Friday, the Stamford Advocate published the second part to Wendy Lecker’s commentary on education entitled, ‘Our Orwellian Education Policy.’
Lecker’s latest attack piece targets the Common Core State Standards. In the article, she argues, “Our state and national leaders have brought double think to our schools, claiming that “Standardization breeds creativity” and “Compliance breeds’ independent thinking.” Lecker claims the Common Core focuses on standardized testing, which will stifle students’ creativity and teacher innovation as well as redirect limited resources.
I have heard the argument that the Common Core State Standards will increase creativity; but it wasn’t from state officials. This argument came out of the National Education Association’s Common Core Working Group in Denver, Colorado. In a blog post on NEA Today, an increase in creativity was number one on a list of reasons why the Common Core was good for students. This list was compiled from teacher responses at the NEA conference. In the article, Cambridge, Massachusetts high school math teacher Peter Mili explains that the Common Core will allow for more hands-on activities in his classroom because there’s less content per-grade level which allows teachers more time to focus on a particular topic. [NEA Today, 5-10-2013]
Lecker took statements about creativity and the Common Core out of context and attempted to make them look like contradictions; when, in reality, they’re not.
Teachers and officials claim the Common Core allows for greater creativity because there is less content that teachers are required to teach at each grade level. Instead of skimming over a hundreds of topics in one year, teachers can develop more extensive lesson plans that go deeper into course material.
Lecker also makes the erroneous claim that Common Core aligned assessments have “more multiple choice questions than ever before”. This is simply not true. The Smarter Balanced assessments are made up of approximately 40% multiple choice questions and 60% constructive answer and performance tasks. Conversely, the 4th generation CMTs are approximately 60% multiple choice and 40% constructed answer. [Biting into the Core, Connecticut Mastery Test 4th generation, 2006]
Lecker and her cohorts would have you believe the Common Core’s goal is to turn children into robots, but ultimately, it’s about equality.
Prior to the Common Core we had 50 states with 50 different tests and 50 different sets of standards. The Common Core and aligned assessments seek to simplify standards and hold schools accountable using the same measurements. In reality, it’s about making sure children, whether they live in suburban Massachusetts or rural Mississippi (or Bridgeport, Connecticut), have the same shot at success.