Another school year is creeping up on us – and in some cases school has already started. But the curriculum to guide North Carolina schools is stuck in limbo. North Carolina lawmakers voted last month to create a special group to review and make recommendations on Common Core Standards. They may choose to keep some of the Common Core policies, add some education policies, or just discard them all together.
North Carolina is in good company. A handful of other states including neighboring South Carolina have made similar decisions. They all have their reasons – chief among them that Common Core misses the mark when it comes to student preparation for standardized tests. We do know in this state existing Common Core Standards will remain in place until the end of the 2014 – 2015 school year.
I have acknowledged in previous posts that Common Core is far from perfect, but have we given it a fair shake? Isn’t it easier to figure out where we went wrong in this Algebra problem, rather than grab our eraser and make a cloud of chalk dust?
According to published reports, the state has spent $66 million in professional development related to Common Core. That also doesn’t account for the millions of dollars that local school systems have chipped in to accomplish the same goal. In some cases those expenses go above and beyond what is allocated to teacher development. How many teacher salaries could we have increased with the money that went towards Common Core?
As a parent, I’m not sure I trust the General Assembly and Governor McCrory to appoint people that have our children’s best interests at heart. These are the same people who still can’t agree on teacher pay, even as we lose hundreds of teachers to other careers and even other states as they try to make ends meet.
What’s also unclear is the style of learning students will be taught. I’ll spare you the eye-crossing details, but Common Core prescribed a certain way to teach math and reading comprehension. Now how will teachers teach? How will parents know how to support their kids and their kids’ teachers?
The North Carolina Education Association has produced this tip sheet on how parents and school leaders can support teachers as teach under Common Core. Additionally, the NCEA polled its members last fall and found that just about half of those who responded have confidence in the Common Core Standards and 99% of the would like the state to devise a system that includes less tests so that teachers have more time to teach.
So the answer to the question – now what? – is we don’t know. What we do know is that for at least this school year, public school teachers will continue to work long hours on minimal salaries and operate under Common Core as it stands, knowing that the standards won’t remain in place as they are today. I’m concerned over what this will do to our teacher’s psyche. I believe as parents we need to look at this as an opportunity to weigh in on how and what our children should be learning. Not all of us have education degrees but I believe many of us would have something valuable to add to this conversation. So what do you think?