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In her April 14 opinion piece, “Myths and realities surrounding the Common Core standards” Kaycee Eckhardt impugns the character of opposing voices — a tactic commonly used by advocates of one side to silence the advocates of the opposing side. Then, having ended the debate, the impugner’s agenda can go forward.

Why would Eckhardt want to end the debate? What is it about Common Core’s federalized education standards that she would prefer we not discuss?

So, let’s discuss it. I’ve done some research on Common Core and I have a lot of questions, beginning with the idea of “transformational education.”

Are Common Core standards based on transformational education?

What is transformational education, what is its goal, and who developed it?

Is transformational education geared toward systematically altering our children by transforming their psychological makeup, belief systems and behaviors?

Would the values of these “transformed” children be less similar to the values of, say, their great-grandparents and more similar to the values of the “transformationalists?”

If transformational education employed nationwide, would it produce “group-think” conformists?

In the past, when used by other nations, would this technique of transformational education have been called “re-education?”

When this technique was used by other nations, were the results considered to be positive or negative for the health of that nation and its people?

Next, I would like to explore the priorities of four groups whose stake in our children’s education is high. These groups are school board decision-makers, teachers, parents and Common Core advocates.

The priority of school board decision-makers is to assure a quality education for every student in their district. This leaves them vulnerable to the persuasive arguments of “education experts” who pressure for the adoption of this or that program. In the case of Common Core, it may be true that school districts in 46 states, including Wyoming, have been persuaded to adopt it.

But it is also true that many of them are reconsidering their decisions based on new information gleaned from their own research. It’s not too late for Wyoming.

The priority of teachers is to help their students achieve their highest learning. This leaves them vulnerable to “education experts” whose arguments don’t always fit with what they know from their own work with students. If they speak out, they are impugned, as in the case of Eckhardt, as being afraid of change, averse to the time required to learn the new method, egocentric, inflexible and unwilling to be innovative, in contrast to, I suppose, Common Core advocates who are ego-free, flexible and innovative. Opponents are characterized as naysayers who gripe and whine, impeding the early stages of Common Core’s implementation, and bickerers who gum up the works by questioning Common Core’s content rather than facing its necessity.

Not wanting their reputations sullied, many fall silent. Their hope now becomes finding ways to mitigate the harm that Common Core would cause their students.

The priority of parents is, undoubtedly, the love they have for their children. Conflicting information about education choices makes it nearly impossible for them to choose which one has the most merit.

With Common Core, parents from around the country are asking: If I have questions about what my child is learning, why can’t I ask his teacher about it anymore?

Why is my child being taught that communism is good?

Will the new methods of teaching math in elementary school hinder my child’s future success in advanced mathematics such as calculus?

Through Common Core, will the Department of Education engage in “data mining?” For what purpose and with whom will the mined data be shared? Why does the Department of Education want to know my child’s religion, political affiliation and bus stop times?

The priority of advocates of Common Core is more difficult to unravel. For decades now, members from both political parties have promoted nationwide curricular conformity, trotting out one federalized program after another, including George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind.” None has shown success. So, why would we rush to adopt another one?

Instead of replacing one failed federalized program with another, why not return to planning education programs at the local and state level as we once did? Choose any era when education was planned closer to home and examine students’ textbooks, writings and other materials. Make note of the high quality of their critical-thinking skills. Notice the breadth and depth of what we expected our students to learn. And, what they did learn.

Some may say that this solution is simplistic. That we no longer live in that kind of society. Perhaps that argument is what convinced us in the first place that we must, absolutely must, adopt federalized education planning. So we did. Again and again. For decades now. OK, remind me of the definition of insanity.

If advocates for Common Core continue to insist on its implementation, the next question becomes: Why? What is Common Core’s real priority?

I encourage those who question the wisdom of Common Core to keep it up. If you are met with impugning tactics to shut you up, remember you are in good company. Stand together and refuse to be silenced.

Barbe lives in Casper.


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