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Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core

17 June 2012 228,590 68 Comments

The wonder drug has been invented, manufactured, packaged, and shipped. Doctors and nurses are being trained to administer the drug properly. Companies and consultants are offering products and services to help with the proper administering of this wonder drug. A national effort is underway to develop tools to monitor the improvement of the patients. The media are flooded with enthusiastic endorsement and euphoric predictions.

This cure-all wonder drug is the Common Core, short for the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Cooked up by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, this magic potion promises to cure America’s education ills, according to its Mission Statement:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

Specifically, the Common Core claims to cure the ills that have long plagued America’s education: inequality and inefficiency. “Common standards will help ensure that students are receiving a high quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state. Common standards will provide a greater opportunity to share experiences and best practices within and across states that will improve our ability to best serve the needs of students.”

So how wonderful is this wonder drug? There is no empirical evidence at the moment to make any judgment since no one has taken it yet. But common sense can help.

If it is too good to be true…

“If you had a stomach ache, if you were nervous, if you were lethargic, if you needed energy, if you had tuberculosis, if you had asthma, all sorts of things. It was going to cure what you had.” That was historian Dr. Howard Markel talking about cocaine, a wonder drug praised by the medical researchers, doctors, and great minds in the 1880s, including the likes of Thomas Edison, Queen Victoria and Pope Leo XIII. “I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and against indigestion and with the most brilliant of success,” wrote Sigmund Freud.

“A wonderful pain destroying compound.” “The strongest and best liniment known for the cure of all pain and lameness.” That is from the ad for Clark Stanley’s snake oil, which was supposed to treat  “rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica, lame back, lumbago, contracted muscles, toothache, sprains, swellings, etc.” and cure “frost bites, chill blains, bruises, sore throat, and bites of animals, insects and reptiles.”

“And today begins a new era, a new time in public education in our country.  As of this hour, America’s schools will be on a new path of reform, and a new path of results.” That was President George W. Bush talking about the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. “Our schools will have higher expectations,” he continued,  “Our schools will have greater resources to help meet those goals. Parents will have more information about the schools, and more say in how their children are educated.  From this day forward, all students will have a better chance to learn, to excel, and to live out their dreams.”

Today, we know that cocaine is indeed potent, in fact, so potent that there is an ongoing expensive battle against it. Clark Stanley’s cure-all was mostly mineral oil plus red peppers, and “traces of turpentine and camphor for the medicine smell.” And Bush’s NCLB? Every state is trying to get out of it, some even willing to trade it with a worse set of demands from Arne Duncan.

Diane Ravitch has exposed many cases of education wonder drugs or silver bullets in her outstanding must-read book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education and other writings. She writes, “…in education, there are no shortcuts, no utopias, and no silver bullets.”

The Common Core has not been tested. If anything, standards and testing in the U.S. have not amounted much in curing the ills of inequality and inefficiency. “On the basis of past experience with standards, the most reasonable prediction is that the common core will have little to no effect on student achievement,” Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute predicts based on his analysis of America’s past experiences with standards.

There is no free lunch…

All medicine has side effects. When it cures, it can harm the body as well. Put it in another way, there is no free lunch. Everything comes at a cost. Education cannot escape this simple common sense law of nature for a number of reasons. First, time is a constant. When one spends it on one thing, it cannot be spent on others. Thus when all time is spent on studying and preparing for exams, it cannot be spent on visiting museums. By the same token, when time is spent on activities not necessarily related to academic subjects, less time is available for studying the school subjects and preparing for exams. Second, certain human qualities may be antithetical to each other. When one is taught to conform, it will be difficult for him to be creative. When one is punished for making mistakes, it will be hard for her to take risks. When one is told to be wrong or inadequate all the time, it will be difficult for her to maintain confidence. In contrast, when the students are allowed freedom to explore, they may question what they are asked to learn, and may decide not to comply. Finally, resources are a finite as well. When a school or society devotes all resources to certain things, they don’t have them for others. For example, when all resources are devoted to teaching math and language, schools will have to cut out other programs. When more money is spent on testing students, less will be available for actually helping them grow.

NCLB has led to a narrowing of curriculum, demoralization of teachers, explosion of cheating scandals, reduction of teaching to test-preparation, weakening of public education, and deprivation of the disadvantaged children of a meaningful education experience. The national standards movement in the U.S. has coincided with a significant decline in creativity over the last few decades. Of course, another side (or intended) effect is the increased wealth of publishing companies, tutoring services, and for-profit education ventures.

The Common Core, however dressed, shares the fundamental spirit with NCLB: standardization of curriculum enforced with high-stakes testing. In fact, the Common Core comes with more force on a larger scale. The side effects will be even more significant.

How to Minimize the Damages?

As it stands now, America has passed the point of no return. The Common Core will reach our classrooms soon. Our children’s education experience will be altered by the Common Core and assessed by the Common Assessment because our schools and teachers will be held accountable for teaching to the Common Assessment, currently being developed by two consortia.

The Common Core is unstoppable now. But there are a few things we, as parents, educators, and taxpayers, can do to minimize its damages on our children:

1. Don’t be fooled

Don’t be fooled by the claims of the Common Core advocates. The Common Core will not make your children ready for college or a career. The future needs passionate, creative, collaborative innovators and entrepreneurs, not compliant, uniform test takers. The Common Core will not help the disadvantaged children do better either because the real problem is poverty, not standards in the classrooms.

Don’t be fooled by the tiny improvement you see in the standards themselves. Yes, some teachers may find the Common Core contain certain things that are better than other curriculum or standards, in which case, learn from it, but that does not justify the imposition of the entire standards upon all children across the whole nation.

Don’t be fooled by the flashy charts, dancing graphs, or other colorful interactive displays of student data you are sure to be shown by some companies who claim to help you align your curriculum with the Common Core, improve your teaching effectiveness, and enhance your students learning. The best way to know your children is to look into their eyes, talk with them, and work with them. The best way to help your children is to believe in them, care about them, support them, and value them as individual human beings rather than professional test takers

2. Don’t narrow your curriculum

Don’t cut arts, music, sports, recess, field trips, debate teams, or other programs in order to align with the Common Core. Nothing is more core than a child’s interest and passion. A well-balanced, broad curriculum that meets the needs of each child is a much better bet for your children’s future than one devoted to two subjects standardized and prescribed by people who have no knowledge of your community or your children.

3. Don’t standardize the teachers

Don’t force the teachers to become Common Core machines. Don’t make them standardized knowledge transmitters. The most powerful and effective teachers are those who inspire and motivate their students, who are personable and enthusiastic about their work, and who trust and believe in their students. The best teachers are not those who can dispense knowledge or provide explanation as good as YouTube videos, Wikipedia articles, or Google searches. They are those who give students a reason to watch the YouTube video, read the Wikipedia article, and search for information on Google.

