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As parents, it is important for you to be aware of what is happening in California schools starting in September. The federal government has issued an entirely new curriculum to the states called the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Not all states have bought into this plan, and as more is being learned about the plan, many parents are forming groups in concern about it.

The state governors were given a monetary incentive called Race to the Top (RTTT), a promise to compete for grant money if they would sign up for the program — sight unseen. Many governors signed on in hopes of winning Race to the Top, with no vote of the state legislators, nor was there a vote by Congress.

Unfortunately, California did not win RTTT, (11 states won grant money) and the California Department of Education estimates it will cost $759 million to implement the national standards.

This is a top-down program, directly from the federal Department of Education. No longer is education the responsibility of the states, or even the local school board — or for that matter, the classroom teacher. The classroom teacher will be a “facilitator” as the Common Core curriculum is done entirely on the computers through e-learning, which is pre-programmed.

Some teachers might give a sigh of relief, and say, “Wow, this sure takes a load off me, and all standards will be uniform.” Why did they go to school and graduate school? What about individual attention that only a teacher can detect?

Common Core is “common” in that your child is now held to a “common” standard that is one that is neither evaluating their capacity for excellence, nor providing the means to achieve on an individual basis. It is aimed at “leveling the playing field” for all students.

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You might wonder who is benefiting if the students are held to a “common standard” and the teachers are there to “facilitate” the computer-based curriculum. That would be the authors and publishers of the texts and e-programs (Pearson Foundation), as well as the testing assessment centers. And don’t discount all those PCs and software from Microsoft.

This is all coming to our schools in the fall. Another aspect for parents to be cautious of is that, in the initial assessments of your child, there are more than 400 different pieces of digital information gathered on your child. Where is this data going? Who is looking at it, and for what purpose?

Common Core is the federal government takeover of the core standards that control the curriculum in the schools.

Loehner lives in Napa.

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