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April 12, 2013
Common Core: Nationalized State-Run Education
By Dean Kalahar
Common Core, the new federal education standards, may look delicious; but before you take a bite out of the apple, it might be a good idea to know a razor is inside.
Like all Orwellian euphemisms, “Common Core” is not about innocent ideas like the word “common” or the term “core.” The phrase “Common Core” is used to hide the real aspects of an education policy which if articulated openly would never be taken seriously, let alone be implemented.
Common Core is being driven by an amalgam of overt/covert actions, apathy, and Progressive passions, where their ends justify any means. Some people cheering Common Core seem to be unwittingly going along out of good intentions and laziness. While some on the bandwagon are motivated by the usual suspects of money and power, others have just been duped.
These varying alliances seem to be focused on the fact that Common Core’s “lead architect,” David Coleman, says he believes in the value of a liberal-arts education. The problem is nobody asked what a liberal-arts education means to Mr. Coleman. Reading his background puts new meaning to the word “liberal” in liberal arts.
David Coleman lives in trendy Greenwich Village, has never been a classroom teacher and wants to replace traditional subjects with broad learning. He believes there is “a massive social injustice in this country” and that education is “the engine of social justice.” Coleman’s leadership is questionable as he uses profanity (“s–t, f–k, bulls-t, a–) in speeches regarding Common Core. He graduated from liberal Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge universities and is a founding partner of Student Achievement Partners, and the Grow Network, acquired by textbook publisher McGraw-Hill. He is on the board of directors of The Equity Project Charter School, a middle school in New York City that paid $125,000 salaries to teachers yet had a 31.3% passing rate in English in 2010-11. His alliance with unions includes praise for “organizations like the UFT in New York City and the AFT statewide.”
The foundational philosophy of Common Core is to create students ready for social action so they can force a social-justice agenda. Common Core is not about students who actually have a grasp of the intricate facts of a true set of what E.D. Hirsch would call “core knowledge.” Common Core is about, as David Feith would say “an obsession with race, class, gender, and sexuality as the forces of history and political identity.” Nationalizing education via Common Core is about promoting an agenda of Anti-capitalism, sustainability, white guilt, global citizenship, self-esteem, affective math, and culture sensitive spelling and language. This is done in the name of consciousness raising, moral relativity, fairness, diversity, and multiculturalism.
And David Coleman’s upbringing is in line with this Progressive worldview. His mother and greatest influence, Elizabeth Coleman, president of Bennington College in Vermont, does not like the idea of “expertise” or “neutrality (as) a condition of academic integrity” and “wants to “make the political-social challenges themselves the organizers of the curriculum.” She emphasizes an “action-oriented curriculum” where “students continuously move outside the classroom to engage the world directly.” In short: indoctrination through propaganda in education as the vehicle for social transformation.
Mrs. Coleman founded a social justice initiative: the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (she called it a “secular church”) “which invites students to put the world’s most pressing problems at the center of their education.” She was a professor of humanities at the far left New School for Social Research, which was begun by progressives in 1932 and modeled itself after the neo-Marxist social theory of the Frankfurt School. She fights for “social values,” and a “secular democracy,” saying “fundamentalist …values (are) the absolutes of a theocracy.”
President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan falsely said the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted. Common Core was actually developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, funded by the Gates Foundation by at least $173 million dollars. The states were bribed by $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” dollars if they adopted the standards. Former Texas State Commissioner of Education, Robert Scott, stated for the record that he was urged to adopt the Common Core standards before they were written.
Federal laws prohibit the U.S. Department of Education from prescribing any curriculum, but four billion is a big carrot — or is it a stick? Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have sold out… I mean “signed on.”
For all intent and purposes, Common Core is nationalized education. History has shown that state-run information control, which begins with education, has always lead to disastrous results (USSR, Germany, Cuba).
In fact, the U.S. Department of Education has started a Common Core “technical review process” of test “item design and validation.” The test writing stage is where the specifics of content, or in this case progressive ideologies, are inserted. Test questions need content and context, and since Common Core is about subjective processes, the content can be added without ever notifying the public. This is where the sleight of hand occurs. After content is tied to test questions, textbook manufacturers will write the necessary content into their products, the teachers will teach the progressively-driven textbooks and the circle will be complete. Herein we see the dirty little Common Core secret, controlling what is tested is the methodology of controlling the curriculum.