4. Don’t waste your money

Don’t waste your precious dollars on the numerous Common Core products and services purport to help with your children’s college and career readiness. A better bet is on the people in your schools—spend the money on teachers and school leaders—excite them with opportunities and support for their innovation, inspire them with high quality professional development programs, minimize the bureaucratic burden placed on them, reduce their class sizes, and give them time to learn and collaborate with their colleagues.

5. Don’t judge your students or teachers based on test scores

Finally, don’t judge the worth and value of your children based on their test scores. No matter how wonderful a standardized test in math or reading is, it cannot measure your children’s character, interest, passion, friendship, wisdom, creativity, or mental health. It cannot predict your children’s future either. Instead, look for their strength, support their interest, and help them explore and experiment. Behind what they cannot do may well be something they are great at!

Don’t judge teachers by their students’ scores. Test scores are a poor measure of a child’s quality and an even worse measure of the quality of teaching. Moreover students’ performance on tests is the result of many factors, many of which are beyond the control the teacher. Thus it is not only unfair to judge a teacher based on test scores, but also ineffective—research has shown that test-based incentive programs do not lead to improvement of student achievement.

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  • Joe Nathan said:

    Over my 42 years as a inner city public school teacher, administrator, parent and PTA president in public education, I’ve unfortunately seen too many essays like the one above.
    * Step 1 – Mis-represent the proposed change as a “wonder drug”, “cure-all” or silver bullet. that’s not the way it’s been presented by advocates.
    * Step 2 – Present a variety of generalizations
    * Step 3 – Oppose efforts to hold schools and teachers accountable for results. Ignore “Effective Schools” research, along with “Beat the Odds” district & charter public schools. Thought they have lighted the way for some, it’s far easier to minimize the impact schools can have (while insisting that they should receive more dollars.”

  • Susan Ohanian said:

    This is a great, informative summary of other miracle cures. My only disagreement is this statement: “The Common Core is unstoppable now.” Teachers could stop it tomorrow–if they stood up and said “Hell, No! We aren’t going to do it!” I don’t minimize the difficulty of this act, given that unions and professional organizations offer only complicity regarding Common Core. But if teachers want to save their own profession–as well as public education–they must refuse to cooperate. I’m not talking individual teachers committing suicide. I’m talking teachers joining existing grassroots movements–and standing up en masse.

    Teachers MUST say no. No one can do this for them.

  • Karran Harper Royal said:

    Parents it’s up tp us. Will we let fake education reforms transform our schools into test prep factories, or will we fight for high quality public schools in our own neighborhoods? There is no Superman who will swoop in to save us, so stop waiting and do your part to stop the destruction of our public education system.

  • Jason David King said:

    Teachers should not be drawn into these types of battles. It is the purpose of greedy capitalists to separate educators from the public in order to profit at the expense of education.

    For at least 40 years I’ve proposed that public education allow tax credits for parents of children who attend private or religious schools. This is merely an acknowledgment that parents and children have a few priorities that a public school system cannot meet. It would also relieve fear that public educators are against religion.

    I’ve proposed that teacher’s unions offer more to their communities than a unified front for more money, benefits and a safe environment. Offer the community better, happier teachers and a better student environment as well.

    In fact all unions today should be more concerned with what they are offering than what they want. Otherwise the world’s powerful will soon completely take over the land of the free and the home of the brave in spite of any protests we make.

  • Peggy Slater said:

    Joe Nathan said: “Over my 42 years as a inner city public school teacher, administrator, parent and PTA president in public education, I’ve unfortunately seen too many essays like the one above.
    * Step 1 – Mis-represent the proposed change as a “wonder drug”, “cure-all” or silver bullet. that’s not the way it’s been presented by advocates.
    * Step 2 – Present a variety of generalizations
    * Step 3 – Oppose efforts to hold schools and teachers accountable for results. Ignore “Effective Schools” research, along with “Beat the Odds” district & charter public schools.”

    The metaphor of comparing the Common Core to a “wonder drug” is not a misrepresentation. I went to a “roll-out” conference for the Common Core in my own state, and there was much enthusiasm regarding it improving education. The author is simply making the point that every few years the new “best” thing comes out in education. After districts all over the country spend millions of dollars on products to help their schools be aligned with the CC, it will go away too.

    Teachers are not opposed to accountability. You state that we need to look at research, well research has shown that standardized testing does not show how well a teacher teaches. The Common Core will increase the amount of testing, taking away from valuable instruction time. It will narrow the curriculum, because if it is not tested, it will not be emphasized, or it will be eliminated.

    I see Common Core as an opportunity for publishing companies to make millions of dollars developing materials and tests. This standardization of the standards means less local control over curriculum, when we need more local control. My only hope is that it fades away within the next few years.

  • Karen Mahon said:

    I could not agree with Joe Nathan, whose comment is above, more. This post is misleading, at best, and disingenuous, at worst. The Common Core Standards are an effort by well-intentioned people to put a clearer focus on the skills and performances that students should be able to demonstrate as an outcome of effective instruction. All industries need accountability and education is no different.

    Are the CCSS perfect? Probably not and that’s the point of collecting data and making iterative improvements. But to dismiss their potential because their utility has not YET been evaluated is premature. We have to do better in education, as a society, or we WILL be left behind in the new world economy. Our kids will not be able to compete at the rate we’re going.

    The key giveaway of the bias of the author of this blog is the citation of Diane Ravitch. Without that, I might have taken the assertions more seriously.

  • Will Patrick said:

    Hello. I am amazed at the negative responses to this paper. I am entering my 42nd year as a teacher and I see the NCLB et al as an effort to do the same thing that passing bells did in the past. They are an attempt to standardize the workers so that the industrialists can have the “pick of the litter” to fill their employee requirements. I would want the same thing too If I was a wealthy industrialist. What amazes me is the folks who are not wealthy industrialists and do not see this as an attempt to standardize the population at our expense. Andy Warhol was right. “Television is the opiate to the masses.” If you cannot see “educational reform” as an attempt to take over education for profit than you don’t see the problem at all. Brain washing works and the media has done a marvelous job of convincing the population of the myth. Of course education, as an industry, could stand up for itself along with the NEA and I wonder why they do not. As an NEA member I must say I have no respect for the organization at all. I would like my dues back. Thanks.

  • Janine Sopp said:

    As a parent of a third grader, I am terrified as to where the Common Core will be taking her. Sure, there is nothing wrong in having some basic standards for what students need to be taught over their years in school. Basic knowledge that every child needs to learn to move forward in life, which can even be tested to assess if they are learning this information. But to build an entire curriculum around these standards, teach only this information, trust that the curriculum is written in a rich and meaningful way and taught in a way that allows for multiple interpretations should be the concern of every parent, teacher and principal. Such curriculum can be written so narrowly and from a particular perspective that anyone who thinks outside the box of this point of view will be seen as defiant. How many of our current and past history books tell only part of the story or leave out valuable information that needs to be part of the conversation? How can we believe that the framers of this curriculum will be sensitive to all levels of input as they push their agenda called education. How easy it will be to misguide an entire generation in public school, choosing only the information that these private entities wish for our public school children to learn, while their children gain the benefits of multiple channels of information and education.

