21 April 2013

The Common Core is Not the Problem, Nor is the Common Core the Solution

Write the spelling words 3-5 times each on Mondays, write them in a sentence on Tuesdays, complete a spelling worksheet on Wednesdays, take a practice test on Thursdays, and a final test on Fridays.  Take a practice on-demand writing assessment once a month in every class.  Read the same book as everyone else in your class, answer questions about the book and write an open response question.  Copy notes from the teacher’s power point, memorize the facts, and respond to multiple choice tests about the facts.   Complete all the even numbered problems in the pre-algebra textbook for homework.

This is not the way to educate our children for what they need in our world now or what they need in the world when they graduate from high school. The common core does not suggest these approaches be utilized nor does it dictate these approaches not be utilized.

So let the naysayers complain about the common core and let the dreamers rejoice for the common core. But understand this—the common core is not the solution nor is it the problem. Students need dynamic and engaging learning experiences every day in their schools. They need to be taught by teachers who are qualified and accomplished and always looking for ways to fine-tune their practice. Students need to engage with principals, assistants, counselors, and deans who honor teachers and give teachers time and support in their quest to reflect upon and improve their practice.

Education news media and social network sites are bombarded by statements from people either loathing or valuing the common core. As a parent of school-aged children, an educator, a community member, and a citizen of the United States, I am here to support teachers and administrators in the implementation of standards which are more rigorous than standards we used previously in our country.  Spending my time and energy to support better practices makes more sense than spending my time and energy complaining about standards which in and of themselves will not improve the educational experience for students, nor will they harm the educational experience for students.  One blogger opposed to the common core states “The future needs passionate, creative, collaborative innovators and entrepreneurs, not compliant, uniform test takers.” I couldn’t agree more, and guess what? The common core does not mandate that we create compliant, uniform test takers.

Misunderstandings and misinformation sometimes lead people to believe the common core demands such practice, but this is simply not the case. Everyone I have met on the state and national level who has been involved with common core implementation agrees that American students need to innovate, collaborate, and create.  Our teachers need this too, which is why many of the same common core advocates promoting common core implementation are also supporting opportunities for teachers to innovate, collaborate, and create the types of learning experiences our students need. Standards alone will not improve the learning experiences for students.  Instead of blaming one group or another, and instead of complaining about what will or will not work, we must work together to provide students the experiences they need.