Thursday, August 5, 2010

Common Core State Standards Implementation

Let's face it, for better or worse, the CCSS is a done deal. ACHIEVE - the architect of this document with financial support of large foundations, universities,  corporations, including testing and publishing companies, and with the support of the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers  - has issued a toolbox for implementation called On the Road to Implementation.

Race to the Top grants require CCSS, and there are rumors that the feds might tie Title 1 money to it as well.  What is said to be voluntary, in the real world of tight fiscal times, is clearly not.  Most states have now come on board along with making major changes in law and policy.  And with some greasing of pockets, organizations such as NEA, NFT, ASCD and the PTA have come on board as well.

This was very much a top-down creation with very little real input at the grassroots level or even by national curriculum organizations such as NCTE or NCTM.

Most readers of this blog should know my view on this development by now.  I'm very concerned for at least three reasons.

First, I believe President Dwight Eisenhower's observation has great merit.
"A distinguishing characteristic of our nation — and a great strength — is the development of our institutions within the concept of individual worth and dignity. Our schools are among the guardians of that principle. Consequently . . . and deliberately their control and support throughout our history have been — and are — a state and local responsibility. . . . Thus was established a fundamental element of the American public school system — local direction by boards of education responsible immediately to the parents of children. Diffusion of authority among tens of thousands of school districts is a safeguard against centralized control and abuse of the educational system that must be maintained. We believe that to take away the responsibility of communities and states in educating our children is to undermine not only a basic element of our freedoms but a basic right of our citizens. "
I simply don't believe schools controlled by large corporations is in the best interest of democracy.  And don't make any mistake about it, this control is reaching a new level of magnitude.

Second, I worry about the type of pedagogy that will be encouraged with the soon-to-be-developed assessments.  I've seen the glitzy content management systems being hawked  in the vendor areas of state and national conferences.  Already, powerful interests are aligning their products with the CCSS. Do we really want learning to be a teacher-in-a-box?  It seems to me that there is a great danger that the connections that develop when students are engaged in real life problems in project-based learning will take a big hit if so much importance is given to standardization.

Third, I would argue that standardization is not really the issue.  The issue is poverty and income disparity in the United States. 

Okay, that's where I stand . . . . but being resigned to the reality, I've created a new wiki (currently under construction) called Learning in America at in order to index open educational resources to the new standards. If we must have national standardization, then we should at least not become enslaved to large oligopolistic educational publishing outfits.  Let's open up the possibilities of local decision making in the methods and resources we use.

What do you think?

On the Road to Implementation: Achieving the Promise of Common Core Standards

Education Week: Common Standards:  Moving from Adoption to Implementation

Audio Overview

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