But we should have known it wouldn’t take long for the federal government to try to impose its control on the nation’s schools. First, it was the “No Child Left Behind” initiative under President George W. Bush. Now, we have President Barack Obama’s contribution, the Common Core State Standards.
The Common Core is the government’s attempt to nationalize a school curriculum, which it says is “designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”
Opponents, however, see it as an “effort by those outside of the classroom to exercise control over the classroom by standardizing what is taught in classrooms across the nation.”
It is not so much the standard curriculum that has many educators and administrators upset. The feds left it up to the states to implement the Common Core, and beginning with the last school year, New York handed down specific instructions to schools on what and how teachers should teach.
And, of course, assessing and evaluating teachers and students for their success in imparting and learning the curriculum is to be achieved through more-rigorous testing. The early results were not impressive, with just 31 percent of pupils in grades 3-8 passing the exams last spring for math and English.
Many educators and parents are unhappy that the state rushed into the Common Core so quickly, giving the new tests during the first year of the new system. Many teachers also believe their instruction is hamstrung by the strict adherence to modules and scripts handed down from Albany.
Ken Sider, a third-grade teacher, told the Oneonta school board recently that the modules provide minute-by-minute directions that teachers don’t have the authority to change.