In recent weeks, the public debate about the Common Core has reached a crescendo. Unfortunately, much of the discussion has occurred in the political arena where intelligent discourse takes a back seat to political rhetoric. As a result, people with an interest in learning more about what it all means must try to wade through the chaff. I hope I can provide some clarity to the issue.
Let’s begin by addressing some of the political propaganda that has been inserted into the debate.
Proponents assure us that the Common Core is a state-led initiative intended to improve public education. This assurance is in response to opponents’ claims that writing educational standards is an inappropriate federal intrusion into the public education arena, an arena that most politicians will tell you they believe is best controlled at the local level. (Of course, they normally tell us that while forcing their latest mandates down our throats.)
The problem with the state-led initiative argument is that it simply isn’t true. The Common Core was the brainchild of the NATIONAL Governors’ Association (notice the word “NATIONAL”). It became a state initiative in Ohio (and in every other state that adopted it) only after it was approved by the politicians within those individual states. (See http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/debunking-misconceptions-the-common-core-is-state-led/)
If the Common Core was truly a state initiative, it would differ from state to state. But, it doesn’t. One has to wonder why the people who created it feel the need to lie about its origin.
Supporters of the Common Core suggest that its adoption will increase academic rigor in schools while standardizing learning. Of course, in the early 1990’s these same people (aka, politicians) created proficiency tests and told us the reason for their creation was to increase rigor and standardize learning. They also created Academic Content Standards, Ohio Graduation Tests, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top, all designed to increase rigor and standardize learning. Now they have created the Common Core to do what? Why, to increase rigor and standardize learning, of course.
So, at least five times previous to this one politicians have created educational initiatives to “increase rigor and standardize learning” only to come back a few months (or years) later to create new standards that would, they promised, “increase rigor and standardize learning.” That did this because the last ones they created just weren’t good enough.
Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me; fool me five times and I must be an idiot.
Now, take just a couple of minutes and Google “the personal attributes of successful people.” You’ll notice that nowhere will you find any correlation between all these initiatives and the road to success.
The Common Core is developed under the myth that creating learning standards will guarantee that the same material will be taught at the same time in the same manner in every classroom across America. Any teacher who is worth his or her salt (or any parent with more than one child) will tell you that you can’t even make that guarantee within the same school building much less throughout the entire country, because classrooms are comprised of human beings with different skills, different motivations, different attitudes, different interests, and different support systems. Add to that the fact that not every state adopted the Common Core, and some that did are now looking at opting out, and the “consistency in learning” is a ruse.
Did you know that with all the hoopla surrounding the Common Core that it actually addresses only two academic areas; English and math? That’s right, supporters tell us that the answer to ensuring the future success of our young people is by developing standards in two subject areas. What about the hundreds of other personal and academic skills that we know lead to success? You won’t find them anywhere in the Common Core.
This is certainly not to suggest that having high standards is a bad idea. In fact, the mere insinuation that those of us who graduated prior to the 1990’s did so under a system that had no standards is about as insulting as it gets. We most certainly DID have standards, they most certainly did focus on more than two academic subjects, and education was most definitely NOT driven by politics as it is today.
If we really want to improve a child’s chance at future success, rather than focusing only on English and math, it would be far more appropriate to recognize and develop the wide range of skills, social and emotional as well as academic, that we all need to be successful. It would have been nice if the creators of the Common Core would have done that Google search themselves.