To Common Core or Not To Common Core

Several nights ago I participated in a panel hosted by the Prince William County Committee of 100 about the future of standards in Virginia’s public schools.  Of interest to the Committee was whether the panelists believed Virginia should stick with the SOLs, adopt the Common Core State Standards, or do something else.  I chose doing something different, specifically adopting a Common Core Plus strategy that could be followed either by the state or the county if the state chooses differently.

That may seem like a strange recommendation to followers of this blog as I haven’t hidden my displeasure with the Common Core, so I thought I’d explain.

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Gubernatorial Candidates on Education

The biggest issue facing education in the United States right now is the Common Core State Standards initiative.  Public schools in participating states must agree to implement the common core standards, evaluate students with one of the two common core aligned assessments, evaluate teachers based, in part, on student performance data, and must gather and transmit numerous “data points” to the US Dept of Education and any other third parties as directed by the US Dept of Ed.

Virginia is not a full participant in the CCSS initiative, yet.  The only thing preventing us from becoming a full participant is Governor McDonnell, whose term is in its final days.

If Virginia becomes a full participant in the CCSS initiative, what our children are taught, how they’re taught it, how their achievement is evaluated, and what information about them is shared with the federal and state government and unnamed third parties, will fundamentally change.  Any promised reforms of testing or standards will be nullified as the rules and guidelines established by the CCSS initiative and the US Dept of Ed will be the rules we have to follow.

In lieu of the potential impact on public education in Virginia if Virginia were to become a full participant in the CCSS initiative, you’d think the gubernatorial candidates would have something to say about them in their campaign platforms, but they don’t.  The candidates’ opinions on the CCSS aren’t anywhere on their campaign web sites and they haven’t been asked about it in any of the debates.

So I asked them.

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