The Michigan House has approved the Common Core State Standards for education, as have 43 other states. But as is also happening in several other states as well, the Michigan Legislature is sowing seeds of revolt against them, asserting that the CCSS are little more than another intrusion by the federal government into state areas. Education has traditionally been a local rather than national issue in these United States.
But dare we ask: what's wrong with national standards in education? Surely math is math and science is science; history and literature do not vary, do they?
Not as such, perhaps. But indeed there is some variance: which history do we teach, and whose literature do we read seem valid questions. Still, there are core values beneath them. History teaches us cause and effect no matter which history we deign to enlighten students with, and good literature inspires in myriad ways no matter the source material. Even in the hard sciences and mathematics, it isn't necessary to teach everyone with the exact same problems and questions, is it, so long as the principles involved are understood?
Yet is that the issue? Truth is truth no matter the font from which it springs. But who controls, or ought to control, the flow of information? Does that matter?
Of course it does. Truths from a parent matter more to a child than those from a teacher; truths from afar less than truths from a neighbor. The source is important. Even if the essential truth is the same.
The Michigan Senate, which still must consider the measure, ought to resist the Common Core initiative. Not because it may be all that wrong in content; it probably isn't terribly bad for our kids in that sense. It ought to resist it because it does, or attempts to do, exactly what the state legislature fears. It takes learning away from the near and dear and thrusts it into the abyss of the all knowing yet shimmering mass of the far off. It makes education something from on high rather than from the personal and intimate.
Education should be personal and intimate. After all, it's meant for the person, isn't it?