Earlier this month, a rally sponsored by Citizens Against Common Core was held in Sacramento on the steps of the Capitol. What is Common Core? In a nutshell, it’s a new, top-down national educational program that California is adopting in 2014 for students in grades K-12.
The Common Core program to be administered in California is an educational plan orchestrated by representatives of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association and various members of the Obama administration and teachers’ union representatives. Many parents object that Common Core will operate through computers that will collect private and personal information about students and their families. Teachers complain they are being forced to teach a program that has never been tested on public school students. However, teachers have also been made aware that if they protest, they are in danger of losing their jobs.
Some objections focus on the literature portion of the Common Core program that reduces classic books from 80 percent of the school curriculum to only half. Said Anthony Esolen, a professor of Renaissance English Literature at Providence College in Rhode Island:
“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women. Frankly, I do not wish to be governed by people whose minds and hearts have been stunted by a strictly utilitarian miseducation…. Do not train them to become apparatchiks in a vast political and economic system, but raise them to be human beings, honoring what is good and right, cherishing what is beautiful, and pledging themselves to their families, their communities, their churches, and their country.”
California has tinkered with many progressive education programs over the years, ranging from New Math to New New Mathand Whole Language reading instead of phonics. At one time, urban educators wanted to include the street-slang languageEbonics into the public-school classroom. There was also the infamous CLAS Test — the California Learning Assessment System that was kept secret from parents until it was introduced into the classroom and word leaked out that the program leaned more on opinion, not actual learning.
A controversial element of CLAS described a scene where students were to choose who would be offered a spot in a lifeboat after a passenger ship sunk. With not enough room for every passenger to board the lifeboat, children were asked to choose who would board and who would not. When it was learned the correct response was an older man should be cast off because he had already lived his life, parents objected, refused to permit their children to take the CLAS program and very quietly,CLAS exited the state.
Parents now fear the national Common Core teaching program could return similar techniques to the classroom. A protest movement has been launched across the country. Many organizations are at work oppopsing Common Core, including TruthInAmericanEducation.com, Two Moms Against Common Core and Hoosiers Against Common Core.
Former California school teacher Orlean Koehle taught speech, drama and journalism in the state’s classrooms for years. After raising six children and returning to the classroom, she was shocked by the many reforms and changes.
That prompted her to write, “Common Core — A Trojan Horse for Education Reform.” In it, she observes, “The federal government’s control over education can turn into something that has already been tried in other countries where our schools and universities are no longer centers for education, but now centers for propaganda and indoctrination.”
(Warren Duffy is president of Friends for Saving California Jobs and author of “The Green Tsunami-A Tidal Wave of Eco-Babble Drowning Us All.” Originally published on CalWatchdog.)