A Hiatus For Common Core … Practical Or Political

Before the very recent Board of Regents decision to modify Common Core, (and I haven’t had the chance to study the new proposals, so I reserve judgment on that part of the issue) there were news reports hinting that lawmakers might have been leaning toward declaring a two-year moratorium on the Common Core standards being taught in public schools. Sounded great, but I might ask the question, why?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found both pros and cons to the Common Core standards, and have been involved with them in my job as a substitute teacher, but I still don’t have the full “gist” of them and it might take me a long time to get it. That being said, I question if lawmakers have enough background on them to have executed this moratorium? What might have been the motivation behind this move?

First, how many lawmakers, especially those suggesting this “break” from Common Core, have been in a classroom? How many of them have experienced taking part in modular lessons, and more than just one? How many know more about Common Core standards above listening to constituents and angry citizens who want something done about Common Core, and how many of these lawmakers suggesting or agreeing with a Common Core moratorium are up for re-election this year, or next, within the two year suggested moratorium time? How many might be motivated to suspend Common Core, satisfying those angry community members until they might be re-elected to office, and after elections, when the moratorium ended, would the situation have returned to what was?

I’m not accusing lawmakers of being self-serving in this situation, I’m merely questioning the motivation. Were there suggested solutions, to some of what presently may not be educationally sound practices of the Common Core, attached to this proposed moratorium? Was there a plan to make gradual changes, or modify Common Core during the “pause in the action” if you will? What would have happened after the two years expired?

Again, I’ve been involved with Common Core in a small way since the beginning of school this year, but I’m nowhere near satisfied in my understanding of it. I’m not sure I will ever get it all, yet some lawmakers contemplated just stopping it for a while, possibly without even being acclimated with it, or offering educational alternatives to make sure what’s been frustrating teachers, parents and students might have been diminished some as Common Core moved forward.

Also again, I saw good components of Common Core, and I saw some that were not so good, possibly stifling creativity in the classroom and creating the “roboticizing” of students and teachers, and possibly forcing the ignoring of the individuality of teaching and learning styles of both groups. I also, personally, felt the implementation of Common Core came “too much, too fast.”

Many forums have been held throughout New York state discussing the Common Core, many of them heated discussions, and many resulting in parents and students walking away wanting immediate change away from these new learning standards. Some people contacted lawmakers asking for their intervention in removing these standards from our schools.

There’s much criticism of lawmakers in New York state these days. There have been numerous scandals involving politicians. There’s been the passing of some unpopular legislation over the past couple of years and many people are fed up with politicians and want change. Here in Chautauqua County, we experienced a huge change in the makeup of our County Legislature in the last election, and many people stated they made their dissatisfied voice heard by voting for that change in party leadership among our lawmakers.

It could be perceived that lawmakers across the state may have been worried that same thing might happen and they may have used the suggestion of a moratorium of Common Core as a way of appeasing some of those who’ve been disappointed by lawmakers because of other issues. They may have thought this made them look better in the eyes of the voters come election day. But was this proposed moratorium a solution to the possible flaws of Common Core, or was this just a temporary stop-gap proposed for political gain?

Please understand that I respect most people who choose to serve the public. I have respect for their office. I don’t always agree with the decisions made, but I don’t think much of the blame of life’s problems aimed at politicians is fair or justified, either.

My name has never been on a ballot, though I’ve been approached a few times. There are reasons for that, one being that I just don’t feel I’m qualified enough to do that job, so I am certainly not going to bash (though I do question, at times, and sometimes disagree with them) those who have stepped forward to make decisions in political arenas.

I do think some decisions made by lawmakers and political leaders are more party motivated as opposed to people motivated, which I don’t particularly like, and I don’t like the inequities of the benefit packages of the higher-up politicians in comparison with the ordinary working person. I don’t like some of the questionable moral and ethical behavior of anyone, not just politicians, but politicians’ indiscretions are in the public eye more than “ordinary” people, yet some of the consequences don’t seem to be the same for politicians as they are for “Joe Plumber.”

But politicians being in the public eye, when I heard of this proposed moratorium on Common Core, I couldn’t help wonder why now, and why two years, a time span when many in office would be going through re-elections to keep their jobs.

It’s my opinion that taking a break without plans for improvement would just have been “stop and go” education. Students started their path using these standards this year, be they good, or not so good. If the plan was to completely stop them now and then just make students begin using them again in two years with no changes in the status quo, the students would have been victims.

Modifying the standards now is a great idea, but it would have been wrong, in my opinion, to make the kids start, stop, and start again. Students need consistency and continuity. In the future, please don’t treat our students like yo-yos in making decisions, and please don’t make decisions affecting our students as a means toward personal job security. Our kids deserve better.