CHINESE IMMIGRANT MOTHER AGAINST COMMON CORE
Lily Tang Williams
November 20, 2014
I am strongly opposed to Common Core. I cannot sugar coat it. In my eyes, Common Core reminds me of the Communist Core I went through in China. When I was growing up under Mao’s regime during the Cultural Revolution, starting with first grade, we were told to chant every day in the government run public schools; “Long Live Chairman Mao, Long Live the Communist Party.” We were required to write in our dairies every day and turn them in for our teachers to review. In the dairies we were supposed to confess our incorrect thoughts to Mao or do self-criticism, or report anything bad we heard or saw about other students, family, and friends. We would memorize Mao’s Quotations and recite them aloud during class. For school fun activities, we would dress up as Chinese minority people in their costumes to sing and dance, thanking Mao and the Communist Party for saving them from poverty, or we dressed up like soldiers to fight for the new China. Mao was like a god to me. I would see him rising from the stove fire or talking to me from the clouds. We all truly believed in Mao and Communism because we were completely indoctrinated and did not have any other information. We had nationalized curricula, one of the subjects we were required to study was Politics (Communist Party history, Karl Marxism, Mao Zedong Thought, etc.). Our teachers had to comply with all the curriculum and testing requirements, or lose their jobs forever. Parents had no choice at all when it came to what we learned in school.
The government used the Household Registration and Personnel
File system to keep track of its citizens from birth to death. This old photo of me in Mao’s Red Guard uniform was used in my Middle School Student File whichdocumented everything; age, gender, parents, their jobs and political class, religion, siblings, home address, grades, awards, punishments, politically incorrect speeches, bad behaviors, etc. Then this file followed me to my highschool, college, my first job, my future jobs, etc. It was shared with all the government agencies and employers. Privacy is a concept we never heard of.
After I woke up one day realizing my whole life was a lie and I could never change China from a society ruled by men to a society ruled by law, I decided to leave China for America. Before I left for America to pursue a master’s degree, my Communist boss made me sign a paper to promise to return to my job after my graduate study or my file would be returned back to my hometown, Chengdu, in Sichuan Province. I was a law school assistant professor at Fudan University in Shanghai at that time, which is one of the top Chinese universities. Sending my file back to my hometown meant that I would lose my legal career forever and have a black spot in my file which would make it very hard to get another good job. I had to sign it in order for my employer to release me so I could apply for my passport with their consent papers.Even though I finally broke free from this tracking system by coming to America, I still feel sometimes that I am haunted by my secret file, which neither I nor my parents ever saw. When I did not return after my master’s degree, I bet the file went back to my hometown, Chengdu, and it might be somewhere in a local security or police office today. Some immigrants from tyranny countries are afraid of speaking up in this country, I totally understand. But I cannot live in fear and I feel it is my duty as a new citizen of this country to tell the truth. I am so worried that “Common Core” will be used by the government and corporations for “data mining” of our children.
Some people are pushing for the education system to be like China because Chinese children score high on tests. In fact, Chinese children do not have much life besides studying and test taking. They do very well on tests because they are trained as test machines but they are miserable and stressed out. They are not taught to be independent thinkers. They are trained to follow and conform. They have too much homework every day, and they have to study very hard for long hours. They do not have much time for other activities such as sports, art, community service, etc. Many students become near sighted and have to wear glasses at a young age. Some become sleep deprived and depressed; their parents worry about their health but have very little control.
High school students are even more stressed out due to the once-a-year college entrance exams (three full-day nationwide exams), because if you do not pass them to attend college, your life is supposed to be ruined, you are a loser in society, you cannot get a good job to make decent wages, your family and friends will look down on you. Many of them take extra classes outside of school on the weekday evenings or over the weekends because of the pressure to perform and go to college. There are many cases of abuse and corruption in this huge industry of testing preparations. The working class parents have to save a high percentage of their income to spend on their children’s education. It is not uncommon for some high school students to commit suicide before or after the college entrance exams. If your child has a special educational need or is a late bloomer, you are out of luck. They will be left behind. The very rich today in China just send their kids to private schools and buy their way out, or send their kids overseas to study in college.
