Common Core Standards, a Rotten Idea That Will Fail Our Children- Again

April 4, 2013 at 5:00 am / by

About Karin Piper

Colorado PolitiChick Karin Piper is an award winning author and transparency expert specializing in education and union transparency. She provides policy tools necessary for parents, union memberis,… More

The fans of state-sponsored and state-delivered education will often burp up facts about Finland as an example of how having common education standards throughout an entire country yields stellar academic results for all children.

Yes, Finland is one of the leading countries in academic achievement. They have a nationalized curriculum that all schools must use. They have had great success.

Therefore, politicians tell us, the United States should also nationalize K-12 achievement. A “common core “ will streamline academic expectations across the country and narrow achievement gaps between the states.

And education, they say, is better if we set the same expectations for all kids across the United States. “We know this works,” Obama said in the State of the Union in February.  “So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.”

Does that sound a lot like “No Child Left Behind”? Yes, it does to me too. Call it “Race to the Top” or “Nanny-state-education,” they’re all based on the same false premise.

Common core standards are rolling out nationally, state by state, with the federal government twisting arms by twisting the purse string. States meanwhile are grabbing the cash and legislating participation in multi-state consortia to implement these lock-step national education goals.  However, we should remind ourselves that comparing Finland to the United States academically is like comparing apples to Apple -as in fruit and computers.

First of all, let’s say it aloud: Most countries, including Finland, beat our shorts in K-12 academic achievement in part because they emphasize academics.  In the U.S. we continue to confuse socioeconomics with education. If education, not politics, were truly a goal in American education, we too would be topping the international achievement charts.

But should we even consider Finland’s “national curriculum” in the United States,. Given that the “core” standards we’ll use will likely be very different, occasioned by our size and diversity?

Look at the world map of Finland and the United States. Finland is a blip of landmass in geographical comparison to the U.S.- Finland has 130, 127 square miles to the United States’ 3,790,000 square miles.  There are only 5.4 million Finns. There are 5.1 million residents just in the state of Colorado, one of the smaller states in the union. In other words, Finland would be better compared with one of the states rather than the United States.

So Finland’s curriculum may be better compared to state standards rather than national standards.

The fact is that Finland’s success is much more to the credit of savvy local control than serving as a poster child for a national, one-size-fits-all curriculum. It is an affirmation of the 10th amendment of the constitution of the United States that in its wisdom left education authority at the local level. And it’s another hint that the federal government ought to leave education to the states- or better yet the parents.

Imagine if the European Union (EU) imposed continent wide academic standards, in the same way that Washington politicians currently want to shove common core standards down our throats. It would be the demise of the Finns’ education exceptionalism.

Think of Finland having to participate in a multi-EU-country consortium to create common core education standards for all, then having to implement what Cypress says every Cypriot child ought to know.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that what works in Finland may not work in Cypress and the other way around. Besides, the Finns were not the first ever to use a national education curriculum. There are other examples, less touted such as: Prussia, China and Nazi Germany.

That brings us to the most important question of all: How good are the proposed US common core standards?

Let’s pretend for a second that it’s a great idea for the United States to have a national curriculum. What happens if the standards are terrible?

That’s what we face now. Forty-plus states nominated so-called-experts on education outcomes and they culled out some of the very best practices from meritocracy and left only a hodge-podge of mediocrity.

With the new common core standards, for example, middle school children will no longer be taking Algebra. The Finnish standards are at least academically rigorous.

It begs the question, who are the experts that our politicians chosen to create and impose standards on our children? These are bureaucrats who are twice removed from the classroom and three times enmeshed in union group-think.

The standards leave no room for parents, either. Do you need politicians to tell you that your kid is failing math, or needs to be in honors English? I think not.

So if common core standards are not designed to actually improve education achievement, what is it all about then? Like most things today, the common care standards are about politics, not solving problems.

Right now state legislatures are currently busy imposing goofy public education laws that have more to do with same sex propaganda and assuring long-term existence of federal lunch programs than bills that would actually improve education. It is not a coincidence.

I don’t think I am completely out to free-and-reduced-lunch here to suggest that a common core is just a rotten idea that will spoil the whole education barrel.

