Common Core: Epic Fail

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

One of the fascinating things about journalism is looking at the factual data that both sides of a controversy agree on and finding that the facts support the critics’ viewpoints.

For example, the Thomas Fordham Institute has been, more or less, supportive of the Obama Administration’s Common Core education reforms. Nevertheless, in their progress report on it, the relatively right-of-center think tank paints a rather dismal picture of CC2014:

  1. “Teachers and principals are the primary faces and voices of the Common Core standards in their communities;
  2. “Implementation works best when district and school leaders lock onto the Common Core standards as the linchpin of instruction, professional learning, and accountability in their buildings
  3. “In the absence of externally vetted, high-quality Common Core materials, districts are striving—with mixed success—to devise their own
  4. “The scramble to deliver quality CCSS-aligned professional development to all who need it is as crucial and (so far) as patchy as the quest for suitable curriculum materials
  5. “The lack of aligned assessments will make effective implementation of the Common Core challenging for another year.”

Clearly, the Fordham Institute is trying to put lipstick on…”In short, districts are in the near-impossible situation of operationalizing new standards before high-quality curriculum and tests aligned to them are finished,” the Institute concludes. “Yet the clock is ticking, and the new tests and truly aligned textbooks and other materials are forthcoming. Today’s implementation is a bit like spring training, a time when focusing on the fundamentals, teamwork, and steady improvement is more important than the score.”

Meanwhile, in her syndicated column, attorney, author and conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly provides some useful background on CC. “Achieve Inc. started implementation of Common Core with 13 states, but a national curriculum was still the goal, and a congressional debate about that would have been a political risk,” Schlafly writes. “So the Common Core advocates bypassed most elected officials, went straight to each state department of education, and by 2009, 35 state curriculums had aligned with Common Core.”

“Common Core advocates then announced that ‘standards’ had been developed ‘in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts … to prepare our children for college and the workforce.’ By 2011, 45 states signed up even though the final draft of the standards was not yet available and they had never been field tested.”

“Still careful to skirt the laws barring federal control of curriculum, Education Secretary Arne Duncan used federal funds to bait the states to align with Common Core by offering grants from the federally funded Race to the Top program.”

“The Common Core promoters, whose goal is a national curriculum for all U.S. children despite laws prohibiting the government from requiring it, used the clever device of copyrighting the standards by a non-government organization, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). That enables Common Core advocates to force uniform national standards while claiming that the laws prohibiting federal control of curriculum are not violated.”

“No one may copy or reprint the standards without permission, and states that sign on to Common Core may not change or modify the standards. The license agreement that states must sign in order to use Common Core states: ‘NGA/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.’”