Common Core Backlash

By Patte Barth

Implementation of the Common Core State Standards is starting to get real, and the honeymoon is showing signs of being over. 

Some headlines provide hints:

“Common Core standards drive wedge in education circles” -- USA Today, May 1, 2012

“Common Core nonfiction reading standards mark the end of literature, English teachers say” -- Huffington Post, Dec. 10, 2012

It doesn’t seem like so long ago that national and state policymakers from both sides of the aisle were singing the praises of the Common Core. In just two years following their finalization, Common Core became the official standards in 46 states and Washington, D.C. The Obama administration encouraged -- although did not require -- adopting the standards in its Race to the Top competition as an indicator that the state was serious about graduating “college- and career-ready” students. 

The conservative Fordham Foundation awarded the Common Core math standards an A- and the English language arts standards a B+. It called both sets of standards “solidly in the honors range” and “very, very strong,” adding that they are “clearer and more rigorous than the standards currently used by the vast majority of states.”

Educators across the country are now getting down to the work of aligning their practices to the new standards. It probably was inevitable that closer examination would reveal some previously unnoticed imperfections. But for school boards and their communities, it’s hard to know whether the good in Common Core standards is greater than their perceived flaws -- or if it’s time for morning-after regrets. 

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