“Common sense says we educate to help learners make better sense of experience—themselves, others, the world…” Marion Brady Teacher, Educator and Author
This past week, NYS Education Commissioner John King, Jr. and NYS Regent Bob Bennett were at WNED studios in Buffalo for a forum on the Common Core Standards and other related educational concerns. The Common Core Standards continue to be a source of controversy, confusion, and uncertainty for many parents. While I applaud a philosophy that, at least theoretically, supports critical thinking; makes standards more universally strong for all students; and challenges students to analyze, process, and integrate information instead of regurgitating it for tests, I have some real world concerns.
As a parent of three small children, two of whom are school aged, and as a licensed social worker with a background in educational advocacy, I am most concerned with how Common Core seems to pigeon holes all students as doing their best learning via text (visual learning); through an auditory format of lecture and response; and through mathematical reasoning? What about students who learn best through movement (kinesthectic learners); through social learning; or through solitary learning? What about students who thrive with hands on learning or project based learning? Is there room or time for these styles in the core curriculum? What about students who struggles in reading or mathematics, are they getting the help they need to pass these standards? This maybe a universal curriculum in New York State, but each district does not have universal resources to assist students who struggle in these areas. What about students who speak English as a second language? What about students with disabilities? Is it fair that they are expected to perform at the same level as their peers, when they already come in with deficits?
With teachers seemingly having less than stellar time to implement common core modules in their classroom; with curriculums that were implemented before they were thoroughly examined and developed; with the added additional issue of New York State attaching teacher evaluations to test scores in their classrooms, is this education at its finest? I definitely feel like our children are more guinea pigs than anything else. All too often the Washington experimental policies and ‘flavor of the President’ (i.e., Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind) do more damage to our children than good. In his editorial “The Biggest Weaknesses of the Common Core Standards“, Marion Brady examines some of these issues.
The quote I started with, is the question I leave you with to ponder. Does the Common Core Standards help students make better sense of themselves; their experiences; others; and the world? My response is maybe some. But some doesn’t cut it for me when it is being applied as a universal application….