November 29, 2021

Common Core Dangerous

We have to understand the difference between government schools and non government schools. If a government school is failing in its mission there are no consequences and it continues to operate. If a non government school is failing in its mission it get shut down.  If you really care about the education of our children you need to learn about Project Follow Through. 

E.D. Hirsch founded the Core Knowledge Foundation in 1986 to promote cultural literacy: An important and worthy endeavor. It saddened me to learn that Dr. Hirsch supports Common Core.

Michelle Rhee, as Chancellor of the D.C. school system made great strides in improving D.C. schools until ousted as the result of a mayoral election in which the teacher’s union supported a candidate who fired her. It saddened me to learn that Michelle Rhee supports Common Core. 

The reason that this program was named Common Core is because the idea of a core curriculum is a good one. That’s why the progressives are advancing it. By using this language they hope to get support from those who would normally oppose anything that they proposed. And it works, as shown by the examples given above.

But a core Curriculum is a double edged sword. The problem is: Who decides what the core will cover.

I’m not a betting man, but I’d bet the farm that schools in Nazi Germany had a core curriculum and that that core curriculum promoted Nazism and Jew hatred.

After winning that bet I’d again bet the farm that for the first hundred years of the United States the schools in this country had the equivalent of a core curriculum. It wasn’t centrally organized but it grew out of a common culture that studied the bible, admired our founders, studied the Constitution, the history that led to its creation and promoted pride in America.

Then as we entered the 20th Century John Dewey introduced what became known as Progressive Education which has resulted in the sorry state of education in America today. It didn’t happen overnight. It takes time for an idea to take root in a country as large as this. Fortunately I was in grade school in the ‘30s and ‘40s as the ideas were spreading to the Teachers Colleges and were only beginning to reach the classroom. (Thomas Sowell who is my age and was in public school in NYC at the same time I was has commented that during that time NYC public schools were among the best in the country.)

In November 1987 I was elected to the Pleasant Valley School Board (PA) for a four year term. While I was on the school board the results of the Third International Math and Science Survey (TIMSS) the largest, most comprehensive, and most rigorous international comparison of education ever undertaken were released. We did poorly. Click for results

Note that while we scored very well in fourth grade science by twelfth grade we were way down.

In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson launched the Head Start preschool program. In an effort to measure the effects of Head, Start Project Follow Through was commissioned. Project Follow Through was the largest and most expensive experiment in education funded by the U.S. federal government that has ever been conducted. The most extensive evaluation of Follow Through data covers the years 1968-1977; however, the program continued to receive funding from the government until 1995.

I have spoken to many educators. I always ask them if they ever heard of Project Follow Through. Not one has ever answered yes. Here is the largest education research project ever undertaken and educators don’t know about it. 

The battle is between two basic approaches to teaching and has divided educators for generations. Each is rooted in its own distinctive philosophy of how children learn. Schools that

have implemented the childcentered approach (sometimes called “constructivist”) have a very different look and feel from schools that have opted for the more traditional, teacher-directed approach (often called “direct instruction” in its most structured form).

Duckworth & Seligman, 2005 indicates that self discipline is twice the indicator of scholastic success as IQ.

Hasn’t anyone noticed that Parochial schools, KIPPS schools, even some public schools that tend to have uniforms and emphasize discipline and order outperform other schools even when the orderly school draws pupils from the most depressed neighborhoods.

If you really care about the education of our children you need to learn about Project Follow Through. Here are four links toward that end:

Why Education Experts Resist Effective Practices

Follow Through: Why Didn’t We?

Honest follow-through needed on this project.

The Story Behind Project Follow Through

Finally, as long as there is a government school monopoly on education things cannot get better. While Home Schooling and Charter Schools challenge this monopoly these efforts are about as powerful as a flea on an elephant.

We have to understand the difference between government schools and non government schools. If a government school is failing in its mission there are no consequences and it continues to operate. If a non government school is failing in its mission it get shut down.

It took A hundred year for education to decline to where it is now. We can’t reverse the trend overnight. But, we will never reverse the trend if we continue to ignore effective practices and don’t break the government school monopoly.

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