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Why the Common Core? Part 1: The Rigor Argument

Why the Common Core? Part 1: The Rigor Argument

Why the Common Core? Part 1: The Rigor Argument

In 2010 The Fordham Institute, a nationally recognized education think tank, reviewed Wyoming’s 2008 revised public school education standards for English Language Arts [ELA] and Math.   Fordham's unflattering grade for Wyoming's ELA was a “D”; Wyoming Math standards flunked with an “F.”

That same year, Wyoming’s State Board of Education adopted a nationally developed set of “college and career ready” standards for ELA and Math to replace Wyoming's standards.  The Fordham Institute favored these national "Common Core Standards.” They rewarded the Common Core ELA a “B+” and gave Common Core Math an “A-.”  This demonstrates, claimed national standard supporters, that the Common Core is more "rigorous".

But it is disingenuous to claim that over 40 states rushed to adopt these standards on the basis of “rigor.”  Let’s dissect the “rigor” argument once and for all by taking a closer look at Fordham’s 2010 “The State of State Standards” review.

First off, Wyoming’s grades were among the lowest in the country.  But were Common Core Standards the obvious alternative?  According to Fordham's grading system, we could have done better than the Common Core.  Over 30 states had ELA standards that Fordham rated higher than Wyoming.  What’s more, the ELA standards of eleven states scored equal or higher than the Common Core’s B+.  That’s right: eleven states were on the same “rigor” footing or better than the Common Core, according to Fordham.

And Math?  Over 44 states had higher scores than Wyoming, with 8 states equal to or higher than the Common Core’s A-.  Wyoming could have chosen from over 30 other states’ standards in English and 44 other state’s standards in Math and established more “rigorous” standards.  But apparently our Wyoming State Board of Education did not take a glance at the standards of states that rated better than Common Core. 

So, the big question is this: Why did our Board fail to consider standards which were more “rigorous” than the Common Core? Even more puzzling, why did states with standards superior to the Common Core chose to throw their excellence away in favor of the Common Core, thus lowering the bar for what their children should know and learn?

In other words, why the Common Core?  This is not about rigor.  This is about central control over what goes into our children's minds This is about fundamentally changing education to align with ways of thinking foreign to our American and Wyoming way of life.  This push to nationalize standards is leaving Wyoming’s local school districts’ say over what children learn choking to death under the weight of this massive centralized push disguised as “rigor.”

With more centralized education comes more control over education from the top down, and that’s what this is all about. 

Not rigor. 

It was never about rigor.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, Race to the Top and ESEA Waivers, the federal government has incentivized states to adopt one set of national standards and one only -- the Common Core.  And our own Wyoming state officials fell for it, many knowingly. (Part 2 will focus on the federal coercion in adoption of the Common Core.)

The rigor argument is old, tired and worn out.  No one examining the massive changes pushed through education in America and Wyoming over the past decade can intelligently support the idea that states like Wyoming adopted the Common Core in order to achieve excellence through standards.  If it had been about better standards, Wyoming could have adopted Indiana’s ELA and Florida’s Math standards.  We did not.

The Common Core standards are about control, plain and simple.  Control over standards, control over assessment but ultimately, it’s about control over children.  

 

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Sunday, 22 October 2017
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