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8 Lessons to Learn From the Failure of Common Core

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posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:05 PM
Common Core is one of the least popular attempts at education reform attempted in America. But, the interesting thing is that it didn't have to be that way, and anyone looking to attempt education reform in the future would be wise to study Common Core to learn about what it did poorly.

Education reform is a risky business, and few programs illustrate this better than the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The original idea might have been good, but a multitude of unwise decisions twisted and politicized it until it became one of the least popular reforms in America.

It's important to keep in mind as I go forward with this that this reform isn't just a right-wing issue. People don't just dislike it because of Obama. It's important to understand that teachers and the teachers' unions also dislike it intensely if perhaps for different reasons. Here are a list of 8 reasons why this reform attempt failed so badly ... and no, weird math is not one of them.

1. "Obama Core"

No Child Left Behind required states to test kids in reading and math which, in turn, created the incentive for states to make the tests easier to make their scores look better. When reformers wanted an apples-to-apples camparison, some states got excited about launching Common Core. So far, so good ... states doing things to improve under their own initiative.

but in 2009, President Obama's stimulus package included education spending, and his administration tied education funding to state adoption of Common Core.

What would have been adopted by about 15 or 20 states on their own accord was suddenly adopted by about 40 states — and the final version hadn't even been released yet!

So by sticking the feds in with money, you had a new program that wasn't even finished being tied to federal money like states were being bribed or coerced from Washington and it was done in the stimulus not out in the open. At this point, it's not politicized and tied to bureaucratic power, top down.

2. Passion blinded Common Core advocates

This one is simple. When you love something, it's easy to imagine that everyone else will love it too, and it's hard to see or hear criticism of it as legitimate.

"When the Common Core folks saw everybody they talked to was saying nice stuff about this, they forgot that they were only talking to 1 percent of the country," he explained. Eventually, backers of the program became so convinced in its effectiveness that they felt confident dismissing anyone who was critical of it.

3. Dismissing critics made reform impossible

Once you start dismissing criticism from all avenues, you miss when and where you do legitimately need to make changes and things begin to spiral out of control.

When people started realizing what was happening with Common Core — strange math work, a large emphasis on testing — "rather than say 'We went too far too fast,' advocates of Common Core threw gasoline on the fire by saying anybody who had concerns was a wing-nut," Hess explained.

Common Core advocates "did remarkably little over the following three or four years to get out and explain to people what Common Core was, listen to them, and figure it out." This lack of debate prevented reformers from making alterations to Common Core which might have satisfied — or at least addressed — the concerns of teachers and parents.

4. Common Core advocates overstated its importance

Common Core was originally *only* supposed to address reading and math, but very quickly Arne Duncan was calling it the greatest thing to hit education since Brown v. The Topeka Board. Duncan who has started out calling for less Washington control of education under NCLB ended up fighting to keep that control under Common Core.

This grandiose rhetoric again illustrated the danger of power, Hess warned. Duncan himself once declared NCLB a "broken" law, calling for less Washington control of education. By the end of his time in Washington, this same man was fighting to keep NCLB's federal control of education intact.

5. The limits of data in education

Common Core advocates often touted how precisely they could measure everything about teaching and learning from their data based on testing alone, but school is about much more than simply learning reading and math. What about history, science, etc.?

It was shortsighted to think data from reading and math testing could adequately measure performance.

6. Minimizing the role of parents

Remember when Arne Duncan insulted suburban soccer moms upset over Common Core?

"All of a sudden, their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn't quite as good as they thought ... and that's pretty scary," Duncan said.

If moms are upset over what's going on in schools with their kids, that's a good thing. Too many parents are not involved these days. And when you dismiss a parent's concerns out of hand as having no merit, then sets up an adversarial relationship between you and the parent.

"It's not that reformers ought to feel that they have to give in to this group or that group of parents all the time, but parents usually care a lot more about their kid than reformers," Hess explained. Dismissing parents' concerns is "a surefire way to convince parents that reformers are not working for their child."

7. Overlooking history

America is a big country with school districts that were started in different places, at different times, to address different groups and different needs. Because of this, one-size-fits-all reform is always going to difficult and run into all kinds of problems.

If Common Core advocates understood this, they would have said, "Let's start with the places that get this, that are excited about it, and everybody else is going to see how helpful it is to be a Common Core-aligned state," Hess argued.

Instead of growing Common Core in a few states that were excited about it and willing to make changes, advocates used the federal government to bribe states into accepting it. "That's not a good way to change organizations that are six or eight or twelve generations old," the AEI scholar said.

Patience is a virtue. Let the places who want the change start it and work with it and those places who see a good thing will roll along soon enough, but those who have something working well for them ... Why should they have to change if what they do already works?

The virtues of school choice

The big cautionary tale here is for school choice going forward. It doesn't need a president or secretary that try to impose it on everyone like Common Core or NCLB were. Instead, there shouldn't be any bars to it and quiet support for those who choose it.

Slow and careful development has been the best approach in those places that have school choice allowing systems that work to create schools where students want to be and where teachers want to teach, but if we follow the Common Core lesson, we risk ruining those fragile beginnings with a land rush that risks the very same problems that Common Core had.
edit on 3-5-2017 by ketsuko because: bah, formatting!

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:12 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

Well if we had just thrown more money into it, it would have worked. Right?

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:13 PM
a reply to: pavil

Not sure that any of these are strictly money issues, but there are a whole lot of PR blunders in here.

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:23 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

Just blurting out the normal line of reasoning when it comes to Education reform.

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:27 PM
Seldom do things that look great on paper, or on an expo-board ever pan out how they should in real application in all situations.

