"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Our concerns about the common core are not just "noise"

Sent to Reading Today, November 27, 2014

"Moving beyond the noise of the common core" (Nov/Dec 2014) reads like advice from a mature adult to excitable children: don't pay attention to the critics, just embrace the core. Focus on implementation, on making the common core work. 

But many of us are convinced that the common core is a disaster, a tsunami that could destroy American education.  Our concerns are not "noise." They are very serious.

Briefly, there is no need for the common core: The problem in American education is not teacher quality, nor is it a lack of tough standards. The problem is our unacceptably high rate of poverty.  Poverty has a devastating impact on school achievement. When scholars control for the effect of poverty, American students score at the top of the world on international tests.

The common core makes no attempt to protect children from the effects of poverty. Instead it imposes, as Susan Ohanian accurately describes it, “a radical untried curriculum overhaul and … nonstop national testing," a plan that is already costing billions, and, thanks to the requirement that testing be online, will cost billions for years to come.

The common core promises to bleed every spare dollar from education, all to profit computer and testing companies, without a shred of evidence that it will help students. 

This is not the time for blind obedience.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article: Hall, April. 2014.Moving beyond the noise of the common core.  Reading Today 32(3): 18-21
This letter posted at: http://tinyurl.com/mat9gvh


  1. It baffles my mind that after 30 years of testing and accountability (using Nation at Risk as starting point) that everyone has not reached the conclusion that standards based accountabilty has had zero effect (huge costvand many negative effects) on student achievement.

    If we are still spending billions to find out what we already know (poverty matters) then other forces must be at play.

    How else can we account for such a denial of logic in the face of overwhelming evidence?

  2. DeeDee7:49 PM

    I think this point largely stems from a divide between the policy makers and the extent of the communities they serve. I was reading an article called 'what poor children need in school' (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/18/what-poor-children-need-in-school/) and feel that it also speaks on this point. It talks about how policy makers and officials expect different standards from schools they send their own kids to vs the general public.
    This divide is toxic and part of the reason that flawed policies such as this one.