Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Common Core Standards: Fact vs. Myth (vs. Propaganda)

As you may or may not be aware, Minooka CCSD 201 (along with every other public elementary or secondary school in Illinois and forty-four other states) will be changing its curriculum to align with something called the "Common Core standards."  You can read about the Common Core State Standards Initiative at their website.

I could go on for pages about the problems with the Common Core standards: how they mark the end of local control over what children are taught in public schools, how it is a remarkable display of hubris to think that somehow a handful of people can dictate educational standards to a multitude as if no one in the multitude might have any good ideas about educational standards, how they are a misguided top-down effort at management that won't work any better than the top-down management of "command and control" economies such as the old Soviet Union, or how they will become a straight-jacket to experimentation and ingenuity much like the once-vaunted No Child Left Behind.  (Others have also pointed out problems with the Common Core, which may or may not be the ones I have pointed out.  See here and here.)

Well, it appears that there are more than a few people (other than myself) who are not too excited about Illinois signing on to implement the Common Core standards.  So much so that the Illinois State Superintendent Christopher Koch included the following in his weekly message:  "I know some of you are receiving pushback (sic) on the Common Core standards that we are implementing in Illinois. The criticism is based on a misguided perception that the Common Core is an attempt by the federal government to take over education. We've put together a couple of documents you may access at [link].  Among the documents are responses to several questions that seem to be at the root of a coordinated campaign as well as a general overview of the Common Core based on facts."  If you click the link above (which I recommend), you are treated to something that purports to be the "Facts vs Myth" of the Common Core standards.  Now, it becomes clear to me early on that what purports to be the "Facts vs Myth" is really nothing more than a "coordinated campaign" of propaganda.  You can usually spot propaganda by the use of very general language that no one in their right mind would disagree with.  For example, we are told in "Facts vs Myth" that "Common Core Standards are benchmarks developed by teachers, administrators and other education experts through a national consortium."  Well, who could argue with that?  Everyone agrees that we need "benchmarks" in education.  But, wait.  I thought that one of the hallmarks of the American public education system was local control.  The Illinois School Code even states that one of the primary duties of the local school board is to approve the curriculum.  I guess voters at the local level don't get to decide that anymore.  In another sentence, we are told that the Common Core standards "aim to bring more consistency and uniformity . . . from one state to another . . . ."  Again, who could argue with "consistency and uniformity?"  Where is the problem there?  I sure hope they don't get the Common Core standards wrong, otherwise the educational system of virtually the entire nation will have standards that are consistently and uniformly wrong.

I have merely scratched the surface in terms of picking apart "Facts vs Myth" for the monumental exercise in propaganda that it represents.  Be sure to read through it, but don't take it at face value.  Someone is trying to sell you a "bill of goods."

Another question that this raises is, whether the local voters get any input into these Common Core standards?  According to "Facts vs Myth," "Illinoisans had the opportunity to provide feedback on the Common Core State Standards during two public comment periods."  So, now that those two comment periods are over, we no longer get a say in the matter.  Oh, and don't give us any "push back," or we'll come out with another "Facts vs Myths" website to convince you that we are right and you, the voter, don't get to speak to us about this anymore.

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