Myths vs. Facts
The Common Core Is Removing Classic Literature from Classrooms
“Concern is growing among teachers and parents that literary classics will go the way of the dinosaurs under a set of new national curricular standards.” The Huffington Post, Dec. 10, 2012.
Middle- and high-school English teacher Meaghan Freeman writing in The Atlantic says it best:
“There is nothing in the Common Core that says literature cannot be used. There is nothing that says there’s no place for creativity and individual expression. In fact, after three years of using them in my classroom, I’ve found that the standards acknowledge that I am an English teacher and that they trust me to do my job. The naysayers are right. I don’t need to be given a book list. I don’t need to be told what themes to teach. I don’t need to be told how to reach my kids. I do need help adding nonfiction to my curriculum. I need appropriate and valuable strategies to help my kids comprehend and analyze nonfiction texts—that’s the material that my literature degree didn’t adequately prepare me to teach. My state and the Common Core trust me to teach the literature, and they push me to expose my students to more challenging and diverse texts.”
The Common Core calls for a balance of literary and informational texts. In simple English, that means students should be exposed to both classic and contemporary literature and readings from, say, daily newspapers or news magazine. That way, they learn how to extrapolate information from both fact and fiction – something that critics of Common Core seem to struggle with. The Common Core does encourage teachers to use more informational texts as students progress through high school, but that it because college professors and, eventually, employers, will expect them to be able to read articles, research studies, legal cases, etc. and conduct analysis relevant to a class or professional situation. Students need to learn how to present ideas, arguments and sound conclusions instead of book reports. In this way, the Common Core is preparing students for success in life.
Common Core Is “Drill ‘Em and Kill ‘Em”
A veteran Ohio teacher created shockwaves with her announcement that she would resign from teaching because of a “drill ‘em and kill ‘em” approach from the Common Core and that the aligned assessments “are developmentally inappropriate for typical students and torture for those with special needs.” The (Elyria, Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram, Feb. 10, 2015.
The Common Core augments traditional learning techniques, like rote memorization, with multiple problem-solving methods to help develop strong critical-thinking and analysis skills, even among young students. While students will still learn multiplication tables, for example, Common Core puts a greater emphasis on the “how” and the “why.” In fact, another veteran teacher, Joanna Burt-Kinderman, published an op-ed in the The (West Virginia) Charleston Gazette in defense of Common Core math.
As for the aligned assessments not being “developmentally appropriate,” nothing could be further from the truth. The tests were designed with students in mind, and because of that, the tests that third graders will take are structured differently from the tests fifth graders or eighth graders or high school students will take. As with any academic program, the Common Core makes accommodations for special needs students.
Momentum Is Building among States to Ditch Common Core Standards
“As Americans become educated about the controversial Common Core Standards, more states are finding ways to make U-turns to get their students, parents, and teachers out of the nationalized system of standards.” Susan Berry, Breitbart News, June 18, 2014
Headlines over the past year, fanned by Common Core opponents, have propagated the idea that states are making a dash for the door when it comes to high education standards. Yet, the fact is that despite more than 18 months of targeted attacks and after two election cycles, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt Common Core Standards continue to use them or a version tailored to their state-specific needs.
Common Core Standards Restrict Teachers’ Ability to Lead Their Class
“[It] has come to the point where the Common Core is overstepping individual and local decision-making and taking away teacher autonomy and classroom management… society is too rich in diversity for a centralized government to dictate teaching methods and techniques.” Jamie Wandschneider, Iowa State Daily, April 15, 2014
Contrary to claims the Common Core will limit teachers’ ability to lead their classes, educators who have worked closely with the Standards actually say they unlock students’ and their own ability to collaborate and to dig deeper into classroom content.
Common Core Standards Will Dictate What Is Taught in Classrooms
“The proponents of Common Core and PARCC continue to insist that tests and standards are not about curriculum, but that’s a ruse. Teachers already know that what is tested at the end of the year is what is taught in classrooms throughout the year. PARCC may not mandate one textbook or one pacing guide, but the CEO of the federally funded PARCC has admitted one thing: PARCC controls instruction and instruction is curriculum.” Statement from the Office of Governor Bobby Jindal, August 25, 2014
It’s hypocritical for Gov. Jindal to accuse Common Core supporters of a “ruse” when his own actions to undermine schools’ efforts to implement higher standards have been roundly dismissed as pure politicking.
Common Core Is “Creating Millions of Slaves”
What do you think Common Core math is about? If you can no longer think critically, then they can do whatever they want. This is slavery. They are breeding an entire new generation of slaves. And I don’t mean that as just the Obama Administration…These guys who are involved in Common Core are enslaving you to giant corporations and the state. Glenn Beck on The Sean Hannity Show, July 21, 2014
Beck’s contention is as puzzling as it is inappropriate. To compare education reform to the injustice suffered by millions of Americans under slavery is in poor taste, to say the least. The national conversation about our children’s future deserves better.