Let’s Have The Common Core Debate We Should Have Had In 2010
Those who follow education policy know that the Common Core State Standards are among the most controversial topics right now. The standards were adopted in 2010 and many states have been implementing them for years. Why all the fuss now? This is the question Rick Hess and Mike McShane, of the American Enterprise Institute, tackle in their recent piece, “What the Obamacare Debacle Tells Us About Common Core.” They write:
Where was all this anger when states were adopting the Common Core? Why is it boiling up now? Well, here’s one important clue: As Gallup reported this fall, 68 percent of Americans had never heard of the Common Core. States have spent two or three years planning to fundamentally alter how schools teach and test reading and math, but parents and teachers are only now encountering big changes that seemingly came out of the blue.
Common Core advocates have tended to dismiss unrest and concern as a function of parents and teachers being uninformed or misinformed. But whose fault is that? Portraying parents and teachers as ignorant, in this case, seems be a matter of blaming the victim. The real culprits are those who chose not to educate or engage the public, or those who did little to shed light on a quiet effort to pursue the “single greatest” educational change in a half-century.
Put plainly, the public had little access to information about the Common Core. A search of Lexis- Nexis’s repository of news articles from across the U.S. shows that 450 newspaper stories mentioned the “Common Core” in 2009, the year it was created.
Fast forward to August of 2013, when more than 3,000 stories were written about Common Core in a single month, “more than the number of stories that ran in 2009 and 2010 combined.”
Now that the public is attuned to the subject of Common Core, we have a chance for an honest debate about the merits of this reform effort. As Hess and McShane write, “Now that the debate has begun, advocates and reporters have a second chance to explain the substance, examine concerns, talk honestly about challenges and costs and ensure that the public has a chance to fully and fairly weigh the case for the Common Core.” Let’s have that debate.