To the Editor:
Most Illinoisans are familiar with the federal Head Start program launched in 1966 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society campaign to promote school preparation for disadvantaged children. During its time of operation it is fair to say that a certain amount of liberal indoctrination occurred, even among children so young of age.
After years of pushing the federal Head Start program, there is thin evidence that Head Start benefits the children enrolled in the program. It would, however, mean a boon to hiring an untold additional number of public education employees to the benefit of education unions.
According to an HHS report issued in early February, attendance in Head Start has no demonstrable impact on the students’ academic, socio-emotional or health statutes at the end of first grade.
“Common Core” now takes center stage. Approximately 80 percent of the public knows nothing about the Common Core education standards, which represents one of the most comprehensive K-12 reform efforts ever attempted in this nation.
For the clueless 80 percent, The Phyllis Schlafly Report, Vol. 46, No. 6, published monthly by the Eagle Forum, describes ObamaCore as a "power grab like ObamaCare," which fits right in with Obama's attitude that there is no higher power than the federal government. Common Core is a "comprehensive plan to dumb down schoolchildren so they will be obedient servants of the government and probably to indoctrinate them to accept the left wing view of America and its history."
The essence of Common Core as explained by “The Phyllis Schlafly Report:”
"The Obama Administration has latched onto a new national education curriculum called Common Core that was launched by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2009. Those organizations have very official names as though they are government agencies, but they are actually private groups financed by foundations such as Gates and various corporations.
"Their plan is to induce all elementary and secondary schools to accept a comprehensive national education system that will enforce a national curriculum. National standards will be locked in by the tests students must take called assessments, which in turn are tied to teacher evaluation. The standards instruct the teachers what to teach so their pupils can pass the tests and teachers can get positive evaluations.
"The process bypasses parents and state and local school boards and will fundamentally transform education by dictating what every child will learn and not learn.
"No Child Left Behind' was a step in this direction, but it allowed the states to set their own standards. Common Core, on the other hand, requires all states to adopt the same federally endorsed standards.
“This will be achieved by carrot-and-stick methodology. The carrot is the offer of federal money, such as ‘Race to the Top’ money granted if, and only if, the states first adopt the Common Core standards. The stick is the threat to withhold federal funds from states that don't obey."
Forty-six states, the District of Columbia, and four territories signed on to Core, Illinois included, within five months of its release in 2010. t was presented as a new educational guide to what K-12 children were expected to know at each grade level in math and English/language arts.
The original plan was to fully implement Common Core standards in math and English/language arts in each grade, along with matching tests, by 2014-2015, but the matching tests are still being developed.
Three years after a majority of states ascribed to Core, the math and English literature Common Core programs have been developed, released and made public, but not without expressed concern that standards have been set low enough so as to enable most students to pass the tests. Even more troublesome are comments from educators saying that Common Core graduation standards in math and language arts don't prepare students for college work. They only move kids to two-year community colleges.
To make matters even worse, fatal flaws have been found to exist in the Common Core English language arts standards which went unnoticed until now because of the haste in which 46 state boards of education and/or their governors signed on to Common Core back in 2010 before Core standards were written or finalized.
Rising concern also exists over the high cost of implementing Core standards and the national tests that will be based on them, coupled with the potential loss of local control of curriculum and instructions. As an insult to injury, it is estimated that 46 states will spend $5 to $12 billion to put in place a new set of national Common Core educational standards to implement basic curriculum being developed by public officials in closed-door meeting by the NGA and the CCSSO without sufficient public input, although taxpayer state officials can attend CCSSO meetings and become members.
Joy Pullmann, in a policy brief published by the Heartland Institute, January 2013, "The Common Core: A poor Choice for States," sums up the Common Core education standards in this way:
1. Public dialog on the Common Core is necessary to ensure high quality.
2. No state, school district, or even school has ever used the Common Core. It has no track record.
3. Comparing the Common Core to the Core Knowledge Foundation's metrics immediately reveals a quality gap. (As early as kindergarten, Core Knowledge students encounter money in math class, whereas Common core students don't until second grade, etc.).
4. The new tests will cost far more to administer every year in these tight times. Georgia estimates that Common Core tests would cost $22 per student annually. Previous tests cost taxpayers $5 per student per year.
5. In addition to usurping nearly every standardized test, it is likely to overhaul teacher preparation, evaluations and methods.
6. The U.S. Department of Education has issued regulations allowing the sharing of personally identifiable student information without parent consent.
7. States may not change the standards, must adopt all of them at once, and may only add up to an additional 15 percent of requirements.
8. A centralized education market is a significant boon to firms that earn significant income by selling tests, textbooks, etc., giving the education business a large financial stake in Common Core and a reason to keep it that way regardless of its instructional defects and costs to taxpayers.
U.S. schools need to improve, but will Common Core help? Not according to Pullmann and many others who are expressing similar views.
Common Core falls far outside the enumerated powers which our Constitution grants to the federal government.
But above all else one argument remains paramount: All kids are unique. Doesn't it only make sense to treat them that way?
It is up to parents and concerned citizens to check and monitor how the federal Common Core standards of education will impact the children in their school districts.
Shouldn't teachers and administrations be qualified to set up their own curriculum without input from the federal government?
Lake Bluff, Ill.