Common Core

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Most people are aware that the Common Core has all but replaced the disastrous No Child Left Behind. This hasn't been the first time an education policy promising to invigorate our public schools has exited with its tail between its legs as a new, more vigorous one proclaims, "The last policy was lame, but this one is great."

To think that any policy can fix public schools is naive. Schools and teachers can sand and polish our students' veneers, but the rotted wood of dysfunctional families and poverty that lay below is mostly beyond our resources. The belief that our schools will again be the envy of the world when better teachers deliver better curriculum is a recipe for disappointment. It ain't gonna happen.

That said, the Common Core is better than what it replaces because of the focus on critical thinking over fact memorization. Still, analysis isn't everything. I teach high school English. Of the 10 Common Core anchor standards in reading, the number that engender a love or even a like of reading It's all analysis. Kids rarely read these days. Do we think we are going to create a more literate generation if we don't teach kids to love reading?

The Common Core's test is called the SBAC. It replaces the STAR test which got the boot because students did not make the progress politicians legislated. The SBAC is way more difficult. I can only imagine the headlines once the results come in. "Schools and Teachers Still Suck: Kids Know Nothing."

Lots of wonderful things happen in public high schools that shape our teens into outstanding young adults. One program at my school is Capstone where seniors create their own projects. For many, it's the defining experience of their lives, but since it can't be tested; it's as if it never happened.


I hope the policy that follows the Common Core recognizes the many facets of education and not simply how well our children can dissect a text.

With a Perspective, this is Matt Biers-Ariel.

Matt Biers-Ariel teaches English at Winters High School in Winters.