for Close to Home Column March 19, 2013
Education by Stealth and Deception - Why the Secrecy Behind Common Core?
Slowly, a few more parents across our nation are beginning to hear about Common Core, the new education program that seeks to “reform education” and supposedly make their children’s learning experience more “robust” and “rigorous.” Parents are being told that their children will be better able to use “critical thinking” and “higher order thinking skills” [whatever that is] and will be “better prepared for college and careers.”
Forty-six governors supposedly “voluntarily” signed onto Common Core two years ago in August of 2010. Could it be that the governors did not volunteer, but were actually coerced to sign on with a bribe of winning part of $4.35 billion, with a waiver to get out of the rigorous requirements of the old Bush program “No Child Left Behind,” and with a threat that if they did not sign on, they might lose their “Title One” money that helps with the funding of poverty stricken children.
If Common Core is so wonderful, why has it taken two years for parents to finally hear something about it? Why the secrecy? Could it actually be not as wonderful as we are being told? Will it actually be lowing standards and test scores - not raising them? Will our children once again be used as guinea pigs for yet another untested fad and “innovative” new program? Were those behind Common Core hoping to have it so entrenched in the schools that there would be no stopping it before the parents could find out about it?
Why was Congress bypassed and knows nothing about Common Core? Why were our state legislators bypassed and our own local school boards? None of them had the opportunity to actually vote on whether or not they wanted to implement a new, federal, top-down program that seeks to so radically transform education. Some are referring to Common Core as “education without representation” since none of our representatives had the chance to vote on it.
Common Core could also be called “taxation without representation,” since much of it will have to be funded by tax paying dollars, yet we, as tax payers and our representatives, have had no vote concerning this either. How many dollars are we talking about? This is no small sum. It is estimated it will cost $16 billion or higher to implement it across the nation and here in California, the cost will be $1.6 billion, in a state that is already close to $20 billion in debt.
Common Core could also be called “education by corporation.” The Bill Gates Foundation gave $100 million towards Common Core, and has given $75 million to promoting it worldwide. Why? Is Gates just one special, sweet guy who wants to improve education? Or could it be that he will now be getting $billions in return – for part of the CC program is for every child to be learning digitally from computers in the classroom? There will eventually be no more textbooks. The children will be learning from e-books on line. All tests will also be given on the computer, including the big assessment system coming at the end of 2014.
The other added feature of Common Core that parents should find most disturbing – there is going to be intrusive data being collected on your children that will follow them from kindergarten until the age of 20. With all assignments and tests being done on the computer, how much easier will it be to collect that data especially when so many of the tests are going to be open-ended essays asking for the child’s opinion on various subjects.
As one sees, there are many unanswered questions about Common Core. That was also by design. Those behind it did not want the light of day shining upon it. I would recommend parents doing their own research. There are many different websites with people speaking out against it. There are even several states with legislation going through trying to get it stopped in their States. I recommend Californians United Against Common Core, www.cuacc.org.
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[Orlean Koehle is a retired English and Journalism teacher, the author of five books, the most recently published one is Common Core, a Trojan Horse for Education Reform]