Common Core’s Not the Problem; It’s the “Other Stuff”


New York is a step ahead of Florida. They have implemented Common Core and  administered the state-wide tests that go with them. The roll-out proved to be a disaster. Politicians develop education policy after listening  to lobbyists and folks who are paid by the testing industry. Lynne Erdle, the superintendent of schools in Canandaigua, New York does a good job explaining where educators are coming from.

“It’s not about the Common Core…” is a statement I have made over and over again, as have many of my instructional colleagues. I came back from my very first training provided by the New York State Education Department in 2010 and announced that the premise behind the Common Core learning standards was outstanding and was something we could and should all believe in.

But the implementation and the implications for assessments and teacher evaluation systems was going to be the problem. My mind has not changed now, several years later. The work of the Common Core learning standards is good, but it has become muddied, as it is tied into the other state initiatives, and all at a breakneck speed that makes it difficult for our students and for those trying to implement these changes

Tony Bennett’s departure enabled the pause that appears to be underway now in Florida. Bennett was far too personally invested in the Common Core-PARCC assessments dynamic and far too close to the Bush foundation to be an honest broker. No word yet on whether or not the Bushies will enlist Florida’s new education commissioner, Pam Stewart, into its little circle of Chiefs for Change. For Stewart’s sake – and Florida’s – let’s hope not.

It’s always been about the testing, stupid.

And the crazy accountability systems that go with them. Erdle’s position on Core is by shared by many educators. They’re good, but they are being shoved into a massive, convoluted system. The big guns pushing Core – Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan – no longer have the complete confidence of policy makers. Their reforms have proved to be a nightmare. Erdle concludes:

So I go back to my original statement: “It is not about the Common Core…”. The Common Core itself is NOT the problem. I believe that all students can benefit from these new standards and that our teachers are working diligently to understand them, to teach them, to become facilitators of learning in their classroom, to embrace the changes that they bring. But unfortunately, the “other stuff” gets in the way, and causes all of us to take our eye off of what is important. And those who will be harmed are the very people, our students, who should benefit.

The big guns have pushed through reforms that have been benefiting a lot of adults. The one thing they may have been right about – Common Core – was introduced at the end. As there is  too much money to be made and too many politicians involved, we will never know what might have been if we just tried Common Core.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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11 Responses to Common Core’s Not the Problem; It’s the “Other Stuff”

  1. Ro says:

    It’s the Core too. Developed by David Coleman, admittedly he says he knew nothing about education, they are not based on ANY sound educational knowledge, research, and child development. On the secret group of 60, 24 members were testing company employees. ANd it is COMPLETELY inappropriate for our littlest learners. All of it is suspect because none of it had children or authentic learning in mind, nor were real live educators consulted. And please do not point to the committees set up after. They, too, were just for show. EVERY state had standards prior based on the National education associations recommendations for their subject area. We have had 15 years of top down reforms, testing ad nauseum, and scripted curriculum…it’s NOW the status quo and it has failed. Common Core is just more of the same but intends to finally finish off teachers and learning.

  2. I agree with Ro. The CC$$ are the problem as well. No teachers helped develop them. The K-3 standards are HARMFUL. ALL of it is awful and needs to go, both the CC$ and the high stakes testing. ^o^

  3. Tim says:

    David Coleman stated that the Core was completely worthless if the assessments were poor! Well, guess what, the assessments are a profit making disaster making the Core worthless!

    Coleman also mention that his intentions were to make the Core based on a strong foundation without all sorts of “extra” knowledge in the primary grades, well that is not what we have today.

    • Lynne S says:

      Agree! What we have today is dumbing down, indoctrination, poor quality, invasive data collection on students, families and teachers, huge costs, no parental involvement and loss of US history and cursive writing. The Core is rotten!

  4. grumpy says:

    I’m still waiting for someone to point out, that Annenberg/Mike Klonsky/Bill Ayers/Barack Obama Funding of Coleman’s Common Core Project ties Jeb Bush directly to the far, far left of the political spectrum…

  5. CD Brooks says:

    Well said Ro…I completely agree!

  6. The skills are child abuse for SpEd and K-3. Ask a New York teacher. No. don’t . They might start crying or hollering about it. I co-founded Badass Teachers Association to FIGHT against and get rid of CC$$. The standards were not written by teachers. That is a lie. Ask all the schools with no (or significantly curtailed), art, music, PE, librarians, sports where the money went for their programs. It went to pay for *copyrighted* Pearson curriculum, computers, expensive tests and test results (yes, schools have to buy the test results). All for tests significantly above the abilities of the students. Why? So the reformers could prove that teachers really ARE at fault and schools are broken, Why? So the can sell us their expensive “CURE”.

    How many kids failed the high stakes tests on New York State this past spring? 70% FAILED. It was PREDICTED by the commissioner of education the previous October. How did he magically see into the future to know how many would fail? Because the cut score was manipulated to make that many fail. Did New York kids suddenly become “stupid”. No. We at the 35,000 member group Badass Teachers Association are desperate to stop this train wreck before it destroys public education, the future of our vulnerable children, and the emotional and physical health of students and teachers who are crying while typing here every day!

  7. My friend Kathie Wing Larsyn said “the CC$$ are inextricably linked to the destruction teaching as a career…the CC$$ are financed by billionaires who have ONLY as their goal to become rich off the back of public education…the CC$$ are developmentally inappropriate, especially in the early grades…the CC$$ are SUCKING the joy out of childhood….i could go on, and on, and on…..”

  8. K coop says:

    Wake up. Do your homework. Research common core and the tangled web.

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