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Common Core is Common Sense: We MUST Resist the Tyranny of the Minority
Let's get the facts straight: Since 2009, professional educators from "48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia" identified the content that kids need to know and skills they need to master. The deliberation as to what to include and what not to include was systematic, exhaustive… and deliberate. While one might quibble about this inclusion or that exclusion, while one might say it needs to go further or while one might argue that too much is made of a topic, stepping back from the details, there is overwhelming agreement as to its reasonableness and accuracy.
Now, there are legitimate concerns about the implementation process. For example, according to a report in the Washington Post, "The National Association of Secondary School Principals is calling for a slowdown in the Common Core initiative, citing educators' concerns about 'the implementation of the new standards in their states and the inadequate training they have received to help them ensure that their teachers are able to change instructional practices.'"
Besides making sure our teachers are prepared to teach the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), there is legitimate concern that the technological infrastructures in our schools are not ready for the sincere demands that the online assessment processes will place on them.
As with any new major initiative, there are going to be issues. Indeed, the CCSS will never be done or finished. Learning is living and living responds to change, and thus there will be a constant push and pull on the CCSS and the materials and the practices.
But the overwhelming good that will come from sticking with the CCSS — even after modifying its implementation, addressing the technological infrastructure, etc. — is that curricula — good curricula — can be used from Washington state to Florida, from Maine to California.
Publishers, curricula developers and technology developers will produce a plethora of materials, aligned with the CCSS, that teachers will feel confident in using. Schools of education will feel confident that the teachers they are graduating, having taken methods courses using the CCSS, will be trained and ready to teach anywhere in America.
And, lest we forget the original intent, our children will have a common core of knowledge and skill.
Bottom line: with the adoption of the CCSS there will be an integrity to the educational process — nationwide — that isn't in place now. The Common Core is indeed common sense!
But indeed there are individuals who say that they don't want to be bound by the CCSS. They feel for example that "the standards are poorly designed." Who are "they?" Home-schoolers. Parents who are increasingly "leading the opposition" against state adoption of the CCSS.
And, there are individuals who say that government — especially the federal government — has no business deciding what children in their locale need to learn. For example, according to a report in the Deseret News, Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, said "First of all, it's a national standard, which I strongly oppose."
So, back to the facts:
- The federal government did NOT develop the Common Core State Standards. CCSS was developed by individuals from all over America! CCSS is the result of a spirited and democratic negotiation process!
- Educational experts — not well-meaning parents, not politicians — developed the CCSS.
There is clear merit in exploring ways to better realize the CCSS, e.g., slowing down its implementation. But the majority better not allow home-schoolers, who make up 3 percent of America's students, and a minority of politicians, who see federal conspiracies in the pages of the CCSS, to derail the CCSS. It's time for the silent majority to stop being so silent!
Cathie Norris is a Regents Professor and Chair in the Department of Learning Technologies, School of Information at the University of North Texas. Visit her site at www.imlc.io.
Elliot Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of CSE, College of Engineering, at the University of Michigan. Visit his site at www.imlc.io.
Find more from Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris at their Reinventing Curriculum blog at thejournal.com/rc.