What, Me Worry?

I may be a bit old fashioned when it comes to my philosophy on education. And while the jury is still out, I do remain uncomfortably curious about what a Common Core future means to young learners. My initial reaction sees a narrowing of the curriculum, and I feel like lodging complaints like an old man subjected to rock and roll music. Get off my lawn, you scamps!

Then, I see the great resources and books my fellow editors at The Mailbox are putting together that are aligned to the Common Core and think differently. That’s pure, high-quality education like we had back in the olden days!

Still, I worry. For example, the disappearance of music classes from many elementary schools across the nation concerns me. Music classes provide more than a bit of added breadth and depth to a young person’s learning. Evidence shows that a music curriculum that emphasizes clapping beats, chanting and understanding musical notations helps students understand concepts of fractions. This is especially true since music theory identifies notes by halves, eighths, sixteenths, and more. In a study in California, third-grade students enrolled in a music theory style class scored 50% better on fraction tests than those not enrolled.

Am I wrong to worry when I see we are cutting out those extras such as music, art, and drama? Maybe you have some soothing words that will ease my mind.

4 thoughts on “What, Me Worry?

  1. I am very concerned about the lower learners who are struggling to bridge the gap with their fellow classmates. I am still teaching third graders who are behind several reading levels. Their weaknesses with reading overflows into Social Studies and Science activities/assessments. My colleague in charge of technology at my school is teaching keyboarding. However, what happens to the students who have difficulty marking answers, or typing short answer responses. The jury is still out on the common core standards.

  2. My concern with Common Core — in my state — is that the legislature is going to eliminate funding for school libraries — whether the library is elementary school, middle school, or high school. The library collection will be available but NO teacher/librarian will be there to provide in context information processing skills instruction or higher order thinking skills instruction. The substitute — according to the legislation — is to provide “virtual libraries” — HA! viewing the Library of Congress ONLINE is just not the same as the vibrant, warm inviting sociocultural learning environment created by real live passionate for books/reading teachers! Research based best practices has established the important connection between high performing schools and meaningfully involved school libraries.

  3. The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers together formed the Common Core State Standards Initiative to develop a set of academic standards. The Common Core State Standards is a set of learning standards in English language arts and mathematics. These standards replaced existing state standards in these subject areas.
    The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are not independent agencies. They have both received federal tax monies over many years. The CCSSO is deeply in bed with the U.S. Dept. of Education. Google it and your mind will be blown.
    Adoption of Common Core is voluntary should be taken with a grain of salt. This has been the state and local education change agents’ method of persuasion ever since 1965 when change agent training was funded in order to get controversial programs adopted. If you do careful research on this subject, you may find internal documents that say 2013 “voluntary”, 2014 “voluntary”, and on and on until “they” decide “they” have enough schools on board. It is then that your friendly Superintendent will tell you in, say, “2015”, that Common Core is mandated.
    The standards are NOT all concerned parents and teachers should be looking at. The method of indoctrination is plain scary. Be sure to buy “Opening the Common Core”…How to bring ALL students to college and career readiness” by Burris and Garrity, which contains very positive reviews by none other than hard left change agent educators Linda Darling Hammond and Henry Levin. Levin’s Accelerated Learning is frightening, to say the least, and is covered in depth in this very important book.
    Unfortunately, under the new CCSS, we will not see much academic improvement, while at the same time we are embracing some truly troubling “reforms.”
    Contrary to the claims of the CCSS public relations machine, experts have uncovered the following about Common Core:
    The Common Core only allows States to make changes to the standards by a factor of up to 15 percent. Therefore, if a parent or state official identifies a problem with the CCS, to whom do they appeal? It is unclear who governs these standards, and it seems as though the people of New Hampshire now have to lobby the NGA and CCSSO in Washington, DC in order to make changes necessary to respond to the needs of New Hampshire children.
    The cost of implementing CCSS in New Hampshire has never been addressed by the NH Department of Education. While several inquiries have been made, no estimates have ever been made public. One estimate from “Implementation Costs of Common Core in Education Week(8/29/2012) shows the cost to be $289/student nationwide.
    Schools have already been collecting data on students, but CCSS puts government data collection on steroids. Experts have discovered that more non-educational information will be gathered on each student (1), all student data must be shared with the SBAC testing consortium, SBAC has already committed to share the data with the US Department of Education, and the US Department of Education has already re-interpreted FERPA regulations governing privacy of such data to allow it to share it with any government or commercial entity (2). This all means that individual student data, including family income, religion, student disciplinary data, medical info, and more can be shared nationwide with any entity.
    In addition to the disturbing loss of control, this new reform effort has been described as mediocre and experimental.(3) For instance, under the new English standards, Prof. Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas who sat on the “Validation Committee” for the Common Core English standards, refused to sign off on them due to their many flaws. She said of the standards: ” Common Core’s English language arts standards won’t lead to college readiness and contain many flaws.” She has explained “how college-readiness standards” are chiefly empty skills(4), and others have pointed out that CCSS defines “College Readiness” as preparation for a two-year, non-selective community college- not a four year university. This will increase college remediation levels.
    The CCSS has also changed what your children in your school district will be learning and how they learn it. Aligning curriculum to the Common Core Standards is an even more radical “teaching to the test.” Under No Child Left Behind, our local public schools became “test prep centers,” but under Common Core this problem will become even more pronounced.
    And as if “teaching to the test” weren’t concerning enough, experts are identifying the problems with the tests themselves. W. Stephen Wilson, Professor of Mathematics at Johns Hopkins University, says that the new math assessment is “deeply flawed.” He goes on to warn that at the expense of math content, CCSS plans to assess communication skills that have nothing to do with mathematical understanding. (6)
    Prof. James Milgram from Stanford Univ was the only Mathematician to sit on the Math Validation Committee for Common Core and also refused to sign off on the deeply flawed math standards. He warns, “by the end of fifth grade the material being covered in arithmetic and algebra in Core Standards is more than a year behind the early grade expectations in most high achieving countries. By the end of seventh grade Core Standards are roughly two years behind”. In other words, the longer your children remain in a public school, the higher the chances they have of falling behind their international peers.”(7)This will be used to make a bigger claim that the privitizing public school, vouchers and private charter schools are the answer.

  4. I teach a 3rd grade Inclusion class (special education & general education students in one classroom) in a small urban district. My students started the year 2 or more years behind in reading and math, so the common core has been a tremendous challenge. However, I decided to jump in whole-heartedly because for the last 10 years or so I have seen students’ thinking/reasoning skills decline to almost non-existent. Yes, the common core’s focus is more narrow, but the content and learning are deeper. My students ARE showing growth and improvement like never before. It is slow and painstaking. It means sacrificing my comfort level by teaching in a way I never taught before, but I believe over time, this method of teaching/learning will make a tremendous difference in our student’s ability to think independently and share ideas to work together. Our district has not cut music or any of the arts, thank goodness. I agree that would be a huge mistake. The arts are vital to education and the development of well-rounded minds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *