J. Pepper Bryars, who grew up in Mobile and lives in Huntsville, is a conservative columnist for AL.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alabama’s conservative State Legislature should have severed our connection to Common Core years ago, but thanks to a rather muddled opposition effort and lack of responsiveness from our lawmakers, the disastrous scheme not only survived initial repeal efforts but it’s now on the verge of becoming a settled issue.
Just ask Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh about any further attempts to replace the standards.
“I don’t think this body really wants to deal with it, yet it keeps coming up and taking up time,” Marsh said earlier this year after a vote to repeal Common Core was postponed. “Hopefully, we addressed it for the last time today, but if it keeps coming up I will vote against it.”
With a bit of luck, the recent appointment of Michael Sentance as our state’s superintendent of public schools will cause lawmakers like Marsh to take another look at the growing body of evidence against the scheme.
Sentance has been an opponent of Common Core in the past and recently worked to have it thrown out in Massachusetts, where he once served as the state’s secretary of education.
While it remains unclear what Sentance will say about Common Core once he’s in Montgomery, he obviously hasn’t been fooled by the cleverly marketed yet woefully inadequate, completely unproven, and thoroughly domineering national system of standards. He saw first hand how Massachusetts was forced to lower its otherwise high standards to meet the scheme’s goal of redefining “success” as whatever the lowest common denominator was nationwide.
That’s what the “common” in Common Core is really all about: leveling the outcome so that all students end up with the same amount of education, and that’s achieved not by lifting the stragglers up, but by pulling the achievers down.
Sound familiar? It should, because that’s the basis of every other centrally planned scheme that we’ve suffered through.
To be fair to Marsh and others who support the standards, Common Core may have sounded like a good idea five years ago, perhaps even two years ago, but the actual results are now coming in and they’re all indicating the same thing: we’ve been fooled.
They sold the untested plan as a set of rigorous standards that would prepare our children for competitive colleges and challenging careers. But they’re not. They’re weaker, far weaker in fact, than other proven standards that we could have adopted.
Take mathematics, for instance. Jason Zimba, one of the primary authors of the math standards, admitted during a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 that Common Core wasn’t actually designed to prepare students for selective universities or careers in the science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields (STEM). It’s meant to be average, or “common,” and not rigorous at all.
If your child wants to be an engineer or enter another STEM-related field, shouldn’t you be concerned that our state has imposed a substandard standard upon his school? Or maybe you agree with Marsh and wish people would just quit bothering you about this “settled” issue.
We all want the best education for our children, but conservatives should have known better.
Anything planned in secret by a small group of unelected and unaccountable liberals, that wasn’t tried and tested in any sizable district or for any serious length of time, and was imposed without thoughtful debate was sure to be chock full of unintended consequences … and even a few intended ones that wouldn’t have passed if widely known.
Now we’re nearly stuck with it, and that’s also by design.
Before, local communities could change their district’s education policies – standards, texts, tests, etc. — because we vote on a school board who controls those things.
Now, if you have a concern with these new national standards, your local school board will simply pass the buck to the state school board, who’ll then pass the buck to the U.S. Department of Education … where it’ll become forever lost in an ocean of unaccountable and unresponsive bureaucracy. Your congressman might write them a strongly worded letter, but that’s about it.
Hopefully, the buck will now stop with Sentance, and he’ll help put an end to Common Core in Alabama.