Common Core: Not in the Best Interest of Kids
If you are a student, you have undoubtedly heard the term, “Common Core.” Common Core started as a simple-enough idea in the 1990’s. The thought was that if a child took geometry, it should look the same in South Carolina, California, Idaho and Kansas. Parents should have confidence that their child is learning just as much in this town as in any other town. Therefore, it made sense to create a standardized test that measures the progress of each class so that students, teachers, parents and bureaucrats could understand how local students compared to other students nationally. Common core was supposed to replace all the individualized state testing that didn’t allow students/teachers/schools to be compared across the country in different subjects. Sounds simple enough and in 2010, 44 of the 50 states signed on to Common Core.
Off The Tracks: What started out as a good idea has derailed. First off, everybody hates it. I have yet to hear from a student, teacher, parent or administrator who is even luke-warm to common core. Why? Essentially, teachers are being told what content to cover, when to cover it and how fast to cover it. Teachers are feeling a lot of pressure to gear their teaching toward helping their students do well on these common core assessments. These assessments are now looked at as the end-all be-all of a school’s success. If students do poorly, then teachers are deemed substandard and cumulatively schools are judged on this criteria. In some areas of the country, government funding and teacher pay are based on how students do on these common core assessments. If you don’t know it, your administrators and teachers are going through seminar after seminar to learn how to “best” teach you material so that you can do better on these common core assessments.
Selling Out: Another monumental problem is that Pearson was hired to create these assessments. Pearson is the largest educational curriculum and textbook company in the country. Seriously? Not a panel of teacher experts or district curriculum directors? Pearson is not accountable to tax payers or school boards. Pearson has made these tests way too hard and students have performed poorly. But don’t worry, Pearson is more than happy to sell your their curricula to help those students do better next year.
In the meantime, several more states have decided to turn their back on Common Core… dedicated administrators are retiring early… compassionate teachers are leaving the profession in droves… a whole new crop of parents are pulling their kids out of schools to provide education for their children at home. The pressure funnels down from politicians to school administrators to teachers to students to parents. Education cannot be fun, meaningful or life-changing if a test becomes more important than the student.
Read this to see the sheer number of students and parents opting out of common core testing in New York. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/19/educators-alarmed-by-some-questions-on-n-y-common-core-tests/
Read this cry for help from a superintendent in Michigan. http://www.upnorthprogressive.com/2015/04/15/superintendent-of-pine-river-schools-speaks-the-truth-lansing-must-listen/
Joe’s Conclusions: I initially gave Common Core the benefit of the doubt. I observed, studied and waited. I have concluded that Common Core does not have the best interest of students, teachers and schools in mind. I want teachers to have creativity and flexibility to teach to the needs of their students. I believe in differentiated instruction. I believe in teaching to the whole child. I believe that student and student learning matters more than standardized tests. I cannot support a program that doesn’t have the best interest of students as the number 1 priority.
What is your opinion about common core? Ask your teachers and principals what they think. Ask your parents.