Niagara Gazette


January 13, 2014

GUEST VIEW: The core problem with Common Core

Niagara Gazette — If Common Core curriculum aims to prepare U.S. students to compete with the rest of the world, its design is ruinously flawed. World-class competition is a national goal but the U.S. has always had a locally governed and funded public school system. Common Core may be remembered as one of the worst school reforms in U.S. history. The reason is not because of regulation. Its negative legacy will be because of its deregulation of public education and dodging education law.

Various forms of regulation of curriculum by state and federal governments is as old as public schools. Standardized curriculum and testing within states and by national offices can be found in many books about the history of American schooling. Public schooling was created to teach the next generation what Americans have in common and to teach youngsters core foundational knowledge and skills while allowing for individual creativity to flourish so that citizens can better examine all levels of their governments. Balancing structures and freedoms is the obligation of regulators. Common Core is unbalanced in that it brashly prescribes content developed by a limited number of so-called experts.

Regulating public P-12 schools is what good governments do, as long as they seek a balance that favors freedoms. What else do good governments do to nurture good school learning for the next generation? Governments that want to teach the values of democracy follow procedures that demonstrate democracy. Students and families who experience a democratic life are more likely to help that democracy become even stronger over many generations. If (a big “if”) the goal is to become a stronger democracy. Common Core fails on this measure because it was created only by select advisers at the top levels of educational administrations and education-related businesses.

I have worked for over 20 years as an expert in teacher education and I could easily create a P-12 curriculum for teachers to follow, but I wouldn’t brand it “public.” That’s because such a creation would not be generated or controlled substantially by the public and it wasn’t vetted from its beginnings at the local levels.

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