The phrase Common Core is a misnomer. If it were what it sounds like, I’d be all for it. A basic core of subjects that all students all over the country should know. Maybe some basic math, some basic English, basic science, basic history, basic social studies, basic literature. But everything beyond that core, well, that can be more free, more fluid, more up to the discretion of teachers and schools, unique to the location, the time, and the students.
That sounds great to me, but that isn’t what Common Core is.
Common Core would be better named Uniform Curriculum, because that’s what it really is. An attempt to make all curriculum all across the US exactly the same, and evaluate how efficiently it’s been drilled into the heads of our students by an endless barrage of tests. The “common core” is all that teachers seem to be allowed to teach, and it’s less than the bare minimum of what kids need to be functioning adults.
Giving every child access to high quality education is important, and I definitely think that there should be a minimum standard every child in America should meet, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to make ever classroom in every state across the nation exactly the same. That approach doesn’t allow for development of critical thinking, problem solving skills, or creativity. It doesn’t allow for meaningful classroom discussion on various topics, or varied exploration of particular subjects, or adaptations to meet the diverse needs of many very different classrooms made up of millions of individual students, all with their own unique personalities and experiences and learning styles, all of which come together, in new combinations each year, to create entirely new and completely one of a kind classrooms, with it’s own individual needs.
Teachers must adapt to a new class and it’s changing needs constantly, as students leave and new ones come in, as the experiences of individuals change throughout the year, so too does the class dynamic as a whole. Every class is anomalous, no class like it has ever existed before it, nor will another class like it ever exist again. And every day with that class is a singular experience, kids and teachers must be prepared for anything, ready to adapt and evolve as needed.
Common core changes all of that. By making every curriculum exactly the same for every class, with little or no room for deviation, we remove the need for adaptation. We force children into dress-right-dress rows, no stepping out of line allowed. And teachers? Our highly trained, well educated, teachers are not needed in this system, where every lesson must be followed word for word, step by step, without critical thought or challenge. We can replace them with anyone who knows how to read. Such unskilled workers will be much more easily managed, without unions or demands for things like good wages and benefits.
I imagine that such education creates good, little, non deviant, workers and consumers for our future society, but it does little to foster innovation and progress. Of course, those with enough privilege can escape this fate for their children, and send them to private school or home school, but right now that represents only about 10% of the population, and I’m not sure how much that number really can grow. Condemning some 80-90% of the population to a serf’s education is wasting a lot of potential.