The Common Core Emperors Have No Clothes

Read the whole:

We have heard the phrase “raising the bar” so many times that the bar itself must have joined the Mars Rover by now. Yet when have we ever heard an “expert” or pundit or elected official say, “By golly, if we don’t have Common Core ELA Standard RL-7.7 in our schools, then we are setting up the next generation for failure”? I have yet to hear any advocate of the standards say anything that is concrete. The proponents praise the Standards—plural—to the hilt. They spend no time advocating or explaining a specific standard.

There may be a reason for that. The standards are unreadable. They are written in an almost impenetrable education-ese, churned out by educrats for educrats. Many people have tried to make sense of the standards, but when they cannot, they most often give up. They wonder whether the standards are over their heads and involved in some deep mysteries that only educators can unravel. Thus, the strategy of the Common Core advocates (particularly in those states that are taking Governor Huckabee’s advice of “rebranding” them) has been to turn the standards’ greatest failing into their greatest defense: critics are asked to point to a specific standard they do not agree with and explain its shortcomings. It’s an effective strategy. How can honest people criticize what they cannot understand? Or, put another way, how can they criticize what was written so as not to be understood?

For the past couple of weeks I have been conducting my own exercise. I have taken a couple of the standards—written for the kindergarten level, mind you—and asked very bright people what they can make of them. I have not asked regular folks off the street but rather those intimately involved with education: teachers, the heads of successful schools, and people with degrees in languages. One of these standards I addressed in the article from last Friday; it suggests there are several ways to spell the vowels. Here is another—RF-K.3a, to be precise—on consonants:

Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.
I love watching a person’s reaction when reading this standard. He begins thinking that it is easy: it’s for kindergarten, after all. He recognizes a few phrases and skims through it happily. Then he gets to the end and realizes something is not right. He may say under his breath, “Wait” or “What?” Then he begins to read it again but may only get through half of it. He begins yet again, reading it aloud, slowly: “by producing the primary sound or manyof the most frequent sounds for each consonant?” Then the person laughs. He gets it. The standard is utterly absurd.

So what is the defrauded public to do? The public must go through the “brain damage” of reading these standards and breaking the code in which they are written. To that end, I have written a book on the English Standards and will continue to expose this nonsense. I invite others to join in the fun. More important, rather than being told that We the Peoplemust express our objections to the Common Core by citing specific standards, we should turn the tables and require the lawmakers to defend this monstrosity, standard by standard.

Can you imagine your state representative, senator, or governor—who supports the Common Core, or who has failed to get rid of it entirely—being asked how many ways there are to spell the letter “a” or which consonants have many pronunciations? And that’s just the beginning of the Common Core absurdity. How about this “speaking and listening” standard for kindergarten:

Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

What 98 percent of our elected officeholders prefer to do is hide behind talking points and strategies given to them by consultants on how not to take a stance on anything, indeed how not to know anything. It’s time we say the obvious thing—that every child who has had a few lessons in phonics should know: the Common Core emperors have no clothes. All we have to do is stand up in public, read a standard to them, and see if they are smart enough finally to get the joke.


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