Previously we examined how Common Core Math (CCM) appears designed to confuse and frustrate young learners rather than teaching them a sound foundation in math. It is that and much more. The SAT test has been aligned with CCM Standards (CCMS) thereby lowering academic course work at both the secondary and college level. The Pioneer Institute has just released The Revenge of K-12: How Common Core and the new SAT lower college standards in the U.S. (link)
About the Authors
Richard P. Phelps is editor or author of four books—Correcting Fallacies about Educational and Psychological Testing (APA, 2008/2009); Standardized Testing Primer (Peter Lang, 2007); Defending Standardized Testing (Psychology Press, 2005); and Kill the Messenger (Transaction, 2003, 2005)—and founder of the Nonpartisan Education Review (http://nonpartisaneducation.org).
R. James Milgram is professor of mathematics emeritus, Stanford University. He was a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee 2009–2010. Aside from writing and editing a large number of graduate level books on research level mathematics, he has also served on the NASA Advisory Board – the only mathematician to have ever served on this board, and has held a number of the most prestigious professorships in the world, including the Gauss Professorship in Germany.
The SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) redesign and alignment with Common Core rests with The College Board. In the fall of 2012, David Coleman was named president of the College Board and earns nearly $750,000. David has his master’s degree in classical philosophy and was one of the three lead writers of the CC English language arts (ELA) standards.
The authors of the Pioneer Institute study conclude: “there are many extremely serious issues with the Common Core Standards (CCS) including their very low academic level and their poorly written and very confusing individual standards.” As bad as those two issues are, the authors further contend the most egregious harm may be that there is but one set of standards, one pathway to exit the system.
“Kill their capacity to think and act on their own. Tie them together with one leash.” (Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead 1943)
Our economic competitors have “multiple sets of secondary standards or ‘pathways’….they provide for differences in curriculum preferences, in academic achievement, and in long-term goals.”
The CCMS end at Algebra II, insufficient “to prepare for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)…. Low-income students with high academic potential” will be harmed most.
We are forced to look for purpose behind this nonsense. The view is ugly. Robin Eubanks suggests in her 2013 book, Credentialed to Destroy, the United States public education system is designed to retard learning and limit outcomes to the basic skill level, below proficient. The above graph of National Assessment of Educational Progress math scores for the past 40 years reveal recent substantial gains by fourth graders. (link to Nebraska math score gains) Those gains will be lost as schools adhere to CCM.
Brain research (Reading in the Brain, Dehaene 2009) shows the fundamental connections necessary for fluency in both reading and math have evolved in the left hemisphere, the individual letter/sound and individual number/place value side. Eubanks may be on to something. Widely practiced, Whole language/balanced reading instruction (memorizing whole words as though they were pictures or shapes) and now CCM use pictures extensively in elementary curriculum: right-brained activities. The right hemisphere of the brain is the picture side. The left side, vital to mastering foundations in math and reading, doesn’t go to work when pictures are presented. (Scheduled for release November 17, the first volume of Mathematical Cognition and Learning- Evolutionary origins and early development of basic number processing, Geary, Berch and Mann Koepke)
Our state, thankfully, did not adopt Common Core Standards, but Lincoln Public Schools has adopted Common Core curriculum for reading and math. The Nebraska legislature and the Nebraska State Board of Education have repeatedly determined poor parents and students will be denied school choice. School choice has always been an option for parents who are able to afford it. In our elitist public school system, parents of means employ tutors, purchase after school enrichment, home school or private school.
In light of overwhelming evidence, Common Core is designed to dumb down our school system even more (reading scores have been flat for decades (link). When schools fail to serve the public, the Nebraska legislature may be constitutionally bound to create and provide parents Nebraska Education Scholarships (NES) to properly educate their children. Legislation enacted in Florida (link) and Arizona (link), which provides parents 90% of the same funds districts use to educate a child in public school, may serve as a model for NES.
A survey of Harvard Business School alumni, the U.S. Competiveness Project, concludes: United States companies can compete internationally, however its workers cannot. Alumni fault an uncompetitive K-12 education system as a key impediment to workers. “Businesses should be taking the stagnation of living standards of the average American as a canary in their coal mine.” Jan Rivkin professor of Business Administration, Harvard University (Josh Zumbrun, Wall Street Journal 9/8/14)
“…unemployment and underemployment now tops 25% among recent college graduates and 68% for young high school graduates.” (Clark S. Judge, WSJ 9/8/14)
The Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances released 9/4/14 confirmed the gap between the richest and poorest Americans has widened. From 2010-2013 average pretax income for the wealthiest U.S. families rose 10% while families in the bottom 40% saw their income decline.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that “76% of adults lack confidence that their children’s generation will have a better life than they do.” (Patrick O’Connor, Wall Street Journal 8/6/14)
Individual learning outcomes and achievement are the bed rock of a free people and robust economy. Our nation faces great challenges. We need knowledgeable, skilled, confident, independent free thinkers, prepared and able to meet those challenges head on. For over 40 years schools have failed at reform, Common Core removes the mask. For real reform, pass the ball to parents.