Common Core Concerns?

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Millions of parents across the country are starting to become concerned, as they see test scores in states on the leading edge of Common Core implementation plummet. Officials have greeted this failure with strange satisfaction, clearlyhaving known that this would be the result of the new system they put in place.  Parents start out puzzled by this behavior, but when they investigate, here is what they are discovering:

  1. There is a powerful engine of “reform” at work in the “venture philanthropy” of the Gates Foundation, which has sponsored the development, adoption and implementation of the Common Core, spending close to $200 million so far on the project. While every Common Core web site claims that the standards were “authored by states,” those who inquire learn that the standards were written by a small groupof individuals affiliated with a handful of non-profits funded by the Gates Foundation.
  2. The US Department of Education is operating in close cooperation with the Gates Foundation to manipulate states into adopting Common Core. When Race to the Top grants were made available to states, the Gates Foundation made its staff available to help prepare the grant applications for states willing to adopt Common Core. The Department of Education, prevented by law from promoting national standards,worked in concert with the Gates Foundation (and private organizations funded by Gates) to get around the law.
  3. Many non-profits and professional organizations,  and even our unions,  have accepted millions of dollars in funding from the Gates Foundation in exchange for active support for Common Core. These organizations have not behaved as if they have any real influence, but rather have accepted the Common Core system as inevitable. They risk losing legitimacy in they eyes of their members as the Common Core project begins to collapse.
  4. The Common Core is propelled by a vision of education as serving the needs of commerce and corporations.   Many of the arguments for Common Core portray our children as products on an assembly line. As a high level Gates Foundation officialwrote recently,  “I am pleased to see the excitement in the business community for the common core.  Businesses are the primary consumers of the output of our schools, so it’s a natural alliance.”
  5. The Common Core doubles down on NCLB’s insistence that schools be “held accountable” for constantly rising test scores, acting as if these scores are an adequate reflection of student learning. Common Core is all about measurable outputs, and making sure student performance can be quantified in ever greater detail.
  6. Common Core designers intended test scores to crash From the start, we have heard veiled allusions to the effect that “we have been lying to our children” in not telling them how inadequate they are. Arne Duncan’s recent remark about “suburban white mothers” upset that “their child isn’t as bright as they thought, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought,” shows this intent clearly. The collapsed scores, coupled with policies that force the closure or “transformation” of schools, the promotion of charter schools, and the use of test scores for purposes of teacher and principal evaluation, create an unsustainable environment in our schools. And this is all by design.
  7. Common Core is being used to justify an unprecedented expansion of “educational technology,” to be used for computer-based testing and delivery of instruction. This investment in machinery has been termed “personalization.” So instead of investing in small class sizes that allow truly personalized instruction, we have districts like Los Angeles spending a billion dollars on iPads so students can access Common Core curriculum and tests.
  8. Common Core expands our education system’s reliance on data. Once we have decided we can measure and quantify learning, the way to improve is to have ever MORE measurement, and ever MORE data. And we discover that the systems to store such data must be expanded, and that detailed data on our own children is being compiled and stored in “cloud-based” systems, and may be made available to third party corporations.
About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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