Governors for Common Core

Thursday, March 13, 2014

With the switch to Common Core standards under attack in New York, Governor Jack Markell of Delaware and former Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont are among several governors who want to speak up in support of the national standards.


Jim Douglas and Governor Jack Markell

Comments [24] from Long Island

I called in, and when I mentioned I had gone to parochial school, Brian made a comment about nuns rapping knuckles. In my eight years of elementary school, I never once saw a nun, or lay teacher, rap knuckles. Punishments were to wash blackboards, clean erasers, pick up classroom trash. When Thomas, in grade 7, brought a 12" snake to class and it escaped its glass jar, slithered across the floor, causing Kathleen to faint, no knuckle rapping or other physical punishment. When Martin, in grade 6, put his rear end in the wastepaper basket, with his legs dangling outside, and Sister M.R. asked him what he was doing, his calm comment was, "You said I was a piece of trash, so I'm throwing myself away." No knuckle rapping or other physical despite the entire classroom being convulsed in laughter. Rarely, someone might have an earlobe pulled.

When the Dodgers were playing a crucial September game, we listened on a portable radio while practicing penmanship, and Sister would lead us in a prayer that they would win.

We came from lower middle class and working class families. There were 65 of us in my 8th grade class. I think few if any of our nun teachers had college degrees. Most of us had parents with little or no high school, many were 'first-generation.' I, myself, am the first high school graduate in my family. I got a scholarship to Fordham, and have three Masters degrees. I had no one to help me study for the SAT's or fill out a college application. What I had were parents who were life-long readers and learners, who valued education.

I don't know how it is that public education has gotten to so wrong lately. IMHO, we need to look to what works elsewhere - in India and Japan and China. Much 'rote & repetition.' The mind needs content before it can engage in 'critical thinking.' In order to learn students need to be classrooms when there is respect for the teacher, and come from homes where more than lip service is paid to the ideals of study, homework, discipline.

Mar. 14 2014 05:04 PM
Russ Bartels from NYC

Farley: There’s not much new about the testing industry to be learned. Test-scoring has always been a dubious proposition, and as it gets exponentially bigger, it gets more unwieldy and more untrustworthy.

An example: I recently saw someone explaining the phenomenal difference between a state standard that asked students to “determine a central idea” and a CC standard that “upped that” by asking to determine the central idea and “explain it through specific details.” One can pretend that’s a big difference, but on a standardized test, they’re both just a multiple choice test that a kid barely looks at—not exactly groundbreaking stuff.

Source: Todd Farley wrote a terrific book about the testing industry called “Making the Grades,” based on his many years on the inside of that industry.

Mar. 13 2014 05:13 PM
Michelle from Highland Park, NJ

I lost a lot of respect for WNYC today during the Brian Lehrer Show. How do you purport to deliver a news/talk portion when you only give voice to one side of a two-sided debate?

The Governors on today's show are defending their own creation, The Common Core State Standards. They helped designed these national standards along with private money investors like The Walton's philanthropic group and The Gates Foundation. The Common Core was not developed by educators. This is untested, uneducated, unconscionable work they've pushed through legislative and financial pressure. Why? Because they see public money and they SALIVATE. Poor children will get poorer, the Great Equilizer (public school) will die, and the legislators turned private corp. CEOs and charter school investors will laugh their way to the bank.

Unless parents defend their children and refuse The Common Core and all the testing that comes part and parcel with it.

Mar. 13 2014 04:54 PM

During the show, the governors expressed surprise at the resistance that the Common Core program is encountering. Allow me to explain it to them:The American people are not stupid.

We know from experience what bureaucracies do, as compulsively as Roger Rabbit shouting "2 bits!" after hearing "shave and a haircut". First, the bureaucrats come up with a plan for us all to agree on what the outcomes should be. Shortly thereafter, they begin to measure and rank the States: who is outperforming whom? Then, before you know it, they have identified a set of "best practices" to share with the States. Finally, the States are required to adopt the "best practices" as defined by the bureaucrats.

So don't tell us how anodyne this program is, because it only deals with "outcomes". The governors may be dim enough to believe that. Their constituents aren't.

