BY ANN CARROLL We’ve spent this month trying to educate ourselves and you about what Common Core means for education in North Carolina—but plenty of criticism surrounds the Common Core curriculum. We’re not here to jump on that bandwagon or to fan the flames of debate, but we think want to approach this with our eyes wide open to the unintended consequences of these new standards. Here are the most common criticisms of the Common Core:
1. Common Core narrows the curriculum. Common Core focuses on English Language Arts and Math, with no standards written for Social Studies or Science.
2. Common Core confuses students. The standards used in English and Math as supposed to be applied in other coursework. If a student doesn’t understand the lesson in English, they may now have trouble when that concept is incorporated into their Social Studies lesson.
3. Common Core asks teachers to teach toward the test. Common Core requires a test at the end of the course, which places additional pressure on teachers and schools.
4. Low-income areas can’t afford the necessary technology for Common Core. Assessments for Common Core must be administered via computer and many school systems don’t have the budget to provide an adequate number of computers.
5. Teachers need more flexibility to teach. Teachers say that want to plan lessons that suit the individual needs of their class, but Common Core makes them follow a “script.”
6. Common Core standards are not realistic expectations of what children should know in grades K-5. Elementary school educators say some of the expectations of literary devices require children to have “high school level” reasoning after just a few years of school.
7. Common Core discourages student interest in STEM careers. Common Core math asks students to do things like round numbers when adding and subtracting to estimate the answer before they find out the actual answer. Some educators believe that this prevents students from developing basic math skills important for a STEM education.
8. Common Core places too much importance on Pre-K, which lacks funding in NC. Younger students are required to learn more at a quicker pace than they ever have before. This creates a greater need for pre-kindergarten, which remains unavailable to a large number of North Carolina children.
9. Common Core makes many current textbooks obsolete. Replacing the textbooks with those that fit the Common Core curriculum will cost millions.
10. Common Core requires the retraining of teachers.
I’m not trying to be a “Debbie-downer” when it comes to Common Core. As a mother of school-age children, I can agree that our education system has issues. To me, Common Core represents a genuine effort to address some of those issues. However, I discovered in my research that Common Core was developed through educational research and theories. It’s been widely reported that little—if any—research or testing on the program took place in actual classrooms. Like it or not, our kids are the guinea pigs for this educational experiment, and it’s up to us to advocate for them and ask the tough questions.
I’ve read several blogs and posts by parents who say they can’t help their children with the Common Core homework because they don’t understand it. So let’s take the time to grasp the concepts. Let’s ask schools to host workshops for us so we can understand the basic principles and reclaim the tools to help our children succeed.
We can arm wrestle all day about how our kids should be educated, but we can all agree that we want them to succeed. As adults, regardless of our background, we know what tools are necessary to find a career and to support ourselves. I believe if we cross-reference our knowledge with that of educators with the same goals, we can tackle 21st century education.