John Jarpe: The Common Core debatePublished 12:22pm Friday, April 5, 2013
By John Jarpe, Supt. Brandywine Community Schools
In 2010, Michigan and 46 other states adopted the Common Core Standards. These learning standards will make it possible to compare student progress from state to state and America’s education to other countries as well.
Right now, the Common Core Standards are a hot topic in schools all over the country. Whether or not Michigan continues to implement the Common Core has moved to the legislature in Lansing and is being talked about in other states as well.
I saw an ad on South Bend television with a teacher talking about how the Common Core is helpful to students. As I watched some news talk shows the other night, a commentator was saying Common Core was part of a grand plan to indoctrinate kids and take over local and state control of our schools.
Our State Board of Education just came out with a paper in support of both the Common Core and the Michigan Merit Curriculum for our high school students.
There are educators who know the Common Core and the assessments that go with it way better than I do.
I have read about it, I have looked at assessment items, I have been to workshops on it, and I have discussed it with colleagues here and in other districts. I understand the transition to the standards will be tough. I get it that we all need to look at how we are teaching kids and make some real changes if our kids will be successful under the new standards and assessments. We have to make some real instructional shifts.
The bottom line question when it comes to what we do in schools is “What’s best for the students?”
From what I know about the Common Core, there is a greater emphasis on critical thinking skills, analyzing and solving problems, writing clearly and convincingly, and discussing and making the best reasoned decisions. It will take some pains and there will be some setbacks, but we should all want those skills for our students.
As we approach the resolution of a state budget, several important questions for the governor and the legislature are these: Are you going to support the shift to the Common Core and at the same time provide less funding for public education? Are you willing to do what’s best for students and restore the funds you cut two years ago? Is public education truly a priority for you?