Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why not Core Parenting Standards?

I think one impulse behind the Common Core is that education is a very complex science that only experts can understand. Pushing the Common Core, then, isn’t so much trying to shift power from local elected officials to state and federal elected officials; it’s trying to shift power from elected officials to “experts.” If educational issues hinge largely on value judgments, then it makes sense to bring the democratic process to bear on them. But if education is like quantum physics, then we just need to consult really smart physicists to find out the correct answers to our problems, and elected officials should just sign on and butt out.

Needless to say, I don’t think education is quantum physics. The ultimate questions in education are value questions about goals and priorities, which should be decided democratically. To the extent that there is expertise about how to reach the goals we choose, it rests largely with experienced classroom teachers, not with unelected bureaucrats and private groups. But the Common Core disagrees: it wants you to trust a small group of self-appointed experts to tell every community in America (and its teachers) what the right approach to education is.

(If you want to quickly dispel any illusions you might have about the superior expertise of our state education bureaucracy, you might take a look at some of the materials at the state Department of Education’s website (for example, here). This emperor has no clothes.)

Of course, an entire industry has been built on the idea that education can be trusted only to experts. But if education requires such specialized knowledge that communities full of ordinary people can’t be trusted to run it, isn’t the same even more true about parenting? Parenting is almost certainly more consequential than schooling. How has the human race survived without closer state intervention in everyday parenting? Shouldn’t the state require parents to demonstrate compliance with hundreds of pages of Parenting Standards? How will we ever compete in the global marketplace otherwise? The questions are obviously sarcastic, but I genuinely don’t know what the distinction is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think parents should read the new 'Triple Package' book by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenstein. I think parents should know, the average American kid studies about 5.5 hours, and Asians 13.8, and those who make top universities study 20-25 from middle school on and watch under 7 hours a week of TV. Reading to your kids helps a lot, but having them do extra worksheets, Spectrum books, etc. helps. Staying married helps, or if not making sure you are both involved and live close. Many facts are out there. Hours studied leads to success. Parents should turn off the TV and spend evenings and weekends focused on helping their kids thrive in school. A recent study showed no test score/knowledge/SAT benefit for private school after adjusting for income, so spending money isn't enough or even helpful at all. Parents need to be an example and show school is #1, volunteer at your kids' public school, take them to a cafe or library on Saturday to study, show them nothing is more important than education and don't give automatic approval, condition it on grades. Many immigrant groups do well even when poor. Parenting is key. There is no benefit to private school after adjusting for income, but there is to being born Chinese/Korean/Indian American. Why? Great focus. Lowest quintile Asians do better on the SAT than mid quintile whites and equal to second quintile whites. Americans need to wake up! We could be third world soon.