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vote2Single issue voting has become a popular trend. In some ways the candidates within a single party look very similar to each other. Since an election requires us to choose only one of them, we tend to focus on the things that differentiate them. Hence single issue voting becomes a convenient tool to differentiate candidates and guides our choice in the voting booth. Common Core standards are such a differentiator for many people. They have been credited with killing the campaign of Jeb Bush, though I think it was only one flaw in a basket of flaws for that candidate. It is the reason some people will either be voting for or against a presidential candidate today. But promising to get rid of Common Core, while easily accomplished on paper, will be very difficult to do in real terms.

Think of Common Core as a cup of red dye in a five gallon can of still water. It was carefully added while no one was looking and then slowly stirred in until it was dispersed throughout the water. Public education, being the slow moving bureaucratic behemoth that it is, tolerated the slow mix-in (a 1-3 year implementation process depending on your state and district.) Now the standards are in every lesson plan, every curricular support material, and almost all teachers colleges to some extent. They are fully dispersed in the mixture.

You can declare “no more Common Core” but, it will require cleaning agents to find references to and parts of the standards, and lots of dilution with other standards, lesson plans, curriculae etc. to really get rid of them. We will see a red tinge to public education standards for a long time, even if we have supposedly gotten rid of Common Core.

Sadly, Common Core is not solely responsible for the current state of public education. What we see in the classrooms today has been coming to various classrooms for a long time. Common Core simply systematized the dyeing process.

Patrick  Deneen, a professor of constitutional studies at Notre Dame University, wrote about the thinning of American education in his article, “How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture.”  He calls his very polite, very trustworthy college students “know nothings.”

“But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.”

Since Common Core as a fully implemented curriculum has only been around for 4 years at most, it alone cannot be blamed for what he is seeing in his students today. How do we spend twelve years, seven hours a day for a minimum of 175 days a year working to develop young adults who don’t know anything?

“Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide…”

“What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”

Our children, my children, have been told for years “Just come to school, give the teacher what he/she wants, get good grades, go to college and you will be ‘successful’.” In other words, everything they learn in school is merely a means to an end and as such is disposable for it has no intrinsic value itself. What this produces is children who are excellent at cramming for an exam or writing the desired BS for a paper, but who have no desire or even thought to opening a book on their own to read for their own edification. They know only what they have been required to know and see no purpose in learning anything more. They see even less need to retain what they have supposedly learned in the first place. The electronic devices we now want all of them to have in the classroom become the implements of intellectual laziness in retaining any knowledge because they can just “look it up,” later if only they remembered some part of it in the first place.

Why do we do this to them? Deneen writes,

“Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes “flexibility” (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).”

“In such a world, possessing a culture, a history, an inheritance, a commitment to a place and particular people, specific forms of gratitude and indebtedness (rather than a generalized and deracinated commitment to “social justice”), a strong set of ethical and moral norms that assert definite limits to what one ought and ought not to do (aside from being “judgmental”) are hindrances and handicaps.”

This is the global society that Common Core wanted us to be a part of and be competitive in. We will train you with this specific set of standard skills so you can go anywhere to work. In reality, it means that you are no better than anyone anywhere else in the world and will thus be interchangeable with them.

This vision has been around much longer than Common Core. The globalists don’t really care what the individual standards are. They are more interested in keeping this vision going. Change whatever the specific “skills” the schools want students to have, just so long as they are taught to remain flexible and free from too much specific cultural or national identity. Teach them not to “judge” other cultures and teach that this is a morally superior position. Have them parrot back to you on a standardized exam how they “respect diversity” without ever really having to understand what that those two words mean. The abundant overuse and misuse of the word disrespect in the last few years is proof that this message has been delivered and incorporated into the psyche of American children.

Any candidate’s promise to get rid of the Common Core standards is hollow and a very ineffective differentiator. Those coming from our teacher’s colleges have been imbued with the vision of success for their students noted above. Until that is diluted or cleaned out, we will retain an education system that is not broken per se  but is separated from the cultural values and historic lessons of the local community and incapable of producing a generation of adults who are ever at peace with the questions, “Where did I come from? Why am I here?”

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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