So what’s the problem? The problem is we haven’t been listening to the teachers. Sure some teachers will complain, and have, but that may have more to do with their own districts choices than Common Core. If I'm wrong, tell me. That’s not to say some improvements aren't needed, it’s just that Common Core is getting a bad rap before anyone knows what the heck they’re talking about. Our own state superintendent, Tony Evers, is a huge believer in Common Core, and for good reason.
I’m going to point you to an Education Week article that every parent and teacher needs to read (hoping the link doesn't require a paid subscription-let me know). Some will say that EdWeek is a biased player, and is injecting their spin on Common Core. Fine, but that aside, check out what their selection of actual teachers are saying first, then decide if this is some nefarious plot to take down the U.S. educational system. Here are a few videos edited together that will give you an incredible overview of Common Core:
Here’s a sample:
Rod Powell, a National Board-certified teacher (social studies): “Mystical, dark, malevolent, ominous, pornographic. Glancing at my Twitter streams (#commoncore, #nced, #ncpol), I've seen each of these words applied to the new Common Core State Standards. But I've been teaching for 26 years, and guess what? I've embraced these standards in my classroom practice. What's the big deal? A simple question for me, I guess. I understand and work in the classroom of today. The value of these standards is crystal clear to me: They are simply things that a thinking student should be able to do:There are many other teachers comments as well. Personally, I've heard from my own kids teachers who aren't crazy about some of the "new standards." But are those standards set by the district? If I see them again, I'm going to ask.
The common standards are a overreaching imposition of federal authority into the classroom.(Nope. They are a set of complex skills that are used to supplement and inform local curriculum. And they were adopted by states.)Again, all of this is easy enough for me to see. I work with the standards every day in the classroom with real, live, energetic 9th graders.
Controversial topics and texts are mandated. No texts are mandated. They are sometimes suggested as examples, but teachers are free to use whatever texts and topics they see fit.
Student privacy will be undermined. I'll be honest, I don't know a lot about this one. But I'm not sure those who raise it do, either.
The standards themselves are weak. They are as rigorous as a teacher needs them to be to challenge his or her students.
And I like this question that we might pose to hostile parents (and there are a few): How would you teach your child if you were their teacher?
Would you go with the traditional "good-enough-for-me, good-enough-for-them" approach? In other words, would you use decades-old worksheets; push your child to memorize lists of dates, people, and formulas; test all this learning via multiple-choice tests; and throw in some jump-through-the-hoop projects that don't actually teach anything?
Would you energize your child by presenting authentic scenarios to explore; finding and creating personalized and relevant learning materials and texts; developing activities that would challenge them as writers and oral communicators; all the while measuring their progress with thorough assessments?
Seems to me that would be a pretty good starting point for explaining the common core.”
For an overview of where education should go, this review of Diane Ravitch's new book "Reign of Error" will give you great summary of our educational system today and what it can do for tomorrow.