What is the Common Core?
by Jim Hopkins, school board member
In 2009 when the national economy fell apart, states were frantic to find
adequate funding for public schools. The federal government seized on this
opportunity and tried to coerce the states into adopting the Common Core
Standards for K-12 education. Virginia declined the invitation which
included some federal funds. But over 40 states accepted the federal
dollars and Common Core. But now some of these states are having second
thoughts about their decision.
Common Core’s official website: http://www.corestandards.org
is a wealth of information. The Common Core Standards are owned by two national
organizations. They are The National Governors Association Center for Best
Practices and The Council of Chief State School Officers. (Virginia’s
chief school officer is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.) I
have reviewed some of Common Core’s standards, its suggested class
lessons, and its proposed teacher lesson plans. The Common Core recommends
high standards and the course content for the most part is excellent.
However, the Common Core Standards expect reasoning and decision making
that is far beyond most K-12 students. Critical thinking requires a strong
core of basic knowledge, which is the purpose of K-12 education. The
Common Core methodology might succeed with 30% of K-12 students but what
would happen with the other 70%? But it is the nation-wide takeover of
K-12 public education that is my major concern.
The Common Core Standards are NOT part of the federal government.
The organizations that own Common Core say on their website: "Federal funds
have never and will never be used to support the development or governance
of the Common Core or any future revisions of the standards."
It is clear that the owners of Common Core and other private organizations
that own the tests will support themselves by charging the states and
local school boards for their services. They will be private single
source providers, so there will be no competitive pricing. The two
national organizations that own the Common Core Standards refer to
themselves as "state-led" but in reality they are not accountable to any publicly
elected body at the federal, state or local level.
For states that adopt the Common Core, local school boards would be
accountable to these national organizations and also to the federal
government. The Common Core Standards are intended to raise the bar for
all students and the federal government wants "no child left behind."
These are admirable goals but the local school systems are going to be
caught in the middle. As school systems raise the bar, more students will
be left behind. Finding the correct rubric for K-12 public education is a
decision best left to state legislators, local officials, and parents.
This is why I will continue to oppose any national takeover of K-12