“Are Students Being Coddled?” I Think Not.

Every so often, newspaper pundits pen particular articles that unwittingly display a lack of understanding of extremely complicated issues. Improving US education and evaluating teachers effectively are serious topics with no easy solutions, but Frank Bruni in a New York Times op-ed column waded into the murky waters of Common Core. Clearly caught in the “Our Kids Are Not Brilliant” camp so eloquently expressed by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Bruni posited that for too long we have protected our star achievers from the world and some tough love is needed to fix all ills. He noted “a concern, wholly justified, that tougher instruction not be rejected simply because it makes children feel inadequate, and that the impulse to coddle kids not eclipse the imperative to challenge them.”

The more people know about Common Core, the less they will like it.

The New York Times, to their credit, has now posted four replies from people to Bruni’s article. They are grouped under the collective title “Common Core and Coddled Kids,”–don’t you just love alliteration?–and can be accessed through this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/30/opinion/common-core-and-coddled-kids.html.

Tony Wagner, a fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, wrote “The problem with Common Core is not coddled kids; it is high-stakes testing. And the anxiety that kids feel is not from their parents but rather from their teachers, who fear for their jobs.”

Natalie Barry, a “white, suburban mom,” recently derided by Arne Duncan, wrote that while she commends “the goals of the Common Core standards, the approach seems to be that we must throw out everything that works and start anew, even in high-performing districts that send the vast majority of their students on to college.”

When New York state implemented its first round of tests in the Spring of 2013, only 31% of the students passed the proficiency levels set for the test. High school English teacher Jane Freenhalgh-Weinkrantz stated that “An elementary and middle school test with a pass rate lower than that of the New York State Bar Exam is inherently unreasonable.”

Defending Bruni and the Common Core Standards was Richard Cwiakala, who covered the legitimate concern that “We have a problem when about 50 percent of incoming college freshmen need remedial courses. Students need to be better prepared. This is an objective of Common Core.”

That might be the objective of Common Core, but it will do little to better prepare our students for college.

Thank you Frank Bruni and Arne Duncan for firing up people to become more involved in the debacle known as Common Core. The more disdain you show to people with legitimate concerns, the more you antagonize them into fighting more fiercely against you.

The more people know about Common Core, the less they will like it.

 

Link to Arne Duncan comments: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/11/16/arne-duncan-white-surburban-moms-upset-that-common-core-shows-their-kids-arent-brilliant/

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