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

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bill Nye, The Science Guy shouldn't believe everything he reads about the Common Core.

Stephen Krashen

On Big Think, Bill Nye (The Science Guy) advises us to "use your critical thinking skills. Evaluate evidence. Don't believe everything you read or see" (December 20, 2016). Mr. Nye is a good example of doing exactly that, reading and evaluating evidence carefully from all sides of an issue.  Except in one major case: The Common Core.

Mr. Nye is an enthusiastic supporter of the Common Core standards, because, he says, there are some basic principles everybody needs to know. On Big Think in September, 2014, he says that everybody needs to learn "a little bit of physics, chemistry, mathematics and you got to learn some evolution. You've got to learn some biology ... Everybody's got to learn the alphabet. Everybody's got to learn to read. The U.S. Constitution is written in English so everybody's got to learn to read English." (http://bigthink.com/videos/bill-nye-is-the-core-curriculum-the-antidote-for-creationism).

I completely agree and I think that nearly all educators and parents agree.  Mr. Nye says that the opposition to the common core stems from teachers not wanting to teach subjects they are not very interested in,  and parents' concerns that the content of the core might conflict with their beliefs. 

But the oppoition to the Common Core among professional educators is different:  It is because the standards that make up the official Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are developmentally inappropriate, were created without sufficient consultation with teachers and research on learning, and their validity has never even been investigated.  

In addition, the CCSS imposes a staggering amount of testing. despite research showing that increasing testing does not increase achievement.

Finally, CCSS does not address the real problem in American education.  Critics complain about our unspectacular scores on international tests, but when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top of the world. Our unimpressive overall scores are because the US has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries (now over 20% nationally and around 80% in some inner city school districts), compared to high-scoring Finland’s child poverty level of 5%).

Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. Study after study confirms that all of these have a profound negative impact on school performance. The best teaching and best standards in the world will not help if students are hungry, ill and have little access to books. 
Instead of protecting children from the effects of poverty, the common core cointinues to invest billions in inappropriate and harmful standards, and useless testing.
I suggest Mr. Nye take a closer look at this issue. 

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