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The Birch Log
July 15, 2014

Common Core: Increasing the Dumbing Down of America’s Children
by John F. McManus
fitzgerald griffin foundation

John F. McManus

APPLETON, WI — Let’s go back a few years to 1983. It was then after two years of gathering information, a prestigious federal panel known as “The National Commission on Excellence in Education” concluded that our nation’s schools were producing “a tide of mediocrity” marked by declining student ability in every subject.

The Commission’s report, entitled A Nation at Risk, offered an attention-getting summary: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre education performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

Three decades have passed since that attempt at a wake-up call. Over this period, the federal government deepened its already unconstitutional meddling in the field of education, and results went from bad to worse. Today, among students in the top industrialized nations, America’s teenagers are ranked 31st in math, 24th in science, and 21st in reading. Instead of fixing a serious problem, it got worse as one federal program followed another. The dismal performance will likely continue downhill as Common Core Standards take root. Let’s take a look at some of the record.

In 1990, representatives of 150 countries — including the United States — met in Thailand for the United Nations-sponsored “World Conference on Education for All.” Official sponsors and participants included UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP (United Nations Development Program), the UN-related World Bank, and an assortment of other world planners. The event produced six goals for education that became the basis for the U.S. program known as “Outcome-Based Education,” an educational fiasco approved by President George H. W. Bush. It did nothing to correct education’s deficiencies, while creating even more federal domination over schooling, ramping up globalism; sexuality instruction; and propaganda favoring acceptance of abortion, homosexuality, and population control.


Today, among students in the top industrialized nations, America’s teenagers are ranked 31st in math, 24th in science, and 21st in reading.  

The next intrusion by the federal government carried the label “No Child Left Behind,” created by the Department of Education in 2001. The title of this endeavor should have been applied to all youngsters who will have to shoulder skyrocketing U.S. indebtedness because they surely won’t be able to escape its burden.

After education’s test scores continued to drop, President Barack Obama introduced “Race to the Top” in 2009. This newest program received a hefty $10 billion bankroll that enabled the government to bribe states into accepting the Common Core Standards even though no one had yet seen them. Many of the 45 states that did sign on when they took a share of the billions are having second thoughts because angry parents are learning what is occurring in the schools where they send their youngsters.

Even though the federal government promotes and funds their use, the Common Core Standards are not a government creation. Never established by law, there was no congressional input, so there can be no Congressional repeal. They were written by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and it is this combination that holds the copyright over what is produced. A large chunk of the financing for this new educational scheme has come from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The University of Arkansas’ Dr. Sandra Stotsky participated in an official review of Common Core’s English standards and was expected to validate what she saw. But she refused to grant her endorsement of the English Standards. She found that texts given to students included an Environmental Protection Agency manual dealing with “Recommended Levels of Insulation” (for homes and businesses), and the Executive Order 13423 issued by the White House outlining ways to strengthen federal environmental, energy, and transportation management. Reading government manuals and directives will surely never increase the love of reading that all decent English teachers strive to encourage. And it will leave intellectually starved students programmed to become deliberately dulled-down workers for the new world order.

Similarly, Stanford’s Dr. James Milgram, a veteran mathematics instructor, participated in the official review. He found the math component of Common Core extremely deficient. Citing actual errors and labeling the material “as non-challenging as possible,” he too refused to endorse the program. Curiously, Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram were the only actual teachers of specific subjects who were asked to review and endorse the Common Core Standards. All other members of this Validation Committee were professional educators who had no background in anything but the educational processes.

Left-wing groups usually found applauding any new innovation in education have joined in condemning what Common Core has produced. The New York State Teachers Union, the huge National Education Association, and the Chicago Teachers Union — all identifiably on the Left — have allied with conservative groups and individuals in intense opposition to the new program. While math and English standards are already in use, similar standards are being readied for history, science, social studies, sexuality, and more.

The primary author of the Common Core program turns out to be a man named David Coleman. After he got the Common Core ball rolling in 2012, he accepted appointment as president of the College Board, the producer of the almost universally employed SAT exams. Students can be sure that these important tests for entry into higher education will now become consistent with Common Core’s new educational system. Not only will this development affect public schools, but it will impact religious schools (Catholic, Christian, etc.) and home schoolers whose students will also be taking an SAT exam in hopes of doing well enough to be accepted at a preferred college. If students want to do well on the SATs produced by David Coleman, they will have to be familiar with Common Core. Many Catholic school districts have already jumped aboard the Common Core bandwagon.


Instead of fixing a serious problem, it got worse as one federal program followed another. The dismal performance will likely continue downhill as Common Core Standards take root.


Some resistance is building. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin recently signed legislation repealing Oklahoma’s acceptance of Common Core. Two other states (Indiana and South Carolina) have likewise indicated they want nothing to do with the program. More state governments, including Arizona, are considering similar action. It remains to be seen whether any state that pulls out will have to return the funds that earlier bribed them into acceptance.

Billionaire Bill Gates has said, “We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.” As the program was being created, current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told a UNESCO audience in 2010 that the coming program “can only be achieved by creating a strong cradle-to-career continuum that starts with early childhood learning and extends all the way to college and careers.”

Veteran teacher Mary Black, an activist opponent of Common Core and one of the leaders of the rapidly-growing Freedom Project Education home-schooling program allied with The John Birch Society, has claimed: “My review of Common Core standards indicated that they were designed to teach students what to think and not how to think.” She is particularly outraged to note that the tax-funded abortion provider Planned Parenthood has participated in writing the “National Sexuality Education Standards.” Others have pointed out that any national standards are loaded with propaganda designed to teach the young about the dubious claims of global warming enthusiasts and globalism itself. “Let the states compete to produce the best students,” say many who are already opponents of any federal involvement in education.

America’s education system is in bad shape and getting worse. And its decline is not the work of any foreign power. It is the result of educationists whose record shows them to be proven failures whose thinking and planning is clearly un-American. Common Core has already stimulated many to wonder about any federal involvement in education. That, of course, is the real answer to America’s failing education system.

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John F. McManus is President of The John Birch Society.

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