The standards, written by a group of states and embraced by the Obama administration, set common goals for reading, writing and math skills that students should develop from kindergarten through high school graduation. Although classroom curriculum is left to the states, the standards emphasize critical thinking and problem solving and encourage thinking deeply about fewer topics.
But as the common core shifts from theory to reality, critics are emerging. State lawmakers are concerned about the cost, which the Fordham Institute estimated could run as high as $12 billion nationally. Progressives fret over new exams, saying that the proliferation of standardized tests is damaging public education. Teachers worry that they haven’t had enough training and lack the resources to competently teach to the new standards. And conservatives say the new standards mean a loss of local control over education and amount to a national curriculum. They’ve begun calling it “Obamacore.”
On Tuesday, the head of the American Federation of Teachers and a strong supporter of the Common Core standards will warn that the new approach is being poorly implemented and requires a “mid-course correction” or the effort will fall apart.
“The Common Core is in trouble,” said Randi Weingarten, the union president who is slated to speak Tuesday in New York about the issue. “There is a serious backlash in lots of different ways, on the right and on the left.”
Weingarten is concerned that states are rushing out tests based on the new standards without preparing teachers and designing new curricula.
“This is a wake-up call for everyone else in the country,” she said, pointing to New York, which just administered new tests based on the Common Core standards. Teachers, parents and students complained that the tests were poorly designed, covered material that had not been taught and frustrated children to the point of tears.