So today I read a story in an issue of Parent and Child magazine called “Unlocking the Common Core.” Unfortunately, it unlocked nothing. The author gave a few scripted examples of how certain assignments in a classroom might change. The changes were a little frightening to read as I thought students were already being taught those lessons. Well, at least now we have some government propaganda which assures us that students will be taught to think a little more instead of just “choose and answer” or “memorize this chart.” Last year I published a post about this very topic. After asking around and doing my own research, I have much more to say about Common Core. Since writing last, my son (second grade) has entered into public school, out of necessity and not out of our family desire to place him there. It is temporary and reading about the Common Core affirms my goal of bringing him back home when the time is right.
The school my son attends adopted Common Core standards last year. Although it is a CC school, the work sent home with him, both finished and unfinished does not yet confirm this. His work reflects zero changes to the school curriculum I purchased almost a decade ago for my oldest son, before I learned about the many methods of learning besides school-at-home. We bought curriculum from a top Elementary Academy. I asked the woman working on his IEP what she thought of Common Core. My mother in law and my dad were both teachers although they each retired from teaching before CC was implemented in their states. They didn’t know much about the in’s and out’s so I figured asking someone working in a CC school, I would get a clear idea of what it is and how it works. I ask all teachers how they feel about the changes and the reviews are split. About half are pro-CC and half do not think it is best for the student. I wanted to hear what the woman at my son’s school thought about the changes… she likes them a lot although she “doesn’t understand Common Core completely.” Well, at least she likes it. It seems like most people for CC can’t adequately explain how it began and how it works.
Because I am a research junkie with a Google MD and a subscription to every quality educational publication printed, I have tried my best to learn all I could about the new standards and how they will affect my homeschool and my child in public school. The topic is lengthy and so for that reason I may break this up into two posts. The weather is gorgeous and my garden is calling me!
So where did the Common Core come from? Teachers, parents, the school district, or anyone having to do with the students and their education? No. Are politicians involved? Ding! Ding! Ding! National Standards advocates put together Common Core under the auspices of two private trade organizations, the National Governors Assoc. and Council of Chief State School Officers. Both function mainly as networking opportunities. The government gives funds to each, pays their dues and for their consulting services. The standards were written in closed meetings behind locked doors. GE, Exxon Mobile and Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation contributed tens of millions of dollars to the project. So yes, a lot of people are getting rich creating this new standard.
Is it better? Well, it unifies what children learn across the board in English and Math (the CC currently affects no other academic subjects). Which would be “less objectionable if Common Core were not so mediocre” according to ALL OF THE ACADEMIC EXPERTS on Common Core’s validation committee who REFUSED TO SIGN OFF ON IT. Other education experts have since sharply criticized CC academic quality as well.
The idea is well-meaning. Homeschoolers tend to aim for mastery and statistically score higher on tests, so this does not pose a threat to us in the area of testing, yet. There’s a little more to it as some homeschoolers will have to spend time teaching how to test differently, which is nonsense, but hey… we still have the freedom to employ mastery, rather than the spiral, approach so their tests are of little threat. Right now. Another concern is that Common Core tests are expected to be different from the knowledge-based tests most homeschoolers are used to. By 2018, all CC tests will be computerized and have performance tasks, like video games. My two oldest dislike video games and don’t play them. So while they may be little geniuses, the test will show otherwise because they are not video game players.
“The computerized tests will be different for every student. Students who answer a question “right” get a harder question next time and students who answer “wrong” get an easier question next. This different, more complex testing format may mean that some students test worse than others even though they may have equal knowledge.” -Joy Pullman, editor of School Reform News
The tests will then feed into a national database which track students from “cradle to career” as Prez Obama (coolness slang added to his title intentionally) and Education Secretary, Arne Duncan have stated. To get the 2009 stimulus money, every state agreed to build a student database shared with other states, fed gov, school district, INDIVIDUALS OR ORGANIZATIONS (yikes!) without the parents knowledge or consent. Only, it won’t just be the test scores in the database. SS numbers, hobbies, records from their doctor, etc., are allowed as the U.S. Dept. of Ed reinterpreted student privacy laws in 2011.
The entire project is scary to say the least. I’ve had my identity stolen and my credit messed with. Now my kids can know that same ordeal before they even learn to read. Thanks people re-writing our privacy protection laws… wait, I mean, interpreting them in a new light.
As I stated, I will write more on this for sure. For now, I need to get my hands dirty as I tend to the piece of Mother Earth I’ve been entrusted to care for.
Thanks for reading.