Uncommon Opportunity


“A sound mind in a sound body is a short but full descriptionof a happy state in this world.” —John Locke

What if Obamacare—the attempt to nationalize and, ultimately, socialize the health industry and one-sixth of the nation’s economy—is not the worst thing that has happened in the last four years? What if, largely under the radar, the progressive establishment has successfully gained the capacity to have well-nigh complete control over something even more important than our bodies: our minds, or at least, our children’s minds? If a sound mind in a sound body (and I hope a sound soul thrown in there somewhere) is what constitutes our happiness, then what happens to us when we put our bodies and our minds in control of some unaccountable, outside force? What if that force thinks far less of us than we ought to think of ourselves: intellectually, morally, spiritually? 

Something very close to that has happened in this business called the Common Core. And it is no mere piece of populist punditry that has given it the monikers Obamacore, Commie Core, and so on. Any way you look at it, the Common Core is what the educational establishment and progressive politicians in general have wanted for a long time: a completely nationalized system of education that is accountable to no elected body or group of parents. And this system was adopted with virtually no public discussion a couple of years back, when Race to the Top money was used to bri—, er, persuade state governments that were strapped for cash to adopt it.

That is bad enough. But what is really awful, ridiculous, and often reprehensible is what takes place in classrooms across the country under the false assurances of “college and career readiness for a twenty-first-century global economy.” While the authors of the Common Core trumpet their “standards,” and a host of “experts” (who ought to know better) join them, and millions of dollars of “non-profit” and corporate funds are spent to advertise this educational regimen, parents—mostly moms—are looking at the math their students are bringing home and wondering, “why should it take my child five minutes to do a simple addition problem in this ‘new way’?” Gradually, parents are also starting to wonder about some of the things being taught in what used to be called English class. The more they learn about the Common Core, the worse it turns out to be. 

Of course, these concerned, taxpaying parents are dismissed as “suburban moms” by the Secretary of Education and “just moms” by local educrats in almost every state. Yet those suburban moms are a lot closer to their children’s education than Arne Duncan is. Two of these suburban moms brought me into this fight about seven months ago. These incredible ladies—Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle—are responsible for the “pause” in Indiana that has spread to other states, the purpose of which is to figure out what Common Core really is—which means exposing it for what it is. But the pause is only helpful if we make use of it. That means getting to the heart of what it is, exposing it, dismantling it, and then having a discussion about what education should really look like in this country. 

To help forward that discussion (and perhaps others) on Ricochet, Peter Robinson has kindly invited me back to the site. So, for the next few weeks, I shall offer occasional pieces that will, I hope, shed some light on the almost impenetrable darkness that is the Common Core. The problem, you see, is that the Common Core, though in one sense very horribly written, is at the same time cast in such jargon-ridden educationese that the real intent behind the “standards” is concealed. Well-intentioned people have flipped to Appendix B of the English Standards and concluded, “there are some good books listed here, so this can’t be all that bad.”

What I hope I can do is serve as a translator: of the philosophy behind Common Core, of the standards, of the means of selecting books, of the books themselves, and of how these books will be taught in the classroom. (I am referring to the English Standards.) My thesis is simply that the architects of the Common Core are story-killers. They are trying to remove the great stories of a great people from the classroom and replace them with either postmodern tales of self-induced malaise or outright political indoctrination. Without great stories—stories of heroism and love and sacrifice and faith—a people can hardly be great. And, as Plato pointed out long ago, whoever controls the stories of any society controls the politics. Stories, like music, speak straight to the soul; they shape the soul. A person’s soul determines how he will live and act in the world and, yes, vote. The struggle over the Common Core—the current manifestation of the hundred-year march of progressive education—is nothing short of a struggle for the souls of the nation’s children. It is really that simple.

I invite folks who really want to study up on this issue, to read my book The Story-Killers, available on Amazon and Kindle. I very much look forward to what Ricochet readers will have to say. Based on what I have seen over the past few months, I believe that this is an issue we can win. I do not mean that in the sense of a short-term political victory. Rather, the fight over Common Core, which is taking place in state capitals, cities, and towns across the country, is an embryonic grassroots effort to take back our schools. Consequently, it presents the opportunity that we have not had in this country since the 1983 A Nation at Risk report. It presents the opportunity to figure out what an education really is, which can only mean figuring out what the world is, who human beings are, what justice is, and what beautiful and ennobling stories teach us about the human condition. That’s a discussion worth having and a cause worth fighting for.

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    Abolish government schools. Public schooling was originally a private undertaking. It can be again.

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  2. Profile Photo Inactive

    Part of the reason people “bought into” common core was that until very recently none of it had been spelled out.  As in the case of Obamacare, the opening sentences sounded good.  

    And, as in the case of Obamacare, it is only very slowly that we have been given any real sense of what this program will look like.  The standards are in fact vague, misleading, and practically useless.  The pedagogy is very new (although evolved from John Dewey principles) and that pedagogy and those curricula are TOTALLY untested anywhere.  We have no evidence that they will work in even the simplest sense and a great deal of evidence that they will not work.

    And I am talking about grades 1-3 here.  This doesn’t even begin to address the ideological issues which have not, as yet, been formally nailed down in Common Core. 

