Common Core by any other name would…

Thanks to Verity on another post, I’ve been introduced to ‘Fascinating Aida’. Aida is a very proper English matronly sort, who seems to like ribald songs suited to sailors… Just my kind of person ;-)

Turns out that one of the songs is about the changes in education in the UK and the OFSTED (Office of Standards in Education) screwing things up. Reading between the lines of the song, it sure looks like “Common Core” by yet another label being pushed in the UK.

So I played this for a certain teacher I know (my spouse) who is un-fond of Common Core (to put it lightly). Having gotten her to smile, I think it would be nice to share a bit more broadly.

Be Advised: It has some swearing in it toward the end, so not for play in places where that would be undesired.

On a more serious note; this implies that Common Core (or something like it) is being pushed by some entity above the national level ( Agenda 21? ) and that it’s being used broadly. Given that it doesn’t work very well, I have to think that this is just Yet Another Power Grab and not interested in actually educating children. Oh, and it doesn’t seem to matter if you are talking “conservatives” or “liberals”; they both seem to push this Centralized Authority trash.

I’m glad to see that some counties in Florida are dumping Common Core, and that some States (like Indiana ) are looking to dump it wholesale. Perhaps a few videos like this one for the US version would help…

At one point they refer to Jeremy Hunt, and I had to figure out who that was. Seems he’s a politician with some shady behaviours and a tendency to some controversies:

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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19 Responses to Common Core by any other name would…

  1. Simon Derricutt says:

    Since I also have a better half who’s a teacher, I’ve passed it on to her. In the UK it seems that every year there’s some meddling with the education system which therefore makes it difficult to stick to long-term plans for teaching. Common core does seem to be the current flavour.

  2. For more (and more outspoken) on Jeremy Hunt, see: Also, for information, the UK has a long tradition of Rhyming Slang (as in ‘Dog & Bone’ = phone). I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what ‘a Jeremy Hunt’ might be. RGB

  3. Richard Ilfeld says:

    An education program, untested, sponsored by politicians who clearly cannot do simple maths, nor construct a simple declarative English sentence, is a poor risk for society. It can, however, provide an exceptional tool for indoctrination. Teachers and students are exceptionally diverse.
    Good students and good teachers will likely survive this progressive meddling,as they have previous waves of “educational reform”. The less capable among both teachers and students will likely not be so lucky. Heaping more problems on the oppressed is the progressive way, in education as in other aspects of public life.

  4. Steve Crook says:

    Education in the UK has been messed around with for the last 50 years or more. It used to be under the control of head teachers, schools governors and local education authorities. The end result was that for children of lower income children prospects were poor. I know I had to go through it, good schools and bad.

    Poor teachers stayed poor as did heads. OFSTED were created to ensure that all schools met a common set of standards in teaching, using the most effective methods and that teachers who had problems were helped to improve the way they taught.

    The curriculum was changed to ensure that children left school with a core set of skills and knowledge that would best equip them for work in a modern society that required literacy and numeracy and, ideally, a degree or other skills acquired through training.

    But then you have to know how things are progressing so you can pick up on laggards and help them across the finishing line. So they decided to introduce regular testing of students, a bit like the SAT exams in the US.

    We got the idea to make the SAT results of the schools public so parents would know what sort of hell hole their kids were being sent to.

    Because this lot was devised and implemented by national government it was pretty much opposed from the start by teachers unions and those in local education authorities all of whom stood to lose control. The implementation was botched. Then schools started to work out how to game the system to improve their ratings.

    Oddly, it doesn’t seem to have improved things at all. I haven’t mentioned grade inflation yet. But this comment is already much too long.

  5. Janet S says:

    It’s called Common Purpose over here, and has been spreading its pernicious tentacles throughout the entire UK establishment for years. National and local government are riddled with it, the civil service would almost cease to exist above the basic ranks if its proponents were removed. It’s how someone can preside over a hospital that killed 2000 or so people by negligence and neglect, and then walk into another top management post elsewhere in the NHS. It’s how social workers and the police, knowingly and complicitly, can let at least 1400 girls be raped and abused by Pakistani gangs for more than a decade and yet escape without blame and almost without censure. It’s how a head of social services can oversee a situation where a 2 year old boy is brutally tortured and beaten to death over a period of months, and still believe that nothing was done wrong – in fact, be uncomprehending of why anyone would think she should take any responsibility for what happened. There are plenty of things wrong with the UK, but Common Purpose is one of the worst. I apologise for the hyperbole, but look into it, if you’ve a mind to; you won’t like what you see.

