Block That Punt..Common Core Standards Takes on Sports


Warm up:
Before writing for Prevent Common Core, I had written several posts and articles elsewhere about where you can find Common Core Standards in honor societies, in charter schools, private schools, and homeschools. I then took an in-depth look at the major student leaderships clubs to see where Common Core is lurking. It has been astounding to find places where Common Core is hiding in plain sight. To that end, I wanted my first post for PCC to be somewhat along the same genre, just not duplicated.

So where else can we look to spot Common Core Standards? How about on the football field? Surely, one of our favorite sports hasn’t aligned to CCS (how I typically refer to Common Core Standards…I leave the extra ‘s’ that stands for ‘states’ out because the states had no part in creating the Standards), has it? Sadly, sports foundations are embracing the CCS with gusto! While I know school sports is much more than football, I love college football, so for the rest of the article, I’ll be using football terms to help explain things.

Brief game plan:
Just what is the definition for ‘sports’? Webster’s Dictionary says: “To play in a happy and lively way.” Okay, what is the definition of ‘athletics’, then?

Webster’s tells us: “Sports, games and exercises that require strength and skill.” Why would I call attention to these two words? Because, before we can don that sports uniform or grab those cheerleading pom-poms, we have to know what team we’re playing on! Traditionally, when kids gather to participate in sports, they are playing to win, be fair and have a great time. It has been repeatedly shown that Common Core Standards do NOT equip students to win. Prevent Common Core’s website, blog and Facebook have shared articles, reports, and documents that repeatedly inform us how unfair the Standards are to those who have a hard time learning. Certainly, if you’ve seen the Facebook page, you see a little girl who is anything but happy about the CCS. So, all this general knowledge combined, why would schools choose to place Common Core Standards on the field, at the track or round the baseball diamond? Because the misnomer exists that Common Core prepares students for “college and career readiness”. As an added note, the definition of ‘sports’, according to The Office for Civic Rights (OCR), is: “A sports program that offers competition between schools.” They have a Gender Equity Self Assessment as well that asks the following questions in determining what sports mean. Is it recognized and governed by the state association? Sponsored for the primary purpose of preparing for and engaging in athletic competition against other similar teams? Scheduled during a regular season with definite starting and ending dates as set by the state association? Governed by a specific set of rules published by a state or national organizations? Prepare for and engage its participants in competition the same way other teams in the interscholastic athletic program prepare and engage participants? Require that students meet eligibility requirements? Require that participants receive coaching? Require team tryouts, regular practice sessions and regularly scheduled athletic competitions? Base selection for the team on factors related primarily to athletic ability? Assign trained and certified officials/judges who have met a certification standard?”

You want to play where, coach?
If you have a student who plays sports, ask them if they would rather model diagrams about the sport, or actually get out there and play the sport? Believe it or not, if you search the Common Core Standards website for sports, you will see they scored a ‘touchdown’ with this: High School: Modeling.

The Standard cited says quite a bit, in fact, about a lot of math related topics. However (and remember, this is for High School), if you know a high school student, you’ll want to have them read over this Standard with you and then give you feedback as to how inspiring sports on paper sounds.

First down on the field:
Alliance For Student Activities website has an article about CCS, but first, who is behind ASA and what does ASA do?

ASA is a non-profit organization created in 2007 by educators and trainers who support extra curricular activities. The ASA received a grant from the Herff Jones Foundation (we’ll look at them in a little bit).

According to the Alliance website, the following statement was about CCS & sports: “Like arts-based activities, athletics provide chances for students to develop CCSS-specified skills” (Read the entire article). The article goes on to make this statement, “Like it or not, Common Core State Standards are making their way into schools across the country. Many educators who have incorporated CCSS have discovered that the standards support the creative learning that helps students to thrive. And teachers, advisers, and coaches with ties to the arts, activities, and athletics are finding new opportunities to share their knowledge of applications that have been helping their students develop college- and career-readiness skills for years.”

