Common Core doubts

Will the Common Core Create World-Class Learners?  Yong Zhao, a University of Oregon education professor, has doubts in an Ed Week interview with Anthony Cody.

“Judging from the accomplishment of NCLB and Race to the Top, I would say that five years from now, American education will still be said to be broken and obsolete. We will find out that the Common Core Standards, after billions of dollars, millions of hours of teacher time, and numerous PD sessions, alignment task forces, is not the cure to American’s education ill. Worse yet, we will likely have most of nation’s schools teaching to the common tests aligned with the Common Core. As a result, we will see a further narrowing of the curriculum and educational experiences. Whatever innovative teaching that has not been completely lost in the schools may finally be gone. And then we will have a nation of students, teachers, and schools who are compliant with the Common Core Standards, but we may not have much else left.”

Other than that, he’s a big fan.

Zhao is the author of Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization.

Conservatives are pushing back against Common Core Standards, writes the Wall Street Journal. Some state legislators who felt rushed into adopting the standards are having second thoughts.

There are rumblings from all sides. The common standards and assessments represent the “antithesis of progressive values,” writes Jack Hassard on The Art of Teaching Science. “The idea of having a single set of standards and associated assessments appears to remove individuality, creativity and innovation from American classrooms.”

From Peoria to China

Globalization has come to Peoria:  International business majors at the local community college can study and intern in China to prepare for jobs in local industries, such as Caterpillar.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Colleges are trying to assess how much students are learning, but faculty members aren’t leading the way.

The Great Brain Race: Many winners?

Ben Wildavsky’s The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities are Reshaping the World will be published this month.

In an interview with Insider Higher Ed, Wildavsky argues the globalization of universities is inevitable and potentially a win-win.

In the near term, we shouldn’t lose site of the fact that we remain hugely dominant – we have a disproportionate share of top researchers, 70 percent of the world’s Nobel winners, hold most of the top slots in global college rankings, and so on. We also pass an important market test, continuing to attract the lion’s share of top international students. That said, patterns of mobility could well change, and with so many new and improved universities in other nations focusing on science and engineering, that seems likely to be an area where we might lose ground.

. . . From a U.S. point of view, where we are likely to remain very strong is in our creative spark, in academia and beyond. This is something other nations urgently wish to emulate – our ability to innovate, and to use research discoveries in entrepreneurial ways.

In many competitor nations, universities have no “liberal arts tradition,” Wildavsky says. “A few are trying to change that, but for now our ability to ask questions, to challenge the conventional wisdom, to be nonconformist at times, is likely to continue to be an area where we stand out.”

Free trade in brains

The globalization of higher education should be embraced, not feared,” writes Ben Wildavsky in The New York Academy of Sciences. While other countries are trying to catch up, ”the U.S. dominance of the research world remains near-complete,” he writes. 

Yet there is every reason to believe that the worldwide competition for human talent, the race to produce innovative research, the push to extend university campuses to multiple countries, and the rush to produce talented graduates who can strengthen increasingly knowledge-based economies will be good for us as well. Why? First and foremost, because knowledge is not a zero-sum game. Intellectual gains by one country often benefit others.

. . . global academic competition is making free movement of people and ideas, on the basis of merit, more and more the norm, with enormously positive consequences for individuals, for universities, and for nations. Today’s swirling patterns of mobility and knowledge transmission constitute a new kind of free trade: free trade in minds.

Fun fact: Half the world’s physicists don’t work in their native countries.