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Common Core Mission Statement

One of the most talked-about aspects of the Common Core Standards is its insistence on close textual readings. it seems appropriate to subject the CSS Mission Statement to the process.

CLOSE READING
Common Core State Standards Mission Statement

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.


consistent, clear understanding
The Standards can provide a “description” or an “outline,” but not an “understanding.” The word "understanding" without the definite article “the” means “the power or ability to understand.” Depending upon educational background and reading ability, the readers of the CCSS may or may not take away the desired understanding of what its framers expect students to learn.

teachers and parents
It's a positive development in the educational reform movement to recognize the importance of a child’s parents in the educational process, but I’d guess that the word “parents” was added by classroom teacher feedback on the first draft. Teachers must be very weary of getting all the blame for children who come to school in an unteachable condition.

know what...to do to help [students]
These words make it clear that the new Standards are not concerned with changing the ineffective way that teachers are taught to manage their classrooms. The word “instruct” would be much more appropriate here than “help,” but according to child-centered philosophy, teachers are “facilitators.” Their job is to stand back as children “discover” learning. “Help” is so much more undemanding a word than “instruct” or even “teach.”

robust and relevant to the real world
This alliterative line reflects the contemptuous attitude held by the framers of the new standards towards the traditional curriculum that valued the study of the humanities.

The use of the word “robust” to describe inanimate standards seems odd. People and animals are robust. The word means “healthy.” An apple could also be described as robust. Other meanings of robust are physically strong, hardy, and sturdy. None of these definitions seem applicable to a set of standards. A more appropriate word here would be rigorous, but that might seem threatening since children are only supposed to be “helped” to learn.

success in college and careers
A public education should prepare students for “success in college and careers,” but a human being’s life is more than work. Living entails social interaction on many levels. Job skills are not enough to get a person through the disappointments, tragedies and humiliations of 60-80 years of living. A 13-year system used to shape a child from the age of five needs to address matters of morality, empathy and conscience. “Knowledge and skills” that might serve as a deterrent to the erratic and heartless behavior chronicled in the daily news deserve a place in public education.

fully prepared for the future
The best schools can hope to do is prepare students to be flexible in their approach to problem-solving. No one can be “fully prepared” for the unknown.

our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy
The wording of this entire clause points to the business presence behind the drafting of the Common Core Standards. Positioned, compete, and global economy are all buzz words of the corporate world. Position is a marketing term that originated in the U.S. in the 1950s. It means “to identify or establish (a product, service, or business) as belonging to a particular market sector, esp. for the purposes of promotion in relation to competitors.”

The Common Core Standards is a complex document. Its mission statement may misrepresent the contents. However, judging only by this statement, the new standards are the work of business leaders in quest of a workforce that meets their current job requirements. What concerns me is the apparent lack of concern for the human being inside the worker.

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