Education

A Quote You Won’t Hear from Critics of the Common Core

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From Education Secretary Arne Duncan:

"Now, these new college- and career-ready standards have the potential to be transformative for students, inspiring them, helping them to reach their full potential—but only if state and local leaders, principals, and educators implement them well," Duncan said. "[T]he federal government is not going to assign any textbook or reading in schools. It’s not going to draft, create, or require a lesson plan in any school. It’s not going to tell teachers or local officials what to study—or what sequence to study in it.

"In fact, not a word, not a single semicolon of curriculum will be created, encouraged, or prescribed by the federal government. We haven’t done so—and we won’t be doing so, and that is how it should be."

Fear mongering notwithstanding, the Common Core State Standards provide a framework for higher-level thinking, reading, and mathematics for our students. Local school districts, working with their parents, teachers, and boards will set the curriculum students study.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

23 Comments

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  • of course, this is all readily apparent in the obviously high educational level and critical thinking skills exhibited daily on our TV’s, in our news, on the blogs, in the voting public. These are not just words, man. Not just words! those spoken by public official should always be presumed to have content, and not just be spoken for effect. Americans are smart!

    Of course, the curriculum can be whatever you want it to be, but damn, those tests better show results in the proscribed areas.

    • No, actually it’s the law.

      I know you know more about every subject than any other person because you can reduce everything to your simplistic conspiracy theories, but please actually do some research for once.

      Local communities set curriculum, just as Duncan says. They certainly have the right to develop curricula that don’t meet the expectations of the Common Core Standards, ACT/SAT, or college readiness if they want. That’s entirely up to them.

      But why in the hell would anyone responsible not teach its kids those skills?

      • Critical thinking has always applied to schools in the past. this just gets them to relevant subjects — far faster than before. I like common Core happy to see it implemented.

        Mark could use some classes in critical thinking!

        • I answered him down below.

          Norma, those words coming off your keyboard are as bankrupt as anything I’ve ever read, no content, knowledge, reason or “critical” thought behind them, with the usual asterisk by your name with the footnote “*completely lacking of self-awareness.”

          • I’m not looking for your approval anytime now or in the future Mark. I just shake my head and laugh!

            Life for you is like Old Photography Mark, the problem being …you only develop the negatives….

              • My mom been saying it since I was a kid. and since she owned a photo lab and dark room, that I grew up in… and she might of learned it from someone else, just like I learned it from her…..who cares what you assert when it is relevant to you?

                • My grandma liked to say “Paper doesn’t refuse ink,” meaning that just because something is written down does not mean it is true. But if I were to use that expression, I would not pretend it is original with me. My Grandma was a school teacher, by the way, and one I would have loved to have had as my own, as she was gritty and skeptical to a fault.

                  But the undercurrent here is that I am not much impressed with either your depth or breadth, and find you utterly lacking in curiosity or skepticism. These are traits that I find common in party apparatchiks. Truth for you is handed down from above, and loyalty is passed up in return.

                  So I don’t care what your write much as I can pretty well predict it. That’s why your comments are so skippable.

  • If the teachers, parents and LOCAL school boards are setting the curriculum, then we DONT NEED COMMON CORE then, do we?

    • Not according to Pink Floyd.

      We don’t need no education
      We don’t need no thought control
      No dark sarcasm in the classroom
      Teachers leave them kids alone
      Hey teacher leave them kids alone
      All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
      All in all you’re just another brick in the wall….

  • Of course I don’t much care for your usual method of deflection, to belittle your critic as not possibly knowing as much about any subject you write about as you. Your knowledge of politics is superficial at best, yet you constantly get after me for even presuming to think there is so much more to it than you can see.

    But Thom Hartmann, certainly no authority, does make the point that curricula are set by Texas, where the state school people determine what goes into textbooks, and you really don’t have much choice abut that. Don’t know if he is right. Too bad the critical skills you teach don’t include critical thinking, or advertising resistance, for instance.

    For myself, I look around and see complete lack of critical thought skills in news, teaching, nutrition, history, and politics. Americans are on top of movies and sports and TV. In sports they are even critical of ownership, something not seen in politics, where it is assumed the players are the team.

