Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 9.35.20 AMAfter several years looking at Common Core; where it came from, who supports it, how it is being implemented, its impact on teachers/students/parents, and listening to the complaints of parents/the general public about it, I view Common Core as a symptom, not the cause of the public outcry over education. I believe the reason most parents are becoming more and more unhappy with Common Core is not simply because the standards are bad or the lesson plans are bad. Both those statements are true, but again they are symptoms, not cause. When both sides of the common core issue come together to discuss it, it is almost as if they are speaking two different languages and neither side of the table has a translator. The result is that both sides label what the other side says as “talking points” because they make no sense and appear to have little empirical support. Parents are labeled as emotional if not irrational, and educators are labeled as pushing the corporate agenda. What I really think is happening is that both sides are arguing for different visions of public education. If everyone has a different goal, time spent arguing on how to go about achieving that goal is wasted. The debate that needs to happen now is, “What is the purpose of public education.” Until there is a common understanding of that purpose, there will continue to be arguments about what is being done to deliver public education.

We have stopped delivering education as the founders of the United States of America and even the founders of  Missouri envisioned it. Our state constitution says right at the beginning of Article IX on education,

A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the general assembly shall establish and maintain free public schools for the gratuitous instruction of all person in this state.

The goal of public education was to teach people not only how to read, write and do math so they could enter freely and knowledgeably into contracts, both financial and social, but also to teach them about their rights and liberties so they would know the importance of preserving them.

We now have a public education policy that says its goal is to prepare workers for the global economy. What a slap in the face to the founders who established a governance system unlike any other in the world and who knew that it was important to teach people about their government if they were to be entrusted with it, to have the schools now focus on teaching students they are “global citizens” and the highest aspiration society has for them is to get a job.

We lost this focus decades ago, thanks to the progressives. The average person is now woefully ignorant of how their government is supposed to work, let alone how it actually works. This has led to a “farm system” for representation where people literally need to be trained and seasoned for many years in lower levels of government (school board, city council, etc.) in order to be prepared to serve at the state or national level. And they need several years at the national level to learn how that system operates, officially and unofficially, in order to be an effective representative either of the people in the house, or their state in the senate.

All of this has led to a government that controls more and more of our lives, because we haven’t been teaching how important it is to continually reign in the natural tendency for government to devolve into a totalitarian state. When government takes over more and more of our lives, the qualities we look for in the people who represent change. We want them to have knowledge or expertise in the areas they are trying to control. The more they try to control, the less likely it is that any single person possesses a broad enough knowledge base to have this expertise. This in turn leads representatives to transfer the policy making authority to those who claim to have such expertise, the bureaucrats, which puts us all in the position of being ruled by people who are not accountable to the people.

If you believe in the language of the Missouri Constitution, that the role of schools is to prepare people for leading a life of liberty, then you should consider attending the Constitutional Coalition’s Education Policy Conference, taking place next week in St. Louis at the Frontenac Hilton (January 29-31st).  The conference theme this year is

Rule of Law vs. Chaos and Anarchy: The Role of Schools and the Community

This year will be the 26th year of this highly enriching conference that give you insights on a broad range of topics related to education from fabulous speakers around the country and even the globe.


  • Special Dinner with Keynote Speaker Judge Jeanine Pirro – Understanding The Faces Of Chaos And Anarchy, Thursday, January 29, 7:00 p.m.
  • Dinner with Keynote Speaker MEP Daniel Hannan – How and Why Words make Freedom Possible, South East England Member of the European Parliament Friday 7:00 p.m.
  • Sessions Friday, January 30, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
  • Sessions Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
  • Session Topics Include:

There will be many opportunities to meet and network with speakers and attendees from around the country. We must have the national discussion about the purpose of public education and come to some mutual understanding before we can reach any conclusion on things like Common Core, School Choice, Parental Rights, Curriculum, Testing and Government Data Gathering. I encourage you to join that discussion at EPC.

To register go EPC

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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