    As an aside, the reason they use Jeremy Hunt is more likely because at one time he was the Culture Secretary, and on a vaguely memorable occasion he was to be interviewed on the BBC’s main propaganda arm, Radio 4, and the presenter made a Spoonerism with his surname and position during the introduction.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    The drive to central control by a few self appointed Elite is the objective. Common core, No child left behind, etc. are just “the nose of the camel under the tent” to this end game. Government funds are the carrot to induce compliance. In California this started in the 1950s as way to drive local school districts to unify into mega districts controlled by professionals that would attain efficiencies of scale and a better education outcome. Small problem! California had the best education in America. Now, 60 years later, the Liberal Progressive experiment has resulted in the most expensive education with the poorest outcomes and the proponents want to double down on their failed experiment. WE can not be WRONG! we must try harder, give us more power and more money. We promise a better outcome. PERIOD! REALLY! this time for sure!
    Fool me once, shame on you. Gruber! Fool me twice, I must be stupid! pg

  7. Paul_Somerset says:

    The reference to Jeremy Hunt concerns the man’s sole claim to fame – that it is almost impossible to mention his name without involuntarily converting it to rhyming slang.

    A couple of incidents from BBC radio four years ago:
    ‘The Today presenter James Naughtie was both congratulated and condemned after he accidentally introduced the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, as Jeremy C*nt live on air today.

    ‘The Radio 4 gaffe sparked a flurry of online comments, which were refuelled just over an hour later when Andrew Marr – presumably in an effort to maintain editorial consistency – made exactly the same mistake on the same station’s Start the Week programme.

    ‘Naughtie’s mistake came just before the 8am news as he trailed an 8.10am interview with Hunt. “First up after the news, we’re going to be talking to Jeremy C*nt,” the Scotsman said before swiftly correcting himself.’

  8. gallopingcamel says:

    How do you find this stuff, Oh noble Chiefio?

    Gilbert & Sullivan is perfect for deriding progressive education. While G&S is a great vehicle, the impact depends on the insights of real teachers in real classrooms in the UK.

    I applaud p.g.sharrow’s comments above. He understands that the main problem with K-12 education in the USA is the relentless centralization of control. When the control of education is centralized it is possible for groups with an agenda to impose their loony ideas on schools from “Sea to Shining Sea”. Common Core is just the latest example of this dismal fact.

    When you empower “Leaders” in Washington or in state capitals you disempower everyone else. Today, principals, teachers, students and parents have no control over what is going on in government schools.

    The only hope for improving K-12 education is to ensure that there will never be another “Top Down” initiative like Common Core. We must defund the Department of Education in Washington as a prelude to closing the corresponding organizations in every state. Only then will you have a say in how your child is educated.

    I have spent the last 20 years freeing schools from the dead hand of the Evil Empire (the education bureaucracy, aka Educrats) only to find the Empire striking back with Common Core.

    The Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools pi***d me off by flooding my home fourteen times. I started out bending over backwards to work with them but their incompetence and bad faith turned me into as zealot. I decided to compete with them by creating charter schools under the banner of FREE, a 501(c3) non-profit corporation. Within a few years FREE had six schools with over 2,000 students and 250 employees in North Carolina.

    Since retiring to Florida I have become old and feeble so I have only been able to start one charter school here. However four proposals for additional schools have been submitted by the board I serve on. The most recent proposal was submitted to the Orange County Public Schools (Orlando) and it amounted to 943 pages. Over two hundred and fifty pages of this absurdly bloated proposal were made necessary by Common Core.

    All twelve of the charter proposals I submitted in North Carolina amounted to less than 50 pages. Six charter schools were created as a result and only one failed. You can view three of them here:

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    “the main problem with K-12 education in the USA is the relentless centralization of control. When the control of education is centralized it is possible for groups with an agenda to impose their loony ideas on schools from “Sea to Shining Sea”. Common Core is just the latest example of this dismal fact.”

