I’ve talked to a lot of people about the new “Common Core” standards in American education, and if there’s one thing that people say about it, it’s that they hate it. But other than their intense anger at these new guidelines, I also get one other big piece of information from them. They have no idea what Common Core actually is. I don’t care if you hate it; there are some huge problems with it. But at least have some idea of why you should actually hate it before you go off on your crazy rant.
COMMON CORE DOES NOT DICTATE CURRICULUM.
I’m sorry for shouting, but I just needed you all to hear me say that. Almost to a person, the complaints I have heard about the Common Core involve the curriculum that is suddenly being forced upon you. But, as I shouted earlier, the Common Core does not dictate curriculum. It says what kids should learn, but not how they should learn it. It tells you when you ought to be learning fractions, but offers no advice on how exactly to get that knowledge into the brains of the students. If you want to read the standards, they are here.
So if you are upset with the new curriculum that your schools are using, don’t be mad at Common Core. Be mad at your school district. Be mad at your state. Be mad at whoever is making those types of decisions. But leave the poor Common Core out of it.
Another thing you might think is that the federal government is forcing this on you. But no, that is also not true. Common Core is all state. Your state gets to decide whether or not to use it, so again, be mad at them. There are so many reasons to be mad at Common Core, but make sure you pick the right one. Or at least a true one.
For instance, Common Core was kind of a rush job. The Gates Foundation, who I’m sure meant very well, put together a small group of people, who came up with these standards, and then told people to start implementing them. Normally one would hope that a large group of people would have come up with the educational standards for our country, and then they would have vetted them, tested them out, done research, published findings, and otherwise done their due diligence on behalf of our nation’s children. This is not what happened. So feel perfectly free to be mad about that.
Also, the Common Core tells you who should know what, when. And there is plenty to disagree with in there. It tells us that 6-year-olds should work on abstract thinking, when many argue that 6-year-old brains cannot do this well, and as a result we will have a national filled with frustrated 1st graders who quickly learn to hate school. It is totally fine to be angry at Common Core for stuff like this.
But you really should not be mad at “Race to the Top,” which does not require Common Core in order to get Federal money, even though everyone thinks it does. They do require that states adopt “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the work place.” But there are other standards out there. Common Core is just the latest bandwagon that your state jumped onto. So again, be mad at your state if you don’t like what is happening.
There is certainly a larger discussion that needs to happen around education in our country, and people’s opinion of the now-prevalent Common Core absolutely needs to be a part of it, but I do find it ironically hilarious that most of the people upset about education in this country seem to have forgotten to educate themselves on what it is they are actually upset about. Before you get angry about what our kids need to study, maybe go do a little studying of your own. And then get angry. Absolutely get angry. Because we need passionate and informed people working to give our kids a better future. But you really need to be both.