Common Core’s Little Green Soldiers

climateeducation-a9117b32fbeba1efc3ce45c4e9d8a2a2a390927b-s6-c30Remember the children singing praise songs to Obama back in 2008?  Remember young teenage boys marching in formation and shouting out thanks to Obama for their promising futures?

The appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education initially was seen as a savvy bipartisan move.  But under his watch the Department of Education has become a propaganda arm used to influence the next generation to accept the idea of catastrophic man-made climate change as per the UN, the Environmental Protection Agency, and such groups as the National Wildlife Federation.

In a multi-pronged approach, the Department is teaming up with various non-profit and government organizations and curriculum companies to promote “fun” contests and activities for students, while promoting the next phase of Common Core “State Standards”—in science.

For example, the Department’s latest Green Strides newsletter (February 28) announced three contests for K-12 students who display their agreement with the government’s position on climate change.

In that newsletter, the Department of Education announced that another federal agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and its National Environmental Education Foundation, have “launched an exciting video challenge for middle school students called Climate Change in Focus.”  In this contest, middle school students are asked to make a video that “expresses why they care about climate change and what they are doing to reduce emissions or to prepare for its impacts.”  To win loyalty to the EPA, it is announced that winning videos will be highlighted on the EPA website.  The effort sounds like the kids’ cereal box promotions of yore: the top three entries will receive “cool prizes like a solar charging backpack,” winning class projects will receive special recognition for their school, and the first 100 entrants will receive a year’s subscription to National Geographic Kids Magazine.

Another contest, National Wildlife Federation’s Young Reporters for the Environment, invites students “between the ages of 13-21 to report on an environmental issue in their community in an article, photo or photo essay, or short video.”  Entries should “reflect firsthand investigation of topics related to the environment and sustainability in the students’ own communities, draw connections between local and global perspectives, and propose solutions.”

Students are also encouraged to make nominations for “Champions of the Earth,” a “UN-sponsored award for environment, Green Economy, and sustainability.”  Among the 2013 laureates are Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo, who orchestrated a public-private biosphere reserve status for a region in Mexico, and Brian McLendon, of Google Earth.

Students already get exposed to climate change and sustainability in textbooks which are bought with taxpayer funds, as well as in videos and online materials produced by taxpayer-supported Public Broadcasting.  Many students, of course, have had to sit through Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

Quite obviously, a middle school student does not have the necessary scientific knowledge to make videos about climate change—a particularly challenging scientific problem.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)—the next phase of Common Core—will make the situation worse, however.  Students will be even less capable of distinguishing science from propaganda.  These standards, like those for math and English Language Arts, were produced by Achieve, a nonprofit education group started by corporate leaders and some governors.

As in the standards for English Language Arts and math, the NGSS are intended to be transformative, or as Appendix A states, “to reflect a new vision for American science education.”  They call for new “performance expectations” that “focus on understanding and applications as opposed to memorization of facts devoid of context.”

It is precisely such short shrift to knowledge (dismissively referred to as “memorization”) to which science professors Lawrence S. Lerner and Paul Gross object.  The standards bypass essential math skills in favor of “process,” they asserted last fall at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation blog.

Common Core standards, in all disciplines, are written with a lot of fluff to conceal their emptiness.

Lerner and Gross discovered “inconsistency between strong NGSS (and Appendix C) assertions and what was actually found by the mathematicians, among others, of our reviewing group.”

(The Common Core math standards themselves have garnered much criticism among teachers, parents, and students; focusing so much on “process,” they make simple problems bizarrely confusing, as a collection of examples illustrates.)

Lerner and Gross condemn the “Slighting of mathematics,” which does “increasing mischief as grade level rises, especially in the physical sciences.”  Physics is “effectively absent” at the high school level.

“Several devout declarations” appear, however, the authors sardonically point out, as they note this one from Appendix C:

In particular, the best science education seems to be one based on integrating rigorous content with the practices that scientists and engineers routinely use in their work—including application of mathematics.

Lerner and Gross attack the “practices” strategy, as an extension of the “inquiry learning” of the early 1990s, which had “no notable effect on the (mediocre) performance of American students in national and international science assessments.”

