Jan. 6, 2014
Why would you deliberately dumb down math standards for all American students? That seems a far-fetched claim about the Common Core education standards currently being pushed by the Obama administration. Yet, that is what is happening, according to the highly respected education analyst, Sandra Stotsky, Ph.D.
In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Dr. Stotsky notes that President Obama has been touting his administration’s initiatives in STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — as essential for America’s workforce of the Twenty-first Century. Of course, America should be a leader in these key areas. Still, as Dr. Stotsky explains:
…the basic mission of Common Core, as Jason Zimba, its leading mathematics standards writer, explained at a videotaped board meeting in March 2010, is to provide students with enough mathematics to make them ready for a nonselective college—“not for STEM,” as he put it. During that meeting, he didn’t tell us why Common Core aimed so low in mathematics. But in a September 2013 article published in the Hechinger Report, an education news website affiliated with Columbia University’s Teachers College, Mr. Zimba admitted: “If you want to take calculus your freshman year in college, you will need to take more mathematics than is in the Common Core.”
We are seeing in Common Core what we are seeing in ObamaCare: You have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. Forty-five states were hustled into adopting Common Core. They were pushed and prodded, some would even say bribed, by massive lobbying by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.
This effort did not begin under President Obama, it is true. But this centralizing tendency, this usurpation of state authority, has accelerated under Mr. Obama. His “Race to the Top” initiative provides incentives in which the states get to reclaim more of their own money if they jump through the Obama administration’s hoops. No wonder critics of ObamaCore call this program “Race to the Trough.”
Federal educrats are very keen on testing. We might devise a test for them. What improvement in American education can you attribute to the federal intrusion into the sphere that the Constitution reserves to states and localities? How has the federal government improved a single school in our neighborhood?
President Obama is avid to promote science and technology. Some years ago, he went to Copenhagen with his top science advisers to promote his views on climate change. He was able to persuade the leaders of the world’s governments at this much-touted Global Climate Summit to do exactly what? Little has been heard in the past five years of his accomplishment there. And that was when he was riding high in the polls, buoyed by his freshly-minted Nobel Prize for Peace.
Even his strongest supporters might give him a grade of “incomplete” for his success in getting other world leaders to adopt his stringent demands for change. China and India won’t cooperate in his war on coal, that’s certain. And, of course, their carbon footprints are growing daily.
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss assures us that Barack Obama is the smartest man ever to occupy the Oval Office. That may be, but it was surely curious to come upon this jarring note in the president’s best-selling book, The Audacity of Hope.
“[I] came to appreciate how the earth rotated around the sun and the seasons came and went without any particular exertions on my part.”
Well, Sir, with all due respect: The Earth revolves around the sun. It rotates on its axis. I learned this in fifth grade. I recently taught it to my five-year old grandson. It’s no small matter. Copernicus got really famous for making this scientific breakthrough.
So why are we being lectured and hectored by a man who missed this key science lesson in fifth grade in Jakarta? The idea behind Common Core is that the elites in America know what our children and grandchildren need to know and can effectively design a national curriculum to impart it.
We’ve heard it all before. Can they do this amazing thing? They say: Yes, we can.
And they are just as convincing when they tell us: If you like your children, you can keep them.