June 13, 2013

Why I'm against the Common Core

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mike Forest stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest. In this video, Forest vilifies the Common Core State Standards, which his state is now reconsidering.

I first learned of this from an intelligent blogger and educator, Steven Weber, who takes Forest to task in his post here. Then, fellow ASCD author, Mike Fisher, took the reins in his own response to Forest.

As much as I value the insights of both Weber and Fisher, inspiring and articulate educators, I must respectfully disagree with both and, as much as it pains me to side with a politician, I agree with most of what Forest says in his YouTube attack on the CCSS.

Readers of my book, Role Reversal, know I'm staunchly agains standardization of any kind. While many of my esteemed colleagues at ASCDEDge blog about the merits of the Common Core, I am more than willing to be the stentorian voice against it. While it's easy to join the masses, who fall in line with the district administrators and state bureaucrats who praise the Common Core as the answer to failing American education, I simply can't join this fraternity.

My issues are simple enough. 

1. Standardization of education is just wrong.This is exactly why parents take their children out of public schools. They want something different, inspiring and unique for their children.
2. I already collaborate with teachers nationwide. The notion that the Common Core makes it easier for teachers to collaborate is ludicrous and insulting. Some of my best ideas for instruction have come from attending conferences and chats on Twitter and other social networks with smart, experienced educators.
3. Politically-driven education initiatives put private companies in charge. Not to be too cynical, but it's difficult for me to see the Common Core as much more than opportunity for education publishers and consulting firms to make more money. For years, workbooks poured in to our classrooms, all designed to help our students pass "The Test." Now, they must be discarded. Ah, not to worry though. There are plenty of new "Master-the-Common Core" books on the way and many consultants showing veteran teachers how to teach with new standards. (That last sentence makes me nauseous.)
4. The old way wasn't broken. What money-hungry bureaucrats don't want people focusing on is the fact that prior to NCLB and CCSS, education was just fine. Teachers used to focus on helping students become thinkers and problem-solvers. They collaborated, graduated, went to college and flourished. Now, we teach students how to pass a test, yet scores continue to decline. I'm not sure how the Common Core will change this. Some say with depth and rigor; I've seen the standards, and I just don't see this.
5. The problem in education is poverty. As noted researcher Stephen Krashen has alluded to for decades, the problem in education is that poverty-stricken children don't value school, so they don't regularly attend. Remove the impoverished from test scores, and America leaps to the top in the world, at least using this misleading barometer. Sadly, instead of trying to end poverty, we continue to give billions of dollars to organizations like Pearson, so it can churn out more workbooks.

So, with due respect to my colleagues, brilliant people with good intentions, I am against the Common Core and all that it stands for.

This is cross posted at ASCD EDge


Don't miss Mark's book ROLE Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, now available in the ASCD store, Barnes & Noble and at Amazon.com