Hey, you can read it in the Huffington Post, so it must be true. After decades of education school analysis, and billions of dollars of expenditures on public education, achievement for American students is . . . stagnant – barely holding onto its mediocre spot in the middle of the world of education. Julia’s* cradle to grave support by the State is, well, lacking. Bring on the Federales, in this case the first Obama stimulus, to save her; it’s name is Common Core, and it’s already in place in your Illinois school.

Last week conservativeBrand had coffee with neighbors, one of whom offered instruction on the newness of the national curriculum that is called Common Core. She may be excused for not following education trends for the last century (too young) or for swallowing the propaganda put out by the local Edublob (her children’s teachers and school administrators). But here’s a list, for starters, of a few of the education fads that have come down through the education professionals since the 1920s: self esteem, cultural literacy, multiple intelligences, child-centered learning, cooperative groups, discovery-based learning, critical thinking, standards-based instruction, invented spelling, new math, thematic instruction, whole language reading, peer tutoring, constructivism. If you grew up in Winnetka public schools (where Francis Parker invented the Winnetka Way in the 1920s), many of these movements would sound way too familiar. It’s fortunate that North Shore children also had the kind of parents who disguised the failures of public education with enrichment and tutoring outside of school hours. Most of them probably also did not know it was happening that way, paid their exorbitant property taxes, and still counted themselves lucky.

Although it is being marketed as a state initiative, Common Core actually is a national curriculum that will shift the emphasis of elementary and high school curricula away from literature in English and reading classes, and towards explanatory rather than correct answers in math teaching. While the curriculum may be billed as voluntary for school districts, it is rapidly becoming mandatory – first through bribery (stimulus funds) and then through universal national testing (coming). And parents who think there is safety in private or parochial schools, or even home schooling, should watch out: the Dept. of Education has you in their crosshairs as well. [Meanwhile there is a growing movement to opt out of Common Core – read more about that here.]

As education analyst Diane Ravitch writes in the New York Review of Books, Common Core never has been field tested. Where discovery-based math techniques (Everyday Mathematics) have been tested, the result has been weak mathematical skills. The real world demonstrates pretty clearly that math is a tool, not a philosophy; right answers are a necessity. In general, the last decades spent pushing children to explore knowledge, with teachers as guides rather than classroom leaders, have merely allowed public educators to hide the weakness of outcomes from the public. The new national curriculum enmeshes children in the adult world of worries about partisan political issues (i.e. coal and gas destroy the environment), allowing propaganda (i.e. our founders were racist) to flourish in the classroom – in effect brainwashing the youth of our nation.

Michelle Malkin has written extensively on the harvesting of student and family data that will be central to Common Core. The progressive agenda is to track children’s competencies in recognizing “bias” in sources, flexibility, cultural awareness, appreciation for diversity, empathy and service orientation. Goodbye western canon, hello social justice.

And who’s behind the Common Core movement to transform public education? Start with many of the usual suspects: large corporations, unions, PTAs. Add to that guiding lights of the progressive world: George Soros, Obama pal Bill Ayres, and newly moderate presidential-hopeful Jeb Bush. Finally, let’s go back to Julia*, and the Alinskyite goal of a utopian state where the central government makes all the decisions, from cradle to grave – or maybe it should be pre-school to the death panels?

If you have forgotten the Obama Julia campaign, refresh your memory below.