Response to Kathleed Porter-Magee “The Truth about Common Core” and The Real Truth About Common Core Standards
Wisconsin legislators invited Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Fordham Institute to testify before a joint committee on education about Common Core Standards. She also wrote “The Truth about Common Core” for National Review online. Ms. Porter-Magee’s testimony and article lack a basic understanding of the reasons that tax payers are opposed to Common Core. A most prominent reason that parents and teachers reject Common Core is: that federalizing education will severely limit local control of schools and make reforming education no more possible than reforming Social Security or Medicare.
Under Race to the Top, the federal government has used its power and federal tax dollars to develop a set of curricula guidelines even though the Constitution, The General Education Provisions Act, the Department of Education Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 place limits on the federal government’s authority to direct or supervise instructional materials. The federal government has used its power and federal tax dollars to motivate textbook publishers and testing consortiums to create texts and tests that align with Common Core. Leaders from both parties ignore the wisdom of limits that have been placed on federal control of education; they do not recognize the relationship between lower academic achievement and each new federal program.
During the 1970s when I first began teaching, our history book contained two sentences about a republic. One provided a definition and the other stated that America is a republic. The rest of the chapter focused on democracies. Teachers were free to alter their curricula, so many of us provided supplementary material on the historical significance of a republic. We taught our students that the American Constitutional Republic provided God-given freedoms which could not be taken away. Our students understood that many founders warned future generations to avoid becoming a democracy because democracies were self-destructive.
The final exam included the question, “What form of government was shaped by the American Constitution?” Students who chose democracy as their answer said they remembered the emphasis on the positive aspects of democracies provided by their history book. Although never stating that America was a Democracy, the textbook led students to that mistaken belief.
Advocates for Academic Freedom communicates with citizens and teachers across the United States. For several years, teachers have been complaining that their texts no longer identify America as a republic but they refer to “American Democracy”.
Current lies, misrepresentations, and significant omissions of basic facts found in recent history texts used in all educational settings are changes seen by parents and teachers as a direct result of educational standards shaped by the federal government. Many Catholic high schools and public schools across Wisconsin are using the text American Pageant, fourteenth edition, which provides a false definition of republic and republicanism. The definition that text offers is that of collectivism.
Textbooks have been aligned with federally shaped state standards for many years, but teachers had the freedom to remedy the flaws in those texts. Now that the federal government has provided federal tax dollars to consortiums to shape tests (including ACT and SAT college-entrance exams) to be aligned with these standards, home-school parents or teachers in any educational setting will be unable to teach children the truth when falsehoods are being tested. This is another prominent reason that parents and teachers reject Common Core.
Parents who believe that the educational system plays a significant role in protecting and defending America’s republic and her founding documents do not care whether George Bush, Jeb Bush, or President Obama support Common Core, Race to the Top, or No Child Left Behind. Citizens object to the federal government’s imposition of greater control over every aspect of education. Taxpayers reject standards that do NOT provide the academic rigor promised. Parents reject lower academic standards to provide time to promote federal efforts to create students with a “world view”, a prominent goal of every federal educational program since Benjamin S. Bloom and B.F. Skinner began pushing national goals in the late 1950s.
Parents reject control by experts who have not had to implement their ideologies, to live with the consequences of those ideologies, or to carry responsibility for their failed policies. Parents and teachers longer accept blame for those failed academic policies.
Taxpayers know that the American educational system was once the envy of the world before educational experts surrendered our children’s academic future to ever-increasing federal control.
Karen Schroeder is President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of Governor Walker’s Educational Communications Board, an experienced public school teacher, and an educational consultant. Karen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org