Explaining Common Core: And why you don’t want this in your schools

The topics of Outcome Based Education (OBE) and national education standards were particularly explosive during the 1990s when the public first began to understand the direction progressives were taking education. Largely thanks to the whistle-blowing of people like Charlotte Iserbyt (the website for her seminal work, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, is www.deliberatedumbingdown.com), there developed pockets of resistance. States, if they were able to refuse the substantial financial incentives offered for their compliance, could opt out of this problematic new education system.

Fast forward to 2009. The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers had formed the Common Core State Standards Initiative to develop a set of English language arts and mathematics standards for the country. Still theoretically voluntary (all but five states – Alaska, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, and Nebraska – are implementing the standards), if a state adopts the standards, they replace any local curriculum.

Aside from disliking the one-size-fits-all nature of national standards, a number of groups have tackled the enterprise of explaining why a federal takeover of every local school system, public or private, secular or parochial, is not in the best interests of the United States…and of looking deeply into the agenda of these standards.

In Oklahoma, three women – Jenni White, Lynn Habluetzel, and Jo Joyce – have written Common Core State Standards and Race to the Top An Introduction to Marxism 101: Restore Oklahoma Public Education. The entire text can be read, gratis, in various formats by visiting the website .

It’s quite a useful resource, providing a concise history of American public education and asking: “Since 1965, states have been given over 118 BILLION dollars (in addition to those supplied at the state/county level) through ESEA [the Elementary and Secondary Education Act] has supported a system in which 1 in 7 adults are functionally illiterate. How have we progressed from a basis of local control over local education and nearly 100% literacy rates to the point where states are signing on to a Federal initiative (to be funded by the Department of Education via ‘Stimulus’ {ARRA} funds) to create national educational standards (Statism)?”

Marxism Indoctrination Center AheadThe people behind this shift very intentionally – as revealed by their words and actions – are seeking the creation of a comprehensive system that addresses not merely education but job training and placement, medical care, and a host of additional social services and “benefits,” managed in vast data banks that can track an individual from birth to grave. White, Habluetzel, and Joyce explain that the current federal expenditure on education (14% of the national budget) is not merely “illegal” but pushes a curriculum that has failed students over and over again.

Concluding chapters demonstrate some of the invasive aspects of this national education system, quoting from various student questionnaires and challenging the myth of “beneficial” early childhood programs. “It IS time to REFORM education,” the authors insist, “but not as a re-package of every single failed educational program since the beginning of ESEA in 1965. Education in America should affirm the ideals of American Exceptionalism as ingrained in the Constitution by our American Forefathers and expound upon the traditional methods of education that created that ideal and spawned a nation of literate, entrepreneurs and the greatest nation in 5000 years.”

From St. Louis, Betsy Kraus has prepared a research report titled “Catholic Children in Grave Danger: A Report on Common Core in Catholic Schools” (the full report can be read at this link)

Kraus begins with a rather extensive list of “dangers” she sees in Common Core, including the denial of “absolute truth in God,” “making all truth relative and determined by group consensus,” “by-passing the free will of the child through mind control and behavioral techniques,” “using a revolutionary educational system based on Marxist dialectic theory, devised by multiple continental thinkers, perfected by Transformational Marxists, and used in Soviet and U.S. classrooms,” and at least a dozen others.

Logo of the Common Core Catholic Identify Initiative (click to go to their site)
Logo of the Common Core Catholic Identify Initiative (click to go to their site)

Nevertheless, Common Core Standards, she writes, are currently in over 100 U.S. dioceses, never mind public school districts, introduced through the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII) and its accompanying “National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.” “These Standards are now being incorporated into diocesan education plans under such titles as ‘Pathways to Excellence’, ‘Mission Advancement Initiative’, and ‘Lighting the Way: A Vision of Catholic Education’.”

Because Kraus is not so much concerned with academic success, she focuses on the consequences of “critical thinking” as a Hegelian/Marxist Dialectic designed to re-educate students from traditional to “global” values. She covers some of the same history as the Oklahomans do but is particularly concerned about modern education’s philosophical threads leading toward acceptance of a totalitarian and atheistic society.

She is also at pains to contrast the broader social implications of Common Core with Catholic social teachings. To take an example, “sustainable development,” an element of Common Core’s package, seeks to limit human populations and eventually eliminate private property and the financial independence it insures. “Conflict resolution,” another component of the Common Core package, fosters a group-think “based on religious synthesis and syncretism.” One student is quoted, saying: “You can’t be part of the consensus process and keep your faith in God… people learn to compromise individual beliefs and ideas in order to work for ‘common goals.’…Working together as a team, (soon) using the same currency, and having the same leader(s), the same ideals, and the same minds, all over the world, is all a part of the global government that the United Nations proposes.”

