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Opening Arguments

Rotten to the Core

It's not just wacky, Tea Party conservatives who think Common Core might not be the magic solution for the education system:

The Boston Globe ran a great story yesterday headlining the question: "Are Teachers Really Ready for the Common Core?" After reading the story, the only possible verdict is absolutely not.

Common Core sets new standards for what students should learn and how they should learn it. But putting that into practice is more difficult than waving a magic standards wand. A complete, forced transformation of the American education system mandated by national bureaucrats requires new textbooks, testing materials, and training for teachers.

On that last front, it looks like teachers are somewhat averse to throwing out everything they have been doing and learning a new method just because Bill Gates thinks its great.

[. . .]

The story evaluates teacher training programs in Massachusetts, a state that is by all accounts ahead of the curve on Core implementation. Still, many are skeptical that training helps at all—and even more are skeptical that the trainers themselves understand Common Core requirements.

Even if Common Core eventually boosts student performance—and the evidence of that is underwhelming—nobody in school today is going to benefit from it. Students will flounder under the instructions of teachers whose methods are misaligned to the curriculum, textbooks, and tests.

I've been interviewing school board candidates from all four school districts in Allen County for the last couple of weeks, and I've found no great enthusiasm for Common Core.  Common Core is not just the latest education fad in a long line of magic bullets that were supposed to cure all that's wrong with education. It's also one more step away from the local control of education that has enjoyed a long tradition in this country.

I also found a fair amount of cynicsm about Indiana's "rejection" of Common Core. The truth is it did no such thing. A few minor changes were made so they can call it something else and pretend we're going off on our own instead of following the leader like everyone else.