Heartland Institute research fellow Joy Pullmann recently voiced her opposition to the Obama Administration’s education reforms called Common Core in a pamphlet entitled, “Common Core: A Bad Choice for America.”
Pullmann cited research conducted by the Brookings Institution, which found that high academic state standards did not mean higher student achievement in the United States. Yet and still, instead of offering a standardized cut score, or test scores that determine cut-off points in a student’s level of academic achievement like “proficient” or “not proficient,” Common Core has nothing set in stone. Common Core ignores a current cut score, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which Pullmann said is “a valid, well-respected measuring stick” compared to the “intrusions and muddled curriculum the core introduces.”
As others have previously stated, Common Core has “no track record,” yet it is being pushed as a successful academic standards program. Their backers contend that Common Core standards are “rigorous” and “internationally benchmarked,” but several academics and education policy analysts refuse to endorse these standards. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the Common Core validation committee, refused to sign it along with four others because Common Core pushes “simply empty skills sets” on America’s children.
Also, Common Core delays the teaching of basic and important math and reading skills, which put American students at a further disadvantage. For example, multiplication is delayed until third grade and finished by sixth grade while Japanese students have a more sophisticated curriculum by that time. “This quality gap,” said Pullmann, “only widens as students age.” As for reading, some supporters say that Common Core includes great novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird, but these are only on the list of book suggestions and are not required to be taught.
Pullmann highlighted the biggest unknown: the cost of Common Core. “No one really knows how much it will cost to implement Common Core” and the phase-in (starter) cost could be from $3 billion to $16 billion nationwide. The costliest portion would be the requirement for states to conduct online testing exclusively by 2016, when it is far cheaper to have in-class testing. Georgia educators say their in-class tests costs about $5 per student while Common Core online testing would cost $22 per student. Moreover, Common Core requires significant and extensive technological upgrades like “computers, tech labs…newer operating systems and tech support.”
Common Core puts more pressure on teachers, who will now need to put into effect “massive and inestimable” changes in how they teach and formulate their lesson plans. It will also require completely revamping teacher’s colleges that are “widely known to be grossly inefficient and resistant to change.” Teachers are no longer conducting good research on bettering education policy because “colleges of education are considered vast wastelands of mediocrity at most comprehensive universities,” as Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, wrote recently.
Also, Common Core changes the education emphasis from learning to “social engineering” with a focus on “measuring students’ feelings, performance and beliefs”. It even can track religious affiliations, family income and other personal records and information when it goes against current U.S. laws.
Pullmann levied heavy criticism at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other “Big businesses” that want more government expansion and hopefully more government contracts to fund these major technological changes in the education industry. The Common Core’s “one-size-fits-all model” actually “constrains creativity” and “destroys the very definition of innovation,” contrary to supporters ’claims.
Her main point regarding big business is how Common Core’s “centralized education market is a significant boon to big companies, giving them a large financial stake in getting it and keeping it that way.”
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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