Putting our Students First
It’s so sad. In a recent article by David Brooks (“When the Circus Descends” Press Democrat 4/20/2014) he talks about how elements from the right and left are attacking the Common Core Standards even as thousands of teachers are embracing the standards as a way to give our children a 21st century education.
What is it with these people who refuse to put our students and our country’s interest ahead of their own? I guess it’s pretty easy to understand the right’s point of view. They really don’t care about anything but their own ideology which is to attack anything that is progressive and enlightened even if it goes against their own self-interest. This curious behavior has many sources but it is preyed upon by Republican and Libertarian politians and right wing pundits (or should I say entertainers). These entities DO act in their own self-interest as they suck money out of the conservative rank and file.
On the left Brooks says, “The general critique from progressives, and increasingly from teachers’ unions, is that the standards are too difficult, that implementation is shambolic and teachers are being forced into some top-down straitjacket that they detest.” This sounds like unions still want to shield ineffective tenured teachers that don’t want to evolve. Well education, like everything else, evolves.
As stated, the common core standards are not curricula. They do not determine what students read or how teachers should teach. They are the goals for what students should know at the end of each grade. It will be several years before K-12 curriculum has been refined from the trail-and-error methods now being used. Until then teachers are being encouraged to adapt existing curriculum and to supplement it with OER (Open Education Recourses – such as in the Khan Academy) found on the internet. This is paving the way for the integrated digital curriculum (paperless textbooks) of the future where curriculum can be changed and updated on a daily basis. Not only is digital curriculum a more efficient and effective way of delivering content it will save school districts billions of dollars not having to replace outdated paper textbooks.
Along with the new common core guided curriculum will come progressive teaching platforms which are designed to take workloads off teachers as they put more of the learning responsibility on students. Students actually become partners their own education. Collectively called Blended-based Learning, these platforms gives students access to a broader range of learning experiences, and it allows them to learn at their own pace in a more personalized learning environment. Many of these platforms are already being implemented across the country as common core evolves into common sense.
Some have complained about the new computer-based assessments as being another layer of testing. The new tests will not be another layer they will replace the old STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) tests. In addition, more rubrics scoring (weighted importance) is being used in Project-based assessments.
Seeing the exciting potential of a modern education system thousands of K-12 school administrators, teachers, curriculum developers, parents and students are moving full steam ahead on implementation. The movement is happening so fast that it’s kind of fun watching the naysayers, on both the right and left, standing there watching this speeding train just pass them by.
If anyone wants to see just how fast the educational landscape is changing they should subscribe to two great electronic educations sites, eSchool News (www.eschoolnews.com) and the Hechinger Report (www.hechingerreport.org) as well as the U.S. Department of Education blog at (firstname.lastname@example.org).