I will give props to any politician who attempts to fix American public education. My hat’s off to them. But only if they focus on fixing education, and stop using American children as PR extras for another federal power grab.

Let’s have the conversation about common core standards and whether or not it’s good for America. And please don’t drag Finland into it.

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Karin Piper

Colorado PolitiChick Karin Piper is an award winning author and transparency expert specializing in education and union transparency. She provides policy tools necessary for parents, union memberis, teachers and decision makers to become informed consumers in the educational marketplace. She also serves as executive director of, an organization she helped found, and works with various other non-partisan likeminded organizations. Karin was a finalist for OGI’s 2012 Burke-Carr Public Interest Awards and nominated as candidate for Charter School Friend of the Year in 2009. Her knowledge of state and federal open records laws and tireless advocacy for open union negotiations has been featured by major media outlets across the nation. Her debut book, CHARTER SCHOOLS: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents, was awarded “2009 finalist in best books for parenting and education,” by USA Book News and appeared in bookstores around the world. Born and raised in Sweden, she lives in Douglas County, Colorado, the epicenter of education reform. Karin is a frequently sought as a parental voice and expert opinion in response to much of today's political edu-rhetoric and legislation proposals. She has been interviewed by many news outlets, including CBS, NBC, KNUS, EdNews, Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and many others.

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  1. Fantastic article! Common Core includes some very scary stuff…data mining?!!! We home school but were thinking of having some of the boys attend a few classes each day. After learning about Common Core, serious second thoughts!

    • WVSTARKTRUTH says:

      If you dig deeper into the requirements for data collection and the use of CCS, you will find out that your materials will have to incorporate CCS and you will have to file reports that will include your children in this statewide/nationally linked database. You can run but you cannot hide. This is, to the progressives who think one size should fit all, a side “benefit” to CCS as it virtually ensures a decline in home schooling because the main benefit of home schooling was the avoidance of hust such intrusions into curricula and privacy. Fight like a tiger to preserve your perental rights.

  2. Barb Patton says:

    Comparisons are odious, and to think that we can copy Finland and their academic achievements. We have a huge illegal problem which Finland does not have so, we have to cater for these people who refuse to learn English and thus, we bend over backwards to accommodate them by dragging down the level of education just for them and other village idiots in the ghettos that refuse to learn. Enough said.

    • warpmine says:

      They forget, Finland has a core language, a common ancestry, a common history and heritage to gather around. We once had that culture to where our predecessors came to America for a chance at a better life, learned the main language, embraced the common history, the common goals to defend each others unalienable rights under the constitution. None of the immigrants that arrived here came kicking and screaming against their will except those of African heritage before 1840 and eventually the former slaves to had a chance to participate in the dream but that’s another debate.


    A small group of citizens in Wood County, WV recently undertook to do deep research on Common Core Standards (CCS) and what we, through contacts with other anti-CCS groups around the country, discovered was that about 75% of the provisions within the standards were inextricably tied to the need to standardize the data coming out of the education system throughout the country in order to make them compatible with a national database being developed by Bill Gates, et al. The standards push is not about improving education, it is about putting everyone on the same mediocre playing field so tha thte data can be compared across state lines and still have validity.
    Additionally, the changes quietly enacted through regulatory adjustments to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that opened up access to education data to other than government educational entities. The recently ran an article exposing possible intentions on the part of government to sell data from this national database that is a part of Race To The Top (RTTT) to virtually anyone who has even a tenuous connection to “education” regardless of their reason for getting the data. Data about our kids, including SS#, medical information, hobbies, counseling information from their schools should not be made available to private entities who want it for non-educational reasons. Additionally, the parental notification and permission requirements have been watered down extensively within FERPA and the RTTT requirements that states will have to meet in order to be eligible for Title-related funding (federal bribe money ot get the states to go along with this data-collection scheme).
    In a nut-shell, CCS, RTTT, and FERPA have been re-engineered to create a national database that does not work unless all states eventually link thier state databases together and are all teaching the same things at the same time so that the data produced makes sense for comparison purposes.
    Our group recently met with the Chairman of the Education Committee in our Senate and were told that while he had concerns about any federal involvement in education, he did not think that what was happening in WV would make them a part of Common Core Standards because they were allegedly headed in a different direction. In spite of this statement, the state has already completed five of the ten RTTT requirments to meet eligibility for funding. Fortunately one of the incomplete items was the linking of the database to the national database. But the standards have already reached the K-4 classrooms and will be in the high schools by 2014. So much for politicians being aware of what is happening right under their noses. Fact is, the WV School Board, a virtually autonomous board whose decisions cannot be reversed by legislative action because they obtain their powers through the constitution of WV as well as court case decisions, approved the CCS in WV fully a month before the final standards were released to the public. There was no opportunity for WV parents to review or express opinions about this program before they were implemented.
    CCS is a nightmare looking for places to happen. It should be soundly defeated because, first and foremost, it is a well-disguised attempt to circumvent the 10th Amendment as well as two other specific federal statutes that forbid the federal government’s involvement in public education curriculum development and implementation. If your state is on board with this, you should be fighting it tooth and nail for the sake of your children and their children.

