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October 11, 2013

Village Academic Curriculum: Common Core or Common Sense?

A look at Common Core and the replacement of No Child Left Behind.

It wasn’t long after the nation’s founding that our government began investing in the education of our children. Back in 1787, the Northwest Ordinance declared, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” In the intervening decades, schools have lost religion and morality, with knowledge maintaining only the most tenuous of holds; in fact, some would argue we’ve lost knowledge when compared to our global counterparts. Witness this news, which asserts that “US adults are dumber than the average human” based on a standardized test. Now consider how most of those adults were educated.

The latest effort at government control in education comes in a set of standards purportedly set up to help us compete on a global scale. The Common Core State Standards Initiative, better and more simply known as Common Core, was sold to states as a replacement for the much-maligned No Child Left Behind program enacted by the George W. Bush administration. States that adopted Common Core were given waivers from many NCLB standards. The pot was sweetened by billions of dollars in stimulus money promised to states, with adoption of Common Core being a factor. Just five states – Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia – do not yet participate.

But a backlash is developing as parents learn about the program and educational experts decry the watering down of standards and “empty promises” of Common Core. Some states have listened – Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation last spring to “slow down” the adoption of Common Core until more research and input could be obtained – but others are moving full speed ahead and even arresting parents who question the motives of the state in blindly following.

Even parents who think they can avoid Common Core by sending their children to private school or homeschooling them may find an issue, as the ACT, SAT and even the GED high school equivalency exam are in the process of aligning their tests with the Common Core curriculum.

Surely, though, when succeeding generations graduate from whatever school they attend, they’ll find the school of hard knocks will give them an education they’ll never forget. It’s lifelong learning we all endure and are tested on daily.

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