A recent survey found that only 25% of public school parents support Common Core, the controversial national standards for English-language arts and math created in 2009 and currently adopted by 43 states. Part of this lack of enthusiasm likely stems from the frustration some feel over the cumbersome methods required by the Common Core. The math standards, for example, require students to learn multiple ways to solve even very simple problems and then to explain how they got their answers. But, perhaps most disconcerting for many Christian parents are the suspicions that have been voiced about Common Core’s true agenda.
Though Common Core ostensibly was sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the standards were actually written by Achieve Inc., a D.C.-based non-profit, which includes many progressive education reformers. And, bankrolling both Achieve and the adoption lobbying effort was none other than the Left-leaning Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For this reason and others, some say the standards have a very progressive, or even socialist, agenda. Yet, others maintain they are simply a means of standardizing public education. We’ll discuss this issue in detail tomorrow on Up For Debate. Until then, here are five common reasons some Christians are opposed to Common Core.
Please feel free to share your opposition or support in the comments below.
1. Common Core Amounts to a Federal Takeover of Education
The Common Core standards are voluntary. States don’t have to adopt or follow them, and for good reason: the law that created the federal Department of Education in 1979 specifically forbids it from exercising “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” of schools.
But instead of direct mandates, the Obama administration is conditioning some federal funding on whether or not states embrace the standards. In fact, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sued the administration for illegally manipulating grant money in order to force adoption of Common Core.
With the recent federal mandates on gay marriage and other progressive cultural issues, it is easy to see why some Christians are concerned about having the government too involved in education standards, too.
2. Common Core Politicizes Learning
If the government is telling schools what they must teach, what is to stop them from requiring schools to teach things Christians oppose? The Home School Legal Defense Association examined the Common Core standards and writes:
“Three threads of philosophy weave through the Common Core—statism, moral relativism, and progressivism, which are revealed both by what is proclaimed and what is omitted. The statist goals of the Common Core are implicit in the lockstep uniformity that is the central thesis of the program. All children in all states will learn the same content in the same manner so that the children may become useful workers… Finally, we see progressivism in the view that all that is new is inherently superior to that which comes from prior generations of human knowledge.”
While proponents say that Common Core does not require the use of any certain curriculum that might contain a progressive agenda, Columnist George Will argued in the Washington Post that states will eventually have to conform to a common curriculum: “What begins with mere national standards must breed ineluctable pressure to standardize educational content. Targets, metrics, guidelines and curriculum models all induce conformity in instructional materials. All of this will take a toll on parental empowerment, and none of this will escape the politicization of learning like that already rampant in higher education.”
One only has to look at the nonsense taught in colleges and universities in the name of inclusion and political correctness to get an idea of what could be forced on elementary, middle and high-school students in the future.
3. Christian Families Will be Forced to Comply
“Common Core creates another tool for big government (judges, legislators, and education policymakers) to control the beliefs and actions of parents and their students.” — Kevin Theriot, Alliance Defending Freedom
The primary author of Common Core, David Coleman, is president of The College Board, which administers the PSAT and SAT tests — both of which are being aligned to the Common Core. Students who want to attend college won’t be able to avoid the standards.
Writing for Christianity Today, Kevin Theriot, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said that the standards may threaten religious liberty. “Common Core creates another tool for big government (judges, legislators, and education policymakers) to control the beliefs and actions of parents and their students,” he said. He added that government control “is likely to creep into parochial schools and even homeschooling through national education standards specifying what all students must be taught in order to move on to higher education.”
4. Common Core Reduces Local Control of Schools
Traditionally, parents, teachers, and local administrators have had a great deal of control over the American education system through locally governed public school districts. One of the largest complaints against Common Core is that it leaves little room for districts to set their own standards.
“Common Core eliminates local control over K-12 curriculum in math and English, instead imposing a one-size-fits-all, top-down curriculum that will also apply to private schools and homeschoolers,” attorney Rachel Alexander wrote for Christian Post.
The group Truth in American Education points out that the standards are owned by non-government entities and can’t legally be modified by local schools: “States adopting the non-public domain, privately owned, copyrighted CCSS must adhere 100% without change. States may add up to 15%. The CCSS are privately owned by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, both non-government entities.”
5. Common Core Distorts the Reason for Education
“The omission of the pursuit of truth as a core goal of the Common Core demonstrates its alliance with the dominant philosophy of modern education that there are neither absolute truths nor absolute values.” — Home School Legal Defense Association
“Traditionally, education has been premised on the notion that all education of value is designed to know truth that only can be fully known in God,” the Home School Legal Defense Association writes. “The omission of the pursuit of truth as a core goal of the Common Core demonstrates its alliance with the dominant philosophy of modern education that there are neither absolute truths nor absolute values.”
Of course absolute truth is a bedrock of Christianity. Teaching children that there is no such thing understandably concerns parents.
“I want my children to know that two plus two is four, that there are absolutes, that there are right and wrong answers,” Alice Linahan, cofounder of Women on the Wall, told NBC News. “These kiddos are not developmentally ready for this deeper, rigorous thinking.”