I’ve been resisting this position for a while, but critiquing the specifics of the Common Core may be unnecessary, confusing, and potentially divisive . I admit I got caught up in it for a while. I enjoyed the critique of the language arts standards, reading commentary that points out all the pedagogical and curricular flaws, and it seemed to add one more position that those of us opposing corporate reform and standardized testing could unite on.
I noticed myself, though, not reading too much critique of the math because I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t agree with the critique. I’m not a math teacher, so it didn’t hit a nerve with me, but it all did seem to smack of criticizing something for being a little more difficult to teach and to learn because, well, it is more difficult, especially to a nation of children who don’t usually have to approach math or anything else as an open-ended confusing reflective slow process. So, again, I didn’t go deep with it because, in retrospect, I was afraid I would disagree with the critique, and I don’t want to disagree. I disagree with everybody else in the world. Can I just be united with one group on its major tenets for once in my life?
But then, I started to take a look at the 3 C’s social studies framework, and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Oh, dear, I think I may like these broad standards, and people I respect hate them. It brought back memories of reading Diane Ravitch’s work on the history standards that I wasn’t completely aligned with in my master’s thesis. No, I will not disagree with my hero, not right now. I quickly closed the file to see if I could forget, but of course, unfortunately, I couldn’t forget, nor should I. I know too much about social studies not to have an opinion.
I bring this up, not because I’m neurotic about disagreeing with people, but because we need to remember the merits of the Common Core standards are irrelevant. What is relevant is how and why they were created and who took part, and how and why they should have been created, and who should have taken part. We know that the quality of our students’ learning experience has been severely diminished and anything “good” that may be in the standards wouldn’t get into the test, so we probably won’t be teaching it. That is the relevant travesty that unites us against corporate reform and standardized testing.
When this fight is over, that will be the time for healthy respectful democratic dialogue and debate to negotiate what education should look like. Now is not the time. Now is the time for unity and to preserve the integrity and clarity of the message.