Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Resistance to Common Core

Speaking of Cuomo and King standing strong, it will be necessary given the resistance to the Common Core, which is well captured by this cover story in the NYT recently that profiles a 9-year-old boy.

"I am a 9-year-old," he began, "who struggles with math."

Chrispin had reason to worry. New York's state exams were two days away, and he was having difficulty dividing large numbers and deciphering patterns. He had once been a model student — the fastest counter in the first grade, his teachers said. But last year, in the confusion of a new and more difficult set of academic standards known as the Common Core, he had failed the state tests in English and math, placing him near the bottom of his class.

The Common Core, the most significant change to American public education in a generation, was hailed by the Obama administration as a way of lifting achievement at low-performing schools. After decades of rote learning, children would become nimble thinkers equipped for the modern age, capable of unraveling improper fractions and drawing connections between Lincoln and Pericles.

The standards have recently become a political flash point. Lawmakers in some states have suggested the Common Core undermines local control of education. Parents and teachers have raised questions about whether students are ready for a new wave of standardized tests, after precipitous drops in test scores in New York and Kentucky, the first two states to adopt Common Core exams. Others have argued the new benchmarks are onerous and elitist.

But whether the Common Core achieves its promise will ultimately depend on schools like P.S. 397 and children like Chrispin, and whether they rise to the rigor of the new demands.

I found the story biased in many ways, but there's no doubt that raising the bar and ending the lying to students, their parents, and their teachers is a real shock to everyone and can be especially hard on children. But the fault lies not with the new standards or the higher bar, but rather with the old system that failed to give kids a proper education (a level at which they would be on track to go to a four-year college without remediation) and then dumbest down the testing and assessments to hide this uncomfortable fact.

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