Is Common Core advancing “Cultural Exclusion” and “Social Darwinism”?

American sociologist  William Graham Sumner wrote, “We throw all our attention on the utterly idle question whether A has done as well as B, when the only question is whether A has done as well as he could.”

Sumner’s quote is applicable to public education in America today. However, a look at the Common Core State Standards, and its forthcoming tests/assessments, appear to be addressing differences among students rather than individual student achievement. The CCSS mission states, “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.” The CCSS Q&A states, “States that adopted the Common Core State Standards are currently collaborating to develop common assessments that will be aligned to the standards and replace existing end of year state assessments. These assessments will be available in the 2014-2015 school year.”

In A Framework for a Multi-State Human Capital Development Data System (HCDDS) by Brian T. Prescott, Director of Policy Research Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and Peter Ewell, Vice President National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, write, “The rise of a globalized knowledge economy requires us to understand the distribution of skills and abilities in our population. It is no longer sufficient to know how many resources are devoted to the development of our nation’s human capital. Today, we also must be able to demonstrate and understand the outcomes of our educational processes. This growing need has energized interest in building longitudinal data systems capable of following individual students throughout their educational careers.” [Emphasis mine]

Prescott and Ewell state the HCDDS should be able to capable of: “Tracking the stock and flow of the skills and abilities (represented by education and training) of various populations within a given state. Examining the gaps in educational attainment between population groups, based on demography and socio-economic status.”

The longitudinal data systems based upon assessments of “human capital”, as outlined by Prescott and Ewell, are required under Common Core and will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. These assessments may have a more nefarious goal – the advancement cultural exclusion and Social Darwinism.

Standardized testing has a dark history and is inextricably tied to the Eugenics movement in America.

Edwin Black in his book “War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race” writes, “Measuring man’s intelligence had always been a eugenic pursuit.” Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon published the first “intelligence test”. The Binet-Simon Test helped classify the levels of retarded children, allowing them to be placed in proper classes. The test grader could “calculate a ‘mental level’.” While Binet insisted that “Heredity was in no way a predeterminer of intelligence” his intent was turned upside down by American psychologist Henry Goddard, “an ardent eugenic crusader who became the [Eugenic] movement’s leading warrior against the feeble minded,” writes Black.

Black notes, “Mental testing, under different names and on different scales, quickly emerged as a fixture of social science, frequently linked to eugenic investigation and sterilization efforts. Such tests were invariably exploited by the ERO [Eugenics Research Office] for its eugenic agenda.” The ERO was created by Goddard.  It was Goddard who coined the term “moron” and used Binet’s test to create a scientific basis using his own intelligence test to identify those who were a threat to racial purity.

Harvard psychologist Robert Yerkes, a leading eugenic theorist, created the Yerkes-Bridge Point Scale for Intelligence. Lewis Terman from Stanford University and others helped develop standardized examinations. In 1917 two tests were devised by Goddard for the US Army – the Army Alpha test for English-speaking literate men and the pictorial Army Beta test for those who could not read or speak English. The Army later rejected both tests. Dr. Terman “created the so-called Stanford revision of the Binet test, later named the Stanford-Binet Test. It was Terman who coined the term “intelligence quotient” or IQ.

Finally, Yerke’s work was advanced by Princeton psychologist Carl Brigham, a “radical raceologist.” Brigham wrote A Study of American Intelligence, which “became a scientific standard.” Brigham adopted the Army Alpha Test for use as a “college entrance exam” now know as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  Black writes, “The deeply flawed roots of the IQ test, the SAT and most other American intelligence tests were more than apparent to many thinking people of the period. It became glaringly obvious that the tests were vehicles for cultural exclusion.”

Fast forward to today and Common Core “assessments” (testing).

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch and a co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, and Randy Osborne, Director of Education for Heartland Research and the Florida Eagle Forum, did a Policy Analysis of Common Core in Florida. Effrem and Osborne state, “The Common Core standards, along with the aligned curriculum and the mining of nearly 400 data points reveal that the goal of the standards is not simply to improve academic achievement but also to instill federally determined attitudes and mindsets in students including political and religious beliefs. According to the US Department of Education, this will be carefully regulated through the extensive data-mining of both students and teachers using devices such as ‘facial expression cameras,’ ‘posture analysis seats,’ ‘a pressure mouse,’ and ‘wireless skin conductance sensors’ as well as the use of the actual assessments. The federal government asserts that to secure their definition of improving the quality of education, a student’s right to privacy may be sacrificed.”

Commenting on the Sachem School District test data compromise Effrem states, “A number of standards will be used for the psychological training of children starting at a young age … One of the main goals for uniform national assessments is for the federal government to have access to highly personal individual student data. It isn’t just teachers and school officials who can request and get students’ records. It’s also ‘a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions … Common Core completely strips the child of privacy.”

Dr. Effrem writes, “The utter failure of proponents of Common Core to make rational arguments about this imposed system of inferior, psychosocial workforce training standards, national tests and data collection has stimulated them to lash out to mock and marginalize anyone who opposes it.”

Testing of America’s “human capital” has moved into the digital age where every aspect of a student’s behavior is measured over his or her lifetime. Where will this lead when the assessments are implemented in 2014-2015?

Black warns, “[T]he system hewed in stone by the eugenics movement’s intelligence warriors has stubbornly remained in place to this day.

RELATED COLUMN: Major Admission by Common Core Proponent: Special Needs Students Not Being Addressed Under Common Core

2 replies
  1. Danita Kilcullen
    Danita Kilcullen says:

    Brilliant column, Dr. Swier. I will make certain that my State Representative and also the Broward County School Board receives it.

    • Dr. Rich Swier
      Dr. Rich Swier says:


      Thanks for reading and commenting on this column. I just learned, see the Related Column link, that special needs students are excluded from Common Core. This is morally reprehensible and violates the IDEA law.


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