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What Rough Beast Is Slouching Towards a National Curriculum?

By Practical Homeschooling Staff
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #98, 2011.

Education officials claim that Common Core is not a national curriculum, but it sure looks like one
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by Practical Homeschooling Staff

Common Core Monster We’ve been warning for years now that the “common standards” movement is a smokescreen for implementing a national curriculum.

Recently, we’ve seen that it’s actually more of a stepping-stone towards an international curriculum. (See the article “Globally Correct” in PHS #91.)

Now, in a March 23 article in Education Week entitled “‘Curriculum’ Definition Raises Red Flags,” major thinkers admit that a national curriculum is a likely outcome of the Common Standards.

From the article:

Scholars, bloggers, and activists are exchanging fire about whether shared curriculum means lessons dictated from afar. They’re worrying that the public could lose a voice in shaping what children learn, and asking whether the federal government is overstepping by funding curriculum development.

Neal P. McCluskey of the Cato Institute was quoted as saying, “The whole point of having national standards is to drive curriculum. . . . Those tests will have to test something. When they test specific readings, we will see that we now have a national curriculum.”

The article further pointed out that “shared curricula”—whether a mere list of objectives or a step-by-step lesson plan—might be developed without any input from the public. Sandra Stotsky, who helped develop the renowned standards and curriculum framework for Massachusetts (currently #1 in the nation in student achievement), was quoted as worrying, “At what point will all these materials be available for public review? When they’re final? The point of a public, civic process is to allow time for public input, feedback, and revision.” (Reminds us a bit of the national healthcare bill. Remember how we were told that Congress needed to vote for the bill so we could then see what was in it?)

Meanwhile, something called the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), and Achieve, the “Washington-based group formed by governors and business leaders that serves as PARCC’s managing partner,” are forging ahead, creating “exemplar curriculum units, prototype formative assessments, and other tools.” This is all being funded federally.

The No Child Left Behind Act says the feds may not “mandate, direct, or control” a state’s, district’s or school’s “specific instructional content, academic achievement standards and assessments, curriculum or program of instruction.”

However, according to the article,

Responding to questions about the use of federal funds for curriculum work, a senior official from the U.S. Department of Education said that the department awarded supplemental Race to the Top assessment money to the state consortia to help them transition to the common standards and assessments.

The official noted that the department did not dictate or control how the states proposed to make that transition, but accepted the consortia’s proposals for doing so. Additionally, department officials said, no state is obligated to use the materials the consortia create because the funding is part of a discretionary grant.

So here’s the game plan:
  1. Have state bureaucrats (instead of federal bureaucrats) concoct a list of “common standards.”
  2. Have shadowy figures now employed by “consortia” and “partnerships” (one step further away from public scrutiny) create the actual curriculum. Possibly without any public input (including classroom teachers).
  3. Have the federal government fund it all. (Proving just how independent and state-generated the whole process was in the first place.)
  4. Then do it all over again, this time to meet “international standards” bankrolled by (among others) nations such as Qatar.

The end game will come if and when all students—including homeschoolers—are required to use the “approved” curriculum. And when high-school exit exams and college entrance exams are based on it. Then an entire generation of children will be vulnerable to whatever propaganda the most powerful forces in society (whichever those happen to be at the time) decide to inflict on them.

This one-size-fits-all type of education is the direct opposite of homeschooling. We shall continue to promote the opposite path: freedom in education.

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