Rhode Island adopted the common standards yesterday, according to department of education spokeswoman Nicole Shaffer, and Mississippi adopted them also, according to this newsletter from schools Superintendent Tom Burnham. (The memo doesn’t give a date, but items 9 and 10 from the board’s June 25 agenda reflect that the matter was up for consideration.) That brings the number of common-standards states to 20.
Why did it take us a week to find out that Mississippi had adopted? Good question. Not every state is quickly publicizing their adoption of the common standards. There could be many reasons for this, including a shortage of manpower in departments of education and a dwindling number of journalists covering education.
Still, I confess to a measure of surprise—perhaps naive surprise, but surprise nonetheless—that adoption of the common standards wouldn’t be considered a high-priority news item to disseminate from the state level to the public.
When I was trying to confirm Mississippi’s adoption, it was too early for any sane person to be at their desks at the department of ed. So I left messages, sent e-mails, and started traipsing around the Internet. I found nothing. So I was particularly grateful to know about the Burnham newsletter. In the case of Rhode Island, I knew in advance that the item was on the board’s agenda, so I arranged last night to find out what had happened. But had I not known in advance, it would have been tough to find out this morning from searching the Internet.
All of this begs the question of why states aren’t putting a higher profile on their adoptions. The Education Writers Association’s Linda Perlstein has theorized that there is little press on the common standards because “standards are boring” to most beat reporters. The ASCD’s David Griffith touches on this and shares his own theory in a post that’s worth a read. (A follow-up note on Griffith’s reference to my “mystery state” blog post: I did blog again on that with the not-very-juicy answer to that mystery, and it has to do with insufficient manpower. Read it here.)
In the meantime, please chime in with your thoughts on the public-information piece of this. Am I hopelessly, irretrievably misguided to think that a state’s move to adopt new academic standards is important enough to warrant significant and timely publicity at the state level?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.