Cost Analysis

Common Core handled clumsily

March 17, 2014 

No matter which side of the heated debate regarding Common Core you fall on, there can be no denying that one of the biggest issues is the lack of understanding on what it is, why it was implemented, and why there was never any choice given to parents or teachers before it was foisted upon everyone.

When parents are invested in their children’s education, any confusion on their part is sure to result in a lot of acrimony. As a result, we now have school officials and administrators scrambling to give explanations and most of them seem to be pretty weak. Frankly, explanations wouldn’t have been needed if the plans for Common Core were clearly laid out instead of put into effect under the cover of darkness.

I’m particularly concerned at the latest responses from local education leaders. Chuck Epps, the superintendent of the Fort Mill School District, was quoted in this newspaper that Common Core is “an economic development issue for us.”

He continued that, “We are being told by employers that they want students who can display higher level thinking and problem solving abilities. We will not be able to attract higher paying skilled jobs to S.C. unless we have a ready workforce, This initiative is simply an effort to connect the dots between a better educated workforce prepared to accept higher skilled employment leading to a more prosperous quality of life for future South Carolinians.”

With all due respect, that is the biggest load of horse hockey I’ve heard regarding education. If you are looking to have a more skilled workforce, then trade schools should be emphasized. Students with technical or mechanical aptitude should be identified early on and shuttled into apprenticeship programs.

In reality, if the United States is lagging behind in displaying higher level thinking, it isn’t because of the curriculum. It is because of the effort – or lack thereof – put forth. Changing the way math is taught isn’t going to make students better at math; Rather, it is going to cause a schism between those who have done it the regular way versus those who are learning the new way.

In a recent op-ed piece, also in this newspaper, Patrick White, chairman of the Fort Mill School District Board of Trustees, had a pointed take:

“Over the past couple of months our board, our employees, and our district have come under attack from anti-CCSS groups. While they are advocating local control, they are being heavily organized and supported by outside influences. Our district has no intention of entering into this political battle based on ideological or alleged conspiracy theories,” he wrote.

Whoa! Conspiracy theories? My opposition has to do with making a drastic change in the way things are taught without having any input into the change. My opposition has to do with being scolded with a terse response that this is best for our children whenever I question the abrupt implementation. Furthermore, my opposition has to do with the vague standards and that the curriculum is copyrighted.

Mr. White states that he is under attack, but what reaction was he expecting when the way our children are taught is changed without notice? If we were apathetic, I’d have expected the measures to come without any uproar. Even from the responses of those in charge, it appears that the Common Core exhibits no Common Sense.

You can reach Scott at costanalysiscolum@gmail.com to make math even more complicated.

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