Kennedy: The hard sell of the Common Core State Standards Initiative - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Kennedy: The hard sell of the Common Core State Standards Initiative

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Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013 7:42 am

Having observed the failure of our education system by dumbing-down our children for the past 50 years, concern has to be expressed about the “new” Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).

We are told the emphasis is on mathematics and English literature, and that’s true. But, where is the discussion of our American history, which laid the foundation for our moral compass and our prosperity? It’s ignored. Is the oversight by accident or by design? Considering the transition from capitalism to socialism during the past 100 years, it’s my hunch it’s by design.

One of the CCSSI literary goals is to have students become proficient in reading technical manuals as part of English literature. How exciting can that be? It must be more fun than reading “The Song of Hiawatha,” “Hamlet,” “The Scarlet Letter,” or “The Raven,” all classics in their own niche of literature. Such works of literary art will soon be replaced by manuals about “Direct Memory Access” and “Interrupt Requests,” both of which were written by world famous authors? Perhaps Bill Gates or Michael Dell? Those information technology giants are well-known for legendary literary work, aren’t they?

Why not use the McGuffey Reader, which was used from 1836 to 1960 at all levels — K-12? Those books would probably confound the average high school senior today. Some minor changes in syntax could make them acceptable to all but the educationists who are instrumental in causing the failure of the reading ability of our students. We must raise the bar, not lower it. After all, when you can read well, you can understand the basics of American history. Of course, that wouldn’t help the socialists, would it?

So, if the CCSSI plan is so great why is State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal bustin’ his hump to sell the plan to the citizenry? Why have we been regaled with newspaper commentaries by Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel, Mr. Huppenthal, Debbie Lera of Litlife, and Terri Clark, state literacy director, all telling us how marvelous is the “new” federal education panacea which is controlled by the lamia of Foggy Bottom? As if that isn’t bad enough.

In 1995, Charles J. Sykes wrote “Dumbing Down Our Kids — Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, or Add.” The book received considerable notoriety, but, after the public hue and cry passed, only the socialists followed through on changing the education system. That’s what happens when We the People try to take on They the Government.

Government takes complaints under advisement and does nothing for months, if at all — unless it’s to government’s advantage.

While reviewing his work, I found most of his observations are still accurate. Let’s use one example when he quotes author Rita Kramer as follows: “The main concern is not inspiring good students but protecting the average and poor ones.” Is that the reason the SAT exams were revised a few years ago? To make it easier to get into college where, for many, the first semester is a remedial exercise in math, writing, and reading? If a student isn’t proficient in the foregoing disciplines, he or she shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Is the failure that of the student or the elementary and secondary education system?

Since the early 1960s, when my children started school, the mantra has been the same: “We the People just aren’t doing enough to give them a better education. We must spend more money and streamline the curriculum.” That’s pure labor union and political propaganda!

Yet, after more than four decades of this talk, we see no improvement. Why?

Money isn’t the problem. One of the worst performing school systems in the U. S. is that of the District of Columbia which spends about $19,700 per student and has an overall rank of 50th, according to the EPE Research Center.

Arizona spends about $8,000 per student and has an EPE Research Center overall rank of 42nd.

Further into the report, we find that Arizona has an achievement rating of 43 while DC is ranked 49th.

These figures are from a report dated Jan. 11, 2011.

So, money may not be the cause of poor student performance. Could it be political leadership? Since education is controlled by politicians, it’s likely.

Wait a minute, don’t forget the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Those public sector unions spend “large” to influence our politicians and to keep those who do their bidding in office. Are labor unions a capitalist institution? Nooooo, they’re a socialist institution.

Fasten your seatbelts kids, does this mean our education system is indirectly controlled by socialistic labor union ideology? Gadzooks! But, is it true? Connect the dots and draw your own conclusion.

Is the next step that of supporting the achievers to the best of our ability and to give the underachievers all of the help we can muster while realizing the experiment of the “level playing field” isn’t working? That concept leads only to insignificance and the boredom of socialism.

Technical training manuals? Let’s teach our kids to think, imagine and analyze. By doing this, our nation of sheep can become a nation of creative individuals.

• Don Kennedy is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a degree in sociology. He has been a resident of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2002.

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