The “Ins” and “Outs” of the “Common Core”

By now, we all probably know the backstory behind the Common Core State Standards: how Bill Gates funded it with the interest he makes on one day’s worth of his vast fortune (about $500 million it cost him….), how it was pushed through by corporate interests using fronts such as the National Governors’ Association, and how companies like Pearson hitched themselves up to it so they could make money producing curricula, training teachers, writing the tests, scoring the tests AND selling the remedial materials that students will need to counter the lousy Pearson curricula which they were forced to use in the first place. Do I sound disgruntled? Noooooooo….

None of this is to say that a “common core” is in and of itself a bad idea. Many countries have nationwide standards, and they seem to be doing okay. Here’s where I am “in” and “out” when it comes to the idea of “common core.”

I’m in if the common core was developed by actual teaching organizations, like the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, who already took the time to create standards based curricula that could easily have been adapted to become a “common core.”

I’m out when the common core is funded by capitalist running dogs whose sole interest is in creating a generation of low-cost workers to expand their dominion over the world. Yes, I’m talking to you, The Walton Foundation!

I’m in when individual schools and the teachers voluntarily agree to adopt common core after having time to examine the standards and decide if it meets their needs.

I’m out when schools are coerced into using common core by an administrator or politician who probably could not demonstrate understanding of what is in the common core, nor mastery of those actual standards. Let those who endorse them be the first to master them!, I say.

I’m in when schools take time to implement the common core over a period of years, and then show how they’ve met them, and share their successes and failures with other schools.

I’m out when it becomes a “race to the top” where some schools benefit from fast and shoddy implementation, which threatens the profession of teaching and the education of the students.

I’m in when schools who have successfully implement common core show what changes have gone into teaching and learning, and use that to attract other families which like what they see (particularly those who may transfer from other schools which use common core.)

I’m out when schools are threatened with closure or wholesale dismissal of administration and faculty when students don’t “pass” common core based standardized tests.

I’m in when we recognize that this is not a “done deal” and that we all understand that the common core is not written in stone and will have to be adjusted well into the future.

I’m out when the common core is presented as some kind of “finished document” that is written in stone and pretends to state chapter and verse what teachers are supposed to teach and children are supposed to learn at each grade level.

I’m in when the common core is written in plain language that any teacher, administrator and parent can understand, setting aside jargon like the use of the word “text” over and over again.

I’m out when the language of the common core is impenetrable and unclear, leaving behind more questions than it answers.

Well, that’s my view. If you want to add to the list, just register for this blog and tell me what puts you “in” and “out.”


About rmberkman

This blog is the sole musings of one Robert M. Berkman, an educator who has taught math, science and technology for the past 30 years in New York. You can react to all his posts by emailing him at
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