Common Core is rotten to the core

Last week I attended the Constitutional Coalition Education Policy Conference in St. Louis on the issue of Common Core. Let me explain, I support standards in education but I do not support top down government-driven standards. Our American children are unique in many ways, and to believe we can have a common direction for all our children is ludicrous and actually dangerous — in fact, it is socialist.

There is a reason why we have local school boards, but what I see happening is a usurpation of the ability of parents and local communities to take the lead in educating their children. Also, Common Core was not developed as legislation to be debated in committee and on the House and Senate floors, it was done by bureaucratic fiat. And no, I did not agree with No Child Left Behind.

Common Core is the manifestation of the collectivist progressive mindset. It treats every student exactly the same way at exactly the same pace. It is the culmination of what progressives began in the late 1970s with the creation of the Department of Education. Their end game is to establish complete federal control of what our children are taught in school – effectively eliminating local control of curricula. It’s a one-size-fits-all, top-down, national curriculum for all K-12 students – and not just those in public school — homeschoolers and private and religious schools will be affected as well.

This is the year when Common Core goes into effect – having been jammed onto nearly every state in the union by the Obama administration, by pressuring cash-strapped states to surrender control over their curriculum in exchange for federal education funding. So far 45 states have decided to participate but now some are starting to back away, especially as more American parents find out what Common Core actually does.

We are spending billions of dollars at the federal level on education but the return on that “investment” is lacking. A Harvard University study noted only 32 percent of American students who graduated high school in 2011 were proficient in math and only 31 percent were proficient reading. According to a 2011 comparative test of students in 65 countries around the world, American students slipped down to 30th in Math, 23rd in Science and 17th in Reading. Here’s a real kick in the pants — we spend more money on education per pupil than 55 of those countries. Talk about a poor return on that “government investment”. And we’ve declined in global education rankings while our federal government spending has gone up.

I taught high school for a year in Deerfield Beach, such an enjoyable experience that I volunteered to return to Afghanistan for two-and-a-half years as a civilian-military advisor to the Afghan National Army. What I saw in Deerfield Beach was depressing. We are teaching kids to take a test, solely in order to achieve a certain test standard, with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). We’re teaching test-taking strategies and developing robots who focus on rote memorization. Education is supposed to be about developing critical thinking skills. But then again, that wouldn’t please liberal progressives since they seek more low- to no-information voters who can be manipulated by their lies and deceit. Education in America has to be relevant and prepare our young people with a productive skill and ability. Once upon a time we had automotive, woodshop, and other mechanical programs right in high school.

Recently I had lunch with Wayne Huizenga Jr. who heads up the Rybovich Superyacht Marina and refit facility in West Palm Beach and we discussed education. We talked about how we’re not training young men and women in the skills to be a part of the South Florida Marine Industry. In other words, we should make education relevant to local communities and their economy. Yes, there must be a foundational knowledge of basics: reading, communications, math, and something I thin is vital — physical fitness. Then we must channel energies and intellect to specific developmental programs, not government-driven common standards that seem to focus on celebrating diversity. And we also need to accept not every student needs to go to college.

We must embrace innovation in the classroom; we must prepare students to compete globally; and we must give parents the freedom to choose the school that their child attends. Peter Thiel, the successful entrepreneur who helped launch PayPal, has started a fellowship program for aspiring young innovators.The Thiel Fellowship gives a no-strings attached grant of $100,000 for qualifying young minds to skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education. We can all agree that college can create opportunity and teach valuable skills. But Thiel’s program is special. It unlocks a student’s potential without dunking them into tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt. It is tailor-made education, custom fit to each individual’s talents, passions, and skills. And that fellowship forces colleges and universities to compete. That’s exactly what American education needs – a shock to the system.

I challenge you all to learn more about Common Core because it’s rotten to the core. We need less government direction in our education system and more parental and local engagement and involvement. We need to increase competition and lessen the impact of teacher’s unions, such as the National Education Association (NEA) of whom even Bill Maher stated, “For the good of our children, this overly powerful and selfish union needs to be busted. This union is bad news.” And President Obama? Heck, never forget that he cancelled the DC school voucher, scholarship, program in April 2009 de to pressure from the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Common Core is another aspect of the “fundamental transformation” of America. Do not surrender your rights as a parent and your children’s education to the federal government.
Tell your Congressional Representatives, Senators, but mainly your State officials, to back away from Common Core.

