What is the Common Core? Or, more properly, what are the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?
They are a set of public school educational standards for math and English (to be expanded to all subjects) sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. They have been adopted in full by all but five states: Minnesota refused the math standards, Nebraska and Virginia are part of the CCSS Initiative but haven’t adopted the standards, and Alaska and Texas will have nothing to do with them. (See the Wikipedia article.)
As you might know, the CCSS have been the subject of everything from welcome to caution to attack. There is no agreement yet. Which makes for a wonderful discussion topic.
As I see it, there are two levels for looking at them: 1) the level of how the standards would work with the students and teachers (where you’d ask questions such as, Are the math standards high enough? Are the English lessons too canned? What evidence supports them? How will they improve education?) and 2) the level of how they would work with the government (you might inquire, What is the effect of the government offering money for states that adopt the standards? Will CCSS lead to federally chosen curriculum for participating public schools? Will private and home schools be forced to use the standards–through remodeling of the universal college admissions tests, the SAT and ACT, in fashion with CCSS?)
So, at one level, you might think the CCSS are pretty decent, but at another, you could decide they are dangerous and subversive.
I have organized some resources I found into “for” and “against” categories.
For the Common Core
- The official Common Core website. Here you can see the actual standards for Math and English. Fairness demands that you give them at least a perusal. How do they compare with what you have heard about them?
- A conservative protests Republican rejection of the Common Core. This short piece raises some serious points.
- Information (and opinions) from an Illinois school district favorable towards the CCSS.
Against the Common Core
- TruthInAmericanEducation.com. A well-designed and informative Web site arguing against the Common Core.
- Web page from an Alabama Tea Party group working against the Common Core (interestingly, Wikipedia notes that legislation to repeal Common Core for the state has been introduced to both houses of the Alabama legislature). Lists cons of the CCSS.
- Daily Caller interview with Will Estrada (former director of Generation Joshua!), currently director of foreign relations for HSLDA. Discusses problems with CCSS–both its educational standards and its interactions with the government. About fifteen and a half minutes long–well worth the time.
- A blog analyzing CCSS math standards (it is generally critical of them).
- “Common Core Standards: The Emperor Has No Clothes, Or Evidence” – This article points out a lack of research support the Common Core and contests the assumed link between standardized test scores and the economy.
- First-hand look at using the Common Core English standards by a New York English teacher.
- NoPACommonCore.com – An informational and activist Web site against the Common Core in PA.
- Washington Post article listing eight problems with the Common Core.
- A long article by the Heritage Foundation against national educational standards in general–should be a good reference, though I haven’t read it yet myself.
Disclaimer: I certainly don’t claim these are the authoritative, “top twelve” resources for the Common Core. My search methods have some order but also much arbitrariness, and I am (surprise!) not without biases. As you can see, my list is weighted towards resources against CCSS… but you can draw up Web sites and articles by the bucketful supporting either persuasion quite easily with Google.
So…once you are an expert on the CCSS and have written at least one book on it and done a minimum of three televised interviews and ten public speeches on the subject, you may come to the meeting.
But seriously–try to find an hour or two when you can sit down to read some of the above and decide what you think about the Common Core. Then, once you have a settled opinion, you can take action!
A tangent (I’ve been saving the best for last)
The author of one of the articles above raised the topic of the purpose of public education. As her last criticism of CCSS in a list of eight, she writes:
The Common Core Standards’ stated aim — “success in college and careers”— is at best pedestrian, at worst an affront. The young should be exploring the potentials of humanness.
Do you think there is more to education that preparing for “success in college and careers”? What good is college and career success, anyway? A luxurious retirement? Or is there something about school and work that can be good and fulfilling even if you never get a chance to enjoy retirement?
What do y’all think?
One last word
I once saw a cartoon showing a student and his high school counselor. It went something like this.
Counselor: You should go to college.
Counselor: So you can get a good job.
Counselor: So you can make lots of money.
Counselor: So you can pay off all your college debt.
Now that is circular reasoning if there ever was any. Can you think of any better reason for education than being able to pay college debt?