Core Issues

I am sure most of us have heard about Common Core by this point in the year. Either our friends are conversing over it, the news is reporting on it, or we have seen a multitude of posts proclaiming Common Core to be harmful.

How many of us actually know what it is though? Do we truly know what is at the heart of Common Core or are we simply taking in the “hype” and arguments being presented by other people?

I think it’s high time I researched this topic for myself and made my own choices about where I stand.

Common Core

My guy is so awesome; he helped me create this quick little illustration.

My initial concern is that my children will be expected to know information that I am not teaching. Has something drastic happened to the textbooks of which I am not aware? Aaaa! My second concern is whether or not those choices I make in curriculum will affect their testing of the SAT/ACT, should they decide to attend college.

This one decision could affect the rest of their lives.

Let me be clear, I have no problem with standards. I think guidelines are important and help us know when we are making progress. I also have no problem with updating how we learn things.

My uncertainty really stems from ignorance. I am hearing shouts from several different directions. Teachers – “Common Core is awesome!” Home schoolers – “Common Core is horrible; avoid it at all costs!”

But, what in fact IS Common Core? Is it a new method, a new set of standards, or something completely different?

When it comes to research, there are many techniques I might use. I could go buy a book, but I prefer to not spend money if I can. I could listen to a few debates (which I have), but those are filled with a lot of opinions and very little documented fact. I could read some news reports (both educational and mainstream). Or… I could do the simple thing; go straight to HSLDA!!

I really appreciate HSLDA for a multitude of reasons. They are efficient, they know their stuff, and they are always on top of things. It should come as no surprise that something like Common Core has caught their eye and information is already at our fingertips.

There is so much to be learned HERE, I could spend days reading and I probably will. To make a proper decision, I want to be fully educated before forming an opinion.

So far, I am finding several inconsistencies in the Common Core standards. How can one prepare students for college while not making literacy and proficiency also a goal? Hmmm… It is also interesting to note that several states who have already adopted this program are beginning to back out.

I am still a long way away from coming to the “core” of The Common though. I suppose what I am ultimately looking for is a list. Tell me exactly what you want these students to know. I can weed through the ballyhoo later; just give me the meat first.

I would have preferred to do this research during the summer, but it has only recently become available. So, it looks like I am going to be glued to my computer on what little downtime I have each night. I want to learn about this before the year gets too crazy so that I may take the appropriate actions, should any be needed.

I want to know for myself what Common Core is all about, and then we can make some choices for ourselves. And… (as one my childhood TV shows used to preach to us) “Knowing is Half the Battle!”

Have you researched Common Core for yourself? Does Common Core concern you?

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29 thoughts on “Core Issues

  1. What I have read are requirements for schools that have yet to be written. How can you meet a requirement if it does not exist, yet? I am a get away from me government person.
    It is a very expensive implementation system. Parents and school boards will have no say on the curriculum. Think about that a while. All students are tracked from getting into trouble to any educational issues. This tracking even goes further. This is a but a small portion.
    How can we say one size fits all? Why does the government need to record in detail everything about our children?
    I encourage everyone to look into this. I don’t want the government’s money or their nose in my or my child’s business.

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    • Hmmm… I wonder how much this differs in each state? The teachers here in California are loving CC as they have the freedom to teach to their own preferences. They might not have a choice about the actual skills being taught (they haven’t for years), but how they teach those skills is more lenient. For years, they have been told exactly what to teach and how to teach it, their white boards and bulletin boards had to reflect exactly what the school told them they needed. No differing and no creativity. So, they are really liking this new concept (at least for them) of being able to teach however they like, with just a list of requirements.

      I agree, this program is very expensive and I don’t like the idea of being tracked for every little thing. Why do they need all that information about children?

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      • I am not sure if there is any difference. What I am aware of is the opposition from those familiar with CC. In the East, Maryland and Pennsylvania, there have been teachers opposed to this. I do not know what percentage is in favor or not.

