The ambition of Common Core is “quite broad,” said Jonathan Supovitz, co-director at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He said the standards have the potential to bring new tools and technologies into classrooms and lead to greater student mastery of subjects, but it will take time.
“This is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take lots of resources and lots of teacher exposure to new ways of doing things—and we’re just at the beginning of that process,” Supovitz said.
Many state lawmakers aren’t willing to wait.
Jindal initially supported Common Core. He said that’s because the standards were first presented as a bottoms-up approach, but “the reality is what it has become is another tool for the federal government to try to dictate curriculum.”
He suspended contracts that the state Department of Education planned to use to buy testing material aligned with the standards. White and education board leaders say the governor overstepped his legal authority, and they sued. A state district judge said the governor’s actions were harmful to parents, teachers, and students, and he lifted Jindal’s suspension of the contracts. The decision allows White to move ahead with Common Core-tied testing plans until a full trial is held later over the legality of Jindal’s executive orders against the standards.
At the same time, 17 state lawmakers who oppose the standards have lodged their own legal challenge, but lost their first round in court.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has criticized Jindal’s opposition to the Common Core as politically driven. In a June interview with CBS This Morning, the secretary said of Jindal’s switched position: “It’s about politics, it’s not about education.”
For a state-by-state look at how the Common Core in playing out in all 50 states, click here. (Move your cursor over each state to view information for that state.)
In Ohio, some teachers have raised concerns about how the standards came out, said Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper, but most largely support them. Some of the state’s largest urban districts, such as Cleveland and Columbus, have spent two years and lots of money preparing for the rollout that started this school year, she said.
Cropper urged state lawmakers to stay the course with the standards, which were adopted in 2010.
“All that time, energy, and resources would be wasted,” Cropper said. “I think it will absolutely throw our districts in chaos.”
State Rep. Thompson, whose wife is a Spanish teacher, isn’t convinced. He says Ohio and other states adopted the standards in the wake of the economic downturn because they were in desperate need of money.
“When you take federal leverage, it affected people’s behavior,” Thompson said.
Parents and educators opposed to the standards in Ohio were allotted three full days of hearings in mid-August to discuss the merits of replacing Common Core. Defenders of the standards were relegated to holding news conferences.
Lincoln Bramlage, a father of three from Ottawa-Glandorf in northwest Ohio, said the standards are “hardly relevant.” He added: “We need to fight for the teachers and the kids. This is not education. It’s indoctrination.”
Carrie Moenster, a parent and teacher, said she’s seen her fourth-grade students in tears because they couldn’t understand math standards that she called “abstract and developmentally inappropriate.”
“One child who was once very confident comes up to our desks repeatedly while working on an independent assignment because he doesn’t trust his own mind and judgment anymore,” she said.