Cost Analysis

More inclusion could have helped Common Core

May 27, 2014 

In the past couple of weeks, South Carolina became the latest state to drop at least a portion of the controversial Common Core program.

The Palmetto State is pulling out of the standardized testing group called Smarter Balanced. Truth be told, states are abandoning the program faster than if they were fleeing a burning building. More than 40 states have implemented some form of Common Core, and out of that group, more than 30 have either stopped implementation or are in the process of rejecting the program.

I don’t know exactly why Common Core isn’t working, but I have a guess – education administrators adopted a program that didn’t do enough to involve the people who pick up a fair portion of the guidance for schoolwork – the parents.

Although the goal of Common Core is good, the implementation has been handled as clumsily and as incompetently as possible. For starters, almost all of the states’ education departments brought in Common Core with confusion about the program. Just look at any story regarding Common Core and it usually is accompanied by a box that lays out “myths” or “Q & A’s” or “common misconceptions.” These further explanation wouldn’t be necessary if things were made crystal clear from the get-go. In addition, school superintendents and board members have created an adversarial atmosphere instead of a collaborative one. Just look at how many of the school leaders talk in “us versus them” terms instead “we.”

Educational leaders talk about the teachers being fully behind Common Core, yet speak with teachers and they will either blast the program or say they’ve been advised not to be negative toward the topic. If Common Core is so great, why do they have to be instructed to follow Mom’s favorite rule of “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all?”

In the zeal to leave the federal No Child Behind requirements, we forgot to get the buy-in of the people who are leading our children – the teachers and the parents. They left me in the dust by teaching methods for solving math problems that are neither intuitive nor repetitive, and repetition is key when dealing with math.

To me, there is only one positive that will come out of all of this. For all of the insinuations that parenting is more aloof these days, creating a program that left parents out is showing just how motivated that group can be. And hopefully this is a lesson learned for education boards.

You can reach Scott at to share other rules Mom preached.

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