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You may have heard about it.
There are those that are telling us Common Core will unilaterally usher in a one-world government, map the brains of our children, and lead to Barack Obama’s re-election for a third term… potentially as the King of the aforementioned one-world government, I assume.
Those on the other side of the spectrum would have us believe that Common Core is a natural, good, healthy progression. They argue this adaptation is a necessary thing… but quite honestly, me thinks they often protest (or in this case, promote), too much. When politicos get that toothy grin and say “Everything is going to be fine. Really. Just trust us.” Yeah, no thanks.
So what is Common Core? Where did it come from and what’s it doing in our schools?
Wait, what you ask? But yes, that’s right… many states are already using Common Core standards. And for several years now. In my home state of Pennsylvania – despite many, vast reports to the contrary – Common Core is, on the whole, actually raising the bar for our students in both Math and English.
And that’s what Common Core is – at least at the moment - merely a set of standards for Math and English. It is not a mandated curriculum. The Common Core standards we have in place provide the destination, but still give individual states and school districts the ability to determine their own curriculum however they choose in order to arrive at that destination.
So, is Common Core, in its current form, really a bad thing?
One could argue no, it’s not. They’re just standards. And that’d be true.
One could also argue yes, they are. They’re now tied to federal funding and the Feds have no business in the education of our children. And that’d be true, too.
What’s a concerned parent to think?!
First off, don’t panic. Irrational thought and actions are what led to both sides writing off the other as completely irrelevant in this discussion.
Our students need standards. In fact, they need higher standards. What we have now for Common Core Math and English standards, at least in Pennsylvania, I can live with. And I think most of us probably can.
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But that doesn't mean I like the Common Core standards. And here’s why…
It’s true… there’s no nationalized testing. There’s no centralized computer where all of your children’s information will be held or data mined. We don’t have a state book list mandating what our children must read. We don’t. We really don’t.
The thing is personally, I just don’t trust the government. Yeah, they didn’t have anything to do with the creation of the Math and English standards – though they did offer a nice chuck of change to any states that adopted them.
But if we give the federal government an inch, it will take a mile. If we haven’t yet learned this as a people and a nation, all hope for America may indeed be lost.
There’s not a set of nationalized standards today, but what about tomorrow?
What happens when testing is standardized across the board to match the Common Core standards? And if non-traditional students aren’t following the Common Core standards, how will their test scores be affected as a result? Will their college chances suffer subsequently?
What happens when suddenly states have all their students' info computerized? Are you REALLY going to sit there and tell me the federal government isn’t going to try to obtain that data?
What happens when students in one state aren’t measuring up on the Common Core testing scores of another state? Will there be calls for nationalized curriculum?
What happens when, in states like Pennsylvania, we like the Math and English standards, but our Dept. of Ed. doesn’t want to implement the Science, History, or Social Studies standards? Won't we be tempted to adopt them down the road if the Feds offer more money?
What happens in states that are already over-budget and under-water when it comes to the financial side of implementation? We know standardized testing WILL be changing to computerized versions. Is that really going to cost us $0 as taxpayers? Really? A government program that costs nothing? C'mon...
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If you sit down with educators or curriculum writers, the simple fact is, they don’t know – and thus, we don’t know - the answers to these questions.
That said, are the Common Core standards we currently implement for math and English inherently evil? No. I’m sorry if you disagree, but they’re just not.
BUT, could allowing these standards be the first step down a very slippery slope into the unknown? Yes. Is that a gamble you’re willing to take with your child’s future and education? Personally, I’m not.
What IS cool about Common Core is that all the discussion of standards is causing parents nationwide to actually look at what their kids are learning. Across the country, parents are wondering what and if their children are learning... and subsequently, they're complaining about the lack of substance in educational materials, and blaming it on Common Core. But is it really Common Core's fault? Could it be that parents - as a whole - just never really knew what their kids were or weren't being taught?
Our public schools don't exactly have a shining record for producing great students... before OR after Common Core. Maybe consider private school. Or, you could move to Texas. Or, you could be really, really brave and go the homeschool route. But I digress...
The bottom line is, we know very little about Common Core or where it may take us. We have more questions than answers.
In essence, when it comes to Common Core, the proponents are saying it's no big deal, they're just standards - or in other words, “What difference does it make?” Where I would ask, “Can’t we read the bill before we pass it?”
(And yes, I know Common Core wasn’t legislated and it’s not a “bill” of any kind – most legislators didn’t even know it existed until recently – but just humor me. You get the point. ;-) )
This is the future of our children and our country we're talking about. And if we don't ask questions, we won't get answers. So what do you think? Should it be #StopCommonCore or #StopAnyMoreCommonCore?