    • Tim Cognito says:

      Change the children first: “The Nazi leadership appreciated the difficulty of indoctrinating the older generation…. They were all the more determined to mold the new generation along Nazi lines. As the leader of the Nazi Teacher’s League, Hans Schemm, put it: ‘Those who have the youth on their side control the future.’” (416)

      Create world-class citizen: “…create a new type of student…”


  4. CTConservative47 says:

    Excellent article. It’s important to distinguish between the Common Core and the reforms being advocated by the Core Knowledge Foundation founded by E.D. Hirsch, author of “Cultural Literacy” and other great books on education. Hirsch points out that our curriculum has been watered down for years by Progressive educators who have de-emphasized substantive content and factual knowledge. Their ideas sprouted in the
    1920s (e.g. John Dewey) and were fully flowered by the 1960s. The core
    problem with American education is that educational theorists, especially in
    the early grades, have for the past sixty years rejected academic content in
    favor of “child-centered” and “how-to” learning theories that are at odds with
    how cognitive psychologists tell us children really learn. The result is failing schools and a widening achievement gap. “Higher order thinking” requires a substantive base of knowledge and the Progressives have omitted that essential component. Every subject
    field requires mastery of a core body of knowledge. It’s not just names and dates, but
    theories, definitions, formulas, philosophical ideas, etc. A medical professional must master all the parts of the body, physical processes, etc.; a chemist the periodic table,
    formulas, etc.; a historian must master the chronology of history, the significant movements, personalities, ideas, cultural influences, etc. “Higher order thinking” can only proceed when this information is available for rapid recall, analysis and
    integration. You can’t simply “look it up,” as Progressives argue.

    Hirsch also points out that American students are on par with students in other countries of the world through the third grade (the de-coding phase). After that, they fall progressively (no pun intended) behind because they fail to learn the subject context of the words they encounter. Reading is far more than the simple de-coding of words. For example, a reading may refer to a “Sisyphean task,” which comes out of Greek mythology. If they have encountered Greek (or Roman) mythology as a part of their studies they will not comprehend that this means an impossible, or fruitless task (from King Sisyphus of Corinth who was condemned in Hades to roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again endlessly). Such words may include historical personalities, geographical locations or features, scientific terms or theories, political ideas, literary terms, organizations, book titles, musical or artistic terms, phrases, literary allusions, economic ideas, and on and on. Learning these things in contextualized studies makes students better readers and learners. The Progressives mindlessly call such knowledge “rote memorization.” Is it any wonder why schools of education are the chief culprits in the dumbing down of America?

    No amount of money or fixes like lower class sizes (both championed by the teachers’ unions), will fix American education, absent substantive reforms that restore subject content to the classroom.

    For an annotated bibliography of resources that addresses these and other educational issues, go to:

  5. Karin Piper is correct: An education system that is based on anything other than academic standards fails the students it purports to help. When the Federal Government got into education, it needed to establish the Japanese or German education system, if it wasn’t going to be a failure. However, I suspect the Globalist Socialist incompetents who have established our massive education boondoggle intended our education system to fail, just as they need the fiscal and economic failure of our Federal Government to implement their New World Order. One size fits all: Globalists believe they must take the United States down because all of the wealth redistribution schemes in the world did not bring Developing Countries up. The Japanese and German education systems are entirely merit based. The German education system outfits everyone who is not college material for a trade, which is admirable. Education needs to be returned entirely to the states to administer. If our education system was administered on the state level by competing corporations that were paid according to output (students who are the most competitive in the world instead of some of the least competitive) it would be successful. Obviously our politicians are fixated on turning the U.S. into a Developing Country. Leveling the U.S. is a major goal.

