Talk about misplaced priorities. John B. King Jr. is coming here again tonight to talk about torturing children with high-stakes tests that bureaucrats designed to justify their paychecks. Instead, the state education commissioner should stop trying to steal the innocence from childhood and recognize the inherent value in all of our kids.
King’s planned dog and pony show at the WNED studios cannot obscure the fact that his Ahab-like Common Core obsession is driving our kids crazy at the very time they should be romping through gym class and throwing spitballs at the nerds. As one Lancaster mother recently lamented, they “aren’t going to get third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade back.”
A Clarence teacher was more blunt, saying Common Core puts extra stress on students, teachers and parents, and “leads to a rise in anxiety for everyone involved.”
And for what?
Just so we can “race to the top” in international reading, math and science comparisons? Is that worth what we’re doing to our kids in the process? I thought we had learned our lesson when we revamped Little League so that everyone gets a trophy.
Nor should this be a socially divisive issue. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was rightly criticized when he said opposition to Common Core was coming from “white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.”
The reality is that concern over stress on our kids has been growing for years. It’s just that the media didn’t pick up on it when it was called “urban psychosis” and affected only inner-city youth. Now that juvenile stress is spreading to the suburbs, it’s finally getting the attention it deserves, as test scores plummet, and shortcomings are revealed.
Of course, the elites will claim, as Jack Nicholson’s character famously put it in “A Few Good Men,” that we can’t handle the truth. But truth be told, veracity is overrated. As kids learn – or don’t – in geography class, “de-nial” is not just a river in Egypt; it’s a necessity for good mental health.
Even with a perfectly functioning website, our health care system is not equipped to deal with the epidemic of stress-related ailments that King and accomplices such as Regent Bob Bennett are creating. We are a nation at risk of producing graduates with high blood pressure, heart disease and all of the other ailments brought on by abnormal stress levels.
And to what end? As the jobless recovery has shown, we don’t need so many educated workers. If advocates succeed in raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, U.S. kids can live perfectly adequate lives doing the types of jobs that can never be exported. There will always be a need for fast-food workers wherever people eat; ditch-diggers have to be where the ditches are. It’s perfectly honorable work – minus the stress that is ruining our kids’ lives.
Plus, with fewer people left to do more and more work, the chances for interpersonal conflict – a major cause of workplace stress – has diminished significantly. There’s no need to be preparing kids for stress they’ll never encounter anywhere else but school.
Instead, King and Bennett should help them find their place in the world by providing more-practical life-skills guidance: Don’t worry, be happy.