Common Core misconceptions

Jun 07, 2013

I wrote a column about the Common Core back in September of 2011.  The goal at that time was to give folks information about the new standards being introduced in 2012 and to address any unwarranted political maneuvering.  That second part was wishful thinking.  Despite a thoughtful design aimed to improve instruction without picking political sides, some folks are now trying to convince us that the Common Core is a plot to control education from the Federal Government.  It isn’t.

Education is a states’ rights issue, constitutionally speaking.  This is a position that I agree with, and support.  Because education is a states’ rights issue, the Federal Government has had little to do with educational standards until 2001.  States’ rights regarding education were significantly eroded in 2001 when the Bush administration implemented No Child Left Behind.

Since No Child Left Behind was a cluster, conservative voices have called for less Federal control of education including the abolishment of the U.S. Department of Education.  Liberal voices, on the other hand, have called for a national curriculum managed through the U.S. Department of Education.  You can see that either of these opposing views could easily be derailed by political activities.

The Common Core is a reasonable and politically savvy approach to improve education in America.  The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.   There are republican and democratic governors.  State School Officers are appointed by the governor or elected by voters (depending on the state).  Either way, the Common Core involves republicans and democrats (from nearly all the states) working together to establish minimum academic standards.

The standards are designed to provide consistent academic standards for all students, regardless of where they live in America.  The standards are aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and are evidence based.  The standards provide a clear focus that is much better than the broad and vague curriculum designs we have been given in the past.  Common Core Standards are “a mile deep and an inch wide.”  They focus on depth in basic skills.

Let’s not “throw the baby out with the bath water,” … again.  For once we have consistent expectations for student learning that are controlled by cooperating states, not the feds.  We need to know how our schools and students stack up with schools and students in other states.  Tell the political spinsters that we finally have something that is consistent that is not controlled by the federal government.  It will work if the politicians will leave it alone.  If it is used as a political football, it will become another unnecessary political failure.

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