    And this meme you repeat … “conspiracy” this and that, you have no clue what it even means! You just mindlessly hurl it about while spending your whole life blissfully unaware of evidence of anything but your own validation. I happen to know where the term originated. You don’t. You just throw it at people.

    • LIberationNews.org also differs.

      “What serves the interests of the capitalist class is not the closing of the achievement gap in education, but a widening of that gap—a few highly trained, highly paid workers at one end of the spectrum and many low-skilled future workers at the other. Obviously, this goal cannot be stated openly. Nor are all the people involved in pushing these various education reforms necessarily conscious of this goal.

      No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and now Common Core are not genuine efforts to improve the education system for the majority of students. They are, in fact, conscious efforts to engineer the output of the education system in the interests of capital and weaken public education in favor of charter and other non-public schools. As such, they cannot be properly called failed policies. Success and failure can only be defined in relation to the goals pursued by the reforms. They serve to promote the goal of a more stratified education system, one whose output will neatly match the needs of the capitalist class.

      Public education was won through a people’s struggle. The increasing attempt of the capitalist class to narrowly define public education as job training is chipping away at its true objectives. What we need are fundamental reforms to strengthen and enhance public education, not in the interests of the banks and corporations, but in the interests of the working class, the vast majority of the population. Progressive reforms can only come as a result of a grassroots struggle. “

      • I’m a big fan of liberal arts, while I take it that you want to measure everything in terms of compensation, the training of employees outsourced by employers, like everything else they can get away with. Interesting to read that over the long haul, liberal arts degrees pay off more than nursing or business.

        But I like to say that one needs to make a living and live well too, and a liberal arts degree does open a world of possibilities that an MBA does not. I find people with those kinds of degrees very interesting.

      • It’s pretty much the same with capitalism and communism; there’s no difference. They love it that we think and argue there is, but behind the scenes those two economic chaps are quite chummy.

        The more uneducated workers the better because then they can work in factories without hope, that pernicious thing that always gets in the way of the ruling class and causes uprisings and such. If we can get those workers to plant themselves in front of the TV with a six-pack, a bowl, a pill, and maybe even a needle then all the better.

        The trick is giving the masses just enough so they won’t complain, but will complain vehemently when you take away the things you made them think are important. We saw this last year with Twinkies.

        Still, I’m not too concerned about the public schools or this new federal program which I’m sure will fail just as monumentally as the last. After all, we have the republicans, our professional on the field team at shooting things down right now. Pretty soon we’ll have the other team come out and they’ll shoot things down for awhile.

        No, we’ve already ensured that education simply isn’t affordable, which is the best way to keep the masses in line. It’s also great because now we can argue that education isn’t worth the cost, ensuring fewer will seek it and the master plan can come about all the sooner.

      • Canary in the coal mine Don.

        It would be interesting to see the results of her appearance in front of the board. Did they re-evaluate CC’s applications? And if they did does that coincide with “tweaking the framework” like you mentioned?

  • I am a teacher here in MT. The number of misconceptions surrounding Common Core is astounding. We teach to a set of standards we agree to use. Nothing more. In my district, we are not teaching a “curriculum”. We are teaching to the standards. Explain to me why people are opposed to a universal adoption of what we should teach US students? Wouldn’t it be wise to ensure that each student graduates ready for college? Wouldn’t it be smart to ensure that students is Texas receive the same strong academic foundation as another student in Georgia?

    I, for one, believe my students are so much stronger and independent now than they would have been years ago. I can’t wait until the Kindergartners that started with Common Core are in my class. They are going to be able to do so much more; they can actually prove their thinking using the text instead of just writing about “how does it make you feel when…”. It’s time to stop the “rote memory and recall” learning. We need powerful thinkers in this day and age.

    • It doesn’t include creationism dear! Common Core will be teaching blacks to the same standards as whites. For a majority of Conservative, flag waving, beer swilling, kenyan hating rednecks…. That wont do. Lastly it teaches far better critical thinking, which god forbid means students will ask too many questions at the dinner table for some parents that they wont have the answer for

      Its pretty much all hogwash from these kind of folk …. but they believe the republican hype Hook, Line and sinker.

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