Review of Common Ground on Common Core: Voices from Across the Political Spectrum Expose the Realities of the Common Core State Standards, by Kirsten Lombard, Resounding Books, 2014, 436 pages; ISBN-13: 978-0-9908809: $25.00 on Resoundingbooks.org
Common Core, the national education curriculum standards created by academic experts, lawmakers, and educational materials companies, is a complex subject few individuals fully understand, but Common Core is not a totally opaque subject.
Common Ground on Common Core is a great resource for those interested in learning more about how educators today are teaching the next generation.
Chorus of Viewpoints
The book is a collection of essays about Common Core and the state of government pedagogy today, written by parents, academics, psychologists, psychotherapists, politicians, and teachers. One fact that becomes apparent when reading the collection of essays—one that may be little-known—is just how tightly Common Core is bound to big businesses and moneyed interests, such as to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Gates.
The essayists say these corporations and business interests are not changing the face of education for the benefit of our children, but instead to create a more easily imprinted workforce that lacks individuality and creativity.
More shocking than the revelation of Common Core’s true backers and their goals is the history of how this insidious program took root in government schools across the nation. One will reel with shock upon learning not one state legislature has voted to approve Common Core, yet states all over the country are now participating in the program. After reading this collection, it will become clear to the reader that, at both the state and federal level, we the people had no voice at all in the creation or implementation of Common Core.
Effects on Scientific Creativity
Some essays in Common Ground on Common Core stand out as exceptional contributions to the current debate on the standards.
For example, Christopher Tienken, an assistant professor of education at Seton Hall University, provides a brilliant exposé of the misguidedness of these policies. Tienken says implementing Common Core curricula to standardize, centralize, and homogenize public education leads our nation’s government schools down the same road traveled by the Chinese and German governments.
Tienken says historically, the creativity and innovation of American scientists’ work has led to American science carrying more weight in the scientific world than the work of Asian or European scientists, but Tienken says Common Core would remove that unique advantage.
Sandra Stotsky, professor of education at the University of Arkansas, says there is a lack of rigor in the assumptions and hypotheses inherent in the Common Core curricula, and she questions the academic qualifications of the many third-party participants involved in the creation of the standards.
James Milgram, professor of mathematics at Stanford University, and Ze’ev Wurman, a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, argue in their essay Common Core does not meet its stated goals of increasing the competitiveness of American students in our increasingly globalized economy. They say the goal of Common Core from the start was truly to dumb-down educational standards while giving the appearance of educational improvement.
In the Field
Longtime schoolteacher Ceresta Smith shows in her essay how Common Core’s lack of vetting and verification harm special-needs students and children from low-income families. Smith says instead of being a rigorous set of standards encouraging students to become competitive globally, Common Core violates many state and federal laws and will stunt many students’ academic development.
The chorus of voices from many walks of life and viewpoints contained in Common Ground on Common Core will serve to educate and inform parents, educators, or laypeople who wish to learn more about the real story behind Common Core and how its misguided policies are hurting our children and our culture.
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is science director of The Heartland Institute.