Vouchers, charters, public school spending, treatment of teachers – isn’t there something we’re not fighting about when it comes to education?
Why, yes, and last week’s quiet end to a boring race for state superintendent of public instruction underscores one of the biggest examples of that: The Common Core learning standards initiative.
The Common Core is the biggest thing in Wisconsin education that you hardly ever hear about, unless you’re employed in the school world. Then you hear about it all the time. For a lot of schools, teachers and students, it’s bringing clear, significant and, let us hope, ultimately productive changes in what goes on daily.
Take a tour of a school or talk to school leaders about what they’re up to anywhere in the state and two out of every three sentences you hear include the phrase “Common Core.” At least it feels that way.
In many classrooms, each student now has explicit goals to work on daily (“Use place value understanding to round whole numbers to the nearest 10 or 100,” for example, from the third-grade math standards) and will gladly tell you what standard they’re focused on at the time you ask (I’ve asked). Or perhaps show you the standard and their work on it on their iPad. If this hasn’t come to your child’s school yet, look for something like this soon.
The Common Core movement has swept across the nation in the last five years. It arose largely from among governors, state education chiefs, corporate leaders and education advocates who believed the nation as a whole was not aiming high enough in education and that the wide variation from state to state in defining good achievement and what it takes to get a high school diploma was a problem.