The Assault on Common Core

10.23.13 | Ralph Kerr | Comments[0]

 

The Assault on Common Core

Some people are upset about Obamacare, some are upset about Government spending, some are upset about the end of summer but it seems most people are upset about the Common Core in Education.

The Common Core is a set of Standards and Assessments that have been developed over the last few years by the Federal Government in conjunction with educators, researchers, business people, legislators and beauracrats. The overall purpose of the Common Core is to assure that all public school students are taught a common core of subject matter and then tested on the teaching to determine their level of proficiency. The purpose was not to “make every kid the same” or “pump out robots.” The Federal Government encouraged States to adopt the Common Core and begin holding schools accountable for the teaching and learning of them by giving States large sums of money. Most States accepted the money and the Common Core. A few States rejected both the money and the Common Core. New York State was an earlier adopter and has reaped the pain and suffering of early adoption. Pennsylvania adopted the Common Core but has been much slower than New York in trying to roll them out to school districts. In fact, this summer Pennsylvania held up the roll out while tweaks are being made.

Unfortunately for New Yorkers the early adoption and roll out has resulted in what some would call a “disaster.” I am not prepared to go that far, BUT the roll out should have been done much more gradually. Teacher materials were not ready on time to be useful, tests have not been vetted properly and as a result administrators, teachers, parents and some legislators are very unhappy. I have read reports of children going to bed in tears because they feel unprepared by the teaching they have received and worried about their test results. This should not be happening. Teachers are unhappy because they are being held accountable for students test result at a level they have never been before. Apprehension on their part is understandable but early results show they may have been more concerned than they needed to be. Recently released results show that almost 50 percent of teachers outside New York City were highly effective and just under 42 percent were effective. Four percent were rated developing and 1 percent ineffective. Despite the good results on teacher effectiveness if students are feeling so much pressure that it is totally disrupting their well being, something needs to change. I would suggest a little less testing and a little more time given to help students relax and enjoy learning. This should not be done however at the expense of continuing to hold teachers and administrators accountable for their performance.

I would encourage parents who are concerned about the Common Core and current practices to politely and with civility take their specific concerns to their local Board of Education. Try not to be overly emotional but state your concerns with clarity and include suggestions for improvement.

An additional result of all the uproar has been the call for the resignation of the NY Commissioner of Education. Most of this is based on his dismal performance in Poughkeepsie, NY during a public meeting to discuss the Common Core. Reportedly the Commissioner was shouted down by special interests who were trying to manipulate the meeting. As a result he cancelled the rest of the scheduled meeting throughout the State. This seems like a childish reaction. Since then, the Commissioner has rescheduled these other meetings. Calls for his resignation will go nowhere, as they probably shouldn’t, as long as he continues to have the support of the members of the Board of Regents and the Governor.

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