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53 Comments on "Common Core is rotten to the core"

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Connor Joe
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Mr. West,
There are a few things (mostly one really) you and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum about; however, this is one we are in complete agreement.
Everything I have read, researched, and seen about Common Core is a poor choice for the children of America. You are perfectly right there are standards that need to be met, but this is not the way. And the worst part is, if it is not stopped soon, it will become institutionalized into the American psyche and accepted as though it has always been this way.

Rick
Guest

I don’t know if this comes under common core but, as we are such a mobile society, in courses that all students take such as math, English, and science that the same text books be used in all states. Why? When “johnny” moves from NY to FL or anywhere else he gets the same text book and approx. the same instruction. What “texts” are to be used will be a problem as the “text” used in NY may not be liked in TX.

Teresa L
Guest
Interesting point Rick, but the thing that people are the most concerned with about Common Core is not necessarily which text is used or subject taught but the WAY it’s taught and how the CC program stuffs both students and teachers into a very tight-cookie-cutter-box, not allowing students and teachers to learn and teach in the most effective way. All kids don’t learn the same and a good teacher recognizes that and finds ways to involve and edify the entire class. The Feds, as always are sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong, going around “fixing everything” and telling people… Read more »
JenJen
Guest

Such important points! Thank you!

David Klassen
Guest

I agree with what you said, “less government direction in our education system and more parental and local engagement and involvement”. Parents are so focused on working to bring in the money they forget one of their biggest responsibilities. Being their children’s first and primary instructor. We have been forced to think that it is the state’s responsibility to educate our young.

Jeff Dyer
Guest

Have you asked yourselves if the US Constitution, our Bill of Rights, the true history of this country including how & why it was founded will be included in Common Core curriculum? Since it will be completely controlled by the Fed and not local school boards, I really have to wonder. Another catalyst for dumbing down our young, & forcing the direction of the future of our country, without regard for the will of the people of this country.

Paul Sheridan
Guest

Why wonder when you can just go and read it yourself? Rather than posting wild accusations disguised as questions, why don’t you just go look at the standards?

Vlad99
Guest

Do you know what all the countries that are kicking America’s butt in math and language have in common? Strong teacher’s unions.

meta11ic
Guest

In America however, the teacher’s unions have seriously impeded the quality of American education. The Union has essentially made it exceptionally difficult to impossible to fire a teacher once they receive tenure, EVEN IF YOU DO NOT DO THEIR JOB. Further, states are being sucked dry by ridiculous pensions to teachers, in the range of over 100,000 per year. I recommend you watch the documentary “waiting for superman”

Allen
Guest

What grade level are you speaking of. Let me know so I can get my wife into the 6 digit income teaching position. If you go back and look at how we were taught in school is basically these same now. English, math, history and science, there is just more small group teaching now than before same teaching just a different name.

Brad Smith
Guest

and respect for the teaching profession. Observe a classroom in china, japan, Switzerland, etc. and you will not see disrespect of teachers and administration that happens in this country due to “entitlement”
,

Vlad99
Guest

In those countries teaching is a calling. They have the same respect a police officer or firefighter has. Best and brightest are attracted to the profession. I seen a video on youtube where an Asian teacher grabs and smash a student cellphone on the floor without never stopping her lecture. You imagine the outrage and the lawsuits if an American teacher did that.

Grumpy
Guest

I’m going to date myself, we had teachers who could slap a yardstick down on a desk an inch from a dozing student’s hand and never miss a word of whatever they were talking about. A disrespectful student was likely to get smacked with a yardstick..

Going home and crying to your parents about it wasn’t a smart move..Parents tended to side with the teachers..and they believed God put a little extra padding on your butt for a reason.

Vlad99
Guest

LOL that’s how I learned not to play the race card. I remember trying to imply a teacher was racist for keeping me in detention. Boy did I get it, I was explained rather bluntly after a thorough beating that the teacher would ignore my lazy black ass if he was racist and would just let me flunk. That those he didn’t keep on detention for not doing the same homework might not because they where white but because he gave up on them.

