Historically Not a New Fight Against Educational Reform

The fight against common core is not new. It has just transformed over the years. It is also not Democrat verses Republican or “Obama-Core” as some choose to call it.  If you listen to portions of  Hillsdale College Professor Danielle B. Coupland’s speech you will hear him give an outline of the history of education reform.

At the 10:00 minute mark he speaks of President Clinton ending a five-year process that initiated standards based education that originated in 1989.  This was when President Bush met with the nation’s governors at an Education Summit. Michel M. Heise from the Fordham Law Review states the following in his Introduction to Goals 2000: Educate America Act: The Federalization and Legalization of Educational Policy, 63 FordhamL. Rev. 345 (1994).

This legislative effort culminated in Goals 2000, a comprehensive federal educational reform act which reflects the most recent reallocation of educational policymaking roles among federal, state, and local governments. Because the federal government initiated this most recent reordering of educational policymaking responsibilities, it will surprise few that Goals 2000 dramatically increases the federal government’s educational policymaking role.

It is ludicrous for Matt Mead’s office to claim that local citizens’ “concerns focus on problems from other states. Wyoming is a local control state when it comes to our schools. By adopting Common Core Standards we send a signal that our children will compete with students across the country.  We will not allow outside interests to determine what books our children read, or the materials they can use for their learning.” 

1) What problems from other states?!  Those that have adopted the CCS are all tied to the same federal mandates.   Those in opposition are fighting the SAME things, loss of local control, data mining, cap of 15% in additional information, high stake testing, among other overreaching tentacles.

2) Local control state?  How does that work exactly, when we will be the SAME as the other states implanting CCS?

3)   Local School Boards may suggest materials for their district’s use, but they will have all been aligned, as to assist in teaching to the test!  The same test that will be given to the rest of the country!  Did Wyoming teachers, parents, community members have local input into the Smarter Balanced Consortium’s test?  No -and it is made VERY clear even on their own website.

4) Outside Interests!  Matt Mead and his staff need to do some research on the Gates Foundation, NGA and CCSSO!

It is blazingly obvious that the Common Core’s “state-led” process is in title only.

Take a look at some of the references from Sandra Stotsky and Jane Robbins.

For many months after the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was launched in 2009, the identities of the people drafting the “college- and career-readiness standards” were unknown to the public. CCSSI eventually revealed the names of the 24 members of the “Standards Development Work Group” in response to complaints from professional organizations and parent groups about the lack of transparency.

What did this Work Group look like? Focusing only on ELA, the make-up of the Work Group was quite astonishing: It included no English professors or high-school English teachers. How could legitimate ELA standards be created without the very two groups of educators who know the most about what students should be and could be learning in secondary English classes?

CCSSI also released the names of individuals in a larger “Feedback Group,” but it was made clear that these people were advisory only – final decisions would be made by the English-teacher-bereft Work Group. Indeed, Feedback Group members’ suggestions were frequently ignored, without explanation. Because the Work Group labored in secret, without open meetings, sunshine-law minutes of meetings, or accessible public comment, its reasons for making the decisions it did are lost to history.

Should you chose to listen to the rest of Professer Coupland’s speech, you will find something much more troubling than even those things I’ve already discussed.

Quoting another professor, Anthony Esolen, a professor of Renaissance English Literature at Providence College in Rhode Island, Coupland says:

“What appalls me most about the standards is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.

David Coleman forced his un-researched and opinion based idea, that a split in literature learning would include informational  texts.  This is where we are headed, loss of creativity and imagination, the fight between good and evil, and the soul’s search for meaning.

In conclusion, Professor Coupland states:

“If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated.

Becoming a global citizen will reduce the freedoms and founding principles our country has prospered from.  Becoming globally competitive is being confused with “working for a global master”.   We can learn from the wisdom of this Russian student.

A  professor at Fordham University received from a former  student from Russia. The letter is addressed to everyone who opposes the Common Core.

I believe you are fighting a very noble fight against the Common Core curriculum. I am telling you this as a product of a centrally-controlled education system myself. Soviet Union was notorious for this and the new Russia hasn’t changed that.

I never liked my school. To be honest, I hated it with all my heart and sometimes still have nightmares where I see myself having to return to school.

I always thought it was a senseless, cold system that I just had to get through, survive. I was frustrated all the time because instead of following my interests, tapping on my talents, I was concerned about carefully watching the requirements and trying very hard to fit in.

Questioning the requirements was not productive because you couldn’t change them anyway. I questioned and doubted them all the time and therefore suffered. I saw teachers as senseless machines whose only goal is to make sure you memorize what’s in their centrally approved textbooks.

There was no room and no time for creating, thinking, dreaming, exploring. My school years felt like a constant run in front of a moving train that, if I were to pause, try to look around, turn, would hit me: I would get a bad grade and jeopardize my chances to get into college, upset my parents, ruin my life. I was a good, hardworking student yet school was one of the most stressful experiences in my life.

Part of the problem with common curriculum is that at one point teachers become so concerned about following the standards (that naturally become more and more demanding with time) that they forget about kids. Their work is then not to educate kids but to make sure the requirements are fulfilled. The profession stops being rewarding and attractive to those who love kids and teaching, and attracts those who are comfortable inside a command and control structure.

America is obviously far from getting where Soviet Union/Russia is, but I am convinced it is because of people like you.

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