Common Core was passed by governors and bureaucracies with little accountability or democratic oversight, so it is only as the program nears implementation that its many problems have drawn attention. Now, more and more people are speaking out against the program. Students, teachers and parents across the country are voicing their concerns about the program’s lowered standards, potential politicization, and unconstitutionality.
Last week, one of the more noteworthy voices of opposition came from a Knox County student named Ethan Young, who spoke at a local School Board meeting. In just over five minutes, Young discussed problems with the creation of the Core, its educational standards, and the harmful constraints the program would place on teachers.
“Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves — pleading, screaming and trying to say to us that we teach to free minds. We teach to inspire. We teach to equip, the careers will come naturally” said Young.
Though at first glance it would seem the initiative came from states, “in reality it was contrived by an insular group of educational testing executives,” a partnership of the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve Inc, a Gates-funded non-profit. Even the two academic content specialists involved refused to approve the final standards, with one publicly stating that “the standards left students with an empty skill set,” Young explained. It was neither created democratically nor by educational specialists.
Young’s primary concern, though, came from the national testing requirements. “Much like No Child Left Behind,” he quipped, “the program promises national testing and a one size fits all education, because hey, it worked really well the first time.” The standards, designed for an industrial education model, treat both students and educators as little more than numbers. Tests don’t take into account the interaction at the heart of the teacher student relationship, damage teacher self-esteem, and force teachers to do things which are not beneficial to their students.
“As a student [it’s] like watching your teacher jump through flaming hoops to earn a score.” Even forgetting all of the ideological problems of common core, treating education as a bureaucratic endeavor rather than a personal one will never work on a practical level. It won’t engage students or teach them to love learning. “I mean, why don’t we just manufacture robots instead of students? They last longer and they always do what they’re told.”
Ethan Young’s concerns echo those expressed online and at PTA and School Board meetings across the country, from liberal strongholds like New York City to more conservative areas like Utah. Some point to Young’s concerns, and some are put off by sexually explicit texts. Others are concerned by data mining, or simply its expense. In fact a growing movement spread via social media would protest Common Core nationwide by declaring November 18 “Don’t Send Your Child to School Day.”
Common Core’s problems range from its creation to its implementation, and cover both ideological and practical issues. The program went largely unnoticed while it was being created and as states were bribed to adopt it, but with the recent wave of scrutiny a number of states have already dropped or attempted to drop the program.