Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In the News: Common Core

Last year, I used to have a weekly feature titled, WSJ Wednesday, where I would share my thoughts on articles I read in The Wall Street Journal. As the year got busier, my favorite feature fell by the wayside. In 2014, I am reinstating it in a new way. Now on Tuesdays, this will feature commentary on any news item I find of interest. I hope you feel free to engage in respectful discussion over anything you read here on In the News....

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative has become a hot topic. According to the website, the initiative's mission statement is:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

Currently, 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

Opposition to Common Core has come from various sides: parents, educators, opinion writers, organizations, etc. Locally, we have also seen opposition. The "Falcons for Educational Freedom" want to remove the Common Core State Standards initiative in the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District and retain local control over curriculum. A public forum held at the Wilbraham Public Library this month featured Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who is credited with helping to develop those academic standards for K-12 students. According to The Wilbraham-Hampden Times, Stotsky was one of only five members of the former Common Core Validation Committee who didn't sign off to validate the standards.

During this public forum, Stotsky discussed how the Mass. Frameworks were developed "to raise the floor for all students and the Common Core was mainly established to close achievement gaps for struggling students." At this forum, she proposed a three-point strategy that would raise the floor for all students and stress content knowledge in every subject. She also stated higher standards require stronger teachers.

Superintendent of Schools for the Hampden-Wilbraham School District Martin O'Shea says the Frameworks and the Common Core Standards work together to provide students the skills they need for high school graduation. O'Shea claims how teachers teach and the specific content they teach remains a local responsibility.

I have to admit that national standards scare me more than a little. The federal government still can't gather enough intelligence in a timely fashion to protect us from terrorists threats (even after 9/11), as the Boston Marathon Bombing so easily shows. And one thing George Will pointed out in his opinion piece from March 9, 2012 is truly frightening:
We have been warned. Joseph Califano, secretary of health, education and welfare in the Carter administration, noted that “in its most extreme form, national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.”

Might sound ridiculous now, but we have legislators out there trying to ban us from drinking 32 ounces of soda or ingesting foods with trans fats. Is it too much of a stretch to believe in 25 years they will want to control our minds, too?

1 comment:

Patty Woodland said...

I don't know enough about it to make intelligent comments. Not having children in school it's just not something I have read much about.