    It is naive to think this is not prompted by greed, privatization and control of the masses of people in this country. What a clever way to pluck our children out of the home at 3 or 4, place them in a tightly controlled environment, use the illusion of “fairness and equality” of education while keeping a tight grip on the information, all while giving those with incomes high enough to escape this the very best opportunities to thrive. If only this was about giving all children the opportunity for a great education. What faith some of you have in those who made these standards, that they have our children’s well being as their priority. What a handy way to keep the American dream something only some of us attain while most of us keep fueling the dream for others….with our tax dollars.

    I suggest those who support CCS follow the money. It will likely lead to the corporations that are pushing and creating these ideas.

  • Nancy Bailey said:

    Mr. Nathan, are you the same Joe Nathan who strongly advocated charter schools when they first came out? I seem to recall reading an essay you wrote stating charter schools should not involve religion, yet how do you account for the variety of charter schools popping up around the country affiliated with religion? They have very little oversight, are divisive, and go a long way to blur the lines of separation of church and state. Still, you seem to still support charter schools. Also, no research indicates they are any better than public schools. Some are worse, AND they do not address the needs of special education students.

    If you don’t pay attention to research with charter schools, why should I be swayed by your belief in common core?

    As a former special education teacher, common core does little for these students. In fact the reforms today, including common core, I fear, are shoving children with special needs back to an institutionalized existence.

    Once, many believed that special education would lead to more individualization for ALL children. That dream is has been shattered by common core and all the other “one-size-fits-all” reforms.

    Maybe you can pull a Diane Ravitch. Do some serious research on what you are advocating and come out for what you know in your heart is best for children.

  • Michael Paul Goldenberg said:

    A few predictable responses bashing a thoughtful critic of the CCSS boondoggle for such crimes as citing Diane Ravitch. Seems like Professor Ravitch was okay back when she was in the NCLB camp, but once she began to see what a mess that was, along with high-stakes testing, the fraudulent “accountability” movement, the privatization of public education, and, yes, the various nonsense being pushed by Messrs. Duncan and Obama, it’s no longer considered “scholarly” to cite her? Seems to me that that’s merely a very weak ad hominem argument against Ravitch, and no argument at all against Yong Zhao.

    But let’s look at this gem: “All industries need accountability and education is no different.” The problems, of course, are that education isn’t an industry and the word “accountability” is becoming the educational equivalent of “democracy” and “freedom”: it means different things to everyone, and it’s not clear that many of the folks who promote it for others mean for it to apply to themselves. Lots of American politicians are all for promoting democracy and free assembly and speech. . . just not here.

    How many classroom teachers had the slightest input into the CCSS? When you examine the folks behind its creation, you won’t find a lot of people who actually work with kids on a daily basis (nor, for that matter, a lot of people who actually work with teachers or in schools at all). To quote Gary Stager, “Common Core is a solution in search of a problem. It’s anti-democratic and a gift to Pearson.” And, of course, to a lot of other for-profit groups and individuals. David Coleman, one of the main folks behind the CCSS, was handed the presidency of the Educational Testing Service recently. That’s a job you won’t see handed to a classroom teacher any time soon. Just a coincidence, of course. Nothing to see here. No point in reading what any insightful critics of the process or the content of CCSS have to say: s/he might have read something by Diane Ravitch.

  • aming zhang said:

    Standardized test scores will get all the creativity killed! I specifically agree with Zhao to say: Don’t be fooled!

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  • Dan Jecks said:

    The Common Core initiative is not meant as a cure-all, but as a treatment. The ongoing dissatisfaction with public education is a driving motivation behind such initiatives and should be seen in a positive light. Just as doctors prescribe treatments for what ails patients, educators must receive treatments to improve school health. It is unacceptable to ignore symptoms such as dropout rates and achievement gaps. While hindsight may again show that the current treatment fails to solve the underlying ailment, school reform efforts should be commended as an attempt to get us closer to curing the patient.

    Just as people debate wholistic vs. pharmaceutical treatments on the basis of ethical standards, so too will they debate educational treatments on the basis of political standards. I request that our analysis of new initiatives and they success be based upon our shared desire to provide all students with an education that prepares them for a productive place within society and a passion to explore answers to many of life’s burning questions. Let us please refrain from tarnishing anyone whose treatment is an attempt to improve educational outcomes.

  • Mark Lane said:

    Haven’t teachers always based their daily work with kids on some for of essential concepts an skills? As a principal I work with my staff th focus on how we facilitate learning because I know the what can change with each election cycle. With a focus on collaboration, thinking, questioning and authentic work I say bring on your standardized test and our kids will eat it for lunch. The sky isn’t falling because of Common Core. Those who seek “miracle drug” will only be disappointed once again. Those who abuse positional authority will demand lock step implementation of some program they have purchased. And, they rest of us will continue to do what we have always done, accept the challenge of facilitating learning for the innovators, problem-solvers and thinkers of tomorrow.

  • Jim McCarthy said:

    I find Mr. Goldenberg’s identifying education as an “industry” a particularly salient point. Industrialist Frederick Taylor is often credited with influencing the factory model of education, including the bell system and the arrangement of desks into rows, to name a few. In Principles of Scientific Management he writes, “The managers assume…the burden of gathering together all of the traditional knowledge which in the past has been possessed by the craftsmen and then classifying, tabulating, and reducing this knowledge to rules, laws, and formulae.” It seems to me that this was the effort behind NCLB, RTTT (under the guise of sacraficial volunteerism), and the purpose of Common Core Standards. The goal is to remove the craft from the workers by standardizing the practice of teaching. Next, train your incoming and often uncredentialed teachers to follow the formulae and, VOILA!, you’ve industrialized the practice of teaching. No need for unions, no need to pay for skilled labor. The true goal may not be improving education, but cost effectiveness (i.e. profit) and efficiency.

    Yes, education is an industry. To ignore this fact is detriment to our students’ future.

    No, education is not an industry. To reduce the complexity of teaching and learning to a series of lock-step procedures is detriment to everyone’s future.

  • Kenneth Goldberg, PhD said:

    Great advice. The smartest approach to standards like this is to not let them drive you. Teach well and kids will learn and probably meet the standards as well.

  • John Esposito said:

    I don’t believe educational frameworks such as Common Core to be in and of themselves inhibiting. There are better ways of doing things (i.e., innovations) that can improve systems. My perspective on CCSS is that at their “core” is the focus on higher order thinking skills: analysis, synthesis (and interpretation), and evaluation. I take this to teach, promote, encourage divergent and critical thinking, multiple perspectives …including the hidden agenda (who benefits?) of any given learner outcome or topic. Of course to debate everything is not what I mean either. However, for students to be able to question, analyze and evaluate with skill COMBINED with having been explicitly taught traits of good character (honesty, integrity, kindness, etc.) can result in people who are humane, engaged problem solvers. The missing ingredient with humanity IS humanity. I hope to see teachers using CCSS to foster creative thinking and expressiveness.

