Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014
Columns

Students are guinea pigs in common core


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Common Core is backdoor nationalizing of the U.S. educational system. Arne Duncan, secretary of education, used Race to the Top grant money to encourage and seduce state bureaucrats to get on the Common Core bandwagon. Educational bureaucrats and lobbyists nudged the state legislators to vote for acceptance of this initiative without any specifics of the program and concrete research to determine the way it would impact students and/or teachers.

The same rush through formula used to pass Obamacare is being used to create a ground swell of support for Common Core before any specifics are written. Big government politicians of both parties are anointing it. They give their word "it will be good for education" but they only talk in generalities/political speak.

Jeb Bush, ex governor of Florida and presidential candidate for 2016, developed and advocated another top down fiasco: No Child Left Behind. He currently is supporting Common Core. This should raise a red flag.

High standards alone do not determine student performance. It does place immense pressure on teachers to reach the standards, which is transferred to students to meet them. The students are once again guinea pigs in a process not tested in the classroom but abstractly devised. The creators do not have firsthand knowledge of dealing directly with the variability of student's ability, skills, habits and motivation.

Even more pressure will be applied to younger children to learn more abstract complex concepts at an earlier age. Much of it will be developmentally inappropriate. Most children cannot abstract before the age of 11 according to Jean Piaget, preeminent educational psychologist. Predictably this will cause more, not fewer students to be dumped into the educational trash can of failure at an earlier age.

There will be a greater divide between the top students and all the rest who cannot keep up. Presently there is a media-advertising blitz, LearnMoreGoFurther.org, where teachers are vouching for Common Core. These "high-falutin" standards are a wish list for student performance and not a curriculum. These representatives act as if their promises of success have already been accomplished.

Most actual classroom teachers are more cynical. They understand the critical issue of how you get students to reach the standards. It is easy to write them, but the difficult part is obtaining them. Teachers understand Common Core will require even more paperwork to document student progress. This leads to even more time taken away from direct interaction with students. The factors that were part of No Child Left Behind will be magnified by this more "rigorous" Common Core.

Like all the other mandated, innovative programs the eventual curriculum will require teachers to move forward with the program even with the students who do not get it. It will be another prescriptive approach leaving little time for teacher creativity. Even the National Education Association has voiced concern with the impact on the teacher's ability to teach.

Factual knowledge has been de-emphasized in favor of abstract critical thinking at a young age. Many students with limited general knowledge and basic skills along with limited life experience will not have the ability to think critically but will be perfect specimens to believe in teacher-led state propaganda. Cursive writing will be eliminated along with minimizing traditional civics or history. The lack of these vital subjects will make it impossible for future generations to read original documents and understand the history leading up to the birth of our nation and the genius of the founding fathers. Again this will make many of our students more illiterate than they already are.

Many states are putting the brakes on Common Core. Indiana has officially withdrawn from Common Core. More importantly, citizens, parents and teachers are organizing to have their voices heard. Like Obamacare, Common Core promises "standards" that sound great but the "devil is in the details." The more meat we see on the bones, the more rotten the smell.

Nationalizing education is a game changer for America. It will end any chance of local control of our education.

America needs to decentralize education to give parents more direct input into their child's education. They should not be shut out of supposedly local school boards who act as apologists to teacher unions and state education bureaucrats.

We need to bring education back to students, their families and communities. Our students should be treated as unique, worthwhile individuals not as throwaway victims in an untested educational ploy to nationalize U.S. education.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program in Spring Hill. Visit him at www.drmaglio.blogspot.com or email him at djmaglio@gmail.com.

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