Yesterday morning, I heard the Governor on NPR in a quick (4 minutes) interview on Common Core and the fact that there is some movement in a few states to disown the curriculum/process/name. I can’t really tell what is being walked away from really. But it looks like Governor Markell is not expecting the standards to go away entirely, just the name:
SIMON: So if a lot of states pull out of the Common Core, is there really a Common Core?
MARKELL: Well, it depends what they replace it with. I mean, I think a lot of states, you know, who are talking about getting rid of the Common Core are quite likely to replace it with something that looks quite similar. If they call it something else, that’s up to them. If they want to, you know, tweak the standards somewhat, that’s up to them as well. I can tell you, in Delaware we’re going forward because we really think it makes the most sense for our students.
And then there’s this:
SIMON: Governor, what do you say to those critics, and they run from conservative groups to, interestingly, Louis C.K. the comedian, who is rarely called a conservative, who say there’s just something wrong with trying to make education, which is a process of curiosity and inquiry, into a program that standardizes knowledge?
MARKELL: Well, I mean, to me, there’s certainly nothing wrong with saying, OK, we expect, you know, students at this grade level to have an understanding of calculus II, or that we expect them to have an understanding of European history, or that we expect them to be able to write, you know, a well-structured essay or be able to do poetry. If people are objecting to that and calling that standardized knowledge, I respectfully disagree. I think, you know, we could – if you look at what it’s going to take for our country to be successful in the future, we do have to have certain expectations. That being said, what is not at all being driven from any kind of top-down basis is what are the curricular materials? What is the approach the teacher should take in the classroom? Those kinds of decisions we appropriately are leaving up to local districts.
Now in this, I think that the Governor has a point. I don’t get why it is a problem to tell students (and their parents) that they should have XX basket of skills and knowledge by the end of the year. At the risk of sounding like a complete oldhead, I know this was true for the schools I went to and if you did not have most of these skills or knowledge, you failed that grade and were held back. You could not go to the next grade because you did not have the skills/knowledge to try to master the next level of skills/knowledge. So I still don’t get what is wrong with having standards for learning for each grade. And maybe even standards for student level, too.
I *do* get that the implementation of those standards (both teaching and assessment) has been no where near as orderly as the standards they are supposed to reach appear to be. There’s been plenty of opportunism on the part of the companies trying to be poised to make alot of money here and alot of incompetence on the part of school boards and curriculum chiefs in implementing these standards. But I suspect the standards won’t go away (they’ll be renamed) and I’m certain that the effort to exploit the river of money that is out there to get to these standards won’t stop. Still, I don’t know how you do education — mandate it for 12 years — and not have a blueprint for what is to be accomplished in each of those years.