  • Judy Burnett said:

    Wow. I see two sides emerging: one for students and one for standards. The teacher will be the one who gets caught in the middle. It is the teacher who will make daily decisions concerning student need and standards requirements. If I have to choose between standards and students, I think I will choose students.

  • Andy said:

    Every parent has the right to opt their children out of standardized testing for NCLB, and I assume they will be able to opt out of this test as well. If enough people opt out, teachers will be free to teach and the testing barrage will fade away.

    Here is the skinny on the whole deal: Common Core makes some improvements. It does add in some much needed emphasis on 21st Century skills. However, like almost every big initiative, it was devised by people too far removed from the business of teaching and learning to be very effective. When are we going to learn as a nation that a business model doesn’t work when applied to the most complex machine in the known universe-the brain? You just can’t run a school the way you run a business. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but the brain is a complex thing. So are people. Guess what? Some of us are different. We aren’t standard. Our education shouldn’t be, either.

    The most important point the author made was about good teaching being centered around relationships with students, in which teachers take time to know their pupils and help them succeed on an individual basis. Why can’t that be the national standard? Why is that not the expectation we hold teachers accountable for meeting?

    You might not like it, but the author is on the right side with the assertion that money is driving American education systems today. Just wait and see what happens when Apple starts taking money from big publishers. Oh, wait…they’ve already figured out a way to make more money with iBooks. OK, then watch the news…oh, wait…over 90% of what we consume is produced by the same few companies who also have an agenda and plenty of incentive to standardize the population.

    Are you getting it yet?

  • Rhonda Kaye said:

    I am dismayed by the author’s statement that Common Core is going to result in the narrowing of curriculum. In fact, one of the aspects of it that makes it palatable to teachers is the freedom to break out of the silo of a particular subject and bring in interdisciplinary texts, artwork, film, music and digital media. The purpose of this new curriculum is to foster creative and critical thinking by helping children learn to think, read closely, analyze argument and formulate their own arguments. This is done by using skills across disciplines. The assessments that are coming for Common Core are unlike any that the majority of Americans have known. They require the application of skills from multiple disciplines and creative, critical and argumentative thinking. This is not an NCLB bubble sheet kind of assessment. I would encourage the author to visit to get more information about how these standards are going to be assessed before whipping our constituents into a frenzy with false information. Common core is a major shift, yes. But it is one that is desperately needed.

  • Rog Lucido said:

    Lets look at the evidence. Is having ‘common’ standards a panacea for better student engagement and learning? Each state has its own set of ‘common’ standards for each district in the state. Does the mere existence of ‘common’ standards in each state make student learning in each state better than any other? No. Do school districts within a given state all excel because they all have the same standards? No. Commonality of standards within a given state does not propel learning.
    Countries with a set of common standards do no better or worse on international tests than countries without them. Also, there is no evidence that those seventeen top world economies with common standards are any more economically competitive than those without. (Tienken, 2010) Commonality of standards within a country does not necessarily propel learning or economic competitiveness between countries.
    A ‘standard’ is a sentence. There can be no higher or lower standards because each standard cannot be weighed or measured. One sentence can only be ‘different’ than another not higher or lower. All standards are of equivalent value and are only selected as a result of the preferences and choice of the standards’ authors. One state may have an algebra standard on slope that says, “All students will be able to calculate the slope of a line.” and another that says, “Graph linear functions, noting that the vertical change (change in y- value) per unit of horizontal change (change in x- value) is always the same and know that the ratio (“rise over run”) is called the slope of a graph?”A common core standard is no higher or lower than any current standard, just different.
    What is a ‘core’ standard? It is a sentence that the authors of this set of standards believes is the most important to be taught to our students. Another group of authors could easily have a different set of ‘core’ standards than are proposed here and be just as valid. There is no absolute judgment that this set of core standards is any better or worse than those of each of our fifty states. The diversity of our state standards is what enriches our country. Plant and animal diversity is what strengthens the ecology of our planet. Without diversity in our economy we would all be ‘common’-driving Fords and wearing Levi jeans.
    If common core standards are not the solution to what we think ails education, what is? Begin with healthy students-physically, mentally and emotionally. These are societal issues: Create home, neighborhood, state and national programs that promote the health and well being of our youth both outside and within schools. Support knowledgeable, autonomous, and creative teachers who as professionals use best practices, and can make the curriculum relevant to their students as they respond to each student’s unique individual needs. All systems in a district should have a unitary focus: supporting classroom students and teachers.

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  • Dave Greene said:

    Let’s call a spade a spade here. First, the Common Core, although well intentioned, has been manipulated into a scheme for corporations like Pearson and the new Murdoch spinoff to package curricula, resources, and tests into nice neat little profit makers.

    Second, many states, like NY, have had common curricula with summative tests (Regents) for decades. They have not produced the kind of results that warrant reproduction or nationalization.

    Third, What ever happened to individualization and the scientific understanding that children have different learning styles? How will the one size fits all approach sure to be mass marketed and therefore utilized by schools and districts who have shown no indication of fighting back once things are implemented affect learning?

    Finally. Once they are in place, they will be here for God knows how long until someone realizes that they were a mistake. By then, where have all the teachers gone? Into Banking or Education publishing?

  • Sandra Brevard said:

    Common Core is a 3-fer – the standards, the assessments, and the longitudinal database. Yon Zhao is correct in the representation that ed reformers portray the education in the U.S. as so sick and broken, this approach is the only remedy.

    The standards are controversial, and while developed as some point here by “well-intentioned” people, those who were excluded from the development matter. Parents, community members, and taxpayers are unimpressed by the expensive increased levels of assessment, disturbed by ed reformers attitudes that some data can be shared without parental consent with glib comments on real privacy and security concerns, and disturbed by the top down “shut up and accept” attitude forced on communities. In a recent speech by former Governor Jeb Bush, he stated he did not “care about how children felt” and did not “care if parents are satisfied.”

    Who pays? Who benefits?

  • Paul Thomas said:

    I agree with Susan Ohanian’s caveat and this post’s excellent tips.

    IF educators will claim our professionalism, CCSS are NOT inevitable…

    We must oppose CCSS and those who cower before them…

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  • jeg3 said:

    Lets look at the correlation between teachers and student grades for accountability:

    Big Fail.

  • Han Liu said:

    I agree with post. Especially I like the philosophical analysis that there must be trade offs: What do you want, A nicely sounding grade or creativity? A successful test taker, or a mentally healthy thinker?

    The common core standards will add some contents on, which is of some value serving as a general guide as to what of learn in 21st century.

  • Joanne Yatvin said:

    As Yong Zhao tells us, there is no research basis behind the Common Core State Standards. They are an elitist version of what children should know and do. Having a few practicing teachers in positions of power on the primary writing committee might have brought in some sense of reality.

