My Common Core Compromise

While nearly all states in the US implement Common Core standards as well as brace for the so-called “next generation” high-stakes tests guaranteed in their wake, the debate around CC has increased. Most people fall into one of three camps—CC advocates, Tea Party/libertarian CC detractors who see the standards as liberal “big” government intrusion, and educators, academics, and researchers who reject CC as more of the same failed accountability paradigm.

Early and often, I have stood firmly in the third camp, entirely rejecting CC. I remain troubled by the number of educators who say they support CC, but reject the high-stakes testing and accountability linked to the new standards. I also remain troubled that the tremendous investment of public funds and time benefitting directly private corporations feeding off new standards and tests appears to concern few people.

However, I am now prepared to compromise and support CC implementation under the following conditions:

  • Adopting CC in all states is part of a complete repealing of No Child Left Behind.
  • New federal education legislation fully funds CC implementation and bans any public funds being spent on private corporation materials or tests.
  • All CC materials and resources will be produced, distributed, and monitored by the USDOE, and funded by federal and state resources allocated for education.
  • The USDOE will create a centralized web-based clearing house for educators to upload lesson plans and other resources for all teachers to implement CC.
  • States accepting federal funds and implementing CC must end immediately all high-stakes testing and linking teacher evaluations and pay to test scores.
  • NAEP assessments will be aligned with CC and then administered in 3rd, 8th, and 11th grades to random samples of students in all 50 states to create a data base for examining the effectiveness of CC.

Under these conditions, adopting CC would represent real reform and would be a needed mechanism for ending the worst aspects of the accountability era over the past 30 years.

As long as CC remains central to maintaining the status quo—notably as a cash cow for private corporations to feed off public funds—I cannot support them in any way.

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10 thoughts on “My Common Core Compromise

  1. Pingback: My Common Core Compromise | the becoming radical – SCHOOLS MATTER @ THE CHALK FACE

  2. You may find some in CorpEd interested in talking to you on Points 3 and 4 (since they control ED), but the rest are non-starters for them.

    Until high stakes testing is ended and corporate control of public schools eradicated, no good idea is possible. We are not going to compromise our way to that end, and it will come if enough people want it enough.

  3. Posted today in response to Anthony Cody’s blog piece:

    Anthony, let’s look at the very first line in what you quoted from NPR: “In years past, the education landscape was a discord of state standards.”

    The choice of the word “discord” is highly prejudicial and anything but coincidental. It completely gives the game away as to what is to follow: unquestioning support for the idea of “common core standards.” As someone who thinks that a key point in this debate is the very IDEA of common core standards on a national level, an idea I find fundamentally unsound for a host of reasons I’ve offered on-line for at least half a decade, I am instantly alerted by the assertion that until now, we’ve been in a national state of “discord” when it comes to curriculum.

    It is a basic tenet of the conservative, reactionary, and neo-liberal educational deform project that the USA has been in a state of crisis when it comes to public education, thus setting itself up for abject defeat in an alleged international competition for. . . well, you know: for being Number One! – the natural and God-given position America is destined and obligated to have in everything.

    For people under 60 who are not scholars of the history of US public education (i.e., the majority of the country), this alleged crisis was brought to national attention with the public 30 year-old Reagan-Era publication of “A Nation At Risk” (ANAR), the Cassandra-like cry of our ostensible impending doom, written in language that suggested that if we weren’t about to go down to military defeat, we surely had been undermined by – fifth columnists, perhaps? – our nation’s public schools, its teachers, the schools of education that train those teachers, and who knows what other shadowy villains who were sapping our intellectual and moral fiber. Those who read the work of the late Gerald Bracey, however, are aware that there was a great deal more smoke than fire in ANAR. And further, that there’s nothing new in it, regardless of whether any of it is accurate. Going back at least as far as Horace Mann, doomsayers have claimed that America’s youth was going to hell in a class-basket, thanks to the weakness of our children, their teachers, and our schools.

