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Speech for ROPE/Common Core Everett Piper June 18, 2013

Bad ideas will breed bad behavior as surely as an acorn will grow an oak or a hurricane will bring a flood. What we teach today in the classroom will be practice tomorrow in out culture. For example, why would we expect decades of teaching sexual promiscuity in our schools to result in sexual restraint in our students. Why are we surprised at the selfishness of our culture when we have indoctrinated several generations of our children in a curriculum that elevates self-esteem above science and civics? How can we possibly think that teaching values clarification rather than moral absolutes will raise up a virtuous people? Where in the annals of history is there any evidence that the subordination of one persons right to live to another persons right to choose ever resulted in the protection of every persons unalienable right to life? And why would any culture ever think that after decades of diminishing the value of marital fidelity that the same culture would then be able to mount a vigorous defense for the meaning of marriage? All you need to do is turn on the nightly news to see the proof that Ideas have consequences. Our ideas always lead somewhere. Good ideas lead to good places and good behavior and good culture To freedom and justice and liberty. Bad Ideas lead to bad places, to bad behavior and bondage and slavery. I believe common core is a bad idea that will have bad consequences. The goal of good education should be the pursuit of what is true and just and right and real not the protection or propagation of what is common. The best education has never been about dumbing down the academy to a group of ideas that are agreed upon by the powerful or the popular. To the contrary, the educated person enters into the debate with an open mind, challenging the consensus rather than accepting a set of closed constructs of commonality.

Classical education - Liberal education if you will - is not about average ideas. Its not about what everyone else thinks... Good education pursues whatever is true and whatever is noble, whatever is right and whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and whatever is admirable. It is about what is excellent and praiseworthy It should encourage the learner to think about such things and, as CS Lewis admonished, to not be too easily satisfied with playing in the mud in the back alley when we could all aspire to a grand vacation at the beach. I am against Common Core. I am against it because I am a believer. I believe in academic freedom: Freedom to pursue the uncommon, the exceptional, the unpopular, and freedom to not be constrained by the consensus or the crowd. I am against Common core because I believe in intellectual integrity: The integration of head and heart and fact and faith that is directed by the students thirst for truth and not the States hunger for control. I am against Common Core because I believe in the Liberal arts. I believe in Liberty and liberation and freedom: a free mind and free man rather than one held in bondage by politics and power and what is popular or common. I am against Common Core because I believe in the humility of the student rather than the arrogance of the State. I am against common core because I dont believe all paths are common or that they all lead to the same summit. I believe that some paths lead to danger and death and some lead to safety and salvation and as an educator I believe it is my obligation to help my students and my culture distinguish between one and the other.

I am against Common Core because I believe that it is antithetical to the history of liberal education and I, therefore, refuse to celebrate a mindless march of lemmings careening over a cliff of commonality. I am against Common Core because I believe the Pied Pipers tune of Popular Opinion can be one of common deception rather than one of personal discernment. I am against Common Core because I am tired very tired of the politically correct and boringly predictable ad hominem attacks used by the Left to call the questioning voice, such as mine, stupid and Im tired of the obvious ad-populum fallacy implicit in the word common. I am against Common Core because of its inevitable assumption of intellectual mediocrity that has already resulted in many of its proponents not understanding the basic Socratic logic I just used above. At OKWU I dont celebrate the common. I dont reward you for being mediocre. I dont slap you on the back when you graduate and say congratulations youve measured up to the constructed consensus. to the Common Opinion!! Frankly, I dont care what the consensus is or what your opinion is. Frankly, you shouldnt care that much about mine. Consensus is deceptive. Opinions are dangerous. Pol Pot had an opinion, Mao had an opinion, and Robespierre had an opinion, as did Hitler and Stalin. All the despots of history forced their opinions on the public by declaring they had a consensus as to what would be common. They decided what would be the CORE of acceptable thinking. They decided what would be taught and not taught. They decided what was going to take place in the classroom. Not the teacher and not the parent but the government. None of this ended well. None of this led to liberty or liberation. All of this led to bondage because opinions always enslave and, as Jesus said, only he Truth that sets us free not the consensus and not what is common

