Why the Core is Gold

In Heinemann’s Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman, the first chapter states that we can read the Core as a “curmudgeon” or we can read them as if they are gold.

I agree there are aspects of gold.

Taken from Bill David Brooks Flickr Photostream
Taken from Bill David Brooks Flickr Photostream

Pathways asserts that an asset of the  Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is  they demand higher-level skills than ever before, and the CCSS organizes these goals “through time, across years, and across disciplines.”  I admit it; that is gold.

Pathways also asserts that the CCSS places equal weight on reading and writing.  Agreed.  No Child Left Behind did not address writing, which evolved into an imbalance and neglect.

Pathways further notes that the CCSS stress “the importance of critical citizenship,” meaning that “The Common Core document asks us to bring up a generation . . . who listen to or read a claim and ask, ‘Who is making this claim? What is that person’s evidence? What other positions are being promulgated?”  Agreed.  In the age of internet and in corporate-owned media empires, we owe this skill to our children and  our democracy.

And most of all, yes, absent the testing movement that surrounds it and the mandated programming that frightened districts are enforcing to meet the test, the CCSS appears to respect the professional judgement of classroom teachers.

So there are reasons to think of the Core as Gold.

And I applaud the stated motive of David Coleman when he observes that we live in a  “country [where] students who pass their high school courses and get their high school diplomas still, in their first year of college, are not ready for the demands of college-level work, and many of these kids do not [stay in] college or they fail” in this interview.   I get some of our school’s test results for college remediation; it breaks my heart and spurs me to work smarter.

I also think David Coleman is right when he promotes that “teachers will be sharing their best work and improving their profession, and doing it across state lines.”  We need this.  In the age of internet, we need to do more to share with and learn from each other.

So there is no denying that there is gold.  But let’s remember that gold is always complicated and often dirty, and quite often what appears to be golden is not gold, but gilded, as this post examines.


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