Grumpy
Guest

Your mom was a smart woman.. but trust me, she’d have been just as hard on you if you’d been white..

My parents were children of the Depression, born in the 20’s they reached adulthood during WWII.. Excuses, even legitimate excuses, don’t put food on the table or win wars.

For me, “White Privilege” was unloading boxcar loads of Sears and Wards catalogs by hand, from the time I was 13 till I went in the service.

Merri
Guest
For generations, we’ve asked teachers to teach with no blueprint, no roadmap. How can any system succeed if you don’t know where you are going? Even worse, when given goals, it’s been an axiom in education that everything will change every 20 years. There has never been any consistency in methods or desired outcomes. It is an untenable method of running anything and leaves no wonder as to why our citizenship is foundering. I see common core state standards ( they AREN’T federal and AREN’T a curriculum) as the last best hope for American schools and students. Please don’t let… Read more »
Brad Smith
Guest
As a fellow educator I have to respectfully disagree with you. Now I will preface my comment with the fact that I teach first grade and can not speak to the middle and high school level because my experience is with students 5-9 years old. While these are called the Common Core State Standards, they are not “state” standards. They are federal standards. That’s why the feds are jamming the Parcc Assessments down every states throats and tied federal funding to the adoption of the standards and RTTT. The common core is absolutely ridiculous and as Allen West states above,… Read more »
Grumpy
Guest
For for generations those teachers without a blueprint did a fantastic job. Their skills led to engineers with slide rules designing the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the World Trade Center and the spacecraft that put men on the Moon. Their teaching led to workers who may or may not have finished high school, but still being able to read the engineers blueprints and put together the things I mentioned, How can you say the Standards aren’t Federal when $320,000,000 Federal Dollars were used to set up the two consortium to administer Common Core and the Department of Education tied signing… Read more »
Kent G. Robinson
Guest

To say no Blue Print is ludicrous. Before Common Core you had an idea of what kids needed, didn’t you??? Reading-comprehension-critical analysis-feedback. Math skills sufficient to vet a computer solution. Essential knowledge of our government-its origins-other systems of government-comparison/contrast. A basic understanding of economics. A fundamental understanding of other countries. Rudimentary 2nd language skills-that other people speak differently and think differently is the immediate reward. You and your local fellow professionals know what to do. I trust you. Trust yourself.

Eric Minor
Guest

Keep up the good work Allen! Another excellent piece of commentary!

Dr. Hoffman
Guest
School districts are rewarded by the level of success in their standardized tests. Schools today are teaching students to succeed on these standardized tests. Shame on all of them. Go back to what American great…the three “R’s” (readin’ writin’ and “rithmatic). This country put men on the moon starting in 1969. Look at all the technology developed by smart business start ups. Common Core is just another attempt by “our” government to control our lives. Some students should not go to college, they are not cut out for it. Trade schools to teach a workable skill is better for some.… Read more »
MotherBatherick
Guest

I agree. We need American Greatness again. We need to rise up with our heroes again. What we have right now are the Three P’s: Piss Poor Planning and bunch of Commies.

AL
Guest

TEACH GOD AND THE BIBLE IN SCHOOLS AND YOU WILL HAVE A COMMON CORE IN THIS COUNTRY

Paul Sheridan
Guest

You get enough votes together to amend the Constitution and then we’ll talk. Until then the establishment clause stands.

William Boyd Spencer
Guest

I find it really interesting that Thomas Jefferson when asked his opinion on opening a school for Indians responded in this way, “Make sure that you put the bible in as a light.” Let us think about the function of light. It illuminates and lets us see to navigate. The establishment clause was in effect when Jefferson made the comment. So much for your fear of religion.

Martin
Guest

In the early 1950s school opened with the Pledge of Allegiance (before and after Ike added “Under God”), a prayer and then the teacher would read from the bible. It worked fine then so why wouldn’t it work now?

cyndi
Guest

they won’t listen; they have been brain washing our children since the 70’s; sure Bill Ayers and his ilk had something to do with it

MotherBatherick
Guest

And obama’s friends, Communists Arne Duncan and his mother and their creepy lab schools.

