Another informational teacher in-service, another look into how Common Core is the supposed answer to all the problems in education today. It was about three quarters through the latest professional seminar on Common Core, learning more about how it’s going to affect our classrooms, when I was suddenly overwhelmed with two revelations: 1) the joy of teaching is disappearing, and 2) Common Core is not the answer we’re looking for.
In fact, I’m finding it hard to define what the actual question is that calls for that answer. Whatever the question is that warrants Common Core as the answer, is this the same question that also determined “No Child Left Behind” was the answer in 2002? Or that statewide high-stakes testing (led by Massachusetts) was the answer back in 1993?
Back in 1983, a report by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, titled “A Nation at Risk”, begins with, “Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world.” The report, written thirty-one years ago, continues on, explaining the emergency situation our nation’s education system is in, in a manner one would think was written this year.
Back in 1975 – nearly forty years ago – Newsweek‘s December 8th cover story sparked debate with “Why Johnny Can’t Write,” a critical blow to the education system of the day, highlighting illiteracy in public schools.
And this isn’t all. Get ready to face-palm when perusing Diane Ravich’s 2000 book, aptly titled “Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms” (that’s right, she said a century). Amazon.com reviewer John J. Miller neatly sums up the book with “[Ravitch] reveals how an endless wave of reforms prevented schools from doing what they were built to do: educate children” and the smartly versed “…a history of progressive education reforms and the bad consequences that often follow them.”
Discontentment with educational programs and failing schools are nothing new. Neither is educational reform. But in the last one hundred years of trial and error – with a new educational movement or curriculum shift introduced every couple years – why hasn’t there been a genuine solution? What is the answer?
Unfortunately, Common Core is not the answer. Neither were the endless educational reforms before it. And I highly doubt it will come in the form of the next educational reform which will probably take place about ten years from now. Yes, in 2024, I predict that the United States will be under new educational leadership, with a new movement, a new “answer to the problem” in place, while the media bemoans the still-sorry state of our nation’s schools.
In the meantime, kids will still be learning, teachers will still be teaching. And we’ll still be traveling around the world in mere hours, navigating outer space, splitting atoms, communicating on brand-new shiny gadgets, enjoying the results of modern medicine, and appreciating the classic architecture, higher-order philosophy, and inspiring literature that’s been around for ages (all created by people who never learned under the Common Core curriculum).
Until then, we – as teachers, parents and students – must “make the best of it” and endure this latest wave of reform and its effects on our classroom dynamics, our student’s futures, and – sadly – our very livelihoods as teachers.