by Jane Robbins
From Fortune magazine come two stories about the saga of Common Core and the presidential candidates’ approach to the national standards. One piece identifies four candidates — Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee — who have flipped from supporting to opposing the national standards. Bush really shouldn’t be listed here, because the only change he’s made is to stop using the term “Common Core” when describing what he supports.
In any event, note that all of these candidates focus primarily on the federal involvement in pushing the standards. They seem to think that if the feds would bow out, Common Core would be acceptable to parents. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of parental outrage about the entire Common Core scheme — the hijacking of education by special interests, the resurrection of failed “fuzzy math” pedagogy, the sidelining of classic literature in favor of EPA regulations, the massive data-collection, and on and on. Republican grassroots who are knowledgeable about Common Core are unlikely to give these candidates a pass based on their eleventh-hour conversions.
The other Fortune article is a lengthy analysis of Big Business’s role in advancing the Common Core scheme, and the unexpected opposition from parents who have seen the results of Common Core at their kitchen table and from others who have read the Constitution. Unfortunately, “lengthy” doesn’t mean “thorough” or “balanced.” The author used the template that has become de rigeur: The Common Core standards are high quality, they resulted from a state-led process, and the opposition is based on emotion rather than fact. Apparently, no evidence, regardless of how overwhelming, can persuade the mainstream media to stop parroting the proponents’ talking points.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this article is the comments of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who took a leading role in propagandizing for the Core (if Tillerson knows anything at all about effective education, that information didn’t make it into the article). Tillerson articulates the “children as widgets” view of education and whines that schools aren’t churning out enough obedient entry-level workers for his company:
But Tillerson articulates his view in a fashion unlikely to resonate with the average parent. “I’m not sure public schools understand that we’re their customer – that we, the business community, are your customer,” said Tillerson . . . “What they don’t understand is they are producing a product at the end of that high school graduation. . . . Now is that product in a form that we, the customer, can use it? Or is it defective, and we’re not interested? [American schools] have got to step up the performance level – or they’re basically turning out defective products that have no future.”
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen — the Common Core view of the world. Our children are products to be cured of “defects” and molded to fit whatever Big Business needs, not human beings whose education should teach them truth, equip them to take their place as free citizens in our republic, and help them fulfill their God-given potential. Big Business seeks widgets, and progressive government seeks “global citizens” with correct attitudes. What parents seek — and have the right to demand — doesn’t make the cut. Is it any wonder the pro-Common Core candidates are elbowing each other for room at the bottom of the polls?
Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project.