The issue of Common Core

Over the past several days I have had a lot of people ask me about Common Core. Where do I stand, and what do I want to do about it?

Common Core is a problem. Not because a single congressional candidate thinks so, but because tens of thousands of parents, teachers, and students – at the minimum – think so. Even teacher unions are finally stepping up and admitting that this is off the deep end.

I first heard about Common Core over the summer of 2013. I didn’t know a lot about it, and I honestly haven’t had the time to do the kind of research I have put into Fracking, Obamacare, STEM jobs, NY Safe Act and the overreach of Executive Orders. Still I did learn about it, and I am scared.

I have talked to dozens of parents and teachers. I have yet to hear a single one mention a positive about Common Core. All I have heard are the horror stories of frustration that students and teachers endure because of this quasi-federal experiment in trying to run education for States and localities that the Government neither understands nor cares about their individual needs.

Common Core, as I have come to understand it, can be describe like this,

“Instead of listening to and trusting parents and teachers to know and do what’s right for students, the commissioner has offered meaningless rhetoric and token change. Instead of making the major course corrections that are clearly needed, … [John King] has labeled everyone and every meaningful recommendation as distractions.”

Those aren’t my words – those are the words of NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. His words are being kind. Opponents of Common Core include National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel , Catherine T. Nolan – chairwoman of the State Assembly Education Committee, New York Civil Liberties Union, even Governor “progressive capital” Cuomo has pulled back his support.

I can keep going, but I really don’t need to. Parents already understand that this isn’t just flawed, it’s broken. So do teachers. In fact the only people who don’t understand that Common Core is devastatingly the wrong idea is the Federal Government, and a handful of political appointees that are clinging to the concept (and perhaps Rep. Richard Hanna who values its “global competitive nature“, whatever that means) . Top of that list is John King.

Common Core meeting in Binghamton NY

This was the Common Core meeting with John King and parents, at West Middle School in Binghamton NY 2013

John King is the face of Common Core in New York State. I listened to him when he came to Binghamton in the winter. His town hall meeting filled West Middle School with no less than 300 parents, teachers, and a fair amount of students. Mr. King listened to several score of all the above implore him on the failure of the program, and to remove it. They said this for 3 hours, and I counted no less than 40+ speakers with more waiting as time ran out.

Mr. King, dispassionately told all in attendance that they would get used to it. That was his position, and that is the position of the Federal Government. Hardly the path to innovation or improvement for our youth.

I am not the most brilliant man, and education is not my forte. But I am smart enough to realize that when tens of thousands of parents and teachers are all saying the same thing, it’s not just a glitch it’s a failure.

Common Core kills innovation. It stifles teaching. It stresses students without need. It does not elevate learning, nor motivate it. It assumes all knowledge needed in life is only that which this limited program provides. The standards it preaches are both ignorant of the fluid world we live in, and the needs of the students burdened with it.

For all these reasons I oppose Common Core.

My generation helped to create the internet, cell phones, laptops, scores of medications and scientific breakthrus. Had we Common Core none of this would likely exist. Or at the very least not from America.

The only thing the Federal experiment of Common Core proves is that there is good reason why education is a State issue.

I hope this clarifies where I stand on the issue.

The beauty of people doing what people do best

Last night, November 22, 2013, I had the pleasure to join about 100 people at the Lost Dog Cafe as we listened to Ayana D and Taina Asili perform with their band. The event was a fundraising event for the The Mimi and Louie Del Valle Latino/a Achievement Award, based at Binghamton University; and The Mimi Del Valle Scholarship, part of Binghamton High School’s Dollars for Scholars program.

Taina Asili (left singer) and Ayana D (right singer)

Taina Asili (left singer) and Ayana D (right singer) and band performing at Lost Dog Cafe

The scholarships are awarded to a graduating senior, and are based on the appreciation of the arts. They are funded through donations, of which 100% of the proceeds from the event went to these scholarships.

This reminded me of 2 things.

The first is how, when left to themselves without interference from the Government, people find ways to provide for the passions they believe in. In this case, the passion of song, music, and performance – handed down from Mimi and Louie Del Valle, the parents of the 2 singer/songwriters – plus the desire to share that passion with younger generations inspired the scholarships.

This wasn’t Government mandated. It wasn’t Government created or designed. It was not created from some study or a think tank or political poll. Which is why it is so beautiful and inspiring.

The second thing is that, based on the effect of Common Core on schools and the ever diminishing existence of the Arts in schools, the need is ever greater. The Arts are essential to growth of any society. It provides for the inspiration and creation of things that are sometimes completely unrelated to the art itself. A mind that can create something that can lift the spirit, does inspire others as their spirits are lifted in hearing or seeing that art, I believe.

Again, this is something that Government cannot do. Government does not lift the spirit, national pride aside. That is not the purpose of Government. Every attempt of Government trying to do so fails.

Most of all I have to say that for 2 hours, I like all that attended, enjoyed and shared a love of music and performance.

For those that would like to learn more about the scholarships, visit

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