Common Core vs. Common Comprehensive

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are getting more and more attention in the press and are being adopted by states quite rapidly. Like all other educational initiatives you either love it or hate it. We’ll, once again I am sitting up on my white picket fence in Mayberry.

The name “Common Core” sounds as if it would be a list of common basic standards to be accepted across the nation so students have the same basic educational foundation regardless of the state they are in. Pretty straight forward right? Not so. If you take a look at them you soon discover they are not so ‘core’ but rather ‘comprehensive.’ This is where I get up on my fence. I am all for have a basic list of standards for every student to master (not cover). I have a problem when it morphs into a ridiculously comprehensive list of standards.

As always, I’ve got an analogy to explain my point. You are going to go grocery shopping. If you are anything like me you make a list. So, how do you decide what to put on your list? You check the cupboards, pantry, refrigerator and freezer. You put on the this the items that you need. If you are shopping for the staples or basics you’ll probably have bread, butter, milk and juice on your list. Imagine having various produce, canning, and food companies deciding what you need on your list. Kraft Foods would insist that you need Mac-n-Cheese, Green Giant would demand you put green beans on your list and Proctor and Gamble might even chime in requesting you add some of their products to your list too. That sounds crazy right? Of course! This may be a stretch but sounds an awful lot like putting a group of educators with their content hats on together in a room to determine what kids need to know before they graduate. The English Language Arts person will most definitely have an extensive list of poetry & grammar to learn, classic books to read and famous authors to study. The Mathematician will of course have an equally complete list of standards to cover as will the Historian, Scientist, etc.

We all select a content area we enjoy and are passionate about so obviously we will be skewed just as a major company would be interested in promoting their own products.

We need to take off our content hats and think more broadly about what future generations will need. A laundry list of very specific standards sounds more comprehensive than core.

Common Core State Standards have the potential to allow for all kinds of innovation. Common Comprehensive State Standards scream to be made into a nice-neat prepackaged curriculum to be sold by a major textbook and or testing company.

Let’s collaborate & innovate so the future of this world has the ability to think for themselves, loves learning, can be creative and can analyze and solve problems that don’t involve a #2 pencil and a scantron.

We can do it. And when I look into the eyes of my own 4 children I know we HAVE to do it!