By Rachel Alexander
"The schools [utilizing Common Core]… are organized in a highly centralized government-run system. They [Common Core courses] have the following characteristics in common: they are overwhelmingly secular in orientation; a common school is provided through at least grades seven or eight; little or no tuition charge is made; schools are mostly coeducational; the curricula are tightly prescribed, as are the textbooks...students are offered few electives…"
Sound familiar? Although this sounds like Common Core, with the exception of the inserted text, it's actually a description from "Common Features of Education System in Communist Nations." Common Core is a top-down national curriculum currently being forced on our public schools that attempts to treat every student exactly the same regardless of ability. It is reminiscent of the slogan popularized by Karl Marx, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," which means no matter how hard someone works, or how intelligent they are, everyone will be treated the same. But due to flaws inherent in human nature, such as laziness and greed, this slogan is incapable of ever becoming reality, and attempts to implement it have resulted in the deaths of millions in Stalinist Russia and Mao Tse-Tung's China.
Common Core was quietly started five years ago by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It was stealthily implemented state by state before opponents were even aware of it. It seeks to impose the same left-leaning curriculum upon every public school in the country. Since I last wrote about Common Core in March, not much has changed. The national curriculum is still progressively being adopted around the country despite the massive outcry. About the only change is opposition is now emerging on the left.
The Texas school curriculum derived from Common Core, known as CSCOPE, includes an infographic portraying society as "progressing" from capitalism to socialism then communism, referring to the latter two as "new systems" and "new ideas." Homeschoolers can't escape the communist sympathies of Common Core. Pearson Education, which is connected to Common Core, provides a video to homeschoolers called "China Rising" that promotes communism over capitalism. Conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly refers to the curriculum as "Communist Core." CSCOPE is considered one of the most anti-American curriculums in the country.
In Tennessee, one school required students as part of Common Core to read Obama's 2009 inaugural address and explain, "How will President Obama make our country more secure?" Obvious bias like this has resulted in nicknaming the curriculum "Obamacore."
Common Core's massive bureaucratic requirements are so confusing that when North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest asked the state's Department of Education a few easy questions about the curriculum, the response was a request to provide 10,000 pieces of blank paper to answer his questions. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, was so appalled by the quality of the language arts component that she refused to approve the program.
Chris Tienken, an education professor at Seton Hall University, explains in a video that Common Core was created in reaction to a myth that public education is hurting our global competitiveness. In reality, "there's no empirical evidence to support it. You can look at test after test, going back to 1964, and find no correlation between test rankings of U.S. students and any indicator of economic prowess, such as per capita GDP or even the Growth Competitiveness Index calculated by the World Economic Forum."
So far, only five states have resisted adopting Common Core: Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia, and Minnesota. Georgia, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Utah have pulled out of the test development process. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker wants public hearings on Common Core and has said he thinks the state can come up with better standards. Other states are not faring so well. Bureaucrats in Louisiana are currently forcing it into the educational curriculum. Last week, the Michigan House of Representative voted to authorize funding for Common Core.
Sadly, there are some on the right supporting Common Core. They include the National Catholic Educational Association and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the conservative education policy think tank. The Institute coincidentally received nearly $1 million from the liberal Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Republican politicians who support the curriculum are likely doing so because of crony capitalism. Intel, Cisco Systems and ExxonMobil have all started campaigns to promote Common Core. There is very likely a "follow the money" connection between those corporations and Republicans who have chosen to desert the tenet of federalism.
Oddly, there are now many on the left who oppose Common Core. The Louisiana State Democratic Party opposes it because of concerns the implementation will be faulty due to all the opposition. Others on the left dislike Common Core because of a concern that it will "force students to take even more expensive, standardized tests and is something of a corporate takeover of education." There are fears that Common Core is being driven by money; pushed by corporations that will benefit from selling tests and other curriculum. Common Core adds new tests for ninth and tenth graders. Others on the left worry that it will reduce arts, sciences, literature and creative writing in the classroom. A group of 25,000 teachers is opposing Common Core under the name BATs, for Badass Teachers' Association.
We've all seen what a failure the federal government has been in many areas. Why would we entrust yet another area in society to its massive bureaucratic control? Equally as disturbing, why would we want to make every child exactly the same? People are unique and endowed with different abilities and ambitions. The Common Core "one-size-fits-all education" should alarm anyone who values freedom of choice, federalism and individuality. Considering the activist left and the activist right are both in agreement on this issue, perhaps there is a chance it can be stopped.
Rachel Alexander and her brother Andrew are co-Editors of Intellectual Conservative. Rachel practices law and social media political consulting in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been published in the American Spectator, Townhall.com, Fox News, NewsMax, Accuracy in Media, The Americano, ParcBench, and other publications.