    Essentially, what the CCSS creators and their supporters have forgotten is the first law of education: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

  • Steve Buel said:

    Thank you, Dr. Zhao, for a powerful statement of what education should be about. In my 40+ years of teaching I learned a great deal about the use of standards in education. For one thing, most teachers I know never even looked at them. They didn’t have the time. Secondly, the standards have way too much material and most techers who do look at them pick and choose among the various topics and justify the ones left out by rationalizing something they do which kind of meets them. The final result is pretty predictable — some people will come up with how to game the tests by teaching to the parts most likely to be tested and we will be back where we are with inferior education but a good testing program.

  • Michael Kasper said:

    Karen Mahon, this comment is for you. Clearly, you are in, and have been in a position where you work in an ivory palace. You lack complete understanding of what is transpiring in the school buildings where Common Core is being implemented, and you do not understand the true essence of education. Here is what you need to know:
    1) The Common Core does narrow curriculum. When high stakes tests are used as the mechanism to evaluate teachers and students, schools and districts respond by putting emphasis on preparation for those exams, leading to a curriculum that is solely based on what is being assessed. This is especially true in regards to the economic climate. The Common Core is only associated with English and Math standards currently. As a result, districts are bolstering their course requirements in these areas. However, they are not adding time to the school day, as that would cost more! So, instead of lengthening the school day, they are cutting electives, or merging social science and science classes with Math and English class. I’m not sure I can think of a better way to describe narrowing of curriculum. But, again, you’d have to be out of the ivory palace to realize this.
    2) Try tracing the roots of these “well intended people” that wrote the Common Core. Yes, you will find educational experts (like yourself). But, will you find teachers? Are there representatives from all of the disciplines? Were music teachers involved? What about art teachers or industrial technology teachers? Did they have a say in the Common Core? As an educational expert, I’m sure you would agree that the Theory of Multiple Intelligence explains that students are gifted, or talented as Dr. Zhao would say, in many areas other than the Common Core. Yet, in our schools, those teachers of classes not in the Common Core are being told THEY MUST ALSO TEACH THE COMMON CORE!! So, when are they going to get to teach their own curriculum, that may positively reach a student gifted in that area?

    But don’t stop looking! Go beyond the experts and see where Common Core originated! It happened when a bunch of politicians, laced with money from corporations got together in a groups called PARC. The money they received, however, was meant to do the work of the corporations. Big business is now in control of education. I’m sure you’re glad about this, because Big Business has lots of accountability in their industry (especially for the CEO’s of banks). So, if a business can run with accountability, well, so should a school. Our education institutions have products, just like a business. Lines like these, and the one you mentioned calling education an industry are nonsense! Schools are not businesses. We do not operate like an assembly line or an acceptant managing data. Our goal is develop life long learners – people who seek knowledge for their own growth and appeasement. However, we cannot complete our mission when we are being bogged down by data management and analysis to see if we are in compliance with hundreds of standards. Oddly enough, the best BUSINESSES spend most of their money in research and development. Well, in the school building, that is called teaching, not regurgitating.

    One other stakeholder in all of this, test makers! They are loving the Common Core because they get to make more money. So, who else sits on the PARC board, members of ACT! Because, with Common Core comes more assessment for accountability. And, schools are going to be looking for the most cost effective assessments, meaning, more multiple choice tests!

    Dr. Zhao mentions in his book “Catching Up or Leading the Way,” that Americans hold the most amount of patents than any other country. We have more CEO’s of global companies here and the highest GDP. What makes us to be such a strong country is our education system. We allow talent to be developed, we all students to find their intelligence, and then we help it to grow. Common Core seeks to rid the school’s ability to grow different intelligences and standardized through narrow curriculum what we teach. PLEASE, before you are brainwashed anymore, come to a local school and see what it is doing.

  • The Best Articles Sharing Concerns About Common Core Standards | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… said:

    [...] Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core is by Yong Zhao. [...]

  • Be Human in This Most Inhuman of Ages | educarenow said:

    [...] All schools have an explicit curriculum, one that is intentionally taught and measured in some way. They also have a “hidden curriculum,” the curriculum through which students learn about things like the power structure of the school, who matters and who doesn’t, values, etc. Sometimes this hidden curriculum is addressed explicitly and consciously by schools and teachers, usually it is not. As schools move towards more standardization, more testing and more measuring, students are learning, via the hidden curriculum, that the power to make decisions lies with others; that is, choices about what is studied, how this is assessed, and even why it is important, are beyond their agency. Their ability to engage with content in a way that makes sense to them is beyond their agency. Their ability to choose content is beyond their agency. Students become trained in passively receiving bits of information rather than being creators of their worlds. Will Richardson recently addressed this concern here, and Yong Zhao here. [...]

  • Karl Wheatley said:

    Joe Nathan and Karen Mahon’s comments from last month remind me how much work there is to be done, because so much misinformation has been spread.

    I’ve spent the last decade studying how people got fooled about these ideas.

    So many people in education are not aware that test scores do not consistently predict economic success for nations like ours, or that even for those who cling to test scores America does very well when we adjust for our much higher rate of poverty, or that so much of what parents and employers want is not on the tests. People are not aware that the “effective schools research” is built on the same intellectual house of cards which gave us the $6 billion failure called Reading First. People are not aware that “accountability” is the wrong starting point for education improvement, that carrot and stick motivation has a long history of failure in complex professions such as teaching, that most people in business don’t have performance bonuses, and there are no real apples-to-apples comparisons of charters to publics, and in the closest thing we do have to apples-to-apples comparisons (which is still stacked in favor of charters), the charters don’t beat the publics.

    Part of the problem is that some people can’t reason about statistics and probability–there will always be outliers in any distribution, but that doesn’t mean there is any way to replicate or bottle their apparent success. Upon closer inspection, many of the so-called success stories simply don’t hold up.

    Another part of the problem is the shallowness of people’s background knowledge about these issues. Diane Ravitch is enormously credible on this issue and her book was extremely well-researched. She switched sides because she studied what we were doing and figured out it doesn’t work. When people dismiss her as if she were some partisan talking head, without taking up the substance of her research, that’s part of our problem. People aren’t aware that the collateral damage from high-stakes testing stretches back centuries. We have a lot of teaching to do, a lot of teaching about how all the basic assumptions that the testing and accountability movement was built on are wrong.

  • This Week’s Round-Up Of Good Education Posts | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… said:

    [...] Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core is by Yong Zhao. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Sharing Concerns About Common Core Standards. [...]

  • David Hochheiser said:

    The problem is not in having standards, which I take to be a piece of the cure, it’s in the way the standards are being viewed and rolled out. They aren’t limiting what we teach so much as demand that we teach more. They aren’t constricting us to only Math and ELA, but those were the first components to come out. Literacy in SS is also there with Science coming next and SS content following. The testing is also not part of the CCSS but part of RTTT, which is NCLBs better dressed brother. In fact, most of the ills described here are RTTT issues and implementation issues.

    As far as citing Diane Ravitch is concerned, feel free to do so, but remember that she wasn’t prescient enough to know that NCLB would be the beginning of true hysteria and decline in American schools, so I’m not sure why anyone’s listening to her now.

