Most Americans had no idea what Common Core was in 2013, according to polls. But it had been creeping into schools nationwide over the previous three years, and children were feeling its effects. They cried over math homework so mystifying their parents could not help them, even in elementary school. They read motley assortments of “informational text” instead of classic literature. They dreaded the high-stakes tests, in unfamiliar formats, that were increasingly controlling their classrooms.
How did this latest and most sweeping “reform” of American education come in mostly under the radar? Joy Pullmann started tugging on a thread of reports from worried parents and frustrated teachers, and it led to a big tangle of history and politics, intrigue and arrogance. She unwound it to discover how a cabal of private foundation honchos and unelected public officials cooked up a set of rules for what American children must learn in core K–12 classes, and how the Obama administration pressured states to adopt them. Thus a federalized education scheme took root, despite legal prohibitions against federal involvement in curriculum.
Common Core and its testing regime were touted as “an absolute game-changer in public education,” yet the evidence so far suggests that kids are actually learning less under it. Why, then, was such a costly and disruptive agenda imposed on the nation’s schools? Who benefits? And how can citizens regain local self-governance in education, so their children’s minds will be fed a more nourishing intellectual diet and be protected from the experiments of emboldened bureaucrats? The Education Invasion offers answers and remedies.