American education is at war with itself, again, and there does not appear to be any clear indication of how or when the endless battles over educational philosophy, funding and testing performance will end.
After a decade of the failed experiment called No Child Left Behind, a majority of the country’s education leaders are now betting on a new approach called the Common Core, which seeks to reshape the way students are tested, and curriculum is presented, from kindergarten through high school. If you haven’t yet heard of Common Core, it’s likely you have no school-aged kids.
Common Core standards and curriculum were developed by a consortium of state education chiefs and governors in 48 states with the involvement of classroom teachers, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and several other groups. The aims were to set new learning goals for students that would prepare them for college and/or careers, and to integrate learning material into more coherent, interdisciplinary content, initially in English language arts/literacy and math.
In the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, Common Core curriculum and instruction strategies were refined with the intense involvement of area teachers and administrators, and enthusiasm for the program is running high, although not without some teacher trepidation about being adequately prepared to teach it by next year.
On a national level, however, Common Core has run into a buzz saw of protest, ironically originating from both the right and left ends of the educational and political spectrums.