Discussing Common Core
To the Editor:
This letter is a response to the Feb. 6 West Newsmagazine article, “Common Core Coming Soon: National initiative will change the way students are taught.” My advice to parents – wake up and smell the coffee. It’s burning!
First, a little bit about my background. I am writing as a former home-school teacher who had to select curriculum for my student, and only succeeded by receiving a great deal of help from an organization called WCCHE (West County Christian Home Educators). Thanks to them, I was introduced to the notion of “world views” and the role that played with the written word. The book they recommended was David Noebel’s “Worldviews in Collision.” This is where I learned about the secular humanistic view as compared to the Christian view.
By reading this book and by additional study, I was shocked to find out that what one author calls “fact” is not only “influenced,” but more accurately “determined” by his/her general mindset or future goal with the information (sometimes referred to as “agenda”). That’s why there are times when a “fact” given by one author is totally negated by another. What I came to find out was that in back of every written work, fiction or non-fiction, there is a point of view.
Finally, I understood why there is such a disparity between different news organizations or TV channels in “reporting” the same story.
The reason I am writing this is not to say that you need to home-school in order to find these things out. No. However, now, “for better or for worse” (words on the cover), you have to do homework again and educate your children on this matter.
Both you and they read the book mentioned above. You have to examine what the national initiative and the new standards want to teach your children, (even though this will be difficult with fewer textbooks and more material online) and whether or not they correspond to what you believe in.
Unfortunately, gone are the days when you can just move into a good school district, send your kids out the door, and let the school take care of the rest.
In summary, when government takes over education – watch out!
Today, it’s no secret that we have a government that is pushing the nanny state and government dependence from cradle to grave. Personal initiative has been replaced by national initiative and personal ingenuity with group think. The teachers unions often (not necessarily always) support these new standards like they do the new math, and we see how well that has worked out.
Science and social studies (history) are not part of this core. Why not? I can think of some very obvious reasons, but I’m going to leave that up to you to find out. I could also go on and name countries that have taken over education and the dire consequences that have resulted, but I don’t believe in “spoon feeding.”
My parting admonition: Parents, reread the article carefully and critically, and then get to work – before your long-held values go up in ashes!
To the Editor:
West Newsmagazine’s recent article about the Common Core State Standards did a great job covering a lot of the facts, but I would like to offer another perspective.
The author indicated that Missouri had really strong standards. She was probably referring to Missouri’s cut scores for proficiency, in which Missouri ranks in the top five in rigor. The standards, however, were given a grade of D and ranked near the bottom by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. However, the rigor of the standards is not the real controversy. The problem with the CCSS is that they remove the standard setting process one step further away from parents and stifle choice.
Under a Common Core regime, parents will have very little influence on their local school’s standards. This is particularly troubling because the standards are often linked to progressive instructional strategies, which many parents despise.
The article also mentions that the CCSS will bring continuity to education. That is, a third-grader in one district will be learning the same thing as a third-grader in another district. Again, there is a problem with this. What if you do not like what your third-grader is learning in your current district, where can you go?
Proponents of the CCSS argue that the standards allow us to measure schools against one another across state lines. The fact of the matter is we already have a similar measuring stick. Using current tests, I can tell you how students in the Parkway and Rockwood school districts compare to students around the country or around the world. A quick glance at the Global Report Card shows the average Parkway or Rockwood math student would rank in the 36th and 42nd percentile in Singapore.
There is much more to be said in the way of Common Core criticism, but the bottom line is that by accepting these standards, we are ceding control and limiting options.
James V. Shuls
Education Policy Analyst