4. “ASSERTION: THE COMMON CORE WILL MAKE OUR CHILDREN ‘MACHINES’ AND TAKE AWAY THE LOCAL CONTROL UNDER WHICH OUR DIVERSE NATION THRIVES. FACT: LOCAL TEACHERS, DISTRICTS, AND STATES ARE TASKED WITH FIGURING OUT HOW THE HIGHER STANDARDS OF THE COMMON CORE ARE REACHED.”
Here we have either sloppy or sly writing. Take your pick. Instead of engaging in a straightforward debate, the author of Fordham’s ‘Fact Sheet’ mischaracterizes the message in Building the Machine. The author chooses to claim the movie makers think “Common Core will make our children ‘machines.'”
Which sounds silly. Perhaps that’s the point.
If you watch the movie, you’ll see that the whole point is that Common Core treats our children like machines. In other words, the ‘one size fits all’ approach to education will fail many children because it doesn’t take into account their individual needs.
It’s a valid point. Perhaps it could be a legitimately debated point, if the Fact Sheet author offered evidence that states which adopt Common Core standards can and will apply them in a flexible, individualistic manner.
I find it rather telling that the author doesn’t offer such evidence. Common Core is already applied in classrooms all over the nation. You’d think that at the very least, an anecdotal story would illustrate their point. Unless . . . the common experience in Common Core classrooms more closely matches a rigid, robotic treatment of students, like they are machines assembled on a conveyor belt. By the way, the rigid, ‘conveyor belt’ treatment is the very experience that Terrence O. Moore witnessed when he observed classrooms while researching for The Story Killers.
Even before the advent of Common Core, the newest and brightest ideas about teaching nowadays are all about the script. Spontaneity and unscripted learning are discouraged.
Okay. I’ve only addressed the first part of Fordham Institute’s ASSERTION #4. The Fact Sheet author also says Building the Machine claims that Common Core “take[s] away local control under which our diverse nation thrives.”
Again, the memo author has tweaked his opponent’s argument.
The point in Building the Machine isn’t that state control has been taken away. Rather, the point is that if all states choose to be governed by the same standards, then our nation will lose an inherent benefit of its structure: the innovation that comes from diverse groups tackling issues in their own way.
It’s a valid point. It could be legitimately disputed, if the Fact Sheet author offered evidence that states will still innovate when applying the Common Core Standards. It’s telling that no such evidence is offered. Perhaps that is because the Common Core Standards are copyrighted. States that adopt them are legally prevented from changing them.
In other words, innovation is contractually illegal.
Okay. I’ve finally reached the Fordham Institute’s FACT #4. It’s a basic restatement of the oft-repeated claim that Common Core isn’t a curriculum.
On this point, the Fordham Institute is correct: the standards are not a curriculum. The standards themselves don’t say what bodies of knowledge children must be learning while the teacher leads them towards the learning goals described in the Common Core Standards.
There is a back door for a national curriculum, however. It’s in Appendix B, where the Common Core authors suggest texts. They are only suggestions, of course. So what’s wrong with that?
Well. Who decides whether to use those suggestions? The teachers? Nope. If the classic novel that they have taught for years is no longer deemed to be in their students’ Lexile level, then it is not allowed to be taught. The districts and states may be claimed to have authority, since they are the ones choosing the textbooks, i.e., the curricula. Here we encounter another back door, however. It’s not like there is a lot of diversity in textbook choice these days.
And guess what the “Big Three” are doing these days? That’s right, becoming Common Core Aligned, and adopting the curricula suggestions in the Common Core appendix. Handy that. Common Core proponents can claim that nothing is forced, because it’s not forced. It’s just orchestrated.
The whole point of “forced v. orchestrated” is a mere side issue, anyway–a distraction from the real problem. Regardless of how voluntary and/or well-meaning Common Core is or is not, the real problem is the fact that the Common Core Standards are garbage. Common Core Standards will serve only to further calcify an education system that is already rigid with bureaucratic bloat.
P.S. Did you notice the reference in FACT #4 to Common Core Standards as “higher?” What the devil happened to FACT #2: “The benchmarks are a floor, not a ceiling?”
These education experts can’t seem get through a single memorandum without contradicting themselves.