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      • Tennessee is trying to get out of CC right now. There are bills at the state level trying to do this. What has been said around here is that Republicans are against public education, while Democrats are for it. Of course, there is a lot more behind that sound bite than what is on the surface. There is a lot of upheaval right now in the Shelby County public school system that has brought state changes over the past couple of years. Also, others in the state are trying to get rid of the Head of the Board of Education, so it’s what’s happening right now in Tennessee is most likely going to boil over nationwide–at least that’s what I’m thinking.

        One more thing, the groups who support CC are wealthy. They have been known to go into districts and bank roll school board candidates elections, so they can get the puppets they wan on the school boards. Talk about taking local parental control away.

        The bigger picture here is that CC goes much deeper than what a child should be learning. CC is just the tree you see growing and flourishing. What you don’t see are the deep roots and are interconnected with other plants, and that may be tapped into an underground spring that is tainted.

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    • Each state has their own set of Common Core standards (they are generally the same except for a few standards here or there). Most states have bought into it but not all. Some states are yet to publish information on it even though they have opted in. Georgia, for example, has been using CC for a couple years now so their state website would be a good place to check them out. New York, on the other hand, is just starting the implementation so there are a lot of different opinions soaring out there. Usually the common core website an state ed sites will provide information for how to obtain the standards. Or ask a educator friend for a copy

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  2. We live in New Jersey, which has great homeschool policies that could br in jeopardy, so I have been watching this closely. My friends that our public school teachers have been talking about this for 3 years now, well before mainstream. Do research!

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  3. As a professional tutor with a M.S. in Education, I have read ALOT on the Common Core and use the standards when I write private lessons. I have the list of each grade level and each subject. Because most of my time is focused on science, I know the seconday science standards best. The list is fine, it provides objectives which students should generally achieve. Common Core is about literacy. The problem is that many educators, especially in the secondary realm, are not LITERACY teachers. They are history buffs, or science lovers. Pushing teachers to teach literacy for content is a good thing. So many of my studets are in upper level college courses and still do not know how to read a journal or write a decent lab report. I am sure the same is true for anthropologists and engineers. However, the standards can be a bit limited and overwhelming for a teacher that has their own proven-effective method for teaching literacy in a subject. Overall, if a teacher has honed their skills and has a wide array of techniques to help out the AVERAGE student, there should be no stressful problems with CC (that is until state testing takes over… Not to mention the lack of versatility for students with special needs… But those are different stories…).

    Scientifically yours,
    G-Iron
    http://www.G-IronScience.com

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    • It’s interesting that you mention you teach literacy, which I highly commend. I find it interesting because on the documentation I am reading, this is exactly one of the things they are NOT concerned with.

      “The goal of this checklist is not literacy, proficiency, or increased graduation rates but to make students “college- and career-ready.”1”

      There is quite a bit of research that still needs to be done, but so far I am learning a lot.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective and giving us something to think about.

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  4. My problem with CC is that it aims at average, or the middle of the curve. The kids on either side of that cure tend to get lopped off. The extremely intelligent ones who pick things up quickly get bored. The ones who don’t, get swept along, and then it’s the parents fault for the kids not learning what they need to know. How do I know this, because I’ve lived on both sides of that curve. That’s why I now homeschool. I can teach to my child, not at her. The one on the other end of the curve just graduated public high school. They had to take and End of Course exam in English, and Math, and I’m not sure what other subjects. He had an average of over 100 in English, but still have to take this state mandated EOC test. It took him 5 minutes and he aced it. This EOC test doesn’t take the place of the standardized test in the spring–it’s an addition. It’s there to ensure Common Core Standards are being met.

