Nevadans deserve better options than Common Core

If Common Core is so intellectually healthy for Nevada’s children, then why does it require constant promoting and defending?

To assuage Nevadans’ concerns with this national education initiative, Nevada System of Higher Education Regents Michael Wixom and Jason Geddes, in an op-ed for the Review-Journal, quoted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Common Core standards: “They’re not something to be afraid of, indeed, they are something to embrace.” These gentlemen neglected to tell Nevadans that Huckabee no longer supports this set of national curriculum mandates and tests that private organizations created with federal funds.

Behind the miracle of biblical proportions that 45 states agreed to use Common Core before it was published, there is the truth that Keith Rheault, Nevada’s then-superintendent of public instruction, in 2009 signed a memorandum of agreement for the state to participate in the Common Core Standards Initiative. That locked close to half a million public school children into the prepackaged scheme we now call Nevada Academic Content Standards.

This was apparently done without the knowledge or approval of Nevada’s legislature — which means without the knowledge or approval of the people of Nevada, which includes the parents of those aforementioned children.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, various teachers unions, and endless recipients of money from Bill Gates’ private foundation who cheer Common Core are cheering for cut-and-paste students. They are applauding and rewarding an education-to-workforce machine that is cheating the children of Nevada’s families out of a joyful and liberal education fit for free citizens.

Wixom and Geddes nowhere demonstrate that Common Core gives children a high-quality education. Instead, they rely on appeals to authority and name-dropping to encourage readers to support Common Core. A real education would have taught them and readers that arguments demand evidence. And the evidence does not favor Common Core.

Common Core’s intricate, edubabble commands reward children for sitting silent and motionless while filling out reams of worksheets to plod toward their someday career. The standards demand endless, mindless “cold reads” of disconnected reading selections, and hair-tearing, inefficient and ineffective methods for learning basic math procedures. Common Core math sets U.S. students two years behind our international peers by eighth grade.

If our nation’s leaders truly wanted “first-class standards,” as University of Arkansas professor emerita Sandra Stotsky suggested for Nevada students, then why don’t we adopt our nation’s highest-rated standards, from Massachusetts? These propelled Massachusetts to No. 1 in the nation for four consecutive administrations of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and put the state near the top of global test performance.

Nevada parents need to ask some tough questions. Why is Gov. Brian Sandoval suspiciously silent on this topic, as other Republicans line up to criticize its obvious flaws? Why is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce burning cash to market an initiative it hopes moves responsibility for workforce training from businesses to taxpayers? Why do policymakers deny parents a seat at the table in deciding the education of their own children?

Why are our federally hand-picked Common Core testing company’s invasive and experimental assessments replacing proven, knowledge-based tests? Is it right to allow these tests to take so much time from teaching?

Here’s the No. 1 question all Nevadans —and all Americans — need to ask: Why must all roads lead to Common Core? Why are there almost no options other than Common Core-aligned for public, private and home-school students among college-entrance exams, annual tests and curriculum? Common Core didn’t drop from heaven, after all. People made it, and people have many different and valid ideas about how to educate children.

It is fundamentally unjust to children and taxpayers to inflict upon us all an untried education regime without our knowledge or consent. No amount of advertising can paper over the truth about Common Core: It is academically mediocre, socially manipulative and politically illegitimate.

Nevadans deserve better. The only obstacles to securing a truly better education are ignorance, power-brokering and apathy.

Christina Leventis is a mother and grassroots organizer who lives in Henderson. Joy Pullmann is an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute.