Beth Fine

Educational Fiction Author – Serious Thinker – Child at Heart

Concerns about Common Core Curriculum – Part II

Continuation of my entry on May 28th, an entry you may wish to read or re-read to follow the direction of this post.

Department of Education
Persuaded by the National Education Association (NEA) lobbyists, Jimmy Carter approved separating Education from Health, Education & Welfare (HEW) to form a new DoED in 1979. To this department came a flock of bureaucrats transferred from HEW plus high-degreed professionals who expected and received high salaries. These experts had ideas on what and how our kids should learn. Slowly they have promoted the concept of an ultimate public education, federally underwritten, directed, and even funded.

Since the DoEd began its reign, these “experts” have produced stunning national results of approximately 50% of all high school graduates needing non-credit remediation before matriculating college. Even Common Core with its obsession on constant assessments, has not reversed that trend (2017-18 examples: Oregon -70%; Arkansas – 57%; California – 55%). Lamenting the cost of non-credit remedial classes that often require l8 months to complete, California recently lowered its entrance requirements to let students get credit for remediation if they had at least a 2.5 high school average. ( +high+school+grads+take+remediation&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1)

Could some blame for such poor results stem from the fact that many state and federal DoED employees have not stayed long in the classroom but returned to university to certify as counselors, administrators, or researchers and thus qualify as experts for coveted government jobs at $100,000+ salaries? Such jobs create a mindset and career ladder far different from that of typical, altruistic schoolteachers? If my supposition is even slightly true, why would we place the task of writing curriculum (to ensure our local children’s futures) in the hands of those without local, long, and practical classroom experience?

Government Type Mistakes in Core Knowledge Ideas:
We have often given broad license to the impractical government mindset which thrives on flawed judgment and inaccurate facts because it knows how to obtain “more time and workers to study the problem,” problems it mainly has caused. What more do we need to know about comprehensive attempts at any issue (e.g. health care and immigration reforms) to make us finally refuse the experimental, educational albatross of Core Knowledge? An almost genetic mistake seems to operate in those who believe that comprehensive programs solve problems. That mistake seems to cause bureaucrats to forget the physics principle that nothing is static. From the outset, comprehensive programs are neither agile nor flexible enough to respond quickly or effectively to ever-changing local and individual needs. Yet, here we are deferring to the politically correct champions of diversity who thrive on attempts to create uniformity with their flawed idea of an “equal education,” whilst ignoring the very precise variations that exist within people, talents, backgrounds, communities, and value structures. Historically, bureaucratic proposals often just make other things unequal.

Though some articles denied but did not disprove federal government involvement in Common Core Knowledge, I couldn’t help notice while reading Grades 2-3 content, that someone (if not a federal official) had government type “instincts and fingerprints” to have ever approved the many layers of E.D. Hirsch’s complexity goals. The units I read hinted at earmarks that cried out, “Yes, we had to let pressure groups put in their two cents. So, we did include a few items they wanted, items suggesting to school kids that our culture must change to give America a newer image less tied to our past history and more connected to our current environment.” Those units revealed such ideas: ecologists want a perfectly balanced world, environmentalists claim mankind damages the world, climate control lobbyists say the sky is falling, animal rights activists choose chimps over humans, doctors are our shamans; scientists are our priests, and cultural appeasers see all religions as equal.

Common Core Curriculum emerged in 2009, totally scripted and sculpted to fit an imaginary classroom composed of imaginary, totally uniform students. However, this curriculum fits the idiom – a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

Being assured by our education policymakers, that Common Core is “out,” I now stand amazed that Tennessee Sate Standards only bear a new name but remain almost identical to CCSS. So, if we’ve been told the truth, why are parts of Common Core literature offerings still in our local County materials? The next paragraph offers a key example of possible policy perfidy. ( and (

Literature disrespect
Professor Esolen of Thomas More College in New Hampshire faults the Common Core Curriculum’s for its handling of The Wind in the Willows. Surprise! Our County’s Grade 3 initial domain has 207 pages in the Read Aloud: The Wind in the Willows. Then Reader Unit 1: Classic Tales uses pages 78-104 to tell The Open Road tale also from The Wind in the Willows.

Having been an English teacher, I agree with Professor Esolen’s strong analysis. “The Common Corers get things exactly backwards. You do not read The Wind in the Willows so that you can gain some utilitarian skill for handling ‘text.’ If anything, we want our children to gain a little bit of linguistic maturity so that they can read The Wind in the Willows. That is the aim.

“It makes my gorge rise, after that breath of fresh air [from The Wind], to have to utter the words ‘Common Core Curriculum,’ and its relentless, contemptible, soul-cramping, story-killing, pseudo-sophisticated, utilitarian focus not on the beauty and truth and goodness that good art reveals, not on the imaginative worlds that good books can open up to someone simply willing to receive them as gifts on their own terms and enter into them with gratitude, but upon scrambling up supposed skills in suspicion, superficial criticism, and dissection [instructions to teachers].

“For the most important thing that any teacher of reading can do for children is to read good and great books with them and for them, with imagination and love. It is not like designing a rocket to go to the moon. It is at once far easier and far more profound than that. It is like silence, and play, and prayer.

Therefore, in reading 3 units of Second Grade and 10 units of Third Grade of the Tennessee’s revised version of Core Knowledge, I sensed (in this TN lookalike) that CCC is alive and well and performing its quiet incursion into kids’ minds. The materials smacked of no local input or oversight which may have allowed a blind-siding of parents busily earning a living and trusting schools to keep their precious progeny safe and eagerly learning necessary facts and skills. Perhaps constraints on time or a failure of vigilance or a lack of political experience to fight against this curriculum has now created an untenable situation.

Like flattery, I found this Grade 2 and Grade 3 reading curriculum didactic, unwelcoming, unrealistic, overwhelming, and seemingly filled with cryptic purposes that I have yet to reconcile. [However, in my next installment I’ll share/suggest the religious perversity replete in this curriculum.] Hating to sound like an alarmist but having given many hours to figure out the reason and purpose behind these thousands of pages, I believe we have reached critical mass – enough to make our ad hoc committee’s point about the inappropriateness of this approach, both in its skewed grade level readability scales and in its content unfitted to children’s developmental age.


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