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Friday, March 14, 2014

The Common-Core Pushers Rebrand their Product

At the Common-Core Beauty Pageant, Rebranding is the Name of the Game.  Who will win this year"  Will it be Miss. Iowa Core, Miss. Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, Miss. Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, or any of one of a number of the other "Rebranders"?

The Common-Core pushers realize the dwindling market for their product.  Some states (like South Carolina) outright reject the Core.  Other states are busy trying to "rebrand" the product, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana and Iowa.  In the words of former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, the term "Common Core" has now become "toxic."  He told the Council of Chief State School Officers, they must "rebrand it, refocus it, but don't retreat."  It sounds like war!  The people have, so to speak, sent the Common Core back to the kitchen, but will be served up virtually the same tainted dish again, under a new name.  I can already hear the public patrons gagging.

I try to look at life from both sides now, as much as possible, but from every way I look at it, I am hard-pressed to find much I like in the Common Core, perhaps only the well-intended motivations of some.  So much seems to rot to the Core:

1.  It is untried and unproven and our children are guinea pigs whilst so many of the educational deformers send their own children to private schools exempt from their policies.  Go figure!

2.  Some of the curriculum is developmentally inappropriate for young children who are pressured by high-stakes tests.  Play, socialization and the development of other skills gives way to prepping for tests.

3.  In other aspects, in the estimation of some experts, the Common Core falls short of international standards, including Dr. James Miligram of Stanford and Dr. Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas who served on the official Common Core validation committee (see whatisthecommoncore.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/what-is-common-core-101/).

4.  It seems much of the focus of the Common Core narrows the parameters of children's education.  Students read the Gettysburg Address ripped out of its historical context.  Manuals replace poetry.  Art history, music and the like are denigrated.  That which is not tested falls by the wayside.

5.  Although most states accepted the Common Core due to large federal monetary incentives (seeming much like bribes), it seems the grants will wither away and states will have to dig deep in their pockets in the future to meet the mandates of the Core.

6.  In N.Y. state, the Common Core tests were designed to fail 70% of the state's students.  The results were predicted by Commissioner King and Regent Tisch who said, "I would welcome that temporary dip as a way of taking us to a place where we know we really need to go."  It was a foregone conclusion; they already knew where they would place the cut scores.  Of course given new formulas for APPR, teachers, given little advanced clue about the nature of the tests, will be slaughtered along with their students.

7.  In the views of some, the Core slants learning in a leftist direction.  Schools and teachers should have the ability to teach a curriculum as they see best.  One hopes teachers can use some objectivity in the classroom, but barring that, students at least should be exposed to a variety of viewpoints in their young lives and have the opportunity to reap the rewards of debating.

8.  The idea of a federally pushed Common Core seems to fly in the face of states' rights over education.  Apparently, states can amend 15% of the Core and make some localized changes, but I'm not sure how 15% can be calculated and, besides, it doesn't seem like nearly enough.

9.  I cannot see any good for people in it--although it may do well to enrich companies like Pearson that can now market their products nationally.

10.  Despite the claims of the Common-Core pushers that it grew out of an upsurge of popular support, everything I read points to the contrary, especially the fact that they have had to push it with something akin to bribe money.  It seems educators and the people affected by the Core have had little to no input in the development of the standards.  When parents express their objections in N.Y. state, they are labeled as "special interests" and their concerns are summarily dismissed.  It seems so many organizations have been bought off with Bill Gates' money.  Yet, not many seem to want the Core now.  It has truly become "toxic."

11.  The Core seems unfit for many students with I.E.P.s, students with English language deficiencies and so many others.

12.  The Core is tied to databases that will deprive students and their parents of their rights to privacy.  I am sad to say New York State seems the worst offender in this respect with its adamant support for InBloom (originally posted 2/23/14).

Can changing a name and superficial tinkering for who change the perceived, and seemingly very real, threats of the Common Core?  Rebrand all you want, somehow I doubt it.

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