Common Core – To Doubt or Not to Doubt

Washington post opinion writer, George F. Will recently published Doubts Over Common Core and I find myself thinking, “It’s just a list of education standards and commonality eases the burden of transiency. How’s that politicized?”

I was born in SC and my family moved to FL just before I entered third grade.  In SC I was in a special ed class for speech and handwriting. In FL I was in an advanced reading group and eventually a gifted prep program (I was “almost gifted”…high verbal ability, not quite high enough math).   I returned to SC for High School and in my 9th grade science class, I was assigned the exact same text book I’d been issued in my 7th grade class in FL.  I soon lost interest in school, began skipping to go learn on my own at the public library, got pregnant at 17, but fortunately my educated truancy help me pass the entrance tests to start college while my peers finished their senior year of HS.

So it is from that perspective that I say, I believe Common standards are in the best interest of transient students.

I live in SC and serve as an Instructional Facilitator/Learning Coach in NC.  Even though both states are currently implementing Common Core State Standards there are significant curricular differences between what my kindergarten son & 5th grade daughter are currently doing in school and what students in the schools I work with are doing.

So, I’m not seeing an oppressive political agenda synchronizing students under the umbrella of liberalism.  What I do see are abundant misconceptions and a staggering number of educators compromising their natural instincts regarding what their students need in order to meet a deluge of unclear expectations that they hope will keep them employed in an industry that is underpaid and disrespected.

My hope is that the Common Core standards will foster a sense of clarity and common purpose which could ultimately free teachers to trust their natural instincts.  I also believe it could pave the way for much needed educational reform, but thanks to articles like the one linked above, I am beginning to seriously question what that reform would really look like. I don’t think it would look cookie cutter and I do believe choice is of highest importance.  I believe parents & students deserve the opportunity to choose the educational setting, curriclum, and goals that align with their values.  For many public school will be a good choice.  For others private school, charter school, or home school would be a good choice. They need to be different because people are different.  When a parent chooses private or charter school they’re usually committed to staying with that institution until their child finishes or if they have to move, they’re likely to look for a similar institution to continue the child’s education.  If they choose home school they have complete control.  If they choose public school, I believe they make that choice because they expect some degree of consistency.  Until I find enough evidence to convince me otherwise I see Common Core as a valuable touchstone around which curriculum can be built and lessons can be planned.  Common Core is NOT the curriculum. From those standards we develop “I can” statements that we want students to be able to confidently express.  The Curriculum Corner has great printable “I Can” statements for K-6.

Sadly I see publishing companies putting out textbooks with Common Core in their ad campaign and that is where I am beginning to see the political agenda emerge…in how some textbooks have spun history.  But I don’t see that as the fault of Common Core.  I do however recognize the economic power of Common Core branding and the article doubting Common Core has me pondering the political manipulation of Race to the Top funds and NCLB waivers.