The Bible declares it’s the parents’ duty to direct their children’s upbringing.
The U.S. Constitution reserves the power of public education to the states and local governments.
But today in the United States, the long-time aim of many leftists to give the federal government control over the minds of the next generation is nearly a done deal.
“For decades liberals have tried to seize control of public school curriculum,” author and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly warned the attendees of The Constitutional Coalition’s 25th annual Education Policy Conference in St. Louis, Mo., this weekend. “Now [President] Obama’s mighty pen can achieve that goal.”
Schlafly, referring to Obama’s recent boast that his “pen” can bypass Congress via executive orders, explained her warning to hundreds of assembled teachers, school administrators, parents and activists at the Educational Policy Conference, or EPC, this weekend. Piggybacking on what several EPC speakers contended through dozens of shocking examples, Schlafly warned that the federal “Common Core” standards for public education not only blatantly violate the Constitution, but also indoctrinate students in leftist thinking, violate personal privacy and pave the way for a socialist society.
Already 45 states have adopted the federal Common Core standards for English and math, with similar programs in the works for science and social studies, while the content of the Core standards is filtering down into standardized college entrance and advanced placement examinations.
Yet the newfound ability of the federal government to dictate what students should learn has many concerned citizens arguing “Big Brother” has too much influence over the minds of the next generation.
Referring to George Orwell’s novel “1984,” from which the term “Big Brother” comes, former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., told the EPC conference, “Orwell was right; he was just off by three decades. … I propose we act as ‘revolutionaries’ and tell the truth about education in America.”
As Chuck Norris has outlined extensively in WND, the Common Core standards were created by a group of governors and state education officials with the endorsement of the federal government and funding from the Bill Gates Foundation. While not a direct manipulation of curriculum, by creating a uniform measuring stick for schools everywhere in the U.S., the Common Core indirectly shapes lesson plans and textbooks that will help schools meet a new wave of standardized tests tailored to Common Core requirements.
Yet this wholesale, top-down revolution in K-12 education has critics from both sides of the political spectrum questioning motives and academics scoffing at the standards themselves. At the heart of the issue is whether taking educational oversight out of the hands of school boards and states and giving it to the federal government will really be as effective as advertised.
“Fifty years of increasing Washington inputs into K-12 education has coincided with disappointing cognitive outputs from schools,” Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist George Will wrote in a column on Common Core last month. “Is it eccentric that it is imprudent to apply to K-12 education the federal touch that has given us HealthCare.gov?”
Will continued, “Opposition to the Common Core is surging because Washington, hoping to mollify opponents is saying, in effect: ‘If you like your local control of education, you can keep it. Period.’ To which a burgeoning movement is responding: ‘No. Period.’”
Why all the opposition?
Several opponents of Common Core have argued the standards set a bar that “dumbs down” what children need to learn, omitting key standards like proficiency in reading, writing, arithmetic, basic historical knowledge and exposure to classic literature.
Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas, actually sat on the Common Core Validation Committee, but eventually refused to validate the standards, because, she said, the math standards fail to prepare students for college-level math classes and the English standards take classic literature study off the rich menu for young minds in favor of more bland and ineffective “informational” texts and disconnected excerpts.
“We are a very naive people,” Stotsky later told Breitbart News. “Everyone was willing to believe that the Common Core standards are ‘rigorous,’ ‘competitive,’ ‘internationally benchmarked’ and ‘research-based.’ They are not.”
In a Wall Street Journal editorial written last month, Stotsky continued, “I know the Common Core buzz words, from ‘deeper learning’ and ‘critical thinking’ to ‘fewer, clearer, and higher standards.’ It all sounds impressive, but I’m worried that the students who study under these standards won’t receive anywhere near the quality of education that children in the U.S. did even a few years ago.”
Lt. Col. Allen West at 25th annual Educational Policy Conference
Others object to the content of Common Core, like shockingly graphic books listed as “exemplars” for study.
Common Core Appendix B, for example, states that “the following text samples primarily serve to exemplify the level of complexity and quality the standards require. … The choices should serve as useful guideposts in helping educators select texts of similar complexity, quality and range for their own classrooms.”
Yet Linda Harvey, founder of Mission: America, revealed at EPC one of the exemplars is Toni Morrison novel “The Bluest Eye,” which is a disturbing tale of a daughter being raped by her father and then being befriended by a pedophile. Even more disturbing, the book portrays the rape scene from the viewpoint of the rapist.
Another exemplar text, listed for ninth graders is “Mother of Monsters,” a story in which a mother displays the virtue of “individuality” by intentionally deforming her own unborn children while pregnant.
