I remember sitting in my children’s orientation this year and watching both of their teachers struggle with speaking about the Common Core Standards and how it would affect their classrooms. I walked out of these orientations with a lot of questions and concerns. I spoke to a few other parents that seemed to be a bit concerned with the new approaches that we were told about in these meetings. They had the same concerns as I did. Looked good on paper to some, but there were serious reasons for concern.
I came home and began my research into Common Core Standards. I was blown away. I found that I was being misled in so many ways as to where these standards originated. And how the federal government hurried the state’s application for federal funding, which we all know the states need desperately, along with no information on the standards and before the states even really understood what the “program” was really about. Should our approach to education and receiving funding be done in a race fashion? “Race to the Top” was more like race to get your application in and don’t think too long about it. I think careful examination and deep thinking should be involved. Not, fill out an application by date X to get your funds, and then we will tell you all the requirements since you received funding.
I discovered that our education system is being led by what appears to be a monopoly or at least a central group versus the state level as it is intended. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent a lot of money on this reform. Then there is the Achieve, INC. that was involved in formulating the “program” which is a non-profit group that has been trying to achieve a progressive approach to our education in the US for quite some time. Then there are ties between the textbook companies, education software companies, ACT, SAT, and on and on. It is a nice little bundle package that with research is clear as day. You also find human resource companies may have a lot to gain from this new “tracks” strategy.
Even if I put all those money and control issues to the side, I am not comfortable with the new standards (which are really just a step up in “progress” from many other programs that have been implemented in our school systems like No Child Left Behind, etc.). Our children all are unique. My two children, born of the same mother and father, are very different in how they learn. Now, we want to continue to assume that all of our children in this nation (if they put forth the effort – according to those that support the standards) will be able to learn the exact same way at the exact same pace? This has not worked well under No Child Left Behind, why would it now?
My first meeting with my daughter’s teacher (3rd grade, 25+ year veteran teacher) was when my motherly intuition of concern was validated by a teacher. My daughter tests very well – almost twice the level she is at in both reading and math. So, I am not worried about her not being able to keep up or learn at this time. Her teacher told me about how majority of the class did not have the knowledge base for where their math and reading curriculum was picking up. Now this could be understood as we are in a roll-out phase, but all these students participated in Common Core Math Curriculum last year. She was upset that she could not take the time to ensure the students got the knowledge they needed, because she had to move on with the strict curriculum. I have never seen a teacher so torn in my years of meeting with them.
I decided before school even started that I would keep a close eye on what materials and subjects were being used and taught. I review every homework assignment and I look at every reading she is assigned. I am looking at content and implied thought processes. The first thing that stood out was in my daughter’s math assignments. She was being taught estimation, which can be useful. However, at the same time, the kids were being taught best guess math. Yes, best guess math. Now, I looked at the method and tried to understand the need to teach our kids to be lazy versus learning to do the math. On average, the method led to a 10% error rate. How is this preparing our kids to be deep thinkers and preparing them to be competitive in a global market? Even my daughter told me it was easier for her to just do the math. If this is supposed to be an example of the more in-depth learning of the basics our children are learning due to the standards, then I am not sure I see the benefit of this in-depth knowledge.
I would also take the time to review any questions that my daughter would get wrong on her assignments to ensure that she was learning from her mistakes. There have been several cases where it was fairly gray (word definition) why she missed the question. The teacher’s response was that she was taught a certain word had very definite definition. However, it was also agreed why my daughter would use the other word to complete the sentence. We even looked up the definitions in several dictionaries, and I was left with explaining to her the same reason the teacher gave me. Then, I went on to explain this appears to be a problem we will face quite often moving forward. There are a lot of examples on the internet of specific cases in the teaching material that we are leaning towards teaching our children a certain way of thinking… or not thinking for themselves… Just regurgitate what you have been told.
There also seems to be a lot of educating towards the importance of the collective versus the individual. I mean the Common Core Standards sort of sets that right up with the fact that we should all be the same. However, often some of the reading that my daughter is assigned is about the state of the world and how we all need to do something about it. Now, I agree that we all need to do something about it, but it is a matter of living responsibly as individuals. I do not think we should have to give up our rights in order to fix these matters. I think the monopolies and corporations should be the first to have to change their ways. We, as a western society, need to place less emphasis on material items than on living in balance with the Earth. However, the tone of these readings seem to be more of giving blame to the individual and how we need to think more globally. Yes, but there is a fine line there. In my opinion, it is the same ploy being used on so many of us. Think of the collective before yourself. No, I need to be responsible on my own accord and through my compassion I will help others along the way, and I don’t need any government to tell me how to do this or force me to accomplish this. We tread this very thin line too often nowadays.
Now, why don’t I home-school? Well, the issue with Common Core Standards is that to enter college, you will have to think just like a Common Core student. Knowledge of the basics and thinking for yourself will not allow you entrance to college. Remember, it is about regurgitation, not thinking. I am still probably going to home-school my children by next year. However, I will have to teach them to play the game. However, at least then I can ensure that my children are aware of the strategies being used to alter the next generation of workers and can teach them to think for themselves. I have read examples of test questions that shun the family to the students by using negative words to describe behaviors of parents and siblings. This is not exaggeration. This is the reality that we are living in at this time. I spend every afternoon talking with my kids and un-schooling them. I am as open and honest as I can be for each of their ages.
If you have children in school – public or private, then I recommend, if you have not already, to really dig into Common Core. If you are planning on having children, you need to be aware as this is not going away anytime soon if they get what they want. There is a lot of information out there that reveals truth and facts about how it was implemented, the groups that are involved in our education now, the career tracks that kids will be led into based off of how they test, and the list goes on and on. This really is a dumbing down of our nation and an attempt to control the direction of our children’s lives. We have been on this course for a long time, but it just took a giant leap. Teachers, students, and parents are speaking up about their concerns.
Some of the battles I face within my own family seem to be valid points, but it doesn’t change what is happening to our children and the impact it will have on their lives. My father says that Massachusetts had Common Core and their testing is great. Yeah, but because the kids are able to score well on a test (multiple choice, especially) does not mean our children are learning to think for themselves or are gaining relevant knowledge to prepare them for an independent of the system way of life. My father-in-law says he is worried the kids won’t have many friends. To me, that is the least of my worries. There are plenty of ways to allow my children social activities. My brother thinks I am a bit dramatic and odd, and this is just another one of those areas where it is shining through. I am thankful I don’t follow the crowds or trust all that I am told. My husband does not see the urgency, but is coming around to the idea that it is overall a bad thing. My mother-in-law, even without much research, supports me in homeschooling. We call it a mother’s intuition. 🙂
Please talk to your kids, their teachers, and other parents. Do research and formulate your own thoughts on it. I recommend that you don’t just read opinionated articles from a similar perception as your own. Dig into the facts. Look at the school work your kids are working on and look at it from a perspective of what is the underlying message it is sending to our children. Is it teaching them to think for themselves?
I do not want my children to be educated in a system that is trying to develop better workers or human capital. My children are individuals with their own ways of learning. They are creative beings that do not need to be told that their creative outlets are not as important as knowing the material exactly as it is presented. I don’t want them to be herded into a mentality that their individual rights are not as important as taking care of our planet. The list is long of my concerns with Common Core Standards to include data mining. I only want to provide a springboard for thought to those that may not see some of the issues our children are and will continue to face under this program.
Our future is with our children. We have to teach them to love their individuality and allow them to bring their individual gifts to the table to better this world we are living in. Love will respond!!!
Always ask why. Always follow the money.