Why? Fair enough question. With everything on Fox News and conflicting information on the real news channels, What exactly, does Common Core offer our children and school system that is worth the fight?
Just a quick overview of our school systems. Since districts were formed back with Thomas Jefferson, each area has done things there own way. States control the public schools. Fed backed off.There was no need to be involved.
A Department of Education was created in 1867 but was soon demoted to an Office in 1868. As an agency not represented in the president's cabinet, it quickly became a minor bureau in the Department of the Interior. In 1939, the bureau was transferred to the Federal Security Agency, where it was renamed the Office of Education. In 1953, the Federal Security Agency was upgraded and split into the Cabinet level areas of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed as a part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty" and has been the most far-reaching federal legislation affecting education ever passed by Congress. The act is an extensive statute that funds primary and secondary education, while explicitly forbidding the establishment of a national curriculum.
So, with no National curriculum, States were empowered to do their own thing, without the worry about what other states were doing. This thinking drifted down into the districts. Minor kingdoms of belief and theory rose up across the nation. Most of them, I would guess 98% honestly guided by men and women who in their heart of hearts wanted the best for the kids. That was April 11, 1965. Our country was punch-drunk and terrified of Nazism, Communism, and Marxism. We were just finished tearing at our own throats with the Communist trials. The vision of a Federal curriculum was overshadowed with the swastikas of Hitler Youth.
At that time, there was no real reason that anyone should share anything, and the guard against indoctrination of our youth curled the fears of every patriot'. Things change though. The world changed. We are connected in ways impossible to imagine then. Fifty years has altered our landscape and created extraordinary variation to the definitions of what classrooms are, what are books, what are lessons.
Imagine that today you are the teacher of a 9th grade class. Ebola is sending panics on waves of Fox News broadcasting across the nation. Everyone has an opinion as to what should be done, and these opinions are given with the implication that they are sessile, and undeniable, like the man who yells across the parking lot, "They have to close the borders! What? Are they stupid?"
You get to your class early and you know that your kids are going to need some answers. With the adults showing such high levels of fear, the kids are definitely going to be affected. So you need a lesson. A lesson about some of the topics that are coming up. The man in the parking lot was belligerent but ... why weren't we closing the boarders? A lesson on epidemics then. Something that gives some answers, teaches them skills and calms them down.
Not five years ago, you would not have had enough time to put together a serious lesson on epidemics before your classes began. But today, you open your laptop, and bring up the National Geographic Teacher's Work Room. You search for epidemics and find a lesson already prepared. for 5-8 graders. Complete with activites, study guides and Common Core lesson plans.Mapping a London Epidemic.
National Geographic, PBS Learning, OER (Open Education Resources) The National Archives, are all but a small lsit of departments, agencies, companies and corporations who are adding into the growing resources Common Core has allowed. It is the OpenSource movement of education. The lesson is absolutely free for you to use. No strings.
Well, then, how good or reliable could it be? Understanding that National Geographic is a fairly solid company when it comes to information, we look at the credits
Researchers were Audrey Mohan, Ph.D. and Lindsey Mohan, Ph.D.
Educator Reviewer: Lydia Lewis, M.Ed., Grade 5 U.S. History/Geography
Educator; National Cathedral School, Washington, D.C.
Then a mess of writers, editors and historians.
That's how good and reliable it could be.
The OpenSource culture loves to share knowledge and schools have always been a place they wanted to help and donate time to. But .. everyone was doing their own thing. Districts in the same State weren't even the same. There was no cross-boarder guide for development and even if you decided that one district was still worth your time and effort, next year a whole know set of standards and teaching requirements could make your project useless.
With Common Core, we have a stable, and nation wide set of standards. Not a curriculum, just standards for education, and teaching. But that's all the OpenSource people needed. Just something stable to build on. And as a country we have already been through the upstart and blossoming of the OpenSource culture with Linux. So businesses like National Geographic aren't balking like they might have back in 2002 -- scared about all the new logics and how could it make profit if it was free and the cost.. Who is paying for this? No. They are all over it this time.
Not just companies, but the teachers themselves. With Common Core, you are all on a familiar ground with each other. Most of the site collections have ratings and comments right there with the lesson. NG doesn't fro some reason, but you are running out of time. Kids are going to be here soon. So -- Tweeter
Instant connection to thousands of other teachers across the nation. By calling out, you are letting them know that you have found something. In answer they are giving you experience, and insights you couldn't pay enough to receive.
Next time I'll talk about what is between our kids, and this amazing resource that makes teachers more effective and brings into the classroom what millions of dollars could not accomplish.
Looking for more Cool Stuff until then? Check out OER OpenSource Education Resources.