The Common Core: A Critique

(WEST LONG BRANCH) – The Common Core State Standards are to be fully implemented into the national education system starting this year. Accordingly, all public schools must comply with certain standards of instruction in multiple subject areas, especially Reading and Mathematics.

This curriculum, originally designed in 2010, was meant to enable American public schools to compete with other superior international schools. According to the official Common Core website (corestandards.org), this was a cumulative project created by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Though the program was initiated and even supported by the states, it was indirectly (and quite heavily) sponsored by the federal government. However, the syllabus itself was fashioned in Washington, D.C. by private companies such as Pearson.

Furthermore, ‘many governors’ backed the program without actually reading the curriculum as they were rushed (quite deliberately by robust federal forces) in order to receive funding money. The federal government’s promise of increased funding for education has turned out to be a false one as many states are still awaiting their federal grants, even after the formal adoption of the Common Core Standards.
One of the incentives that inspired state governors (45/50) to immediately sign up for the program was the abandonment of “No Child Left Behind” principles. States that were already frustrated with the “No Child Left Behind” rules and regulations wanted to rid their educational systems of the act’s various procedures and therefore, agreed to the enactment of the Common Core Standards. According to corestandards.org, these standards are “internationally benchmarked”; in other words, they will establish an national battleground where American students can engage in a global intellectual ‘combat.’
As of this moment, most of the states in the Union are teaching their students according to these Common Core Standards. The process has revealed numerous problems due to the fact that the curriculum and the academic approach of the program are both fundamentally flawed.

Image taken from: ednewscolorado.org.
Image taken from: ednewscolorado.org.

One of the biggest issues with the teaching style associated (well…required) with the program is that it involves students learning simply for the sake of passing an exam. The official Common Core website has announced that these tests will be officially implemented in the fall of 2014.  Teachers, therefore, are teaching in accordance with the questions on the test instead of legitimate lessons that students could use for higher education such as universities, or even for practical purposes in life.
Such tests may temporarily enable American students to compete on an international educational level, but they will eventually cause a deterioration of American achievement in higher education and other scientific and mathematical fields.
Further elaborating on the disadvantages of such a teaching style, Dr. Jamie Goodwin from the Psychology Department said that, “This sort of an approach is not the kind of preparation students need for college. It is not the kind of education valued by our society because in real life this kind of narrow minded learning will not encourage young people to solve problems by thinking outside the box.”
Additionally, the curriculum is packed with (appalling) political statements. EAGNEWS.org–a website administered by the Education Action Group Foundation–recently released one of the curriculum’s worksheets. It required elementary school students to edit the following sentences:

  1. The President makes sure the laws of the country are fair.
  2. The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation
  3. The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.

Shockingly enough, a program that aims to teach such values to young Americans is sponsored by the federal government. From the examples above, it is evident that the judicial branch, individual autonomy and even the Bill of Rights (yes, those extremely precious American liberties) are completely undermined by the Core Curriculum. Likewise, the information that is taught is in utter disagreement with the U.S. Constitution and even serves to disillusion the students regarding American political values.
The only way that public schools can truly be made competent is via competition. Individual students and their parents should have the opportunity to select a particular school for their child in a given area, which they consider to be the best. Such a state of affairs will not only encourage schools to perform better, but it will also enable young Americans to make decisions regarding their own future—a right that seems to be gradually withdrawn by the federal government.