The idea that one size fits all is a pipe-dream of those who wish we were all alike, be it in shirt-size and all other facets.

One size does not fit all, and this is where many things fall apart, and common core did not allow for any flexibility.

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:28 PM
Here is an area you can find common ground with a social liberal like me.

There just is not one way to teach across the entire country.

The union and funding system for education is terrible and holding back progresss. Schools need funding and accountability, however they also need a way to be fixed. Simply cutting off money and closing schools is not the answer.

Trying new ideas with charters and magnet schools is the future.

I have been in district fights for about 2 years. My kid is a gifted musician but the performing arts magnet is a football school with great marching band because of the amount spent on the football program. It's stadium and sports complex dwarf the performing arts and education in the school.

So he goes to an academic magnet set up like community college, they make acceptions for athletes to play sports. Not so much with marching band since the band directors want to keep enrollment for funding their 85k jobs. They deserve it and do work a lot but the dog eat dog system isn't made to support the kids education, it's made to protect school funding.

Every school in the district hates this academic magnet. This school has highschool kids watching live open heart surgeries, working in hospitals, writing patents for robotics, training chefs...the test scores are off the charts. The kids hardly even sit at desks. 35 percent going to ivy leaguess schools, 93 percent going to higher ed, 5 percent starting there own business.

Pretty sure the district will start planting drugs on teachers to stop the progress. It means they need to up there game.

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:32 PM

originally posted by: luthier

There just is not one way to teach across the entire country.

There isn't one way to teach from child to child either.

That's why I don't like schools. They have to make all kids conform to one way of learning because it's just more efficient. But kids can be so different in how they learn best.

Homeschool works for me.

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:33 PM
a reply to: luthier

Oh, believe me I get it.

Our struggles are only beginning with ours. We think he may be strongly visual-spatial, and we started out on the wrong foot by sending him to a very auditory-sequential school this year. As a result, he's a basketcase and it's only kindergarten. I have little faith that things will get better if we put him in public which we are next year at least.

If what I am seeing is correct, this is only going to get harder before it gets easier. And there are very few schools that offer choice of any kind here. He really needs a project-based STEM type environment but they don't have any of that unless he qualifies for gifted programs.

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:43 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

Stem is great but I think it starts in highschool.

I would push for GT and look up the TIP program at Duke. It's a ways off but your probably a planner when it comes to your children's education.

Teachers often miss gifted kids. They assume the good students are the gifted ones. Which psychology has pretty much disproven. The very smart ones question everything and need to be challenged to really shine.get ready to be very pushy.
edit on 3-5-2017 by luthier because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 04:56 PM

originally posted by: luthier
a reply to: ketsuko

Stem is great but I think it starts in highschool.

I would push for GT and look up the TIP program at Duke. It's a ways off but your probably a planner when it comes to your children's education.

Teachers often miss gifted kids. They assume the good students are the gifted ones. Which psychology has pretty much disproven. The very smart ones question everything and need to be challenged to really shine.get ready to be very pushy.

You'd be surprised what all can be taught with STEM approach. Visual Spatial needs whole to part.

He wants a pet, so I am using my aquarium knowledge and we are pulling in his love of building and everything science this summer to set up an aquarium in his room.

He had his daddy are going to research and build a DIY aquarium stand. They can measure, plan, and go buy the stuff for the project and watch how to build it on YouTube. He can use his addition skills to help figure the cost, his measuring skills to help with the lumber parts, and then they can build which he loves.

The setup can include lessons and research on light wavelengths (planted tank, and the water will make the demonstrations easy to grasp) and some basic chemistry (don't usually use test kits, but I will for this for his learning). We can do all kinds of things and pull in lets of different areas to achieve the whole including learning some microbiology and biology since a tank is a mini-ecosystem.

Then he hopefully has some ownership of his new pets since he was instrumental in every step of their home.

By then the summer should be about up. Meanwhile, he's attending science camp all summer: robots, inventions, archaeology (developing ancient Egypt thing), chemistry, engineering, space.

Then we hope we can get him a good teacher who will help his visual side ...

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 05:12 PM
a reply to: ketsuko

Waldorf or Montesorri do well with spacial kids. Unfortunately they are expensive and you kind of have to buy in long term. They are pretty good methods though and the students moving on to higher ed is well above public schools.

The also surpass public schools in students moral reasoning. Something not all private schools do

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 10:41 PM

originally posted by: ketsuko
a reply to: pavil

Not sure that any of these are strictly money issues, but there are a whole lot of PR blunders in here.

Common Core is blamed for a lot of education failures that aren't it's fault. There has been one large education test of note since the math standards were adopted, and that's the PISA2013 test. The results from that test were very good for the US, we improved dramatically from the previous one.

The real problems are that the general public doesn't know how to read the results of those tests, and the general public has less education than is required to complete the schooling. It doesn't help that new educators aren't always the best either... but then again the teachers are generally told what to teach by their bosses who don't know the material either.

Like you said though, it all starts with the home. Lots of parents in the US who let their children down by not maintaining their own education and knowing how to do this stuff.

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 10:44 PM
a reply to: pavil

OK so BLURT don't keep us waiting...SOME kids.

posted on May, 3 2017 @ 10:49 PM
a reply to: kaylaluv

AND THEY HATE mathematical handicaps to insult a kid by demanding it's their fault,because they can READ at the college level.
POTENTIAL ,POTENTIAL ,POTENTIAL,heard it a THOUSAND times ,THEN an instructor tried to tutor me AND HE got it.
He cried and told me not to give up.
I flunked the second grade none does that anymore ...too traumatic apparently.
OR the instructors gave up.

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