  • David Mott said:

    For some reason, the following wise poem comes to mind from these discussions of the Common Core:

    Six Men of Indostan

    It was six men of Indostan,
    To learning much inclined,
    Who went to see the Elephant
    (Though all of them were blind),
    That each by observation
    Might satisfy his mind.

    The First approached the Elephant,
    And happening to fall
    Against his broad and sturdy side,
    At once began to bawl:
    “God bless me! but the Elephant
    Is very like a wall!:”

    The Second, feeling of the tusk,
    Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
    So very round and smooth and sharp?
    To me ‘tis mighty clear,
    This wonder of an Elephant
    Is very like a spear!”

    The Third approach’d the animal,
    And happening to take
    The squirming trunk within his hands,
    Thus boldly up and spake:
    “I see,” -quoth he- “the Elephant
    Is very like a snake!”

    The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
    And felt about the knee:
    “What most this wondrous beast is like
    Is mighty plain,” -quoth he,-
    “‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
    Is very like a tree!”

    The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
    Said- “E’en the blindest man
    Can tell what this resembles most;
    Deny the fact who can,
    This marvel of an Elephant
    Is very like a fan!”

    The Sixth no sooner had begun
    About the beast to grope,
    Then, seizing on the swinging tail
    That fell within his scope,
    “I see,” -quoth he,- “the Elephant
    Is very like a rope!”

    And so these men of Indostan
    Disputed loud and long,
    Each in his own opinion
    Exceeding stiff and strong,
    Though each was partly in the right,
    And all were in the wrong!

    (John Godfrey Saxe, 1816-1887)

  • Deborah Dessaso said:

    As a person who arrived in academia after years in the private, nonprofit sector, I’m always amused to see educators react to any changes in the status quo. Perhaps I’ve missed the reports which referred to NCLB or the Common Core standards as cure-alls. In any case, seeing how the U.S. has fallen behind educationally to countries who not only have state but national standards, one would think that American educators would have called for common core standards (or something similar) decades ago. Instead, the we find ourselves playing catch-up–a process made all the more onerous with recalcitrant educators balking all the way. The same attitude is pervasive in higher education. Shame, shame!

  • Chad Pfeiffer said:

    Dr. Zhao,

    After reading your article about the ‘common core’ vs. ‘common sense’ I came away with a new respect for your research and ideas. All of the points you made about the new common core I am in 100% agreement with. We can continue to change our curriculum and make more standardized tests for our students, but ultimately the PASSION and ENTHUSIASM (which you stated in the article) will continue to be the reason our students learn. There are so many factors which we as educators can’t control. However, I do believe that we can day in and day out try and educate our students the best we possibly can. The part which I really enjoyed in your blog was about “not narrowing the curriculum”. Obviously we want to focus on the common core, however, we do not want to get rid of other programs in school districts. We must educate and make sure our students see the ‘whole picture’ as opposed to just English, Math, Science and Social Studies. Once again I would like to say that this blog was an amazing read for me and let me look into the ‘common core’ at a different perspective!

  • Matt Smith said:

    Very interesting article on common core. I don’t know what was more insightful, the article or the commenters about the article. Everyone has their own opinion about what works and what doesn’t, but the truth is in the eyes of the beholder. Every great teacher knows that standards do not teach the class, but guide the discussion in the right direction. We have always had different standards (common cores) that teachers had to follow. The great teachers are the ones who teach the standards, while finding a way to reach all students, letting them be creative, and teaching them to be lifelong learners. The biggest problem in today’s society, and especially in education, are all the individuals who believe there way is the only way. Negative people, create negative environments. This leads to negative teaching. I wish we could all just get along and practice what we preach “Treat others how you want to be treated.” Respectively disagreeing is always better. God bless all.

  • Andrew J. Gibson said:

    I believe that what Dr. Zhao is saying is right on. He’s not being critical of the idea, but rather the hope that common core is an end all solution. Sadly in education we don’t give things time to sink in. We try something new and if the results aren’t immediate, we change in 4-5 years to the “new” it thing. I think Dr. Zhao is making a good point that common core is now being treated as the cure all for our educational issues.

    I work in a district where over 20% of our students live below the poverty line and when they go home, no one is there. Sometimes no one is there until 8-9pm and often when their parents do get home, they’re exhausted. If there is no support system at home, there are always going to be struggles.

    We need to be patient and we need to show some restraint. Schools need to continue to be transparent and parents need to let their kids know they care. I don’t buy that we need the common core because teachers need to be accountable. We need administrators to be accountable and if teachers aren’t doing their part, get rid of them. BTW, I’m a teacher.

  • Angela Demrovsky said:

    Dr. Zhao did make some good points in his article. I think that the bottom line is that many people, like myself, are nervous about the unknown: Common Core. Change is always difficult, and the education system is ever-changing. Change is necessary for improvement, but I always question why educational reforms do not stick around long enough in order for teachers to edit, revise, and improve upon? It seems that once educational institutions get “comfortable” with an educational reform, a new one pops up. Currently, I am a middle school math teacher and am overwhelmed with all of the requirements coming with Common Core. It seems that there is not a specific direction to go with regard to resources, materials, or assessments. Hopefully teachers across the country will receive lots of professional development about Common Core so that we are prepared for its implementation.

  • Yvonne Siu-Runyan said:

    Follow the $$$.

  • Lore B said:

    My ten year reunion is coming up in a few weeks but I distinctly remember the failures of FCAT in the state of Florida. It did not improve my education, it was a detriment to my education. It made smart kids feel stupid, it placed emphasis on learning things that have no real world applications for the majority of us. I have gone into the arts, performance and skilled handiwork/craftwork. Without art, drama and shop classes I would have no basis, no jumping off point that would have led me onto the career path I’m on today. Without the graphics printing classes I took I never would have gotten a job at a graphics printing shop, I never would have freelanced in graphic design.

    I am not saying we don’t need literature and math, I’m not saying we don’t need accountability in our schools, I am saying that the results speak for themselves; that grades matter, that regular class testing matters. That if you ask people which classes actually had an impact on them, and which classes actually prepared them for the careers they’re pursuing today, and whether or not a standardized test actually did anything for them you will very rarely hear them praising NCLB or FCAT or, in the future, Common Core. If ever.

    My teachers had to stop teaching class to teach me how to take a test. I have never used those test taking skills in my every day life with the exception of when I had a wretched job at a call center or in the service industry (jobs that never paid enough, never had good enough benefits, jobs that I ultimately quit because they were poor work environments – you can’t tell me that’s what you want for your kids).

    But friends of mine from school used those mechanics classes to become mechanics and they used those language classes to help them get better careers.

    Cutting the curriculum does not work. Teaching to the test does not work. Destroying a child’s ability to be creative, inquisitive and intelligent on their own level only benefits big business that wants compliant employees who have no better options available to them.

