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Mon Aug 13, 2012, 08:09 PM

Eight problems with Common Core Standards

So it was probably in March of that year when, sitting at a dining room table in an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, my host — a publishing executive, friend, and fellow West Virginian — said he’d just bought the book. He hadn’t read it yet, but wondered how Hirsch’s list of 5,000 things he thought every American should know differed from a list we Appalachians might write.

I don’t remember what I said, but it was probably some version of what I’ve long taken for granted: Most people think that whatever they and the people they like happen to know, everybody else should be required to know.

In education, of course, what it’s assumed that everybody should be required to know is called “the core.” Responsibility for teaching the core is divvied up between teachers of math, science, language arts, and social studies.

Variously motivated corporate interests, arguing that the core was being sloppily taught, organized a behind-the-scenes campaign to super-standardize it. They named their handiwork the Common Core State Standards to hide the fact that it was driven by policymakers in Washington D.C., who have thus far shoved it into every state except Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia.

This was done with no public dialogue, no feedback from experienced educators, no research, no pilot or experimental programs — no evidence at all that a floor-length list created by unnamed people attempting to standardize what’s taught is a good idea.

more . . . http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/eight-problems-with-common-core-standards/2012/08/12/821b300a-e4e7-11e1-8f62-58260e3940a0_blog.html?fb_action_ids=463576440333745&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%22463576440333745%22%3A10151132652310589%7D&action_type_map=%7B%22463576440333745%22%3A%22og.recommends%22%7D&action_ref_map=[]

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Reply Eight problems with Common Core Standards (Original post)
proud2BlibKansan Aug 2012 OP
kwassa Aug 2012 #1
Igel Aug 2012 #2

Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Aug 13, 2012, 11:01 PM

1. I like this point.

Four: So much orchestrated attention is being showered on the Common Core Standards, the main reason for poor student performance is being ignored—a level of childhood poverty the consequences of which no amount of schooling can effectively counter.


This is true of the entire so-called reform movement.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Tue Aug 14, 2012, 07:23 AM

2. Disagree a bit.

The common core standards have been in the works for a long time. I've seen variants of the bases for these standards for years. Many educators, from professors to master teachers to regular educations through discipline-specific organizations have had input into the base documents.

Research on aligning tests and curriculum to standards has been going on for a few generations.

Every state, pretty much, has a "experimental program" with common standards. Texas has the TEKS for nearly every class that's taught. Some of them are so ambiguous that you could build a PhD program around a small part of one. Others are absurdly specific. Still, they're common to all schools in Texas. The TEKS are also a lot like the Common Core. Most people agree on what's important to teach. It's a pain in the butt. But some things are just plain icing.

1. No. You have no "quality of mind" without "content of mind" to base it on. There is no separate critical thinking, only critical thinking about specific topics.

You may disagree with what topics are to be taught, but that something needs to be taught, and what's taught should provide a common foundation for all or most students, seems nearly trite.

2. Nobody says that the standards are once and for all. Most standards are revised every few years. Moreover, most standards need but minor revision: What you should teach in high school chemistry hasn't changed that much in 30 years. That they actually expect what they said should be taught to be taught, well, that's a different matter.

3. The common core standards assume the world is as it is, not as any group would like it to be. Yes, I think it's lousy that logic and discourse pragmatics aren't taught in high school. Still, it's not taught so the battle over standards isn't a battle over subjects. It's just how to define those subjects.

4. If you don't know what kids are supposed to know, how can you tell if they're not learning it? Saying that kids are failing is specious if there's nothing for them to know. And if each teacher defines content in isolation, or only with input from the school, what's failing at #1 High School might be honors at #2 High School. No standards = no standards for judging or comparing.

5. See #2. Innovation is fine. If you're bored, add all the stuff you want to the standards. If you really can't stand the idea of teaching the same thing for a 20th year, find innovative ways of teaching the standards.

6. Logic's not the strong point here. The standards aren't just for standardized tests. There are alternative ways of measuring these things, and most teachers base most of their grades on those alternative ways. (And, yes, it's possible to write fairly good tests. And "cultural bias" is one of these things that has a fairly specific meaning. If you teach your kids test taking procedures and strategies--this takes perhaps 2 hours?--the cultural bias goes away. All that's left is differential achievement with a racial skew.

7. Word play isn't argument and isn't a good basis for argument. Reading is a standard. Therefore, the "common" people shouldn't read and become standardized. Leave that to the elite? See. It's an easy game to play, and all you're left with is a bunch of little straw dolls.

8. It's nice to be a hermit and meditate on what the "potentials of humanness" are in isolation. I rather think that considering WWII, US slavery, the photoelectric effect, evolution, and a number of other things show something about the "potentials of humanness." But, in the end, most of my students want to know that they're have a warm, dry place to sleep and food to eat. It's an affront to think that my students will want such things--how common of them--but that's the way it is.

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