Parents and teachers are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the United States educational system as the new Common Core academic standards are fully implemented into public schools across the nation.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was developed by the State Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and has been adopted by forty-three states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity in order to compete for a "Race to the Top" Department of Education grant introduced in the Obama administration's 2009 economic stimulus package.
Proponents say Common Core will give students a deeper understanding of math and English by focusing on critical thinking over rote memorization. Philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation gave a whopping $230 million to the cause, is one of the curriculum's most vocal advocates.
Back in March, Gates told told educators at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards' Teaching and Learning Conference that the Common Core is the key to creativity for teachers. He also charged that the controversy around the Core "comes from people who want to stop the standards, which would send us back to what we had before."
However, critics of Common Core say the curriculum is inconsistent and incoherent in the way it introduces mathematical concepts and skills.
"In second grade my child has already encountered addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, measurement, time, and estimates. She has only mastered the basics and still more comes. Each advance into new knowledge is more convoluted," writes RedState.com editor Erick Erickson.
"I predict that if we continue implementing Common Core, average students will drop out of math as early as they are allowed," writes math teacher Cynthia Walker.
"Even math-bright students will hate math. Tutoring companies will proliferate to serve wealthy families. The educational gap between rich and poor will widen. If we want to destroy math and science education in this country, keep Common Core."
Opponents also warn that the reduction of classic American literature and poetry students will read in favor of non-fiction "damages instruction for both English and U.S. History classrooms."
Earlier this year, the Home School Legal Defense produced a documentary, "Building the Machine," asserting that the Common Core treats kids like machines on an assembly line.
"Common Core's rigid and technology-laden approach to learning makes individualized education almost impossible," reads a statement on the HSLDA's website.
"The Common Core standards require students to master a checklist of skills every year.Teachers all across the country must teach from the same prescribed list and at the same prescribed pace. This one-size-fits-all approach will supposedly makes children "college- and career-ready," but will it produce young men and women capable of careers that call for independent analysis and creative problem solving?"
As Common Core continues to imbed itself more fully into the nation's public schools, many parents fear for the future of the educational system--particularly as the next presidential election draws near.
"Opposition to Common Core cuts across ideological lines, party lines, and demographics," concludes Erickson.
"Much of the political press either does not have children or have children old enough not to be affected by it. But it is going to be an issue this election season."