There was an interesting – more telling than interesting – anti-Common Core opinion piece in today’s Union Leader. Here are a couple of excerpts:
As a math educator, I find the battle over this proposed curriculum change somewhat amusing. Yes, our students lag behind other countries in math skills; but it’s been that way for decades, and the curriculum is the least of the problems
…..If you have a child in a public elementary school, there is a very good chance that the child is learning math from a teacher who genuinely dislikes math, or who knows very little of it, or both
….Further, at all grade levels you will find the occasional totally incompetent teacher who is protected by the union, and whom the principal feels powerless to fire. So instead, the administration waits for the incompetent teacher to retire, and again, it’s our students who lose out
….The educators and the politicians can fight over the Common Core Standards all they want, but in the end, all they’re doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Just what is the point of this piece? Is it that our math instruction isn’t working because elementary teachers are frequently not good at math? This is true and is an observation made frequently by educators (about science as well). But he doesn’t go on to ask what can we do about math instruction.
He could talk about how to make elementary school teachers better at math. He could point out that the Common Core is a big help to elementary school teachers because it allows them to concentrate on a small number of very focused skills.
Instead, we hear that our teachers – unionized teachers! – are incompetent. And therefore public education is the Titanic. Because this is not an oped about teaching. It’s about politics. So his solution, unstated her, would be “school choice” – charters, vouchers and home schooling?
In fact, the Common Core debate is driven by the school choice folks. One of the front men trying to save public education from the Common Core, former House member Greg Hill of Northfield, said his goal is to get every possible student out of “the system.” He and his compatriots now want to advise New Hampshire parents on education policy for the public schools they want to leave behind, telling us that the Common Core is not good for our kids.
But look back at the just concluded UL series on the Common Core, reported in a factual, insightful way. Kids’ “brains are on fire,” inspired by the new more challenging standards. Teachers are animated in support. And this in a paper who’s editorial page is unalterably opposed to the Common Core.
The Common Core standards for math tell teachers to throw away the calculator and concentrate on the fundamentals so the kids will have the skills to go as high as they want in their math studies.
The Common Core debate gives parents the opportunity to disagree that our schools are the Titanic and take a big step in improving their kids’ learning.