Common Core Struggles

The Common Core is heading the way of the Affordable Care Act: into a rising wave of opposition. Apparently, it is not what people expected. Long opposed by conservatives, the New York Times reports that "the newest chorus of complaints is coming from one of the most liberal states, and one of the earliest champions of the standards: New York. And that is causing supporters of the Common Core to shudder."

“There are days I think, ‘Oh my God, we have to slow this thing down, there are so many problems,’” said Catherin T. Nolan, a Queens Democrat who is chairwoman of the State Assembly Education Committee.

The objections in New York have become so loud, and have come from such a wide political spectrum, that even the governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has become a critic. Governor Cuomo has called the state’s execution of the standards “flawed” and appointed a panel to recommend changes.

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What is the Common Core? For those who are late to the debate:

The Obama administration encouraged states to adopt the Common Core as part of the Race to the Top grant competition, but it is not a federal mandate. Arne Duncan, the federal education secretary, declined to comment on what was happening in New York. But in November, Mr. Duncan attributed some of the unrest nationally to “white suburban moms” who discovered that “all of a sudden, their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.” (He quickly apologized.)

The Common Core grew out of a concern that the 2001 No Child Left Behind law had lowered the bar on what students should learn, since the law required improvement in test scores but left it up to states to write their own tests. It sets out a sequence of skills, or “competencies,” for students to master. Whether it is through tackling math problems or analyzing text, the Common Core encourages students to show evidence for their solutions and articulate how they think, with the overall goal of promoting more critical thinking at earlier ages. Districts and schools choose curriculums that meet those standards.

Like all new programs, the Common Core tensions are a long way from being solved. I blogged about a few of those tensions last year. See here: Common Core and Catholic Schools

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