Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs
Are Common Core state standards a good idea? Mike Petrilli of Fordham likes the idea; Jay Greene of the University of Arkansas does not.
Adoption of Common Core Standards by California actually lowered most of our standards and will cost the state $1.6 billion just for new text books, at a time when we’re grappling with a $26 billion budget deficit, a $2 billion loss to education due to declining tax revenues and potential huge education cuts if voters fail to approve tax increases in a June special election.
While it seems like a good idea to have common standards, it is turning out to be just another corporate give away.
I was dismayed that neither gentleman mentioned the importance of a content-rich and detailed off-the-shelf, ready-to-use curriculum. High standards with crappy curriculum (my situation teaching history in CA) results in little learning. I spend too much of my free time gathering resources to supplement our bad textbooks, and planning the sort of content-rich units and lessons that really ought to be available in an off-the-shelf curriculum. It is folly for policy-makers to expect all teacher to do what I do to compensate for the flimsy curricula we’re given. Good curricula can make average teachers much better; standards alone do not.
I, too, was waiting for them to mention curriculum. Standards are to be viewed as a minimum level of education right? Aren’t teachers suppose to use a strong content rich curriculum that includes the basics but so much more? Focus on higher levels of learning and the basics should be more than covered. Why is this so hard to achieve in government education? Why does government education aim for the bottom and not the top or so it seems…
Government is not the problem. Good European and Asian systems are government run. Besides, the private-realm meddlers in education (e.g. Gates and Broad) are equally blind to the importance of curriculum. The causes of this sorry state, it seems to me, are complex. Part of it, I think, is some dangerous flaws in the American character –we disdain anything that smacks of tradition, we idolize anything that seems modern, we tend to oversimplify problems and back simplistic quick fixes…
An analogy is what America has done vis a vis food: we ditched the traditional diet for Froot Loops, Velveeta, microwave meals and Taco Bell. We were persuaded that all this modern food was better. Decades later we’re beginning to realize we were sold a bill of goods –the new food turned out to be toxic. Some of us are now going back to the pre-General Foods diet. Barley from the bulk section now simmers on my stove.
We need to go back to old-fashioned education. But it will probably take a few more decades before we develop immunity to the sales pitches of the “21st Century Education” crowd.
This is like having Bush and Cheney “debate”: invading Iraq
So what are suggesting Ben F? That the solution to the woes of public education lies in a national character transplant that results in a preference for fresh, locally-grown produce and meals made from scratch?
You may find evidence of your superior character in cooking barley on your stove but it’s more likely that you have low standards for evidence of your superiority.
As for the subject at hand, national standards means a national fight over standards that prove something, educationally, and standards that prove nothing. Politics being what it is I feel we’re better off not finding out who’d win that fight.
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