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TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT COMMON CORE

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 21, 2013

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

– Next time you hear “Common Core” in a conversation; pay attention!

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Coming from the Information Technology industry, I understand the challenges of developing and implementing standards. Those introduced by companies seem to be more successful than those sanctioned by government. Either way, there seems to be a natural aversion to standards in this country. As a small example, consider the attitude of parents who steadfastly resist student uniforms in school, claiming it inhibits the creativity and individuality of their offspring.

Then there is the matter of “Common Core” (CC), a federal effort intended to put state education programs on a national level playing field. Created in 2009 by the National Governors Association (NGA), Common Core initially consisted of testing standards for mathematics and “English language arts” (literacy) to be implemented as a series of tests. Other subjects may be added later, such as science, history, government, morality, etc.

CC was embraced by the Obama administration who encouraged states to adopt the educational standards by offering federal “Race to the Top” grants which, essentially, is a bribe. At its inception, 45 of the 50 states joined the initiative. Texas and Alaska did not join, and interestingly, Nebraska and Virginia are members but have opted not to embrace the standards. There also appears to be a push back in progress as people are beginning to question the necessity of a national education standard. For example, Alabama and Indiana have introduced legislation to repeal the standard in their states. In addition, Georgia and Oklahoma recently decided against adopting standardized tests.(1) Others are beginning to question it as well, including Florida.

Why all of the sudden interest in something presumed to be a good idea? A couple of reasons: first, due to the vast size of the United States with its cultural differences, people question the practicality of a “one-size-fits-all” curriculum. Teaching kids in the inner city is different than teaching those in remote or rural locations. The cultural differences between New England, Mid-Atlantic, the South, the Midwest, Southwest, and Northwest (not to mention Hawaii and Alaska) are substantial. True, math is math and English is English, but how they are taught depends on the nuances of the region. Second, CC emphasizes testing as opposed to teaching, rote learning versus lecturing, and as such, fails to recognize different teaching styles to accommodate cultural differences. Consequently, you will likely see more teachers with Education degrees as opposed to those with degrees in mathematics, languages, science, history, etc. Somehow, I am reminded of the Einstein quote, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” And third, it trumps the authority of local school boards who are supposed to be in tune with local educational needs.

Little has been said about the organization behind CC. For example, will a giant data base be created to track student scores and compare different geographical locations or socioeconomic groups? How will testing be performed and who will do it? Surely, such standards must exist already or are we creating another system doomed to failure? The federal government doesn’t exactly have a stellar record in this regard. Despite all of the good intentions of the people developing CC, I smell a costly disaster brewing. Estimates of the costs involved vary, but they are all in the billions of dollars, an enormous price for an untested theory of education. All of this represents a red flag people are suddenly waving as we approach the mid-term elections in 2014. This will undoubtedly become a major political issue particularly among state and county officials.

Frankly, I believe we are testing the wrong people. We should be routinely testing the teachers and school administrators to evaluate their competence, mothers and fathers to check their parental skills, and government officials to see if they truly understand what the heck is going on in our schools. As to testing the students, let’s leave it to the people we elect who are supposed to understand what is best for the students in our community, the local School Board.

Like I said, developing and implementing standards can become an arduous task. Devising standards at the local level is far easier than trying to implement them at a federal level. Bottom-line we should simply be asking, “What is best for the youth of our community?”

The public’s lack of knowledge regarding “Common Core” is disturbing. This is big, very big. Next time you hear “Common Core” pop-up in a conversation, listen carefully. It is going to affect a lot of people; students, teachers, parents, teacher unions, school administrators, and, of course, taxpayers.

P.S. – I would just be happy to see today’s students be able to pass this standard Eighth Grade EXAMINATION from 1912 in Kentucky, which was typical back then.

Keep the Faith!

1 – “Georgia, Oklahoma say Common Core tests are too costly and decide not to adopt them” – Washington Post, July 23, 2013

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HOW MUCH DO WE REALLY USE OUR HEAD? – Not as much as you may think.

LAST TIME:  MY SUMMER VACATION – And its effect on me mentally and physically.

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7 Responses to “TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT COMMON CORE”

  1. M King said

    If you dealve in to roots of common core – it is about lowering the standard of education. At an early age, children are tested for thier natural abilities. An educational program is developed. If you follow the logic, the federal government will be determining at ages 5-7 whether or not a child will be a janitor, an engineer, a professor or a politician; and then planning to educate them accordingly. Many of the classes envisioned omit literature, mathematics, etc and substitute instruction manuals – an idea which equates replacing innovation with obedience. Additionally, certain elements have infiltrated the program rendering an allegedly neutral program targeting actually feminization of males – rather than GI Joe and “War” (which are prohibited), young men are “forced” to talk about thier feelings and how they percoeve others might feel. Common Core is Marxism in the making.

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  2. shak4u said

    Tim, from what I have seen of CC, it is a pile of you know what. What a shame that our country has been so dumbed down and is becoming more so each day. You’ve probably seen the below. Although this is from 1912, I can remember tests in the 7th and 8th grade that had a similar difficulty, although not quite this difficult. My father, however remembered these kind of tests, thus, with only a 12th grade education had a much greater knowledge than most of your post graduate students today and was the reason he became a successful business owner in printing as a young man. We just need excellent teachers that want their kids to excel and not their own pockets. Regards, Walt There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.” C. S. Lewis

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  3. Tim Bryce said

    Here is my interview regarding “Common Core” this morning on KIT-AM in Yakima, WA. I experienced some problems capturing the audio so you may have to play with the volume.
    [audio src="http://www.phmainstreet.com/audio/kit_08_21_2013.mp3" /]

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  4. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    I was not aware. Thanks for the info.

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  5. Tim Bryce said

    A K.S. of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma wrote…

    “I have long been opposed to Common Core or what are being called Standardized Testing. It does indeed focus on TESTING & not teaching & educating our youth.”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    An M.T. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania wrote…

    “Common Core will make schools un-attend able, just like the colleges. Obama’s left wing “logic” has infected all our learning institutions. College used to be a privilege that everyone wanted, now it is an albatross.”

    Like

  7. […] TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT COMMON CORE […]

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