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Monday, September 1, 2014
Common core not the first educational miracle
Howard Schwach

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently said that the Common Core might well prove to be “the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown versus Board of Education.”

Talk about hyperbole!

The truth is that nobody is quite sure what adopting the Common Core will mean for school children throughout the nation, and that is the bottom line. If it works for kids, assists in their education and makes them ready for the real world, then the standards are the new white bread.

There are many real education experts who have their doubts, or at least went to see the standards field-tested and vetted prior to the hyperbole from the educational bureaucracy that declares them the best thing ever in the annals of education.

I agree. I have seen too many “education breakthroughs” in my 33 years as a teacher and staff developer that not only have failed to bring change, but have actually harmed real classroom learning.

If you doubt me, Google “Holistic writing,” “New Math” or Portfolio-based Evaluation.”

Each of those movements was hailed by the educational bureaucracy and the education schools yahoos as the next best wonderful thing that would bring all students up to standard. Have they. If they had worked, we would not be looking today at the Core Curriculum.

In fact, holistic writing destroyed an entire generation’s ability to use grammar to put together a cohesive paragraph.

The new math destroyed an entire generation’s ability to add and subtract, nonetheless its ability to multiply.

And, if you’ll excuse me for saying so, the concept of peer review in writing just means that kids today can’t write.

So, what to the new standards brought by the Core Curriculum do for students?

They establish benchmarks in reading and math, replacing education goals that varied widely from state to state. That has angered many state’s rights people who were brought up on the concept that schools and what they teach is a state issue. Of course, many states did so badly in deciding what their students learned, so parochial in their outlook, that the feds decided that education had to be taken from the states and then used the Race to the Top funds to coerce the states to go along.

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