Sunday, February 9, 2014

The One True Way

You don’t have to be a local control extremist to oppose the Common Core standards. The alternative isn’t that every school board will somehow draft its own standards. The alternative is to allow the Common Core standards to be genuinely voluntary, and to allow other models to develop that districts can choose from. In all likelihood, a manageable number of competing alternatives would emerge which districts could choose and modify as they see fit. School boards wouldn’t be inventing their own approaches from scratch any more than they have to write their own textbooks from scratch.

Opposing the imposition of the Common Core just means recognizing that there is more than one way to think about how education works, and that the alternatives reflect value judgments that are exactly what school boards are elected to decide. Many people believe, quite defensibly, that a school system that pursues higher standardized test scores, regardless of what other values are sacrificed in the process, is not offering a good education. That is a permissible opinion. Many people think that the Common Core standards are not realistic or developmentally appropriate (especially in the early grades). That’s also a permissible opinion. Many have other objections to the Common Core – all permissible opinions to hold. Are we so sure that those people are wrong that we want to preclude any community from enacting policies based on those opinions?

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