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Common Core Confusion: Blame Supporters

February 26, 2015 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

As students across the country head into Common Core testing, a new poll reveals that Americans are confused about what, exactly, the Core is. But don’t blame them. Blame Core advocates, whose rush to install nationwide curriculum standards has left Americans befuddled and angry.

What is the Core? Supposedly, just reading and math standards — basic guidelines about what students should be able to do — voluntarily adopted by states. But that is not how the public perceives it. According to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, only 17 percent of Americans hold favorable opinions of the seemingly innocuous Core, and two-thirds think it covers specific content: at least one topic out of sex education, evolution, global warming, and the American Revolution.

Some of the public is misinformed. Unfortunately, that is in part because what Core advocates tell us is often quite misleading.

The way the Core became policy — rushed through the back door — made public understanding essentially impossible.”

Start by looking at what the pollsters — whose press release was very pro-Core — assert. While it is true the Core does not explicitly tackle the four hot-button subjects mentioned above, it touches all of them, in one case forcefully. The English portion has sections on “literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects,” and more explicitly says that students in grades 11 and 12 will “analyze … U.S. documents of historical and literary significance … including the Declaration of Independence … for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.” Inextricably connected to the “themes” and “purposes” of the Declaration is, of course, the American Revolution. Yet the pollsters suggest it is flat wrong to think the Core includes this topic.

Then there are those national Common Core-aligned tests millions of students are facing. If they ask about global warming or sex education, those topics essentially become Core content.

The Core is not simply guidelines, but content, and that is without even mentioning the math standards, which are much more specific when it comes to dictating material than the reading standards.

Of course, the average person — with a job, family, and countless political issues vying for his or her attention — has little time to research any given topic, so some confusion is to be expected. But the way the Core became policy — rushed through the back door — made public understanding essentially impossible.

The key was the 2009 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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