Common Core and Universal Design for Learning

February 27, 2012 04:35

We no longer teach a common culture, common identity, common true history, or values such as hard work, charity, morals, virtue, and the rule of law. The new freedom among the youth is anarchy. Secular education and “green” environmentalism in support of mother earth has become the new religion.


By Ileana Johnson


I was having a cup of inflation-stricken chili that looked a few ounces smaller than before – the Michelle food-police with her holier-than-thou dictates of nutrition must have convinced the owners of the chain to change portion size while increasing the price.


I became privy to the loud conversation of three young women in their early twenties from the nearby table. One was bemoaning the lack of a raise in three years to her $44,000 a year teaching job – she had had enough and was going to look for another job. I was wondering if anybody sent her the memo that 25 percent of college graduates in her age group, 25 and younger, are unemployed and would gladly take her job.


High school teaching and a library science degree were the source of their displeasure and the list was quite long. Who decided that filing books in a library by the Dewey system is a science?


Dealing with a liberal education curriculum, demanding administrators, unruly students who challenge any authority and come unprepared to school every day, placating helicopter parents who hover at school all day, objecting to anything American, demanding progressivism, multiculturalism in teaching methodology, or parents who only care if their children have three free meals a day away from home, can be challenging. Complicating the problem is the lack of subject matter knowledge of some teachers and the political correctness required in the classroom. All can make someone’s life quite miserable at work.


Making only $44,000 in early twenties is certainly an outrage for young people in the Obama-entitled society.  After all, they were promised a six-figure salary by their college advisor and plenty of jobs in spite of their unemployable field of study. Such overt “social injustice” can only be rectified by confiscating wealth from the rich and distributing it to the young. It is a right now to have everything that someone else has, regardless of effort or age. Why wait and build up a career and experience when you can demand full rights here and now?


You can always take to the streets with the Occupiers and burn American flags, deface buildings, cars, and squat in the middle of a busy city or a beautiful park to make your demands known. If you are a nuisance to the taxpayers who must dodge your flea-infested camp daily on their way to work while they can no longer use the park they are paying for, and you cause millions of dollars in public property damage, so be it, America is rich and can afford it.


We no longer teach a common culture, common identity, common true history, or values such as hard work, charity, morals, virtue, and the rule of law. The new freedom among the youth is anarchy. Secular education and “green” environmentalism in support of mother earth has become the new religion.


Greek universities are offering protection to the young anarchists and rioters. If they make it to campuses, the police cannot arrest them without a warrant from the university presidents who, of course, refuse to issue them. Education is encouraging anarchy and lawlessness in Greece.


Goethe, a classical liberal, warned us that democracy is incompatible with liberty. “Legislators and revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are psychopaths.” Political centralization would lead to the destruction of culture. (Hans Hermann Hoppe, Ludwig von Mises Institute)


Common Core national standards, another President Obama brainchild, will implement among schools a Race to the Top competition through federal grants. If states adopt his Common Core standards, they will be exempt from the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates.


According to the Brookings Institution, “The empirical evidence suggests that the Common Core will have little effect on American students’ achievement. The nation will have to look elsewhere for ways to improve its schools.”


The authority to create and set standards belongs to states and school districts, not the federal government. Better yet, parents should have the power to give their children the type of education that best suits their children’s needs and abilities.


The Department of Education does not know best – it paid two Washington, D.C. organizations, the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices and The Council of Chief State School Officers, to come up with the Common Core national standards. (Pioneer Institute)


According to Lance Izumi, author of “Obama’s Education Takeover,” the President “strong-armed the states into adopting these standards through a number of devices, principally through the Race to the Top competition through federal grants.”


Awards in Race to the Top $4 billion “historic” grant scheme will go to states “leading coherent, compelling, and comprehensive education reform.” It was authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


“Assessments have to be developed that are valid, support and inform instruction, provide accurate information about what students know and can do, and measure student achievement against standards designed to ensure that all students gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and the workplace.” (Race to the Top)


My translation is, dilute education, water down curriculum, force everybody into one “successful mold,” and receive an undeserved pass, a high school diploma and a worthless college degree. Exceptionalism is discouraged; poor students are rewarded, while achievers are punished.


In my 30 years experience as a teacher, the College of Education came up with many experimental programs that promised to be a breakthrough in education and ended up as another giant waste of taxpayer dollars.


