Thursday, September 12, 2013

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

In a previous post (see here), I talked about the Common Core State Standards and the propaganda machine at the Illinois State Board of Education.  Well, it seems that the propaganda machine has shifted into high gear as schools throughout Illinois begin to implement the new curriculum.  They have come up with approved information releases and even suggested "tweets" for administrators and teachers to send out to parents and others in order to influence them into accepting the new curriculum (see here, here, here, here, and here).

Let's examine just one of the elements of propaganda in this post.  One oft repeated element of propaganda regarding the Common Core is that it is not a national curriculum and is not being imposed upon the states by the federal government.  There are two parts to this.  First, there is the issue of a national curriculum.  It is very difficult to argue that the Common Core does not represent a national curriculum.  Now it is true that not all of the states have signed on to implement the Common Core (forty-four states and the District of Columbia have signed on to implement the Common Core), but it might as well be the entire nation.  Second, there is the issue of Common Core being imposed by the federal government.  No, there is no federal law requiring the states to implement the Common Core.  The federal government has, however, tied the grant of certain education dollars to the implementation of the Common Core (including the testing and data gathering that goes with it).  So, rather than using a stick, the federal government is using a carrot, in much the same way that the federal government in the 1980s used the carrot of withholding highway funding unless the states increased their drinking ages to 21.  And, guess what . . . all the states raised their drinking ages to 21 since they could not maintain the highways without federal money.  Likewise, it is easy to see why the vast majority of states signed on to implement the Common Core.

Why is this an issue?  Why does the Illinois State Board of Education (and others) so often stress that this is not a national curriculum imposed by the federal government?  Well, perhaps it is because a national curriculum would violate current federal law (see this report).  Or, perhaps it is because parents and others are justifiably wary of a national curriculum imposed by the federal government.

Our children are much more likely to need to be continuous learners than previous generations.  The pace of technological change and innovation has increased throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.  A rigid, top-down model (whether imposed by a consortium of states or the federal government) is exactly what is NOT needed in the face of this type of world (if indeed it was ever needed).  A flexible, bottom-up model (where freedom and innovation are valued and each child is treated as an individual rather than a widget) is what is needed.  The Common Core State Standards will shackle the vast majority of primary and secondary students in the United States to a rigid set of standards which are bound to fail to provide a quality education.  And, when it begins to become clear to a great many people that the Common Core State Standards are failing our children, it will take a great deal of time and political will to remove them due to their being imposed on a statewide and almost national basis.

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