We have had a number of parents ask us about Common Core. Becky and I no longer teach in the classroom so we felt we were not the best people to provide information or an opinion. So I asked my former colleague and seasoned teacher, Dave Edholm, his personal and professional take on Common Core. I’m sure there are other teachers who have a different opinion. And if they would like to give their two cents in either a comment or in a blog, we would love to hear their take. Thanks Dave for sharing your thoughts!
It’s a standard based education that seeks to insure that every student in America who graduates from high school is prepared for college. It focuses on learning targets; a scripted curriculum that is carefully monitored by data. The Common Core is carefully tied into the “Race to the Top” initiative put forth by the Obama Administration. States are given large amounts of funding if they choose to implement the program. Once a state enters “Race to the Top”, local school boards relinquish control of what’s being taught. All curriculum companies will write curriculum based on the Common Core.
In essence, it’s a national curriculum.
The Common Core sounds awesome. A kid in Flint, Michigan can pack up and move to Oklahoma and not miss a beat! His new classroom will be working on the exact same skill on exactly the same day as his old classroom in Flint. Every kid will be getting the same education; things will be equitable. And a world class education it will be! It’s one that will insure every child will be college ready.
But…consider the following: Common Core is the brain-child of Bill Gates and his “Impatient Optimist” club (that’s really the name!). Impatient Optimists are behind the “Race to the Top” initiative of the Federal Government and the Department of Education. Bill Gates and the people behind Common Core have considerable financial clout, enough to cure all that ails us. And not just for America. No, Impatient Optimists are out to heal the world. While they’re doing just that, they can narrow the achievement gap. Everything will be equitable.
Here’s my question, do we want the federal government telling all American schools, both public and private, exactly what a world class, college ready education looks like?
Today, one doesn’t have to look far to realize that those with a different opinion or world view will not be well received. You’ll have your learners (we’re no longer called teachers), “learn” exactly what the impatient optimists and the federal government want them to learn (teach).It won’t just be a subtraction algorithm. It will include their world view; one that scoffs at the idea of a deity or moral absolutes.
The situation in today’s schools has eroded; particularly for teachers. The experts are judging a school’s and teacher’s success solely on numbers. The media, both conservative and liberal, follow the same criteria: A quality teacher is only one who can produce awesome numbers. Teacher evaluations focus almost entirely on data derived from a skill set prescribed by the Common Core. Teachers (learners) are no longer welcome if you are one who seeks to free minds and inspire students towards truth and beauty. Gifted students are not given the opportunity to use their talents to excel because all learners are focused on becoming “proficient”; nothing more, nothing less. The skill set is all that matters.
When evaluating Common Core we need to consider the following questions: Who stands to reap financial and political rewards from the implementation of this program? Does the program sound too automated? Do we really want Washington to control America’s school curriculum (both public and private)? These are open-ended questions that deserve our careful consideration.