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Is The Common Core Curriculum a Threat to Texas School Children?

By August 12, 2014Texas
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Most parents place their children at the top of their priorities. Nothing comes before their safety, their physical well-being, and then their education. The most valuable resource a nation has is its children, and their allegiance and training forge the future for any nation. Indeed, Hitler recognized this when he recruited the young men of Germany and isolated them from the guidance of their parents. The intersect between parental rights and national interests has created major opposing sides in America. In April, 2013, Melissa Harris-Perry said in an MSNBC broadcast, “We have to break through that private idea that kids belong to their parents … kids belong to whole communities,” and that thought was reiterated recently by Paul Reville, former secretary of education for Massachusetts, a Common Core supporter. Concerned Women for America strongly supports parental rights and the accompanying responsibilities.

In 2009, multiple state education officials convened to unify educational goals for American school children. Under the encouragement and tutelage of the United States Department of Education and private corporations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, these officials drafted what has become the Common Core State Standards According to Heritage Foundation (, “Five members of the 30-person Common Core validation committee refused to sign on to the standards … Jason Zimba, the lead writer for the Common Core mathematics standards, said Common Core includes ‘a minimal definition of college readiness’ that was not designed to prepare students for admission to selective colleges.”

In promoting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (Myths and Facts section), in math they say they draw on “studies of high-performing countries that the traditional U.S. mathematics curriculum must become substantially more coherent and focused in order to improve student achievement, addressing the problem of a curriculum that is a ‘mile wide and an inch deep.’” In English Language Arts they “require certain critical content for all students, including, but not limited to: classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s founding documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare.” They suggest there is evidence that students today cannot read and understand complex informational texts; therefore, increased standards are designed for history, social studies, and sciences to supplement these disciplines.

In reviewing the suggested selection of curricula from the U.S. Department of Education web-site for implementing the standards, there are multiple references. A book written by David P. Sudermann, Toward a Definition of Core Curriculum, describes his eight characteristics of general education. The first says that a student’s needs and learning experience take precedence over subject matter. Another of his characteristics says that core courses emphasize discussion and group problem-solving.

Another book by Brian V. Hill, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2014, speaks of the “growing concern about a shrinking cultural consensus on values, coupled with religious pluralisation (sic) and the realisation (sic) that schooling is not, and cannot be, value-neutral, have led to proposals to teach ethics in schools … has the potential to indoctrinate the contestable view that rationality is the prime motivator of moral commitment. A case is made for regarding philosophical ethics and religious (or world-view) studies not as alternative avenues to values education but each as a core curriculum priority, different but complementary to the other in its content.” Readers should draw a direct connection between what is adopted as curriculum and values education.

In a book by David M. Donahue, Social Studies, 2014, the author highlights Harvey Milk whom he describes as a hero to LGBTQ people. In a book by Adam Kelpper, Social Studies, 2014, he declares that “high schools throughout the nation generally put little emphasis on the Middle East and Islam as the foundation for understanding vital issues ….” In a book by Brad M. Maguth and Nathan Taylor, Social Studies, 2014, it is said that “Social studies education plays an important role in preparing students for a diverse, pluralistic democratic citizenry (NCSS 2010). While the field has made some gains in addressing the needs of various marginalized communities within the curriculum, there has been very little progress in incorporating LGBTQ….” In another suggested book by Charles Helwig, Sharon To, Qian Wang, Chunqiong Liu, and Shaogang Yang, Child Development, 2014, they study judgments and reasoning about four parental discipline practices (induction or reasoning and three practices involving “psychological control”); Barber, 1996; two forms of shaming and love withdrawal among children (7-14 years of age from urban and rural China and Canada).” Value judgments abound in the supporting references for Common Core curriculum.

Since its inception the curriculum has come under fire. In scathing articles and internet postings the short-comings have been posted relentlessly. This is a website that displays some of most blatant. Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute has defended their position against Common Core. He maintains that the curriculum is heavily driven by Washington through the $4.35 billion Race to the Top program. He also points out that subject-matter experts such as Stanford University’s James Miligram and the University of Arkansas’s Sandra Stotsky are critical of it. Dr. Miligram complained that the “Core Mathematics Standards are written to reflect very low expectations.” In an article by Andrew Porter in the Education Researcher, he complained, “The Common Core math standards bear little resemblance to the national curriculum standards in countries with high-achieving math students.” Dr. Stotsky refused to sign off on the English Language Arts standards because she felt they did not compare favorably with some states’ existing standards. Thomas R. Eddlem, high school history teacher, summarized: “The real problem is that states have adopted history standards that are entirely process standards, with no subject content standards. For example, there’s nothing in Common Core about being able to explain why America seceded from Britain, or how the Constitution fulfills the ideal outlined in the Declaration of Independence to protect God-given rights.”

Parents, frustrated with Common Core, have begun petitioning their state governments to retreat from it. Even those in Catholic Schools, who adopted the curriculum, are now disturbed. Several states are now in the process of withdrawing or have withdrawn from it. Indiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma have withdrawn. Louisiana, Ohio, North Dakota, are considering withdrawal. Florida has opted out of the testing as other states are considering. Texas, Nebraska, Virginia and Arkansas rejected it from the beginning.

The question is then: If Texas has not adopted the Common Core State Standards, are we affected by this education scheme? Yes, in at least two ways. First, textbook publishers are rushing to align their texts to this curriculum. The second way is the most direct way.

The new president of the College Board, David Coleman, is the architect of Common Core. The College Board produces the SAT exam taken by High School graduates preparing to meet entrance requirements in colleges and universities. The latest challenge is with Advanced Placement students in U.S. History who must complete a test granting them advanced placement in college courses. We can be certain that these tests will become closely aligned with Common Core standards and curriculum. Therefore, if a student has circumvented this curriculum he will be at a disadvantage in attempting to score high enough on the placement exam to give him college credit. According to Stanley Kurtz of the National Review Online, “Public scrutiny of the sample test would also expose potential conflicts between the new exam and existing state standards. This is why the College Board has kept the test secret and threatened officially certified AP U.S. History teachers with severe penalties for revealing the test.”

What we can draw from the discussion is that this is not about education. It is about control. It is about the nationalization of our state and local public education. Texans must monitor the spread of this and seek legislation that guards our citizens from this encroachment.