With some sarcasm, they write, “It is charming to say ‘. . . students learn science effectively when they actively engage in the practices of science.’”  However,

Students will not learn best if they practice science exactly as do real scientists.  A firm conclusion in cognitive science contradicts that claim.  Beginners don’t and can’t ‘practice’ as do experts.  The practices of experts exploit prior experience and extensive build-up in long-term memory of scaffolding: facts, procedures, technical know-how, solutions to standard problems in the field, vocabularies—of knowledge in short.

Not only do the Next Generation Science Standards shirk the necessary foundations in math and science knowledge, but they explicitly call for including ideological lessons, such as “Human impacts on Earth systems.”  For grades K-2, students are to understand, “Things people do can affect the environment but they can make choices to reduce their impact.” In grades 3 through 5, students will learn “Societal activities have had major effects on the land, ocean, atmosphere, and even outer space.  Societal activities can also help protect Earth’s resources and environments.”  This is from part ESS3.C of the NGSS standards.

“Human impacts on Earth systems” are huge topics, when approached legitimately.  They present quandaries to scientists at the top levels.  Yet NGSS imposes them on kindergartners.  The objective, of course, is not teaching legitimate science, but indoctrination.

Amazingly, ten states have already voluntarily adopted the Standards.

Such efforts, coordinated by the Department of Education, threaten the future of science itself.

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  • Gamal

    While we freeze and worry about global warming Russia arms and invades

  • UCSPanther

    People who brag about voting Democrat because they are “educated” are only deluding themselves in the form of confusing education with indoctrination.

    Educated people know and understand how politics work, and regard the claims of politicians with skepticism. Ideologues (aka partisan hacks) obsessively cling to ideology, follow cults of personality and react aggressively towards anyone who even questions their ideology.

  • CaoMoo

    Got to give the climate alarmist credit for sticking with a discredited theory and shoving it down peoples throat like it was Obamacare.

  • pennant8

    One reason why this PC driven science agenda moves along without too much opposition from adults is that we now have a whole generation of adults who have little ability to recognize empirical evidence. The situation is bad enough among adults, but even worse with their kids. It basically boils down to this: Nobody looks out the window anymore. Everyone, adult and child alike, have their mugs planted on a video screen of one size or another all day long. If it’s not on the screen it’s not important.

    This phenomenon is particularly telling among people who view themselves as environmentalists. They claim to be champions of the environment, but they never actually look at it. They don’t notice the profusion of healthy vegetation that appears every spring along with an increasing variety of animal life. They read on their little LCD screens that this is not happening so why believe their lying eyes.

    • SoCalMike

      The closest many of the brainwashed and conformed get to nature is the nature channel and the science guy whore Bill Nye who isn’t even a climate or earth scientist but his company gets money from government and enviro NGOs so he dutifully prostitues science for personal and ideplogical gain.
      Most of these people just don’t ever or only rarely get out in nature.

    • RightVote

      Math and Science are Universal Languages.
      Through the Monopoly of Government Control Schools and Public Money Union Enforcers he are falling away educationally.
      Those ‘in charge’ ARE the product of Our Government Control Schools.
      This problem is NOW Generational.
      You wonder about the Parents? They are the Product of the SYSTEM!

  • Eliane

    Global warming is a reality! Although you , in the north hemisphere, are having a very cold winter, we,in the southeast part of Brazil, have had an extremely hot and incredily dry summer. I’ve never seen this before!! It is not a question of right or left. it is a question of what to do to stop this….

    • Tina Trent

      Eliane, no matter what the future holds, it is still better to teach children science than propaganda.

    • logdon

      Move to Alaska.


        Move the al aqsa mosque to Al Aska.


      A hot summer is not proof of global warming, much less man-made global warming. We need to educate our young so that they understand that, not so they can be indoctrinated into the cult of global warming.

    • mmichlin

      So maybe it’s not a Global Warming but Temperature Redistribution:)
      On a more serious note: globally there is an increase in average annual temperature; however, there is no increase in average annual temperature in, for example North America, while there it does exists in northern Siberia. How CO2 emissions can create that – I don’t know.
      Worth researching – but indoctrination is not research…

    • JeromefromLayton

      Last winter in South Africa, the entire country got dusted with snow. This is warming? Back in the 1970s, a fellow wrote a book called The Cooling in which he blamed the advance of the desert into the Sahel on climate change. Brazil is roughly at the same latitude. There is an oscillation in the Pacific called La Nina – El Nino that causes a lot of this change.

