Common Core, even if horrible, will improve classroom instruction

A great friend and superstar teacher asked a great question about Common Core on Facebook today:

My name is Susan Bailey. I am a right winged, conservative, Republican.

If you know me well, you undoubtedly know that I am about as conservative as they come. Red is my favorite color, I even see better out of my right eye, and Reagan is my all time favorite president!

And I support the implementation of the Common Core Standards!

I am scratching my head as to why my conservative friends are so against the implementation of the standards, and so I am inviting you to share your reasons with me. This is not an invitation to bash a party or the president! I am genuinely curious as to why you stand in such opposition. If you leave a comment, please only make reference to the standards! And for my own research, could you also reference the source you used to obtain your information?

This is an honest and sincere attempt to understand – again, do not use it as a platform for heated rhetoric! If you really feel the need to “vent”, please respond in a private message!

Ms. Bailey, the partisan (sometimes bipartisan) controversy surrounding Common Core surprises me as well. So, thank you for reminding me to write about this, even though I’m not really all that conservative. And for the record, I would love to hear an intelligent argument against Common Core. I’m sure some exist, but I have yet to hear one.

To directly answer your question, I would imagine many conservatives see Common Core as a violation of States’ Rights. Which is odd, since states have the right not to adopt Common Core. Five states have exercised this right.

I think such arguments miss the mark, regardless. Because even if it were mandated, some things, like educational standards, are better when consolidated: Think “Critical Mass” and “Economies of Scale”. I believe it doesn’t matter whether Common Core standards are “good” or “bad”, as long as they’re not complete nonsense. You and I know, Ms. Bailey, good teachers can take bad standards and make good lessons; bad teachers can take good standards and make bad lessons.

To reiterate, the main aspect that makes Common Core a Good Thing is critical mass. Tens of millions of students using identical standards will cause an explosion of quality resources for teachers and students. Did someone write a perfect lesson in Idaho? We can now use it in Florida without tweaking.

Why does this matter? Last year I spent hours mapping Khan Academy to Sunshine State Standards for Algebra II. Obviously, Khan Academy can’t trudge through standards for 50 states and thousands of school districts. And if I had unsupportive administration, they could have taken issue with my unofficial mapping and prevented me from using Khan Academy.

But with Common Core, they can map every lesson for every school in the USA… and they have!

For me, the effort of mapping Khan Academy was a roadblock. For others, they are uncomfortable using unofficial resources. This prevented many teachers from being able to use an outstanding resource.

But now, with Common Core, it became worthwhile for Khan Academy to embrace the exact same standards as the teacher. There is no time roadblock, and no political roadblock… both roadblocks removed by Common Core.

Today, millions of teachers can now seamlessly use Khan Academy lessons and exercises that match the standard in their class that day.

If anyone can legitimately tell me why this is bad, I’d love to hear it.

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