Earlier today I read an email detailing the evils of the Common Core State Standards. Podcasts and videos explained how the CCSS was somehow created for the purpose of placing a ceiling on education. A Professor Hacker even made the claim that the CCSS was sadistic as if it had a life of its own and the creators and supporters of the standards are purposely trying to set up children for failure. He did pin most of this on some national test that hasn’t even been created. His claims sounded ludicrous to my ears. Honestly, I have never met an educator set out with the sole purpose of holding children back. For all the things wrong with our education system a set of suggested standards on a sheet of paper is not solely to blame. What is to blame are those who do not read and think with a critical eye. That’s funny really since the standards were created to encourage critical thinking skills.
This understanding that people (educators, administrators, and parents) are not really reading the standards hit me full in the face during an interview this week. I was questioned about the CCSS and I mentioned that I thought it was fantastic to have real nonfiction books and other reading materials included in the standards. Then I was asked about the classics and about the limited list of required books in the CCSS. Stumped I didn’t have an answer because I didn’t remember seeing a required reading list. So after the interview I went home, looked, and found a representative list of books. There wasn’t a required list as this administrator suggested. What was listed were fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and screenplays representing a range of topics and genres.
One of the books included on that list was A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. The title caught my eye because it happens to be a story that I think really represents misunderstandings and difficult struggles. (It also caught my eye because I’m currency working to create a literature study about equality and communication and this title happens to be one of the pieces I’m recommending.) In a way that is the way people approach the CCSS. It’s new, it will require work and communication, it will challenge ideas, and it will require people to think differently. Personally I think that is a good thing. Unfortunately until enough people really read the CCSS document there will be misunderstandings and struggles. Before we argue let’s discuss, let’s disagree, and let’s agree about the good and bad of the standards, but please let’s read the document first.
Until then I’ll continue working on a critical thinking literature study which includes A Raisin in the Sun.