Now that (most) school administrators in the nation are eager to show that they are in step with the aims of the Common Core State Standards, you’ll be hearing the same words coming from a multitude of administrative lips. Superintendents, principals, and liaison officers will all be saying the exact same thing, as if they just thought of it themselves. In fact, they've all learned the same script.
You will hear how the children in your local schools will be “prepared to succeed in college and careers.” You’ll be told that education is now focused on “student driven learning” and “higher level thinking skills.” You’ll be told, as if it were a major break-through in education, that students are expected” to provide evidence” for their answers, and “understand informational texts.” You’ll be reminded how important it is for graduates to be able to “compete globally.”
Here, for example, is New York Education Commissioner John B. King Jr., expressing approval of a new teacher evaluation plan. According to the commissioner, the new plan will “help improve teaching and learning and give New York City students a much better opportunity to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and their careers.”
Articles written by journalists echo the words provided them by the Common Core website. Here’s an example from a news story from Erie, Pennsylvania. First, the reporter quotes an assistant principal who has learned the CCSS script:
"Assistant Principal, Karin Ryan said, 'We see our students more engaged in what they're doing, we see conversations among students, higher level thinking, we see students being able to go back to different texts and find evidence to support answers. We see students agreeing, disagreeing and adding more to conversations so that there is a lot more student driven learning instead of teacher driven instruction.'"
Then the reporter continues in the same vein:
"Educators say the Common Core offers fewer standards, higher standards and clearer expectations than with previous standards for what students should know and do after completing each grade level. It's all about preparing kids to succeed in career and college."
It’s not just the administrators and reporters. Look for school mission statements to echo official CCSS terminology. Here’s one from Paul Revere School in Chicago:
"Paul Revere is a community school committed to preparing its students to contribute to their local and global communities by developing skills and providing the essential tools, information and resources needed to succeed in college and/or careers."
We’ve all seen movies in which a character is hypnotized. Repetition does the trick: repeated motions, like that of a swaying pocket watch, and repeated words, such as "you are getting very sleepy, sleepy, sleepy."
Advertising techniques are a little like hypnosis. Tell people the same thing often and earnestly enough and they will come to believe you, whatever it is. Tell them that it is for “the good of their children” and huge numbers of nice people can be convinced of almost anything.
Parents cannot afford to fall into a hypnotic trance regarding the Common Core Standards. In theory, the standards are a good thing. In practice, they are not in the interest of all children.
Learning is sequential and age-related. Standards that instruct teachers to use the same techniques at every grade level beginning with Kindergarten may have an intended purpose, but teachers and parents must question that purpose.
Protect the interests of this generation of school children by learning to recognize the Common Core script. Insist that your school administrators put its goals into their own words to prove that they understand what is going on.