Common Core: In pursuit of the new Soviet man

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a federal initiative designed to homogenize diverse state educational curricula.

It is also the latest example of destructive federal overreach into the education system.

Like its predecessor No Child Left Behind, Common Core will not produce vibrant, inspired thinkers eager to tackle the world.

Instead, Common Core is designed to churn out young people who will be educated enough to work, consume, and pay taxes, but who are not encouraged to be creative, or to use critical thinking, or to develop anything remotely characteristic of those who possess superior minds and the ability to achieve great things.

Common Core proponents seem more interested in producing what Russian communists called “New Soviet Men” — people who are selfless, moderately educated, and stripped of all nationalist sentiment — than they are in delivering the next Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, or Steve Jobs.

David Coleman is the architect of the Common Core standards. According to Coleman, supplanting classic literature with mind-numbing material such as government documents, court decisions, and technical manuals is necessary because informational texts are “what will give students the world knowledge necessary to compete as workers in the global economy” (emphasis mine).

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a worker if that is what one chooses. However, it should be students, not bureaucrats, who determine what path their lives take: be it as workers, scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, architects, artists, or whatever.

Like most government education programs, Common Core sets a very low bar for students. Its language arts component is so lacking that Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to approve the program.

Common Core’s mathematical component is no better. The Validation Committee’s Dr. James Milgram, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, also refused to sign off on Common Core, saying that the math standards are “as non-challenging as possible. … The Core Mathematics Standards are written to reflect very low expectations.”

Unfortunately, since the mid-1800s, the object of government education in the U.S. has not been enlightenment and diversity of thought, but indoctrination and conformity.

In 1843, Horace Mann, the father of American public education, traveled to Europe to investigate the Prussian education system. Mann thought that American youth were unruly and needed a dose of discipline.

The highly regimented Prussian system provided the answer.

The Prussian model of education included compulsory attendance laws, teachers who specialized in specific subjects, a national curriculum, and national testing standards.

The autocratic Prussian government was not concerned about educating citizens, but controlling them. What better way to produce compliant people who think the same way than to take children away from their parents, limit their exposure to “inappropriate” information, encourage unquestioning obedience to authority, and discourage critical thinking?