John King Jr. was confirmed as the new education secretary recently and one of the most troubling aspects of that confirmation was his support for common core standards in the past.
As you probably know, education standards are far more effective and far more practical when they are made at the local level rather than being set by bureaucrats in Washington.
That’s been a well known fact for a long time now dating back all the way to Benjamin Franklin’s era and he had some thoughts about central planning that still resonate today.
From National Review:
The stupidity of central education-planning is not a new discovery. I’ve been on an American Indian kick lately, exploring the red branches of my family tree, and in reading some “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America” by Benjamin Franklin, I happened to stumble on a damning condemnation of Common Core.
(To those who may have been hurt by Franklin’s use of the word “savages,” he explains, “Savages we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility. They think the same of theirs.”)
In 1744, Franklin relates, the Colony of Virginia and the Six Iroquois Nations signed the Treaty of Lancaster, settling their territorial disputes in the Ohio River Valley. After the treaty was signed, there was a lot of goodwill between the Virginians and the Iroquois, and in that spirit, the Virginians decided they would sponsor Iroquois scholarships to Williamsburg College. As Franklin tells it, the Virginians proposed that “if the Six Nations would send down half a dozen of their sons to that college, the government would take care that they should be well provided for, and instructed in all the learning of the white people.”
“But you who are wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things, and you will therefore not take it amiss if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some experience of it: Several of our young people were formerly brought up at the colleges of the northern provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences, but when they came back to us they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer or kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, or counsellors, they were totally good for nothing. “We are however not the less obliged by your kind offer though we decline accepting it; and to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.”
Different men need to know different things, say the Iroquois, and Benjamin Franklin. Different parents want their children taught differently. How would the Iroquois decline this sort of offer from a post-colonial government?
And that’s the argument against Common Core.