What is so Common about the Common Core?
I have heard the old adage, “the plural of anecdote isn’t data.” Nevertheless, on two occasions recently I had the opportunity to speak with teachers in public schools about the Common Core. If you are unaware, the Common Core is a series of standards for K-12 education. The standards were not developed nationally, but states have been highly incentivized (read coerced) to adopt them.
When I asked these two teachers about the changes in their districts (one teacher was from the Kansas City area, the other from the Saint Louis area) I was surprised by the commonality in their responses. It seems it is not just the standards that are common, but also the criticisms.
Though they have never met and work in completely different districts, both lamented about the increased testing associated with the Common Core.
Add testing to the growing list of complaints associated with these new standards, including:
- Their overall lack of rigor.
- The math standards eliminate Algebra I in the eighth grade.
- The tremendous costs associated with implementing the standards. Professional development, textbooks, and technology alone may cost Missouri more than $325 million.
The most interesting thing about the Common Core, in my opinion, is that our state adopted the standards with little public knowledge. Gov. Jay Nixon signed Missouri onto the initiative in August of 2009, before the standards were even drafted. Then in June of 2010, shortly after their public release, the Missouri State Board of Education adopted the standards. Thus, millions of dollars were committed and the future of Missouri’s education system was determined by a fiat rather than by the will of the people.
Bill Evers, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, recently spoke with the Independence Institute’s Ben Degrow about the Common Core and provides a nice overview of the issues.