Core Bullet Point list.

Bonnie Kiggins also spoke at the meet-up, saying, "I understand the value of standardized curricula, but I'm worried that Common Core is too politically correct, and I'm worried about who is implementing it."

Data collection for Common Core is done without parental consent. Score results stay with the student till age twenty in a nationally controlled database.

One new Common Core social studies topic: "Raising Children to be Global Citizens Takes a Village."

For good measure, the Obama Administration's cradle-to-grave parable The Life of Julia is on the reading list.

Larson and France are not alone in their quest for a hard second look at Common Core.

In her excellent National Review Online article "Two Moms vs. Common Core," Maggie Gallagher highlights two Indiana moms who launched a grassroots campaign that succeeded in securing a bill, signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence, suspending its implementation.

"These standards are designed not to produce well-educated citizens" writes Gallagher, "but to prepare students to enter community colleges and lower-level jobs. All students, not just non-college-material students, are going to be taught to this lower standard."

Pence's predecessor, conservative Governor Mitch Daniels, initially supported Common Core. Governor Jeb Bush is another high-profile Republican associated with support for the comprehensive education revamp.

The issue surfaced nationally in a very visible way at a Common Core Standards Forum, at which a Maryland father was forcibly ejected from the room after voicing his discontent with the standards.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead, gets to the bottom line in his Canada Free Press essay, "Common Core: A Lesson Plan for Raising Up Compliant, Non-thinking Citizens."

"As with most 'bright ideas' coming out of the federal government," writes Whitehead in a scathing analysis, "once you follow the money trail, it all makes sense."

"And those who stand to profit are the companies creating both the tests that will drive the school curriculum, as well as the preparatory test materials, the computer and software industries, and the states, which will receive federal funds in exchange for their cooperation."

In the meantime, who needs the NSA and IRS when you've got Johnny?

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© Mark Ellis


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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