    Another point that you didn’t bring up, which has just been started in our state, is that CC has issued in teacher raises being tied to student performance on standardized test. In our school district, there is no more teacher tenure. Teachers–no matter how long they have been with the school district can be fired if kids don’t do well on these test, and teachers tell the kids that. This past spring parents reported elementary kids were being stressed out because their teachers told them they would lose their jobs if the kids did poorly on the test. Honestly, you get a group of passive-aggressive 10th graders who truly hate their teacher, they can intentionally fail the test to get them fired.

    Another problem I see with CC is that educators, parents, colleges, and the business sector aren’t the ones setting them up, personal interest groups, PACs, and the wealthy with a personal agenda are the ones doing it.

    Sorry this was so long.

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      • I think CC is about to become a political party tug-of-war much like abortion and gay marriage. One party will push for it, and the other will push against it just because their opponent wants it.

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    • Your point about teaching to the average student is actually a problem with public schools altogether, even without considering CC. It’s partly due to having government bureaucrats attempting to dictate education from their ivory towers far away. If there’s one thing marxist governments have taught us is that central planning never works, because those who attempt to make decisions from afar can never know the unique particulars of each individual case which they’re attempting to control. In other words, teachers and parents should be controlling what’s taught in the classroom, not political policy-makers who treat children like cookie-cutter cattle rather than as individuals who differ in how they learn.

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  5. I haven’t read through the other comments so please excuse me if I repeat something. As a teacher, the transition from State Standards to Common Core Standards is a little rough. Students in public schools in Oregon still get tested on State Standards for a couple years (I think through 2014) but the text books are now focused on Common Core. This means that teachers have to teach two sets of Math Skills concurrently. The tests focus on different skills. As a teacher, I prefer the Common Core assessments because they test a higher level of learning. There is a lot of focus on critical thinking and problem solving. The questions are multi-session on the assessment because they are so in-depth. It will be hard for those public school teachers that are set in their ways. The State test is multiple choice. It’s easier to administer but there can be flaws and some complain that it doesn’t actually assess the various levels of learning and various types of learners. I tend to agree. I actually prefer performance assessments that include many options for students to be successful.

    As a hopeful homeschooler, I think that the common core standards and assessments are actually in more of the educational direction I want to go in. I’m not so hung up on memorizing facts or formulas. I know that as an adult I can get that information easily by going online or going to the library. What I want my children to know is how to find out the information they need. To critically analyze that information. To be able to come up with their own conclusions and test out any uncertainties. As you can see, this type of thinking requires more than clicking on A, B, C, or D.

    That’s my take on it all. I’m not afraid of change especially if that means that the focus is on something I want.

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  6. I wanted to get both sides of the Common Core debate. It was easy to find pro Common Core articles. This five part video series really provides an in depth look at Common Core, and who and what is behind it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coRNJluF2O4
    One of the biggest problems that I have with Common Core is the removal of the classics from high school education in favor of things like how to fill out a job application and how to manuals. I think this will have unintended consequences in a few years at the college level when freshmen are not prepared with a basic high school level education. Common Core is designed not to create educated citizens, but to create workers for the society. Most states signed on because they would lose federal funds if they did not. Now, most are regretting the decision because state and local governments (along with parents) have little say in the curriculum choices. If we were not already homeschooling before Common Core was rolled out, I would have started homeschooling to avoid it. I also want to point out though that just because a homeschool textbook says that it is “aligned with Common Core”, does not mean it is bad. WE get a choice as homeschoolers, and we know what is best for our kids.

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  7. Living overseas, I’ve just heard of the Commen Core, but not familiar with it. I’m going to go to your link though. I also love HSLDA, they are so helpfull on so many issues now that I have high schoolers.

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  8. When I researched it awhile back, I went straight to the content of what they were teaching. I do believe it was a 3rd grade book for social studies that shook this mama up. It was teaching kids to be manipulative, “using words” to make other feel a certain way to get your own way, and they often used parents as the target of example. I found it disturbing.

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  9. I love your openness and honesty. It’s important to make sure you are educated on a topic before taking a side/stance. This quality is so rare in our society, and I applaud you. 🙂

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