"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pushback on Common Core Grows

"It's just a set of standards. What's the big deal?" (St. Louis County teacher) "This is an historic national event." (National Council of Teachers of English)

"Notwithstanding this, a state may supplement the common standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15% of the State's total standards for that content area." (Federal Register July 29, 2009)   "We can change or add to the standards any time we want." (MO DESE)

These kinds of conflicting statements about common core standards are typical these days. It is a confusing time for the public in particular, but even for education officials who don't seem to know what the big picture is for common core. School board members, district curriculum directors and chief financial officers have large holes in their knowledge base about common core; how much it will cost and who is paying for what, what is a district's real flexibility, what will its impact on district performance be, how it is going to affect literature selection, ideology in the classroom and teacher performance evaluations. So far, common core appears to be mostly marketing hype, like the buzz created for the Gabbo tv show on the FOX sitcom The Simpson's. No one was exactly sure what it was, but they were pretty sure they wanted to watch it.

Perhaps the best analogy is to the introduction of many cell phones. A lot of money and marketing energy goes into the introduction of the newest edition of X. Plenty of people will sign up to be early adopters, believing with faith often lacking in modern religious devotees, that the product will live up to the hype. Many times that faith turned out to be misplaced as the product was rushed to market with more bugs than the NSA placed in James Rosen's office. Just ask the people who bough Samsung's Craft phone, dubbed the worst cell phone ever by Slate magazine.

Similar hype and touting of technological superiority accompany the implementation of common core yet, as with other technology promotion, there is little field experience to support such claims. That is one of the biggest weaknesses of common core. There is little to no pilot data on the effectiveness of these standards to produce the outcomes of college and career readiness claimed. Yet 90% of the students in the United States will be taught these untested standards in just over a year. Perhaps that could explain the push back against the standards found in so many states.

Most recently New York filed bill Bill A07994 that would stop the full scale implementation of common core.  They follow in the footsteps of Michigan and Indiana in passing legislation halting the implementation of common core. Texas went so far as to ban the adoption of Common Core. And in Pennsylvania the push back on common core has created strange bedfellows of Tea Party activists and the AFT Pennsylvania. Many have asked Catholic schools to similarly take a wait and see attitude, allowing the public schools to be the test cases for the efficacy of the standards. Other states continue their similar efforts to take a step back and examine the bluster of common core, in light of conflicting statements like those given above and the lack of concrete details or support documentation. If Missouri is successful in passing such legislation this next session, we would be in the company of a growing number of states who are finally employing prudence in education policy.  Not all of us are comfortable early adopters, and experience has proven us to be wiser for it.

1 comment:

  1. I am praying this is stopped sooner than later. My daughter is struggling and asking to be homeschooled. She is only 10 years old, and each day, I see her confidence in herself getting lower and lower. I am heartbroken.


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