Parents are beginning to pull their children from public schools in record numbers, opting instead to homeschool. The reason why this is occurring is because parents are concerned about the confusion, chaos, and stress that Common Core educational standards are causing their children. For those who might not be sure what Common Core is, it is basically a set of standards for grades K-12, outlining the information and skills each child should know in the areas of mathematics and English. Standards for science and social studies are coming out at a later date. Common Core standards are a poor attempt by the federal government to “improve” the educational system, which most Americans agree needs drastic changes in order to provide a higher quality education to children. Unfortunately, it seems that these standards are having the opposite effect, making learning more difficult for kids, leaving them discouraged and frustrated.
Many horror stories have begun to surface which shed light on why parents are so concerned about Common Core standards, as they have now been implemented in roughly 46 states. Most of the results coming in demonstrate that the standards have lowered test scores, instead of improving them as was promised. Take New York for example. New York state has been using Common Core standards for some time now, and the state has seen students in grades three to eight drop from 56 percent passing standardized tests in math and reading, down to 31 percent last year. Only 16 percent of minority students were considered to be proficient in math and English.
One of the reasons that homeschooling is on the rise is because Common Core has taken an already confusing topic like mathematics and made it even more difficult to understand. In many instances the focus is no longer on getting the right answer, but learning multiple ways to solve the problem, many of which are hard to learn. Teachers are beginning to incorporate large portions of reading and writing into math courses, and having children work in groups to solve problems. The focus in these team sessions is not to get the correct answer to the problem, but to learn how to effectively come to a group consensus. This creates a significant problem, as those kids who are weak in math learn to depend on the students who are proficient in the subject in order to get a passing grade (essentially skating through the course), while hard-working students are stripped of the merit and recognition for their efforts, discouraging them from wanting to perform at their true potential.
National standards attempt to force all children to learn the same material in the same manner, which does not work. Not every child has the same learning style, so any attempt to make things the same across the board will fail. The children who are typically fast learners are forced to stay on the same pace as those who learn at a slower rate. This makes fast learners bored, restless, and less likely to try hard in academics, while it frustrates slow learners and makes them feel embarrassed or less intelligent because they cannot grasp the material as quickly as the other students. Common Core tends to treat children like machines rather than living beings that have a unique personality.
These standards appear to be another attempt by an overreaching federal government to create a nationalized curriculum, giving them full control over a child’s education. If the government has control over the standards, this influences the type of material that is put out by curriculum content creators, and eventually could lead to the government having full control over what type of content actually goes into the curriculum itself. This fully strips away the voice or say that parent’s have in their child’s education and places it in the hands of the government. The state can then indoctrinate kids with whatever political, moral, or philosophical ideology they wish, since they will control the material teachers use in the classroom.
This is already happening on a small-scale, as English classes are moving away from classic literature and utilizing informational texts produced by the government as reading material for students. Instead of a child having their critical and creative thinking skills challenged and expanded by great literary works, they are reading documents about climate change and executive orders issued by the president. Each of these documents has a political slant of course, which may run counter to the value system children are being taught at home by their parents. The agenda is being pushed as fact, rather than an alternative view or opinion, in an attempt by the government to nullify the value system being taught to the child at home, and replace it with one that encourages dependency on the state.
Common Core also has shady origins, as it was primarily funded by Bill Gates and his foundation, as well as being crafted and influenced by government lobbying groups in Washington. In 2009, an education stimulus package was passed, and President Obama made acceptance of the Common Core standards a requirement for states to receive any of the money from the package. This in and of itself should send up red flags about the intentions of the government and how they do business.
Fortunately, there are still some solutions that can help stop Common Core from destroying education and individual thinking. The first step in the process is for parents to get involved with local groups who are attempting to dump Common Core standards. Many of these groups are achieving great success at getting rid of the standards, as is evidenced by Indiana’s recent change of heart involving Common Core. Parents can participate in these groups to put pressure on their elected officials to pull out and create state standards instead, which gives them more control and input into the curriculum being used in classrooms.
Parents and teachers should also push the government to abide by the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, which gives states the right to determine what is best for the educational needs of their children. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government granted any powers to regulate education, therefore, it is an issue for states to tackle. States need to fight harder to preserve their right to self-government, even if it means not accepting federal funding.
The best solution is to have the government removed from education altogether, and leave it up to parents and local communities. Education is the responsibility of parents, not the government, so parents need to have as much input as possible into what schools are teaching their children, and this is only accomplished through schools that are run autonomously in each community. In order to accomplish this, the Department of Education would have to be abolished, and local communities would have to stop accepting funding from both the state and federal government. It would not be cheap, but children would receive a better education, and the world would be a better place. The education industry would be an open market, which means lots of curriculum choices, with the quality controlled by companies competing for the dollars of parents and local schools. Parents have every reason to be concerned about Common Core and need to be on the front line of the battle to stop these standards from giving the government more excuses to restrict liberty.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell