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September 03, 2009
September 09, 2009
When I read reports like that of my colleague Kathleen Porter-Magee’s “Is there anything ‘common’ left in Common Core” I’m reminded why I like spending time with real educators and teachers in Ohio. Kathleen’s post provides a brutally concise and accurate summary of the political fights now swirling around the Common Core academic standards. She offers a glimpse into what rabid critics on both the far Right and Left are saying about the effort. The various ravings are epitomized by Susan Ohanian (whoever that is) claim that “the reality is that if people who care about public education don't find a way to fight [the Common Core standards], public schools are dead—and so is democracy.”)
But, in the heartland the conversations are very different and far more practical. Out here the issues aren’t political. Rather the talk focuses on how can educators most effectively implement the Common Core standards to improve instruction for students. Fordham hired the former editorial page editor of the Dayton Daily News, Ellen Belcher, to interview 15 educators from across Ohio to learn about their hopes and concerns per early efforts to implement the Common Core in their districts and schools.
The report, Future Shock: Early Common Core Lessons from Ohio Implementers, will be released on May 18th but some of Belcher’s findings are worth reporting early because the concerns and thoughts of the educators are so starkly different to the toxicity swirling around the effort in places like Washington, DC. Here is a quick sample of some of what Belcher discovered in speaking with real educators working in real schools to implement the Common Core in the Buckeye State:
The educators in Ohio interviewed by Belcher, the people on the frontlines of our schools who work daily with our kids, see the move towards the Common Core as a positive. But, they worry seriously about the implementation challenges, and they fear that somehow our political leadership class will screw all of this up and turn a good into something bad. Or, as one Cleveland educator remarked, “the Common Core is the right work we should be doing as a country.” “But let’s not make this the metric system of our time…and all of sudden stop.” This is thoughtful guidance from someone actually doing the work.
Common sense, increasingly scarce in the public debate around the Common Core among talking heads and the chattering class, still prevails in the heartland. I take some solace in this fact and I hope others do as well.