As frequently happens, a problem I’m having as the president of my local teacher union leads me to try to find out more about a subject than I otherwise would have known. That’s how I came upon this article by Christopher Tienken on the Common Core Standards.
When they were first promulgated, I was mildly optimistic that they could have some salutary effect on districts like mine where expectations for students have declined in direct proportion to statements by management about how they want teachers to have high expectations for their students. I started to get suspicious about the Standards when Commissioner King decided that teachers should do two lessons around the Standards this year in preparation for implementation in September. How the hell would doing two lessons somehow connected to the Standards lead to implementation next year? But I have come to expect senselessness from Commissioner King.
Then when our administration through a process unknown to me decided on having teachers write lessons for five day units that they wanted archived in a data bank, it started to become clear that the Standards were to become the latest foolishness inflicted on teachers and students in the name of reform, a inimical foolishness that promotes the homogenization of instruction both in content and design.
Now that I’ve read Tienken’s article, I am amazed at my naiveté for thinking that the Common Core Standards stand any serious chance of improving education in our state or nation. It turns out that almost all of the claims made for the Standards are based on pure junk, while a vast body of evidence exists to suggest that approaches like the Standards are very likely to have no positive effect and may even do damage. This article deserves a wide audience.