Near as I can tell common core has to be a liberal and conservative conspiracy based upon their respective echo chambers. Its also much much too high a standard and yet, at the same time a standard which which will result in the dumbing down of society. It fosters critical thinking and it will foster drones who can’t think for themselves. Bill Gates and Lloyd Blackfinn as well as numerous Wall Street types are promoting it as they see the writing on the wall as concerns global competitiveness. Wall Street types are promoting it, as they don’t want to fund another war on poverty, sort of like Johnson’s, but much bigger as such is the only way to fix education. Conservatives are promoting it, as they know it will lead to vouchers and privatization when public schools fail. Liberals are promoting it as they want to brainwash our kids.

Its enough spin and conspiracy theories  to make ones head spin… perhaps the echo chambers are correct, albeit figuring out which one is, or partially is would likely result in even more head spinning. My best guess is there are elements of truth in both camps, and the solution will not be found exclusively in either one.

Nationwide standard?

The idea of a minimum nationwide standard for high school graduation and/or college readiness may not a bad thing.  Why should a kid in OK who moves to CA or MA be 2 years behind in math. Why should college kids have to spend $$$$ for remedial coursework they should have had in high school. Why should an employer have to struggle to find entry level employees who can handle simple math and read well enough to pass a safety exam. A students ability to learn or not learn a given subject is primarily subject to political will, not GPS coordinates so this type of thing should be a relatively easy fix. Alas a minimum standard is also likely to mean the ending of social / seat time promotion, schools as daycares, and grade inflation… Such standards are likely to be fought against tooth and nail. Ie, if a state or school district wants the lowest common denominator type of standard to make their numbers and surrounding property values look good… they will scream about states rights, and/or fed overreach. My counter to this is “what about the students? Granted, there needs to be flexibility for special ed kids such as the current IEP set up.

Local Control?

The idea of local control and varied curricula can be a good thing. Ed pysch is far from totally explored, so it seems entirely reasonable that individual classrooms and teachers should be trying things… even more so, trying things and sharing what works as well as what doesn’t.

One wrench in this is canned curricula… if 80% of classrooms are doing the exact same thing, there is a ton of duplication of effort / massive loss in efficiency. It would seem to be in a states vested interest, if classes are nearly identical that they should leverage the economy of scale… this is one of the cost savings of some common core implementations. Alas, students and teachers are not drones where 1 size fits all works… It may save taxpayers a lot of money in the short haul, but they will pay more, likely much more later when global competitiveness suffers.

Guinea Pigs

Another wrench, and its a huge one, is no one wants their kids to be guinea pigs… Education short of a small number of teachers and principals is exceedingly risk averse. Certainly no one wants to doom a classroom… but when said classroom is not functioning very well for lowest 30% of its students, the status quo should no longer be an option. Again, this is something best dealt with on the local level… where in a given cohort of students won’t end up being sequential guinea pigs so to speak. The proverbial doing the same thing the same way over and over again, and expecting improvement to magically appear should remain in the land of unicorns and honey.

No Easy Answers and Overreach

Overreach is a problem. Higher standards at the high school level (at least for 45 states who had lower standards than common core math) are no doubt needed. The difficulty is that things went too far, not only were standards raised at the high school level, they were also set for all the grades as well… and to add insult to injury, such pretty much drove canned curricula, and 1 size fits all approach ends up permeating the entire system.

From a outsiders view, this would seem to be exceedingly counterproductive… but such is following Finland’s reform path, where it truly did some amazing things. Alas, a generation of students and teachers went through a ton of headaches over 3 decades to get where they are today. Unlike Finland, the US attention span is much shorter… I have serious doubts folks are willing to make a 3 decade commitment,especially so if it imperils a generation to get there.