I’ve been studying the Common Core State Standards since they were first given that name. I read articles weekly about this and attend a few annual conferences that involve political policies.
This past week I was in St. Louis at the Educational Policy Conference sponsored by Constitutional Coalition. Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project was one of the many speakers at the conference. She addressed a point of the Common Core about which few people are aware – data mining. While people are seeing the stupid math assignments and the inappropriate reading materials students are bringing home, they may not realize that very personal information is being gathered from their children.
She opened by saying that the goal of data mining was two-fold: to track children from a very early age (even pre-natal) through entry into the workforce, and to know how their mind thinks. This is about far more than knowing your name, address, and birthday. It’s about knowing how and why children think the way they do. Think about that for a minute. If someone knows how your mind works, how you respond to a given situation, they can determine what you are going to do even before you know what you are going to do.
As Robbins discussed technology, she spoke of a computer game that children are given in which they are given a green badge and a bell chimes when they make a good decision. But when they make a bad decision, they get a red badge and a buzzer sounds. Someone asked, “Why don’t they just taze them for making a wrong decision?” Of course, I understand that we give children a star for getting the math problem correct and an X for an incorrect answer. But this game was not about objective responses, but subjective thoughts. In other words, it is a “game” to teach your child to respond however the maker of the game chooses.
According to Mrs. Robbins, Common Core is a workforce education model, not a student education model. The data mining is a means to determine attitude, mindset, and disposition, not whether your child can add or construct a paragraph. The goal is to develop “smart moral people” who can change and “adapt to chaos.” This sounds like a moral education rather than a cognitive one.
One parent stated that it seemed that the school system is now teaching what parents are supposed to do – emotional and social behaviors – while parents now have to teach what the schools are supposed to do – math. Mrs. Robbins, and this writer, are in complete agreement with her. Common core and data mining are not as benign as you may think.
One of my favorite quotes is from a high school World History teacher, Al Wilkerson. He often said, “History does not repeat itself, people repeat history. (He probably was paraphrasing General Santayana who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”) I often find myself looking at a stupid situation of some sort and asking myself where and when this has happened before. Just as an example, why Hitler attacked the Russians in the winter amazes me. It didn’t work for the Swedes in 1707 and their empire ended. It didn’t work for the French in 1812 (even though they started in the summer) under Napoleon. So why did Hitler think he could pull off this feat without even planning one bit for a wintertime war? History does not repeat itself, stupid people repeat history.
Unfortunately, American educational and business leader are now repeating history. China has long been known to target children when they are very young and determine what they will get to be when they grow up. Let me say that again –“what they will GET to be.” This is not what the child chooses to be, it is not even what the parents aspire the child to be. This is what the state determines a child will be. For example, 2-3 year olds are checked for flexibility and balance. If they prove to have a high aptitude for these skills, they are removed from their parents to begin training to become an Olympic gymnast or figure skater. They are given precious little education, plenty of indoctrination, and spend lots of time in training for their future career. This may indicate why Chinese athletes are not seen being emotional, either in good situations or bad ones. They haven’t been taught to feel.
Recently Judge Jeanine Pirro was in Egypt and spoke with the head of Egyptian Intelligence. When asked about child suicide bombers, he replied that children in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries are targeted at an early age. They are identified early and their skills and aptitude are tracked to determine which children would be the best suicide bombers or soldiers. These are 5 year olds, think “your kindergartner.”
Wow! Communist China and Islamic Egypt, and now the United States (I really wish I could say “constitutional republic” to modify the United States, but even that is shaky.). This is hardly a list on which we want our name to appear. Let’s not forget that Nazi Germany did this, too.
Do you still feel confident about the Common Core now?