“As the nation seeks to maintain our international competitiveness, ensure all students, regardless of background, have access to a high quality education, and prepare all students for college, work and citizenship, these standards are an important foundation for our collective work.” (Arne Duncan on Core Standards)


Searching deeper into the Core Standards, the true intent is clear, “all children can and should learn to high achievement standards.” Policymakers must “endorse, fund, and recognize assessment regimes that accomplish this goal,” Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning. Really? All children can learn to high achievement standards? Our minds, IQs, learning styles, and God-given talents are so equal now that everything is possible by government fiat?


Apparently, standardized tests “fail to produce a valid and reliable measurement of what significant minorities of students actually know, especially students with disabilities, English language learners or those from varied cultural backgrounds. Without accurate measurement, accountability systems are not only ineffective, they are unethical.” (Core Standards)


It will be a fascistic world in which every person will be forced into a government-dictated and enforced, dumbed-down mold, where everybody is equally intelligent, equally capable, equally trained, equally able, and equally educated with a diploma on the wall that is not worth the paper with the fancy intaglio printing.


Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh is a freelance writer (US ACTION News, Canada Free Press, Romanian Conservative), author, radio commentator, and speaker. Her book, “Echoes of Communism, is available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Short essays describe health care, education, poverty, religion, social engineering, and confiscation of property. Visit her website,

Dr. Johnson can be reached at:


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Some background on common core from Neal McCluskey at Cato @ Liberty:

Apparently, if you try to undo something the feds want you to do, they’ll slap you around until you confess they’ve never threatened you. At least, that’s how Education Secretary Arne Duncan rolls when it comes to national curriculum standards:

Following is a statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on a legislative proposal in South Carolina to block implementation of the Common Core academic standards:

“The idea that the Common Core standards are nationally-imposed is a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy. The Common Core academic standards were both developed and adopted by the states, and they have widespread bipartisan support. GOP leaders like Jeb Bush and governors Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Bill Haslam have supported the Common Core standards because they realize states must stop dummying down academic standards and lying about the performance of children and schools. In fact, South Carolina lowered the bar for proficiency in English and mathematics faster than any state in the country from 2005 to 2009, according to research by the National Center for Education Statistics.

“That’s not good for children, parents, or teachers. I hope South Carolina lawmakers will heed the voices of teachers who supported South Carolina’s decision to stop lowering academic standards and set a higher bar for success. And I hope lawmakers will continue to support the state’s decision to raise standards, with the goal of making every child college- and career-ready in today’s knowledge economy.”

I don’t really need to go any further than the statement itself to prove that, contrary to “Fat Tony” Duncan’s protestations, it is not a “conspiracy theory” to say that the Common Core is “nationally imposed.” But let’s rehearse the litany one more time:

  • In 2008 the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, Inc.—the main Common Core architects—called for federal “incentives” to get states to adopt “a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts.”
  • President Obama’s $4.35-billion Race to the Top required that states, to be fully competitive for grants, adopt national standards.
  • Race to the Top contained $330 million that Washington is using to fund development of two national tests to go with the Common Core.
  • The President’s “blueprint” to reauthorize No Child Left Behind would make national standards the backbone of federal accountability.
  • To get waivers from No Child Left Behind’s most onerous provisions, a state has to either adopt the Common Core or have a state college system declare that the state’s standards are “college- and career-ready.” Of course, this came after almost every state had already adopted the Common Core.

Why is Duncan lashing out? Quite possibly, he’s reacting to a recent spate of research and commentary attacking the Common Core based on its highly dubious legality, quality, and odds of success. That South Carolina is considering backing out—though the Palmetto State effort fell short in a Senate subcommittee—might have pushed Duncan over the edge. I mean, how dare those people try to buck what Duncan and his boss were not in any way trying to get them to do!

Unfortunately, as failure in the South Carolina committee reinforces—and I warned last week—it is unlikely that many states will formally boot what they’ve already adopted. The time to fight to keep the Common Core out of states was before Race to the Top decisions were made, as we at the Center for Educational Freedom did. Of course, it was off most people’s radars during that crucial time because that was exactly what national-standards supporters wanted. And it’s what their ongoing dissembling about Washington’s heavy hand is intended to continue.

Thankfully, that strategy seems to not be working so well anymore.

Neal McCluskey is the associate director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom. Prior to arriving at Cato, McCluskey served in the U.S. Army, taught high school English, and was a freelance reporter covering municipal government and education in suburban New Jersey. More recently, he was a policy analyst at the Center for Education Reform. McCluskey is the author of the book Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education, and his writings have appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, and Forbes.

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