NPR; Not Such Neutral Reporting on Common Core

NPR has been getting dollars (a la the Seattle Times) for education reporting from the Gates Foundation.  And boy, does it show in their Common Core reporting.

First, their FAQs on Common Core read a lot like what comes from Gates.  Two, they even have one FAQ "fact" wrong which is that Oklahoma has a bill going thru its Legislature to walk away from CC.   The fact is that the bill passed both houses of their Legislature and has been sitting on their Governor's desk for about a week.  (She has the choice to sign it into law, wait until the time period to sign runs out and it automatically becomes law or veto it.) 

This morning they had a piece on how most states are nowhere near ready for CC because the curriculum (books and teaching materials) are not ready.  (This is true but that's certainly not the only implementation problem. 

What I find troubling is the subtle insertion of editorializing in these pieces.  I'm not sure I even mind the skewing of the pieces to support CC but I do mind when a reporter states a "fact" without any back up.

For example,

"This isn't about the standards. It's about how they've been implemented."

That's what the reporter, Cory Turner, said.  If he had done any homework, he would have mentioned that there are huge concerns over BOTH the standards and their implementation.  So there's that "it's a done deal" talk and it's really about implementation.

"They aren't federal. Washington's not on the hook here. States are."

He's either being naive or disingenuous.   No, these are not "federal" standards but woe to the state who turns them down as Arne Duncan has used a heavy funding stick to get states to sign on via Race to the Top and other funding.

"Governors signed on — Democrats and Republicans alike — because they saw
something necessary and ambitious. And implementing ambitious is never

He said this with NO citation.  How does he know this is what all the governors who signed on think?  If you don't cite a source, then it's your opinion. 

And the comments (seemingly mostly from teachers) are interesting reading.

Math Class
My district adopted the Pearson(math) text last year. We had a large amount of money given to us to contract with a textbook company for several years. We met with the four big publishers to review their material and were very disappointed. We said we didn't feel like any of them were very good and suggested we wait to commit until the curriculum developed more--but we were told if we didn't spend the money we would loose it.

Pearson won the bid because they said they would work with us on modifying the materials to fit what we want. We've been complaining to our district all year now how the Pearson books don't align to the core very well, but Pearson hasn't done anything more than rearrange chapters. They got our money now, that's all they wanted I guess. The worst part is that our district INSISTS we use the expensive books we bought--even though they are crap!

Absolutely correct, Kates. In our district, the cost of reading materials - not including update subscriptions - for grades 3, 4 & 5 is over $250,000. Someone is getting rich from the massive switch in educational materials necessitated by the switch to Common Core. A shame some of the textbooks and instructional aids from the NCLB standards cannot be used for Common Core.

My reality now is that the CC is here and has to be taught. I don't like them, but in reading them over and over I find that I can align what I do in the classroom to meet the standards for my grades and subjects (I teach two) with some re-adjusting and then creating other materials. I'm not a big heavy textbook kind of teacher--- they never go deep enough to be worthwhile.
The big issue as far as my experience goes, is how they will be tested and how much they'll be worth. If the tests are high-stakes then it's a national standardized test, if they're not high stakes I promise you a significant percentage of students will not take them seriously. That's the conundrum of education-- the meaningful assessment where the students buy in as much as the adults.


robyn said…
Last night while perusing the internet, a Microsoft Ad popped-up. It was all about schools, common core testing and why I should buy a new laptop to help my kids succeed in this new era of high stakes testing. I tried to find it today, but couldn't (I wanted to take a screen shot since it was so obnoxious, but didn't know how on the iPad).

I did find this:

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