As we speak with teachers and education leaders working to implement our Common Core Curriculum Maps in their schools and districts, we’re struck by the magnitude of their task. But more-so by their good faith in the face of budget cuts, backlash, and every-day fear of the unknown.
Back in January, the Center on Education Policy published a report detailing States’ Progress and Challenges in Implementing Common Core State Standards. Interestingly, although most adopting states will require school districts to implement the CCSS, most states do not require districts to make complementary changes to their curricula. While this omission respects district autonomy, it leaves districts with a dilemma: Pay money for changes not required? Or wait out what could very well be the latest education fad?
Yet, we have spoken with districts that are courageously moving forward―of their own volition. As our good friend in Arkansas likes to say, “Change is coming.”
That’s why it’s so angering to see the latest education fads slip their way into standards adoption bills and school libraries. Every textbook series is now “aligned” with the CCSS. California, for one, has a standards-implementation bill on the docket – with language emphasizing the so-called “21st century skills.”
Whatever your thoughts on the common curriculum debate (we don’t take a side), at least one of Fordham’s recommendations in their response to the Common Core “counter-manifesto” is a good one: “And big funders and nonprofits that care about this stuff: Devise a really powerful version of ‘Consumer Reports’ by which to vet curricular materials (commercial and ‘open-source’ alike) that purport to be ‘aligned’ with the Common Core so as to gauge their validity—and whether they’re quality materials worthy of the attention of practicing educators.”