Mar. 13 2014 02:30 PM
sharon wagner from Brooklyn, NY

There are many kindergarteners who are able to count o 100 by 1's- and from any number on. But there are many who are not developmentally ready to learn or do that. It creates a kindergarten classroom environment that is stressful - when the teacher is judged by whether all her students can do that or not.
Also - contrary to the comments on the show - NYC teachers ARE told HOW to teach. Methods are NOT left to our discretion. We're told how to teach and what the outcomes should be. We're told to measure everything. But the environments we're provided - like the number of students in a class, or the materials - are not always provided. Experts come in who may have never taught a single class - or a lower grade class - to observe and critique teaching. In addition there is frequent change and flux in theories, and methods of instruction that we're to use, etc. Many things are done in a rush - to merely comply with mandates - and schools lack the time and substance to truly implement or even genuinely see if they work. One year a math program IS IT!! And one must use all the components - because it's the ONLY way the kids will learn. The next year - that program well…isn't really so great. We don't need to use all of the elements. We need to create and add our own. Education policy should be locked in for 5 years, and governors should be compelled to give every single school all the materials it needs, and the optimal conditions to teach in. Then we can see if the CCLS are worthy. Teachers are often between a rock and a hard place.

Mar. 13 2014 12:02 PM

Those of you that think this is only going to "benefit" GT kids: it is going to benefit ALL kids. GT kids have been miserable for a very long time, and even though, this is not going to fulfill their real needs, is at least going to make school more bearable for them but also a heck of a lot more interesting for everybody else. Teaching to "the lowest common denominator", as we have been doing in the last few years has not helped anybody except those in that range, and even they have been hurt because without challenges, we do not know how much more those kids can do.

Mar. 13 2014 11:54 AM
Eleni from NYC

If you have a G and T kind of kid, then great. If you have the average variety, you are out of luck and will have a miserable child. The common core does not account for: individual learning styles, different learning rates, or children with learning disabilities.

Mar. 13 2014 11:30 AM
Mari from Westfield

As a former high-school English teacher and mother of two kids who love to read, I am very concerned about the Common Core's focus on "informational texts." High school English curricula are supposed to be 50 percent "informational" under Common Core, and to comply with the standards, my son's middle school has reported that it is planning to shift its emphasis away from literature as well. What will this change do to kids' opportunities to read plays, poetry, novels, and literary essays? What will happen to the joy of experiencing, discussing, and writing about literature? Kids can exercise critical thinking and learn about the world just as easily from, for example, The Book Thief (which my son's class is currently reading), as from a textbook report on the Holocaust. And literature will engage their emotions as well as their rationality.

Mar. 13 2014 11:26 AM
Carla from New York

The governor who referred to worksheets had it right. I supervised student teachers last year during the roll out of Common Core and all they and their cooperating teachers did was worksheets. Why worksheets? Because they focus on testable skills.

Also I feel sorry for the grandchild who is expected to be able to count to 100 in kindergarten. The child would be better served by learning how to interact with other children, how to play, and how to move their little bodies. The result of a kindergarten classroom where the focus is sole on academics is a class full of little butterballs.

I like to think of Common Core as the Lake Wobegon approach to education where all the children are above average.

Mar. 13 2014 10:58 AM
Tracy from Hell's Kitchen, NYC

While I understand and agree with the much needed elevated standards of Common Core, as a parent of a 4th grade student in New York City I have found the "sink or swim" situation in which she has been thrust to be disheartening, and I worry that the long term effects of her frustration will be damaging.

But I love the Brian Lehrer show!
Thank you.

Mar. 13 2014 10:52 AM
Daniel Gildesgame from NYC

Common core is ok. Nobody would say kids should not know who was president, or what 7 x 8 is.

But testing based without time to teach the topics it is not right, either for kids or for teacher evaluation.

That's what the teachers union is saying.

Mar. 13 2014 10:51 AM
Sergio from Queens from LIC

Brian, thank you for the Common Core "love fest." Deeply disappointing and out of touch with what parents and students really feel about this deeply hurtful test centered approach to education.

