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National Columnists

Another View: Common Core not based around kids

Some of the politicians in the crowded Republican field of presidential candidates are endorsing Common Core standards, but we’d like to hear from candidates who have put a bit more thought into the issue of how our public schools teach.

Haven’t the candidates learned anything from No Child Left Behind or other attempts to force a common curriculum on schools and teach to a national standard?

Since when did politicians become classroom experts? They are not experts, unless echoing the party line makes them experts.

Rather than supporting national standards that reward schools that do the best job of turning out test-takers, how about studying how children really learn, and then get out of the way so teachers can teach?

That’s basically what the nonprofit Survival Education Fund Inc., advocates. As syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff points out, the group aims “to rally educators to take action on policies that affect the education of young children.” Among the Survival Education Funds’ projects, Defending the Early Years is an effort to help teachers and parents understand why the Common Core standards are inappropriate for Kindergarten through third-graders.

Defending the Early Years argues that Common Core standards were developed by mapping backward from what is required at high school graduation to the early years. The result is standards that require skills and knowledge that do not match how young children think, learn and develop. Because they’re not ready to learn in the way Common Core expects, the standards essentially devalue “the whole child and the importance of social-emotional development,” argues the Defending the Early Years project.

Politicians might be well-meaning, but how many of these people, as children, experienced classrooms in which lessons were conducted under the assumption that all children develop and learn skills at the same rate and in the same way?

We would bet that most major politicians attended schools where teaching was more personal and not based on standards that ignored individual differences in students.

Teachers know what their students need, what their home lives are like, what their physical or behavioral challenges might be, and how much their parents are helping with homework or attending meetings at school.

Common standards might sound good in a stump speech, but treating students as individuals and allowing teachers to do what they’ve trained to do offers the chance for better results. It’s a disservice to children when politicians assume they know more about education than teachers.

Kearney (Neb.) Hub

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