Rotten Core

Because it doesn't affect any of my kids' schools, I've been paying only slight attention to Common Core, the new national education standards. I've been reading up on it lately because my friends are posting panicky comments about their experiences with it about as often as they post notices they've lost their healthcare or their deductible has trebled thanks to Obamacare. Which is to say: constantly, more often than cute cat videos.

Sold as a way of raising standards, what Common Core actually does is gut any study in the humanities. Most literature is dropped in favor of "fact-based" reading -- by which is meant stuff you might need to know to perform specific tasks and materialist propaganda. Even though we elected Obama twice, the education establishment doesn't find Americans ignorant, unreasoning, government-dependent and pliable enough, so it's aiming to create a form of education that treats young minds as machines suited for grunt work. They won't be educated so much as herded, tranquilized, and then hooked up to download information from the hive mind.

But don't make my word for it. Read this unprecedented letter 132 College Professors (several of whom I number among my friends and know the quality of their thought and work) sent each American Catholic Bishop.

What's most astonishing about Common Core isn't that it's awful and betrays at bottom an attitude of despair about young people (because who can be astonished that America's educational establishment is foisting something awful on us, when they've been going standards-ever-downward on us for 50 years?). It's that it assumes most people won't go to college and admits that it will prepare them at best for community college at the same time the President goes around the country talking about how vital a college education is and how he's giving kids money for college. Fat lot of good it will do them if they can't qualify for it! Just as Americans were told they could keep their health plans only to discover that was an outright lie, the college education promise turns out to be a complete fraud too (not that it wasn't already in economic terms, but I mean people are being sold something there is no honest intent to give them).

Nothing wrong with community college or trade school, or no college, as the letter from the professors makes clear. But those matters are up to the kid and his family and his natural aptitudes and his vocation. It's not up to government planners to pre-decide for everyone who goes where. And it's not up to them to decide that people who eventually settle in blue collar jobs must never develop their imaginations or be exposed to the arts. My God, the American stereotype is the humble Italian immigrant who goes home to listen to opera records or the boy from the backwoods log cabin who teaches himself on the Bible and Shakespeare and grows up to be President of the United States and saves the union.

Thank heavens, as I learn in the letter, many states have put Common Core on "pause," and parents are fighting it tooth and nail.