I do not understand why some people in America want our school education system to be more like China, unless the government wants us to become like China so everyone can be controlled and tracked. Some might think Common Core sounds wonderful, our children will be “global citizens”, “college ready” and “career ready”, but it still reminds me of the Communist Core I went through. A big and powerful government always has reasons and excuses for using force to make people do what they want, but in the end, it is always the ruling class and their cronies that benefit from these mandates, not the people.
It is even scarier that big government and big corporations have joined forces together to push through Common Core. They pushed Common Core down our throats without much parental input. The federal government uses taxpayer money to bribe the states; big corporations use their money to get support from unions and schools. They are holding “carrots and sticks”; where are the parents? We are totally left out of the process. We are not important. Our children have become state property and business marketing targets for profit. They will be trained like Chinese kids today who are test takers, not critical thinkers; they will become employees working for corporations, but not entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Because they won’t learn about “American Exceptionalism”, entrepreneurship, and capitalism any more, according to the new AP History curriculum, they won’t have the joy of learning anymore. When they graduate from high school, they will not know how America was founded or understand why people try to immigrate here. Chinese kids today may test very well, but have no idea of their own self-worth, or what Mao did during the Cultural Revolution and what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989. For example, I recently talked with a group of 20-year-olds from China who grew up under the Communist mandated education. They were so brainwashed and they were re-telling the same excuses that the government told me; e.g. why too much freedom is bad for China, and citizens cannot own guns to defend themselves because it will cause serious security threats. Do you want your children to be brainwashed by government? What kind of America will we be building if they don’t know what makes this country great and liberty worth fighting for?
If you forget the past, you will repeat its mistakes and you won’t know who you are. The first step of Communism was to take away your parental control of your children and indoctrinate them. If they control education and your children, they control the country’s future. I wonder if Mr. Bill Gates went through Common Core when he was a young boy of 12 years, if so would he still have that entrepreneurial spirit and drop out of college to start Microsoft? I respect and admire his success. I want my children to be like him and become business owners who create jobs and wealth, not just to be drones who only manage to live from paycheck to paycheck. I do not understand why Bill Gates is spending millions to train our kids to be the opposite of him and his success story. It would make more sense if he would spend his millions to promote more choices in education, teach our kids about capitalism, entrepreneurship, the free market, independence, creativity and opportunities, and how to take risks to start and manage your own business or non-profit organization to help the community.
It is not up to government and corporations to decide who are “college ready” or “career ready”, let families and the free market decide that. We are American citizens first who believe in liberty and we have Constitutional rights. Do not let other entities like the United Nations tell us what kind of “global citizens” we should be. Do not let the government and corporations mandate what our kids must learn and how to learn it. Education is not a One-Size-Fits-All, top down, central control process. It involves students, parents, and teachers in the classrooms at the local level. Each child is an individual with his or her own special needs. I want my kids to enjoy learning; I want my kids to learn American values and principles of liberty, individual rights, and property rights, the free market, and fair competition. I want my kids to be critical thinkers, and to challenge authority. I want my kids to learn how to manage money and start a business; I want them to be creative, productive, and happy citizens.
I want to use my story as a Chinese immigrant to wake up Americans, because I believe this country is still the Shining City on the Hill I came here for, because I still hope this is the “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.” There is no other country like the USA. If America goes down this path of socialism and tyranny, the whole world goes. Our children are very precious to us and they are the future of America. I have lived under tyranny and the Communist Core before and never want to live under it again; I will not allow my children to go through it. Fellow citizens, parents, grandparents, teachers, all liberty loving people, please get involved and join me the fight against Common Core.
To all the government elected officials, or appointed bureaucrats, all the corporations and business organizations, teachers unions who are pushing Common Core, I have a message for you: We are human beings, not animals. Our children are individuals, not robots. I will not let you use the Communist way to control and brainwash my children. Please give us back our parental rights, give us back our schools and children.