Chuckie
Guest
The whole system is corrupt. I’m really thankful for the relatively few teachers with guts to stand up against government when it comes to quality education. It’s clearly obvious that Obama’s administration is trying to strip any semblance of humanity from America, and they’re succeeding. We need more people to become more vocal to their local governments about issue like this one. As the system stands now, it’s more about administrators and their careers rather than realizing their responsibility to turn young folks into productive, decent citizens. YES, it’s not just the parent’s role. Too many teachers are being bullied… Read more »
SusieQ
Guest
Good teachers are also being required to use Common Core. They have to read and take tests on an Online Course. We do not have a choice if we want to keep our jobs. At our school, every teacher of a grade (e: all 3rd grade teachers) must be on the same page every day. A teacher cannot go back and redo anything if their class is slower. Today kids are unable to think for themselves. Their is NO creativity. We need to go back to the BASICS. We all grew up with a lot of knowledge. Putting Geometry and… Read more »
Deb Taylor Anderson
Guest

I totally agree with you on this and was thinking the same thing while I was reading this. “But then again, that wouldn’t please liberal progressives since they seek more low- to no-information voters who can be manipulated by their lies and deceit.”
Read more at http://www.allenbwest.com/2014/02/common-core-rotten-core/#Iv0DuzkErpOGavtR.99

mackinac3
Guest
I love how the government is giving “education funding” to states with money they don’t have nor does exist. We’re spending billions of dollars to change something for the WORSE? If our education wasn’t the greatest before why should we move heaven and earth to go down in standards we’re already slipping in? I’ve been a homeschool mom for the last two years. My kids were in a private school before. I think standards are important but not ones being shoved down my throat. I love that I can teach my children in a comfortable environment, work one on one… Read more »
David King
Guest

If the government educates children with the same competence it constructs a healthcare website, we’ll have high school graduates that can count to purple.

Dave Powers
Guest

Good one buddy. 1,2,4 , red, 7, purple. Now I know my ABC’s won’t the Libs be so proud of me?

Keith Hutchison
Guest

I love the post. I posted it on my FB with credit, maybe it will make it back to you.

Janet Steinbicker Sadowski
Guest
Janet Steinbicker Sadowski

My nephew is in fourth grade in Cary, NC. His public school has a Common Core Curriculum. On a recent test he was asked this question: “When you pledge allegiance to the flag to whom or what are you pledging loyalty?” He answered: “To the United States of America.” His answer was marked incorrect. The correct answer was “The Government. Yes, Mr. West, our children are being groomed into this “fundamental transformation” of America.

Penni Fry Johnson
Guest

That’s not even an appropriate Common Core question! This school needs help on establishing assessments based on critical thinking skills!

William Boyd Spencer
Guest

Critical thinking is not the interest of common core. Marxism is.

raptorduchessDon Paulsen
Guest
raptorduchessDon Paulsen

Ahh Penni, there is your first lesson about Common Core, 35 more years and you might have it figured out!

Darren Waltman
Guest

Common Core is Orwell’s ’84…

Pam
Guest
I have always held the opinion that education needs to be more job specific. Of course you need the basic skills, a house does not stand without a foundation. As for non College, Vocational education needs to be respected as highly. Unless you are going into a teaching field, a lot of what Universities require are not relevant to the field that the student majors in, and really does not prepare them for that specific field. Common Core,bah! Will we soon be dressed in “common uniformity”. My granddaughter is in first grade. Already,when I try to help her with math,… Read more »
Twila Jeanenne Ramsey
Guest
Twila Jeanenne Ramsey

Back in the 50’s, my history teacher, the late W.F. King, was adamantly opposed to any federal funds for education, and most other things. He said once the Federal government starts funding education , it starts controlling all facets of education. Whatever happened to that spirit of independence?

billy miller
Guest

Zombies are becoming popular these days.

