Monday, September 21, 2015

The Outrage over Common Core Doesn’t Add Up

It all started when a group of business leaders and educators got together and lamented about how each state had their own standardized testing. With this system in place, some states fared better than others when it came to college entrance, job placement, etc., all because some states were preparing their students better than others.

You can just imagine how that news played out in the states lagging behind.

As a result, business leaders and educational professionals began dialogue on how to better equalize the playing field and yet better prepare students across the nation for the jobs in the present-day workforce and the workforce to come. A strong emphasis on the “STEM” subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) were promoted for obvious reasons.

In a cursory glance, you can understand why they did what they did. The questions people are having now, after the fact, after these standards have already been developed and rolled out, are curiously late. I’m not faulting Mr. & Mrs. Jones living on AnyStreet USA, trying to put food on the table and raise a family—at least not yet.

At this very moment, I’m faulting our elected officials and the people they supervise, namely, The U.S. Dept. of Education. This department was in charge of developing these standards. The U.S. government was responsible for overseeing those standards to make sure they were the best they could be. However, it seems many a politician had no clue what was in those standards, and it wasn’t until a few Mr. & Mrs. Joneses either read them or dealt with them first hand as their students learned flawed material in class, that the people ultimately responsible for these standards suddenly took note. As a matter of fact, Common Core wasn’t even developed properly by standards developed for standard writing. Those responsible for helping set the standards on standards didn’t even follow their own standards. Wow. I’m shocked. Aren’t you? “Do as I say, not as I do….”

However, before we throw your Democratic & Republican representatives to the wolves, we need to
ask ourselves a good question: “Who elected these officials who apparently didn’t know: 1) who wrote the standards; 2) who was responsible for overseeing those standards; and 3) what they contained?”

“In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” No one seems to know who actually said this, but it’s gold, nevertheless. We are ultimately responsible. We, the people. We vote representatives in. We allow them to be swayed by lobbyists. We look the other way when they vote their conscious instead of the will of the people they represent. We often vote them in simply because of name recognition. Yeah, that’s a good reason. Good thing Adolph Hitler and Charles Manson aren’t around to throw their hats in the ring.

I get it. Some material in the new educational standards adopted by nearly all 50 states in the beginning is questionable. Some would argue downright propaganda and determined to indoctrinate students. Those who espouse such beliefs have some legitimate concerns and the material to back up those claims. Their outrage has caused many to put on the brakes to full implementation to Common Core.

Some states, Like Florida, for example, have “gone off the reservation” and created their own version of the Common Core, called the Florida Standardized Assessments, or FSA’s. However, those were created so late in the game, results have been delayed as the validity of the test has come into question.

Parents, upset with the entire process and the fact schools in America are lagging behind their industrial counterparts, are fighting back by pulling their students out of regular, public education systems and opting for home schooling, online schooling, or a combination of the two.

I, for one, have no problem with home schooling or online education so long as it meets the needs of the student and doesn’t serve some other nefarious agenda. Some students work better in other environments. We see it all the time in education. Not every student was cut out for a regimented, K-12, assembly-line kind of format. Some educational professionals would even go so far to say that most students don’t fit that mold anymore and to keep holding to Henry Ford model is antiquated and needs to go. But that’s a different discussion for a different time.

I have one question that keeps coming back to mind each time this outrage over Common Core raises its head. Where has the outrage been in the past? Let’s face it, Common Core, for all intents and purposes, is nothing more than politicians and business conglomerates deciding for the American public what THEY think is best for America. Translation? What makes them more money, gives them more political clout, and helps them maintain the money and power they already enjoy?

And please don’t make this a Democrat versus Republican debate. The Republicans and the Democrats are all in when it comes to Common Core. Very few on either side see issues with Common Core, and if they do, many of them didn’t until they started experiencing political backlash. And even then, they still believe Common Core is the way to go, it just needs to be tweaked or redesigned.

Take, for example, this article on the Republican side of the ledger. Some Republicans changed their views after a wave of outrage hit the news and made them look bad. But many still support it. Some of which are presently running for president.

Same goes for the Democrats. There is definitely bi-partisan support for the new standards.

Big Business is behind it, too. Who makes up those businesses, better known as the Business Round Table? Click HERE to see the roughly 200 represented. And some businesses are not represented but still hold great sway, like Bill Gates and his foundation, for example.

Some would argue colleges and universities have been indoctrinating students for decades now. Opponents have compelling reasons to believe that. Yet, where has the outrage been in those instances? Why has it been allowed to continue?

The simple answer is this: We’re too busy. Too busy living our lives. Too busy enjoying life, making ends meet, spending time with family. I see this in microcosmic form nearly every day. Parents too busy to be involved in the life of their child. We run into this all the time as educators:

Scenario #1: The child is failing.

“So, what are you going to do about it, Mr. Educator? I’m a single parent, and I can’t bring him to tutoring in the morning.”

“Well, it would help if Little Johnny simply came to school every day for starters. He’s missed 35% of the school year so far.”

“I can’t make him come to school. He’s bigger than I am. Besides, I leave for work before he leaves for school. You’ll need to change your hours or send a bus early to come pick him up.”

Scenario #2: The child gets into trouble a lot.

“Mr. Educator, I know. I see the same behaviors at home. She mouths off to me, too. I’ve taken everything away from her. All she has in her room is a mattress and some clothes. No electronics. No cell phone. Nothing.”

“Well, ma’am, the problem is, she put her hands on another child this time. It wasn’t just verbal. And of course, that’s not allowed. That’s why she’s getting suspended.”

“Suspended? No. She ain’t gettin’ suspended.”

“Yes, ma’am. She is. Any child who strikes another student on this campus gets suspended. It’s called Battery, ma’am.”

“You know, that’s the problem with education today. All you want to do is send your problems home to the parents.”

Those were true life scenarios. The names were changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Why do I bring all this up? To make a point. Any educational change, whether it be a simple tweak in a child’s attendance or behavior, whether it be a wholesale change to nationalized standards, or something in between, it starts with us. We, the people.

And please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating one political party over another (I would hope this article points to the fact that there’s plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the political aisle). Nor am I leading a charge against Common Core or one in favor of it. I see all these things—corrupt politicians, flawed nationalized standards, a sagging economy, a slumping educational status amongst world leaders—as symptoms, not the cause.

The cause is an apathetic public willing to relinquish the wheelhouse of the country to people who have proven over and over again they can’t steer very well. When the captain and his crew keep running the ship aground, shouldn’t we be looking for a new captain and crew?

*Generic photos courtesy of


Short Bio

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, he is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24 , The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.



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