  • Tina Trent

    Thank you, Mary, for once again deflating the southern (Republican) governors’ false claims that Common Core will in no way insinuate federal content in the schools.

    The pikers. After they way they showered anti-Common Core activists with raw contempt in Georgia and elsewhere, there’s going to be some heady hangover. Boy, are they gonna miss us in the primaries and the 2014.

    Governor Jimmy Carter’s Grandson of Georgia, anyone?

    Though I now really want a solar-powered backpack and realize how deeply I could be motivated by the promise of children’s cereal prizes of yore. You have to give these people credit for realizing that the best way to sell the gimmick-laden Common Core agenda to the public is the Lucky Charmification of science education.

    • tagalog

      A solar-powered, null-weight/anti-gravity backpack!

  • Clare Spark

    The “deep ecologists” (who enjoy a masochistic Nature religion) have penetrated the culture and especially the Democratic Party. It is yet another attempt to undermine science and mathematics, tools for upward mobility for ordinary people. See “Darwin and the climate change debate: the Greens have it.”

  • tagalog

    So, “memorization of facts devoid of content” is not a good way to teach science. So I guess my question is, what is the “content” they’re referring to, if it’s not knowledge of specific things as opposed to ideology or pre-determined goals?

    • frodo

      Context was the word. It helps to read.

      • tagalog

        “Context,” correct, not “content.” You are right. I was wrong.

        My question remains the same, however. Can you answer it?

        • frodo

          No, that would be silly. Context means what it says, and in the context of the quote above, it means application rather than only memorization–and that doesn’t imply any lack of trying to teach facts too.

          Now, please don’t misunderstand, I think a lot of the talk about standards and the edu-speak is deeply silly. But the idea of teaching facts with applications isn’t a bad one.

  • John Davidson

    The only reason to join the Liberal movement has too much to do with receiving favorable treatment. Some offer up their children to further that cause.

  • jburack

    To put it mildly, this is a very sloppy effort to tie this NGSS project to Common Core, when in fact the blog entry on which the article is based says pretty much the opposite. Lerner and Gross in that blog entry ask “Do the NGSS, in fact, call effectively for science-relevant math, and do those calls align, grade-wise, with CC-Math?” Their answer is NO, and in their view that is a bad thing. Bad that is that NGSS does not align with Common Core, not as this article states that it does align with Common Core. It is not surprising that a blog entry on the Fordham site would criticize a program for not being consistent with Common Core, as the Fordham Institute is a champion of Common Core.

    As are the best conservative education writers around – Sol Stern of Manhattan Institute being one of the best of the best, for example. Common Core in fact is a rigorous yet limited set of standards that conservatives ought to embrace. That so much of the right has dumped CC into a bizarre koolaid mix of paranoia about data collection and unsubstantiated rants about communist propagandizing is a very big mistake on their part. It makes them appear foolish in the eyes of a great many people who favor rigor in curriculum, teacher accountability, limits to teacher union power and other conservative reforms.

  • Marlene Weingart

    If the ruination of our country by way of Global Education, Education for the 21st Century, Common Core, et al, there is a MUST READ and SHARE book. It is a sweeping look at Common Core, it roots, and it is not just about education. Ties to the economy, politics, and an explanation of why anyone would promote this is made clear in this book. It is self published by a Lawyer by profession, and curious researcher and a most excellent dot-connector, Robin S. Eubanks.
    The book’s title Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon. You can buy it on Amazon. I highly recommend it.

  • Mike

    Common Corpse. “We don’t care about you, we have your children”. I believe Adolph said that.

  • USARetired

    Arizona State Senate has voted to ban this crap in our state and I think all other States should follow our lead!

  • herb benty

    Well, creating little Red Soldiers has been such a success, they just had to start creating little Green Soldiers, as these two ideologies are intertwined. I thought the States were responsible for Education. You do realise they are manipulating our beloved children, and ruining their lives.

  • JeromefromLayton

    By the way, see if “Little Johnny” is comfortable with phonics. If you see an aversion reaction, that means the school is actively discouraging phonics in favor of John Dewey’s “look-say” method. The last buzz-word I saw was “Whole Language”. This practice is particularly devastating in boys. Here’s where it gets really interesting: Today’s parents are the third generation subjected to this pap. At age 75, I recall being one of the victims. What saved me was moving from Swarthmore, PA to a little town in Illinois where they didn’t play those games in 1946.