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Common Core: The Battle Against the Wrong Enemy

by Bruce Haring

For hundreds of years, education worked well at the local schoolhouse. Children learned reading, writing, and arithmetic, and other subjects, under the watchful guidance of teachers from the community. Sure, there was the occasional disagreement about whether we “evolved from monkeys,” or if the Earth was created by a cosmic “explosion” or a supreme being.

But, by and large, folks let things go along as they always did, letting teachers teach and “livin’ right and bein’ free,” as Merle Haggard once sang.

Well, then the federal government got involved. And, as you know, that ain’t often good for learnin’.

Common Core is a set of federal education goals adopted, to date, by 44 states and the District of Columbia (Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, and Alaska are the holdouts). It lists skills that kids need to know by the end of a school year, which affects what will be taught. The achievements are then assessed via a standardized test, which will be used in school performance evaluations (testing has not yet begun to roll out in every state).

The real ‘argument’ against Common Core, one made by teachers, is that it will force them to adjust their long-held methods…

The holdouts and protests against Common Core have come largely from those who feel the federal government should stay out of local education. There are also some who question some of the things being taught — but that’s not Common Core’s business. It is still up to the individual states, districts and or schools to teach with a curriculum of their choosing.

So while some parents have ranted against questions that ask how many X-Boxes will it take to fill a room, and others protest against the confusing way math is now being taught in some districts, they should probably focus their ire on the education administration nimrods in their local town. Those are the people choosing the way things will be taught.

Take the confusion over math problems, a common complaint about Common Core. Instead of dividing 45 into 160 the old-fashioned way, some districts now teach via “Everyday Math,” a University of Chicago (cough **hotbed of communism** cough) methodology that values critical thinking skills. It’s most important to show how you developed your answer, which leads to a long trail of numbers — and a mountain of frustration for parents who can’t help their kid with his homework. Common Core is often blamed. But it isn’t the standard’s fault.

Internationale Standards

Those who argue in favor of Common Core standards say that its use will raise our educational achievement levels to match those of foreign countries. No longer will we be forced to hang out heads in shame while pissant countries like Lichtenstein polka on our STEM graves.

What these cheerleaders fail to realize is that certain countries separate their vocationally bound students from the academics at any early age. That tends to pump up the achievement scores, because the tests are being taken by the elite, not the lumpen. China, we’re looking at you.

The proponents of Common Core also argue that it will allow easier comparisons of standardized test scores from one state with another. Since many states goose their test results or out-and-out cheat, that seems of little benefit.

The biggest argument in some circles for the implementation of Common Core standards seems to be that the classroom rigor will be increased. No longer will students arrive at college needing remedial training, or unable to function in the post-high school job world. You know they’re quaffing something when they note that one, as any visitor to any urban school will tell you.

No, the real argument against Common Core, one made largely by older teachers and largely unspoken, is that it will force them to adjust their long-held methods to adapt to the new standards. Given that results are largely disconnected from performance and funding in most districts — and especially if over-funded administrators also have their feet held to the fire, well…

That, more than anything, may be the biggest Common Core benefit.

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