I happen to be the one who is confused by the debate over Common Core. I’ve read in an article by Michael J. Petrilli and Michael Brickman that “…educators have spent almost five years implementing Common Core in their classrooms.” The stated goal of the program is to prepare students for college and careers. It has milestones that “…students need to pass to reach those goals.” The program lays out standards for what students should know at the end of each school year. Teachers are accountable to see that their students learn what they are expected to learn.
None of that sounds bad to me, so what’s the problem? An article by Allie Bidwell says that support is waning for the academic benchmarks. Conservative critics are against the program as federal intrusion into what states should be controlling. Teachers are becoming more and more outspoken about opposition to the accountability measures that are part of the program. “Randy Weingarten, present of the American Federation of Teachers said in a statement the standards ‘must be guides, not straightjackets and they must be decoupled from testing.’”
The problem, according to Petrilli and Brickman, is that it’s “…impossible to draft standards that prepare students for college and careers that look nothing like Common Core. That’s because Common Core, though not perfect, represents a good-faith effort to incorporate the current evidence of what students need to know and do to succeed in credit-bearing courses in college or to land a good paying job.”
There are two interesting quotes in the article by Bidwell. The first is that “…we know there’s a significant, organized opposition, so it’s not surprising that it lacks support. I think supporters of the Common Core need to organize.” The other is that “…most of those questioned still said they would be supportive of national standards when the ‘seemingly toxic words Common Core’ were dropped from the description…”
I don’t claim that attempting to digest the issues has convinced me that Common Core is a good or bad idea. I saw a picture of a teacher holding a large sign that depicted an apple core and had a caption “Rotten to the Common Core.” That’s quite clever, but it always makes me suspicious when someone appeals to emotions to advocate their position. That teacher undoubtedly could tell me in no uncertain terms why she opposes Common Core and I wish I could listen to her. For now, I remain confused.