May 01 2013
Saw a news item a few weeks ago that could be exhibit A regarding
what educators are calling a Common Core of Knowledge that a student
graduating from any high school in the country should have mastered.
The multi-millionaire superstar of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant,
was telling a reporter about the entire Lakers team having gone to see
Daniel Day Lewis’ exceptional performance in the movie Lincoln.
Asked to characterize his and the team’s reaction to the film, Bryant
said they all thought it was a pretty good movie but were shocked and
surprised by the ending.
Really? These gazillionaire basketball players, most of whom
supposedly are college graduates, none of them including Kobe, knew
that Lincoln had been the first president to be assassinated? That folks is
what developing a Common Core of Knowledge for students to master is
It is not a plot by the Federal government to usurp local control of
our public schools. It is not a conspiracy to brainwash our students
into becoming liberal leaning robots who will look to Big Brother for
everything. It is not a conspiracy.
It is a long overdue effort by educators at all levels to define a basic
body of knowledge every student should master if they are going to be
awarded a high school degree and proceed out into the labor force to
become a responsible, accountable productive citizen able to function
reasonably well in a society full of those all too ready to exploit the
ignorant and the uninformed.
Put another way, it is just plain common sense for this country to
develop and require the mastery of a common core of knowledge.
Every state’s superintendent of public instruction is participating in
developing some aspect of this effort working with the U.S. Department of Education.
Idaho’s Tom Luna is a practicing member of the LDS Church and is
about as conservative as they come. He is as sensitive and as attuned to
guarding against infringements on “State’s rights” and “local control” as
the most ardent Tea Party type could wish. He has Idaho participating
in a coalition of states developing recommendations in math and the
language arts for what they believe should be the common core.
He still has his common sense about common core. As any reader of my
columns knows, I was highly critical of the proposed Luna Laws and the
top down process he and Governor Otter engaged in to foist their vision
of education reform off on the Idaho electorate.
Both learned from their mistake, however, and adopted the common
sense approach of putting together a task force of the interest groups
to travel the state and listen to the grass roots regarding what reforms
consensus can be built upon.
Capably led by State Board of Education member Richard Westerberg,
the task force has been traveling the state taking testimony. Despite
Westerberg’s thoughtful “scene-setting” presentation, some of the
hearings appear to have been hijacked by the conspiracy theorists of the
world that see a dastardly federal government plot of some sort in the
effort to define a common core of knowledge.
Do these conspiracy types not have a lick of common sense? Do
they not understand that Idaho’s high school and college graduates
are competing for future jobs in an international market place against
Chinese students, Indian students, Swedish students, all of whom have
mastered more knowledge than most American graduates?
Do they want to condemn their children to a new form of indentured
servitude to the worlds better educated? How do they expect employers
to differentiate and hire the best qualified for future jobs based in part
on the mastery of knowledge and the ability to be life-long learners
mastering ever more if not through some kind of national standardized
It is just common sense to require a well defined common core of
Every time I see one of these conspiracy types stand up and with great
zeal launch into their harangue I’m reminded of something I heard a
former Idaho State Superintendent, Roy Truby, once say: “I have a hard
time understanding these people who say they love their country but hate
So do I, Roy. So do I.Share on Facebook