Guest Opinion: Top-down federal standards will doom our education system

January 20, 2014 

The Mini-Cassia Tea Party drew a respectable crowd of concerned parents and teachers Jan. 9 to hear a presentation titled “Myths and Facts” concerning Common Core education standards and curriculum. The forum was presented by Stephanie Zimmerman and Stacey Knudsen of Idahoans for Local Education. Stephanie and Stacey, two moms from Meridian, decided to take on a mighty task with little more reward than hope their efforts will revive a movement toward local control of educational standards and curriculum.

The crowd was pleased to hear this dynamic duo’s performance under scrutiny from several teachers and administrators also in attendance. Most agreed No Child Left Behind was a disaster in the making but failed to realize the similarity and further overreach Common Core will mandate. The suggestion that little was to fear from further federal intrusion into local education brought hearty laugher. Realization that a one-size-fits-all education program would bring the curtain down on local education and further erode educational quality in Idaho became apparent as Stephanie and Stacey continued.

Common standards will diminish professionalism in the most human-centric of occupations, as only teachers can bring enlightenment to a child’s mind. Replacing traditional education methods and books with cold facts presented by computers and education facilitators will only lead to failure. These untested common standards will lead to standardized curriculum effectively pigeonholing students for a fixed role in society via a matrix of evaluations and examinations maintained in a database that will follow each student through adulthood.

Many good points were made from many perspectives as audience members opened up and addressed their anxiety about such sweeping reforms now being implemented in Idaho’s education system. What parents will endure and how their children’s education will suffer consumed the bulk of the redress. Common Core will be field tested across the nation using this generation as guinea pigs in a scheme intended to instill grit and tenacity. But to what end? Where’s the love of learning?

This top-down government mandate, concocted to shift power from local school districts to the federal Department of Education, is reminiscent of Idaho’s federally mandated health exchange, a reprehensible submission of state sovereignty.

It seems impossible to reckon why more education professionals did not question the mandate sent from above. Only one school superintendent dissented voting against Common Core on Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education. Will Idaho fall in line with other states like a duckling following its mother? Maybe so, as it seems “Big Education” is more interested in financial support from federal promises than its obligation to coax brilliance out of every child’s mind. The direction seems sure as funding tops all priorities.

Teachers are to facilitate the standard, which will soon be supplemented with curriculum that will pave a one-way path toward an unsure future. Teachers will be assessed according to scores achieved and will be monitored for compliance and ability. Ultimately, the standards will usher an end to learning and the teaching profession as we know it.

One mother commented that she could not find fault with the standards, they seemed reasonable, yet something gnawed at her motherly instinct that warned of danger. I think she said it well for most of us who cannot know what lies beyond these Common Core standards. The strings attached are those that bind. As a science and special education teacher for 16 years, it is my experience that echoes this mother’s intuition. When faculties teach to a national standard we lose wonderment and inspiration as our local best are tied to a fixed agenda.

Dorothy Moon recently retired as Challis School District special education director and science teacher.

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service