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JEFF MEADORS: Should Common Core trump MVPs of public education?

Editor’s note: This is the first in a multi-part series on Common Core.

Common Core State Standards spark polarization, so what is all the fuss about?

Common Core’s mission includes the provision of “a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.”

So why is curriculum manufactured in non-profit laboratories and assessed by troublesome for-profit vendors co-opting classroom instruction?

Effective teachers already have a clear understanding of what needs to be taught but constant disruptions of instruction, unending waves of reform, and politically ambitious state education leadership prevent them from doing their jobs.

While teachers should be regarded as the MVPs of public education, and paid higher than most administrators, they are commonly relegated to mute status, disenfranchised from meaningful decision-making. Yet when reformations like integrated math bomb, teachers garner unearned blame and schools rush in instructional coaches to treat defective teachers.

Instructional coaches are fine. In fact some are quite effective, but most math teachers don’t need coaching to ameliorate math scores resulting from a curriculum most never supported at the onset.

Enter Common Core — a non-field-tested curriculum with minimal teacher input and maximum for-profit goodies.

I doubt automakers deliver new cars to showroom floors without crash tests, but it seems perfectly acceptable to set aside teacher talent for unproven reform.

High paid educational gurus and state-sponsored acolytes have told teachers for decades to differentiate instruction. Does CCSS, then, set wheels in motion for minimalist common, one-size-fits-all standards devoid of differentiation?

Effective classroom teachers have never required oversight to increase student achievement. They are by nature built to push students to their highest potential. Effective classroom teachers are both the most informed and least consulted experts on student achievement in the public school arena today.

How can the U.S. Department of Education, which supports CCSS through teaser Race to the Top bucks, allege to know if students moving from Georgia to Ohio will be on equivalent curriculum standards when in 2013 states cannot properly track student withdrawals to other counties and states to arrive at accurate graduation rates?

In this first installment of my work on CCSS I asked Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent of Newton County schools, for input.

According to Fuhrey, Newton schools “implemented the Common Core in English/language arts-K-12 and math K-9 in July 2012 adhering to the state’s implementation plan. This year, as scheduled, we have added 10th grade mathematics (analytic geometry). The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards represent the curriculum from which lesson plans are designed and resources are purchased. We utilize teacher content specialists and leaders to review the curriculum and develop district-wide curriculum maps (which use the CCGPS as standards) that include pacing, resource information, academic vocabulary, and potential assessment questions.”

But are we seeing results?

I’ll share Fuhrey’s take on that next week, elaborate on the troublesome past of Pearson Inc. and its talking pineapple, and I’ll follow the money to the $7 million fine on Pearson’s non-profit charitable arm relative to Pearson Inc.’s race to the trough of school system budgets to provide CCSS assessments vital to the reform’s viability.

Columnist Jeff Meadors may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com