“A Cure for the Common Core”

by David Safier

Good column in the San Francisco Chronicle about the potential failings of the Common Core. The Common Core is about even higher high stakes testing to back up a set of standards put together by people who aren't educators and will profit from the costs of implementing the new programs. Only 30% of students across New York state passed its first Common Core test. Expect the same low passage rate, or worse, when the test comes to Arizona. Thinking high failure rates, telling 70% of students that they're failures — 93% in some schools — is going to increase student achievement is a destructive exercise in magical thinking.

The column points out that Asian countries with high scores on international tests are looking to the U.S. education system to see how it helps foster entrepreneurship, innovation and risk taking.

Just as we're turning our schools into test-driven education factories modeled on schools in Asia, that region's educators are looking to American schools for inspiration. The Asian system has been wildly successful at producing great test takers, well prepared to morph into dutiful bureaucrats.

But now, so Asia's students will be prepared to become innovators and entrepreneurs, better able to thrive in the competitive global economy, those countries' educators are turning their focus to nourishing students' curiosity, creativity, originality and social skills – the very qualities Common Core devalues.

Who are the people who have created the Common Core Curriculum?

So if the students are the losers, who are the winners? Well, look no further than the 60-person work group that developed the curriculum, a coterie made up largely of education vendors and test developers – and not one practicing teacher. Indeed, David Coleman, chief architect of the Common Core curriculum, now heads the College Board. That's worrisome, and so is Coleman's background as a consultant at McKinsey & Co., the firm that so ably advised Kmart, Enron, Swissair and Global Crossing.

We have a rare meeting of the minds about Common Core on the right and the left. Though their objections are different, the two sides can create a powerful two-pronged push against the people who are pushing Common Core.

3 responses to ““A Cure for the Common Core”

  1. David Safier

    Sullivan, just an FYI, in case you don’t read my posts regularly. I taught in public high schools for over 30 years, mainly English. I’ve never run for or held public office. I think that would make me more of a “true educator” than a “politician.”

  2. Each and every state can choose to adopt or not adopt Common Core State Standards. They can also choose their own assessments. They are not mandated. The only mandate came from the Bush Adminstration called No Child Left Behind when it required states to adminster assessments to receive funding. Even if states choose to adopt they can add more if they choose.

    You have shown your true lack of knowledge when you state “But now, so Asia’s students will be prepared to become innovators and entrepreneurs, better able to thrive in the competitive global economy, those countries’ educators are turning their focus to nourishing students’ curiosity, creativity, originality and social skills – the very qualities Common Core devalues.” Asia is looking to us because it is Common Core State Standards that begins that journey. It is exactly what the CCSS values.

    Maybe if you had had the privledge of a Common Core State Standards education you would understand why your argument fails. Alas, we should never argue beliefs for they require no evidence of fact.

    Unfortunately the only meeting of the minds that exists is politicians. True educators see the value of an education system that leverages the CCSS to provide an excellent education.

  3. The common core isnt any kind of mandate – it is simply information. What do students need to know to be college ready and are they college ready? Schools in Arizona can ignore it and many are ignoring it. But, the shockingly low tests out of New York are an indictment of our education system. Conservatives dont like it because the Obama administration supports it and liberals dont like it because it makes public education look so bad. But, is it good? Will it improve outcomes for poor kids?