Barack Obama: Our first Common Core president

Sam Smith

As I was reading about Common Core standards I suddenly realized why Barack Obama likes this weird stuff so much: he is a Common Core exemplar, our first Common Core president.

To play the Common Corista’s game you need to handle facts, evaluate texts, achieve increased levels of complexity, have a progressive development of reading comprehension, dissect challenging informative discourse, acquire new knowledge, insights, and consider varying perspectives as you read.

And your writing should be logical arguments based on claims, solid reasoning, and relevant evidence.

Bored yet?

If so, it may have something to do with the lack of mention of imagination, metaphor, anecdotes, critical judgment, wisdom, enthusiasm, conscience, story telling, humor, or history. And it certainly doesn’t include such earlier exemplar standards such as “if you can’t be funny, be interesting” (New Yorker editor Harold Ross) or “write drunk, edit sober.” (Ernest Hemingway).

The idea behind Common Core standards is to produce students who are are robots giving the appearance of skill without straying from whatever the current cliches of proper thought demand. New ideas, creativity, morality, appeals to the heart and soul rather than to approved norm are not welcomed. The Common Coristas don’t even want their students wasting much time on fiction, history, civics, or social studies.

It’s like learning music by memorizing all the chords, tunes, riffs and runs. It still don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.

Obama is ideally suited for this since he is our first robotic president, smart, analytical and properly spoken, but, as Gertrude Stein put it, “There’s no there there.”

The closest thing to a creative political act he has come up with is a 2,000 page healthcare plan randomly comprised of the good, the bad and the indecipherable.

It would get high grades on a Common Core exam but since it is meant to function in real life rather than just in a classroom it leaves much to be desired.

A real politician would have come up with something more like Social Security or Medicare, something that you don’t need an economist or lawyer to explain to the average citizen, something that inspires enthusiasm, and which brings in votes rather than endless questions.

Real politicians also come up with metaphors for what they’re doing, tell stories that illustrate it, make friends across the aisle to get it passed, and don’t stand behind a lectern talking to the American people like we were all in Political Science 101.

And real politicians have a lot of personal friends, something that Obama seems to be strikingly short on.

Those who think that data, process, and analysis are all you need for a good idea, a good policy or a good few years in office are increasingly amongst us.

As for the rest of us, we face a future that is not only rife with pretentious, well-spoken and well argued incompetence, carefully documented and carelessly executed, but also one that is sadly dull, soulless and cruel.

Our only recourse is to flunk the Common Core standards and return to being human.

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