Common Core Standards

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Suppose that the federal government decided to over-reach and do something illogical about the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Bear with me while I set up the scenario.

Because it’s “for the children,” the Department of Health announces a sweeping program to require a national, standardized breakfast menu. Frosted flakes, cocoa puffs, and honey nuts are all out. All children, under the age of 18 will be required to have a nutritious breakfast using only items from a federally mandated and approved list of foods. Muesli & granola are in. Fruit and yogurt are in. Everything else, not so much. And suppose further that the federal bureaucracy came up with some obnoxious and intrusive schemes to monitor and verify what all of our [ahem, excuse me, THEIR] little darlings were eating for breakfast.

There would of course, be a predictable outrage from parents (and probably teen-agers, if not toddlers). The federal government would be denounced for taking liberties with the constitution. There would be rallies denouncing the Common Breakfast Scheme. The idea of enlarging the federal government and allowing its intrusion into suburban kitchens would be anathema.

Of course, there would be those who saw opportunities. Some of the major breakfast cereal manufacturers might rush to re-design their cereals and packaging to announce that they were Common Breakfast compliant. Some big corporations might even see great advantage in having their products endorsed and approved, while their rivals’ products were banned. Big Breakfast Corporations might even publicly support the Common Breakfast Scheme.

But ponder, for just a moment, the small local family run business who makes homemade granola. They’ve been careful with their ingredients. They have a loyal customer base. And they certainly have nothing to do with any big government initiative that wants to compel everyone to eat granola.

And suddenly, they find themselves denounced as either “supporting”, “accidentally aligned”, or “coincidentally aligned” with the Common Breakfast Scheme. Citizen activists from The Breakfast Freedom Coalition (which sprang up out of nowhere), take it upon themselves to compile lists of any and all companies who produce any product which is listed as approved by the Common Breakfast Scheme. Websites are started, activists are dispatched urging consumers to demand information about the local granola companies stance towards the Common Breakfast.

And through a network of self-appointed experts, small companies are told that their products are going to be boycotted because they are Common Breakfast Aligned. Indeed, at least one of the activists writes and publishes an opinion piece denouncing them as the equivalent of Tories during the American Revolution!

And all they really wanted to do was to continue making and selling the same homemade granola that they’d been making and selling for twenty years. They wanted nothing to do with the Common Breakfast list of approved foods. They certainly didn’t support a federal mandate telling people what they could and couldn’t feed to their children for breakfast.

Math problem #1: How much time, energy, and goodwill would have been wasted by The Breakfast Freedom Coalition, tracking down all of the local granola companies in order to publicize which ones were making Common Breakfast aligned food before they came to their senses?

Math problem #2: How much impact would The Breakfast Freedom Coalition have on the implementation of the federal government’s Common Breakfast Scheme by targeting small granola companies?

But of course, this is simply a highly improbable thought experiment.

The federal government would never consider a scheme so poorly conceived and so universally intrusive (and so unconstitutional).

And there really aren’t any citizen activists so benighted as to think that the way to oppose the federal government would be to go after small homemade granola companies.

Are there?

Horace Mann - Daguerreotype by Southworth & Hawes, c1850.jpg

Horace Mann

What is happening in American public education right now is alarming.

That being said, the crisis/problems in public education did not suddenly develop with the introduction of the Common Core Standards. At a basic philosophical level, the problem stems from a failure to realize that education is the responsibility of parents – it is a part of the responsibility we have to raise our children and assist them in growing up to be godly men and women. Parents can (and do) delegate some of the tasks involved, but the overall responsibility & supervision remains theirs.

In this country, about 150 years ago, the intellectual elite decided that most parents were too stupid to be trusted to raise their children. This was a shaking of the foundations. From Horace Mann to John Dewey to Ellwood Cubberley the focus has been to have the state and schools assume responsibility for the raising of children. This is the fundamental cause of the conflict between educational bureaucrats and homeschoolers. They do NOT see education as a matter of parental choice. They believe they, and only they, have the competence and authority to decide what is best for children – all children, including YOUR children.

Common Core has to be evaluated at multiple levels. The problem is NOT that any particular granular skill defined in the Common Core is wrong, or offensive. I have yet to find one, and I’ve asked repeatedly for someone to point out to me what part of the Standards themselves is offensive. At the granular, individual standard level, the only thing wrong with the Common Core standards is that they are incomplete and set the bar too low.

The problem is the bureaucratic superstructure which is using the Common Core Standards to assert and reclaim control over the education of all children. Homeschoolers have been resisting this for 40 years. We must continue to do so. But we must recognize that it’s not our methods or books that cause concern. Our existence is what offends them. They don’t want us to just comply with tests & texts, they want us to return control of the children to them.

A huge consequence of thinking about Common Core along these lines is to recognize that there is NOTHING wrong with teaching the individual standards or using the texts that do. I repeat, their only problem at the base level is that they are incomplete and set the bar too low. So, have no fear of using a book that is Common Core. Letting your child read an Usborne book will not result in their growing up to be homeless on the streets of Seattle.

Homeschool publishers and Usborne books are NOT part of the problem, even if they align with every one of the Common Core Standards, which I dare say almost all of them do. In fact, the good ones meet them and exceed them!

The problem is the long chess match between parents and the educrats over who will control the children.

Who does God entrust children to?

And who has responsibility for their education?

Those are the fundamental questions.

Common Core is a fad. Pay attention to the long game, the chess match.

PLEASE, PLEASE, stop branding, tagging, homeschool publishers with the Scarlet “A” because they use Common Core Aligned books.

If we are to resist the onslaught of the educational establishment and their attempts to reclaim authority and control over the education of all children, we’re going to NEED homeschool publishers.


– Rob Shearer
Director, Francis Schaeffer Study Center
Publisher, Greenleaf Press
Homeschooling Dad

and it has nothing to do with socialism or Usborne books.

Do the Common Core Standards Flunk History?

published on the History News Network, written by Craig Thurtell, a former teacher at Ardsley High School in Ardsley, New York.

Well worth reading.