Opposition to CCSS making strange bedfellows

“Forty-six states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and a few states are well in to the process of implementing them. The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group of state legislators and thinkers who believe in limited government. ALEC is considering model legislation opposing the Common Core standards, arguing that a national set of standards could lead to nationalized curriculum and impede innovation in local communities and classrooms. ALEC was supposed to vote on the proposal last week, but the group delayed the vote, according to news reports.”

The expected opposition from ALEC is curious considering the history of the CCSS. As I recall (and I’ve followed this closely for years), it was originally pushed primarily by Republican governors, who won over their colleagues in the name of leveling the field of educational comparison among states.

You’d think the conservatives would be happy with the CCSS since, for the most part teachers, teacher unions, even subject area professional teacher organizations, were left out of the development of the standards until the public review, and they appear to have had limited influence on the final product.

On the other end of the political spectrum, teacher activists such as Anthony Cody are raising serious alarms about the Common Core Standards.

The idea that we can separate the Common Core from high stakes testing is mistaken. The Common Core exists for no other reason than to make such tests possible on a national scale. The Common Core is also closely associated with two big shifts in testing. First, there will be a significant expansion in the number and frequency of tests. There will be more tests, in more subjects, at more grade levels.

The fact that there will be common tests across the nation will make it easier to place even greater pressure on teachers and students to attend to test scores. Second, we will have the introduction of computer-based assessments, with the marvelous machines designed to grade tests, like the Pearson Intelligent Essay Analyzer, or other robo-grading systems.

There has been a vigorous debate about the CCSS in social media as well. Consider these recent tweets:

Some English/Language Arts teachers have expressed worries over how the CCSS shifts emphasis in reading instruction from literature to informational writings. Similarly, some math teachers still have concerns about the impact the new standards will have in their area.

So who is happy with the CCSS? Are they becoming the Mitt Romney of edreform?

One thing’s for sure, educational vendors are having visions of dollar signs over what having the majority of states using the same standards could mean for their bottom lines. All kinds of products are already being touted to school districts as “aligned with the Common Core.” Looming over all of this are the two huge consortia of states working to develop new ways of testing students based on the CCSS.

Optimists that we tend to be, some teachers are trying to look beyond the politics of Common Core’s inception and implications to how they might actually benefit, especially new teachers who are now the new majority in America’s classrooms. Many more warily view CCSS as yet another edreform high-speed train already heading towards our classrooms, while trying to figure out how to make the best of it for our students.

Cross-posted at NationalJournal.com – Education Experts

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