National Journal Asks Why Common Core is a Tea Party Bugbear?

Matt Williams has written about the Common Core on this blog before (Common Core: High Standards are Not Inappropriate They Are Essential) and this week responds with a cogent outline of the underlying politics and subsequent name calling that may undermine the larger common good the core sought to address. Visit the National Journal to read his commentary and weigh in with your own. Continue reading

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Common Core: High Standards are Not Inappropriate, They Are Essential

This is the perfect argument for why high standards are not inappropriate but essential. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not right or needed or vital. As a species we have always tackled what is hard. We came out of the cave, harnessed fire, built the wheel, created art, designed architecture, and went to the moon. It is who we are. We crave what is difficult and what propels us forward. I’m not comparing the Common Core to fire or to the moon shoot. But it is what is next for education. How can we grow economically as a nation if we don’t educate our students against high standards? How can we be okay with our college students spending PELL grants, loans, and hard earned money on courses that don’t count towards graduation? How can we look our children in the eyes and lie to them at graduations across this country by telling them they are now ready to tackle the challenges before them? It may be hard. It may be a big lift. But it is absolutely essential because I’m not going to look my three kids in the eyes and lie to them. Continue reading

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ESEA Waivers: Priority Schools

Part One of a series about the ESEA waiver package in response to state and district’s requests for relief and greater flexibility from the current federal requirements. States, through the waivers, may seek flexibility in the following areas: first and foremost, the 2014 timeline for 100% proficiency, district and school improvement accountability requirements, and increased federal funding flexibility. My colleague, Lillian Pace, and I will have a series of blogs on different aspects of the waiver package over the next few weeks. These waivers, for better or worse, present a potential opportunity to rethink and re-scope the way states support school districts as well as an opportunity to innovate and invest in new accountability systems and supports for low performing schools. Continue reading

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The McKinsey Report

So what works in Finland (Finland and Shanghai were not part of the McKinsey study) is not going to have the same impact in a system at a different performance stage. And what worked in Shanghai might have popped them onto the leaderboard of high achievers but it is no guarantee that they will demonstrate a continuum of improvement. Giving teachers more autonomy in the classroom, for example, makes sense only if they are grounded in the system pedagogy and are moving from great to excellent. School systems that are at the lower end of the performance stage require tighter controls over teaching and learning processes. Continue reading

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On the Promulgation of National Academic Standards

For me, the key is that these standards represent a set of expectations every student in the U.S should have access to, whether they live in Rhode Island or California. They transcend political agendas and focus on the core knowledge our population needs to acquire to compete in a global economy. State-level policy wonks may rail against loss of power or perceived wresting of curriculum from local control, but in reality don’t we owe our students some guarantee that all their time and effort spent in school will actually amount to something useful outside of their own backyards? Continue reading

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Should Title I Be Tied To College and Career-Ready Standards?

The National Journal Expert Education Blog asks if it would be problematic to change Title I funding to be contingent upon a state’s adoption of reading and math standards that prepare students for college and/or a career. Chad Wick responds that the federal government is not reaching too far with this proposal and that, at the very least “we should expect all students to be able to read and compute at a level that will allow them to succeed and even flourish in a 21st-century environment.” Continue reading

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