But I also noticed something disheartening. I found that for the most part, the public is not involved in a thoughtful, informed debate over the standards. I also noticed that many of their most common concerns stem from misinformation and are fueled by entities with political agendas. What’s worse is that some who are caught up in the debate don’t even realize that the issues are political, and have nothing to do with whether or not the standards help with the job of educating our young people.
I read a bunch of comments from folks with concerns about standardized testing and the role of the federal government in education. And I do understand their concerns. But some of these people have rejected the CCSS without even reading them, which is ridiculous. How can they have such strong opinions when they have not even bothered to read the standards for themselves?
I mean, I really couldn’t believe some of the stuff I was reading. I was like: “What in tarnation are they talking about? And where in the Sam Hill are they getting their information?”
At one point I stopped reading, and stared into the distance as I wondered how our social discourse would be different if as school children we had learned how to evaluate claims, reason, and argue based on evidence. Would we now as adults be able to take more well informed positions when engaged in social conversation?
I hope the next generation will do a better job than this. Our students will someday enter into an adult world that has many political and other societal forces at play. Before they enter it, they must be able to critically consume and communicate information, and make decisions based on evidence. Fortunately, as educators we have the power to make it happen.
What do we need to do?
We've got to teach our students how to: read with understanding, distinguish evidence from opinion, reason thoughtfully through problems and issues, and go beyond simply making claims to communicating arguments based on evidence. These skills are critical to their participation in public policy and for their overall success in life.
How do we do it?
Maybe the best practices established by the Common Core State Standards will help. But I guess we’ll have to examine them to find out.