An Uncommon Opportunity?

At here’s my take on lobsters the transformative promise of common standards – a common denominator – and why most of the hype overstates the case. What didn’t I get into was the issue of innovation and how this can also be a powerful lever there.

Assuming quality and comparability are maintained, the new standards offer a common denominator in public education to help think about student performance and productivity. Sounds wonky, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of this to the national effort to improve schools across 50 states and thousands of communities. Right now anything goes in this $650 billion industry. A common benchmark for quality would help change that.

A common baseline will also empower teachers to meaningfully compare their work with peers from other states. It will force publishers and other education vendors to compete using actual results that are common across states rather than based on relationships, politics and claims that are often impossible to judge. Commonality will also make it harder for politicians and various stakeholders to hide behind their own data and claim their states as educational capitals when they’re not.

Update: Former MA state board of ed member Sandra Stotsky is not so impressed!

7 Replies to “An Uncommon Opportunity?”

  1. Of course this common core standards are nothing new, but they are wonderful! I agree with everything they say. Unfortunately they are like a blind man telling you about what a wonderful view there is at the top of a giant mountain. Yes it is wonderful, but they can’t tell you how to get there or what it will look like to do it. There is no foundation in the common core standards, just a beautiful view at the top.

  2. “it’s hard to overstate the importance of this to the national effort to improve schools” but you did it. Common standards are fine, but a sideshow. In orger to believe they will have an effect, you have to believe that markets and organizations are rational actors. If we want to improve urban schools that can’t meet standards that are years below today’s standards, common standards aren’t on that radar screen.

  3. There are plenty of teachers out there (like us here in Texas for example) who would dearly welcome national core standards simply so that the process of establishing curriculum standards is taken out of the hands of our dysfunctional State Board of Education.

    Do you all not recall the recent fiasco that was the state board’s development of new social studies standards that eliminated Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment in favor of Calvin and Aquinas and eliminated mention of civil rights leaders in favor of conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafley?

    And a few years ago when we went through the whole evolution/creationism thing with the science standards?

  4. Kent–that can happen at the national level as well. Depends on who is in power at the time.

  5. Why we’re at it, why don’t we nationalize the entire school system and do away with states as the locus of control. Think of all of the money we could save on state departments of ed. Per-pupil funding might be fair and equitable. Seriously.

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