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ROB JENKINS: Three good reasons to oppose Common Core

Common Core supporters love to characterize people who oppose the initiative as ignorant or misled. Don’t let that stop you. The stakes are too high. As parents, we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated.

Fortunately, logic is on our side. Here are three compelling reasons to oppose Common Core:

The name says it all. One Latin word for “common” is “vulgus,” which we usually translate as “vulgar.” It means literally “the crowd.”

Is that what we want for our kids — for them to go along with the crowd, to do exactly what everyone else is doing, in their educational pursuits or anything else? Or do we want our school curriculum to both reflect and bring out the unique talents and abilities of each child?

Consider, too, the word “common” as it’s used in the phrase “lowest common denominator.” Does anyone seriously believe that a standardized curriculum will inspire kids to strive for excellence? Or will it appeal only to the lowest common denominator?

Seton Hall University professor Chris Tienken calls Common Core “one-size-fits-all education.” It’s ridiculous, he says, “to think that having every child master the same exact content at the same exact level of difficulty … is going to prepare all kids for all colleges and all careers.”

It IS federalization of the education system. Proponents of Common Core argue that nationalization is not the same as federalization. In this case, that’s a distinction without a difference.

No, Common Core is not federal law, not yet. But there’s no question it’s being pushed by the federal government, and in the most effective way possible: by holding out substantial monetary awards for systems that embrace it.

Unfortunately, with federal funds always come regulatory strings. We see that happening right now with the Agriculture Department’s new rules regarding school lunches, and the financial penalties for schools not in compliance. How long before Common Core states feel a similar regulatory burden? Once they’ve taken the money, what choice will they have but to stay the course, however rotten the curriculum may turn out to be?

It’s NCLB on steroids. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone say anything positive about No Child Left Behind. The standardized testing regimen it has foisted upon our children is nearly universally despised, across the political spectrum.

Common Core will be worse. Much worse. NCLB required relatively few tests, but a fully aligned national curriculum will eventually mean new standardized tests for every student at every grade level in every subject. As all educators know, without testing there’s no such thing as a meaningful standard.

So don’t let anyone tell you Common Core is about improving education for our children. It’s not. It’s about creating more mindless drones for the corporate salt mines while making local schools even more beholden to Washington.

If that’s what you want, support Common Core. If not, fight it with all you’ve got.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and the author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less and on Amazon. E-mail Rob at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter @FamilyManRob.