It is sad, for many, to watch professional associations, long trusted to care for and support students, parents and teachers, sign on to propagandizing Common Core as great for schools and children. Many parents and educators see through this.
In addition, and this is most important, why do those selling Common Core continue claiming it will make the changes it promises? There are no real research studies, no randomized studies of serious depth, to show this as fact. Valerie Strauss reported Bill Gates himself said it would take years to know if Common Core would work. There is no proof that Common Core will make all students more college ready. Like there is no proof to say it will fix student disabilities. We also have no idea if it will fix the disparities in schools across the country.
Common Core, you could say, is one huge experiment. We don’t know whether it will work or not. Yet, a lot of money is being spent to convince parents and teachers it will work, and many educational associations have signed on to do the convincing.
National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) received $1 million to push the Common Core from the Gates Foundation in 2009. They have gotten additional funds from companies like General Electric too. Here is what they say on their website and notice the unjustifiable assertions:
The CCSS are a set of internationally benchmarked K-12 educational standards to ensure every students’ college and career readiness in English language arts and mathematics. These standards increase rigor in every school, and provide clarity and consistency for what all students need to know once they graduate from high school. To date, 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoan Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Anchorage, AK School District have voluntarily adopted CCSS.
But, while the National PTA loves Common Core, and will even provide you with a toolkit to help you spread the word, the local PTAs are not always on board.
The PTA isn’t the only group jumping on the Common Core bandwagon. Here are some others.
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). This professional organization is near and dear to the hearts of many who care about special education. But CEC is definitely in love with Common Core and they let everyone know on the front of their website.
They start with the special ed. teacher of the year who implies at first she wasn’t sure about CC but she figured out her students needed to be “accountable” like all the other students. This is troubling on many levels because it implies that students with disabilities (and their teachers) have not been accountable in the past, that teachers can make their students with disabilities be accountable with Common Core in the regular class, and it says nothing about a safety net for students if they don’t succeed at mastering the standards.
They also advertise online credits for ELA Standards study. Here is what they say:
Expectations for English Language Arts (ELA) are daunting, especially if you work with students with moderate to severe disabilities.
They mention students with even severe disabilities, but they go on to say:
For only $179, the online conference on Common Core ELA Standards: Instructional Strategies to Support Students with Complex Needs will provide you with everything you need to make sure the right supports are in place to help all students, including:
- Facilitating comprehension and critical thinking across the entire curriculum
- Creating strategies for standards-aligned writing instruction
- Teaching reading, writing and speaking in inclusive secondary settings
- Ensuring college and career readiness in ELA
Actually, for a long time now, CEC has bought into alignment of IEP goals to standards making the document much less personalized. Now Common Core will destroy any semblance of individualization! Will there no longer be any special education for students?
American Library Association (ALA). The ALA has been down on their luck for years. Presidents from both parties have cut funds and school libraries, and libraries in general, have suffered. In some places books in school libraries have been carelessly discarded to make way for technology. In other places school librarians have been replaced by parents or paraprofessionals. So, does the ALA see it as renewed hope to sign on to Common Core? They are full of praiseworthy articles.
This is a serious matter, because those in charge of libraries in schools are gatekeepers as to what books will get published for children to read. So books that hit the shelves, or online, are now often stamped with the approval of Common Core. Watch, of course, for more nonfiction and fiction that teaches lessons. They have a standards action toolkit for librarians too. Toolkits seem to be in.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The NAEYC has a position paper on CC but I felt a bit like I was reading a report by Martin Short’s old Ed Grimley character on SNL who could never make up his mind. HERE (You need a laugh after all this).
The title The Common Core State Standards: Caution and Opportunity for Early Childhood Education gives a hint of this. It’s like riding a roller coaster.
…NAEYC is launching an effort to identify potential advantages and highlight potential dangers to early childhood education as the Common Core moves into implementation.
As states have adopted the Common Core, there has been growing discussion within the early childhood community about the “unintended consequences” noted in NAEYC’s initial response to the Common Core. These consequences include concerns about the allocation of time and resources to support the content of the Common Core relative to areas not included in these standards, and about the means by which schools will assess children’s progress in meeting the standards.
However, the Common Core may also provide opportunities for the early childhood community to add to the discourse about educational reform and work to ensure that research and practical experience within the early childhood education field can, and should, contribute to the shape of the Common Core during the early years of schooling.
There are other organizations and professional associations that love Common Core too. But for now this is enough. All of these professional organizations pride themselves on research, policy and practice. I’d say the research on Common Core got left out of the mix.