Did Your School Tell You About Common Core Standards?

Common Core State Standards – the biggest change in K-12 education in generations.  It’s coming soon to a school near you (or may be there already).  Have you heard about it?  Do you have any idea what it is?  Did anybody ask you if you approve?  Do your legislators know about it?

Whenever there is a big change in government, and it is kept essentially secret from the public, I get a hinky feeling.  The adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will have a profound impact on students, teachers, schools, and parents/taxpayers.   Yet it is flying ‘under the radar’, virtually unmentioned by the schools, the media, or anyone else.

According to the Core Standards website, “The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.”  It lays out new instructional methods aimed at making educational outcomes more consistent across the nation and more competitive with other countries.

I have found fairly extensive detail on the web about the proposed changes in teaching methods.  The aim is to start students with a strong foundation of basic skills, and then build knowledge empirically, with a focus on college and career readiness and applied technology.  The approach to education will be more technical, with built-in measurement against standards.  Lofty and worthwhile goals, indeed.

While there seems to have been much work and planning done on methods and measurement, there is one huge component missing in the CCSS framework:  Content.

Under CCSS, the approach to education will evolve from the traditional “What will students learn?” to “How will students learn?”  It makes sense to teach a child how to read well before expecting him to gain knowledge from a text.

I have many questions and concerns about Common Core.  Among them: Will schools cut down on non-academic fluff and social engineering to provide the additional time required?  If the process requires building on a foundation, how can it be implemented by “starting in the middle”?  If it relies on integrating skill-building between subjects, why are only language arts and math on the front burner?  How will CCSS be funded and what will it cost?  These are just for starters.

Perhaps most importantly:  How will local school districts and parents maintain control over curricular content?

CCSS will require new texts and classroom materials.  Because the implementation schedule is so aggressive, choices will be slim.  This creates a windfall profit opportunity for the authors and publishers of the first CCSS-ready texts.  Why do I have the nagging suspicion that the ‘winners’ have already been chosen?   Why do I worry that the few scarce, expensive CCSS-ready texts will be infused with politically-motivated ideology (even more so than current texts)?  

Why is the Common Core State Standards initiative such a big secret?  I want to know a lot more about the CCSS before I will feel good about taking the plunge.

Call me jaded.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Your thinking’s so complicated
Yeah, I’m so jaded

Jaded – Aerosmith

See a related post about Common Core Standards by Barbara Rush