Common Core’s Not the Problem; It’s the “Other Stuff”

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Florida Public Employees

December 18, 2013

Common_Core_Other_StuffBy Bob Sikes – Scathing Purple Musings

New York is a step ahead of Florida. They have implemented Common Core and  administered the state-wide tests that go with them. The roll-out proved to be a disaster. Politicians develop education policy after listening  to lobbyists and folks who are paid by the testing industry. Lynne Erdle, the superintendent of schools in Canandaigua, New York does a good job explaining where educators are coming from.

“It’s not about the Common Core…” is a statement I have made over and over again, as have many of my instructional colleagues. I came back from my very first training provided by the New York State Education Department in 2010 and announced that the premise behind the Common Core learning standards was outstanding and was something we could and should all believe in.

But the implementation and the implications for assessments and teacher evaluation systems was going to be the problem. My mind has not changed now, several years later. The work of the Common Core learning standards is good, but it has become muddied, as it is tied into the other state initiatives, and all at a breakneck speed that makes it difficult for our students and for those trying to implement these changes

Tony Bennett’s departure enabled the pause that appears to be underway now in Florida. Bennett was far too personally invested in the Common Core-PARCC assessments dynamic and far too close to the Bush foundation to be an honest broker. No word yet on whether or not the Bushies will enlist Florida’s new education commissioner, Pam Stewart, into its little circle of Chiefs for Change. For Stewart’s sake – and Florida’s – let’s hope not.

It’s always been about the testing, stupid.

And the crazy accountability systems that go with them. Erdle’s position on Core is by shared by many educators. They’re good, but they are being shoved into a massive, convoluted system. The big guns pushing Core – Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan – no longer have the complete confidence of policy makers. Their reforms have proved to be a nightmare. Erdle concludes:

So I go back to my original statement: “It is not about the Common Core…”. The Common Core itself is NOT the problem. I believe that all students can benefit from these new standards and that our teachers are working diligently to understand them, to teach them, to become facilitators of learning in their classroom, to embrace the changes that they bring. But unfortunately, the “other stuff” gets in the way, and causes all of us to take our eye off of what is important. And those who will be harmed are the very people, our students, who should benefit.

The big guns have pushed through reforms that have been benefiting a lot of adults. The one thing they may have been right about – Common Core – was introduced at the end. As there is  too much money to be made and too many politicians involved, we will never know what might have been if we just tried Common Core.

Original Article

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