Cirque du Common Core – Day 1

From StateImpact Florida:

At times the discussion veered into arguing with straw men, tangents and falsehoods. Speakers often conflated other education policies with Common Core. Some just used their four minutes to rail against a decade’s worth of testing and grading schools.

Letter to the Editor at Florida Today written by Bob Brewster of Cocoa:

Florida quietly put Common Core Standards for kindergarten through second grade in place from 2010 through 2013 with federal stimulus grants so no public approval was needed. By 2015, we will have K-12 implementation and much pain inflicted on our students.

In 2011, Florida FCAT standards were increased and some schools across the state dropped two letter grades based on FCAT 2.0 results. The state Board Of Education adopted one-letter safety nets to slow the slide of school grades. Common Core Standards will be higher and more schools will fail.

Common Core is not fair to students, teachers and parents. “A” students will survive, but struggling and average students in grades four through 12 not exposed to Common Core and expected to perform at the new standards will fail. Teacher evaluations will plunge and many good teachers will retire.

Common Core emulates education in Korea, Finland, Singapore and Hong Kong, where students attend school eight to 10 hours a day with four hours of homework 220 to 230 days a year. In 2015, Common Core will require U.S. students to perform at these high standards without an education base.

I recommend Florida follow states that have re-evaluated Common Core phase-in and not test to the high standards until we are ready. We must extend school days and school years or scrap the experiment and stop inflicting pain on our students.

And a more personal note:  Thanks to John O’Connor at StateImpact Florida (and WUSF), I know that the Common Core math critic who gave one of the two opening statements in Tampa last night was Ze’ev Wurman, a former US Department of Education official who is now an executive with Monolith IC 3D, a California firm.  Wurman made several points, one of which was that the Common Core math standards are flawed because they do not prepare students for the calculus courses they would face as majors in engineering (or physics).

Here is my response (which has been tweeted on @PaulCottlePhys in abbreviated form):  No thoughtful education leader believes that the Common Core is intended to prepare students for college majors in engineering fields and the calculus courses that every first semester engineering student takes.  To argue against Common Core because it does not do so is to wave an enormous red herring.  Instead, the Common Core is intended to prepare every student for the mathematics they will face in STEM careers that are accessible with high school or associate degrees.

Then there was the discussion at the State Board of Education meeting in Tampa about whether the Common Core should be called the Common Core.

Today is Day 2 of Cirque du Common Core.  Today’s public hearing is in Davie, in Broward County.

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