Teachers in Newburgh, N.Y., where the Common Core exemplar “Black Swan Green” was scheduled to be used, pushed their district to return 6,000 copies of the book to the publisher, complaining that it contained “passages using inappropriate language and visual imagery that most people would consider pornographic.”
When asked at EPC when it would be time for parents to get outraged over the sexual content of Common Core’s recommended readings, Harvey responded, “It’s time to get angry now. The only thing that’s going to fix this is if dads go to the schoolhouse with pitchforks.”
Still others object to encroaching political bias when the standards are controlled from Washington, D.C.
“Monopoly in education is really the problem,” argued EPC speaker Joy Pullman, managing editor of School Reform News. “It makes it available for capture by special interest groups.”
Jim Lembke, a former Missouri state senator, also turned to Common Core’s Appendix B for evidence of bias in the recommended readings. He quoted several passages from a recommended text written by Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar, which describes the Constitution’s 3/5 compromise with terms like “vicious,” “master class” and “camouflaged by this ugly point.”
“The Founders are made out to be racist, deceiving hypocrites,” Lembke told EPC.
“Our Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves,” he continued. “The authors of Common Core are on a mission. And their mission is to rewrite our history.”
Still other critics of Common Core have serious philosophical objections to centralized educational control.
Bill Whittle, the author and filmmaker perhaps best known for his PJ Media YouTube videos, told EPC one of the primary problems with Common Core is that creates what he called “a single point of failure,” similar to “putting all your eggs in one basket.”
Instead of tapping the diversity of input and competitive inventiveness of thousands of school districts, each experimenting with unique potential solutions to educations’ admitted problems, Common Core requires the federal government to create a one-size-fits-all solution that will supposedly work everywhere.
No matter how brilliant the Department of Education may be, Whittle says, it’s a bad idea to invest in only a single set of standards.
“If Common Core [standards] are bad,” Whittle explained, “it’s not going to hurt one little school district, it’s going to hurt everyone. … If all the schools are dependent on the same system and it goes down, we’re all screwed. Like the Obamacare website, it goes down and nobody can get health care.
“Common Core is the Obamacare for education,” Whittle argued.
More on the way
Despite the criticism, however, more and more Common Core-influenced reforms are being created.
David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core Standards Initiative, has since become president of the College Board, which designs the SAT and Advanced Placement, or AP, tests – and the Common Core influence is already being seen, for example, in the College Board’s AP History Framework.
William Korach, publisher of The Report Card, broke down for EPC attendees some of the clear political bias in the Framework, which will become mandatory for schools in the fall of 2014.
“This is the end of American exceptionalism. You will not see Alexis de Tocqueville anywhere in these materials,” Korach said. “There’s nothing about the Pilgrims coming to America for religious freedom – it’s not discussed. … All they say is the British colonies ‘established racial rigid hierarchy.’
“There’s hardly anything at all about the Declaration of Independence, one sentence on it and no explanation. There’s one phrase on Washington,” he continued. “There’s none of the ideals motivating the Revolution … no discussion that we believe our rights come from God and not the Crown … no mention at all of Thomas Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison or Patrick Henry. … ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ – it’s not there.
“Instead of [portraying] Manifest Destiny as the idea of to taking the blessings of liberty to all peoples,” he continued, the new History Framework claims the move West was “‘built on the ideas of white racial and cultural superiority.’”
“There’s no discussion of free market, world-changing inventions – no Edison, no Vanderbilt, no Carnegie, no Rockefeller. No benefit in this history from electricity, railroads, steel or energy,” Korach discovered, “but there is [mandated] discussion of the Sierra Club, the Department of the Interior and [labor and community organizer] Mother Jones.”
Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute also told EPC attendees about the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS, which he called, “just as wicked and ugly as her evil stepsister, [the Common Core].”
Several states have already or are in the process of adding NGSS standards to their Common Core requirements.
The New York Times, Luskin said, reported the “NGSS is meant to do for science what Common Core does for English and math.”
“And there’s no need to for conspiracy theories,” Luskin added. “The New York Times elites openly admit NGSS was created to push evolution and global warming.”
As several speakers pointed out, however, the Common Core standards are not an entirely new initiative foisted upon schools, but the latest in a long line of federal encroachments upon what has since 1789 had been considered the domain of the states. Goals 2000, for example, expanded the federal government’s role in education, which only increased with No Child Left Behind, which increased again with the Race to the Top initiative.
With Common Core, however, the federal takeover of public education is virtually complete. And that, the EPC contends, may just be the wakeup call Americans needed before it’s too late.
Schlafly congratulated the EPC for the last 25 years of keeping a vigil over federal inroads to education and asserted the conference’s voice may now be heard.
“Parents who turned a deaf ear to previous fads in education,” she said, “are now rising up, coming out of the woodwork to say, ‘Stop! We are not putting up with Common Core!’”