Next up, second down and miles to go:
The National Federation of State High School Associations, or the NFHS, The Associations cover sports and other groups.

In the NFHS publication, “The Case for High School Activities”, you’ll find terms like ‘co-curricular’ (not ‘extra curricular’) because they like to use the term to highlight how sports connects academic lessons. Activities are great because it helps the 11 million students participating in them to support the academic mission of their schools, and to be better prepared to be responsible adults, productive citizens and skilled professionals. They can also help uphold the National Governors Association’s Best Practice belief that activities + competitions = winners who become leaders; leaders go on to score better on the SATs & ACTs. (refer to the attached document, “The Case for High School Activities”) If you want to see other publications from the NFHS, you’ll have to pay to get them, they are only available to paid subscriber members.

Time out, 30 seconds on the clock:
A Public Service Announcement scripted and included in “The Case for High School Activities, is a scripted ‘sell’ of sorts for why being a part of community is important. Yes, community IS important, however, under the guidance we’ve see so far in this look at CCS & sports, you may wonder what the agenda truly is when you hear, “Good sportsmanship is learned, practiced and executed. Respect for the opponent, spectators, coaches and officials is necessary at all levels of athletics and activity programs. At interscholastic contests, everyone’s behavior should be characterized by generosity and genuine concern for others. Display good sportsmanship the next time you attend a high school event. A public-service message from your state high school association.”

Back out on the field:
If you think all this doesn’t sound so awful, you might be right. However, consider what I’ve just shared. The NGA, The National Governors Association, the SATs, and the ACTs. All of these are connected to Common Core. Does the leadership grooming sound innocuous? Consider a similar sounding movement from the 1930s: “From the 1920s onwards, the Nazi Party targeted German youth as a special audience for its propaganda messages. These messages emphasized that the Party was a movement of youth: dynamic, resilient, forward-looking, and hopeful. Millions of German young people were won over to Nazism in the classroom and through extracurricular activities. In January 1933, the Hitler Youth had only 50,000 members, but by the end of the year this figure had increased to more than 2 million” (Read more HERE). The US Holocaust Memorial Museum goes on to share: “Board games and toys for children served as another way to spread racial and political propaganda to German youth. Toys were also used as propaganda vehicles to indoctrinate children into militarism…The Hitler Youth combined sports and outdoor activities with ideology. Similarly, the League of German Girls emphasized collective athletics, such as rhythmic gymnastics.”

Third down & inches:
Let’s look at another sports minded group, the Women’s Sports Foundation, who also embrace the Common Core Standards. See this summary of a California State Bill AB 2512 they help support. The bill concerns itself with students being able to participate in sports. Check this quote out: “Beginning in 2014-15, the API will incorporate the results of new assessments that are based on the Common Core State Standards.” The API (Academic Performance Index) is a single number, ranging from 200 to 1,000, that measures the performance of a school, a school district, or a pupil group on statewide assessments. The API measures performance across multiple content areas. It is used for both state and federal accountability systems to measure changes in performance from year to year, as well as to compare the performance of schools, districts, and pupil groups to other schools, districts, and pupil groups. If you go back to the original group (see Alliance for Student Activities above) and the statement they made about the Women’s Sports Foundation in this report of advocacy for CCS, you can see why they are in support of such a bill.

“The Women’s Sports Foundation supports the premise that sports participation is one of the most important learning experiences a girl can have, and that the benefits extend beyond the playing field. “CCSS is grounded in preparing US high school students for college and setting strategic benchmarks for achievement in language arts and math,” said a spokesperson for the Foundation. If you go to the WSF website & download the 2009 “Her Life Depends on It”, get ready to wade through an extensive amount of health information first. Academic information begins on page 50, right between the weight loss and sports interest topics. If you make it through the over 100 page document, look at the contributors list and the agencies represented: National Science Foundation, Center for Disease Control, Dept. of Ed in California, Census Bureau, STEM, National Girls Collaborative Project, College Board and the Dept. of Health & Human Services. Note the research papers also cited. You should see a theme emerging of how high school sports ties to future leaders and laborers.

