Considering how many public school teachers express feeling burned by standards-based curricula, I expect that many are feeling understandably resistant to the post-NCLB Common Core Standards. I recently read most of the 66-page document Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History / Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, and I hope that time-strapped teachers will take the time to read the standards in their original form (beware of cheap imitations!).
I found nothing terribly radical in the Standards. They show a logical progression of knowledge building that the best of my children’s teachers have been able to implement in spite of the time for test prep. The only teachers I can imagine having major problems with the new ELA curriculum are the ones who have too much fondness for teaching literature lite in Oprah-esque book club settings.
I’m concerned that many teachers’ only exposure to the Common Core will be filtered through shallow professional development seminars that address the standards as interpreted by state education officials with their own agendas.
For parents, familiarity with the curriculum can help with figuring out whether or not schools are helping children progress toward competence for upper-level work or if they’re taking a checklist approach to meeting state requirements.
If nothing else, the list of high-quality books in Appendix B (Text Exemplars) is worth anyone’s time. The early elementary books may look challenging to people accustomed to the formulaic brand and market-driven drivel that often passes for children’s literature in schools. Those who realize that fostering creativity means nurturing curiosity about the world are likely to be delighted and want to read and share with children the works listed.