Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Tide Turns On The Common Core

Imagine a story on Common Core a year ago and ask yourself, would the tone have been this skeptical?

Common Core was created in 2009 and is meant to even the playing field by giving every state a universal set of standards to measure learning. The program is incentivized with federal grant money that is given to states that implement the standards.

Massachusetts is typically held up as an example of how the Common Core is supposed to work. The state is considered a success story, with education officials noting improving test scores and reading skills.

But Michael Benezra, a legislative director for the Massachusetts Senate, told Business Insider that the tide is turning in the Bay State on both sides of the aisle.

"Inside the [legislature], the general attitude is that Common Core ... is institutionalized and it's not going anywhere," Benezra said. "I'm starting to see the teachers unions and the charter school people kind of agreeing on the issue that Common Core needs to go."

Common Core emphasizes critical thinking, and the tests are designed to test students' comprehension about what they read and how they come to solutions for math problems. The tests are so intense, taking the average student eight to 10 hours to complete. And teachers are under so much pressure to prepare their students to do well that instruction becomes less individualized and critical thinking in students can be hampered.

"The reliance on testing pigeonholes the teachers to teach only to the test," Benezra said. "So the kids are coming out and what they're learning might not be conventional. So they might know some obscure facts about American history, but they might miss why the revolution started."

Common Core tests could end up defeating the purpose of the standards themselves.

"I think it's kind of counterintuitive to students getting the big picture because they're required to test so much," Benezra said. "In order to perform well on the test, you have to memorize things. ... You can say we're trying to get them to think more critically and read closely … but at the end, the students take a test, they don't write a long essay where they're forced to think deeply about the issue."

Proponents of the Core thought they had won total victory when the Obama administration had forced Common Core, the Common Core tests and teacher evaluations tied to those tests to both the Race to the Top carrot and the No Child Left Behind waiver stick, forcing states to adopt the Obama corporate education deform agenda whole.

But as the opposition against the Core has mounted, so too has the opposition to the ancillary reforms that go with the reform, like the testing.

As Jay Greene noted:

As the Common Core effort crumbles, its supporters are not just failing, but losing ground on previous accomplishments.   If you liked accountability testing, Common Core has done more to set back your efforts than Randi Weingarten ever could have done on her own.


 Several states will soon have no high stakes testing while they adopt a moratorium on stakes in their supposed transition to new tests.  The Gates Foundation has backed a two year delay in the hopes of rescuing their effort from collapse.  Like a retreating army suggesting a cease fire, they will find their opponents have little reason to keep the delay temporary.

We've got a long way to go before there is a stake through the heart of the Common Core and it's buried in four different crossroads and I'm under no illusions that the attacks against teachers and public schools will cease because the corporate deformers lost the Common Core War.

But you can see how much ground the CCSS proponents have lost in the last year even in how CCSS stories are framed in the media, let alone how people are talking about the Core at PTA meetings.

Core supporters and proponents once had the upper hand in this fight.

But no more.

The tide has turned and it's not turning back.

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