Is It Half-time yet?:
According to the NCAA (which at present applies to public, private, some homeschool sports teams), the Common Core Standards will begin to impact eligibility by 2016 (Read about it HERE). So, the question is, what is a ‘core’ class to the NCAA? Here is their own definition as determined by their legislation: “1. A core course must be an academic course that receives high school graduation credit in s regular academic level; 4. Algebra I or higher in the mathematics area; and 5. Taught by a qualified instructor.” My suggestion: if your student, regardless of where they participate in NCAA sanctioned sports, needs to ASK about the changes and what it means. Here is the website link to all the resources connected to the academic requirements.

Snack time!
Football games make me want to snack, how about you? Food is a huge part of sports. Why if you are active or your students are, you know proper balance in your diet serves the inner athlete tremendously well! The “Let’s Move in Schools” is part of the U.S. Government’s multi- faceted initiative to help our next generation of students be healthy (see: Now, looking at the website, you won’t see “Common Core State Standards”.

However, do a more general Google search, and “SCORE!” You’ll find that Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids, SPARK, “Common Core & PE” is in large letters to greet you at the site. Click on one of the aligned PDF documents, and you’ll see reading informational texts, writing strands, and other language lessons. Where’s the physical exercise?! It is P.E., not RE (physical education NOT reading education). If we are accessing all these in-depth studies showing humans need exercise, and that students perform better when they have been active, why are we focusing PE classes with skill cards to fill out?! If you think that’s enough to cause indigestion, wait until you see that SPARK is part of a school and community initiative! Yep, we’re set to see our local schools become health centers. Want to see how?

Before we leave SPARK, you’ll be happy to know that the curriculum for teaching PE is about $200.00. I guess the days of jumping jacks at no charge are gone. Why would I say this? When you check out the SPARK blog you can see my point by the end of the first paragraph. Heavy reading emphasis. Playing, exercising should be the emphasis!

Hold my chips & dip, please:

If you think the community coordinated school health initiative is a distant thing in the future or you think you’ve heard it before in conversations about the over reach of the U.S. Dept. of Ed., you’d be correct! Twenty-first Community Learning Centers is the design, goal and plan set into motion by the good ‘ole U.S. Dept. of Education; see:

This effort points out it’s mainly for low performing schools. Be we should know by now the government doesn’t always follow the rule book.

Instant replay:
As far as the Herff Jones Foundation that I mentioned in connection with the Alliance for Student Activities. When you click on the site, you’ll see a lot about maps and social studies…. but where are the sports?! It’s there, you just have to dig. The company is big into honors, class rings, etc. Sports awards, as well. However, they have recently partnered with the National Science Foundation and jumped into the Common Core Standards game big time! See their infographic about Common Core Standards and Social Studies.

The Foundation also has a tremendous amount of Common Core white papers for you to see all their other involvement in promoting CCS.

german olympics 36 1

Game over:
Well, there you have it, my first post for Prevent Common Core. I hope you’ve been able to see that sports has been rewritten to almost laughable levels. If you investigate SPARK a bit more, look for their “Skill Cards”, especially for the High School ages, and see that by completing a particular movement, you’ve satisfied at least two Common Core Standards. I long for the days where the students can be free to play and exercise…. simply for the sake of exercising without wondering how many check marks or standards they’ll satisfy. If we want our students to enjoy being free, we should give them the freedom to do so. Academics and sports CAN co-exist, just not via the Common Core Standards. As long as we continue to re-write P.E. or any sport to adhere to Outcome Based Education, we will lose the game every time. Sports in schools should be delightful, fun, enjoyable, and competitive based. True winners know that certain times call for certain actions.

NOTE: This article was originally posted on the Prevent Common Core website [ ]

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