There has been a lot of talk in the media about Common Core this week, a big article in the Columbus Dispatch and an amazing response by Mediatrackers Ohio on support of Common Core by the Dispatch. Governor Kasich is in town tomorrow, he has been all over the place on this issue; willing to look into repeal and supporting Common Core. Common Core is my big issue right now, not only because I have children in public school, but also because I am a firm believer in limited government. So I thought I would write post about what I would say to Governor Kasich if I had a few minutes to bend his ear.
One of my biggest problems with Common Core isn’t educational. I am a former teacher and have a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I have studied curriculum design, what works what doesn’t … There are things about Common Core I like, things I don’t. My biggest problem isn’t the curriculum, my biggest problem is the lack of local control.
In Ohio, for the past 20 years, we have been using the Ohio Academic Content Standards. Many educators agree that these standards need to be overhauled. This is not a point of argument with anyone who is looking at the quality of education in Ohio. The question is not do we replace it, the question is with what? Currently we have decided to replace them with Common Core State Standards. I don’t think that is best for Ohio…
The creation of these standards is where the problem begins and ends for me. If I, as a teacher and parent have a question about the Common Core standards, where do I go? Since these standards have been created and agreed to by several states in the country do I have to go to all of them for approval of the change? How do I, an individual, have input into what my child is going to learn?
In Ohio, if I had a question about our standards I knew who to call. I would call my State Representative. I would call my State Senator. I would call the Ohio Department of Education. With the Common Core standards, I have no control or ability to ask for a change. They are above the level of influence of our state officials. Ohio will have no voice in the standards that our children are learning, forgoing our 10th Amendment rights.
Several have said that our local officials will still have the right to implement Common Core as they would like, but I beg to differ. The former President of my local school board, Joan Powell, Lakota Local Schools in West Chester, Ohio, highlighted this point in an opinion piece she wrote in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“It is only reasonable, therefore, that districts and educators would focus on these standards, so that students can perform successfully on this one-size-fits-all benchmark test. Those who say that local communities still control curriculum are creating a false illusion. Standards drive the assessments and the educational resources available. These standards ARE essentially the curriculum.”
Joan’s main point in the piece was that we need to stop changing the bar on schools and kids. She doesn’t want Common Core repealed because of the cost schools have already put into the change and the disruption to students. This point is microscopic compared to the point she made about curriculum. The standards become the curriculum. Many including Governor Kasich, said in a video by Ohio Capital Blog that he “wants to make sure we maintain local control, so local school boards and local parents are the ones that design the curriculum to meet the standards”.
That is the disconnect….
The politicians believe that there is another level. The standards are set, given to school districts and they write a curriculum to teach the standards to our kids. School districts do not write curriculum any more. They use the standards and benchmarks set by the state as their curriculum, as was confirmed by my former Lakota School Board President Joan Powell, “These standards ARE essentially the curriculum.”
If Ohio truly wants to have local control, than we cannot accept Common Core as our standards. We had no input on the writing of these standards at all. None of us did, no elected officials, to teachers and no parents.
I do understand the cost schools have put into the training and materials for Common Core. That time and money will be wasted, but it isn’t too late to change the direction of Common Core.
Someone once said to me, if you have crap in your soup, you can add as much broth and vegetables you want, but you still have crap in your soup… We can buy as many books and technological equipment as we want, but Common Core is still wrong.
If I were to talk to the Governor, I would challenge him on how we make decisions as a state… Protecting our freedom and keeping our decisions close to the people they serve should be the ultimate goal.