“Constant vigilance!”

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Last week I happened upon a link to an “anti-Common Core” post on someone’s Facebook wall. Embedded in the post was a video of a young girl executing a math problem using a TERC/Investigations method for solving a simple addition problem. Videos like these have been around for some time – but recently they (and other absurdities) are beginning to surface in response to the upcoming Common Core implementation. I’ve been meaning to blog on this topic for some time, from a parental point-of-view, but like many topics in education it is a multilayered and complex topic not easily distilled into a 500 word post. So I was particularly pleased to find someone had the good sense to write a (much longer) post on this very topic (“5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About The Common Core“) which I hope will dispel some of the myths and misconceptions flying around about it.

The Common Core **is not** a construct of the Obama administration.

The Common Core **is not** an effort to overtake a state’s authority to educate its citizens.

The Common Core **is not** a national curriculum.

The Common Core is an effort to instill reading and math standards across our education system. If your school administration tells you that gifted education has been discontinued “because of Common Core,” or that the number of tests each year has risen “because of Common Core,” or your child must learn the lattice method for multiple digit multiplication “because of Common Core,” they are being less than honest. To the last point the issue is the difference between standards and curriculum. An example of a standard:

- CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.1 Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.

Now if your school district elects to use a curriculum that teaches this standard in some ridiculous way, that is not the fault of the standard. That is the fault of the curriculum. On an increase in the number of tests? Ideally the Common Core will replace state level tests by 2014-15 school year.

If our nation is to become competitive in the world economy we will have to focus our resources on improving achievement in reading and math. You can call it anything you’d like – but without a common set of standards, and some way to assess the effectiveness of the curriculum teaching those standards, how can we possibly begin to compete (or even align) with the rest of the world for college and career readiness?

We can’t. Some schools strive to prepare their students in the best possible way to be successful in college and careers – hopefully yours is one of them. Some schools will do just what they need to do to get to the next school year and maintain a meaningless state level rating, all the time decrying the imposition of any national standards in reading and math. Whichever school it may be, maintaining “constant vigilance” is key to understanding valid arguments for and against the Common Core – and any other education reform measures.