More on the Common Core: Who Decides?

Posted on March 11, 2013 by Jeff Bloom


At the moment, Arizona is pursuing legislation that will require all faculty members in colleges of education to receive training in the Common Core Standards and that will require the Common Core to be included in their teacher education courses. Such a move is frightening at so many levels, I barely know where to start. This move is just another indication that Academic Freedom (i.e., a subset of freedom of speech that has been a foundation for intellectual inquiry among teachers and students) is disappearing. Next, we’ll be burning books and firing teachers for teaching critically important ideas and ways of thinking that are not in the Common Core. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Or, have the limitations of school curriculum already omitted knowledge that is not a part of the agenda running this country?

We seem to be putting the Common Core on a pedestal with no memory as to how this set of standards is yet another educational fad. In a few more years, we’ll come up with another one, and another after that. But, this fad is seriously flawed to the point of actually being dangerous. On top of the inherent dangers of the Common Core Standards themselves (which will be discussed further here and in future blog entries), politicians are compounding the dangers by mandating their use at multiple levels of education. These very same politicians have failed at schooling. In Arizona, only about 16% of the legislators have a college degree. Nationwide the average is 25%. (SEE this New York Times article for further details: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/education/13legis.html?_r=0. Yet, these politicians continue to make decisions about education as if they are the experts. Of course, the rampant misconception across the country is the notion that we are all experts in schooling, since all but a few of us have attended school, and therefore we all know about teaching and learning. However, what legislators and the general public don’t know includes: the psychology of learning, motivation, and thinking; the dynamics and theoretical foundations of teaching and schooling; the theoretical foundations and analysis of curriculum; creating classroom communities where children are active producers of knowledge, rather than passive consumers of disconnected knowledge; the social foundations of teaching, learning, and schooling; and the wide array of teaching approaches and techniques for various subject matter areas. We have highly educated teachers who have learned the foundational knowledge and skills in these areas and who continue to learn from their own practices and the literature about teaching and learning. But, unlike places like Finland (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html), we don’t trust our teachers and we don’t allow them to make decisions about what children need to learn. We’ve tied their hands behind their backs. The Common Core and the onslaught of prescribed curriculums that are sure to follow are more knots.

Among most of us who actually study and critically analyze education, teaching, learning, and curriculum, there are basic questions that we always ask. In this and later blog entries, I will introduce and ponder some of these basic questions. The first question follows:

Who decides what knowledge is worth learning?

In the case of the Common Core, one person is responsible: David Coleman, a multi-millionaire from the corporate sector. He has single-handedly, with the financial help of GE Foundation’s $18,000,000 and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s $4,100,000, taken over the reigns of American education. The Common Core Standards are not the result of educators coming together to write what they consider to be important knowledge. The Common Core is the result of one man’s effort, with the help of 27 complicit individuals, mostly from the political and business sectors. The National Governors Association also was heavily involved. This organization created the Common Core and has pushed for states to adopt the standards without ever having seen them ( http://arizonafreedomalliance.ning.com/group/action-alerts-changed-frequently/forum/topics/common-core-update-action-130227-2000?xg_source=msg_mes_network).

In addition to taking over American K—12 education, Coleman has taken over the presidency of the College Board. He plans on re-aligning the SAT’s to reflect the Common Core. The whole of American education is now under the control of one person. Almost all of the state governors have bought into the Common Core. Teacher educators and college and university presidents have sold out. And, now conformity to the Common Core is being legislated.

Many of the top educational researchers have been co-opted into this massive brainwashing machine as a review committee. I’m greatly saddened to see some of the some of the researchers I’ve admired on the list of the brainwashed and co-opted. What a disappointment. Education is now officially a corporate entity.

There is no room for creativity, critical thinking, environmental literacy, social justice, and education for and about democracy. Teachers and children are about to be reduced to automatons. No thinking allowed. Just learn how to take 20 times more high-stakes tests!

For further information, look at some of these links:

Diane Ravitch’s article:

Diane Ravitch’s blog:

Substance News:

Susan Ohanian’s commentary:

Joseph Lucedo’s comment to Susan Ohanian’s blog:


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