One marvelous section explains how students are being trained as opposed to educated. Kraus, like Charlotte Iserbyt, understand the pedagogical failure of OBE as deliberate, an effective way of producing more compliant worker for a “planned economy.” Another section, appendix-style, lists the major political players promoting Common Core and some of the political players and educators working to oppose it. Kraus offers these as an introduction to her conclusion that Catholic schools must refuse federal funding and the mandatory curricula that come with it.

Other materials: The website, Utahns Against Common Core has an extremely informative website that includes the video (www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/clinical-mental-health-therapist-interviewed) of a clinical mental health therapist who analyzes of Common Core materials from her unique perspective. Another website, Truth in American Education, has links to the Common Core standards and many useful resources, including an interactive map for locating groups of other concerned citizens by state.

If you followed the national education reform movement two decades ago, you’ll quickly realize that one is looking at pretty much the same package in a new wrapper. A few new names, new legislation…but the same old program. It’s just as problematic now as it was then.


Ed. Note.  Perusing the CCII website, and the logo above reveal that the initials themselves are CCCII.  What is the fascination of these Marxists with that combination of CCCP?

ussr passport

7 Responses to Explaining Common Core: And why you don’t want this in your schools

  1. I am a committed Catholic, and I taught ‘to standards’ in English instruction for the last ten years of my teaching life, to very great success. In a field like English, and as standards were expressed by New American Schools and others, they have nothing to do with relativism and everything to do with a firm rubric, the exact opposite of relativism. In other fields, perhaps they are used to push modernism. In English, they are used to preserve the opposite, and kids really benefit from them when used correctly. I used a recognized model for the type of writing we were working on, persuasive essay or memoir or others, guided the kids through a breakdown of it by sustained discussion and note-keeping on that discussion, developed from that guided discussion a rubric they understood well (that is, concretely) from doing the breakdown, then, applying the rubric, we’d use a projector and write a sample together, and then they were held to the rubric in writing one of their own. We looked at openings and endings, argument development in the middle, sentence, punctuation, and vocabulary variety, and usage errors. To get the A, they had to produce A work according to the rubric. My kids’ test scores on essay exams went sky high, and it was real achievement as measured by objective standards. These were inner city high school kids in Pittsburgh. They had attitude. The rubric we’d constructed together helped fight it. So I find my experience difficult to align with this op ed.

  2. I have been thinking about this topic ever since I commented as above, that my experience in teaching with standards in place like those in English was entirely positive, the opposite of ‘relative,’ and explosively effective with all kids, including the typical inner-city youngster. Standards work–in a Catholic state. That’s the thing. In a state which promotes ‘religious freedom’ then certain standards, not necessarily those applicable to the structure of a good persuasive essay, for example, are going to reflect that pressure. Certain standards in the secular state are going to be poison.

    So I am left standing here with my experience that standards work, and in fact are just about the only thing that reliably works with our kids, with my understanding of the post, that standards kill, in a secular state, in our state. Both things are true, and something has to give. And that is why I write and pray and talk on the bus and in com boxes and in my sleep about the absolute necessity for the Restoration. We abandoned it, in practice just about as soon as the Appellants in England could kill efforts for the Restoration, and formally, not until Vatican II, but all those intervening five hundred years have been a steady drum beat of defeatism. I can bet you, reader, share it. “We can’t do it, so therefore we don’t have to do it.” Not! We have to do it, for a thousand reasons, teaching to standards is possibly in the lowest quartile of urgencies, the survival of our species right up there at the top. We’re going to die from secularism. So we have to do it, and it will be terrible, and there will be deaths for it. The early martyrs did not look at the pagan state and conclude there was no chance for Christianity to win and so they were free to throw a little incense at those other gods. Neither do we. We must take up the cause of Christ the King.

    For that, in this country, we need a third party like FIDESZ in Hungary. I urge you to google it, to cut your way through the thicket of European (and Vatican!!) disinformation, and see what they are attempting. Please! Join me in calling for a third party whose intention is to re-write our constitution to explicitly include Christianity, no matter how difficult it may be! One of those difficulties will be keeping the Catholic state as our ultimate goal while making allies of evangelical protestantism and other religious-minded residents. But if anti-secular Islam can do that, as in Egypt, for example, keeping the Islamic state as their ultimate goal while overthrowing the secularized regime for a nominally religious state, and if Hungary can do that as they have in the last twenty years, then with the help of God, so can we.

  3. This is a wonderful article! Just wondering, I have tried to find any information on Betsy Kraus. Can you tell me about her background and credentials?

  4. […] The controversy over Common Core State Standards that is raging across the country has not spared Catholic dioceses, which are also wrestling over whether to implement them. When challenged, some dioceses point to the support they have received from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the bishops’ national bureaucratic arm. (recall our coverage of Catholic Common Core Initiative here) […]

We want your opinion, too!