Tag Archives: Tennessee Common Core

In the Uncertainty of the Education System, God’s Word is Sure

Common Core hasn’t gone away. I hoped it would have over the summer, but no such luck.

Second grade has begun for my oldest, and a lot of things are going right. His teacher was highly recommended by the school administration (we were sure to ask this year. Leaving the teacher up to chance was a mistake in first grade). My son seems to be adjusting to being back in the classroom after a not-long-enough summer break. But the Common Core math is kicking in and so I know we are in for a long year.
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I wrote at the end of last school year that I am determined to have my son’s education well in hand this year in order to defeat the messages I fear our government hopes to spread through this confusing and relativistic education system. I have begun having my son read the Bible to me (almost) nightly. Learning about creation from Genesis teaches something schools cannot impart, not only because creationism doesn’t support the narrative that is out there these days, but also because science can explain origins. Faith can.

Reading the Proverbs has begun imparting lessons that, unfortunately, elementary school-aged children need to learn at a younger and younger age. Morality, following the rule of law and the guidance of a father, abandoning the low road of depravity, and holding on to faithful relationships- these cannot be put off until teen years or young adulthood.

My son has the greatest role models of all time, because the giants of the faith put flesh and bones on the timeless truths he needs to guide him through his lifetime.

“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” (Proverbs 30:5 NLT)

Aside from the valuable lessons held in the scriptures, nothing is more beautiful and challenging to read than the word of God. We have truly lost something of value when our children do not learn to read great works that present valuable truth. Education once established a mooring of God’s truth, but now, acknowledging any truth other than whatever the individual believes is truth (relativism) is branded as intolerant. Such “intolerance” seems to be the only sin society recognizes, and it is punished with severity through systems like our education system.

Is Common Core subtly teaching that any way is right? Maybe. When the route to the solution matters more than the solution, I’d say the system is beginning to mirror the ethics and values of society. I definitely have seen the shift in my lifetime from educating based on sound truth and principle, to educating for knowledge and proficiency, to educating now for the sake of creating openness and tolerance. But “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.” (Proverbs 30:5 NLT)

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The most detrimental effect of Common Core- and how I hope to stay immune to it next year

We are at the end of our first grade year, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. We are exhausted. The toll has been primarily on the man himself, my seven-year-old guy who has been in the classroom for every second of it. But after him, his mother and I have suffered the worst. The roller coaster ride of emotion, the sudden ups and downs, have been excruciating at times.

Mind you, we are not conspiratorial folks concerning Common Core, as reading the title of this post might signal to you. But we were not the first ones to bring up the subject. The 1st grade teacher was, in our first parent-teacher conference, when she explained that there were gaps showing up in math proficiency. Since these gaps were common across all the incoming 1st graders, kindergarten must not have prepared them for Common Core standards, she stated. I feel for our teacher in some ways because through these meetings and by observing my child, I can tell that she must have spent a lot of time trying to prepare herself and teach her class up to standard. The problem is that my son in particular suffered as a result.

Being a talkative child, my wife and I were pleasantly surprised that he did not get disciplined in kindergarten more than one time for talking out of turn. He paid attention and excelled. But his behavior in 1st grade has been marked by daydreaming and missing instructions (particularly during math time), which tells us he is bored on class. I don’t know if the new discipline system they instituted was dictated by Common Core or not, but I do know that other school systems have adopted the exact same system. I also know of children who were extremely stressed out by it, but the school administration was unbending when it came to pleas to adapt it. What I know first hand is that my son never achieved the same level of good behavior he was used to achieving, and after his teacher told us he qualified for all the excellent behavior incentives during the year, it seemed to us that the discipline system didn’t measure his actual level of positive behavior at all and was thus irrelevant. So we gave up on pressing the cause of achieving higher scores on his behavior chart.

We wanted to help improve my son’s performance in math. So we did what we have done ever since we started preparing for kindergarten- we worked with him at home. The only problem was, and this was stated by his teacher, we really couldn’t know exactly what to work with him on. Math for him would not be the same as the math we learned, and we couldn’t predict how he would be tested on it, and she could hopefully send home some examples. Some of the techniques she mentioned I have seen mentioned online by parents from many states, and they make no sense. In a Common Core informational meeting I attended, a trained mathematician stated his confusion with what the school system is asking students to do with math and told the presenter that it was the wrong way- students need fundamentals, not confusion.

We were assured that in the second semester, math would be taught in more of a group format that would help my son pay attention easier. We realized also that they stopped sending homework at all. I woke up the other day and realized that we had not worked on math on a long time. No homework=out of sight out of mind. While we had mentally resigned ourselves to the idea that this year was going to end with less achievement than we had hoped almost unconsciously we gave up on working toward achievement in math. I felt guilty, but then I realized something I have yet to confirm but feel very strongly is the case- we were meant, along with other parents, to put our children’s achievement out of sight, out of mind. To give it all over to the school and professional educators.

We had lost focus on academics for a few weeks prior to realizing all of this. Our son was so stressed about class that he began to associate stressors at home with stressors at school. He was more easily agitated. He became tearful and more emotional at home and at school. And when he was stressed at home, he could hear his teacher whispering in his ear. We had to address the teacher and school counselor about how to redirect him at school, because when he was inattentive in class, his teacher whispered in his ear and he didn’t like it. We poured all of our attention into how to reduce stress, maintain discipline at home, and make sure he could function at school. We gave up ground during this time.

