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January 27, 2014

Common Core Deficits

Cindy A. Rose

Common Core was predicted to be a failure by Common Core survey participants in March of 2010 (1). From Common Core’s website and the survey: "Few respondents believe the current education system is well prepared to meaningfully implement the Common Core State Standards.”


Respondents had many positive things to say about the Common Core Standards. However, without knowing the questions asked and the specific numbers in the positive/negative, I am skeptical of anything singing its praises.


I’ve been an advocate against Common Core since before 99% of Maryland knew it existed. I’m embarrassed to admit I’m just now coming to understand the implications for Special Education and English Language learners. I’m embarrassed because I have a 3rd grade Special Education child and I should have been all over this. It’s bad enough for normal healthy children. It’s appalling how little regard was given to the struggling students.


Better late….as they say.


I’ve learned that the creators of Common Core (Bill Gates and his buddies at Achieve, Inc.) have completely disregarded the Special Education population (as well as the English Language learners).


For example, Common Core believes Special Education children should be taught chronologically, not developmentally. My son can barely grasp Pre-K concepts. However Common Core demands he be taught at a 3rd grade level. Not only do they demand he be taught at this level, but he will be tested at this level as well.


Parents have fought the Maryland State Assessments for Special Education, and even find the Alt Maryland State Assessments a stretch. However Common Core, via Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) says these children will be tested at their chronological – not developmental – ages. The tests will set the pace for the teaching. They, their teachers and their schools, with either be doomed to failure, or enticed to cheat. If they cheat, who will blame them?


Common Core is even attempting to tell parents and education teams how to design an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). I’m not sure what insults me more, that they didn’t even have Special Education in mind when designing the standards, or that they want to assume the role of parent/educator on the front lines.


For those new to the Common Core debate, the standards were written by a 25 member panel on which were only two educators and they were high school level, mostly gifted and talented classes.


The creators were of the mindset that “difficult” meant better. In their world, if you can’t reach the shelf at the two-foot level, the problem is the shelf is too low, so they raise it to four feet.


Sounds right, right?


Worse, they didn’t really make the standards “rigorous” just developmentally inappropriate. Second graders are struggling so let’s give them high school level material; that will make them smarter. They did nothing to help students and everything to demoralize and doom them to fail. Reports are coming in of elementary children who once loved school, fearful of going. Elementary school?


A student entering third grade with second grade skills is all of a sudden thrust into a classroom where they must know fourth, fifth or sixth grade skills, depending on the subject. It’s like my asking you to build me a two story bird house and the only thing I’ve given you is the raw material.  No blue print, no instruction – not even a picture on a box. Go…


They don’t have the foundational skills to do what is being asked of them, and there isn’t time for the teachers to catch them up; Common Core has a schedule that must be kept.


Common Core ignores the learning differences of students who are struggling as well as Special Education students.


Struggling children will struggle and fail more. Children on the fence will fall and gifted and talented students will be brought down. Not because white suburban moms can’t bear the thought of their child failing, but because corporate education reformers thought they knew more about education than teachers and parents.


Common Core is a product, not a tested teaching method. Common Core is packaged, trademarked and liability protected because its function was to make money for corporations and businesses in the field of education, education resources, education programs, testing programs ad infinitum. Everything being taught is designed to make students better worker bees. Why else do you introduce “coding” to an elementary student?


Author Jonathan Kozol said it well: “Instead of seeing the children for the blessings they are, we are measuring them only by the standard of whether they will be future deficits or assets for our nation’s competitive needs.”


That should frighten you.




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