Opposition to the Common Core Standards

Right wing reaction to the Common Core State Standards for K-12 education is an almost instinctive rejection of anything aimed to the "common good." Perhaps this "reject instinct" hearkens back to the Cold War, where communism, which sounds like "common" and shares etymology tracing back to the Old French "comun."

In various social media exchanges, one of the things I have been instructed on is the notion that "parents should be trusted with decisions regarding their children, not bureaucrats." As a parent myself, with what most people would consider a reasonable level of education, I certainly want to be trusted with decisions regarding my children. But if pressed, I would not be able to come up with a list of skills and knowledge in math a 5th grader should be expected to understand and demonstrate, compared to the skills and knowledge that child should have learned in 4th grade. I suspect that, when pressed on the issue, most parents would be equally clueless on the matter.

But that is exactly what the Common Core State Standards establish - a list of expected skills and knowledge students should master at each grade level in the specific areas of mathematics and English language arts. For example, one of the specific standards for grades 11-12 states:

Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)

Similarly, here is one of the specific standards for high school math: Distinguish between situations that can be modeled with linear functions and with exponential functions.

Now, apparently these types of standards are somehow controversial, yet the basis for controversy is unclear. In my mind, these sound like perfectly normal and acceptable expectations for an 11th or 12th grade public high school student.

And while these standards seem perfectly reasonable and appropriate, I would be hard pressed as a parent to develop such standards or proficiency targets for my children or anyone else's children, and I challenge any other parent who is not a professional educator to do the same.

Common Core Standards


A twitter post I received about CCS

I wouldn't trust a "beaucrat" to make educational decisions for my children; nor would I trust anyone who can't spell.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR


Is a beaucrat someone who arranges marriages?

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

It's a complicated issue

At the same time that I support a common set of standards that create a useful context for our children's learning and lives, it is worth noting that this set of standards has been strongly supported and, evidently, influenced by elements of the corporate community. They would love nothing more than a set of measurable standards for which they can develop and sell educational products, so that they can tap into tax payers education dollars for profit.

It's neither bureaucrats nor business who should be setting the standards. It should be trained and empowered professional educators in partnership with enlightened communities.

Does the origin make the standards bad?

This set of standards, whatever their origin, seem to be comprehensive enough to provide teachers sufficient guidance for developing curricula, without being so detailed as to stifle teachers' creativity in the classroom.

I'd love to see a critique of the standards themselves, absent any judgment on the origin of the standards, or the usual right-wing drivel about "local control."


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Selling Educational Products

Someone has to develop software applications, just as when I started elementary school in 1960 someone had to publish textbooks. Publishers have been tapping into taxpayers' education dollars for profit for decades, and there's really nothing wrong with that, IMHO.

Furthermore, the Common Core standards were established by a large coalition of educators, community leaders at all levels of government, and the business community, under the leadership of the National Governors' Association and the National Association of State School Superintendents. Like it or not, businesses really do have a vested interest in what a high school graduate should know, and that is what the CCS does.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

The opposition has good reason to be opposed

Here's is a post from Diane Ravitch detailing her reasons for opposing CC.

The goals may be fine, but only people who are very aware of the stages of children's cognitive development should be the ones writing them. That does NOT include politicians, businessmen, software developers, or other assorted bureaucrats. The issue isn't so much about parents versus 'crats; it's why not just leave it to educators and child psychologists?

CC exacerbates our already huge obsession with testing. At the high school level we will go from a previous high number of 10 EOC's (now only 3) to more than 30 MSL's. Almost every class a student takes in high school will have some form of high stakes test.

CC also pushes technology to the extreme. Lots of money to be made there in state and local contracts. Money that could be spent on basics such as textbooks and copy paper.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Let's not confuse Common Core

Let's not confuse Common Core with Essential Standards. CC only covers math and language arts. Measures of Student Learning (MSL) are tests for other subjects. When the state adopted the Common Core Standards they also adopted new standards for other subjects. These "essential standards" were developed by the state and didn't involve the CC group.

That said let me point out that after 26 years of teaching I've pretty much learned how to tune out most of the noise at staff development workshops and just get the highlights. I also sometimes sit in the back with the coaches. So I could be totally wrong. : > )

I'm a moderate Democrat.