I had a conversation with the parent of one of my rec league basketball team kids last week that was rather insightful, and (in my opinion) indicative of the larger problem facing this country today.
We were having a team meeting after a particularly disheartening loss, and the kids were every bit as frustrated as the coaching staff, so I opted to give them some private time to go work some things out by themselves.
As I sat and watched them get into a couple of agitated discussions, one of the parents approached me and asked what was going on.
“They’re having a team meeting” – I replied. “They’ll be done in a few minutes.”
“Why are they having a team meeting?” – asked the parent.
“They’re working out some issues and trying to figure out why they lost.” – I replied.
This is when the conversation took a hard left turn for me.
“Why does that matter?” – The parent asked. “They’re here to learn and to have fun. Isn’t that why you’re here?”
“No, I am here to win games.”
“That’s silly, you should be happy that you all had fun, and that the kids learned something.”
“They just lost a game to an inferior team.” – I replied, a bit annoyed at this point, then I pointed to the kids. “Does that look like a bunch of kids who just had fun?”
The parent looked at me and made some kind of a comment about my not needing to get angry about the whole thing, then walked away.
I guess I must be a relic from a past era when winning was far more important than showing up and trying, and when performance, not participation, was rewarded. In my rec league everyone gets a trophy, even the players that never showed up for the games, so at this point just simply showing interest in perhaps actually participating in the sport gets you an award.
To me that considerably cheapens the first-place team’s achievement.
Michele Malkin is developing a series of articles exposing the Federal government’s “Common Core State Standards Initiative”, for what is is…a means to “breed’ low-information voters via the creation of no-knowledge students. It’s well worth the read, whether you are a parent with children in the public school system, or simply a befuddled citizen wondering what’s happened to the nation.
America’s downfall doesn’t begin with the “low-information voter.” It starts with the no-knowledge student.
For decades, collectivist agitators in our schools have chipped away at academic excellence in the name of fairness, diversity and social justice. “Progressive” reformers denounced Western civilization requirements, the Founding Fathers and the Great Books as racist. They attacked traditional grammar classes as irrelevant in modern life. They deemed ability grouping of students (tracking) bad for self-esteem. They replaced time-tested rote techniques and standard algorithms with fuzzy math, inventive spelling and multicultural claptrap.
Under President Obama, these top-down mal-formers — empowered by Washington education bureaucrats and backed by misguided liberal philanthropists led by billionaire Bill Gates — are now presiding over a radical makeover of your children’s school curriculum. It’s being done in the name of federal “Common Core” standards that do anything but raise achievement standards.
Common Core was enabled by Obama’s federal stimulus law and his Department of Education’s “Race to the Top” gimmickry. The administration bribed cash-starved states into adopting unseen instructional standards as a condition of winning billions of dollars in grants. Even states that lost their bids for Race to the Top money were required to commit to a dumbed-down and amorphous curricular “alignment.”
In practice, Common Core’s dubious “college- and career”-ready standards undermine local control of education, usurp state autonomy over curricular materials, and foist untested, mediocre and incoherent pedagogical theories on America’s schoolchildren.
You may wonder how this has anything to do with rec league basketball, and may be I am reading far too much into it, but as I read Malkin’s column, I understand the government’s goal here: to make it appear that our children are performing better in school by lowering the standards of teaching.
Malkin goes on:
Professor Jonathan Goodman of New York University found that the Common Core math standards imposed “significantly lower expectations with respect to algebra and geometry than the published standards of other countries.”
Under Common Core, as the American Principles Project and Pioneer Institute point out, algebra I instruction is pushed to 9th grade, instead of 8th grade, as commonly taught. Division is postponed from 5th to 6th grade. Prime factorization, common denominators, conversions of fractions and decimals, and algebraic manipulation are de-emphasized or eschewed. Traditional Euclidean geometry is replaced with an experimental approach that had not been previously pilot-tested in the U.S.
Ze’ev Wurman, a prominent software architect, electrical engineer and longtime math advisory expert in California and Washington, D.C., points out that Common Core delays proficiency with addition and subtraction until 4th grade and proficiency with basic multiplication until 5th grade, and skimps on logarithms, mathematical induction, parametric equations and trigonometry at the high school level.
