Press "Enter" to skip to content

Serious Opposition to Common Core Must Start with Support for Teachers

Bob Mercer says that Common Core faces some serious opponents. The Concerned Women for America and the South Dakota Family Policy Council will, alas, probably waste our legislative and electoral time with unserious expostulations that Common Core threatens Christianity with Soviet databases.

Any serious opposition to Common Core should start with teachers like Michael Larson, whose professional experience and expertise tell him that Common Core is pushing teachers and students away from good literature and good learning.

Any serious opposition to Common Core should start with teachers like this Maryland English teacher, noticed by David Newquist, who says Common Core is only the latest symptom of a much larger political culture that prevents her from practicing her profession:

My job is to be debased by an inescapable environment of distrust which insists that teachers cannot be permitted to create and administer their own tests and quizzes, now called “assessments,” or grade their own students’ work appropriately. The development of plans, choice of content, and the texts to be used are increasingly expected to be shared by all teachers in a given subject. In a world where I am constantly instructed to “differentiate” my methods, I am condemned for using different resources than those provided because if I do, we are unable to share “data” with the county and the nation at large.

This counter-intuitive methodology smothers creativity, it restricts students’ critical thinking, and assumes a one-size-fits-all attitude that contradicts the message teachers receive. Teacher planning time has been so swallowed by the constant demand to prove our worth to the domination of oppressive teacher evaluation methods that there is little time for us to carefully analyze student work, conduct our own research, genuinely better ourselves through independent study instead of the generic mandated developments, or talk informally with our co-workers about intellectual pursuits. For a field that touts individuality and differentiation, we are forced to lump students together as we prepare all of these individuals for identical, common assessments. As a profession, we have become increasingly driven by meaningless data points and constant evaluation as opposed to discovery and knowledge.

Originality, experimentation, academic liberty, teacher autonomy, and origination are being strangled in ill-advised efforts to “fix” things that were never broken. If I must prove my worth and my students’ learning through the provision of a measurable set of objectives, then I have taught them nothing because things of value cannot be measured. Inventiveness, inquisitiveness, attitude, work ethic, passion, these things cannot be quantified to a meager data point in an endless table of scrutiny [seventh-grade English teacher, quoted by Valerie Strauss, "I Would Love to Teach But...," Washington Post, 2013.12.31].

When you hear conservatives like the Concerned Women for America and the S.D. Family Policy Council hollering about Common Core, ask them about teachers. Ask them what policies they support to give teachers academic liberty and autonomy in the classroom. Ask them if they are willing to get rid of state-mandated standards and standardized tests. Ask them if they trust teachers to decide what novels and other texts to teach. Ask them if they trust teachers to decide who gets an A and who gets an F. Ask them if they think South Dakota teachers deserve better pay for the work they do.

The answers to those questions will tell you if a Common Core opponent is supporting education or just some political agenda.


  1. Amy 2014.01.05

    Excellent summation. One of the few ones I agree with in totality.

  2. Amy 2014.01.05

    ...on the particular topic of Common Core.

  3. owen reitzel 2014.01.05

    I think you're absolutely righ Cory. But I think the Tea Party and its candidates have to be asked the same questions.

  4. Wayne Fenner 2014.01.05

    These are cogent comments about a trend that few -- in an out of education -- have examined closely. I seriously believe this trend is driven by a narrow economic imperative.

    Check the connections between the so-called "Common Core" and major publishing companies, specifically Pearson Publishing. There is less attention in this common core movement to what students need to know to succeed in the college and the workplace than what will help "educational" providers make a profit.

  5. Kal Lis 2014.01.05

    Ken Santema has a list of speakers who will appear at the event.

    Given the names on the list, I doubt that much will be made of the corporate nature of the Core. I also doubt that the strategies handed out will include methods that will successfully undo bureaucratic rules that will ensure Core implementation.

    On the bright side Pearson et at probably has some bean counter setting the date for the new reform to replace the Core--gotta create a marker for new tests and new textbooks.

  6. Twila 2014.01.05

    Well, you bring up interesting points across the board. But good luck with teachers talking. They won't. They have targets on their back and their voices are silent. I know.

  7. Jana 2014.01.05

    Has Rounds or DD stood up and taken credit for initiating, promoting, implementing and investing in Common Core?

    Nothing happens in the departments without those two giving it their blessing and direction as Gov and former Gov.

  8. Donald Pay 2014.01.05

    Common Core standards don't necessarily limit teachers in any way. If the standards are implemented by states and districts in a ham handed and unthoughtful way, yes, they could limit teachers. But that's true of current standards, and current curriculum, and that's also true of having no standards and outdated curriculum.

    The opposition of the loony right to Common Core is just a continuation of their attempt to wreck public education so that they can siphon tax funds to private corporate education. It's no surprise that the usual righty funders (the Devos family, the Kochs and others) are pumping money into these efforts.

  9. John 2014.01.05

    One has to hand it to the looney right for campaigning against common core - brought to us by the governors, the vast majority of whom are republican, and launched during the Bush administration. These folks have no idea what they are for or against or why.

  10. mike from iowa 2014.01.06

    Education should be turned over to non-profit,religious leaning entities to ensure children are used to further right wing anti-government,pro capitalist,pro religious doctrinaires because wingnuts care so much for kids before they are born,or even certifiably viable. What could possibly go wrong? Who could care more for kids,those who devote their lives to teaching or those who devote their lives to greed and carrying guns everywhere because they claim a 2nd Amendment right that trumps John Q. Citizen's rights to feel safe from nutjobs with guns? Blame the koch bros and ALEC along with easily pliable rethuglican legislators.

  11. Les 2014.01.06

    Pretty much explains the liberal bent in most universities Mike. Wake up with a headache much?

  12. mike from iowa 2014.01.06

    So,since wingnuts have complained about "liberal arts" schools like forever,where are the conservative arts schools? If they exist,why aren't more people attending them to get their religious indoctrination? The biggest right wing problem with education is the lack of same. Fake Noize,anyone? We decide,you repeat.

  13. Les 2014.01.06

    I've pushed my share of dollars through Augustana, a liberal arts run by the Lutherans. Arts and religion run by liberals. Do you really believe the conservatives have had nothing to do with building these education centers?
    Another flaming liberal who wishes to re invent the world with my money.

  14. mike from iowa 2014.01.06

    Would much rather your monies be spent in the United States of America fixing what ails the infrastructure and providing jobs for U.S. citizens than have my taxpayer dollars shipped overseas to fund wingnut illegal,unconstitutional wars for the hell of it and then not have wingnuts sacrifice their children's lives for such a noble cause. Seems like every rotten little dictator out there was installed with and/or through CIA funding. Most of them under chickenhawk rethuglican Potii. Chile,Panama,Iraq,Nicaragua,elSalvador,Afghanistan.....

  15. Charlie Hoffman 2014.01.09

    Could not agree with you more "Mike from IA".

    Get the book "All the Shaws Men" by Stephen Kinzer.

  16. Charlie Hoffman 2014.01.09

    Mike from IA the above post by me is only concerned with your last posting. We have much disagreement with the other posts you placed before that.

Comments are closed.