Common Core: Equality in
Curriculum and Instruction Does
Not Create Success
In order to sell a bad product, one has to align with something that appears to
have credibility and commit whole heartedly to a bad campaign. This is what
the National Governors Council is doing to hoodwink the educators in their
states. A lot of special interest money is riding on this final pitch to teachers.
Common Core has been a hard to sell in schools across the country and in
Georgia.  Many teachers have shot holes through the curriculum stating that
it does not promote achievement but creates further gaps in learning.  
Teachers now tout that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will limit
creativity and innovation among our students thus creating more cracks for
students to fall through.
1    Teachers have used their “red ink pens” of
disapproval and provided many comments which could damage the
implementation of CCSS by way of public input.  Achieve Inc. and large
testing consortiums are teaming up with the International Baccalaureate (IB)
program to repair its image and discredit the professional critique of this
untested and experimental curriculum.

IB is well known for its reputation of courses being implemented in the nation’
s high schools. However, this international organization wants to increase its
influence in America’s
Education Industrial Complex  and become placed in
elementary and middle schools.  In doing so, the program is charging
exorbitant fees to be part of this “cash-cow” influential implementation.
3   IB is
now selling to schools how they can help implement the new alignment to
becoming an IB world school affirming they will infuse the CCSS to make
schools more rigorous for global thinking and peacemaking.
4 One school in
San Diego has done this and many of the teachers are questioning the
objective of the program. Some educators perceive that the incorporation of
IB with CCSS at the elementary level look to promote global citizenship rather
than knowledge.

IB is not without skepticism and controversy. Some states wanted to prevent
international organizations from influencing state sovereignty and decision
making processes in curriculum and instruction.
6  In addition, some states
have also submitted legislation to opt out of CCSS if certain achievement
gains are not met.
7   Utah has already dropped out of the consortium for fear
of more federal control at the local level.
8   While this seems to be a
concerted effort to increase rigor, this does not follow the basic teaching
methods of
Bloom’s taxonomy.  What this will continue to do is create an even
larger achievement gap among students. Students who are most at risk from
this intrusive endorsement and untested curriculum are poverty stricken

The IB program (& the CCSS) does prefer the use of inquiry based learning
and we are seeing students struggling to learn the material, especially in the
earlier grades where knowledge and basic skill building is crucial. Our current
6th through 12th graders in GA have gone through three curriculums within
seven years ( QCC to GPS  to CCSS) and many learning gaps will emerge
more prominently in those groups of students.  No wonder our students have
learning gaps. Without strong parental support and good teachers doing what
they can, it will be hard to sell more influence in accepting the legitimacy of
CCSS.  Furthermore, in order to use this
Project Based Learning model,
students must have a considerable amount of knowledge and solid basic
skills to comfortably “struggle” through this format of learning. IB is
appropriate for this type of pedagogy; however, I would not expect elementary
and middle school teachers to use this as the primary method for teaching
content.   This seems to be a better fit for highly motivated and gifted
students. For average students, this will continue to create gaps in
achievement larger than the Grand Canyon. Throw in lack of instructional
time and an abundance of austerity measures this creates an unrealistic
approach to teaching.  College students do not go to college and have to
inquire their way through school.  These types of instructional strategies have
their place, but they should not be used to teach the entire curriculum. This is
nothing more than constructivism where students are expected to construct
their way to knowledge on their own discovery.
9 In earlier grades, this
discovery approach can be disastrous when learning basic skills. CCSS and
IB are littered with this type of practice. Curriculum is supposed to be what is
to be taught, not now to deliver it! Project based learning slows down the
classroom and instead puts the kids behind and increasing the achievement
gap.  Developmentally, I worry about what this type of instruction will do to
our younger grades. Uniformity in curriculum, teaching, learning, and testing
will not increase student achievement.

What is the answer to this colossal change in teaching and learning?
Teachers who are good will continue to do what they have always done: Shut
the door, teach the kids, love the kids, and make sure their paperwork is
right.  Good teachers still know how to reach their students even if the special
interest groups and politicians have made it more difficult. It is getting tougher
each time, but teachers must become savvier in making sure to teach content
well in less time while imparting as much knowledge as possible with less
school days. Good teachers are not satisfied by teaching in ways that seem
like students are learning. Teachers are satisfied when students learn by
using multiple strategies to reach the student based on how students learn.
When the special interests groups and politicians destroy that part of
teaching, it is over.
Jeremy Spencer, Ed. S. has
been teaching biological sciences
for 13 years in Georgia.  He currently
the education policy adviser for his
elected state house representative.
The opinions expressed in this article reflect those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of EmpowerED Georgia.
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