Contemplating the Common Core

Over the past two years, I have been exposed to a movement that I had no knowledge of when I was initially getting my teaching license, that being the movement for a national set of school standards. While it is not unheard of for industrialized nations to have such a thing, America has been very reluctant to do so with its damn-fooled individualistic nature. While I will not got as far as to say that the Common Core is the end-all-beat-all, but it is a step in the right direction.

Ideally, the implementation of a national curriculum would be developed by the U.S. Department of Education, including the opinions and insights of educators. This was not the case with the Common Core, and that is one of the major issues I have with it. Just like anything else in America, it has been left to private enterprise to do it. The Common Core stresses that it is preparing students for college and career, but are they doing it effectively and are they doing it out of altruistic means? The fact that a private, for-profit organization is doing so should answer that question.

As I was working on my Master’s project, I grew quite accustomed to the 11-12 standards involving reading and writing. In tying the pieces in my project to the standards, I found that there ended up being a lot of overlapping—especially since none of the standards explicitly could be attached to poetry. There were times where I had to make a stretched case for their use…I particularly remember using the standard concerning reading “pieces of the American literary canon” for the poems of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes. I found this a bit disconcerting as “American” literature was given its own standard, while the only author specifically required to be taught was Shakespeare. So the only pieces that should be required are those from an Anglo-American perspective? This is not the message I would want to send to students, that the only literature worth reading is the kind written by dead-white men.

I could go on further, but I will say this: the Common Core is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it is a first step in the right direction.