In the Washington Post, one of the former proponents of Common Core wrote a piece explaining in detail how she had changed her mind…

If you have read the book, “Opening the Common Core”, she was the co-author….

Like many of us, she noticed a difference between the promise and the delivery.

Here is a true example being given to a 7 year old in music….

Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. What does COMMISSION mean?

  1. to force someone to do work against his or her will
  2. to divide a piece of music into different movements
  3. to perform a long song accompanied by an orchestra
  4. to pay someone to create artwork or a piece of music

“Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated—I personally think it is a bit over the top. What is of deeper concern, however, is that during a time when 7 year olds should be listening to and making music, they are instead taking a vocabulary quiz.”

Here is another anecdote.

An English teacher in my building came to me with a ‘reading test’ that her third grader took. Her daughter did poorly on the test. As both a mother and an English teacher she knew that the difficulty of the passage and the questions were way over grade level. Her daughter, who is an excellent reader, was crushed. She and I looked on the side of the copy of the quiz and found the word “Pearson.” The school, responding to pressure from New York State, had purchased test prep materials from the company that makes the exam for the state.

It appears our tests are not teaching children to learn. Our tests are teaching them to hate learning.  Children who hate learning do poorer than children who love to learn.  It appears we are on course to raise a generation of dummies, not because of their genetic material, but because of our poorly planned testing regime and our misplacement of accountability.

When state education officials chide, “Don’t drill for the test, it does not work”, teachers laugh. Of course test prep works. Every parent who has ever paid hundreds of dollars for SAT prep knows it works …

The Common Core, for example, states it wants students to grow in five skill areas in English Language Arts — reading, writing, speaking, listening and collaboration. But the Common Core tests will only measure reading and writing.  So only two will ever get taught because if those two  are not passed, grave consequences shall occur.

The present reforms are led by the wrong drivers of change — individual accountability of teachers, linked to test scores and punishment, cannot be successful in transforming schools.

The over reaching principle of Common Core, as has been debated upon these pages, is a good idea.  It is designed to make sure  every student has a common  pool of knowledge from which they later can branch out and specialize.

I get that.

Where we fail is on the delivery of that promise; and we are failing big time…..   If and I say if because it takes all the money (profits) out of Common Core,  we were driving Common Core and using their assessments strictly as a strategy of improvement, instead of a hammer of accountability, it could indeed be a powerful tool…  Apparently it is, in Ontario, Canada, where they aren’t profit driven to our accountability “excess”…..  it can be a powerful tool.

As it is…

A fool with a tool is still a fool. A fool with a powerful tool is a dangerous fool.