Monday, August 24, 2015

Sifting through the noise of Common Core

In a recent article in Education Week pointed out that the data being gathered about Common Core through two respected polls demonstrate that most people have no idea what they're talking about. Perhaps that's a little harsh so I'll be more specific.
This year's PDK/Gallup poll reveals that a majority of respondents, including 54 percent of public school parents, oppose having teachers use the Common Core State Standards to guide what they teach.
While the Education Next poll also shows public support for the common standards slipping to 49 percent and mounting dissatisfaction among teachers, with 50 percent opposed to the standards, its results show that backers of the initiative continue to outnumber opponents.
Okay, so it's basically dead even and that's based on the questions asked and how they were asked. We know that about polls, or we should know that about polls. So let's move on to the next paragraph, which reads
A report accompanying the Education Next findings attributes broad opposition to the common core to a "shallow factual foundation," because 60 percent of its poll respondents didn't know whether their districts use the common core, and 23 percent of residents in non-common-core states believe their local districts are using the standards (emphasis mine).
In my opinion, any of the information about support or lack of same is essentially invalidated by the apparent fact that most people have no idea what they're talking about. My own unscientific experience suggests the same. There are plenty of people who are willing to make noise about the so-called national curriculum, even though many (myself included) have said repeatedly that Common Core is not a national curriculum. Which suggests that a lot of people have no idea what a curriculum actually is and, depending on one's perspective and definition, curriculum might include standards but is not exclusively standards (see and

There are plenty of people who are willing to make noise about what Common Core requires of teachers and students even though they cannot point to where that horrible required thing is stated in the Common Core standards. That whole being able to support one's position and differentiate between fact and opinion is, perversely, an excellent example of why Common Core might be needed.

What is even more interesting to me is the palavering about Common Core and increasingly shrill media noisemakers. I picture them as some kind of a doglike creature sniffing and snuffingly from one thing to another, lifting their heads to howl and bay for a while before losing interest and moving on to something else, blissfully unaware and unconcerned about whatever madness they've stirred up and left in their wakes. Of course, that image applies to more than Common Core and it saddens me that we are so quick and so willing to respond eagerly and with such complete trust when so often there is little of substance to the noise they make. Again, perversely, an excellent example of the need for Common Core.