Poking Fun at the Common Standards

By Catherine Gewertz — September 25, 2012 1 min read
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Education policy talk isn’t famous for being funny. The blogs, commentary pages, and think-tank salons on this circuit are chock-full of serious faces and abstractia. So it’s a welcome relief when someone steps up and makes a little fun of it all.

This week, a welcome bit of lightheartedness comes from someone who’s no lightweight in education: Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University (and no stranger to the pages of EdWeek). In a chuckle-worthy blog post, he’s assembled a bunch of cartoons that use humor to tackle issues with the Common Core State Standards.

One, from Denver Post cartoonist Mike Keefe, depicts U.S. education as a boxer, beaten up pretty badly by China, Korea, and Japan. As he slumps in the ring, the American boxer hears nothing from his “state” and “federal” coaches except plans for more funding cuts, and the inspiring reminder that he can still beat Zimbabwe in an education bout.

Another envisions the new standards as “Common Corezilla,” urging educators not to be afraid as they confront a swirling miasma of curriculum comparisons, instructional strategies, and professional development. Perhaps my favorite of this bunch shows the famous pitchfork-wielding farmer and his daughter from Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting, wearing “I ♥ Common Core” T-shirts. You’ll have to check it out yourself to see the dark twist on the cloyingly cheerful T-shirt logo.

Thanks to the cartoonists for showing us an amusing way to look at some of the real issues in a very serious topic. And thanks to Dr. Cuban for bringing them together.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.