Mar. 13 2014 10:50 AM

Only in the United States people will fight teaching our kids how to think instead of memorizing things. Just look at the questions people are asking on the phone...they just explained the difference between NCLF and CC and they are asking again..Hopefully, after a few years of CC, we will have a generation where Fox News and reality television will disappear because people are too smart for that garbage. BTW, I think it is hysterical that states doing the worst in the country are the ones fighting it the most. Do not they realize that education is vital for the economical development of any region, country, state. We want all American children to to learn the whole alphabet. BTW, 21st century learning is not getting the facts feed pre-chewed to students. Information is everywhere!. We need to teach people how to go about getting that information and how to evaluate it. All those Fox News watchers were raised by that rote education..Is that what we want for our new generations?

Mar. 13 2014 10:49 AM
Ellen Ross from New York City

The countries with successful education outcomes don't resemble the US at all. One main difference is the pay of teachers and respect accorded to the profession. The average pay for teachers in North Carolina, I heard last night, is $40,000. This won't attract the best talent and won't (doesn't) retain it.

Mar. 13 2014 10:48 AM
Cheryl from Flushing

The Common Core discriminates against students who are English language learners or who barely speak English at all. They are administered in English and the students perform dreadfully and are traumatized. Their teachers are then evaluated on based on a standard they're students can't possibly achieve.

There's an overlooked civil rights issue here.

Mar. 13 2014 10:47 AM
Jeffrey from Philly

How do these people expect to compete in the world when they insist on teaching the bible as science, and denying climate science because it's inconvenient to their right wing world view and donors, the Koch Brothers et al?

Mar. 13 2014 10:47 AM
Sue from Glen Rock, NJ

I was able to get on and ask about common core vs. no-child left behind: When a dictated curriculum is in place, it does not allow for the child that is not at the level that is being taught. It may be a wonderful start for a child in kindergarten, but this is not a good thing for the eighth grader that cannot read and does not have basic math skills.

Mar. 13 2014 10:47 AM
ml from inwood

So this standard for kindergartners with counting by tens or ones to one hundred and starting either forwards or backwards, etc. that he just described is NOT appropriate for many that age. And now he's saying that how it's taught is left up to the teachers who are "experts." This is just one more boondoggle and it will have tremendous effects on children, and probably not positive.

Mar. 13 2014 10:46 AM
Barb from NYC

Brooklyn Mom, there wasn't a single "person" who designed the Common Core -- it was a group effort of 48 states. See:

Mar. 13 2014 10:44 AM
Barb from NYC

Of COURSE Tea Partiers are against Common Core -- because if people are taught critical thinking, they'll think critically about the Tea Partiers' positions and it will be clear to them how bogus they are!

Democrats have no excuse. Shame on Gov. Cuomo for his attacks on the Common Core, and his embrace of charter schools, which are at their essence an attempt to privatize schools and enrich the private sector (and destroy our American public education system).

Mar. 13 2014 10:42 AM
Bob from Huntington

Students from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut routinely do better on the SATS, and, in general are better prepared for college than students from other parts of the country. Why would these states need a national standard if they're already doing a better job of preparing students than most of the country?

When my son applied to UPenn he was told by an admissions counselor he would have a better chance at admission if he came from somewhere other than Long Island because they routinely got too many applications from Long Island.

Mar. 13 2014 10:40 AM
Brooklyn Mom

Why are we only comparing our test scores with other countries? Shouldn't we look at how those countries deal with education? How many of those countries with top test scores actually give first graders homework? Also, curious to know if the same person who design the Common Core is also the person who struck the essay component from the SAT.

Mar. 13 2014 10:39 AM
Carin Barbanel from Chelsea

Common core is needed. Without the urgency of test scores, nothing will happen. And there is hard evidence that kids learn better. The standards are appropriate. I've read them. My kids have taken these tests. I have enormous skin in this game, and their superior.

Mar. 13 2014 10:38 AM

As a parent of a young kid, I don't have a problem with the common core. At least it clearly outlines expectations of what your kid will/should be learning. I have a problem with the way it's been implemented (as Cuomo said) and that all schools are not equal. Which means that the "good" schools are going to be fine while the others are left struggling and that means minorities, immigrants and the poor. That's what is so messed up.

Mar. 13 2014 10:37 AM

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