Reading & Reacting: The Trouble with the Common Core

Photo: Broken Pencil and Crumpled Paper

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Marie Coleman

By Editors of Rethinking Schools @ AlterNet

This piece from the self-proclaimed progressive and independent media source is essentially a primer on reasons for resisting the Common Core as an attack on public education. It is a well-written and accurate chronicle of the development and implications represented with the Common Core’s implementation, as well as its polarizing effect on the political and educational communities.

It should be read by anyone who wants to understand why there is a controversy and why there is resistance. The crux of Rethinking Schools thinking is this.

Unfortunately there’s been too little honest conversation and too little democracy in the development of the Common Core. We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers, and more high-stakes testing where there should be none. Until that changes, it will be hard to distinguish the “next big thing” from the last one.

The last “next big thing” referenced was No Child Left Behind (NCLB) which counts its greatest success as helping to embolden “the narrative of public school failure that has led to a decade of bad policy in the name of reform.” There are few arguments, if any, that can challenge that as fact with any genuine merit. However, I contend that it dates back even further and continue to point to “A Nation at Risk” as the moment of origin for this particularly, virulent myth.

As retired educator Pat Welsh articulately explained recently in The Washington Post, “inflated the education-consultant industry.” It was as if a new industry was created out of whole cloth – or at east the paper used in publishing “A Nation at Risk” in 1983. Had there not been more than a decade of propaganda inspired by the manufactured crisis in that document, organizations like Achieve Inc. (a self-proclaimed bipartisan group of governors and corporate leaders, founded in 1996) would have no reason for existence. Considering Achieve Inc. essentially functioned as project management for the Common Core effort.

It is important to notice the conspicuous lack of educators involved in both the Common Core and Achieve Inc., removing any doubt about a top-down, heavy-handed agenda. This leads the Editors of Rethinking Schools to the following conclusion.

Common Core has become part of the corporate reform project now stalking our schools. Unless we dismantle and defeat this larger effort, Common Core implementation will become another stage in the demise of public education. As schools struggle with these new mandates, we should defend our students, our schools, our communities, and ourselves by telling the truth about the Common Core. This means pushing back against implementation timelines and plans that set schools up to fail, resisting the stakes and priority attached to the tests, and exposing the truth about the commercial and political interests shaping and benefiting from this false panacea for the problems our schools face.

It doesn’t take a considerable amount of googling on the topic to verify the claims of this piece. In fact, many of the organizations will proudly confirm specific facts and relationships. Yet it is only by taking a step back and looking at the web of relationships that the suspicion begins to grow. Anyone that looks close enough will begin to see a rather small cabal-like force, bi-partisan though it may be, with designs on perpetuating a problem narrative for which they only hold the answers.

This is precisely the kind of article from which someone new to the issue can benefit, because sharpens the issue and shows it in stark relief.


Image: iPad

posted via haaslearning.tumblr.com
and flipped to Teaching Today
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