Jen
Guest
the more I hear about Common Core, the more I have to agree with the author of this article. Most important…we need to educate our children at home…as well as what they are learning at school. We can’t be lazy, and expect schools to teach our children everything they need to be successful in life. Now that Common Core is replacing common sense in the classroom, we as parents need to be more vigilant to make sure our children are meeting our own standards, and ensuring they do with extra work at home, family/field trips, encouraging their creativity and curiousity.… Read more »
Penni Fry Johnson
Guest
What a bunch of crock! ONE year of teaching experience and you QUIT? You did 2 1/2 years as a civilian contractor solely to make money, I think, not as a military obligation. Hardly noble. I have 35 years of teaching experience; many programs have come and gone as people like you have looked for the EASY PATH…guess what? There isn’t one! Education is HARD WORK by all involved! Common Core finally addresses THINKING SKILLS of all students and teachers involved, administrators too! Yes, there are issues, but all things take time to gel! Finally, we are getting down to… Read more »
PaladinUSA
Guest
Ms. Johnson, Your response is just typical of the NEA and all state organizations supporting common core, or be penalized by your union or school administrators making obscene salaries. Attack, Attack, Attack anyone who disagrees with you. My direct family tree and friends have two National Teachers of the Year, one Nevada Teacher of the Year over hundreds of years “experience” teaching in over a dozen states. Honestly, most feel they have less than five years “experience and the rest is just copy and paste. Reuse the same class plans, minor modifications to meet the current admins agenda and paste… Read more »
raptorduchessDon Paulsen
Guest
raptorduchessDon Paulsen

35 years and you taught but didn’t learn anything, And the people that you expound on all come from some pretty liberal schools of thought. I am so glad I exited the educational system in time to preserve my ability to think for my self.

Dave Powers
Guest

Common core is laying the groundwork for correcting income inequality. Making everyone equally stupid to become equally poor.

Peggy Smith
Guest
As a classroom teacher, there are many aspects of Common Core that I find to be beneficial. The common core standards are a series of strategies (or skills) that all students should possess in order to be successful in whatever literacy driven field of study they want to pursue. Basically, these standards ensure that students are given opportunities to master these skills such as making inferences, drawing conclusions, identifying the main idea and supporting details of texts, and that students are able to back up their choices (answers) with evidence (arguments). These skills can be applied to basically any novel,… Read more »
momoffive
Guest
As a former teacher and a mom of five, I used to believe in standards-based education. However, for the last 20 years we’ve had standards-based education and it seems kids have learned less. Kids have trouble with spelling, grammar, and math computation more so than ever. When standards are implemented it soon follows that tests are given to prove the standards are met. Pretty soon, teachers realize they must teach as much as possible to the standards to get high-marks on tests. This cycle leads to narrowing the curriculum and dumbing down students. How about giving grades topics to be… Read more »
Lt Col Rich Messer
Guest
Mr. West, As an active duty Air Force officer and the husband of an professional educator (Elementary Education / Education Consultant), I must admit that Common Core is ruffling some feathers nationwide. Regardless of what I personally think about Common Core, your article leaves out way too many variables that have a direct impact on the education of our youth. First, it is not a one-size-fits-all method of education. It is, however, a system that requires the educator to keep up with the times. School do spend millions of dollars to acquire technology only to be stymied when many educators… Read more »
Jules C.
Guest
My friend in Louisiana replied: “Thanks for this article. My science class is not involved in common core yet but it is coming. I think it is a detriment to our children’s education every child is different and not all are college bound. This standardized test thing is killing us as teachers. I spend a lot of time teaching them test taking strategies to do well on a test that the government holds me accountable for but does not hold the students accountable for. Roll that marble around in your head for a while and see if you can make… Read more »
Cathie Putnam
Guest
Please sir, I am so disappointed in my favorite conservatives who repeat the mantra that Common Core is federally mandated CURRICULUM. It simply is not. They are STANDARDS, just ten of them. Local districts CHOOSE their own curriculum. If communities are appalled by their districts’ policirs, they must remember – THEY VOTED THEM IN! Vote the school board out! Yes, we still have that local “control.” My district in California, in fact, allows each teacher to choose any piece of literature or non fiction as long as we are teaching children how to isolate the main ideas with supporting details… Read more »