Another entry from our essay contest by Laureen Simper.
The Common Core State Standards have raised red flags to watchful parents across America, and awakened the most fearful creature in all of nature: a parent who senses that the well-being of its offspring is at stake. The red flags are daunting, because there are so many. Here are a few:
When parents can’t get anything more concrete from a teacher other than to call these standards “more rigorous”, that is a red flag.
When teachers are afraid to speak against the Common Core standards for fear of losing their jobs, that is a red flag.
When university education students are told that their professors don’t know what to teach them to qualify them as certified teachers, that is a red flag.
When teachers skulkingly hand a parent a text book to help a child at home, as if that text book is contraband, that is a red flag.
When a federal government spending money from taxpayers who have not yet been born, bribes states to receive waivers from ridiculous practices or money to adopt untested, unused, unwritten standards, that is a red flag.
When educrats advocate funneling a child into a system that will determine what that child will grow up to be, for the good of a global job market, which undermines the true self-determination that has been a prized value of liberty since this country’s beginnings, that is a red flag!
It is at this point in the conversation that any good disciple of Saul Alinsky will hurl this question accusingly at the protective parent: “so aren’t you for any standards in education?”
Parents: it is at this point that we must have an answer so ready, that it nearly bursts from us because it burns within us: I am for standards that are NOT common!
Excellence is not common. And rigorous does not equal excellence. Rigorous is defined as “thorough, exhaustive, and accurate”. Do we as parents want that kind of education for these beautiful, snowflake-like individuals, these magnificent children, who came to us – as Wordsworth said, “trailing clouds of glory from God, who is [their] home”? Remember: the word ‘rigorous’ has the same Latin root as ‘rigor’ – as in ‘rigor mortis’ – the stiffening of muscles that follows death. In the context of Common Core, I pray that ‘rigorous’ isn’t referring to stiffening that leads to the death of our children’s ability to imagine, dream, create, and think for themselves.
We are for the uncommon, the excellent, the exceptional.
We are for the individual liberty of directing our children’s education – with decisions made locally in homes and local community schools and districts.
We are for the individual liberty of local teachers – gifted and dedicated professionals who love and praise and encourage our children, who spend countless hours of personal time and too much unreimbursed personal funds on their students, and who often intuitively know – without multi-million dollar assessments – which of those students are struggling and how to adapt lessons to reach them.
We are for the privacy of our children as guaranteed to us by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
We are for our children having the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a protected childhood, of them having the freedom to succeed – and fail! – and through their experiences, gain the strength and wisdom to choose for themselves the path their lives will follow.
I quote Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, who delivered a masterful speech last summer, on what he was for in education. He said:
“The goal of good education should be the pursuit of what is good…and true…and just…and right…and REAL, not the protection or the propagation of what is COMMON. Good education has never been about dumbing down the academy to a group of ideas that are agreed upon by the powerful and the popular. The goal of the educator should be the pursuit of truth, not the construction of what is common. Education should be about an open mind that challenges the consensus, rather than a set of closed constructs of commonality that capitulate to the mediocrity of the group, group think, and the collective opinion.”
He goes on to say: “I am against Common Core because I believe in intellectual integrity – the integration of head, and heart, and fact, and faith that is directed by the student’s thirst for truth and not the state’s hunger for control.”
I stand for excellence, for local control, for privacy, for teachers, but first, last, and always, I stand for my children.