BY: Heather Fox @heatfox
When I think of Common Core, I think of the ultimate government run pyramid scheme. When looking at the basic concept and model of a pyramid scheme, we could easily fill in the top name on the pyramid with that of the government and start working our way down. First, we must understand what the basic concept and model consists of.
A successful pyramid scheme combines a fake yet seemingly credible business with a simple-to-understand yet sophisticated-sounding money-making formula which is used for profit. The essential idea is that a “con artist” Mr. X (in this example – the government) makes only one payment (federal grant money or promises to states). To start earning, Mr. X (the government) has to recruit others (David Coleman and Bill and Melinda Gates-Microsoft) like him who will also make one payment each. (In our case, David Coleman’s one payment is in the way of services. He is the architect and Gates is the financial investor). Mr. X (the government) gets paid out of receipts from those new recruits. (In our example, the government receives power and government control in lieu of actual dollars or dollars in the way of “campaign contributions”). They then go on to recruit others (Governors, state legislators, Superintendents and on down the list). As each new recruit makes a payment, Mr. X (the government) gets a cut. He is thus promised exponential benefits (or power and campaign contributions) as the “business” expands.
Such “businesses” seldom involve sales of real products or services to which a monetary value might be easily attached. However, sometimes the “payment” itself may be a non-cash valuable. To enhance credibility, most such scams are well equipped with fake referrals, testimonials, and information.
The flaw is that there is no end benefit. The money simply travels up the chain. Only the originator (sometimes called the “pharaoh” and in our case the government) and a very few at the top levels of the pyramid make significant amounts of money. The amounts dwindle steeply down the pyramid slopes. Individuals at the bottom of the pyramid (those who subscribed to the plan, but were not able to recruit any followers themselves) end up with a deficit.
In our case those that end up with a deficit are our teachers and children. Gates gets to create and sell to our schools the software that Common Core will need. David Coleman will profit from the architecture of Common Core. The door will be open for him to “design” and construct future educational products while being able to profit from “professional development”, speaking engagements pertaining to education and Common Core and/or a business partnership with Gates. We will keep making our payments, but we will NEVER see a return on our investment. By the time it gets to the bottom of the pyramid and the fog lifts, the people at the top will have moved on to bigger and better things, and we will be left with financial debt, no progress in our children’s education, less control and feeling stupid for buying into this ridiculous scheme to begin with.
One size does not fit all. More government control is not a positive and will not correct our educational failures. We cannot impeach every corrupt, elected official or arrest all of the scam artists that led us down this path. We cannot reinvent the wheel of education.
What we can do is quit paying these excessively, high salaries to education leaders and administrators that have no record of success nationally and only care about their own political agendas and financial well being. We can also start fighting to get the money to the people on the bottom of the pyramid (the kids and teachers). They are our foundation. They can make the difference that is needed along with community and parental involvement.
With better schools comes better communities. People move to those areas and are followed by businesses. Local revenue increases. Property values increase, thus resulting in increased property taxes. This is a great, natural way to increase the money coming in without having to increase taxes. No one ever complains when their property taxes go up as a result of increased property values. With the success of our schools comes the success of our communities, better educated children, and a stronger workforce.
The educational system of yesterday is the same one that produced the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. 5 out of 10 people on Forbes’s Top 10 Wealthiest People in the World ARE U.S. citizens. 11 people out of the top 17 Wealthiest people in the world are U.S. citizens. Included in this list are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Charles Koch, David Koch, Christy Walton, Michael Bloomberg, Jim Walton, Sheldon Adelson, Alice Walton and Robson Walton. If we add to this list the likes of local born and raised success stories like Oprah Winfrey and Fred Smith, it would appear the wheel of education worked just great for these individuals. Not having Common Core, a government controlled educational system or the technological advances of today did NOT stop these individuals from becoming highly educated and successful in today’s global economy.
The truth is we do not need the government to control or reinvent the wheel. We need to encourage parents, teachers and communities to work together to ensure the wheel does not go flat and runs as smoothly as possible.
Just ask the highly paid, DCS Administrators, who recently attended a Professional Development training session, that taught them “Parental and Community Engagement is Essential”. In fact, research has shown “When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more” (www.edweek.org/ew/issues/parent-involvement/).
“This professional development session proved to be one of the most beneficial opportunities we have provided for our Title I schools during the last few years”, said Lewanda Morse, Director of Federal Programs.
Rob Cushman – Horn Lake Middle School Assistant Principal said, “The Parental Engagement Institute was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved. It turns out that some of the things we have been doing to involve parents aren’t even effective at all! Getting the parents involved with all aspects of their child’s school, including the planning process, is the true key to parental engagement. We need to do a better job of listening to the ideas parents bring to the table”.
Amen to that, Mr. Cushman! It is just sad that we had to pay for some expensive professional development training to get our school district to realize something this basic. I think administrators and our school leaders should have already known this.
Maybe the truth, as it continues to come out, is that the basic, fundamental principles of education have been abandoned. Debating curriculum or standards is mute if the basic principles are not being adhered to.
The government cannot fix this problem by implementing a one size fits all set of expectations or standards. The solution can only come from those on the bottom of this educational pyramid scheme.
About Heather: Heather Fox is a parent from Olive Branch. She is a past PTO leader in Desoto County Schools, and a proponent and organizer for the school choice movement in North Mississippi. Follow her on Twitter @heatfox