  6. Oh wow, excellent article Karin!! Dear leader touts Finland, saying “We know this works,”
    Well, one could also say from looking at data from the past decade or so that we also know Home Schooling works- but I doubt dear leader or many of those who champion government run schools would jump on the Home Schooling band wagon.
    Kids are different. They all are individuals who learn at their own paces. They have individual talents, skills and strengths. To force yet more core standards on them is a disaster- but then again, government wants productive “workers” not individual thinkers and innovators.
    Thanks Karin!

  7. TheTexasCooke says:

    I spent 12 years in university taking 3 degrees and a post-doc….and to me this isn’t rocket-surgery. There was a time when the United States led the world in any professional category that might want to name. That was because we taught kids to think and grounded them in a solid foundation to build on LATER. We know what those curricula were and how it was taught….here’s a far-fetched idea….why don’t we just teach that again? Teach what we used to teach in the way that we used to teach it. Keep your computers and calculators at home…and your phones….and belly-up to knowledge that will serve you for the rest of your life. And forget the witch-craft that passes for “new education theories”!

  8. Lou says:

    When Finland has kids in their classes that speak 20 different languages.Parents who do not care if they get an education or not,because they do not have to become a member of the society (Americans),and are cared for from cradle to grave;we will see what kind of educational results Finland get. Finns have the advantage of a common Language,Culture,and Race. They do not have to bow and scrape to every outside group for political correctness.

  9. John Sweet says:

    Like the incident here in Florida where a “synopsis” of the lesson plan,
    which was based on a textbook exercise guide and ended: “After a brief
    period of silence instruct them to step on the paper. Most will
    hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance
    of symbols in culture.” yet it a student caused such a stir that said it offended his religious convictions was suspended perhaps we should just return to the basics reading writing and arithmetic, after all when 80% of the graduates from school require remedial classes to even attend a college level class something is wrong very wrong with that system of education

  10. InternetSavage says:

    Oh yes make the children even dumber and more incapable so turd worlders can more easily take over this sick country. The Department of Education is worse than Satan!

  11. Tim Cognito says:

    A false premise: assuming that the curriculum is responsible. Anyone who has studied education in Finland knows that it is the implementation just as much, if not more than curriculum. 30% of kids in Finland receive one-on-one tutoring as well. Without unions forbidding this, they excel. Our education system has been engineered to raise revenue through taxes, to give to the teachers’ retirement fund. Smaller classes do not make better schools. More money does not make a better student. My high school was ranked in the top 10 nationally, while having 200% overcrowding. Why? Because academics and discipline were respected and required. That’s how you get 98% graduating and 85% of the graduates to go on to higher education. In Finland, teachers are dedicated to getting the job done because in Finland, a teacher views a failing student as a personal failure on their part. And in Finland, parents are involved and take responsibility for the successful upbringing of their children. THAT’s where we differ from Finland.

  12. izzabelle says:

    I don’t know which is worse.. The current system seems to think all children should be learning at the same pace and have the same knowledge without taking into consideration that all children are different and learn differently, but yet they give these stupid test throughout the year and expect every child to know and be at the level of their peers, and the AIMS testing is a complete joke.. What ever happened to going to high school and acquiring your credits to graduate which graduation was suppose to be a high schoolers reward for completing their schooling and now they can’t graduate if they don’t pass the AIMS test.. In my opinion that is whats stupid and pointless!!!

  13. Brenda Morris says:

    Informative article that I hope is shared far and wide and will encourage parents to get involved.

  14. warpmine says:

    What happened to the lefts “diversity”? Shouldn’t education take this approach as well…a try from different angles will bring about the very best which will show which system performs and which do not.

    Wait…I remember now, diversity only applies to having millions of people speaking hundreds of different languages saluting different flags praying to different gods with a multitude of colors having no core beliefs to bond you together as in culture whereby each individual contributes to it making it stronger instead of picking it apart because of income level, skin shade, religious practice, gender and eye color.

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