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  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    genferei: Abolish government schools. Public schooling was originally a private undertaking. It can be again. · 53 minutes ago

    I really don’t thing there is any other solution.

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  4. Profile Photo Inactive

    I look forward to the series and thnak you for your efforts.

    And everyone needs to remember that Jeb Bush is one of Common Core’s biggest supporters/apologists.

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  5. Profile Photo Inactive

    I dislike institutionalized standards of any kind, as usually they lead to mediocrity if not outright stupidity, at least from those who are expected to implement them. 

    But i’m hard pressed to say that the below standards from the Literature section of the C.C. are somehow oppressive. In fact, i’d say they are much less so than most previous state standards.

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

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  6. Profile Photo Inactive

    But, you do mention that much of the C.C. is hidden behind these very, vague, innocuous statements. So, i’m happy to hear how these above points will be manifested in a way that is somehow harmful for education. 

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  7. Profile Photo Inactive

    Common Core seeks to make us all good, little proletarians.

    I mean that in all senses, political, economic, and especially spiritual.

    In its  own way, the heart of this curriculum replaces the quest for wisdom and presentation of models of human excellence (two modalities of liberal education) with the qualities of mind and soul that make a good worker ready for the job market. Thus the imposition of technical manuals alongside the classics.

    In the same way, it undermines serious civics education as to what it means to be an American–as to what one’s rights and one’s duties are as a citizen. This is precisely what is aimed at by removing, say, the Gettysburg Address from its context and historical circumstances. And what does CC replace such deep historical, statesmanlike learning with? A cosmopolitan attitude. In short: can we expect as much Mandela as Lincoln?

    Welcome Prof. Moore, looking forward to your further contributions.

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  8. Profile Photo Inactive

    RobGen, I highly recommend Dr. Moore’s book if you want the answer to your questions. It’s actually quite absorbing for a book on what seems like a drab topic. Half the trouble with CC is the context it has dropped into: the system that will interpret and carry it out. 

    As he references above, the good thing about Common Core is it presents an opportunity for a national conversation about what education should and must look like for a self-governing, republican citizenry. (Small r republican, of course.) Conservatives have for a century or more left the mental acculturation of our children up to people who largely want to dismantle the country we love.


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  9. Profile Photo Member

    Bad as it may be, it is NOT worse than Obamacare. Why would you even write that?

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  10. Profile Photo Thatcher

    Dr. Moore, you teach at Hillsdale College (my surrogate alma mater, since I disowned my real one), and Hillsdale is doing the Lord’s work at Hillsdale Academy. May the Hillsdale-trained Teachers spread the gospel of true education.

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  11. Profile Photo Member

    This is a topic of the utmost importance.  It would be helpful if Moore could provide specific examples showing the dangers and shortcomings of the CC.  

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  12. Profile Photo Inactive

    The problem with education is that it is run by “Educators”.  These are people who have Masters and Doctorates in “Education”.  To earn these advanced degrees, they had to write and defend a thesis on “Education”.  The problem comes from their desperate desire to test their theses.  They then convince “Education” departments to adopt their method and see what happens.

    The reason I have put “Education” in quotes is I see it as different from teaching.  “Education” is a process through which children pass but from which they learn little.  Teaching is what someone does to impart knowledge to a learner.  It is not a process but a co-conspiracy to pass knowledge.

    So with “Education” we end up with “Educators” that are “teaching” math that have no math background.  Their degree is in “Education.”  The same goes for English, History, the Sciences.

    “Educators” will tell you that their specialty is “communicating” with the students.   They know “how” to teach whereas a math major doesn’t know “how” to teach.   I would surely rather my child were in a math class run by a math graduate.  At least the teacher would know the subject matter .

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  13. Profile Photo Inactive


    The “standards sound good” and they are certainly focusing on interpretation and “higher order” thinking.  Unfortunately, they are always vague and so in grade after grade you have something like students will read at the grade appropriate level without specifying in a measurable way what that is.  And first graders are required to make observations about things like the author’s intent!!!

    We are now seeing the tests for third grade.  Look them up.  The student is given a story about a lion and a fox which contains a riddle of sorts.  If the student correctly solved the riddle you know that he has been able to read the story and understand it.  If he doesn’t answer the question correctly (and it is a poorly crafted question) then you don’t know if (a) he can’t solve riddles, (b) he can’t understand the story, or (c) he can’t read. 

    There is no direct testing of reading. 

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  14. Profile Photo Inactive

    I am acquainted with one of the people guilty of creating the math “standards” of Common Core. A couple of years ago I was treated to a discourse on the wonders of the new Mathematics Education for the early grades. After five minutes of “concepts”, “processes,” and “developing intuition” I asked, “And is there anything in the standards about actually teaching some, you know, facts? Like addition and subtraction? Multiplication?”

    “Oh, that’s just rote learning, it’s not important…”

    The heck it isn’t. If you don’t have basic arithmetic firmly embedded in your brain then I can guarantee you won’t develop any “intuitive understanding” of algebra.

    But then, in Common Core algebra is probably a post-graduate subject.

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