    I plan on having children soon. I get to make a choice about that because I received adequate sex education in school. I would rather homeschool them or work two jobs to be able to send them to a private institution rather than force them into a substandard public school that’s been stripped of any effectiveness by standardized testing.

  • Ben Heslop said:

    I have a question that cuts through a lot of the complaints about standardised testing. Why not add in two aspects:

    1) Add a metric called ‘balanced syllabus’ – meaning to ask the kids whether they feel they are taught a diverse range of subjects. This can be done very simply – ask them how bored they are in class. While subjective, bored kids are probably being force-fed. This metric can be published alongside all the others.

    2) Fund schools via education vouchers. Allow parents to use their local knowledge and networks to understand which schools are teaching in ways they like, and they can spend their vouchers there. Parents can look at the standarised scores, but schools can still market their diverse strengths (especially given the ‘balanced syllabus’ metric).

    Make sense? Does to me.

  • Robert Evans said:

    @Ben Heslop

    “1) Add a metric called ‘balanced syllabus’ – meaning to ask the kids whether they feel they are taught a diverse range of subjects. This can be done very simply – ask them how bored they are in class. While subjective, bored kids are probably being force-fed. This metric can be published alongside all the others.”

    Diversity for some is boredom and mind killing, even though for others it is less boring. I hated the extra “diversity” in high school, because it forced me to make class choices which ultimately had a negative effect on my life.

    Had it not been for the course requirements I could have graduated high school with an associates degree after two years of dual enrollment. But that involved choosing between dual enrollment or science and math courses (9 classes per year at college, 12 classes per year in high school, so many mandatory hours in certain courses), and I unfortunately chose the science and math.

  • Speakers Bureau » Blog Archive » Is There Evidence to Support the Common Core: My Questions to New York Education Commissioner King - Dr Yong Zhao said:

    [...] (my 2010 article with Chris Tienken, 2009 article in the J. of Scholarship and Practice, and my recent blog post) pointed out that these claimed benefits are not supported by evidence while the damages (or [...]

  • Common Sense for the #CommonCore: Weekly Roundup (weekly) | Engaging Educators said:

    [...] Education in the Age of Globalization » Blog Archive » Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimi… [...]

  • Five key questions about the Common Core standards said:

    [...] on the future of our children. While I have written about the Common Core many times before (e.g., Common Core vs Common Sense, Common Core National Curriculum Standards). I wanted to ask all of us to ask again if the new [...]

  • Speakers Bureau » Blog Archive » Five Questions to Ask about the Common Core* - Yong Zhao said:

    [...] on the future of our children. While I have written about the Common Core many times before (e.g., Common Core vs Common Sense, Common Core National Curriculum Standards) I wanted to ask all of us to ask again if the new [...]

  • Mr. Lynch said:

    People seem to have missed one of the positive features of the common core: if students enter college knowing a lot of the same things, they will by definition form a more cohesive culture (i.e., the “cultural literacy” idea of Hirsh, et. al.) This isn’t to say that they will be clones of each other, but does suggest that they will have some guaranteed common points of reference when it comes to history and literature. It has been frustrating to me to enter an academic setting in which no two people have read the same book. Everybody wants to talk about what they have read, and when that shared experience is not present, they are deprived of a certain kind of intellectual comraderie.

    This can be a boon, particularly if the core is not the “be all and end all” but truly a minimum, *beyond which students and schools are expected to go*.

  • B2slugger said:

    Teachers should be smarter than to react in a negative manner. The only way CCSS will save schools is if teachers make a change. Other standards have failed, but it was because too many teachers did not implement change. Common Core language is great, and I have made terrific gains with my students since applying the new standards. If you are a teacher that does not like it, you should retire or go teach in a private school. We challenge our kids to open their minds, but can we do the same?

  • The EDifier - Center for Public Education said:

    [...] get any love anymore. In a strange alliance of purpose, critics from both the right  and the left  are calling on states and educators to reject them, albeit, for different [...]

  • Evelyn said:

    The problem is that we are, and have been trying to fix what was not broke when this country started out.
    If you look back at the children 200 years ago, our kids can’t hold a candle to them.
    Sure we have technology, but our kids depend on it. They average teenager is a walking cell phone/mp3, and they are more concerned about the next new iphone, not the state of the country that is on the verge of inslaving them. Infact they will let themselves be inslaved to get the next new iphone.
    Our kids have already been dumbed down, and endoctrinated.

  • campj said:

    So, I keep hearing how common core creates thinkers and is more rigorous then most school curriculums. However, I have noticed that in our state, which used to encourage/have kids go through Algebra in 8th grade has now switched Algebra to 9th grade. Common core lowered our standards and puts kids at a disadvantage coming out of high school not taking calculus. How can this be better for our kids?

  • On Books and the Common Core | The Plain Satisfactions said:

    [...] Don’t be fooled! [...]

  • kathleen warfield said:

    Common core, from the little I know, is a reasons for me to educate my granddaughter at home. I believe many people have pulled their children out of the public school system for many reasons. One reason, in my eyes, is the request to children to vomit back the information they received from their teachers, test results.
    Children are very smart, they learn how to walk, talk and eat by themselves and can you believe, they did not need to take a test mandated by the government.

  • Marc Severson said:

    Again I am not advocating throwing out the bathwater without first checking to see if the baby is in it. I still think national objectives that are developmentally appropriate and rigorous are a good idea as long as they are not chained to more ridiculous testing mandates. We need to critically look at how we educate and ensure that every child is supported and given an equitable opportunity to demonstrate their skills. And what’s more, we should see that every teacher is supported, encouraged and . . . listened to. In order to assess we need portfolios, kept on each student that reflect that child’s growth in a given year not their progress compared to others. This would demand rethinking how we start children in schools by not looking only at a series of birthdays to provide a guideline but a developmental checklist for each child indicating readiness for school. This in turn would necessitate a well supported national drive to provide adequate preschool for all who need it, including well-trained, early childhood focused educators. In other word it would take our whole country choosing to support public education, families and children.

  • JIM said:

    The problem is quite simple: the public education system is curriculum based instead of competency based. The system is obsolete. It is ludicrous to think that ANY curriculum design will have a major impact on student learning. As long as students are expected to complete learning based on a timeframe the success rates will continue to be measured on a standard bell curve. Unfortunately, the system has been in place since the mid 1800′s and ingrained in too many minds to expect that change will happen.

    Those who can afford it should put their children in private school. At least there the focus is not on testing and the teacher student ratio typically lends itself to more productive classrooms. Some charter schools are also on the right track, especially those that focus on project based learning. (In many years in private industry before entering education I never had one boss ask me to take out a piece of paper and pencil and quiz me on my knowledge. I did, however, complete many projects.)

    Anyone have any guesses on how long McCore will last?