Common Core is not actually about standards, it’s about gaining control over the education system in a futile attempt to create a Progressive utopia using the important sounding academic umbrella of “standards.” But ask yourself, haven’t educators always had standards, guidelines, or benchmarks to guide curriculum? Please understand this is about power, control, and the agenda! Common Core is just the host carrier of the disease — Progressive Secularism.
Core writers say “In our classrooms, it is the students’ voices, not the teachers’ that are heard” and that “the curriculum should not be the coverage of content, but rather the discovery of content,” While reading at a particular grade level may be a part of Common Core’s standard “rubric,” what is read and taught is where doctrine comes alive.
Further proof of totalitarian control is seen in Common Core’s nationwide student tracking system. Michelle Malkin writes the 2009 stimulus included a “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” that mandated constructing “longitudinal data systems (LDS) to collect data on public-school students” that resulted in The National Education Data Model. Then in 2012, the U.S. Department of Education rewrote federal privacy laws to let it share a child’s academic record with virtually anyone. States have begun combining student records of test scores, discipline history, medical records, nicknames, religion, political affiliation, addresses, extracurricular activities, bus stop times and psychological evaluations into a private database called inBloom.
This madness all makes sense if we ask why the teacher unions have suddenly embraced “tougher” standards (new unionism). Common Core’s vague and subjective “liberal arts” standards play perfectly with the unions who are looking for a way around their pay being tied to teacher performance evaluations. The answer, make the standards as subjective and vague as possible. In this way teachers can be evaluated under what are being falsely called tougher Common Core “board certified” type standards. And since pay is now being tied to performance, Common Core’s nonjudgmental subjective view of learning will create the illusion of being successful and accountable. The result, unions strike it rich.
David Coleman’s self-proclaimed “mentor,” David Sherman, holds the post of Consultant in the office of the AFT President Local 94 in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He was once hired by union boss Albert Shanker to develop an “educational arm” for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City where he was the union’s liaison to the school system and collaborated with district and community organizations. Mr. Sherman became vice president of UFT in 1991. He was appointed to the U.S. Department of Education’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Title I and NCLB. Sherman sits on Teachscape’s board of directors and also sits on the board of the Teachers Union Reform Network, the primary internal union organization in support of “new unionism.”
Interestingly, The National Education Association is negotiating a deal with Teachscape, a private firm that will provide web-based teacher professional development services. Teachscape already has the American Federation of Teachers as a partner. Teachscape’s professional development system includes: tools and opportunities for soft evaluation: “self-reflection and self-assessment” These are remarkably similar to the requirements for achieving national certification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is also a partner of Teachscape. Many NEA and AFT officials sit on the NBPTS board. Teachers use textbooks from McGraw-Hill, which is a partner and investor of Teachscape.
If one listens and follows the words, the business connections, the union connections, the university connections, the money, and the ideology; a clear picture emerges as to what is driving the insanity. In a nutshell, the Common Core folks knew they had to rewrite the standards and create new standards that are not actually standards but windows of opportunity to spew, by law, ideas that would be laughable if they were not so politically correct and dangerous to the very foundations of the nation.
The Progressives have incrementally gone after the healthcare, family and economic systems. They have been slowly changing education for decades. Common sense about Common Core tells you they are now going after the whole enchilada. What is amazing is that it’s happening right under the noses of academics on both side of the ideological spectrum who are supposed to know better.
Connect the dots and you can see Common Core is nationalized state-run education via an unprecedented partnership between public, private, union, and academic circles. It does not matter if Common Core is one part self interest, one part ignorance, and one part blind elite reality. Any way you slice it there is a razor inside Common Core representing a danger to American culture, education, and children.
Sources: M. Catharine Evans, Diane Ravitch, Washington Post, Education Intelligence Agency, Susan Ohanian , Michelle Maslkin, George Will, Jonathan DuHamel, Valerie Strauss, Neal McCluskey, Lindsey Burke, David Feith, CATO Institute, Heritage Foundation, transcripts.
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