    @gallopingcamel, to that above, I would change to “Small” groups. Even in higher education small groups with an agenda are forcing their views on the masses, with organized intimidation. But there is hope! a backlash is forming, caused by resentment to this top down, bottom up harassment of dissent to their agenda.
    It is unfortunate the they have the benefit of our tax dollars and bureaucratic power, in this drive to enslave us to their agenda, while we must fight them on our own dime. But, they must have public funding to survive. They can not fund themselves and must work behind the scenes so that people don’t notice the entrapment. Cutting them off from the money would be a good start.
    This internet allows vigilant people to sound the alarm and organize resistance to this danger to free thought. Even though some of us are getting a bit old to be warriors. ;-) pg

  10. Jason Calley says:

    My memory is that Lyndon Johnson was the first to allocate Federal funds into public schools. The promise was that “Of course local schools should be controlled by state and local governments, just like they have in the past! This Federal funding is just a no-strings-attached gift that will help out local schools and allow them to provide whatever extra services they feel is needed. We in DC will NEVER tell you how to run your schools!” Some people complained that no where in the Constitution was the Federal government authorized to act upon or fund public schooling, but the states took the money anyway. When Carter was President, there was an official US Department of Education formed. For a decade or two the Republican Party put up a plank for most elections to dissolve the Department of Education, but not any more. Now most people just assume that the Federal government is part of the education process and not even the Republicans have any desire to change that. The only argument on a national level is over who shall steer the propaganda into the minds of our children.

  11. Another Ian says:

    Re Jeremy Hunt – think rhyming slang

  12. Graeme No.3 says:

    The problem with centralised control is that it leads to control groups speaking unto control groups. Since no-one rally cares for them they become homes to people with different ideas; e.g. teachers become unionised as a result of being ignored and treated as fools or worse. The Union then becomes the plaything of careerists looking for a move into politics, who ignore their members wishes. The bureaucracy loves talking to them, and them only, as a single voice. The other problem is that bureaucrats become enamoured of “progressive” or “enlightened” ideas which will cause the student results improve. When they don’t there are cover-ups and frantic changes which make things worse.
    In South Australia many years ago the Education Department (in the australian vernacular “the shiny bums” ) became enthralled by “new maths”. Older readers may remember Tom Lehrer having a few words on the subject. The result was a generation of children leaving high school without the slightest idea how to add up a few items, unless they were first converted to log base 3 or some such. The reaction of employers and universities wasn’t favourable. The private schools usually toned down or ignored the public curriculum. Fortunately electronic calculators became cheap and saved a lot of the ex-public school students from unemployment.

    A side result was that before this debacle there were complaints that 67% of university students were coming from Private Schools, despite being a minority of those enrolled at school (<20%). Much money etc. was pumped into getting more public school pupils into university.
    Thirty years later the results were evident. Now 90% of university students come from private schools. The numbers of private school enrolments has grown considerably (~34%), helped by a very marked preference by public school teachers to send their children to private schools.

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    How do I find this stuff? A tendency to follow things a bit further than other folks. That slight Aspe tendency to not let go… So Verity had a link to a song. I couldn’t stop there. This was a new artist to me… it needs to be explored, absorbed, understood… Several songs later this one is on the list. I listen. It connects with my ‘exposure’ to Common Core… So a posting follows.

    Similarly, there’s a comment above about Tom Lehrer and New Math. Several searches for an original of him at the piano playing it (not found one yet), I hit this one of him live in Copenhagen:

    It is about an hour of his stuff, all B&W. Several ideas spring from it:
    1) Why are the Danes tending to clap in unison? Yes, we white folk tend to always clap on the beat and don’t do well clapping along with rhythm & blues or soul or jazz or… but there was no music then, so why?…
    2) At about 24:40 there’s a alternative Aristotle version of The Elements song. Never heard it before and likely a bit only done in his live act.
    3) The Atomic Bomb songs are even more germane now in retrospect…

    and a few more… Now just WHICH one or ones get explored more is a direct result of time limits and personal interest. Eventually it may land as a posting on the current PC effort to undo Operation Paperclip (as though anyone caught up in a social oppression would never consider just ‘going along to get along’ and not really embrace the thing they joined for personal gain…) or perhaps on what happens when Iran gets the bomb and that paper they found with dozens of references to EMP… or a wander into how elements form, and might bosons really just be particles of light that have turned their linear momentum into angular momentum by rotating really fast (speed of light at the perimeter) or…

    So a bit more depth of search on things, then a more ‘random rotor’ on where the connections go… then repeat a couple of times until something interesting turns up. (Like, maybe, a muse about how it all works ;-)

    Here’s a copy of “New Math” for anyone wanting just that (it isn’t in the Copenhagen link):

