The Common Core State Standards
Initiative (CCSSI) is the effort that
created and is attempting to impose on
states a set of national K-12 standards
(Common Core). Common Core was
developed primarily by a nonprofit
called Achieve, Inc., in Washington, D.C.
The Standards cover mathematics and
English language arts (although they
also claim to cover “literacy” in other
subjects such as science, history/social
studies, and technical subjects).
Currently, two consortia of states have
accepted hundreds of millions in federal
money to create national tests to align
with the Standards.
The national Common Core State
Standards (the “Standards”) were not
created by the states, but rather by
private organizations in Washington,
DC, with lavish funding from private
entities such as the Gates Foundation.
The federal Department of Education
then used legally suspect means – the
Race to the Top competition and the
promise of waivers from No Child Left
Behind – to impose the Standards on
the states. This effort has been
accompanied by a misleading campaign
to present the Standards as “state-led”
and “voluntary.”
The Department of Education was
created by legislation during the Carter
administration in 1980. Today, the
department employs more than 4,500
people and has a $63.3 billion budget.
From a recent international student
achievement growth study reported by
Harvard “The failure of the United States
to close the international test-score gap,
despite assiduous public assertions that
every effort would be undertaken to
produce that objective, raises questions
about the nation’s overall reform
What’s Wrong with the English
Language Arts (ELA) standards?
Common Core’s English language arts
standards consist of empty skill sets
that, once implemented, might not
require reading skills any higher than
middle-school level. Furthermore, their
de-emphasis of the study of classic
literature in favor of “informational
texts” would abandon the goal of truly
educating students, focusing instead on
training them for static jobs.
But the most serious problem with
Common Core’s ELA standards isn’t the
reading levels of the literature – it’s the
de-emphasis on literature, period.
“[W]hat appalls me most about the
[Common Core] standards is the cavalier
contempt for great works of human art
and thought, in literary form. It is a
sheer ignorance of the life of the
imagination. We are not programming
machines. We are teaching children. We
are not producing functionaries, factorylike. We are to be forming the minds
and hearts of men and women. . . .
Frankly, I do not wish to be governed by
people whose minds and hearts have
been stunted by a strictly utilitarian
miseducation. . . . Do not train them to
become apparatchiks in a vast political
and economic system, but raise them to
be human beings, honoring what is
good and right, cherishing what is
beautiful, and pledging themselves to
their families, their communities, their
churches, and their country.”
Anthony Esolen of Providence College
What’s Wrong with the Math
English and math. And if implemented,
expect the same dismal outcome of
federal intervention.
Milgram, the
mathematician on the Common Core
Validation Committee, refused to sign
off on the math standards because he
concluded that by eighth grade, they
would place our students about two
years behind those of the highestachieving countries.
This is a Constitutional as well as a
financial matter.
Criticisms from university professors:
“It’s almost a joke to think students
[who master the common standards]
would be ready for math at a university”
(Dr. Milgram of Stanford); Common
expectations with respect to algebra
and geometry than the published
standards of other countries” (Dr.
Goodman of NYU).
Problems with Common Core Math:
failure to teach prime factorization, and
therefore failure to teach common
denominators; postponing fluency with
division from grade 5 to grade 6 (in
contrast to high-performing countries
such as Singapore and South Korea);
failure to teach conversions between
fractions, decimals, and percents;
redefinition of algebra as “functional
algebra” that de-emphasizes algebraic
manipulation; and excluding some
algebra II and geometry content that is a
prerequisite at almost every four-year
state college and dictates that geometry
should be taught using an experimental
method never used successfully
anywhere in the world.
Expect the federal Department of
Education to aggressively push adoption
of national standards in science and
social studies, just as they have in
By hooking states into the Common
Core with Race-to-the-Top grant funds
and linking the Common Core to No
Child Left Behind waivers, the federal
government is acting as the “enforcer”
to herd states into the “one-size-fits-all”
Common Core -- in spite of the fact that
three federal laws prohibit the federal
educational curriculum of the states.
Not only the U.S. Constitution, but state
constitutions maintain that education is
a power reserved to the states and their
citizens. Yet, the Common Core cannot
be changed by state legislatures or state
school boards.
Most often, our perception of a problem
is guided by our belief system. If you
believe that “Government” should
provide our goods and services and be
responsible for our overall welfare, then
government intervention is not a
problem; it’s just the natural evolution
of taking care of its citizens. And
Common Core is a logical step toward
better education.
However, if you believe that more
government movement into areas of
previous local and state responsibility is
cause to raise the red flag, then this
issue should light your fuse. Aside from
any conspiracy theories and nefarious
schemes, the relentless creeping of
federal tentacles into our local schools
has, today, given the national
Department of Education great power
over where our primary and secondary
schools are headed