Don’t trust educational fads like Common Core

American students have suffered through a long series of educational fads from “whole language” reading, block scheduling, and experiential learning to Bloom’s taxonomy, thematic teaching, and cultural literacy. With each new trend, the educational reformers promise lawmakers and parents that children will achieve more, learn better, and pull ahead of other countries. We have wasted generations of young minds by foisting unproven methodologies on children that result in a long saga of poor education.

Today’s fashion is Common Core. Once again, the reformers promise rainbows and unicorns if we just implement this latest round of “rigorous” standards. And woe to anyone who dares question the educational politburo about Common Core. In a public hearing before the Education Committee in the Ohio House, Superintendent Tom Gibbs began his testimony by depicting critics of Common Core as “Glenn Beck” lunatics. This strategy is employed solely to discredit the critic. Surely (Tom) Gibbs is aware that Common Core is being criticized from all points on the political spectrum, but it is easier to discredit an opponent by labeling him as an extremist than to have an adult discussion about serious concerns.

Reasoned opposition to Common Core is increasing among conservatives, liberals, parents, teachers, union leaders, and lawmaker on both sides of the aisle. For example, the American Federation of Teachers has called for a moratorium on Common Core because teachers aren’t prepared for it, and the largest teachers’ union in New York has mounted a full ad campaign against the Common Core-aligned tests. Progressive education favorite Diane Ravitch shocked her colleagues by fervently rebuking Common Core standards, calling them “fundamentally flawed” and dispelling any notion that the standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted. She has called us “a nation of guinea pigs” willing to impose this fad on children without any idea about how it will affect our students, teachers, or schools.

The Republican National Committee, not exactly Glenn Beck’s cheerleading squad, last month issued a unanimous resolution in opposition to Common Core. Conservative favorite and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels brought Common Core to Indiana, but now-governor Mike Pence, also a Republican, just suspended the standards in that state. Pennsylvania senate Democrats oppose implementation of Common Core, while their Republican governor supports it. Clearly, this is not a partisan debate, and labeling one side as radical does nothing to advance the discussion. Critics of Common Core are anxious to have this discussion, but proponents insist “there’s nothing to see here, move along.” We should not be so quick to trust the newest invention by the same people that have brought us every other failing fad for the last several decades.

Khadine Ritter