I have been intrigued with the debate over Common Core. In my opinion, many comments in the public square about having standards and helping students achieve mastery of the subjects miss the point. The problem is the not the process or teaching methods, but the content of the curriculum.
Consider this question on a Core test (from my grandson's practice tests while studying for the exam):
What is the cause of poverty in third world countries?
A) Large families and large farms
B) Large families and small farms
C) Large families and no farms
How does one answer a question like that? Is it learning or propaganda?
What kind of attitude is a child supposed to take away from this?
Are we supposed to swallow the Common Core pill because governors, corporations, teacher unions and experts have put their stamp of approval on it? Are we supposed to be impressed that Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Bill Gates are in favor of the Common Core curriculum? Why is the federal government so invested in this program that they will withhold millions of dollars to punish states that won't adopt this curriculum?
We are told that the states and local people can adjust the curriculum as they see fit. When Common Core is adopted, might another decree come down with a bait and switch and require a different agenda to be taught with this format?
Let's ask different questions: What kinds of people will our children become if we follow Common Core to its conclusion? Will they value life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for themselves and everyone else? Will they feel grateful for this country and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that make our way of life possible? Will they feel it is a privilege to work and create their own lives and not rely on someone else to give them sustenance and tell them what to think?
Will they develop character traits of honesty, hard work, creativity, problem solving, truth seeking and life-long learning? Will they understand how our government works and their place in contributing to society? Will they learn responsible compassion of helping others stand on their own two feet and not just throw other people's money at problems? Will they be free to live and worship according to their consciences and allow others the same privilege? Will they be responsible spouses and parents? Will they believe they can excel in the free enterprise system?
If Common Core is so great, why are parents not scrambling to have it implemented? How does the public find out what the curriculum is? Why are some of those who find out what Common Core contains turning away and leaving teaching rather than implementing these unproven principles?
Utah is filled with good teachers and parents who want the best for our children. Our students excel in many ways. Results matter. Content matters. Curriculum matters.
I trust that parents, teachers, students and the good people of Utah, including our local and state officers, can figure this out.
VerLynn Brink graduated from BYU in piano and organ performance in 1965 and has a Master's degree in choral conducting and vocal studies from Colorado State University. She has taught piano lessons since she was 14.
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