power
Your children owe nothing to education reformers, federal agencies, third party researchers or the Chamber of Commerce. Not their data, not their allegiance, not the power to determine if they will be a good worker by kindergarten.  It is time to absolutely and utterly walk away.

 

We are trying to pass a bill against Common Core (HB1490) in Missouri that has morphed into a bill that doesn’t stop it, but rather slows it down.  Some folks are disappointed the bill is watered down while some folks understand the political reality of how hard it is to pass anything in Jefferson City.  The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a culmination of many years of introducing “school to work” concepts and learning how to mandate educational reforms, rather than passing laws through legislatures.  It has come from years and years of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) running an agency with little legislative oversight.   It has occurred because the Board of Education members and Commissioner of Education are appointed positions, held unaccountable to the voters.  It comes from the Federal Government telling states how they had to deliver education or (horrors!) they would lose money they needed to hire more bureaucrats to keep track of ever increasing Federal mandates the states/schools could never reach (think 100% proficiency).

We are primarily in this place because the rule of law means little to nothing.  Remember Governor Jay Nixon’s words on CSpan about circumventing the legislature for teacher accountability measures?  From Missouri Education Today: Common Core, Teacher Evaluations, The “Coalition of the Willing” and the Nuclear Option:

 

Governor Jay Nixon delivered a brief report at the National Governor’s Association Winter 2013 meeting regarding his attempt to reform teacher tenure.  He talks about the “Coalition of the Willing” and bypassing the legislature to implement a teacher tenure plan.  His quest for data driven information seems to have taken precedence over what he considers legislative gridlock:

The teacher tenure (and effectiveness rating) mandate is contained in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund which also requires data collection (cradle to career and beyond), turnaround school plans, and college and career ready standards, all which need to be approved by the Federal Government.  Those four assurances create an ugly, ugly package.

 

The following article explains how Common Core is only part of the disaster we are facing in education.  From Parent, Heal Thyself:

 

In a sense, all Common Core did to ignite this wildfire was finally provide a label–a name for something most of us never really understood, but which nevertheless gave us an inchoate, uneasy feeling first about our own education, and later about the education of our children.  I can hardly blame Common Core proponents for reacting, in their bewilderment, by calling critics things like hysterical, or overprotective white suburban moms.

Wait a minute.  Yes I can.

Anyway, the problem with American education is older and deeper than Common Core:

“The current debate about whether we should have a national curriculum is phony; we already have one, locked up in the six lessons I’ve told you about and a few more I’ve spared you. This curriculum produces moral and intellectual paralysis, and no curriculum of content will be sufficient to reverse its bad effects. What is under discussion is a great irrelevancy.”

John Taylor Gatto wrote those words in 1991.

“In our dreams . . . people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands.  The present educational conventions [of intellectual and moral education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk.  We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science.  We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters.  We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen – of whom we have an ample supply.  The task we set before ourselves is very simple . . . we will organize children . . . and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.”

John Rockefeller’s General Education Board penned those words in 1906.

 

 

It’s good to know your history.  Use those critical thinking skills that you already possess without the “benefit” of Common Core standards.  Study how this education reform has been adopted and implemented under the radar by private corporations receiving Federal money.  Learn from Gatto’s and Rockefeller’s words.  Don’t think for a minute that the elites have your best interests in mind.

If the elites thought this was educational nirvana, they would all place their children in public schools because of their wonderful awesomeness.  Do you really think Bill Gates is going to put his kids in public schools so they can learn via Common Core?  There’s your answer.  If it’s that great, they’d be the first ones in line at the public school door waiting to enroll.  No, they aren’t joining in those public “back to school/meet your teacher night”.  They fall in the Rockefeller camp of action: The task we set before ourselves is very simple . . . we will organize children . . . and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

Start protecting your children from the elites…and know your role as parents.  More from the author:

 

I hate to admit it, but the real problem . . . is us.  The parents.  We need to realize that our reliance on education experts and their academia-speak is an impediment to learning.  We need to realize that teaching from a script written by those experts is a phony kind of teaching that sucks the air out of a classroom.  We need to accept the fact that there is no magic formula that the school system can apply in order to open every child’s mind to learning.

Homeschooling parents are included in this problem, by the way.  We have a hard time trusting our own judgment and abilities, where education is concerned.  We are just as prone to rely on experts as everyone else.  That’s why homeschoolers tend to research, analyze, and discuss curricula until they are blue in the face, always searching for the elusive “best curriculum” and “best teaching style” for their children.  Homeschoolers often end up reading from a script, too.  That script may be more ideologically to our liking, but it can also be as awkward and phony as a Common Core lesson.

I should know.  I’ve tried to use the detailed teacher instructions and worksheets included in Sonlight curricula for two years, and I’ve felt guilty for the times I’ve skipped them.  I’m not criticizing the Sonlight product–they assemble a wonderful assortment of textbooks and fiction that weave together a rich and engaging story.  I’m criticizing my own over-reliance on the supplemental material.

Anne Sullivan didn’t succeed in teaching Helen Keller because she was an expert, or because she relied on expert material.  She succeeded because she had a gift for teaching and a passion to do whatever it took to open Helen’s mind.  In the long-term, the only real solution lies within this kind of individual passion.  Whether it’s public school or homeschooling, the solution will always be found where the rubber hits the road–a teacher passionately sharing knowledge, and a student striving to gain it.

We can’t get there from here.  First, we have to get rid of the Common Core threat to teacher autonomy.  Next, No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top need repealing.  Heck, just go ahead and shut down the Department of Education.  Only then can the states work without their hands tied, and find their own ways to reward the talented, passionate teachers who open our children’s minds, and either retrain or fire the rest.

Even then, such fixes won’t succeed unless we parents fix ourselves.  The pro-Common Core education experts currently hold sway because we ceded to them the responsibility of knowing what’s best for our children.  We gave them the power they now abuse.

 

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