Common Core standards miss the bigger picture.
At first glance, the curriculum standards known as Common Core look appealing. Who could be against improved critical thinking and communication skills or more progressive, student centered teaching? Who could be against collaborative thinking and reflective learning or being “college and career ready”?
In 2001, President George W. Bush, with bipartisan help, brought us “No Child Left Behind.” This education reform law, based on the goal that high standards and establishing measurable goals, was believed to improve individual outcomes. That law also gave states the impossible goal of achieving 100 percent proficiency in English and math by 2014. In 2009, also with bipartisan support, the Obama administration then launched “Race to The Top”, a program created to “spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education.”
The net result was a huge standardized testing craze used to rate students, teachers, and schools that eventually led to stressed out students, frustrated teachers, anxious administrators, cheating, and closed schools.
The Common Core has been sold through sloganeering that, in her latest book, “Reign of Error,” education expert Diane Ravitch has claimed is Orwellian in nature. She believes that, as big lies and repetitious slogans indoctrinate the public. “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” and “Ignorance is Strength,” have become “No Child Left Behind,” “Students First,” and “Educators for Excellence.”
People who advocate for the Common Core standards miss the bigger picture. They came as a package deal with the new teacher evaluations, higher stakes testing, and austerity measures, including school closings. The Common Core is just the last of a series of politicized and incentivized business models inappropriately being applied to education.
To try to live up to the new demands and ensure better test scores, states, districts and schools have purchased resources, materials and scripted curricular modules solely developed for test success. Being lost is the practical wisdom and planned spontaneity necessary to work with 20 to 35 individuals in a classroom. Academic creativity has been drained from degraded and overworked experienced teachers. Uniformity has sucked the life out of teaching and learning.
Good teachers leave and are replaced by new and cheap workers more willing to follow fool-proof, factory-like, prescribed lesson plans. In fact, the average teaching tenure has dropped from approximately 15 years of service in 1990 to less than five in 2013.