A Teacher’s Perspective on Why Common Core is Not the Answer to Our Nation’s Public School Problems

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Uniformity in education, dictated from Washington D.C. by the Department of Education, does not allow for sufficient professional teacher discretion in lesson planning and teaching, neither does it allow for potentially more rigorous State standards, nor does it take into account cultural, socio-economic, or regional differences. Likewise, it does not seek to generate liberty of instruction among teachers, or of thoughts and ideas in students. Instead, it creates over-lapping standards like Civics subjects being taught in English literature, to truncate learning, and justify fewer teachers on the payroll. It also limits student choice, and ultimately seeks to generate a lowered “base-line” of “common” knowledge, compliance, and group-think among all involved (with revisionist history no less) dictated from the top-down.

In such an educational system, every state ends-up having the exact same standards and goals, and the “state’s as laboratories” philosophy for finding out what educational strategies work the best for raising student achievement is lost forever. Thus, before we fully implement “common core,” perhaps as a parent, you should ask yourself, do we really want to have the same state standards as an Arkansas, or a Mississippi? Also, how will controversial political and religious issues such as the teaching of evolution v. Intelligent Design be dealt with?

Furthermore, why should we be focusing on a “common” core, what happened to being “exceptional?” Political considerations like equality of opportunity in the classroom (desegregation and inclusion) should not be used as a political impetus to destroy teacher autonomy, or to undermine the ability for bright students to challenge themselves in a rigorous learning environment free of continuous distraction. If the public education system in America is now intended only to be fair and “common,” then how can it be challenging and exceptional? Don’t get me wrong, mentally or behaviorally challenged students deserve the best education feasible, and genuine opportunities to socialize and make lasting bonds with their peers. But D.C. politics should not play a part in what I decide to teach in my classroom, and students who destroy the learning environment with habitually distractive and disturbing behaviors they often cannot control, or change, should not be funneled into mainstream classrooms (all day) where they will likely be expected to sit still, listen, and contribute to class discussion, but will instead likely flounder, fail, and eventually drop-out. Likewise, talented students should not be stymied by universal standards of mediocrity, or they will get bored, act-out, or just tune-out in the classroom, and our global rankings in all subject areas will continue to fall, as drop-out rates, and private and charter schools swell in enrollments (creating segregation yet again).

But if you live within a Democratic political system whose “wolves” want to play politics in the classroom, and don’t want a well armed citizenry (both well-armed with fire power, and brain power), then of course they are going to tie the hands of teachers with scripted content, and keep students with learning disabilities and serious behavioral challenges in the exact same classes all day as those who score “off the charts.” Why? – to ensure potentially discriminatory “tracking” is not occurring. Likewise, they now allow students with fairly constant disciplinary problems to go unpunished, and the lazy, overworked, or mediocre parents who tolerate their kids behaviors or even re-enforce them, go unpunished as well, and join the bandwagon and blame the teachers for not doing a better job at raising their kids.

There was a time, when a child’s behavior reflected the quality of parenting they were receiving at home, and parents were held accountable for their kids behaviors, what happened to that? rather than themselves. But now, when teachers complain that they cannot get anything accomplished because nothing is being done about misbehaving students, we are told it is not the kids fault they don’t know how to sit still, listen, or actually create a finished work product without throwing things at their teachers, bullying their classmates, etc), and all of this systematic neglect of behavioral expectations like “manners” is done in the name of ensuring “fairness.” Why? It serves their ultimate purposes to keep the lambs distracted, dependent, divided, and dumb. That way, they can eat their dinner (and chew us up and spit us out) without worry of having their authority questioned, or contested by all those silly little lambs who might actually someday THINK, “Hey, I would rather not be dinner.”

It is not a coincidence that America’s public schools started lagging behind the rest of the industrialized world in student achievement scores in all the major content areas the moment our Federal government got involved in the educational process. When political equality and fairness became more important than mastery of complex concepts, achievement of high standards and goals, and success in the classroom (and in our society), student failure (and societal decline) were inevitable. Does that mean we need to go back to the segregated, exclusive, “assembly-line” inspired, and punitive driven education model we may have had in this country before? No, of course not, but that does not mean we should just hand-over the reigns of education and learning to Washington D.C. either. For surely, if the powers that be run the public education system anything like they run our country, then they will surely run us all off a steep cliff soon enough. Speaking of steep cliffs, has anyone been asking how much it is going to cost the American tax payer to implement “Common core” in all 50 states?

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