The race to Common-core is a rush to mediocrity

From the St., By JON WILES

of Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett, speaking at a business summit
in Tallahassee, has urged Florida educators to proceed at full speed in the
implementation of the new Common Core State Standards. His refusal to warn
businessmen and legislators of the rapids ahead mark him as just another
politician holding a critical office in Florida.

The commissioner presents this
attempt to nationalize the school curriculum in areas assessed by standardized
tests as a
joint effort of over 40 states. He failed to mention that joining the Common Core effort was
the only means for states to be considered in their applications for the
$4-plus billion Race to the Top school funds being dispersed by the Obama
administration (remember the Recovery Act?)

The commissioner also failed to
share that the major financial contributors to this political movement are
Microsoft, Pearson Education, and the U.S. Department of Education. Microsoft
will be selling the computers and software, and Pearson Education will be developing
the curriculum in any new national education program. The Obama funds ($175
million) are helping to define the assessments in math and reading. These three
organizations will totally control the curriculum, the delivery, and assessment
of any Common Core.

The commissioner also failed to
mention that Florida has already committed to no textbooks after 2015. The
general plan of the Common Core is to deliver and assess student progress
on-line using yet-to-be acquired computers.

Neither the new curriculum,
derived from the new standards, nor the student assessment to be developed by
two different consortia, are yet in place as of 2013. Never mind says the new
people in business set a deadline,
a timeline, and bust our tails to meet it.

The Commissioner of Education should know that education is a lot more than a

Consider the following planning
1) The Pioneer Institute has
estimated that the total cost of implementing Common Core will be $15.9 billion
over a five-year period
2) There is serious confusion in
schools about this movement; 80 percent of teachers in one poll of 12,000
teachers think that the Common Core is
the same as the old curriculum,

3) There has been no piloting of
any materials that show improvement in student achievement because of Common
Core materials. In fact, student achievement is actually lower in states with
rigid standards and testing programs.

For the business-types that
Commissioner Bennett seems to be courting, the run-up to the Common Core State
Standards is a dream. Either business carves out a huge piece of the $10,615
per pupil (2010) spent each year on 45 million public school children, or they
step in when the Common Core crashes and burns. 

The presence of the Jeb Bush
Foundation speakers on the program with Commissioner Bennett suggests that
failure would quickly rationalize privatization of education and vouchers for
entrepreneurial agencies. Perhaps the Commissioner should re-title his talk
Breakthrough to Mediocrity.

Dr. Wiles of Crescent Beach
is an educational consultant in the area of curriculum development and the
author of a major textbook on educational change,
Curriculum Development: A Guide to
Practice 9th edition.

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