Maybe you were focused on the NCAA tournament coming up this week, but if you were, you may have missed a recent editorial in the News Journal writing about Common Core critics like CRI. Rather than engage in the typical bashing of those concerned about Common Core, as even some educators are not happy with the new standards being imposed top-down,
Listen carefully to Common Core critics
The counteroffensive launched by Gov. Markell and other governors in defense of the Common Core academic standards underscores the tensions in our polarized politics and the fractured nature of education reform in this country. Gov. Markell, the other governors and several business groups responded to growing criticism of the academic standards that 45 states have adopted for public schools.
The governor said, “It’s not about politics; it’s about raising the bar for our children.”
The Common Core standards began to develop in 2009 with governors from various states as prime movers. The proposal gained popularity, and many states quickly adopted it. But as one observer said, support was a mile wide and an inch deep. However, as the implementation of the program progressed, silent opponents began finding their voices.
The political right attacks the Common Core standards as another intrusion by the federal government on the prerogatives of the states and local school boards.
Some on the political left view the standards as placing too heavy a burden on teachers.
Gov. Markell has promoted the standards as the next logical step in making our schools better. He co-wrote an opinion essay for the Bloomberg news service with the headline “Common Core Isn’t a Government Conspiracy.”
The right’s criticism aligns with its overall political criticism of President Obama and the Democrats, even though some conservative governors back it. Critics lump Common Core in with criticism of the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacore” is teamed with “Obamacare.”
The left’s criticism echoes the growing Democrat-on-Democrat fight over charter schools and their effect on public education.
Common Core may not be a government conspiracy, but its advocates should listen closely to some of these criticisms. Standards, for example, are not new. The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act required every state to put rigorous standards in place. It is worth asking whether those standards did much good. Several observers praised the quality of the Common Core standards, holding them superior to previous ones. But the task of aligning those standards with practices is enormous and difficult. One of the most telling criticisms is about how quickly all this is being implemented. Is it on a political schedule or on a school schedule? Is it a political necessity that it be up and running before President Obama or Gov. Markell leave office in 2017?
“Implementation” is not just a cover for criticism. A poor implementation can be damaging. Just look at Obamacare. Common Core standards could benefit our entire school system. We should take the care, and the time, to get it right.