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Nothing Uncommon About Common Core Text Books

By Parthiv N. Parekh Email By Parthiv N. Parekh
July 2013
Nothing Uncommon About Common Core Text Books

As a demographic group, Indian-Americans care for quality education. Here’s a perspective on the politically motivated tampering of it in our region.

An education-related memory that has stayed with me from my childhood in India is the feeling of comfort on discovering that my cousin in a different city had the exact same text books that I had in my school. Even to the fifth grader in me, it made sense that the science, math, geography, and English that I was learning were exactly the same that my cousin was learning hundreds of miles away.

Come to think of it, unlike zoning laws or transportation infrastructure, there is nothing necessarily regional about core subjects of primary education. Designing an educational curriculum for the nation’s public education system is best done at a federal level where resources are much better and where aligning with international benchmarks is more conducive. But also, more importantly, so that children in today’s highly mobile society are not burdened by a schizophrenic system in which thousands of counties across the U.S. have thousands of different sets of standards.

But such a dysfunctional alternative is precisely what the Cobb County school board recently voted for when they opted out of textbooks prescribed by the Common Core standards. These are a set of national standards embraced by Georgia and 44 other states.

So why Cobb County’s opposition to Common Core text books? The vote, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “was influenced in part by dozens of angry tea party members who argued that Common Core amounted to a federal takeover of education and an effort to ‘dumb down’ learning in Georgia.”

An effort to “dumb down” learning in Georgia? Ah, the irony! Thanks to regressive forces (of which Cobb County school board, in wasting dollars and hours affixing moronic stickers on science text books, is a prime example), Georgia’s education, compared to national levels, is already dumb enough. We rank 45th in SAT scores and solidly at the bottom of the pile in just about all tests of educational competency.

A clear indicator that the opponents of Common Core are motivated politically, rather than by a genuine concern for quality education, is the fact that what they claim as a “federal takeover of education” was conceived and initiated during George W. Bush’s presidency. Why is Common Core only now suddenly a concern to tea party members? Is it because now the face of the federal government is a man called Obama? Such is the magnitude of the irrational ideological (and perhaps racial) hatred of Obama in certain quarters that they are willing to tamper with our education. And so the propaganda machine is busy churning out tall tales about Common Core that are dubious, such as headlines that shout, “Common Core Nonfiction Reading Standards Mark the End of Literature.”

While there is ample support amongst educators for Common Core, the objective here is not to defend it. There may well be room for improvement in how it is implemented. If local educators have better ideas, they should be heard. But can we not have the beneficiary of such improvements be the national education system, and not just our own local county? Wouldn’t we all want children in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, or Boston, Massachusetts, to equally benefit rather than hogging great ideas for only ourselves?

Such an ill-conceived and politically and ideologically motivated stakeout—by the school board of a county of a major metropolitan area—against resources and provisions created for America’s educational competency, is a troublesome trend that should concern us enough to act in support of Common Core.

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