    FWIW, I was taught via New Math and found it both interesting and not that hard. Then again, I got a Math Award in high school and have high native ability in it. I did notice other kids having a hard time. Lucky for them, the teacher would fall back on basic arithmetic teaching; and the bases and such was just “added material” if you needed it… (In about 3rd grade? when we were learning our “times tables” and long before bases and factors and such, I’d figured out factoring. I was turning things like 8 x 6 into 4 x 6 + 4 x 6 so as to make the stored table smaller in my brain… Worked well until we hit things like 12 x 12 and 12 x 11. I timed out on 3 x 4 x 3 x 4 and got sent back to my seat. (12 x 11 I just made into 120 + 12 ) A week later passed the oral after memorizing the ones where the factors didn’t help… So, long before school introduced me to factoring, I’d been doing it. So maybe bases and factors were easy for me because they were not new for me by the time they were taught in school…. (we had them in 5 th grade IIRC).

    In short, it was nice for folks headed toward being a mathematician, but not so useful for the average kid wanting to be able to do daily real world arithmetic problems.


    Seems the “fiddle until broken” is endemic in the political class…

    @Richard Ilfeld:

    It is also part of the Communist Manifesto:

    10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form and combination of education with industrial production.[15]

    So no vocational ed, no apprentice programs, and central authority in charge of public education…

    More later, I have to break for a while…

  14. spetzer86 says:

    Your wife might find this site interesting: It covers a lot of Common Core background, including the links with the UK and Australia. Very informative with lots of references to texts, publications, meetings documenting where the concepts are coming from.

  15. Pouncer says:

    To combat the problem, visit your local school and/or school administration building and ask to see the textbook for a given grade and subject. In fact most states have rather strict and specific statute law on the books securing the right of parents and general citizens to conduct such a review. Which, of course, is why the school systems now HATES textbooks in general, keeps them on the shelf or in a warehouse, and uses, instead, a “curriculum” of electronic media, webpages, consumable handouts from various sources, and “project-based learning (PBL)” portfolios.

    Shakespeare or Beethoven might write a textbook you see, but it is the individual typical classroom teacher who is responsible for writing a “lesson plan” to implement the “rubrics” set forth in the “curriculum” to meet the “standards” … which means every single classroom is in fact doing something slightly different than every other, even though the stated purpose of the efforts are to “standardize” the results. And instead of having a small group of PhD work with test classrooms, experienced teachers, and citizen-committees of parents to compromise on a textbook in a more-or-less public process, the “curriculum” is developed in secret and sold, typically, sole-source.

    Find out if the school district has a textbook, if they are using it, see what fraction of lesson plans follow the textbook, whether or not the semester plan follows the sequence in the text… I think most citizens, taxpayers, and parents would be appalled. Note the schools CONTINUE to spend hundreds of dollars each to obtain the textbooks, but they too often do NOT actually distribute them to students.

  16. Pouncer says:

    The credentials of the professionals tasked to create the lesson plans based on the curricula set by the state and federal standards and whose work replaces that of text-book-authors have been sampled and is reported here: .

    The thing is, these teachers probably COULD manage a class where the primary duty of a teacher is to herd a group of ignorant students through a well-designed sequence of readings, examples, definitions, exercises, and odd-numbered-answers-in-the-back. Just as I have heard and enjoyed amateurs playing Beethoven or little kids “acting” out scenes from Shakespeare, I have experienced bad teachers imparting a tolerable education by sole reliance on a good textbook. But leaving the teacher without professional resources to create a plan, we entrust the entire next generation to the dregs of the last generation. Mimeographs of photos of xeroxes of half-pages …

  17. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Pouncer; That might explain why my education results were different then my peers and my children. I would read all the books in the classroom and school library and generally ignored the teacher. One of my early teachers said that teaching should include Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and how to use a Library. After that you could educate yourself. I’ve been learning new things for nearly 70 years. It is fun!
    “Those that can, will learn. Those that can’t must be taught.” pg

  18. Power Grab says:

    When I was trying to learn more about Common Core (besides the fact that all the teachers I know despise it!), I came across an article that mentioned that Bill Gates looked forward to developing computer-based technology that could “read” students and their emotions. I thought I saved it, but can’t find it. However, I did find this article just now:

    I got to thinking about how the failure of teacher trainees to pass a literacy test might dovetail nicely with the development of computer-based tutors/teachers.

    I’m guessing that computer-based teachers that can “read” students can replace human teachers. Anybody else see that coming?

    Also, does anybody else see computer-based doctors coming down the pike?

  19. Power Grab says:

    Oh, here’s another article:

    It’s a couple years old, but I guess that illustrates how long they have been trying to make progress toward that goal.

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