To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, December 2, 2022


Common Core



There is something fishy going on with education standards. It’s not Common Core, which is mostly common sense. And it’s not a federal takeover of education. It’s the money.

New education companies have sprouted up and old ones have expanded as private companies grab for federal dollars.

The lion’s share of these funds will be spent on tests and test-prep materials, almost $2 billion a year, according to one report. But every good teacher knows that testing is not teaching and that teaching to a standardized test will not make children smarter.

Not only are the tests costly, they are useless. They tell us what we already know, that well-funded schools and well-fed children score better than poor schools and hungry children. And there really is no such thing as a standardized kid.

What about the standards?

Perhaps anyone who wants to express an opinion about the standards should read them first. Ask yourself, don’t you want students to think critically, build a strong vocabulary, read between the lines, write clearly? Don’t you want students to be comfortable with mathematics?

There’s nothing sinister about the standards. There is a problem with the timetable, however.

Children mature at a certain pace, and no amount of moving up the standards will change that. Young children should be developing curiosity and social skills. Giving five-year-olds a first- or second-grade curriculum is neither smart nor productive. Higher-level math can wait until after puberty.

Standards should be based on the science of child development not wishful thinking.

The best teachers I know have been involved in creating and following standards, both at the state and national levels. But teacher-created standards don’t come with corporate-created tests and test-prep.

Teachers don’t need a script. They need excellent training, available from Oklahoma’s colleges and universities. They need libraries and materials and manageable class sizes. They need respect. They don’t need to be afraid of test scores, over which they have precious little control.

Forgive this conspiracy theory, but what if lobbyists who represent testing companies and for-profit schools have bought our politicians? What if these politicians will allow our schools to starve so their corporate buddies can take over? What if failing schools and flawed test scores are part of the plan?

Corporate schools, not a federal takeover, is what we all, conservatives and liberals, should fear. It’s time to give schools back to teachers and their students.

The Common Core State Standards are a tool teachers can use. But expensive tests and test-based curriculum are a waste of time and money.

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer


  1. I have been a school board member in Blanchard,Ok. for 20 years. It is always about the money. Horse racing was going to fix our schools, the lottery was going to fix our schools, casino gambling was going to fix our schools BUT the legislature gives us money from one hand then takes it away with the other hand. Public education loses every time. We have a very good school and very good teachers in Blanchard. What we need is enough money to pay our teachers a good salary and to maintain smaller class sizes so that the teachers can teach children. We need politicians to quit passing unfunded mandates = laws telling us we must pay this or fund that and give us little or no money to pay for it.

    Private companies are in business to make money= period !! They sell tests, they sell tutoring and they sell virtual school , all to make a profit . They do not care about students = only the bottom line.

    When very large sums of money are involved , certain people are going to do anything to get all they can get.

    Our students and teachers are the ones suffering the cosequences.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.