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Poor Implementation Undermines Promise Of The Common Core


I have always said that common core standards is a good idea, for some consistency and continuity. I'm not sure that they are always developmentally appropriate at the younger years, and the "college and career" stuff is a starry-eyed, back-handed slap of an accusation that comes without the conversations: 1) Careers?!? What careers? We are not long off a Clinton-to-Bush run where our leaders more or less told us that good jobs were gone, retraining and acceptance of less might be the lot of a lot of us, and a town hall where Bush II just didn't get it when a clearly well spoken and educated, almost middle-aged mother lamented the need to work three jobs just to make ends meet. Bush: "Three jobs? That's truly American!" The movies really do get it right once in a while: "If you build it, they will come." When "job creators and investors" really did, and supported the nation/workers/economy that gave them investor/creator powers...our schools churned out workers that participated, and kids who went to college were ready. The investors creators have turned to hoarders in a speculation based economy and now they are speculating on the value of people, their public institutions, and finding a way to restrain and milk them on their public-to-private farm. If good jobs existed, parents would be working, feeding, loving, preparing students to succeed. 2) College? What exists after that would pay back the Sallie-Mae master?

Sadly it seems that high stakes testing is the only hope for History in public education. I dont care if the curriculum includes answers, questions, or pictures just as long as we start expecting students and teachers to perform as well in a history class as they do in math and reading. And how about including some writing standards in History and actually enforcing them? Why are English teachers the only ones expected to assign and grade writing? Histroy is the core of our notions of a democratic education, and we are dropping the ball at every step.

I think I like Common Core for what it is, standards. However, all the good that the standards do for students' engagement and depth of knowledge is negated by the test that is being written by someone who has not been in the students' classrooms. We also must be careful in implementing any sort of test involving thinking in history (and social studies, in general) because different groups have different histories. Histories that are not recognized by institutions ans establishments. My concern about the testing in Social Studies can best be explained using the Civil War. A friend of mine told this story: When was living in West Virginia, the Civil War was about slavery. She moved to a town just north of Atlanta, GA, where they studied the War of Northern Aggression (which was about states' rights). Another friend of mine grew up on the other side of Atlanta. She said they when learned about the Civil War, they learned that it was fought over slavery. Both of these ladies were in school at the same time, learning about the same subject. The first one middle class white, the second middle class black. They learned two different histories. In my opinion, neither is wrong. History is simply a narrative of people's memories, oral or written. How can you standardize and test people's memories of an event. Students should be allowed the opportunity to explore different points of view on history. This would be true critical thinking. But how would that sit with mainstream parents and how would you assess that?


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