Common Core State Standards

I belong to a number of “teacher” “educational” “leadership” web sites, list servers, and the like and there is most all the time, one of two continuing themes that pervades these posts. The post most often discusses teacher problems like respect, professional development, pay, attitudes, etc., or it is about educational reform. While Cave Dwellers are not particularly enamored with change and reform — it is not an item they relish. Sitting next to a Cave Dwelling football coach who was also the freshman English teacher in a mandatory beating session with the administration, he said what was on the minds of most of the dwellers that day sitting and listening to the principal berate the faculty, “Like other bozos before this guy, I’ll just wait him out. He’ll be gone in less than two school years.” That is the same attitude toward change and reform most dwellers have and realistically they are correct. How many PD — Professional Disillusionment — training sessions have they sat through that either did not apply to them, or were something they could use but simply did not have the time to try? Not too long ago I sat in one of the PD sessions and as I sat there it became increasing clear to me and the rest of the dwellers, that the training we were receiving was EXACTLY the same as the year before and the year before that! Ironically it was about brain research in education and how to improve students understanding, but the bigger message was that the district office staff, who planned and approved these PD sessions did not have a clue. They did not understand teacher needs, did not plan for effective training, did not care except to insure they filled all the time blocks for training they were required to fill. Senior leadership approved it all and gave the introduction to the year’s PD with great enthusiasm about the quality of this years PD! Horse Hockey!
Common Core State Standards will do more to improve education and the plight of teachers and students especially in failing schools, because it establishes a bar set higher than ever before for many school districts and mandates that everyone must meet those standards. Training in every district has now turned to a specific goal they all must shoot for, not some PD they assembled at the last minute, some sort of a vague guesstimate at teacher needs, but a solid goal. The overall effect on student achievement, teacher satisfaction, and school improvement is yet to be determined but this new nationwide standard, something that should have been implemented years ago, is the best solid Professional Development initiative that has happened to education in years. No more of the “my course offering is better than yours” buffoonery, now with everyone rowing toward the same objective, perhaps not in the same direction but with the same goal in mind, secondary school education cannot help but improve across the board. Will this help, improve, the attitude the public has of educators?

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