What Rick Perry’s Fascinating Opposition to Common Core Standards Could Mean

Sean Cavanagh reported yesterday that Texas has withdrawn from the influential Council of Chief State Officer’s citing the organization’s devotion to the adoption of Common Core Standards.

The state’s commissioner of education, Robert Scott, made the decision to pull out of the CCSSO, citing concerns about philosophical differences with the organization, as well as worries about membership costs, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency said.

The commissioner felt that “our values don’t align with each other” on education policy, said Suzanne Marchman, a spokeswoman for the agency. “We didn’t see a return on investment from participating in the organization.”

As a result of its decision, Texas will be the only state in the country that is not a CCSSO member, officials with the organization confirmed. CCSSO said it will no longer receive $60,000 in annual dues from the organization.

Forty-five states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted the common-standards, which are meant to provide a clear and consistent set of academic expectations for students around the country regardless of where they live. Currently, the expectations for what students should know by the time they reach certain grades vary greatly across states, as do the tests and textbooks used in the states.

Well. That’s refreshing.  All that stuff they say about Texas must be true. So what does it say for Texas Governor and potential GOP candidate, Rick Perry? Writes Cavanagh:

But Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who has said he is considering running for president, has been a strong critic of the common-standards movement, which he has argued is an attempt to create a national curriculum.

Perry also said no to Race to the Top funds and said, “we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education.” Unlike in Florida, whose teachers association was obliged to Governor Charlie Crist for he’s veto of a school reform bill, Perry enjoyed support for his decision from some teacher organizations in the state.

While one cannot fairly make the leap further on Perry’s opinion on No Child Left Behind or the Department of Education for that matter, it’s clear Perry doesn’t march in lockstep with the national test-based reform crowd. Texas has its own reform bill that’s unfriendly to teachers in SB8. But his opposition to Race to the Top and Common Core Standards are indicative of an independent thinker on education.

Along with Michele Bachmann’s strident opposition to No Child Left Behind and her desire to abolish the Department of Education, Perry’s addition to the GOP field will bring education to the table on the Republican side. Even the most bitter partisan among the nation’s teachers ought to hope Perry decides to run.




About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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One Response to What Rick Perry’s Fascinating Opposition to Common Core Standards Could Mean

  1. A new specter is haunting America: The Common Core Math Standards. Through the coerced mandate and enforcement of federally sponsored and funded educational methods and content, yet again, the government is attempting to take over a major area of American enterprise: Elementary Education. Common core is anti-intellectual, anti-epistemological. It inverts the relationship between content and method. Between subject matter and pedagogy.

    Historically, mankind has learned to discover the principles of each field of knowledge by first engaging in the content of that field: observing, comparing, ordering, measuring, and classifying. Once content is ordered, it is possible to go to the next level of asking ‘why’ the natural order is what it is? Are there natural laws and principles that can be inductively discovered from the order? Are these principles universal for the subject under consideration? If so, we can test these principles or rules to see if we can arrive at true laws. Later we can apply these laws to new concretes. This is the process for the discovery of the basic laws of nature and of quantification. And all of this requires that the discoverer be deeply knowledgeable of philosophy, languages, arts, instruments, methods of observation, all of which can be brought to the new field of inquiry.

    And here is the key to the advancement of civilization: Once these laws have been recorded and published, they can be taught to others through lectures and, most powerfully, through text books and structured learning materials and instruments (such as one might find in a physics lab, or even a good culinary kitchen). Teaching previously codified knowledge through text books and pedagogical materials and instruments, allows knowledge to rapidly grow and spread across a civilization without requiring all people to go back to the basic gathering of primitive facts and rediscovering the general laws being taught. This is the principle of cognitive efficiency: learn from the knowledge of experts and men of wisdom.

    As for teaching, knowledge should be taught in a bottom up manner, in the same way that concepts are naturally formed, from the concrete to the general, starting with the basic foundations (empirical experiential primitives) of a field, and not by starting with the highest abstractions and treating them as foundational on the erroneous premise that the most all encompassing laws are the most basic laws, which must be taught first. Top-down teaching is anti-intellectual and anti-conceptual. Concepts are not formed top-down, they are formed bottom-up. There is no experiential base for grasping high-level abstract laws at the beginning of our struggle to learn about the world. So good text books start where the student is epistemologically.

    A young child can grasp similarities and differences in shape, size, density, texture, tone, color, etc. so long as the differences are sufficiently large to be easily noticed by the child. With practice, the child can learn to notice more subtle differences and even order them correctly relative to an appropriate dimension. This is the principle of the Montessori approach to sensory-motor learning in children. Her approach to mathematics is similarly incremental from learning to see the incremental differences between the cardinal numbers by using strings containing different numbers of object units (beads), and then encouraging the child to arrange the beads in a natural progressive order of increasing quantities based on ‘bead-string’ length, and later by creating three-dimensional constructions from beads having the same length, gathered into rectangular-like shapes. So here we see the basic concepts of quality, quantity, order, measurement, growing out of a WELL-STRUCTURED SET OF PEDAGOGICAL MATERIALS and a WELL-ORDERED EPISTEMOLOGICALLY SYNCHRONIZED PEDAGOGICAL METHOD based on the natural process of concept formation.

    The new Common Core is a direct violation of all of the above principles, it forces children to try to discover laws, rules and methods of solution before they have learned the basic subject matter and its intrinsic nature. They are asked to intellectualize before they have adequate content, and before they have any knowledge of the principles of theory and methodology.

    Why, you may ask is this happening? The answer starts with a perversion of J. J. Rousseau’s teaching methodology, found in his famous book ‘Emile’. Here Emile is deliberately kept away from civilized society, lest he acquire their thinking and judging habits. It is Rousseau’s model of the ‘Noble Savage’ that underlies this pedagogy. Society and civilization are filled with false idols, false standards of morality, and false social aims. In Rousseau’s view, the child should be allowed to discover the world for himself. But, Rousseau was no fool, for Emile was given a wise and sensitive teacher to guide the child toward this natural discovery process.

    Nothing in Emile specifies the relationship between teaching and concept formation, nor does it properly define the nature of concept formation and its relationship to clarity of perception nor the hierarchical nature of concepts.

    The current Common Core approach is in this sense, undeveloped dogmatic, pure Rousseau (without the wise and guiding hand of the teacher). Instead we see the unguided, frustrated, and angry child rebelling against his teacher’s demands that he ‘think’, ‘observe’, ‘discover’ and ‘invent’, when the child has not been taught the very skills needed to accomplish these things.

    It is important to remember that Rousseau had a powerful influence on the French revolutionaries, who sought to smash all of the institutions of civilization (its principles, its laws, its religions, and its markets) and build them up again based on their own devices (i.e., massive ignorance and arrogance). This model was, by the same motivation, embraced by the first and the current communist revolutionaries, all iconoclasts and utopians. Their goal then and now is to first make the child doubt the powers of his mind, feel totally submissive to the teacher and then, finally, submit to docility, ready to be fully indoctrinated by the the ‘wise’ leader who mysteriously knows the answers and ways of reality and who has such amazing skills to find the answers quickly. The child is told that his creative approaches are good because they are personal, even though they are far to difficult and far to undisciplined to ever be used in the end to teach others. Here we see the self-esteem mystics who believe that self-esteem is the cause not the consequence of achievement. BEWARE OF THE COMMON CORE PHILOSOPHY.

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