Common Core: Ask the Experts

Background: What started as a right-wing conspiracy theory has now taken hold of  mainstream conservative media–the ludicrous idea that Common Core State Standards are an attempt by the federal government (some even claim the United Nations) to take authority away from states and local school districts, in order to create a nationalized curriculum. 

The backlash to almost every education reform in America at least includes, if it’s not completely centered upon, a single question: “If teachers hate it, how can it be a good thing?” The rationale is that teachers are in the classroom every day, therefore they have expertise on all things education.

That line has been used in every major education debate across the country. In Florida, the contentious issues are teacher evaluations and standardized testing. In other states, the arguments may be around A-F school grading, teacher tenure, and third grade retention.

Does anyone else find it interesting, perhaps ironic, then that the mounting pressure on Common Core is NOT from teachers? That, actually, educators like Common Core?

The headlines from some conservative sources and other anti-Common Core advocacy groups use words like “federal-takeover” and “indoctrination,” while headlines from education blogs use the terms “embrace” and “welcome.”

And teacher support for Common Core makes perfect sense in light of the fact that standards are one reform area in which teachers truly are the experts. As a middle school language arts teacher, I can tell you I never had the experience of implementing a statewide accountability system, developing a value-added model, or changing the way districts negotiate union contracts; nor did I spend a decade researching the impact of such reforms. But I can tell you what I had daily experience in–teaching students according to standards.

By the anti-reformers logic, maybe we should be asking the opposite question in this case; if teachers want it, how can it be a bad thing?

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  1. deconservative

     /  June 24, 2013

    I suppose that you’re advocating that we parents who have concerns about these untested, unbenchmarked and unproven standards should just shut up and let you teachers make all the decisions?

    I read this with an open mind (even though I am firmly against CC, I at least went into this believing that you might be doing it for the right reasons but I soon found a tone that is all too common among the educators corps. It smacks of elitism actually and it’s quite off putting. It’s funny because you teachers always ask for parents to be involved and you complain a LOT when they aren’t, yet when we do get involved, you basically tell us to go away. I have a couple of things to just, help you with your tone
    #1 – Parents are stakeholders in education, that makes them equals to you, like it or not.
    #2 – I know that this is going to ruffle some feathers but as much “experience” as you have and as much as you think you know about “educating kids”, most homeschool parents with no formal education beyond high school run circles around you in the performance arena. Chalk it up however you like, class sizes, one on one learning time, whatever, the fact is that a regular parent that you routinely shun, is likely to do a better job educating their kids than you are.
    #3 – If public schools are so great, if they’re on the right track, how come teachers are twice as likely to send their kids to private schools?

    A study done by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that nationwide, public-school teachers are almost twice as likely as other parents to send their children to a private school. The study also found that more than one in five public-school teachers send their kids to private schools.

    In the biggest cities across America, the statistics get even more startling. In Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and 16 other big cities, more than 1 out of 4 public-school teacher’s kids attend private schools. In some cities, almost half the public-school teachers do this. For example, in Philadelphia, 44 percent, and in Cincinnati, 41 percent of public-school teachers sent their kids to private schools.

    Yet, across America, only about 12.2 percent of all parents who are not teachers send their children to private schools.
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    • I apologize if my tone was off-putting. I actually don’t believe that teachers are experts…I used that term to make a point, because so often when we are trying to reform education, teachers are against the reforms and say they are the “experts” so we should listen to them. I was a teacher and I KNOW I was not an expert, especially when it comes to the needs to individual children. No matter how many hours a day I spend with a child in a classroom, I will never know that child the way his parents know him. But my point in this post was to say that of all the reforms out there, this is one that teachers really DO understand…teachers spend all day teaching to standards. As a home school parent, you ARE a teacher, so in this case, you fall into that category as well.

      Additionally, if you read the other posts on my blog, I think you’ll see that I do not advocate on the behalf of public schools–I advocate on the behalf of students and their parents. I believe parents should have the choice to exercise whatever educational option they believe is right for their child, whether that is private, traditional public, charter, home school, or something else. Yes, I taught (formerly, I no longer teach) in a public school, but I will be the first to admit that my own kids MAY not go to public school. If and when I have kids, I’ll choose the option I feel best meets their needs. Period.

      As far as Common Core is concerned, you home school SO THAT you don’t have to follow anyone else’s standards. Which means, you don’t have to follow Common Core either! That is the beauty of home education–you teach what and how you want!

      But just so you know, Common Core IS bench marked to the highest performing states. And since you cited their organization already, Fordham actually did a study showing that CCSS are superior to existing standards in 39 states for math and 37 states for English/Language Arts. They truly are rigorous. I would love to give you more information on Common Core. Or better yet, go to the CCSS website and view the standards for yourself.


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