Review of Common Ground on Common Core: Voices from across the Political Spectrum Expose the Realities of the Common Core State Standards, Kirsten Lombard, ed., Resounding Books, 2014, 436 pages: $25.00 on Amazon.
If you want to learn all there is to know about Common Core State Standards and their impact on our children’s education, there is no better place to turn than this book, which features 19 essays by a variety of authors who have been intimately involved with this horrendous program.
Essayists include parents, academics, psychologists, psychotherapists, politicians, and teachers.
This book provides an outstanding collection of heartfelt expertise decrying the disaster that is Common Core. The book provides myriad evidence Common Core ruins mathematics and that reading and literature instruction plans suffer from an attempt to make most readings relevant to modern society, rather than focusing on the great, widely acclaimed literary giants of the past.
Nothing is more riveting than the history of how this terrible program took root, and Common Ground on Common Core does an excellent job of summarizing the most important historical developments and interesting facts about Common Core. For instance, one author explains no single state legislature voted on Common Core prior to the K–12 math and English standards being adopted. It is clear that at both the state and federal level, the people had no voice, which is supposed to come through elected representatives, in the decision to accept Common Core.
Standardizing, Centralizing, Homogenizing
Christopher Tienken, an assistant professor of education at Seton Hall University, makes a brilliant case in his essay, stating implementation of policies and programs that attempt to standardize, centralize, and homogenize public education are entirely misguided.
Tienken focuses on how Common Core stifles creativity, and he shows why national standards are necessary for success by pointing to the United States’ long-standing leadership in science. Tienken says bibliographies in scientific journals include five times more references of U.S scientists compared to German scientists, and there are 10 times more U.S. references than Chinese citations.
Sandra Stotsky, emerita professor of education at the University of Arkansas, profiles the amazingly unqualified people who created Common Core and the total lack of validation performed by third-party participants. Stotsky concludes the standards are not rigorous and will not make students competitive. She says Common Core inappropriately stresses writing over reading, and educational research supports none of Common Core’s approaches.
James Milgram, emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford University, and Ze’ev Wurman, a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution, show despite its professed goal to improve American competitiveness, Common Core aimed from the beginning to redefine college readiness standards so that they would be much lower compared to where accurate college readiness standards need to be.
In just two sentences, William Estrada, a lawyer with the Home School Legal Defense Association, nails the extent of the problems with Common Core: “The imposition of fixed standards and curricula are only the first blows to individualized education. … True individualized education comes from a teacher identifying a child’s strengths and weaknesses and helping him or her to learn in light of those attributes and circumstances.”
Jane Robbins, an attorney and senior fellow with The American Principles Project demonstrates Common Core creates a national database in which student privacy will no longer exist.
Poor Outcomes, Opting Out
S. Wharton, with advanced degrees in education and counseling from Northeastern University, offers a heartfelt story of how her 11-year-old daughter and kindergarten-age son received poor outcomes at the hands of Common Core. She explains in detail how the “constructivist” teaching techniques that are embedded in Common Core fail to provide quality outcomes for the students unfortunate enough to be subjected to them.
A national movement of parents opting their children out of standardized tests has erupted as an unintended consequence of Common Core. Opt-out forms are now flooding schools across the United States, as explained by Karen Lamoreaux in her essay. Lamoreaux is a small business owner in Maumelle, Arkansas, whose testimony before the Arkansas Board of Education went viral when someone posted a video of her arguments before the board in December 2013.
In her essay, titled “Common Core and America’s People of Color,” Ceresta Smith, a schoolteacher for 26 years, makes it clear the standards were never properly vetted. Smith also says they violate state and federal laws, are developmentally inappropriate, neglect special-needs and lower-income students, and will negatively affect many teachers’ careers.
System vs. Individuality
In the final essay authored by Marsha Enright, who holds a Master’s in Psychology degree from Northeastern University, the author explains the right way to operate a public education system is by relying on clarity and simplicity. Enright says the focus should be on teaching children how to arrive at truth, discerning multiple ways to approach problems, discovering their individual interests, understanding how to learn new material, and learning to collaborate with others.
Enright’s plan is supported by professor Charles Glenn of Boston University, who is quoted as eloquently saying, “How can the pluralism that we claim to value, the liberty that we prize, be reconciled with a ‘state pedology’ designed to serve state purposes?”
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is science director at The Heartland Institute.
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