And this brings me to the point I need to make. One of the most detrimental effects of Common Core is to cause parents to give up. But here is how I plan to become immune to it…

I’m putting 2 and 2 together here (not using the Common Core method)- the thing that set our education system apart from whatever they were doing in Europe at the time of our nation’s founding is that we believed in education as a way to create a moral citizenry based on the Bible. So I am becoming immune to the lethargy-inducing practices under Common Core by going back to the Bible as our textbook at home. We started with Genesis. My son memorized Genesis 1:1- In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. He learned what God created and when. And he grasped a firm scientific principle that has inoculated him against progressive, secular education: God made each creature to produce its own kind. This totally flies in the face of evolution. So that makes me very happy.

My boy ended up attaining one of his biggest goals, one that he has had since his kindergarten year, when he feel just short- he was a top accelerated reader in the 1st grade! He was second in his class but he had the highest test score percentage of any of the children who received the award. We couldn’t have been prouder! We also met with an instructional coach, who consulted with the principal to make sure we had a teacher for 2nd grade that would potentially be the best fit for our son. Don’t give up if Common Core has brought frustration to your child’s school year. You can speak up and you can be your child’s primary educator. You can bridge the gap caused by the changed the system throws at you and your child.

Three Ways Public Education Fails To Produce Adults Who Can Change The World

Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. Northwest Ordinance of 1787

The Northwest Ordinance established townships in unsettled territories west of the Appalachians that had been ceded to the new federal government by the states. The townships were 6 square miles and were divided into 36 sections of 640 acres each. A full section in each of these townships was to be dedicated to public education, the importance of which was established in the quote above. The Northwest Ordinance also forbid slavery in any of these settlements, held that there would be no establishment of religion (people could worship freely without fear of persecution), and allowed new states to be admitted, not as colonies, but on equal footing with any other previously established state. There is no expression of equality as powerful as this on a national scale anywhere in existence prior to this.

I don’t think we could begin to imagine a nation as free as we have coming about as a result of the moral relativism that is so accepted today. Banning slavery, establishing equal treatment, defeating tyranny- the impetus to achieve any of this can’t be found except in the morality of the Bible. The very reason those who declare morality to be relative and every mode of belief to be equally valid have the freedom to do so is because of those who stood strong based on biblical morality. The belief that all men are created equal comes directly from the acknowledgement that there is a Creator that has made us so. Naturalism, evolution, atheism does not promote equality- they promote the idea that some are stronger or more worthy than others. But it seems that education is more and more sanitized of any promotion of morals. So we stand in danger of having generations that cannot continue what our founders started or attain achievements that previous generations did.

Here are three ways public education is failing to produce adults who can change the world:

Education is not about moral development anymore. Every way is right in each person’s eyes. We’ve failed to acknowledge that the basis of our laws and the impetus to do great things on behalf of mankind come from biblical morality. All have benefitted from this, but few today are willing to acknowledge it. Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the House of Representatives (1847-1849) stated, “All societies of men must be governed in some way. The less they have of stringent state government, the more they must have of individual self-government… Men, in a word, must be governed by a power within them or a power without them, either by the Word of God or the strong arm of man, either by the Bible or by the bayonet.” Biblical morality is the boundary that promotes self-government and allows free institutions to succeed.

Education is all about personal achievement and not the good of society. One of the justifications of Common Core that I have heard first-hand is that the US falls far behind other nations in academic proficiency. But the US has never fallen behind in achievement in any area of societal importance and is unequalled in her contribution to the good of mankind around the world. We are steadily giving all of that up in order to compete on the same (lower) playing field as other nations who have had much less of an impact on the good of society. Furthermore, the best way to strengthen student performance is to promote principles that are good for society, most prominently strong, stable families and orderly communities, both of which have been byproducts of strong biblical morality and the influence of Christianity.

Education suppresses freedom of expression and religion. The new tolerance (tolerance for me, not for thee) screams down expression of faith under the pretense of protecting rights, and this is prominent in education. In writing about the Engel v. Vitale Supreme Court decision in 1962, which effectively banned public prayer in schools, this article writes, “After all, schools serve as a special case when it comes to the separation of church and state. While the Supreme Court allowed prayer in other public settings to stand, school prayer was banished. Since children are impressionable and teachers are authority figures, religion in educational settings was treated as an issue to be examined quite fervently.” Oppression of the Christian religion in Europe is what led our founders to not establish a state religion, and instead protect freedom of religious expression. We have now come full circle, and Christianity is being suppressed in our schools under the very principle that allows its critics to believe any way they want. Freedom of religion is a basis of American greatness that is being destroyed today.

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep. (Psalm 127:3-5 MSG)

Our children have to be prepared to combat the enemy as so many past generations have been. Getting an education has to be about more than test scores or learning skills so they can have a good job. It has to be about preparing citizens to live and govern well and build on the achievements of our forefathers. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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*Quote from Robert Winthrop is from “In God We Trust” by Dr. Richard G. Lee, published by Thomas Nelson. Information on the Northwest Ordinance is from “America, The Last Best Hope Volume I” by William J. Bennett, published by Nelson Current.