I cannot sum up the stakes any more clearly than Wurman did in his critique of this mess and the vested interests behind it:
“I believe the Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States. No state has any reason left to aspire for first-rate standards, as all states will be judged by the same mediocre national benchmark enforced by the federal government. Moreover, there are organizations that have reasons to work for lower and less-demanding standards, specifically teachers unions and professional teacher organizations. While they may not admit it, they have a vested interest in lowering the accountability bar for their members. …This will be done in the name of ‘critical thinking’ and ’21st-century’ skills, and in faraway Washington, D.C., well beyond the reach of parents and most states and employers.”
American children are significantly lagging behind other industrialized nations, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development:
Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. ranked 25th among peers from 34 countries on a math test and scored in the middle in science and reading, while China’s Shanghai topped the charts, raising concern that the U.S. isn’t prepared to succeed in the global economy.
Barack Obama’s response to this information is Common Core…de facto nationalization of our school system.
Because of parameters set by the federal government, states that opt out of Common Core are out of the running for both federal grants and the coveted waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind law. From there, states exert the same kind of influence on local school districts. The districts don’t have to implement Common Core, but the standards are the basis for state-designed standardized testing. Ultimately, districts and teachers are held accountable for students’ performance on the tests.
Regardless of how proponents defined it, Common Core is in anything but voluntary. In actuality, it’s a $16 billion trickle-down mandate, the vast majority of which is unfunded.
That parent wanted her child to not feel bad about losing a game by elevating participation above performance and feeding the child’s self-esteem by making losing a game appear to be a positive result, and that is indicative of the nation at large.
Finally at last American kids and their parents have something to celebrate…parents have succeeded in falsely promoting the idea that kids believe in their fragile uneducated little minds that they are the most brilliant humans on planet earth. And that is true, the kids are the brightest little idiots on planet earth as long as planet earth extends not further than between their own ears.
Wow, this is tremendous news for America’s future – kids that are now – fatter, dumber, illiterate, but who believe they are God’s little gift to the human race.
So is it any wonder these tiny little dancers (hint: Elton John song), who are so technologically sophisticated (I have no clue what that means – they know how to text and send a photo — so do their grand parents, but the difference is grandparents can also read), think that Obama is the smartest president ever in the 500 year history of America, which apparently these little geniuses cannot find on a map.
You see these new little Tweeters and Facebook narcissists believe that every moment of their lives is of such earth shattering importance, that they find it necessary to update their Facebook status and then tweet the fact that they did update their Facebook page.
America’s low-information voters are simply no-knowledge students coming of age, and we’re about to drive our educational standards even lower, so our student don’t feel bad about being dumber than their counterparts in the rest of the industrialized world.
So what exactly is the value to society for members of that society being self confident, yet not possessing the most rudimentary critically thinking skills and education required to succeed in an extremely competitive world? So we have children now who are ill educated but confident of the fact that they are uneducated.
But let us not be negative and look to the positive from the $120,000 spent producing a tragically ill prepared high school senior from public school academia.
- A full 12 percent of public school students understand American history.
- Approximately 68 percent of students move on to graduate from high school.
- America ranks as high as 12th in reading against 32 other industrialized countries.
- Even the President of the US only speaks and writes at an 8th grade level.
- American students are 25th in the world in math, shows they aren’t in last place.
- American students “care” more than other countries because they wear ribbons.
- All American students win participation trophies.
- American students “try harder” to get the correct answer.
- American students are more tolerant of gay and lesbian relationships.
- American students know how to apply a condom.
- Even though American students dolts, they believe in their minds they are not.
I want the boys in my basketball team to understand that winning is having fun, and to learn that losing is not indicative of a character flaw, but that it can point to a lack of effort, and a failure to perform to their own highest standards.
I want my boys to expect more of themselves each and every time they set foot on that court.
Step on that court determined to win, then give it your all between the whistles.
If you do that and you win, that’s a whole lot of fun.
If you do that and your team still loses, then use that loss as a learning tool, and figure out what the team could do better for the next game.
Then come out to win the next game.
Don’t just show up…second place winners are nothing but first place losers.
Americans should never accept being first place losers.
Continue reading Michele Malkin’s series on Common Core here