As the new year gets underway, members of Congress are renewing their efforts to reauthorize the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, while governors and legislators continue to debate educational reforms at the state level. Central to all of these debates over educational policy today are the highly controversial Common Core State Standards. To illuminate the public debate over the Common Core, RegBlog is pleased to publish this two-week series on the fiercely contested standards.
Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core Standards, making them the educational standards toward which the majority of current American students are taught.
Since its inception, the Standards have been hotly contested. Although some states, such as Texas, have adopted other assessment standards, most states have adopted the Common Core. A majority of these states adopted the Standards after the Obama Administration’s 2009 announcement of its Race to the Top grants, which required competing states to adopt “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace” and included bonus funding for those states adopting the Common Core. Since then, several states, including Indiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina, have repealed or replaced the Standards after initial adoption.
While supporters have heralded the uniformity of the Standards and their ability to prepare students for college and careers, opponents have attacked the same standards as failing to meet the needs of individual students and as a byproduct of federal overreach. All agree that students and the quality of instruction should be the focus of education policy and of any educational standards, but commentators vary widely on what approach is best.
Over the next two weeks, we feature seven insightful but varied essays on the Common Core State Standards. The authors present virtually every side of the debate. They comprise those who support the Standards; those who support them but oppose their implementation or the testing that accompanies them; and those who oppose the Standards altogether as intrusive federal overreach or as simply being anathema to student and teacher success. Each day, we will feature a new essay, alternating perspectives and along the way casting important light on the core issues involved in this most recent effort to regulate teaching and learning in America.
Monday, January 12, 2015 | Maddie Fennell
We became teachers to create a better future for our students. The Common Core State Standards are one of the best tools we can use to achieve that goal and hold tremendous potential for the education profession.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 | Anthony Cody
The Common Core standards are a clear case of federal overreach, facilitated by corporate philanthropies acting to circumvent democratic process. The standards are themselves deeply flawed as a result, and they are embedded in an accountability system that is causing grave harm to students.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 | Michael J. Petrilli
The dual nature of Common Core as an educational and political issue is important to keep in mind over the coming months as state lawmakers debate whether to “stay the course” or “turn the page,” five years after they first adopted the standards.
Thursday, January 15, 2015 | Frederick Hess
The benefits of common standards depend mightily on the “how” of implementation. Unfortunately the push on behalf of the Common Core has undermined the venture’s promise in profound and debilitating ways.
Monday, January 19, 2015 | Annice Brave
Naysayers are often unaware of what goes on in Common Core classrooms. It is the way I have taught for years, because it makes sense – common sense – and it is the established best practice that I have learned from attending trainings on how to teach advanced coursework.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 | Josh Stumpenhorst
States across the country are beginning to implement the Common Core State Standards. Their success varies. Within that variance lie “the good, the bad, and the ugly” realities of the Common Core – and regrettably students get caught in the crossfire.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 | Anna Baldwin
The CCSS have become conflated with the testing cycle. But testing and test-preparation wear down students mentally and emotionally, and they cause a significant loss of instructional time. The students taking the test are taught nothing, and because the teacher must proctor the test the students in the teacher’s other classes do not advance while they have a substitute.