What we have been finding is that the parents doing the research on Common Core know more than the local boards and administrators. For instance in this article: "Millican also said that the Common Core State Standards “were put together by business leaders, university professors, educators” and that the shift in education will be from “drill and kill to critical thinking.” He avers that this latest educational reform will be “more about the learning and less about the test score.”
These statements are both false. The standards were put together by trade associations in Washington DC primarily funded by the Federal Dept of Ed., Bill Gates and other large corporations hiding behind their non profit masks. The reform is all about the assessment (Common Core's form of testing) linking teacher's evaluations and pay to the results of the assessments aligned with the standards - The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Be armed with the facts and the hard evidence to support the facts when addressing your boards and administrators.
I hope in the future to do a longer piece on common core standards and assessments--there is a quite a bit of material that I was not able to include in this article.
As I understand it, much of the funding for the common core came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
eastlaker, thank you for your astute comments and careful assessment. The Sweetwater Union High School board called an emergency meeting on September 13. See below for the single item on the agenda.
- Conduct a public hearing and adopt Resolution No. 4257, Assurance of Sufficient Availability of Textbooks and/or Instructional Materials and Assurance that the Core Curriculum is Aligned to the State Content Standards.
Citizens for Quality Education in the Poway Unified School District is active as well, working hard to get the ALL the information and facts out to the parents and members of the community. We are holding a Community Forum tonight at 7 pm at the Rancho Bernardo Country Club. Our group is trying to engage the public in a discussion with school board members and Superintendent Collins on the concerns we should all have about the impacts the Common Core standards will have on our children. Encinitas is active and so is Valley Center. Thanks Chula Vista for doing your part!
We need some community dialogue, in a trustworthy setting, with people who are there not merely going through the motions, texting, unwilling or unable to really follow what is taking place. We need some dedicated people for this task. Perhaps those who really want to help the students of these districts.
Good luck Chula Vista Elementary School District students, teachers and parents. It looks like there is a great deal of work ahead. It is doable if people are sincere in the attempt. It is doable if the process is meaningful.
Unfortunately, that sincerity and meaning is missing in Sweetwater, where it is not about what is best for the future of the students, it is about the bank account and career fantasies of the superintendent and the board members. And their hangers-on, eager for handouts.
When I initially heard discussion about national standards in education, I was in favor of it, having heard that state standards can vary dramatically; states can do their own testing and then declare that for example, 80% of students are performing well merely based upon whatever standards have been arbitrarily given...resulting in a 'feel good' conclusion, ultimately meaningless.
Wouldn't it be better to have universal standards for all states--so that we can really see who is learning, what is being learned, how we are preparing students for their and our future?
In theory, yes--but let us return to the quote from the Harvard Business Review: "educational entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets".
You bet they will.
And this will become a huge revenue stream (popular phrase these days) for the providers--so huge, that there is a great deal of push for this national market to open up.
Additionally, I have read hints of 'data mining'--so that the very students being taught will also turn into additional sources of revenue, as they are analyzed and further targeted.
Perhaps all this is inevitable. Perhaps it is the wave of the future. If so, we need to really take a look at all phases of this and decide if this is what we want, if this is what is best for our country.
France has national standards in education, with difficult tests to gain admission to the various universities. But the percentage of French students who go to university is lower than the percentage of US students who continue on.
My fear is that the Common Core is really a commodification of education, turning students into consumers some of the time and products the rest of the time; the eagerness of corporations to latch on to more government funding becomes something to be wary about.
Education is about acquiring critical thinking skills, good decision-making skills, being able to learn from the past and look towards the future--and also about how not to get 'suckered' by promotional material. Right now, all of us need to use our critical thinking skills and take a look at what is being sold as the "Common Core".
Who are the educators who compiled the Common Core materials? Are they speaking up for what they have done, or were they faceless drudges in some back office frantically performing to a corporate directive?
It is disheartening to see the educational system under fire from just about every direction.
We can't trust the Sweetwater UHSD to make a good decision on anything--they tend to be influenced far too easily by thoughts of personal benefit. We need the educators to take a good long look at the new materials and tell us what they think.
We need the parents to monitor what is going on, and see if these materials are beneficial--or if it is claptrap with a bow.
We need some community dialogue, unhindered by the 1, 2 and 3 minute time limits imposed by our singularly unimpressive Sweetwater Board of Trustees.
I've apparently been living under a rock, as I was just introduced to Common Core earlier this week at a talk given by the principal at my daughter's middle school. One thing he came back to repeatedly is echoed by eastlaker - he said he's been bombarded pretty much nonstop with pitches from content providers looking to sell the CC material.
I also heard the same thing as Susan regarding an expected dip - "this is to be expected when we switch to a new testing standard, so don't be alarmed" or something to that effect.
I see a lot of comments here about math - personally I noticed last year (4th grade) a shift away from a "right way" of solving a problem and moving onto the next skill set and the implementation of three or four different approaches to arrive at the same solution - my daughter just looked at me funny when I tried to re-teach a skill in the only way I knew how.
"I know how to do it that way Dad, we learned it two weeks ago. I'm supposed to solve it this way now." I'm just left wondering why she needs this way if she was reaching the right solutions using that way.
Some of the sample CC curriculum, including an example math problem I got at my meeting, seems intriguing - but it also seems needlessly complex, given the reduced base skill set kids seem to be acquiring due to re-learning a process in multiple methods. I've been hesitant to knock this practice before because what works for some kids may baffle others, but I'm really debating the slowdown of general progress these methods entail.
Thanks, Susan, for your timely articles that always inspire a great conversation. Even though I mostly watch from the sidelines, they're quite informative.
Some of this reminds me so very much of "the new math" and all the emphasis on scientific notation...and that seems to have gone away. I am wondering if the Common Core elementary school math program is 'the new math 2.0 or 3.0' or something of that sort.
I was taught that the best math was the most 'elegant'--simple, direct.
While I will agree that mental dexterity is important, I believe that memorizing math tables helps a great deal in mental dexterity! Brain circuitry benefits from memorization...which doesn't mean that drills are the only thing!
Are there websites with Common Core materials available for the public to take a look at?
And weren't we supposed to have those public info sessions/task force meetings on Common Core?
I am not surprised that Sweetwater is not forthcoming with information, as they like to play everything close to the vest. (Wouldn't want the public to actually be able to follow where the public's money is going, after all).
It seems that convincing the public to throw everything out for something untested is a bit careless. I think that it would be better to have two or three states try it out, have assessments, have educators make adjustments as necessary and then implement it in sector, IF AND ONLY IF results are born out. I also think that guidelines need to be in place so that providers aren't gouging the public. Additionally, any 'data mining' needs to be monitored strictly and opt out conditions must be available.