Common Core Closes Education Gap by Lowering the Bar

By Anne Lavalle

Earlier this week I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in an Editorial Board Meeting at the Poughkeepsie Journal offices to discuss Common Core.  Indeed, while I am quite sincere in my gratitude for the opportunity and appreciation of the journalistic integrity of the Poughkeepsie Journal staff, this urgent discussion is long overdue.

Common Core is nothing less than a covert, wholesale, federal takeover of our entire national education system.  It’s not something that is happening.  It has been done.  It was committed to in 2009, developed in 2010 and fully implemented into all New York schools during the 2012-2013 school year.  It is being implemented across the entire country this, 2013-2014 school year.  Yet, only now, at the very end of 2013 are we even beginning to engage in any meaningful discussion about this incredible concern.  In fact many if not most people, including parents whose children are subject to this every day, remain fully unaware that Common Core even exists or what the implications are.

While Common Core is professed to be the education reform that our nation is allegedly desperate for; a magic bullet that will “equip our students with 21st century skills” and “college and career readiness”, the simple truth is that Common Core is plainly not what advocates claim.  The evidence is voluminous and staggering; far more than I can detail here.

In what space I do have, I will tell you that Common Core is hardly about education.  It is developed by a very small monopoly of businessmen who stand to make billions of dollars as the result of its implementation.  It was implemented by politicians but broadly condemned by educators.  Common Core developers refer to our children as “human capital” while using them as crash test dummies by administering their untested, experimental education methods.  And yet our New York State and U.S. Departments of Education have fully implemented this program into our schools at lightning speed with a vice tight grip and with not a whisper of public discourse.

Why this urgency?  Why so broadly?  Why so secretly? Why so firmly?

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, arguably the most highly regarded ELA standards expert in the country and hand-picked by the Common Core developers themselves to sit on the validation committee, refused to sign the validation statement attesting to the quality and international benchmarking of the standards, answers the questions for us.  She refers to the Common Core Standards as “an empty skill set” and “a set of social justice standards”.

She explains that Common Core is an effort to “close the education gap” between the highest and lowest performing students.  A noble idea.  But in the context of Common Core, the gap is closed, not by raising the bar for the lowest performing students, but by lowering the bar for everyone else.  While that may seem hard to believe, the very author of the math standards himself, Dr. Jason Zimba acknowledges that with regards to Common Core, claims of preparing children for “college readiness” refer to “a two year non-competitive state college”.  That is to say, that we are no longer preparing students for the highest level of academia, but the lowest.

Common Core appears based on a social, ideological premise that “It’s not fair that your child gets to be a doctor if mine can’t.  Everyone grab a mop.  We’re all janitors now.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I have great respect for janitors.  In fact, I married one.  He’s now a Licensed Engineer; The “Top Mop”.

But with Common Core dictating exactly what every child will learn at every grade level, there is no longer opportunity for children to achieve their individual potential.  There is no opportunity for the doctors and engineers to break out of the pack where they need to be if we are to remain “competitive in the global economy”.  There is no place for art, design, trades…..  And there is no place for anyone who cannot meet the bar as it is set, such as our special education students.  Common Core is not “rigorous”.  It is simply rigid.  It dictates where our children will be at every stage of their education; everyone at the same place at the same time.  This is not how a free society educates its students.  This is how a free society abdicates its freedom by delivering their children into the hands of financial and political stakeholders for placement in their ideological workforce.  Not this mom.