The Common Core Standards and unfunded mandatesby Marc Severson on May. 18, 2012, under Education
If you are an educator you cannot help but have been looking over your shoulder with nervous glances at the approach of yet another new, and possibly scary thing on the education horizon: the Common Core Standards. Having been born from the infamous NCLB now known as ESEA; teachers and other professionals additionally cannot help but be terrified that looming before them is yet another unfunded mandate.
For those of you not currently virally endemic to the education profession, the concept of ‘unfunded mandates’ in a nutshell (which might be a good place to put them) are things that teachers are told to do that are not supported by supplemental materials or additional funding, thereby forcing the schools to find their own way to implement the objectives. This is, of course, on top of whatever else they are already doing and paying for.
Needless to reiterate, nonetheless I will, unfunded mandates have further exacerbated the problems of public education. Having watched NCLB and later ESEA become the bane of educators everywhere, how am I now to feel about the Common Core Standards? As simply as possible I have to say, “It’s about time!”
You heard me correctly. I believe nationally established educational standards are not only welcome but possibly the only way to save this foundering ship that is public education.
Currently a child that goes from one state to another, hopefully accompanied by their parents, faces the daunting task of being placed into the new system in operation where they have arrived. There is no guarantee that any of the skills that they have already mastered are still viable exigencies where they are, nor is there any reasonable way to predict what will be expected of them in their new environment; quite simply, curriculum is set, state by state.
With nationally established standards a good portion of the disconnect will be expunged from the process. Clear objectives, sequentially ordered and evaluated will be predetermined by the established nationwide curriculum.
But, you know there is always a ‘but’, this apparent Shangri-La is not without caveat. If educators are going to be held accountable for a nationally established curriculum some things must change. First and foremost, ESEA must go away. There is no place for the schizophrenic personality disorder that would result from teaching both to the curriculum and the test.
Teachers already know this; they have struggled with it for years. It is one of the reasons I like this time of year so much. I no longer have my concentration divided into two brutally warring camps. The test is over now. Unfettered, I can teach to the previously uncovered objectives and highlight those that I know my students will need next year without concern as to how many test questions actually focus on that skill.
A high stakes test does not think; it does not evaluate students on a daily basis; it does not even give teachers data that can be used for the current class of children. For me these tests are useless. A national curriculum however, that is pure gold.