Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An introduction to Common Core

Editor’s note: This is the first in an 8-part series about Common core

One of the hottest issues of the last half of 2013 has been Common Core. I’m sure you’ve read or watched numerous reports about how parents and teachers are fired up about the latest and allegedly greatest attempt to redefine education and develop a world-class workforce and well-versed society.

These stories abound because conflict sells newspapers and airtime – just think about the brouhaha over New York State Education Commissioner John King having originally abandoned his statewide speaking tour just one event into it.

While we’ve been inundated with such reports, a great disservice has been done to the parents whose children will be educated under these new standards, taxpayers who are funding public schools and the employers who need them to produce a quality finished product: We haven’t been told what exactly the activists are so mad about.

Sure, we can sense the passion and urgency in their protests, but what good does that do us?

You would be hard pressed to find a community newspaper or TV news broadcast or talk radio show that gives its customers even a perfunctory lesson on what Common Core is all about.

So, for the next two months, this newspaper will, courtesy of this column, do what others have failed to do and offer a breakdown of the various components of Common Core.

Here’s what you can expect in coming installments:

Part Two: What is Common Core?
Part Three: The Standards of Common Core
Part Four: The Standards of Common Core (continued)
Part Five: Data-mining your kids
Part Six: Bringing the Police State to the classroom
Part Seven: Common Core’s impact on school districts
Part Eight: Who benefits from Common Core?

As I develop this series I welcome input from teachers who are as equally appalled by Common Core as I am so that we can emphasize how the new system is impacting classrooms here and now.

I also encourage letters to the editor from proponents of Common Core – I know there are a bunch of you out there somewhere -- behind the scenes, maybe -- or this wouldn’t have been foisted on Americans so quickly and so quietly.      

It is my hope that during and after the series I will have given you, the reader, enough ammunition to join any of the numerous coalitions of angered parents and educators (or you could start your own) so that we can turn back the tide on these onerous, intrusive and dim-witted standards and get back to the tenets of what had made the American educational system so great before the infiltration of the federal government and standardized testing in the late-1970s/early-1980s.

Simply put: We need to get back to basics, back to local control in education. We need to let the teachers teach and the parents parent.

Common Core doesn’t allow for that. It robs us of our powers and our rights. Its resulting bureaucracy will only continue to put us further behind and widen the already-disheartening educational gap that exists between our nation and the rest of the industrialized world.  

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at


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