The Fusion of Education and Politics

In 2009, the Council of Chief State School Officials and National Governors (CCSSO) Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) combined forces to create “college and career ready standards”—the result, the Common Core Standard Initiative.

The line of thinking that was used to develop standardized education may look great on paper, with an all states doing the same thing and leaving no kids at a disadvantage approach.  But the mandated high stakes testing that accompanies this line of thinking is a direct result of the wrong people running the show.

Sadly, children are not widgets, and schools are not factories slated to create minions that meet industry standard, and as long as the wrong type of leadership is pulling the strings, children are going to end up the victims.  There is no place for politicians in education.

Teachers are the ones who need to lead the classroom and make decisions when it comes to determining what is best for their students.  There certainly needs to be expectations in place, but the current state of education has teachers on the back burner, and politicians and testing giants on the front lines.  The problem is, the people on the front lines have profits, not children, as their driving force.

That’s right, a group of politicians, business leaders, and textbook and testing publishers are deciding what’s best in education.  Just like calling the plumber to fix the electricity, the results have been “shocking”.

Those who support standardized education, high stakes testing, and the government’s Big Brother rule over current education will tell you that educators were involved in the process.  They will even cite professional education organizations that played a role in the development.

School desk photo courtesy of Todd Petrie/Flickr

School desk photo courtesy of Todd Petrie/Flickr goes as far as explaining, “The National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), among other organizations were instrumental in bringing together teachers to: provide specific, constructive feedback on the standards.”  What they’ll leave out of this claim is how they used the teachers’ “feedback”.  Ask any teacher, and you’ll quickly learn—they didn’t use it at all.

Nonprofits and grassroots organizations are popping up across the nation, and teachers are becoming vocal about how the Common Core, and more importantly, the high stakes tests that are a result of Common Core are affecting their students. is an organization dedicated to sharing the truth about how teachers feel about the issue plaguing their classrooms. Carol Brown, a kindergarten teacher of 19 years, protested the way the standards force children as young as five or six to spend all day taking written tests, with no time for creative play.  Five year olds taking tests—all day long!

Many believe that Common Core is just a ploy by textbook publishing companies to sell more tests.  In fact, according to Fortune magazine,  test creation has evolved into a $2.5 billion dollar industry in the last five years.

Ironically, the executive director of CCSO, one of the originating organizations of the Common Core, Chris Minnich, worked for Harcourt, one of the big four testing giants, before he joined CCSO.

The bottom line is clear.  Teachers and school officials need to be the ones who are in charge of showing student growth as evidence of learning—not testing giants.  The data returned to teachers after the tests are completed does not even show up until the students have moved on.

Furthermore, the numbers are complicated and not easily understood.  Real time data gathered by teachers who are personally invested in their students learning is far more beneficial to student growth.  It’s in real time, it’s effective, it’s useful, and it’s genuine.  It’s not manufactured with the sole intention of financial gain.  It’s manufactured with the intention of personal gain for the children.



Donna Kay MorgeseAbout the Author: Donna Kay Morgese is a freelance writer covering topics in politics, education, human rights, wildlife welfare and astronomy. She is an advocate for just and ethical practices for mankind and the environment.