At OKWU I believe that the best education is one that indeed liberates. It liberates us from the consequences of those things that are wrong and frees us to live within the beauty of those things that are right. I am passionate about a liberal arts education An education that is driven by the hunger for answers rather than the protection of opinions, An education that is not subject to the ebb and flow of personal agendas or political fads, an education that is not afraid to put all ideas on the table because there is confidence that in the end we will embrace what is true and discard what is false. At OKWU we believe in freedom -- Freedom of thought and expression and the freedom to dissent from consensus. We are energized by the unapologetic pursuit of truth. Wherever it leads, we are confident in the words, You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. As integrationists we maintain that truth cannot be segregated into false dichotomies, but it is an integrated whole. The liberally educated person recognizes that we cannot embrace the common ideas of postmodernity ideas that segregate personal life from private life, the head from the heart, fact from faith, or belief from behavior I am against Common Core because I believe there are ideas that are tested by time, defended by reason, and validated by experience and many of these ideas, especially in our day and time are anything but common. I believe in the laws of Nature and Natures God. I believe that we can know that rape is wrong, that the Holocaust was bad, and that hatred and racism are to be reviled. I believe that even though we cannot produce these truths in a test tube, we hold them to be self-evident laws that no human being can deny regardless of what is common to a culture or its king.

I am against Common Core because, as an educator, I recognize that when we exchange the truth for a lie that we build a house of cards that will fall to mankinds inevitable temper tantrum of seeking control and power. History tells us time and time again that to deny what is right and true and embrace what is wrong and false is to fall prey to the rule of the gang or the tyranny of one. We need look no further than to the lessons of the despots mentioned above for such evidence.

I am against Common Core because I believe in liberty Liberty: the antithesis of slavery Slavery: the unavoidable consequence of lies -- Lies about who we are as people; lies about what is right and what is wrong; Lies about man and lies about God. Here is the question: Does subscribing to a common core of ideas constructed by some faceless group of bureaucrats behind some closed door off in some unknown location make you feel more or less free? Do we really have more intellectual liberty at the end of the day or are we becoming more and more enslaved by the constructs of the Uberminsch The supermen the power brokers, the elites, the fittest who have survived in the political arenas of campaigns or campuses? Are we free to live within the boundaries and beauty of the classical liberal arts -- of the Uni-versity, the Uni-verities, the Uni-veritas -- or are we becoming more and more bound by group think, political correctness, and the commonalty of what is popular - what M. Scott Peck called the diabolical human mind? You see good education -- complete education -- liberal education must be grounded in the conservative respect for and the conservation of what is immutable and right and just and real. It should seek to reclaim what has been co-opted and to reveal what has been compromised. It should be free of intimidation and should honor open inquiry and the right to dissent. It should have confidence in the measuring

rod of Truth that unalienable standard that is bigger and better than the crowd or the consensus or the Common. In the Great Divorce CS Lewis scolded the self-confident young scholar by telling him that he was more a puppet of popularity than he was a proponent of independent thinking. Our opinions were not honestly come by, said Lewis. We simply found ourselves in contact with a certain current of ideas and plunged into it . . . You know we just started automatically writing the kind of essays that got good marks and saying the kind of things that won applause. From his own personal experience Lewis knew that our desire for what is common more often than not leads us to go with the flow, rather than challenge the status quo of what is popular. Lewis went further: [We allowed ourselves] to drift, unresisting, unpraying, accepting every half-conscious solicitation from our desires, we reached a point where we no longer believed. For Lewis the common was not a measure of moral courage or cerebral discipline but rather a sleepy acquiescence to the mesmerizing solicitations of what was trendy and in vogue. Finally, Lewis moves from criticism to solution. He shows the way out. To awaken from the lazy dreams of self-deception we must return to the honest questions of childhood and humbly look for answers: Once you were a child. Once you knew what inquiry was for. There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you had found them. Become that child again . . . Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth. In these words Lewis echoes the promises of the Sermon of the Mount: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (not what is Common) for they will be filled. I am a lifelong learner and so are you. My journey and your journey is ultimately one that is guided by the immutable, the permanent and the True, not by the transient

constructs of popularity, politics or power. All truth is true even if no one believes it and all falsehood is false even if everyone believes it. We will only find truth when we place our confidence in it and not in what is Common. Lewis tells us (again in the Great Divorce) that A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Common Core is a mistake. It is not a fix for our educational system. It is an inaccurate sum if you will. We cannot correct this and put the sum right until we acknowledge whats wrong and work afresh from the beginning. Doubling down and simply going on would be as foolish trying to force a 3 into the equation 2 + __ = 4. Until we go back and work it afresh from the point of error we will not get the right answer but instead get what is a predictably common error to those who refuse to learn.