Logical Thinking About Common Core, Part 3

by Linda Szugyi | April 28th, 2014

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Logical Thinking About Common Core, Part 3

Here are Part One and Two, if you haven’t read them yet. On to Part Three of my response to the pro-​Common Core memo that sup­pos­edly refutes the anti-​Common Core movie, Build­ing the Machine

Fordham Fact Sheet

4. “ASSER­TION: THE COM­MON CORE WILL MAKE OUR CHIL­DRENMACHINESAND 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.

Linda

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.

Here are Part One and Two, if you haven’t read them yet.  On to Part Three of my response to the pro-Common Core memo that supposedly refutes the anti-Common Core movie, Building the Machine . . .

Fordham Fact Sheet

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.

Linda

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.

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