Thursday, October 16, 2014

Will the real Common Core please stand up?

I've done some more research, and I think I found one of the reasons for all of the confusion.

This is NOT Common Core. This is Common Core, Inc. According to their website:

"We are a Washington, D.C. based non-profit 501(c)3 organization that seeks to ensure that all students, regardless of their circumstance, receive a content-rich education in the full range of the liberal arts and sciences, including English, mathematics, history, the arts, science, and foreign languages. Since 2007 we have worked with teachers and scholars to create instructional materials, conduct research, and promote policies that support a comprehensive and high-quality education in America’s public schools."

This is an organization that promotes itself as "a noted provider of CCSS-based curriculum tools. "

You can tell that they're not the REAL Common Core because:
(1) They"provide ... curriculum tools" based on the Common Core State Standards
(2) Their website promotes three commmercially-available curricula, namely Eureka Math, the Wheatley Portfolio, and the Alexandria plan.
(3) Their website also covers history and art, which are not part of the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core State Standards only cover mathematics and language arts.

I don't care what they call themselves, they are not COMMON CORE. They are Common-Core BASED, as far as that goes.

Let me add a qualifier here, and say that I've looked at their website, and I've looked at their offerings. Most of it is good stuff. These people know what they're doing. But some of them are not stuff I would use. And your child's teacher isn't being forced at gunpoint to use these materials.

This IS Common Core. This is the Common Core State Standards Initiative. According to their website:

"The state-led effort to develop the Common Core State Standards was launched in 2009 by state leaders, including governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, through their membership in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). State school chiefs and governors recognized the value of consistent, real-world learning goals and launched this effort to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, are graduating high school prepared for college, career, and life."

These standards are the ones that are being voted upon in state legislatures and school districts, and the ones being promoted rather cackhandedly by the federal government. Nobody makes any money on this website or from these standards. Thousands of teachers have worked tirelessly over the years to bring this effort to fruition.

The Common Core State Standards are a good thing, a very good thing, as you will decide after you read the information on their website.

So, why the confusion? And who started using the term "Common Core" first? And why is allowed to continue using that name, which only adds to the confusion and the rancor on both sides?

I don't have a good answer to those questions. Part of the problem is that the CCSSI doesn't have a very strong branding, trademark or copyright policy. But one thing that needs to be clear is this: The CCSS and Common Core, Inc., are two separate and independent entities. A state or school district can adopt the CCSS and not buy a single thing from Common Core, Inc.

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