By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT — Just the headline at Politico is enough to make me giddy:
The Plot to overhaul No Child Left Behind: The Republican plan could dramatically roll back the federal role in education.
Oh, I’m no fan of NCLB, to be sure, but Common Core is even worse. What I like about this headline is the “roll back the federal role in education” part. Both NCLB and Common Core have the federal government way too far into state matters of education.
But, it seems to me that if Republicans can give states a more viable option to Common Core, those states that want to opt out of it would then have a choice.
Jazz Shaw at Hot Air considers the likelihood of a bill getting through Congress:
The first question which jumps to mind is whether or not the GOP can even pass such reforms and, if so, would Barack Obama go along with it. The new Senate GOP majority will only need a handful of Democrats to bring it to a vote and the system has become so poisonous on the local level in many states that it shouldn’t be much of an issue. But will Obama sign it?
Probably not, but I’m an optimist so let’s say he does. Then states might have an option to Common Core; well, wait. For that reason alone, Obama probably won’t sign an education bill. I’m also a realist.
Maybe the answer is to rewrite Common Core; the biggest problem with Common Core has been its implementation. It should have had a rollout over several years, beginning in the lower grades and then following those students up to high school. As a veteran teacher of eighteen years, I’ve watched my students struggle with the new PARCC alignment questions and shut down in frustration. The stories about the math curriculum in particular have been tragic.
Another problem with Common Core has been PARCC itself; Pearson and Bill Gates: what could go wrong?
But, my biggest problem with Common Core has been the assumption that every child begins on the same page and can meet the same academic benchmarks across the board, and if they don’t, the teacher is the failure, not the child. There is certainly some merit to the tenet that certain basics should be met across the country at a certain level; that’s common sense. But to assume that say, an inner city tenth grader who reads on a 3rd grade level, lives in a dilapidated home with no computer access, one parent who has to work the night shift just to keep the electricity on, and the child’s basic diet is Ramen noodles from the Circle K – to assume that child begins on the same level as the student with two college educated parents in a fine two-story home in the best part of town, who attends a magnet school with little discipline issues, who has a laptop and an iPad for school work, who has proper meals at proper times, well, that’s just naïve.
You have to be able to read before you can write a twelve page analytical research paper.
Can that inner city child achieve? Of course he can. Look at Ben Carson. But Common Core assumes they are all level right now.
The bottom line is that states, and local districts, need options, not a one-size-fits all program. If the Republicans can come up with a plan that offers that, and get it passed, if they can come up with options from which districts can choose while still keeping high standards and accountability, then go for it. I’m all in.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.