“Mass education was designed to turn independent farmers into docile, passive tools of production. That was its primary purpose. And don’t think people didn’t know it. They knew it and they fought against it. There was a lot of resistance to mass education for exactly that reason. It was also understood by the elites. Emerson once said something about how we’re educating them to keep them from our throats. If you don’t educate them, what we call ‘education,’ they’re going to take control — ‘they’ being what Alexander Hamilton called the ‘great beast,’ namely the people. The anti-democratic thrust of opinion in what are called democratic societies is really ferocious. And for good reason. Because the freer the society gets, the more dangerous the great beast becomes and the more you have to be careful to cage it somehow.” — Noam Chomsky in Class Warfare, 1995
In 2009, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers announced an effort that would create a national curriculum for American K-12 students; the standards apply mostly in math and English classes. Quickly, all but four States — Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia — signed on to these Common Core standards, which will be implemented by 2014. Some States, however, are re-thinking the decision.
The decision of State lawmakers throughout the Nation was based largely on President Barack Obama’s policy of tying Federal grant money heavily to “college and career ready standards.” Common Core is not a Federal program; but because it requires every State to adopt similar education standards, it essentially creates a national educational mandate. Furthermore, Obama all but made Common Core mandatory by requiring that States adopt the program in order to receive Federal waivers from No Child Left Behind, the cumbersome 2002 George W. Bush mandate.
While Common Core supporters believe national standards will ensure that each student graduates with the skills he needs to be more competitive in the college or workforce environment, its opponents recognize the program as a masterfully disguised move toward further Federal control over education.
A group of education experts write in a column for The Hill in 2011:
But today the Obama Administration is funding the development of national curriculum guidelines, national curriculum models, national teaching materials and national tests, using the Common Core national academic-content standards as the basis for these efforts. When Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the Department’s grants to the testing groups on September 2, 2010, he pointed enthusiastically to one group “developing curriculum frameworks and ways to share great lesson plans” and the other group developing “instructional modules.”
These efforts to gather the reins of America’s K-12 course of study at the Federal level are likely to harm America’s public schools, our teachers and our children. Officials inside the Beltway cannot design a curriculum that is suitable and effective in every classroom across our large country. When mistakes and misjudgments are made in Washington, D.C., as is inevitable, they will affect the entire system and be hard to fix in the classroom.
Top Administration officials have decried any criticism of Core Curriculum as paranoia, but opponents point out the power of the program to dictate every aspect of educational requirements through grants even more so than the Federal government currently does. Currently, the Core Curriculum governance structure is provided through leadership from Governors, chief State school officers and other State policymakers, but opponents also believe this could change and lead to a Federal takeover.
A growing number of States, led by Alabama, are considering legislation to repeal Core standards to ensure that the Federal government does not intrude on State education rights.
A Senate bill currently being considered in that State, according to Al.com, would:
- Require legislative approval for “any statewide school standard” passed by the Alabama State Board of Education,
- Overturn the board’s 2010 adoption of the Common Core State Standards,
- Forbid the establishment of a statewide data system to track student and teacher information “beyond what is necessary for basic administrative needs” or to comply with U.S. Department of Education regulations,
- And bar state agencies from sharing individual student and teacher data with entities outside the state.
In Alabama, the biggest point of contention over the Core standards is the Federal government’s threat to withhold education grant money to States that have not yet adopted and begun implementing the standards.
“The standards were written essentially by private interest in Washington, D.C., behind closed doors and without transparency,” Jane Robbins, an attorney with the American Principles Project, said during a rally.
“Common core is about having centralized, top-down control, and it’s not something that I think people in Alabama want.”
Others worry about the impact a national set of education standards could have on individuality and regional diversity.
*Truth in American Education has produced a Common Core opt-out form for parents who do not wish to subject their children to the nationalized education scheme. You can exercise your parental right to express your concern to your child’s school by filling out the form below and sending it to your local school officials.