Should Teachers Resist the Common Core?

By Anthony Rebora — January 24, 2013 1 min read
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English teacher David Cohen, referring to a comments-section debate on one of Larry Ferlazzo’s recent posts on our site, senses a growing disconnect between the education activists who oppose the Common Core State Standards wholesale and the working K-12 teachers who are doing their best to implement the standards constructively:

The conversations I'm hearing in my school and among peers do include CCSS concerns and criticism, but in my observations there is simply no groundswell of teacher resistance to the Common Core, and I have seen a number of teachers who have favorable opinions of it despite some reservations. ...
And as for the critics I've cited, to my knowledge, none of them is currently a K-12 teacher. That fact does not invalidate their criticisms, but I think it colors their perceptions regarding a realistic, pragmatic approach, here and now, for those of us trying to serve our current students and schools most productively. True, I could resist; I could dedicate hours and days to finding and sharing articles, holding meetings, building alliances. In the meantime, someone will be making decisions about the educational program and policies for my school and district, operating with the state mandate to implement the CCSS. I'd prefer to be part of those decisions. ... I see more to gain for teachers in approaching this process in a "Yes, and" attitude, rather than a flat rejection. Yes, we will help implement the Common Core Standards, and we will use the occasion of that engagement as an opportunity to educate our peers, leaders and stakeholders, and become more effective advocates for better teaching, better learning, and a stronger teaching profession.

Education professor P. L. Thomas, on the other hand, warns of fatalism in the teaching profession:

If implementing CCSS is inevitable as Ferlazzo claims and if school, district, state, or federal mandates will continue to support those standards and the related high-stakes tests, teaching is reduced to an act of fatalism, and in effect, teachers are de-professionalized and students are similarly reduced to passive recipients of state-mandated knowledge, what Paulo Freire [in Pedagogy of Freedom] labeled as "the bureaucratizing of the mind."

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.