Common Core and the educational-industrial complex

The war on public education, part 2

In 2009, the Obama administration launched Common Core, which was a devastating attack on the entire K-12 curriculum and on all teachers, students and parents. It was called “Race to the Top.”

Common Core was developed to scrap the entire curriculum of 41 — now 44 — states which at that time accepted billions of dollars in federal funding. The National Governors Association and the heads of state education departments in all those states bowed to the Common Core “standards” and curricula.

The development of the curricula was spearheaded by the super-rich: Charles and David Koch, Bill and Melinda Gates, ExxonMobil, Lockheed-Martin, the Ford Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Boeing, the Walmart Foundation and Pearson Publishing Co. The last became the monopolist publisher of all Common Core K-12 textbooks. The Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council funded and perpetuated Common Core in every state. (Truthout, Sept. 6, 2013)

Pearson Publishing reported revenues of approximately $9 billion in 2010. “Over the past 15 years, through … investment and acquisitions, Pearson has become the leading education company in the world.” (Huffington Post, March 19, 2013)

The Gates Foundation was responsible for curriculum and standards development for the math and English language arts for all Common Core K-12 students. The foundation created the inBloom network, which stored all the data of the millions of children taking Common Core exams in a “cloud.” The federal government has now taken over managing the cloud.

Whose standards are they, anyway?

New York state, which is currently leading the resistance to Common Core, receives $900 million from the federal government in RTTT funding. At a time when wages are low, long-term unemployment is growing and the tax base in every state is falling, fear of losing this money amounts to extortion.

Not a single one of the 135 people who wrote the early childhood Common Core standards was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional. (Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2013) In the upper grades, literature and poetry have been nearly eliminated. Each moment of a Common Core lesson is “mapped” out, allowing for no creativity. Teachers report children are bored and overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and stress.

Teachers are quitting the profession. Education analyst Diane Ravitch says on her blog that “[T]the instruction of our students has been reduced to district directives putting our students at the mercy of mind-numbing computer tutorials. … [T]hrough all of this, we have been slowly and systematically robbed of the relationship we have with our students.”

Kindergarteners across the country had to take midterms this January. First graders have four to five tests per week. At a meeting of more than 200 people against Common Core in Plainview, N.Y., an 11-year-old said she had to do homework until midnight some nights and just “wanted to be a child and go outside and play.”

Eight principals from New York state wrote, “We know that many children cried during or after testing, and others vomited or lost control of their bowels or bladders. Others simply gave up. One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, ‘This is too hard’ and ‘I can’t do this’ throughout his test booklet.” (The Daily Caller, Nov. 25, 2013)

In many states, parents are organizing to resist this educational disaster. New York state Commissioner of Education John King had to abandon a speaking campaign promoting Common Core last fall after he faced infuriated parents and teachers in several meetings around the state.

The nearly 3,000-delegate body of the New York State United Teachers recently passed a vote of “no confidence” against King. Citing the “failed” rollout of Common Core academic standards that base teacher evaluations upon student test scores, the federation, representing 1,200 unions and 600,000 members across the state, withdrew its support for Common Core standards in New York. (Newsday, April 5)

To the capitalists and their obliging politicians, education is just another opportunity to make more profits. If the vast majority of children fail their tests, they still can bank the proceeds. The ruling class sends their own children to private schools that do not teach to odious Common Core standards.

But the anger of parents, students and teachers is growing. Common Core is a failure. When the capitalists decided to demean workers’ children, scorn their parents and debase the teachers, they showed their complete disregard for the entire working class. Working-class anger against the destruction of the public schools is uniting parents, students and teachers across the country against the ruling class and the government that is forcing Common Core upon our children.

Heather Cottin has been a teacher in public high schools and colleges for 48 years. She is also an administrator for the Facebook group “Radical Moms.”

Part 1: The war on public education