  • James said:

    An entire article that seems predicated on a misunderstanding: “The Common Core, however dressed, shares the fundamental spirit with NCLB: standardization of curriculum enforced with high-stakes testing.”. The CCSS is not a curriculum – it is a set of standards/performance expectations of what students need to be able to DO. A curriculum ‘is the means and materials required for achieving identified educational outcomes’. If such a simple concept cannot be understood the author has no authority challenging the CCSS. Having that out of the way I agree with the author on not wasting money. This is not the problem with the CCSS this is driven by marketing executives of ‘educational companies’. Not the CCSS. Also the statement ‘The future needs passionate, creative, collaborative innovators and entrepreneurs’ is exactly what the CCSS is attempting to do by providing space for teachers to design a curriculum that encourages the exact skills the author claims needs to happen. I’ve already explained the CCSS is not a curriculum. [see above]. It does not standardize teachers because IT IS NOT A CURRICULUM. And finally the 5th point is valid – and also not a CCSS expectation. Standardized testing is a state mandate or not – not a CCSS one. If an author wants to claim a position of trust with the readers the author needs to establish a clear understanding of what the CCSS are.

  • James said:

    WOW. Call me naive. But this “It is naive to think this is not prompted by greed, privatization and control of the masses of people in this country. What a clever way to pluck our children out of the home at 3 or 4, place them in a tightly controlled environment, use the illusion of “fairness and equality” of education while keeping a tight grip on the information, all while giving those with incomes high enough to escape this the very best opportunities to thrive” is a ridiculously paranoid statement.
    If people cannot appreciate the utter failure of past math education to actually teach number literacy and think the CCSS is backwards they have no validity being a critique. [I'll stick to math and science because its my field]. I’m amazed at the mythology permeating all these posts. Almost every attack is actually diametrically opposed to what the math and science standards purport to do. They are not a curriculum. They do not lock step teachers. They do not encourage testing. They are not an attempt to segregate. Here’s what they can do for ME [as a science teacher] – focus on higher level thinking skills. Design my curriculum to focus on practices of science: research, knowledge, design, collection, analysis, evaluation. [In a nutshell]. I can tailor my curriculum to meet the needs of each student. In fact I have designed my current biology course to allow each student to have an individualized curriculum focused on their issue/topic. I have students choosing to study: HIV, sports physiology, abortion [justification of pain recognition and viability of premature births], brain parasites, use of PCR in research, sex change, effectiveness of different exercise routines and more. In each case the student chose their topic and with my help we have begun devising what they need to study. In HIV as an example – viral structure and classification, life cycle, genetic composition, pathology, etc. All of these topics are able to meet many of the performance expectations of the NGSS. They will be designing, explaining, modeling, investigations, evaluating and learning to learn. If those are not learning skills – nothing are. The NGSS are simply what they need to be able to show me they can do – They and I collaboratively design the curriculum.

  • NY Math Teacher said:


    Google search ENGAGENY Grade 7 Math Module 1 and read ALL of the teacher materials. We’re beyond common standards/curriculum buddy. Lesson plans with parenthetic listings of precicely how many minutes to spend on each “activity” are provided and used by teachers who fear the wrath associated with possibly low State derived teacher growth scores.

    People… if you take the time to pursue this document’s offerings, and read it carefully, you will become sickened by the UNreal “real world” connections. P. 162 sets up a word problem by prefacing with the following:

    Your friend has a pool in his yard. The dimensions of the pool are “150 ft. x 400 ft.”. As a teacher, I feel that I MUST stop the “lesson” in order to inform my students of the magnitude of such a pool. Lest I allow such dimensions to be supplanted in the subconsious abyss of their minds as usual or reasonable. This IS merely the tip of the ICEBERG.

    Notice that the Module is supposed to be about Ratios and Proportions, but, try to find even one example where a proportion is “set up” such as n/7 = 20/28 in order to solve a problem. Not anymore I guess.

    Thank you Mr. Zhou! I studied my students for days before the first day of school. I greeted each one of them by their actual names as they walked through the door for the first time. Now they wan’t to know ME better and they are DECIDING to be fantastic learners!

    PS I AM a parent and I am not impressed. My son attends Public School, but, you had better believe that I am certain to HOME SCHOOL him as well. His teachers are not to blame and I will always be HIS childhood PRIMARY teacher.

  • Puget Sound Parent said:

    “All industries need accountability and education is no different.”

    This very sentence says it all for shills like Karen Mahon, who are paid to carry the water for big corporations who want to control our public schools and use our tax dollars to benefit their executives and shareholders at the expense of our kids.

    Mahon is also among the many who live off of billionaires and hedge funders who simply think they know best and want to establish corporate control over public education.

    The first, essential step is to try and discredit our public schools, which they’ve been doing for some time now. And too many people believe their consciously developed Big Lies.

    Karen Mahon demonstrates all the symptoms of a classic neophyte; she drinks a lot of the Privatizer Kool-Aid and as a result is now behaving like the proselyte she’s being paid to be.

    It’s very telling when a pip-squeak like Mahon utters the name of “Diane Ravitch” like a rude sixth grader. She demonstrates her ignorance by showing such disrespect and outright contempt for the woman who is widely regarded as the preeminent education analyst and historian alive today.

  • mark mojesky said:

    I read some of the above comments and I must say,”if you are a believer in NCLB, race to the top, or testing over the common core then you don not comprehend what is going on in American Education. What is most surprising is not one time in the topic of college education majors.
    These young men and women must be trained to be effective teachers. They should be be trained prior to their degree what topics in their area of focus should be taught and how to get there. As a chemistry teacher for 18+ years, I know what topics need to be taught. I do not need the common core to explain to me that a unit of chemical reactions must be covered!
    Furthermore, I was give the opportunity to visit a consortium of NYC schools and listen to a lecture given by Diane Ravitch. She and others made me a believer of the NEW REFORM. Do not make any judgments until you read her latest book, Reigh of Error. Open your minds, do your own research and make your own decisions on the future of public education.
    Do not let the privatization of education take the leading role in education. We have great educators in our schools let them open the minds of our children. Allow the creativity to take the lead role, not testing and holding teaches accountable for the results. Become an innovator, a creator, a motivator, an inventor….be a real teacher.

  • Donna said:

    As math coordinator for my district, I spent two years helping the teachers understand the new standards and how to teach a conceptual understanding of math. We went to 100% Common Core this year, and although it hasn’t been easy and we have had to actually practice the perseverance we want our students to practice, we are seeing amazing change. Teachers and parents stop me on a regular basis to tell me that their children understand and do math like never before. For too long, we let our children down in math, and if it takes Common Core to reverse that, then I’m all for it.

  • Millie said:

    The battle is NOT over! We CAN change this. Parents teachers and principals can make a difference! We do not have to CONFORM, our students should not conform. We have great minds and spirits and we are not manufactured like robots that are programmed to do what you want them to. Arise and stand up for our kids. show them an example that WE can make a difference if we act! We just can’t stand by idle while this goes on when we have power to do something about it. We are a free country with rights and our first ammendment and free speech. Use it speak out and make a difference for the better.

  • Today’s Corruption of Public Education | kavips said:

    [...] Don’t cut arts, music, sports, recess, field trips, debate teams, or other programs in order to al… [...]

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