Climate Change and Common Core

CommonCoreScienceRequirementsHave your kids come home from school recently and said that they have to measure your family’s carbon footprint and come up with ways to shrink it? This is one assignment described in a recent Wall Street Journal article (behind the paywall) as being part of the new Next Generation Science Standards, the new name for the Common Core Science Standards.

An article by Lennie Jarratt, project manager for education reform at The Heartland Institute points out that Illinois is among 13 states and the District of Columbia which have adopted the Next Generation standards.
The Journal article states that:

“While publicly billed as the result of a state-led process, the new science standards rely on a framework developed by the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council. That is the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences that works closely with the federal government on most scientific matters.
All of the National Research Council’s work around global warming proceeds from the initial premise of its 2011 report, “America’s Climate Choices” which states that “climate change is already occurring, is based largely on human activities, and is supported by multiple lines of scientific evidence.” From the council’s perspective, the science of climate change has already been settled. Not surprisingly, global climate change is one of the disciplinary core ideas embedded in the Next Generation of Science Standards, making it required learning for students in grade, middle and high school.”

James Taylor, senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute explains it further:

“The common thread is from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation. They are pushing one side of the scientific discussion. They are pushing an alarmist agenda that says humans are the major cause of global warming without giving any context about the fact that the warming is not very significant, the temperatures are abnormally cool rather than warm right now, and the fact that natural factors play a major role and probably a dominant role in recent climate change, recent global warming.”

Common Core was imposed upon our schools, not by legislative action or the vote of local school systems, or after soliciting parental input, but by the unilateral action of the Illinois State Board of Education.

Common Core is a set of math, English and now science standards developed largely with Gates Foundation money and pushed by the Obama administration.

The standards define what every schoolchild should learn each year, from first grade through twelfth, and the package includes teacher evaluations tied to federally funded tests designed to ensure that schools teach to Common Core.
While it may seem that this represents progress in education, a few things need to be pointed out:

  • Common Core is not a “state-led initiative”. Implementation of Common Core was led by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), both of which are private, DC-based lobbying groups, which accepted grants from the Gates Foundation and other private organizations for purposes of developing the program.
  • Common Core was pitched to the states by the Obama administration by conditioning eligibility for Race to the Top funding and waivers from No Child Left Behind on adoption of the initiative.
  • The final Common Core standards were adopted on June 2, 2010. Illinois adopted the standards on June 24, 2010 for implementation in the 2013-2014 school year, without public hearings or legislative oversight.
  • Perhaps most troubling, the U.S. Department of Education is using Common Core Standards and the assessments as vehicles to mandate the construction of massive state student databases. The Department has also gutted federal student-privacy law to allow greater sharing of student data with other government agencies and private entities. Partnering with the Department of Labor, the Department seeks to build a data system that allows tracking of individual students from preschool through the workforce.

Nothing in the Constitution gives the Federal government any authority over education, and that was done for a reason. It was understood that parents and local schools were best suited to determine the educational needs of their own children.

No one will argue that the state of education in our government schools is abysmal, and that changes need to be made. But imposing a national curriculum upon a crumbling system is like looking for your car keys at night under a street lamp because the light’s better.

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