There is actually a pretty vigorous debate over Common Core Standards and many legitimate questions over to what extent, or even if, they should be implemented. It is a debate that needs to happen, and one that should be conducted with rigor, integrity, and an eye toward our future needs as a community, state, and nation.
Of course, this is not the sort of debate that is happening in the Arizona Legislature, thanks largely to Senator Al Melvin (R-Segregated Gated Retirement Community North of Town). Melvin’s SB 1310, which passed a Senate Committee yesterday, bans the implementation of Common Core in Arizona. The Senator’s stated reason for his opposition cited no specifics, merely that the standards were a good idea from “the private sector and the governors” that got “hijacked by Washington.” In other words, the merits of the standards are less of an issue than the fact that they are being championed by The Big Bad Black Man.
He also, as usual, said something about Ronald Reagan, which made even less sense.
In fairness, conservatives who supported the legislation did have some substantial complaints, though these were largely about boogiemen. Howie Fischer’s story in the Star quoted a woman who testified in front of the committee about her concern that the use of computers would lead to indoctrination into “the concepts of global warming, evolution, defaming the founders.” The connection is unclear, but it is certain she does not want her world view challenged by study of science or history. Likely this is a minority view, but, unfortunately, this pride in ignorance is what is guiding our educational policy around here.
Senator David Bradley (D-Tucson), did what he does best by calling out Melvin on his bullshit. Here is Fischer’s account:
Melvin’s opposition led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to question him as to whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards that have been adopted by 45 states.
“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.
Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands that “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.
Melvin actually should be familiar with “fuzzy math” that substitutes letters for numbers. It has been a well established part of mathematics curricula for hundreds of years, including, no doubt, his own academic program at the Merchant Marine Academy. It is called algebra.
On the other hand, Melvin may be on to something.
Modern algebra has its roots in the work of Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, a Persian scholar working in Baghdad in the 9th century. In fact, much of modern mathematics, even our number system itself, owes a substantial debt to scholars who spoke Arabic and prayed toward Mecca five times a day. Even the word “algebra” is Arabic in origin.
That’s right. Common Core is just a back door way of imposing Sharia Law.