    Yet, last time anyone looked, we seem to have done fairly well for ourselves for a couple of centuries. And the proposition that any current (or past) economic difficulties we face(d) are attributable primarily or at all to public education is both unproved and pretty much insupportable. Unless, of course, one wishes to buy into the notion that the ethical bankruptcy and unbridled lust for money and power of Wall Street, banks, multi-national corporations, and the mentality that “Greed Is Good” are a direct product of US public education. In that case, the bill for the trillion or so we spent on a meaningless war in Iraq, coupled by the various scandals and bubbles and collapses of the second term of the Bush2 administration should be handed to the AFT, et al.

    In brief, then, the Common Core project is grounded in at least one major assumption that is very likely bogus, taken on its own terms. The US is not falling apart, and to the extent that we’re struggling economically, the causes have virtually nothing to do with public education.

    This is hardly the only problem with the very idea of a common core standards nor with this particular incarnation of them. But it bears noting that NPR takes for granted that we all agree in the myth of a national educational crisis. And that myth is just that: a nice story we tell ourselves to explain something we either can’t control or are too frightened to look at without filters, because the truth we’d see is one we do not want to deal with.

    To my mind, the notion that we can accept the CCSS while refusing the assessment that inevitably comes with it is naive in the extreme. It makes two huge errors. First, that we need this national curriculum “guideline” to excel, and second that those who are pushing these documents and “suggestions” will ever settle for their implementation without the high-stakes tests so essential to their larger project: destroying all confidence in and credibility of one of our nation’s core democratic institutions so that various private social, political, religious, and economic agendas can be permanently installed in place of our, ahem, “discord.”

    On my view, the CCSSI project is a Trojan horse containing so many threats to fundamental principles that to bring it into our “city,” regardless of any alleged benefits, is to weaken ourselves, possibly irreparably, by dismantling one of the key institutions that makes it possible to critique ourselves and maintain any semblance of political, intellectual, or academic democracy, rather than what Sheldon Wolin has termed, “Democracy, Inc.”

  4. One more condition to consider regarding the student longitudinal database:
    — No collection of data from preschool to the first year out of high school
    — Eliminate the US DOE regulatory change allowing some student data to be shared with government agencies and research organizations
    — Modify FERPA by the U.S. Congressional action so no data can be shared without parent consent and so no such regulatory change can be made
    — Modify FERPA by U.S. Congressional action allowing students and families to sue in a court of law over privacy violations

  5. You propose some compelling conditions for making CC acceptable, although I am wondering if you have any proposal for making the USDOE representational of, and beholden to teachers and students? This seems to be the sticking point in your argument, and perhaps the subject of your next post? In the meantime, you identify three general teacher positions re: CC. I would offer a fourth: teachers who are against the standards-testing-evaluation complex, yet believe that CC may be co-opted by progressives and turned against it corporate proponents. I would be in that category.

  6. “As long as CC remains central to maintaining the status quo—notably as a cash cow for private corporations to feed off public funds—I cannot support them in any way.”.(@plthomasedd)

    What? Corporations are going to retreat on profit? Besides, it’s really about standards. But the American corporate culture sets its own. And CC is theirs. Poor depth of learning essentials, large assumptions, unreliable…. prima facia. It’s okay as long as the USDOE pumps it out? History bears out those two groups, tyrannical capitalist and institutional education, have had and continue to have a significant premiative back and forth. Quid Pro Quo by any other name. So, let’s crystal ball this. How is accepting corporate capitalism’s product going to help a nation maintain a free and public school system?

  7. Pingback: Clarifying Common Core Compromise (part 2) | the becoming radical

  8. Pingback: Clarifying Common Core Compromise (part 2) | the becoming radical ← NPE News Briefs

  9. Pingback: Neil Gaiman Should Be U.S. Secretary of Education: “Things can be different” | the becoming radical

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