The Common Core State Standards Initiative — a controversial set of nationwide education standards — took another hit this week when hundreds of New Mexico high school students staged a walk-out on their exams.
Some of those students reportedly carried signs that read “More teaching, less testing,” and “Out the door with Common Core.”
These demonstrations follow closely on the heels of Florida Governor Rick Scott taking a hard stance on Common Core testing last week by suspending testing for 11th graders in the state.
This latest batch of criticism is hardly new. There has been vocal opposition ever since states adopted the Common Core, an effort to raise education standards across the US.
So why do so many people hate the Common Core?
The Common Core was developed in 2009 through a joint effort between state leaders and private Washington groups with the intent to strengthen standards and improve learning outcomes of students across the US.
“State school chiefs and governors recognised the value of consistent, real-world learning goals and launched this effort to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, are graduating high school prepared for college, career, and life,” the Common Core website reads.
While the goals of Common Core are laudable, many parents and teachers don’t think they had a seat at the table when standards were developed. To parents and teachers who feel they were entirely left out of the process, the standards may feel heavy-handed.
In a letter on the National Education Association (NEA) website, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel recently urged policy makers to include teachers and education associations in discussions.
“Common Core implementation plans at the state and local levels must be collaboratively developed, adequately resourced, and overseen by community advisory committees that include the voices of students, parents, and educators,” he wrote.
The Common Core also gets a lot of flak over what educators and parents describe as its lack of consideration for non-traditional learners. The Washington Post recently reported on a special education teacher who loves teaching, but was quitting because of the Common Core. Staciee Star, a ninth grade intervention specialist and winner of the “Top Teacher” award by the “Live with Kelly and Michael” show, discussed her reasons for leaving the classroom behind.
Speaking about her students Star said, “They have a learning disability and they may struggle with reading… It is extremely upsetting.. These children are being demoralized on a daily basis. We are making them feel worse about themselves … Our curriculum is going way too fast, and these students, we are losing them.”
As for the actual classroom experience, teachers voice dismay over the lack of creativity in the classroom they feel is a direct result of the Common Core. Lesson plans without flexibility, coupled with the sheer amount of lesson concepts educators must fit into their year, result in less fun in the classroom, some teachers argue. Teachers argue that removing joy from the learning process hurts students.
Lisa Rodrick, a veteran Jersey City teacher of 21 years laments the lack of enjoyment she feels is a direct result of the Common Core. “It’s taken the joy out of reading, just for reading, to learn a lesson out of the story,” she told NJ.com.
In fact, Monday the Washington Post reported that many schools are rescheduling the Dr. Seuss birthday fests that they have every year so that they can take Common Core tests.
The celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday has been an annual tradition where students nationwide join together reading Dr. Seuss classics in what is called “Read Across America Day.” The postponement or cancelation of such an event is precisely why some educators hate the Common Core.
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