From The Publisher - October 2013
By Art Suberbielle
Ask any parent of a school age child what their opinion of the new “Common Core” curriculum is, and you’re lucky if you don’t get screamed at. Louisiana’s educational overall success rate for its students is dismal, due to a very high dropout rate before high school graduation. So in a sweeping attempt to change the direction, the state adopted Common Core State Standards in English, arts, and math in 2010.
According to the Louisiana Department of Education website on Common Core, “the new academic standards are based on research and were developed collaboratively by a coalition of teachers, school leaders and education experts from Louisiana and 45 states. The Common Core State Standards define what students need to learn in reading, writing and math in each grade to stay on track for college and careers.” The website offers further explanation this way: “The Common Core State Standards are more rigorous, more focused and more relevant to the long-term success of students in school and beyond…Louisiana is aligning state assessments and end-of-course tests to the new academic standards, phasing in additional common core test items each year until completely measuring students’ achievement of the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math in 2014-2015.”
While all of this sounds perfectly logical, if you look a little deeper beyond this optimistic rhetoric, you will discover that the attempt to implement the Common Core curriculum has been anything but well-thought out. For one thing, the state has not adopted a centralized approach. Instead, Louisiana has permitted local school systems a great deal of latitude to implement “the standards.” Some would argue that this approach allows more creative opportunity for educators, while others who are critical of the entire movement cite more federal and state attempt to control and direct local school systems.
Another cause for concern is just how much training was required for classroom teachers to prepare to present this new subject matter. Without adequate training of the educators, this seems like a recipe for disaster. Would it not have been wiser to implement this new concept starting in the first grade and continually adding another grade level each year?
The rush to implement this new concept appears to have caused teachers to use inadequate or even inappropriate classroom materials. According to a story on Fox News, fourth–grade students in Vermilion Parish were given a homework assignment that included words like “Po Pimp” and “mobstaz,” but school officials said the worksheet was age appropriate based on an education website affiliated with Common Core education standards.
However well-intentioned the Louisiana Department of Education was in trying to implement these Common Core Standards, it is apparent that these officials have put the cart before the horse. Textbooks and teaching materials should be thoroughly reviewed before they are put into classrooms. Teachers should have adequate training on how to implement this new material. Then teachers must be able to exhibit the ability to communicate that material to students before attempting to do so.
Louisiana students deserve the best education available. Change without adequate preparation and supervision creates chaos.
Verse of the Month
“For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.” John 4:34